Saturday, September 01, 2007

Lotsa Catering!

Just a few late-nite links in between folding the laundry and cooking a late, local, stir-fried-veggie dinner in case Sarah's hungry when she gets home from bartending at a wedding in Sonoma. Mouthful of a sentence!

What happened is that I double-booked myself with catering jobs today, so Sarah, bless her, took the bartending-wedding job, while I worked at a Bat Mitzvah over in Walnut Creek.

!!! Super Awesome Spherical-Tree-House Company in BC will build you your very own spherical treehouse. Just you wait until we have disposable income again... How sweet would this be in a backyard?



!!! Gerhard Richter, one of my fave artists, just finished a stained-glass window commission for the Super-Cathedral in Cologne, Germany (going with the Francophile spelling since I don't know how to do umlauts in Blogger). Click the link for high-res, high-rad photo of said window. And don't worry, there's nothing wrong with your computer; it's supposed to look like that.

!!! Neat slideshow of what a human-free future would hold for New York City. It's pub for a super-cool sounding new book called World Without Us that is definitely on my Christmas list.

Okay, enough comedy jokes! Time for some comedy stir-fry.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Buncha Links from the Summer

Here's a bunch of stuff I thought was interesting enough to email to myself at various times over the summer:

***Sidney Blumenthal declares the current Republican paradigm to be kitsch, ersatz, however you want to Allemagnize it. I tend to agree. (holy moley, this one's almost a year old--where have I been? At any rate, here's two core paragraphs:

"Kitsch is imitative, cheap, sentimental, mawkish and incoherent, and derives its appeal by demeaning and degrading genuine standards and values, especially those of modernity. While the proponents of the faux retro style claim to uphold tradition, they are inherently reactive and parasitic, their words and products a tawdry patchwork, hastily assembled as declarations against authentic complexity and ambiguity, which they stigmatize as threats to the sanctity of an imaginary harmonious order of the past that they insist they and their works represent. Kitsch presumes to be based on old rules, but constantly traduces them.

"The Bush kitsch warriors have created a cultural iconography that attempts to inspire deference to the radical making of an authoritarian presidency. These warriors pose as populists, fighting a condescending liberal elite. Wealthy, celebrated and influential, their faux populism demands that they be seen however as victims."

Not bad, Sid! Although I think Clem Greenberg is pretty much of an elitist, there's no denying a gulf between kitsch and art. Or governance.

***Glenn Greenwald blogs about Bill Moyers's recent PBS documentary on the failure of the press in the Iraq War run-up.

"One of the most important points came at the end. The institutional decay which Moyers chronicles is not merely a matter of historical interest. Instead, it continues to shape our mainstream political dialogue every bit as much as it did back in 2002 and 2003. The people who committed the journalistic crimes Moyers so potently documents do not think they are guilty of anything -- ask them and they will tell you -- and as a result, they have not changed their behavior in the slightest."

***Paul sent me this incredible article from Discover Magazine that answers the question, "what happens when you point two internet chat-bots at each other?" ALICE and Jabberwocky get deep:

Jabberwocky: Do you think?

ALICE: Yes. I am a thinking machine.

J: But you don’t think very well though.

A: Oh. Um. Do you think well? Why would I think well?

J: Because I tell you about things which you don’t like.

A: That makes sense to me. Why did you tell them?

J: You seem fun.

A: You think I am fun.

J: Yes ;).

A: : -) Awesome.

***My Great-great-grandfather on my mother's side led a Universalist meeting group in Villisca, Iowa, in the late 1800's. Before the merger between the Unitarians and the Universalists in 1961, Grandma and Grandpa Karlson and my mom and her sibs all went to the Universalist church in Rochester, MN. It is still the hunk of my religious heritage with which I most identify. This page on Starr King's website has a great density of information on Univeralism.

***I think I found this article on BoingBoing... It's an examination of the ways in which class divisions play out in social networking websites MySpace and FaceBook. What, no Friendster?!?

***The Washington Post's big series on Cheney. As Chris Nilsson would say, his name is himself (ie: Dick).

***This one I know I got from BoingBoing. Blade Runner at 25: Why the Special Effects Are Still Unsurpassed, an appreciation by Adam Savage of MythBusters fame.

***Two from YouTube: a video called Oh Happy Day by the Edwin Hawkins singers, and the page for the Real Blues Archives. I'm thinking my dad will like this one.

***After all the flying we've done this summer I'm ready to never get on a plane again. This blog post about Continental Flight 1970 makes me realize how much worse it could have been. At least Sarah's and my experiences were just full of drudgery and stupid TSA nonsense. We didn't have to deal with the almost unspeakable customer service that Continental subjected these poor people to, and better than that the toilets on our flights didn't break down and send rivers of shit and piss coursing through the steerage--I mean, coach class cabins. Here's a link to the passengers' blog, Poop On A Plane.

***From the hideous to the sublime: a nice article from the Cleveland Plain Dealer about the Ellen Johnson house, Frank Lloyd Wright's contribution to the Oberlin, OH, skyline.

***A neat article from Grist.org about 15 green religious leaders. I misremember who posted this to the Starr King listserv, but I am glad they did!

***Here's one from Nashville about freedom of speech and its historic limits in that fair city. I'm more interested in the second item, about the trouble Amos Dresser got into for possessing abolitionist literature as he traveled through Nashville:

"According to Dresser, a group of committee members stripped him naked, and as he knelt, Constable Braughton administered the whipping. "When the infliction ceased, an involuntary feeling of thanksgiving to God for the fortitude with which I had been able to endure it, arose in my soul, to which I began aloud to give utterance," Dresser recalled. "The death-like silence that prevailed for a moment, was suddenly broken with loud exclamations, 'G-d d--n him, stop his praying.'"" (Check my grammar, but I think I'm justified in jamming that many quotation marks together.)

***Sarah and I finally finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows last night, making us some of the last people in the world to have done so, or so it seems. On the off chance that we aren't the final suckers to cross the finish line, I won't spoil, or reveal, or what have you, other than to say how impressed I am. HP7 ties the entire series up into a tidy little bundle, it is compulsively readable, it is fun, it deals with heavy shit in a credible and light-handed way... It just works. And how! So, here's my last link this evening: courtesy of Garrick, an article about the Church of England's publishing of a guide on how to use Harry Potter to evangelize.

Okay, that's it for the evening. Whoof.

Fun with Sarah, Gwyn, Frunch, Andy, and MacBook, and then a shipwreck in Oregon:






Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Postscript

If anyone knows how to un-sideways a photo uploaded onto blogger, I'm open to suggestions.

Home again, home again...

jiggety-jig. Whew. So that's it for the crazy summer travels (at least, the planned-out ones). Sarah and I got home a few hours ago. We woke up this morning at 3 am (pacific time), so I'm gonna try to keep this one short and sweet.

1: Paul and Ali's wedding was amazing. Expect more post in the coming days. Long story short, they are now married and honeymooning up in Door County; a good time was had by all; I did a better-than-adequate job officiating my first wedding, and I mailed the wedding certificate on time.

2: On Sunday, the day after the wedding, we drove up to Rochester, MN, as a family to visit my mother's mother, the venerable Grandma Karlson. We rushed up to see her because on Monday (yesterday) she had a long day in the hospital, with blood tests and biopsies to determine if growths recently found during a CAT scan are cancer; if so, what type; and then, what treatment (or non-treatment) action to take. Grandma had asked me to perform her Memorial Service, so this was an opportunity for us all to sit down and make certain that we wouldn't leave anything out, or violate any wishes or needs of Grandma's. No problem there. Grandma looked as well as she did when we saw her in July; better, actually, since she has had the walking boots off! She was awfully tired, but relentlessly funny. Uncle Karl John and Aunt Dorene were there (they took her to the hospital on Monday), and it was really swell to see them, too.

3: Sarah's family reunion in Colorado, at the dude ranch, was great! We were only there for a day and a half, sadly, but had a great time seeing everyone, and riding horses, and playing poker, and remembering and honoring Sarah's grandfather. Hardest goodbye? Becky's daughters, Maddie and Carly. Such sweet, cute girls--I'll post photos, and then you'll see.

4: The flight home shattered my illusions about Midwest Airlines. I remember it as being the modern-day equivalent of a zeppelin ride: opulent, luxurious, comfortable, and smooth. This flight wasn't bad, and they haven't done away with their practice of fresh-baking cookies mid-flight, but it was pretty much entirely like flying any other airline, except they were charging $10 for the in-flight lunch! The other big thumbs-down was the stopover in Kansas City, where we had to go through another security check to get from one gate to the other. Funny how the littlest things can push you over the edge.

5: I posted some days ago about Pattie Boyd, muse to both Clapton and Harrison. I want to amend my remarks a little--I think they skewed a little along the lines of "that nasty, unethical Eric Clapton, how dare he snatch his friend's wife right out from under his nose! For shame!" Let it be said that no woman is a prize to be won, and that I did a poor job honoring Pattie Boyd's choices in that affair. Further, at the time of her separation with George Harrison he was sleeping with Ringo Starr's wife. So my nice little moral construct was neatly overturned by one piece of information, leaving me with one recourse: a blanket denunciation of the decade of the Seventies, with their loose morals, and poorly thought-out adulteries. A pox on the years between 1970 and late 1978 (December, to be exact--I think the event of my own birth can be scientifically pinpointed as the moment where history righted itself).

I think that should do it for today. Here's a photo of Sarah--I am entranced by the way sunlight filters through her straw hats to make little constellations on her face and neck, and I have almost resigned myself to the fact that it is impossible to capture exactly what I am seeing and experiencing in such instances: