Friday, October 29, 2010

Chart: Visual History of Halloween

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Friday 80s Flashback for October 29, 2010

[Halloween] -- Welcome to a very special holiday edition of the Friday 80s Flashback. Now, as far as I'm concerned, Halloween songs typically fall somewhere between being (1) Oh-so-obviously Halloweenesque, and (2) Stealthily Halloweenish. That is true regardless of the decade. Right off the bat (no pun intended there), we have to agree that Michael Jackson's "Thriller" is squarely in the first camp. And you have to understand, that I'm not going to feature it in today's Flashback. Yes, "Thriller" was huge for radio and MTV, and everyone wanted to learn the Thriller dance in 1983. Hell, that dance continues to inspire popular culture. But it's not featured today because it's just too obvious a choice. Moving on the other end of the spectrum, we have stealthily Halloweenish songs like "Dr. Heckyll and Mr. Jive" (1982) by Men At Work. This song is a clever riff on Robert Louis Stevenson's "The Strange Case of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde." It also features that wonderful stock science fiction character who has made numerous appearances in Halloween/horror flicks, particularly of the b-grade variety. You know him, you love him, he is The Mad Scientist!

Now that I have provided a longer-than-usual intro, you are probably waiting not-so-patiently for me to unveil the actual Flashback choices, right? Well, please know that I needed to provide that info so you can understand that, for your Halloween listening today, I offer one song from the obvious camp and two that hue a little closer to the stealth end of the spectrum. And maybe, just maybe if you're very good, there will be a bonus track.

Read and hear more after the jump.

Friday Pet Blogging: Simon (We Still Miss You)

It's hard to believe seven years have passed since we lost Simon. Today I present the photo collage I posted in 2004 to mark the one year anniversary of his untimely death.

Thank you, Simon, for 7+ wonderful years: 4/28/96 - 10/29/03

We love you and miss you

Friday, October 22, 2010

Friday 80s Flashback for October 22, 2010

[Jazz/Fusion] -- We're going in a slightly different direction with the Friday 80s Flashback this week. I want to take a look at how the 80s represent a pivotal decade not only for pop and rock music, but also for jazz. Remember, before rock n' roll gained popularity and took over the airwaves, jazz was considered popular music -- it was the "pop" music of three decades, the 20s through the 40s. During that time, a wide variety of genres and subgenres were spawned as jazz grew and evolved, often incorporating (or fusing) elements from other forms of entertainment together within a jazz structure. This was very evident in the 60s and 70s as elements of rock were combined with jazz improvisations to develop the genre known as jazz-rock fusion (or "jazz fusion" or just "fusion" for short). Rock rhythms, electric instruments, and loud amplification went from being snubbed by jazz traditionalists to forging a whole new musical idiom for jazz's greatest innovators. Now, we know that new technology and changing tastes in the 80s made stars of folks who could barely play instruments (think of Trio and Duran Duran), but what did it do for folks who were considered exceptional musicians?

Read and hear more after the jump.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Friday Pet Blogging (on Saturday) | Similar But Different

Is it OK to submit a Friday Pet Blogging entry on Saturday (er, Caturday)? Well, it has to be OK because I'm going that route.

This week, we have a morning shot of our boys, Otis and Milo, staking their claims on our bed as I prepare to go to work. What is strange here is that Milo, who is typically rather reserved, is freely sprawled out while his usually rambunctious brother, Otis, assumes a more conservative pose. In fact, I had to wait for Milo to stop moving before I could even attempt to capture a photo with my Palm Pre!

So Similar, So Different

And one by one, the pet blogging posts steal my sanity ...

More Pet Blogging
  1. See the Friday Ark, featuring a compilation of today's pet blogging posts, over at The Modulator.
  2. Carnival of the Cats, coming at you every Sunday.
  3. And one of the funniest/cutest/obsessivest (OK, I know that's not a word!) sites for cat photos, is a must see. Take it from them: Stuff + Cats = Awesome!
  4. And for a funny and saccharin sweet photo collection of cat, kitty, and other critters that have been tagged with LOL, go see I Can Has a Cheezeburger? Really, these are good.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Friday 80s Flashback for October 15, 2010

[Hair Metal] -- The 80s spawned a very strange creature: The Hair Metal genre. Possibly the result of controlled efforts to crossbreed Heavy Metal (for its energy and intensity) with Pop Rock (for its relative safety and accessibility), Hair Metal was responsible for a boat load of record sales. Of course, not nearly as noteworthy is the fact that this genre also drove up the sales figures for hairspray, spandex, and bandannas. Most bands in this category are considered one-and-done deals, and many of them certainly qualify. But a majority of Hair bands actually got started in the mid to late 70s before finding some measure of success in the 80s. And some of those guys continued to release albums far after their glory days had passed in the haze of spent smoke machines. Read and hear more after the jump.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Quotable | Superman's Mask

An essential characteristic of the superhero mythology is, there’s the superhero, and there’s the alter ego. Batman is actually Bruce Wayne, Spider-Man is actually Peter Parker. When he wakes up in the morning, he’s Peter Parker. He has to put on a costume to become Spider-Man. And it is in that characteristic that Superman stands alone. Superman did not become Superman, Superman was born Superman. When Superman wakes up in the morning, he’s Superman. His alter ego is Clark Kent. His outfit with the big red “S”, that’s the blanket he was wrapped in as a baby when the Kents found him. Those are his clothes. What Kent wears, the glasses, the business suit, that’s the costume. That’s the costume Superman wears to blend in with us. Clark Kent is how Superman views us. And what are the characteristics of Clark Kent? He’s weak, he’s unsure of himself… he’s a coward. Clark Kent is Superman’s critique on the whole human race. Sort of like Beatrix Kiddo and Mrs. Tommy Plympton." 

-- Bill (“Snake Charmer”), from the two-part action thriller, KILL BILL

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Unfrozen Caveman Candidate

When political ads start appearing on TV, doesn't it seem like they are all variations on this theme:
Ladies and gentlemen of the constituency, I'm just a caveman. I fell on some ice and later got thawed out by some of your scientists. Your world frightens and confuses me! Sometimes the honking horns of your traffic make me want to get out of my BMW.. and run off into the hills, or wherever.. Sometimes when I get a message on my smart-phone, I wonder: 'Did little demons get inside and type it?' I don't know! My primitive mind can't grasp these concepts. But there is one thing I do know - when a man like my opponent is in office, BAAAAAD things happen. When a caveman like me is in office, only GOOOOD things happen. So vote for me. Thank you."

With apologies to the genius of Jack Handey and Phil Hartman (1948 – 1998) who brought us the brilliant Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer sketches on SNL.

By the way, we miss you, Phil.

Bizarro: The Mr. T Party Candidate

Bizarro nails it again (comic from 10/12/2010):

Monday, October 11, 2010

Muppet Jesus

In a December 2008 comic, the first panel of which is shown below, PVP nailed the idea that the Muppets are a commentary on the human condition. I have no nothing further to say about the comic. It speaks for itself.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Friday Pet Blogging | Milo on the Couch

I just looked at my archives, and my last Friday Pet Blogging post was on January 26 ... of 2008! I've heard of sabbaticals, but that's a bit ridiculous. I would blame Facebook (as I have in the past), but I don't think I was using Facebook that early in 2008.

Anyway ...

It's time to get back into the swing of Friday Pet Blogging. We'll ease back into it with this comfy capture of Milo sprawled out on our couch.

My wife thought he looked just like a teenager flopped out on there. What she meant was: He looks like a bum!

And one by one, the pet blogging posts steal my sanity ...

More Pet Blogging
  1. See the Friday Ark, featuring a compilation of today's pet blogging posts, over at The Modulator.
  2. Carnival of the Cats, coming at you every Sunday.
  3. And one of the funniest/cutest/obsessivest (OK, I know that's not a word!) sites for cat photos, is a must see. Take it from them: Stuff + Cats = Awesome!
  4. And for a funny and saccharin sweet photo collection of cat, kitty, and other critters that have been tagged with LOL, go see I Can Has a Cheezeburger? Really, these are good.

Friday 80s Flashback for October 8, 2010

[Making Movies] -- The theme for today's flashback is songs from the movies. But not just any old song from any old movie. We're talking iconic scenes from iconic films; we're talking scenes whose impact was possible largely in part to the right song being played at the right time. Now, one could argue that 80s movies were nothing more than vehicles to push hit singles onto a public hungry for music (uh, that hasn't changed much). And looking back over the releases from that decade, that argument probably holds true for most of them. But there are some rather sparkling examples where the stars aligned and magic happened.And we're going to celebrate them today.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Pancake Goes RRAAAAWRRR!

Check out the coolest pancakes ever. Starting with with the 3D Dinosaur Bones Pancake.

3D Dinosaur Pancake

Get Out The Dilithium Crystals!

You're familiar with Haynes Manuals, right? They're only known for publishing the very best illustrated guides for repairing (or exploring the guts of) cars, motorcycles and bicycles, as well as a series covering historic aircraft. Maybe you have to be into DIY stuff to have heard of them. Or, maybe, you have to be interested in technical communication (that's my camp).

Well, now they have boldly gone where no (serious) technical DIY manual has ever gone: Star Trek's U.S.S. Enterprise! The staff interviewed editor Derek Smith about this latest addition to the Hayes library: Inside the Haynes Enterprise Manual

I can finally build my own warp engine! (No, not really)

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Living Myths

open quoteLiving myths are not mistaken notions, and they do not spring from books. They are not to be judged as true or false but as effective or ineffective, maturative or pathogenic. They are rather like enzymes, products of the body in which they work; or in homogeneous social groups, products of a body social. They are not invented but occur, and are recognized by seers, and poets, to be then cultivated and employed as catalysts of spiritual (i.e., psychological) well-being." 

-- Joseph Campbell,(2003). The Flight of the Wild Gander, 3rd Edition. San Francisco: New World Library

Joseph Campbell's accomplishments are quite extensive. But if he had achieved only the re-introduction of living myths into our dialogue, I would say he had done the world a huge service.
"Community Circle - Labyrinth Surround"     © 2005  Peter W. Michel

Friday, October 01, 2010

Friday 80s Flashback for October 1, 2010

[Unrequited but Upbeat Edition] -- The theme for today's flashback is upbeat songs about unrequited love. Every generation has them, but the 80s seemed to spawn some singularly interesting instances of happy beats with potentially depressing lyrical content.

1938: The Things We Miss

Note: This is a post I started in May of 2008 but never finished. I found it this morning when I was looking for a draft of my next Friday 80s Flashback. It is one of several posts just sitting in an electronic abyss. Over the next week or two, I will try to complete as many as I can.

On a Saturday morning in May of 2008, I arose early to drive my Forester to the Subaru dealer. It's a pretty short drive; the dealership is just beyond my town's borders. I typically take advantage of their shuttle service -- I drop off the car, they take me back home, they call me with details regarding my vehicle's service, and finally they pick me up after they finish the job -- But the shuttle is not available on weekends.

No worries. As I mentioned, it's a short drive. So I figured walking back and forth wouldn't be all that difficult. Besides, I lucked out with a glorious, Spring day. Perfect for walking. So, after I dropped off the car, I made my way home from the dealership.

My pace was slow, almost meandering. I had the whole day before me with no need to race home. I listened to birds. I took in the gentle breeze. I paid attention to homes and yards that would normally fall away in my peripheral vision as I focused on the road ahead.

And then I came to a full stop when I saw this in the concrete walk (also available on my Flickr page):

To be completely accurate, I would have to post the image upside down. But that's not the point.

I was completely enamored with this small token in concrete. What did that symbol mean? What happened in 1938? How are the symbol and this date connected? It took all my self-control to not walk up to the house connected to this walk, knock on the door, and ask if anyone there knew what the message of their front walk was. After all, it was kind of early for someone to receive such questions from a complete stranger.

I might never know concretely the message of  this sidewalk. But here is something I do know: I had been driving past this parchment-in-pavement for several years and never once had any inkling that it was there, that it was waiting for a brief moment of discovery.

What else am I missing -- are we all missing -- as we rush about in our machines with our to-lists, schedules, and agendas?