We Are the Dead

Posted in Audio transmissions on January 20th, 2017 by bill

English singer, musician and actor David Bowie, 1974. (Photo by Terry O'Neill/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

I didn’t really intend to be posting this on Inauguration Day; I meant to have it done earlier. But I had to wait until January 1 to make sure no one else was going to die, and then it took a while to get things together. But now it seems entirely appropriate to say one last goodbye to the departed of 2016 as we say goodbye to a pre-President Von Clownstick world and inaugurate four years of…um…interesting times.

“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro,” said Dr. Thompson. I guess it’s time.

  • Dearly Beloved  Prince
  • We Are the Dead  David Bowie
  • Going Home  Leonard Cohen
  • Stranger in a Strange Land  Leon Russell
  • Abe Vigoda with Hal Linden  Me or Your Computer?
  • Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings  People Don’t Get What They Deserve
  • Abe Vigoda  I’m Dead
  • Sign O the Times  Prince
  • The Space Program  A Tribe Called Quest
  • This Is All About Me  Garry Shandling
  • Revolution Part 2  Butthole Surfers
  • When I Met You  David Bowie
  • The Show Must Go On  Alan Rickman with Tim Allen
  • Trying to Live My Life Without You  Otis Clay
  • Rainbow Stew  Merle Haggard
  • I Need Music  George Martin
  • A Day in the Life  The Beatles
  • The Album Is a Disaster  Leonard Cohen
  • Memories  Leonard Cohen
  • The Last Show  David Bowie
  • Rock & Roll Suicide  David Bowie
  • Help Me, Obi-Wan Kenobi  Carrie Fisher

Star Wars Meets the Uncanny Valley

Posted in Moving pictures on January 16th, 2017 by bill

leias

I finally broke down and saw the new Star Wars movie, Rogue One, last week. I wasn’t avoiding it, necessarily…but I wasn’t in any hurry to see it, either…I have mixed feelings about something that plays around so close to the edges of the original movie, the one they now call Episode 4. But then again if Attack of the Clones couldn’t ruin Star Wars for me, probably nothing could.

I found it, um, mostly harmless. I had been warned that there would be a lot of CGI Peter Cushing, and this was only moderately creepy. If anyone is going to keep making movies after they’re dead, it should be Cushing and Christopher Lee, who were in about a thousand films between them during their lifetimes.

The big surprise came at the end, when a familiar white-robed, brown-haired figure appeared facing away from the camera. I didn’t think they’d actually show her face, but then there it was: a digital recreation of young Carrie Fisher, looking more or less as she did back in 1977.

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A few words from Kurt Vonnegut

Posted in A few words from Lao Tzu (or someone like him) on January 13th, 2017 by bill

I happened to pick up Kurt Vonnegut’s Wampeters, Foma & Granfalloons today and read the following:

He is the first President to hate the American people and all they stand for. He believes so vibrantly in his own purity, although he has committed crimes which are hideous, that I am bound to conclude that someone told him when he was very young that all serious crime was sexual, that no one could be a criminal who did not commit adultery or masturbate.

He is a useful man in that he has shown us that our Constitution is a defective document, which makes a childlike assumption that we would never elect a President who dislikes us so. So we must amend the Constitution in order that we can more easily eject such a person from office and even put him in jail.

KV was, of course, referring to Richard Nixon. Our current situation is different in that some of President-Elect Von Clownstick’s known crimes are indeed sexual in nature, which does not appear to prevent him from believing in his own moral and intellectual superiority. Read more »

Q: Why is David Bowie still David Bowie?

Posted in Because he's David Bowie, that's why on January 10th, 2017 by bill

A: Because he’s still David fucking Bowie, that’s why.

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It was one year ago today that the news came over that David Robert Jones a/k/a Bowie had shuffled off this mortal coil. Many of us actually learned of it in the wee hours of the 11th — I for one found myself strangely sleepless, ambled downstairs about 3 in the morning, and saw a text informing me of the news. Groggy and unsure how to process such a momentous event, I poured and downed a good-sized vodka and went back to bed, tossing and turning half-conscious for a few hours before awakening for the first time to a Bowieless world.

In the aftermath, I was surprised and gratified by the worldwide outpouring of love and grief. Gratified because suddenly it seemed like everyone was a Bowie fan, and while there was a certain amount of obligatory blather and groupthink, the vast majority of it seemed to be sincere. Surprised because, while I knew that we Bowie cultists were many, I had no idea it ran so deep and so wide.

It made me realize that Bowie, patron saint of the Outsider, had a special meaning to anyone who’s ever felt different or weird or alienated or marginalized. Which, it turns out, is just about everyone. It’s just that many of us, by definition, are not joiners, so we end up spread out in our various little tribes. But when you put us all together, we are legion.

For a while there — and it still hasn’t entirely gone away — everywhere I turned, there he was: As a mannequin in a display in the local thrift shop; spraypainted on the sidewalk; blaring out of hidden speakers in some unexpected place. It was almost enough to give you hope for humanity.

And we need that, always, but especially now. Thank you David, and thank you Earth people. Maybe this could be a good year after all? Let’s give it a shot.

 

Statement of Policies and Principles, 2017

Posted in Whatever Else on January 7th, 2017 by bill

So yet another year is upon us. Reviewing last year’s output, I found that there was more of it than I thought, and that it was mostly of reasonable quality. This was heartening. There will be more to say and do, I think, but first I want to get a few things straight.

First off, I do not approve of my country’s recent choice of president. I do not consider his election legitimate, given that a) he lost the popular vote by several million and b) he was aided and abetted by the FBI, Russia, and Anthony Weiner’s penis. But what’s done is done, and I may on occasion have to make reference to him; so I have decided that on those occasions, I will use Jon Stewart’s apt coinage “Fuckface Von Clownstick.” President Von Clownstick is scheduled, barring deus ex machina, to take office in just over two weeks. The forecast is for, at minimum, corruption, mismanagement, and institutionalized racism; nuclear war does not seem out of the question, but I do my best to remain hopeful.

On that note, let’s move on to a happier subject, your Golden State Warriors. When last we saw the W’s, they had lost the NBA Finals but gained a Kevin Durant. I haven’t written about them since then because my officially stated position is this: There’s no point getting all worked up about the regular season again. Putting up gaudy win totals is nice, but the games that matter will be played in April, May, and June. I’ve still watched most of the games, but I’ve also missed a few, and it is — again — my officially stated position that this is fine.

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Sacred Songs, Part 5: Darkness Increased by 1

Posted in Audio transmissions on December 21st, 2016 by bill

Today is the Winter Solstice, an important day in the calendar, when darkness culminates and the return of light begins.

The darkness has seemed particularly dark this year, so the end of this cycle is welcome. But before moving on I felt like taking a minute (or an hour) to wallow in it. Darkness, after all, is overcome by confronting it, not by avoiding it; in the I Ching, the “young light” emerges only after “darkness is increased by one.”

But of course, being who I am, I couldn’t resist adding some uplift at the end. It may take a while to arrive, but hold on, it’s coming. I recommend listening as dusk with a cocktail in hand, as I am doing at this very moment.

Playlist: Read more »

Sacred Songs, Part 4: The Life of the Mind

Posted in Audio transmissions on December 19th, 2016 by bill

lotm

This mix is dedicated to the memory of the fat John Goodman, who apparently is no more.

Playlist:

  • Look Upon Me  John Goodman
  • This World  The Staple Singers
  • If I Follow My Mind  Jimmy Cliff
  • It’s All in Your Mind  The Soul Angels
  • Stoned Out of My Mind  The Chi-Lites
  • Out of My Mind  Buffalo Springfield
  • Can’t Find My Mind  The Cramps
  • Dear Prince  Lord Buckley
  • Starfish and Coffee  Prince
  • All in My Mind  Love and Rockets
  • My Mind Is Connected…  The Soft Boys
  • Turn Off Your Mind  Timothy Leary/The Stranglers
  • Tomorrow Never Knows  Junior Parker
  • My Body Is a Cage  Peter Gabriel
  • Cut the Body Loose  Astronautilus
  • Postures (Leave Your Body Behind)  Chris Thomas & Tabby Thomas
  • Light Years  The Gift of Gab
  • Free Your Mind/Back in Our Minds  Funkadelic

Sacred Songs, Part 3: Sing, Cuckoo, Sing

Posted in Audio transmissions on December 17th, 2016 by bill

cuckoo-07-artur-tabor

I know it’s generally considered rude to remind people that they’re going to die. But I’ve been guilty of it in the past, and if you listen to this I’ll be guilty of it again:

And yes, sure, it can de depressing to contemplate mortality. But then again, as Ford Prefect says (paraphrasing, I think, Dr. Johnson), “the prospect of death contracts the mind wonderfully.” Often as not, and maybe this is just a quirk of my strange personality, I find being reminded of my own eventual demise oddly exhilarating: a reminder that I am in fact alive now, and free to do as I please for whatever time remains. It can be nice and bracing, like a splash of cold water across the face, if you’re into that kind of thing. Caveat auditorus.

Playlist: Read more »

The Rabo Karabekian Memorial Deathmarch: Week 14 (and Final)

Posted in The Rabo Karabekian Memorial Deathmarch on December 12th, 2016 by bill

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And so, end of the trail beckons. See you at the finish line.

“Etc.”

Sacred Songs, Part 2: The Sweetest Person I Ever Heard Of

Posted in Audio transmissions on December 11th, 2016 by bill

jesusfinger

Here’s another musical collage for your entertainment and edification:

Playlist: Read more »