Friday, December 28, 2012


Okay, this is probably my favorite XKCD comic this year. Be sure to read the popup text as well, for the punchline.

Mass Transit Echoes

Yesterday, Renee and I took the bus (and the Max light rail) to Lloyd Center Mall, and back home. Why? Because she'll be turning 18 this coming summer, and doesn't yet have a driver's license. This was a dry run for what her life will be like when the mom-pop express closes its doors.

Many years ago, when we first came here and my workplace was in Beaverton, I used to commute by bus, and I told Renee that my solution to the monotony of riding the bus was to bring a really difficult book along (I distinctly remember struggling through this book, and this one -- I still have both of them!). Sinking into the books made it possible to wait at a bus stop in whatever weather and not fret as to whether the bus would show up on time or not.

And now, a slight diversion... A few years ago, I took Renee to Kumoricon, and we attended a concert by some knockoff Asian pop band. The music was loud, so much so that I really couldn't tell what they were playing. But I was amused when I discovered that the old tradition of holding a lighter aloft had been updated: now everyone was holding up cellphones with their backlights turned on. Très amusant.

Back to the present! So we are sitting at the bus stop at Martinazzi and Mohawk, and I'm reading the poster in the back of the shelter. It tells me what phone number to call, and what code to enter, to determine when my bus will next arrive at my stop. What a difference a decade makes! That really improves the mass transit experience for me. Kudos, Trimet!

Oh, and the trip was uneventful. Renee didn't really want to be there, but we both got there and back safely.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Substitute Meditation

So the evening activities run on beyond the normal routine, and you don't have the energy to do your normal night time meditation. What to do? Slip on the wireless headphones, close your eyes, and listen to Baby's on Fire (the original, not Die Antwoord, ugh, Google!).

Friday, July 20, 2012

Why haven't I had these albums for years?

I'm way behind on recording what I've bought musically. So what else is new? So let us briefly visit what has been added to my pop culture archive.

My habit, when discovering a new artist, or revisiting one I've known but not 'owned', is to do a little research (in the last decade, "Google"), and settle on an album which is representative of the artist's ouvre. Typically, one album is enough. Sometimes it is a "best of" album, and sometimes, it is that snapshot in time, the crystalline essence of an artist's potential (cf. Harvest, Tapestry, etc.). Yes, I know those are both ancient. Sorry, so am I. [They date from my high school years or even before].

Despite the last two examples being from my childhood/teens, some of my favorite music dates from before I was born. Collectively, I absolutely love bebop and hard bop. One of the classics of the era is Mingus Ah Um by Charles Mingus. This is one of those albums which has very few filler pieces. I'm hard-pressed to name a piece off this album which is sub-standard.

Given that, I have to ask, "Why haven't I had The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady for all those decades? While there are only four compositions on this album, each is steeped in its era. I listen to this and I revisit every album, every film from the mid-sixties, when I was but a wee tot. All that pop culture was just background noise as I was growing up. But now, and yes, even for many years, it has been a vital part of my musical tapestry ('I see what you did there').

"Mingus Ah Um" is a great, perhaps magnificent album. But while "Black Saint" isn't quite the crystalization of concepts, it is still in my top 100 albums of all time. So to repeat the refrain, "why haven't I had this album for years?"

About the same time that I procured 'Saint', I also picked up a copy of Come Dance With Me, a 1959 Frank Sinatra album arranged and conducted by Billy May. I already had two best-of albums and Watertown. Some of them I've had for many years. But 'Come Dance with Me!' is undeniably catchy, upbeat and fun. It's purely Frank, in a positive mood. Once again, why had I not heard of this one, or gotten it, before?

I've picked up a number of other albums in the interrim since getting these, but none are so notable, so I think I'll leave it at that (I'm sure you're relieved to hear). Just check these two out on Spotify or your own favorite sampling site, and see if you like them as much as I do.