The Joy of Home Ownership, Part 2: Coyote Urine Thing's I found out this weekend: Raccoons will come to your pond and eat your fish. They will trample and tear your water lillies. They will rip foam filters to shreds. They will uproot newly planted pretty yellow flowers. What can you do? Try PredatorPee.com, or for raccoons specifically, Coyote Urine. Simply "mark" the area around the watering hole using the special urine applicators, and raccoons will think it's a predator's territory and stay away.
Well, it worked the first night. What does Coyote Pee smell like you ask? Musky. How do they collect that Coyote Pee you ask? Very Carefully
John Lee Hooker is dead. When I was in junior high and high school, my dad and I would go to the record store together sometimes. I would get something by, say, the Raunch Hands or Guadalcanal Diary, and my dad would get some jazz or some real blues. Jimmy Reed. Hound Dog Taylor. Nina Simone. One day he picked up a big gray double album with a really black grizzled dude on the cover. "Boogie Chillun - John Lee Hooker" it said. "Hey," I said, "I know that song 'Boogie Chillun' from my George Thorogood record. Cool." How could I know? Now, after these trips we'd usually come home and listen to the albums he had bought. (I'd listen to mine in my room later.) When my dad put on John Lee, I was shocked. Here was a double album of just a guy with his guitar. Not an acoustic guitar like Josh White or something, but a dirty sounding plunky electric guitar. And he didn't really play on a strict beat, but rather stepped unsteadily from accent to accent, like a drunk walking underwater. And he didn't play strict 12 bar patterns, but instead played 15 bars here, and maybe only 11 next time if he felt like it. And that voice, deep and knowing, wise and hard. It sounded so right, so pure, so raw. Like he just sat down in the room and was pouring his emotions out to us over improvised guitar plunkings. In E, the lowest key for guitar. So I kept that album in my room and listened to it a lot, and it went to college with me, and now it's in my collection where I took that picture of it that's down the blog a bit. For me it removed all the boundries of how gnarly you could get with music. Here was a guy just moaning and plunking, perhaps even making it up as he went along, and yet it was undeniably powerful. It really opened things up for me. Later I got "Hooker 'n Heat" as well, an album with John Lee backed up by Canned Heat from 1970 that cooks. Here's something nice that the producer wrote about him: When I first contacted John about making the album, I told him that I had booked a week of time at the studio and he told me, "If you don't already know, I make a whole album in one night; I only do one take and if you don't get it then that's just too bad!" Well, I told John it might be a "double" album and he replied: "If we're gonna make a double album than you're gonna have to pay me double money!" Thanks Mr. Hooker!
Then yesterday I went to Yoga. It was pretty hard, but fun.
I saw "Message to Love - The Isle of Wight festival," a movie about this festival in 1970. I guess there were a lot of problems with people wanting to get in free. Misguided hippies, the end of the 60's idealism and all that. The controversy was interesting for a second, but got very boring. Why not use that film time to show more music? As far as the music, Jimi seemed strung out, not playing his best, Joni Mitchell was goose-bump inducing, Ten Years After totally rocked (though they were faded out for no good reason) and the Who, at the height of their hard rock phase, were incredible and stood head and shoulders above the rest of the rock acts.
posted by Greg 11:48 AM
This book, a collection of short fiction and non-fiction pieces, has a great essay called "Pravda means Truth" which makes fun of Russians. Written during the height of the cold war, it's a fascinating view of international politics as they existed then, through the eyes of Robert Heinlein. Here's what this guy wrote about it: In his articles, " 'Pravda' Means 'Truth' " and "Inside Intourist," Heinlein had portrayed himself as capable of using apparent anger for tactical purposes, and also recommended the practice to others. He'd declared, "It is better to pretend to lose your temper before things have grown so unbearable that you actually do blow your top; it saves wear and tear on your ulcers and enables you to conduct your tactics more efficiently." If you think I'm crazy for liking Heinlein so much, read what Kurt Vonnegut has to say about "Sranger in a Strange Land."
posted by Greg 2:35 PM
Saturday, June 16, 2001
Wow. I don't usually like to rag on things in my blog, but I saw Pearl Harbor last night, and boy did it suck. OK, the CGI was awesome, but the rest of the film was an embarrassment to the craft of film making. I agree with Ebert. If you go to the web site, you have to register before you can see anything. fuck that
Luckily my faith in art was restored this morning when I saw Kendra's first grade class perform a great play she'd written for them about America. Actually, it was a musical, and it was awesome!
posted by Greg 3:21 AM
Thursday, June 14, 2001
This is a photo of the sunset taken by my aunt-in-law up in Alaska. It's pretty, huh? She lives there.
"We're in a tight spot." - I saw my new favourite movie "O Brother Where Art Thou" on the DVD last night. It just came out on Tuesday. It's so great and funny, and has such good pacing. Plus the music is outrageously great. I highly suggest that everyone go out and get this one.
Above is a painting by that guy Jan Toroop that I was talking about. Click it for a bigger version.
The movie is pretty great, especially cause it makes the English look very foolish. And because of the gratuitous James Caan going psycho scene. And the best part, Gene Hackman as a war-worn Pole who always says "General" with a hard G and a sneer. when I went to Europe after college I stayed one night at a youth hostel in Arnhem and visited the awesome Kröller-Müller Museum on the advice of my Aunt. It's a cool museum situated inside a big park where they don't allow any cars. Instead there are lots of white bicycles around that you can use to ride in to the museum for free. It's really flat and there's tons of thin white trees.
I remember walking though Arnhem on a weekday evening and checking out the rhythm of life there, wondering at the strange 50's style department store buildings, and getting some pomme fritte. All the buildings were modern of course because it was flattened during the war.
So I got to go to a great Dodgers game on Saturday against the Angels. It was a day game, a hot mostly clear day, a sell out crowd, and most importantly, Kirk Gibson Bobble Head Doll day. It was a close game, not too action packed, but it all came down to the bottom of the ninth, score tied at 1. The bases were loaded with no outs, and it looked good. The Angeles pulled their center fielder in to play in the infield. They managed to get one force out at home, but the next batter was Mark Grudzielanek and he drove a fly ball over the head of the right fielder (who was playing very far in so as to be able to throw out a runner at home base) and won the game. Altogether a satisfying outing.
Check out this animation and this cool site about a guy who takes pictures of space with a telescope and a webcam. Check out this picture of the International Space Station:
File under Brass Pajamas: I'm on a huge Ray Charles kick, as in that's all I've listened to for the last two weeks. Then I go to his website and find out that I can book the Ray Charles trio for my coorporate event. Tempting. Another great thing about him is his autobiography.
File under Western Mystery: Ever read Emily Dickinson's poems? She's real good. Molli just read me this one:
This is the land the sunset washes, These are the banks of the Yellow Sea; Where it rose, or whither it rushes, These are the western mystery!
Night after night her purple traffic Strews the landing with opal bales; Merchantmen poise upon horizons, Dip, and vanish with fairy sails.
I guess I should explain why that Ryder painting bellow is so dark. See, Ryder was an eccentric, as in, he was a recluse and a slob and could never truly finish a painting. There are stories about his apartment being piled 4 feet deep with trash, with paths to the bathroom, his bed, and the easel, which had a hot plate next to it. He would keep his paintings on the easel for years, constantly going over them, then varnishing, then painting more, then varnishing. Friends would have to beg him to sell them one. He would also do strange things like mixing dirt or food in with his paint, or try to make his own pigments out of crushed up flowers or whatever. What is paint? Paint is simply pigment suspended in a medium. Pigment in it's raw form is colored powder. The medium for oil paint is oil, generally linseed oil. (acryllic paint is just pigment in acrylic, or plastic, that has been formulated to dry relatively quickly. And not turn yellow.) Why do paintings crack? There is an old rule for oil painting that says you must paint fat onto lean. This means that once you paint one layer, your next layer should contain more oil, or fat, and so on until you are done with the painting. This is because oil takes a long time to dry out, and the more oil the paint has, the longer it will take to dry. Painting crack because the top layer dries before layers underneath it dry. When the deeper layers dry, they shrink a tiny bit, causing the dry shell on top to crack apart. Kind of like brownies or something. So Ryder ignored all these rules, and used cheap pigments that turn black, and cheap varnish that turns yellow, and painted lean onto fat and so forth, so that his painting started deteriorating during his lifetime. Some have been stablized by art restorers, but others are too far gone. But this deterioration kind of gives them an otherworldly glow. Interestingly, the great wacko British painter Francis Bacon lived like Ryder, a complete slob who would live in an apartment for a couple years until it was wrecked and then move on. He's also famous for painting and then scaping it off, over and over until it was right. And being drunk. But what a painter!!!!!:
Above is a painting by Philip Evergood, an American working in the early part of this century who's stuff I really like. He's a little obscure though, so it's hard to find stuff on him. This is probably his most famous painting, "Lily and the Sparrows," and it's quite creepy. He's not nearly as famous as Albert Pinkham Ryder, another American who was a very strange character and awesome painter:
Ryder wrote this about the above painting, "The Temple of the Mind:" The theme is Poe's Haunted Palace ... The finer attributes of the mind are pictured by three graces who stand in the center of the picture: where their shadows from the moonlight fall toward the spectator. They are waiting for a weeping love to join them. On the left is a Temple where a cloven footed faun dances up the steps snapping his fingers in fiendish glee at having dethroned the erstwhile ruling graces.
posted by Greg 11:08 AM