Friday, August 31, 2007

It's Too Late to Stop Now

Every once in a blue moon a flash of brilliance occurs, and the collective consciousness is all the better for it. The bar is suddenly higher and, though it is hard to put a finger on it , it appears as if all the elements needed to reach your higher self are lined up in front of you. The people, the time, the place... your own talent, and the talent of others supporting your effort. And yet, just as an athlete at the tops of his game, when you watch... it looks effortless.
This is how I describe It's Too Late to Stop Now. My personal favorite Van CD, it is considered by some as the best live CD of all time.

And it happened in the summer of 1973.

The two CD set of Van Morrison and the Caledonia Soul Orchestra recorded in Los Angeles and London is a staple of my humble collection that I go back to again and again. The music has energy... the band is unbelieveable.... the horn section, piano, --- and Van... right there in the moment..... making it all sound easy. So full of soul. This is no stale, rehearsed performance.... you can sense the musicians playing off each other.... doing their own thing, but never straying too far, right with him. It all came together.

Pictured above is the cover of a bootleg of that concert that includes outtakes and what not. I don't have that, but I love the photo. The commercial CD contains 18 songs, and to my suprize, when I looked it up on Amazon, today it is selling for $120 dollars. $71 dollars--- used, and there are only 7 left!
When I bought it several years ago I believe I got it for around $19.99. I guess it is out of print now or something. Sheesh. I'm going to go COPY mine, and for heaven's sake, get it out of the back seat of the car.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Masters of Science Fiction, Episode 4

This is it. The fourth and last of the Masters of Science Fiction Sci Fi series, The Discarded, aired last night on ABC. It starred Brian Dennehy, John Hurt and James Denton in a story of "despised minorities sentenced to drift in the darkness of outer space forever." (From

I looked forward to it the most because it's based on a Harlan Ellison short story, and he not only wrote the teleplay but also had a cameo in it as a misfit mutant. Let's just say I wasn't happy with the episode. Ellison's thumbprint was all over it.... but the sometimes tedious dialogue actually detracted from moving the story forward. At times I was so distracted by the hideously deformed mutants that I forgot to listen.

I felt two things: A sudden longing for the Friday nights of long ago when I would plan my life around the X-files. And... number two, which is harder to define, but I miss Harlan Ellison. I read him when I was too young to understand him. At times his breadth of knowledge and his obscure references went over my head, but yet I was still able to sense the passion in his words. He was clearly a man of wit and temper, compassion and lust, and oftentimes pure unadulturated hate. I remember him characterizing himself as a cross between Jiminy Cricket and Zorro.

Maybe it's all too deep, Harlan. People need hit on the head these days. Or right between the eyes. Subtle social commentary disquised in fantasy/science fiction stories doesn't translate well to the masses for The Glass Teat (what you once called television).

Right at the end, though, I got a reward for watching it all the way through. Stephen Hawking recited one of my favorite Eric Hoffer quotes:
"What monstrosities would walk this earth, were some people's faces as unfinished as their minds."

The Sunday Morning Muse, August 26, 2007

How much is enough?

I have a digital camera that is only two megapixels. Do I need ten? Do I want to be able to magnify every picture to the point where I can see my pores? Or pick out a face in the crowd 500 feet away? (perhaps I'll settle at 4 megapixels on sale)

I have 100's of CDs. Do I need 1000's of MP3's stored on an IPOD? When will I listen to them all? Do I know 1000 good songs?
Same thing with TVs. Why not a whole wall size TV in the house?
Will it stop there?
Don't even get me started on computers. I quit keeping track of how many RAMS of memory I have or the speed of my Pentium chip a long time ago. For all I know computers run on jigawatts now.
At least I don't have dial-up.
But sometimes when I walk through the electronics section of a Radio Shack, or even a Walmart these days, and I don't really know what half of the stuff does that sit on the shelves, I get a sudden feeling I'm being left behind. Like the Amish are more savvy than me on this subject.
Then it all passes and I go home and light one of my oil lamps and read a book.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Reading is... well, Fundamental

Got that bestseller on your nightstand--- half finished? Uncle John's Bathroom reader by your throne? Stephen King stashed by the couch? You are a dying breed, my friends. I read another depressing study last week that revealed, to no one's suprize, that one in four adults read no books at all last year. The people who do read are older people and women.

Anyhow, today I'm starting Wayne Dyer's new book on the Tao Te Ching, called Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life. I caught him on PBS last weekend and got interested in learning more about the Tao, a book that's been on my shelf basically unread since I got it in college. Dr. Dyer meditated on the verses in the Tao, and attempted to relate its message in the context of modern times.

I've read most of Dr. Dyer's books. My favorite is Your Erroneous Zones. In there he talked about Guilt and Worry. Two completely useless emotions. Spending your time feeling guilty about anything will not change the past, and sitting there worrying about the future only wastes your living moments right now. It will alter nothing in the future. Only action-- taken right now in the present can do that.

The change your thoughts, change your life mantra is no new territory for Dr. Dyer. He said all along that you become what you think about. Imagine yourself in the situation you want to be in and live as if it is already there. It makes sense to me. If you want to be thin, imagine yourself as thin and behave as a thin person does. Exercise, eat right, pass on the dessert--- do that every day.... and one morning you will wake up and be thin! Of course, it won't be tomorrow. But, as trite as it sounds, a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.

You see, all this is pretty elementary. We all just need to contemplate more.

It is a dying art.

Now, pass those potato chips.

Naahhh, forget it. I'm contemplating thin-ness.

( I know... good luck with that.)

Radial Velocities in the Zodiacal Dust Cloud

Guitar virtuoso Brian May, of Queen, now 60 years old, got his Doctorate in Astrophysics this week. It's amazing someone with such an incredible musically creative mind, also has a life-long interest for astrophysics and excelled in it. Radial Velocities in the Zodiacal Dust Cloud is the title of his thesis. To me, the musical ability and the science ability.... well, it is the whole left-brain, right-brain thing combined together.

His memorable riffs and guitar solos will live in my head forever. I know them better than the words to some of Queen's songs. His guitar solos .... combined with all that overdubbing... made for a sound so different and unique that you knew Queen instantly. Even before Freddie Mercury's voice kicked in. For the longest time they boasted "NO SYNTHESIZERS" on their album covers.

It was a badge of honor... to boast their musicianship over cheap studio tricks. Musical brilliance is rare these days. I lament it everyday. I kid myself that I play guitar. I actually strum and pick a bit. But I take comfort in the fact that although I will never duplicate the Brian May guitar riffs I hear in my head, the world needs people like me who can appreciate those riffs, and the talent to make them come alive.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Sunday Morning Muse, August 19, 2007

This morning's post was delayed today. When I went to get milk for my coffee, I discovered that sometime in the night, my Kenmore fridge went to Refrigerator Heaven.
It wasn't like I didn't know the end was near. It had all the signs. Temperature had gone up, water was accumulated in places it shouldn't, and its bottom rusted out. Never made a noise though, suffered in silence till the end, because the compressor or whatever is in there, went. The Big One.

No time to mourn. The clean up began immediately... taking all the stuff out that was still edible, and then opening up the freezer --- and finding out that the Luigi's Italian Ice cups were competely melted. I grabbed one, instead of solid ice.... a big squirt of Srawberry slush sprayed like pink tears all over the rug.

The new Frigidare will be here tomorrow.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Masters of Science Fiction, Third Show Preview

Saturday's Masters of Science Fiction feature, Jerry was a Man is based on a 1947 short story written by Robert A. Heinlein, originally called Jerry Is a Man published in Thrilling Wonder Stories (October 1947).

From the ABC website:

Set in the future, the world's seventh richest couple, the van Vogels, find their lives changed forever when they acquire an anthropoid named Jerry.

This show will on air on ABC TV at 10 pm.

Don't you just love the covers of the old Sci- Fi Pulp Magazines? Here's a gallery to check out if you want to see a few.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

No more long evenings on the couch holding a heavy book on my pillow until my eyes give out from reading so much. I am finished with the last Harry Potter book. It is for others to dissect,discuss and debate. Suffice to say I enjoyed entering Harry's world for awhile by way of great writing combined with J.K. Rowling's incredible imagination.

I don't know if I'll phrase this exactly right, but, as anyone who has toyed with writing will agree, it's humbling to read something that is so thought out, so researched, has such great characters, and a truly unique plotline--- yet can be enjoyed by such a wide age range. It's impossible to name an equal, unless you look toward the classics... Huck Finn maybe?

Rowling said it took 17 years to write Harry's story. Where do you get that kind of inner strength? Stick-to-it-tive-ness? Compare that to those among us who can't
fully commit to much lesser projects? Or to the imbecile TV writers who, in their quest to appeal to the lowest common denominator, alienate or offend just about everyone at some point with their obligatory sex jokes and references every 2.5 minutes, in lieu of striving for real emotions or character empathy?

Thanks J.K. Rowling for showing us how to do it. She took us with her to her imaginative world of wizards and muggles, witches and goblins, and made us care about them.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Just Checking the Terror Alert Level

Terror Alert Level


Ernie: All commercial flights
Bert: Everything else

This is an oldie but goodie. I checked it today just because I had no clue what the terror alert level was, and I remembered I posted this a while back.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Sunday Morning Muse, August 12, 2007

I don't have a clock in my living room anymore since my last VCR went. Surfing around for a new clock, I found this. Pretty neat huh? Okay, maybe not for the livingroom. But I certainly want one for my desk. I think it is a 'muse'-ing. (Okay if you don't get it... it's 12:39) Not sure about the AM or PM yet.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Masters of Science Fiction Preview of Show 2

The second episode airs tonite on ABC. Only four of, I believe six, will see the light of day as the evil network people prefer more banal entertainment such as National Bingo Night and Wife Swap. The episode includes the former Cigarette Smoking Man, William B. Davis, from the X-files:

(From ABC'S website)

The second episode, "The Awakening" stars Terry O'Quinn and Elisabeth Rohm. Based on the short story by Hollywood Blacklist author Howard Fast ("Spartacus," "Citizen Tom Paine"), the episode opens outside Baghdad, where U.S. soldiers discover a mysterious casualty - one they can't even identify as human. William B. Davis ("The X-Files") guest stars as the President of the United States. Michael Petroni ("Till Human Voices Wake Us") directed from a script he wrote, based on the short story by Howard Fast.

Terry O'Quinn is another X-files alum, but I remember him also on the old Millennium series as Peter Watts. I still have several episodes of that program on old VHS tapes that may or may not play anymore, but I treasure them, particularly the finale. The show ended in 1999. It was Chris Carter's follow up to the X-files, and was really freaky.

Meanwhile Back at the Ranch. . .

If you can believe what you read, Kinky Friedman may make another run for Governor of Texas in 2010. This time as a Democrat.

According to the Statesman newspaper in Texas he said, "Had I run as a Democrat last time, I think (Gov.) Rick Perry would already be (out of office as) a lobbyist for a cigar company."

Speaking of cigars, The Dallas News this week reports Kinky debuted his new line of ... what else? Cigars.
Unusual names include:

The Governor (politics), Kinkycristo, (Montecristo is a famous Cuban cigar), Texas Jewboy (name of his backup band), Utopia (name of his dog rescue ranch) and The Willie (good friend and adviser Willie Nelson).

Friday, August 10, 2007

It's Raining Men

I don't normally post so called "fan edits" or tributes, but this is actually pretty well done!

Get Ready for the Perseid's Meteor Shower

Starting Saturday night, more toward Sunday morning and for the next couple of days, it is that time again in August to watch the sky for the Perseid Meteor Shower. Some years are better than others, but experts are predicting a good year this year, and locally it appears the weather will be okay.

You really don't want to miss them. If the sky is dark, and there are few clouds you can see as may as 60 'shooting stars' an hour in a good year.

And if you do see a falling star.... don't forget to make a wish or two!


  • Find a friend who lives in the country and go sit outside... or at least away from the city lights.
  • Give yourself about 20 minutes in the dark for your eyes to adjust.
  • Look to the northern part of the sky... though they could appear anywhere really.
  • Best time to watch: Sunday morning, late Sunday night and Monday morning before dawn.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

You Too Can Be a Star... for Around 35 Bucks

Still thinking about stars because of the Perseid Meteor Shower this coming weekend.

You've probably heard the commercials.... I know I have, on late night radio. For only something like 35 dollars, you can have your name in the Star Registry on file with the Library of Congress and a star will be named after you.

Well, I was skeptical, and went to The Straight Dope to see if this was malarkey, and it sure is.

You pretty much can copyright anything with the Library of Congress, it doesn't mean they endorse it.

If you can believe the Star Registry web site, they've been doing this since 1979. I predict they will never run out of stars.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Masters of Science Fiction, First Show

ABC's Masters of Science Fiction's first program, A Clean Escape, provided me with a clean escape. . . into sound sleep. Luckily I taped it, so I watched the rest today. I'm glad I did. Prof. Steven Hawking did some voiceover work ala Rod Serling, then the first part was very slow, and I wasn't sure where it was going. The last part of the show picked up quite a bit. Most of the show took place in a psychiatrist's office of the future. No Tony Soprano in sight however. And instead of Dr. Melfi, we get a rather suicidal woman with a lot of anger issues, and a dubious politico with amnesia.

SPOILER ALERT: (Don't read any further if you don't want to know what happened that made her so angry.)

Accountability for one's actions is the theme, and it is on a Presidential scale. Premptive strikes and nuclear technology... what could go wrong here? A lot, and it is on a catastrophic scale. 871 people left in the world according to last count. (Well, actually if you wait till the very end of the program there is 870.)

As a society our collective attention span is shorter and shorter. Perhaps that is why I fell asleep
during the show. But, similiar to the vintage Twilight Zone shows, the formula is straightforward: Setup the audience a bit and make them feel unbalanced, not sure where it is all leading... and then throw in the twist at the end that makes it worthwhile. On a low budget.

The show strives to be intellectual, thought provoking, if you will. Not overpowering or taxing for someone such as my friends or myself, but certainly a strain for the entertainment president of ABC, who is axing it in favor National Bingo Night and Wife Swap.

There are only 4 episodes that will air, and it will be gone forever. And I'll be back to watching
Soprano's reruns or Public Television.

The Sunday Morning Muse, August 5, 2007

It's Sunday morning in America, and countless people at this very moment are hearing about Adam and Eve-- the biblical story of creation. When I was a kid in Sunday school, I wondered if Adam and Eve had two sons, then where did all the people come from?

The Christians certainly don't corner the market on the story of creation. There are countless other myths out there. Many common names we see all the time are remnants of Greek, Egyptian, Norse, and other mythologies--and they still permeate our culture.
For example: Planet Uranus.

From Wikipedia:

Uranus: It is named after the ancient Greek deity of the sky, the father of Kronos (Saturn) and grandfather of Zeus (Jupiter). Uranus was the first planet discovered in modern times.
LiveScience presents a Top 10 list of Creation Myths that helped to define various civilizations both past and present. Adam and Eve is Number 1. Number 2 talks about Uranus... and it kind of makes you wonder why we named a planet after him. I can imagine this one below would be a tough myth to teach in Sunday School:

The early Greek poets posited various cosmogonies. The best-preserved is Hesiod's Theogony. In this hymn, out of the primordial chaos came the earliest divinities, including Gaia (mother earth). Gaia created Uranus, the sky, to cover herself. They spawned a bizarre menagerie of gods and monsters, including the Hecatonchires, monsters with 50 heads and a hundred hands, and the Cyclopes, the "wheel-eyed," later forgers of Zeus's thunderbolts.

Next came the gods known as the Titans, 6 sons and 6 daughters. Uranus, despising his monstrous children, imprisoned them in Tartarus, the earth's bowels. Enraged, Gaia made an enormous sickle and gave it to her youngest son, Cronus, with instructions. When next Uranus appeared to copulate with Gaia, Cronus sprang out and hacked off his father's genitals! Where Uranus's blood and naughty bits fell, there sprang forth more monsters, the Giants and Furies. From the sea foam churned up by the the holy testicles came the goddess Aphrodite. Later, Cronus fathered the next generation of gods, Zeus and the Olympians.


Sheesh.. this makes eating a forbidden fruit not such a big deal. Imagine if Eve was told *not* to use the sickle. :)

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Don't Be Trapped in Your Car

This week's bridge collapse tragedy in Minnesota inspired me to tell people about a gadget I keep all the time in my car. It's my Automobile Escape Hammer. I used to jokingly refer to it as my laser gun, but now there ARE real lasers people carry around... and this doesn't have a laser. It does have a rather weak mini-light. . . anyhow, this is the perfect stocking stuffer, cheap present, or gift for yourself. It provides years worth of peace of mind.

* Chrome-plated tip breaks the window
* Stainless steel blade cuts the seat belt strap
* Pointed metal tip punctures the air bag
* Mini-light helps you see your escape route
Snipped from J. C.

Cars are designed to keep you safely inside on impact, but power locks, seat belts and air bags can make it difficult to get out, especially when you're in a hurry. This potentially life-saving device helps you or other trapped passengers escape before help arrives. Uses 2 "AAA" batteries (not included).

David Hasselhoff - Rhinestone Cowboy

I don't know why this made me laugh, but thanks T, for emailing it to me. The juxtapostion of a giant cowboy boot on stage, the super tight leather pants on Hoff, and the string section blew me away.