Philadelphia 1, hitchBOT 0

Posted in Whatever Else on August 4th, 2015 by bill

It was only yesterday that I learned, posthumously, of the existence of hitchBOT, a hitchhiking “robot” created by some Canadian college professors. hitchBOT safely navigated its way around Canada, Germany, and the Netherlands, and in July set out to cross the United States. After being treated kindly and hospitably in Boston and New York, taken to a Red Sox game and Times Square, hitchBOT made a big mistake.

It went to Philadelphia.

Within hours, hitchBOT was lying decapitated in a ditch.

My initial reaction was, well of course that’s what happened. In Latin, “Philadelphia” means “City of Brotherly Love”; but in English, it means “City Where They Chuck D Batteries at Ballplayers.” As a native Philadelphian, I feel like I can say this without prejudice: Philadelphians are mean. They may not be meaner, on average, than other people in other places; but the ones that are mean are mean in a special way peculiar to the city.
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One final piece of advice from our friends in Scotland

Posted in Picture du jour, Whatever Else on August 3rd, 2015 by bill

Back to the Old Grit’n'Grind

Posted in Whatever Else on July 6th, 2015 by bill

After three weeks of travel both foreign and domestic, we are back in Humboldt County and back to regular old daily life, more or less. There will be things to say, maybe some pictures, once I’ve had a chance to get a little organized and get my head right.

In the meantime, here’s a shot I took in London, I think of the grit that the Cleveland Cavaliers were missing in those last couple games:

What’s Blowing My Mind, 2015 Edition (Part 5)

Posted in Whatever Else on June 11th, 2015 by bill

“Your mind…blow it, blow it.”
-David Bowie, “The Gospel According to Tony Day”

The Sleeping Tapes

My goal for today has been to think, talk, read, and write about anything other than basketball, because in contrast to the joy that following the Warriors has brought me all year, at the moment it is making my stomach hurt.

To help soothe my nerves I turned to Jeff Bridges’ The Sleeping Tapes, one of the most bizarre and wonderful artifacts to emerge from our popular culture in recent years. Listening to it, one cannot help but wonder, “How did this thing come to exist?”

The Sleeping Tapes are a series of audio sketches, I guess you’d call them, starring Jeff Bridges, Hollywood royalty and son of Hollywood royalty, beloved to many for playing the role of Jeffrey Lebowski a/k/a The Dude. In the introductory track Bridges says, “I hope they inspire you to do some cool sleeping, some cool dreaming, and some cool waking up.” So I guess theoretically you are supposed to put this on when you climb into bed and listen to it as you drift off into dreamland. I don’t know that I would necessarily recommend it for that purpose. Bridges’ intentions may well be entirely benign, but there is just a touch of something unsettling here, just a hint of a David Lynch quality.

For instance, there’s the part where he tries to coax his wife into contributing to the project, even though she has just woken up and clearly has no interest in this nonsense. Why is that on the album? Then again, why not? Here are some of the other fucked-up things you’ll hear here:

- Jeff Bridges humming for three minutes.
- Jeff Bridges, apparently on a playground, telling a story about how he and his daughter used to meet up in their dreams.
- Jeff Bridges telling you how he plans to have his remains shot into space.
- Jeff Bridges leading you on a guided tour of Temescal Canyon where you meet a guy named Neal, find an abandoned office chair and some Spanish doubloons, and go hang-gliding.
- A long and somewhat random series of affirmations, including everything from “You are a good person” and “I like your haircut” to “You have strong hands, capable of woodworking” and “You are very good at guessing when a traffic light will turn green.”
- The sound of Jeff Bridges’ toilet refilling.

A few years ago I coined the phrase “transmission from Planet Weird,” and this is definitely one of those. I can’t fully do it justice in words; I encourage you to go check it out at dreamingwithjeff.com. It is a free download, but you can also make a donation that will go to a charity called No Kid Hungry. That will probably help you sleep a little better.

Carlos Lyra Quote of the Day

Posted in Whatever Else on June 6th, 2015 by bill

“I consider myself politically proletariat. I consider myself economically bourgeois. And artistically I consider myself an aristocrat.”

It was 10 years ago today…

Posted in Whatever Else on May 11th, 2015 by bill

…that I first clicked “Publish” to post something to this site (I have since gone back and added some previously written pieces, because I can and why not).

There are just short of 800 posts now, and 1,233 comments. Not a substantial life’s work, exactly, but considerably more than nothing; and this makes me happy.

Many thanks are due to the two people who have made this site a reality: Christian T.S. “Crispy Bacon” Crumlish, who did the original design and hosting; and Knox Bronson, who has hosted and provided tech support for the last five years or so.

I’d also like to thank my most frequent commenters, Merle Bagg(h)ard, The Old Man, and Cecil Vortex. Comments are a blog’s lifeblood, and while it’s been flowing a little thin lately, that’s mostly due to lack of content.

And so much for the past. Onward to the exciting world of The Future!

Let’s Do This

Posted in Whatever Else on April 18th, 2015 by bill

Thought for the day

Posted in Whatever Else on February 4th, 2015 by bill

They say that even a stopped clock gives the correct time twice a day. So if you collected 720 broken clocks and set them all differently, you would have the right time all the time.

Festivus Message 2014

Posted in Whatever Else on December 23rd, 2014 by bill

I had been thinking about getting on here to air my grievances, today being December 23, which is of course Festivus as well as the last day of Hanukkah (this year). But I was having a hard time thinking of any; I don’t have much to kvetch about in my personal life, and while I could get on my high horse about climate change or the Taliban, really, who wants to hear it?

To the rescue comes Rand Paul, who took to Twitter today to air his own grievances. For example:

First, politics in general: As a Doctor, I was trained first to do no harm. Wouldn’t it be nice if politicians started from that premise? But we get “politics is the art of looking 4 trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly&applying wrong remedies.”

Hey Rand Paul! I got a few problems with you! First and foremost, you are not funny. If you’re going to invoke the spirit of the best sitcom ever made, you should be funny. And, let me say that again, you are not funny.

Also, you are violating the spirit of Festivus, which is supposed to be an (admittedly insincere) alternative to the commercialism of Christmas, by hijacking it for your own political purposes. (And while we’re at it, your political purposes are nonsensical, but that’s really a topic for another time.)

Your intelligence is overrated, and you come across as a smug, pampered asshole who gets everything he wants and doesn’t care what happens to anyone else. It would be nice if you would go away.

Here endeth the message.

End of an Era

Posted in Whatever Else on November 4th, 2014 by bill

Tom and Ray, laughing as always

Because I sometimes have a morbid mindset, every so often while listening “Car Talk” I would think, “Someday one of these guys is going to die, and that’s going to be a real bummer.”

Well, here we are. Tom Magliozzi, longtime co-host of “Car Talk” on NPR with his brother Ray, passed away yesterday at the age of 77. One of the comments on the NPR web site says “I never felt so sad over the loss of someone I had never met,” and that about sums it up.

How many hundreds of hours have I spent over the years listening to those two guys giggle? If laughter has any medical value, Tom and Ray have extended many of our lives considerably. It was always a pleasure to hear two people take such joy in entertaining themselves, each other, and incidentally whoever happened to be listening.

And of course we will continue to hear them, as NPR has a gazillion shows in the can. But it makes the world a little drabber to know that Tom and Ray will never crack each other up again. Well, that’s life. Give somebody you love a hug why dontcha.