Monday, December 22, 2008

People's Liberation Big Band

A new version of the Nutcracker and a new Christmas tradition. The People's Liberation Big Band once again performed their wild-eyed version of the Nutcracker in Kansas City last night. They first unleashed this alternative jazz version with its unusual time signatures and creative re-harmonizations in 2006. One of their next projects is a soundtrack to the 1925 silent film, Battleship Potemkin. I can hardly wait.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Train For Winter Survival Like The Cosmonauts

The following is no joke ---a German company called Space Travellers, "the first commercial Space Agency of the world," offers zero-gravity flights, jet flights, space flights and astronaut training for earthbound schlubs like you and me. Reading through the text of their website is surreal. It prods you to sign up for outlandish tours:--"you would like to fly a supersonic jet to feel the g-forces?"---using awkward English to comical effect: "the successor of the MIG-25 kidnaps you in a modern jet with Mach 2.4 into the stratosphere, so that you will see the earth with other eyes!" "You will be weightlessness!" "You will never forget in your life this experience!"

One of their many packages is their "Original Cosmonaut Winter Survival Training" in Russia, as pictured above. Oooo, yes! Sign me up! Those blue boots are so worth it.

As cold as it is here, you probably don't have to travel to Siberia to get the full training experience. But for those who are tempted to jump at this offer, I've provided the details of the program below, straight off the Space Travellers website:

Original Cosmonaut Training - Winter Survival Training - Russia

How to feel like an Cosmonaut:

This means first of all hard training, before he is able to be ready for his journey into the orbit. Cosmonaut training is a very long duration training, which requires, that the cosmonaut-participant first of all has to adjust himself into the perfectly new enviroment.

Since that the International Space Station ISS is constantly manned, a docked Russian Soyuz spaceship also always is in the orbit, with which the astronauts and cosmonauts can leave the space station in an emergency.

If it comes to such an unforeseeable event, everything must go very fast and the crew withdraws themselves within hours into the command capsule of the Soyuz spaceship and docks off. Here it can come to another landing point than in the Kazhakh quilts, the cosmonauts can land with the Soyuz into equatorial, water or all possible ice- or very cold areas.

You can learn in winter training with international crews a surviving in the eternal ice. This training is part of the original cosmonaut training, you will be a real team member. It is not a touristic event only for you, it is really a hard training, where you can have the completely experience of surviving after a emergency-landing in icy areas on the world.

You train with the cosmonauts and get from the outset your task: Handling the different rescue assistance of the Soyuz spaceship, building of an emergency accommodation, establishment of contact with the rescue team, which can arrive maximally in 36 hours at your landing place. You and your comrades are alone, posed so long on yourself and must furnish itself, so that you will have the chance to survive, and it does not come to more emergencies in your crew.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Burl's Pearl's -- Burl Ives' Surprising Oeuvre

Tis the season for everything Burl Ives. As the Burl Ives My Ass Coalition (BIMAC) launches its predictable boycott against holiday favorites like "Holly Jolly Christmas", let us more high-minded folk celebrate the legacy left behind by America's best-loved entertainer. What better place to start than Burl Ives' prolific catalog of song and verse, as captured on these stunning discs of vinyl. Some of them may surprise you. This is Burl, as you've never seen him before.

The album cover that BIMAC doesn't want you to see. BIMAC's anti-Burl propoganda doesn't stand a chance against such heart-warming collections as these.

Burl released this album in anticipation of the mockery he'd later receive. He followed it up with "Funny way of Singin' ", "Funny Way of Talkin' ", "Funny Way of Dressin' " and "Funny Way of Burpin' "

This confusing studio effort earned mixed reviews. Burl Ives sings and narrates quasi-Biblical stories about all God's creatures in a salty seadog vernacular, pausing frequently to puff on his pipe and curse a blue streak.

A departure from his regular Christmas fare, this collection is widely regarded as his "psychedelic" album. Conceived and recorded during his experimentation with hallucinogens.

From Burl's squatter/drifter period. Burl wrote all the songs for this album while living on his brother's porch.

Burl's ground-breaking, "coming out" album

Just a few from Burl's Disembodied Floating Head Series

Friday, December 5, 2008

Next To Godliness

My sister asked about dry cleaning the other day. She wanted to know what really happens to your clothes at the dry cleaner. I said it had always been a mystery to me. My brother said there was nothing mysterious, except how they got out the solvent they used to soak your clothes. So maybe dry cleaners aren't places of mystery, even with all their chemicals and steam. But sometimes their storefronts are:

If you don't need dry cleaning you can see Prince Okwina for a shoe shine

The name is so clever I can't get over it

A dry cleaners that cares more about justice than the rules (this Australian shop thinks its the Clint Eastwood of dry cleaners)

I would dirty my clothes just so I could come see this sign.

....Or this one

No, Really --The r Open

They clean clothes but will they clean their windows?

For all those soiled hours of yours

Drop off your clothes and get the weekly special

Kind of going overboard with the "green" concept.

Lots to like: Catchy name. At night - a big neon hangar. And that drive-in door must be huge.

You can't see it from here but there's surely a dry cleaners in there somewhere

Gets the award for best dry cleaners name ever

The only cleaners with a woman encased in glass. Also known as the WTF? cleaners

Have pants will travel

The dry cleaners that wishes it were a nightclub

Appeals to customers who can't settle on one color scheme

Dry cleaning with a little tongue

When only the very best will do

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

My Blog Goes In For Some Navel-Gazing

I didn't know what to write about today and was poking around in the administrative side of my blog when I noticed the accumulated list of labels I've used on previous posts. After staring blankly at them for awhile, I decided to list some of them here. Taken out of context, these labels are random and confusing ---all the more reason to reprise them.

And so, without further ado --Labels from my blog:

afterlife, archipelago, axis of evil, azoic, bad hair, badass hair, baked Alaska, Bee Gees, big red cat, biologists, blocked creativity, bottom mud, Burl Ives My Ass Coalition, caffeine tremor, catfish, danish, Donovan, Eishenhower, Emma Peel, Eugene Debs, fungi, Gamma Ray (rock band), happy meat, Harpo Marx, hell, hemp intelligence, high altitude flight, HotPoint appliances, june bug, keffiyeh, lawn care, marrying the Beatles, Mashed Potato Hut, math nightmares, mediums, Mexican jumping beans, moderately gifted, Nick Drake, Noche de los Rabanos, non-violent civil disobedience, Obama, October, Pilgrims, poplars, pressure suit, Reinhold Niebuhr, sea-monkeys, Shatner, Srinagar, Stella Artois, tap-dancing, Tupperware Liberation Front, ways to transport plutonium, Wiley Post.

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Shepheardes Calender: December

Ægloga Duodecima.

A R G V M E N T.
THis Æglogue (euen as the first beganne) is ended with a complaynte of Colin to God Pan. wherein as weary of his former wayes, he proportioneth his life to the foure seasons of the yeare, comparing hys youthe to the spring time, when he was fresh and free form loues follye. His manhoode to the sommer, which he sayth, was consumed with greate heate and excessiue drouth caused through a Comet or blasinge starre, by which he meaneth loue, which passion is comenly compared to such flames and immoderate heate. His riper yeares hee resembleth to an vnseasonable harueste wherein the fruites fall ere they be rype. His latter age to winters chyll & frostie season, now drawing neare to his last ende.

From the Renascence Editions - an online repository of works printed in English between the years 1477 and 1799, courtesy of the University of Oregon.