Brahms Shooting Cats

14 Oct 2016 /

Allegedly, Brahms would sit by a window with a bow-and-arrow-type weapon that Dvorák gave him, and shoot arrows at the cats in the street.

Schmopera

Lullaby, and good night, in the skies stars are briiight . . . GODDAMN CATS!!!

bow and arrow


Are You a Role Model for Today’s Youth?

9 Oct 2016 /
George Carlin

The first question in tonight’s debate was “Are you a role model for today’s youth?”

I suppose this was the leadoff question because we found out this week that Donald Trump said some bad things 11 years ago.

I’ve been surprised by the amount of phony outrage about that given that

  1. Hillary Clinton’s husband set the bar for how crudely an American president can behave toward women. Or maybe JFK set the bar — he was a pimp and a degenerate but politicians were afforded a lot more privacy in those days so it’s hard to say for sure who was the bigger lout. As far as Clinton vs. Trump, we have actions vs. words. Big difference to me between saying (for example) “I’d like to fuck an intern with a cigar” and fucking an intern with a cigar. The spectacle of Hillary Clinton saying that a lack of reverence toward women indicates a lack of fitness for public office is surreal.
  2. If there’s a heterosexual man who hasn’t made remarks about women that would harm his reputation if recorded and played back to the nation, I don’t believe I’ve met him.

Also, as George Carlin used to say, “If your kids need a role model and it’s not you, you’re both fucked.”


Shake it Off (aka Haters Gonna Hate)

6 Oct 2016 /

A Chinese woman tells me that being around white guys inhibits her ability to make edgy (i.e., racist) comments about white guys . . .

I reply, “White guys didn’t get to be what we are by peeing in our pants and crying for our mamas every time someone calls us a name. Haters gonna hate. That has been amply demonstrated. We’re just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake it off.”

 

Some people are offended by absolutely everything, some people are offended by nothing, and everyone else is somewhere in between.

The people at the easily offended end of the spectrum get most of the attention. People who hear a trigger word or a dog whistle that wouldn’t bother a normal person and they’re bleeding out all over the place like hemophiliacs. That’s where most of the focus is, it seems to me. It’s a distorted view of reality.

My son went to college at Berkeley. I’ve been there a lot and I can tell you that if 100 people are blocking Sather Gate to protest a microaggression, when you watch the news that night, you see the 100 people, as though that’s the totality of what was happening.

If you weren’t there, you might think “Wow, the whole campus is in an uproar!” but what you don’t see are 25,000 other people ignoring the 100 protestors, going to class and trying to get on with their day.

If you weren’t there, what you see is not really what was happening.

Sather Gate protest

 

Ten years ago, my son’s junior high school had a co-ed pickleball tournament. The results were posted on the school web site. If a team name contained any sort of cultural reference, the P.E. teacher in charge of the tournament wouldn’t put the name on the web site without deliberately misspelling some of the words.

For example, 3 White Guys and a Hindu became 3 Wite Gus and a Hidu, because identifying someone as white, male or Hindu would be unacceptable.

The team name 3 Blondes and a Brunette came through untouched for some reason. Why people allowed to self-identify as white girls (i.e., blondes), but not as white guys or Hindus I don’t know.

The weirdest one to me was 4 Asians and an Idiot, which came out as 4 Ans and an Idiot.

I asked my son, “Who’s the idiot?”

“Some white guy,” he said.

“Why is it okay to call someone an idiot but not an Asian?”

“It’s not racial.”

True . . . there are idiots of all races.

 

Those kids are all in their early 20s now. They’re just coming into the real world, the next generation, and I’m optimistic about the fact that despite schools and others telling them that they should be offended by absolutely everything, they’re not offended by anything.

They have a sense of perspective, a sense of humor, and I think they’re going to be okay.


Teen Solicits Clown to Kill Teacher

4 Oct 2016 /

Originally she just wanted a pie in the face but the clown upsold her.

“For another $50 I can use a FROZEN pie and kill her!”


How Are You Doing?

24 Sep 2016 /

I feel like I’m confronting the challenges of existence pretty effectively, with the following exceptions: the inevitability of death, freedom and its attendant responsibility, existential isolation, and meaninglessness.


Man Ray Chess Set

23 Sep 2016 /

Really liked this Man Ray chess set at MOCA . . . white has played e4 and waits forever for a response that’s never coming . . .

Man Ray chess set


Quantum Teleportation Breakthrough by DARPA-Funded Physicists

20 Sep 2016 /

Two separate teams of scientists funded by the Pentagon’s research arm have revealed significant breakthroughs in the field of quantum teleportation which could have a major impact on cybersecurity and encryption.

Forget security and encryption I want to disappear one place and appear someplace else. What’s the holdup on that?!


At the MOCA With a Rothko Fan

19 Sep 2016 /
Rothko at MOCA

Rothko at MOCA

My niece and nephew were visiting from Texas . . . I asked her what she thought of the Rothko exhibit at MOCA (see photo above) . . . Keep in mind she’s a petroleum engineering major from Texas . . .

“I love Rothko!” she said. “I used to have a Rothko calendar.”

I admit that threw me off a little. I had expected a lukewarm and/or noncommittal response . . .

“Did you find it had a certain ‘sameness’ about it?”

“No, he used more figures in his earlier paintings.”

“Oh . . . you know, I’ve never been to a museum with someone who actually knows about the art.”

“Ha ha, I don’t know that much, I’m just a fan,” she said.


Vatican Splendors at the Reagan Library

19 Sep 2016 /

They had a funny rule in the Vatican exhibit: photos were okay but no selfies. I could stand in front of an artifact and have someone take a picture of me, but I could not take a picture of myself.

I asked one of the docents about the reason for that. “Does it detract from the holiness of the enterprise or what?”

“No, people taking selfies tend to lose track of their surroundings and start banging into the art.”

 

I bought a souvenir T-shirt for $32 in the gift shop. They made me sign the credit card slip, even though a lot of places trust me for amounts under $50.

“Trust but verify” as President Reagan himself used to say.


Give Me a Flaming Russian

19 Sep 2016 /

If you listen closely, you can hear “Great Balls of Fire” playing on the jukebox.

(Kidding, there’s no sound.)

View post on imgur.com


How to Tell If You’re Too Busy

17 Sep 2016 /

A colleague shared this on Slack:

Busy Guy

It’s a slide from a presentation given by somebody somewhere . . . it’s hard to read but the gist of it is:

In the past, I’ve worked every holiday, on my birthday, my spouse’s birthday, and even on the day my son was born.

I asked the guy who shared it, “How do the birthdays fit in there? I don’t even remember when my spouse’s birthday is, but I certainly didn’t work on the day my son was born.”

“I think he meant on the nights of the birthdays,” was the reply.

“Was he working on the night his son was conceived? I bet he was. He seems like a very busy guy.”


20-Something Girlfriends

17 Sep 2016 /
Mel Gibson

Mel Gibson expecting NINTH child: Lethal Weapon star, 60, announces his girlfriend, 26, is pregnantDaily Mail Online

Here are the ages of Gibson’s current children: 36, 34 (twins), 31, 28, 26, 17, 6.

OK, Gibson is better looking than I am, he has a lot more money than I do . . . on the other hand, I’m younger and taller (Wikipedia lists him as 5’10”).

It gives one pause . . .


What Might We Be Missing?

14 Sep 2016 /

Joshua Bell is a violinist, one of the world’s greatest classical musicians. The Washington Post a few years ago did an experiment where they put him in a DC metro station wearing a pair of jeans, a long-sleeved T-shirt and a Washington Nationals baseball cap. Like a street musician. He’s got an open violin case in front of him so people can put money in.

It’s about 8 a.m. on a Friday, morning rush hour. He plays for 45 minutes, and 1,097 people pass through the area where he’s playing.

Before watching the video, you may want to consider out of that many people — more than 1,000 — how many will recognize the quality for what it is? How many will stop and listen? How much money will he make?

Before you answer, keep in mind that he’s not going to play popular tunes that a lot of people will recognize. He’s not going to play Star Wars, he’s not going to play Disney songs. That’s not the experiment. These are enduring masterpieces.

The piece you’ll hear at the beginning is “Chaconne” by Bach. It’s like the Stairway to Heaven of violin solos. Brahms, also a famous composer — not as famous as Bach but still pretty famous — said: “If I imagined that I could have created, even conceived the piece, I am quite certain that the excess of excitement and earth-shattering experience would have driven me out of my mind.”

The violin he’s playing is a Stradivarius handcrafted in 1713. Price tag? $3.5 million. So he’s got a good fiddle. That’s not the problem.

Americans . . . we’re busy, busy, busy. It’s amazing, funny and dismaying at the same time.

In 45 minutes, seven people stopped what they were doing to listen for at least a minute, 27 gave money for a total of $32.17. That leaves 1,070 people who completely ignored what was happening right in front of them.

As it happens, exactly one person recognized Bell. She enters the video around the 1:35 mark. For the record her name is Stacy Furukawa, a demographer at the Commerce Department.

“It was the most astonishing thing I’ve ever seen,” Furukawa said. “Joshua Bell was standing there playing at rush hour, and people were not stopping, and not even looking, and some were flipping quarters at him! I was thinking, Omigosh, what kind of a city do I live in that this could happen?

Well, she lives in one of the (allegedly) most cultivated cities in America. This is not Bakersfield . . . it’s not Des Moines, Iowa. No offense to people from Iowa but in Iowa they’d just call the cops and have the guy thrown out of there.

What I was hoping you might contemplate is — what might we be missing in our haste to catch the subway, get to work, meet expectations, prove that we belong and keep up with all the minutiae of life?

What might we be missing that’s right in front of us and we’re failing to see the beauty of it?


2 Weeks

12 Sep 2016 /

Sometimes I feel I know
how the story ends
But I go
through the motions anyways
And try to forget

— Arlene Kim Suda, “2 Weeks”

Segregation Was a Marketing Issue?

11 Sep 2016 /


MOCA and the Broad

11 Sep 2016 /

My niece and nephew were visiting from Texas . . . my niece in particular wanted to see the Infinity Mirrored Room installation at the Broad, so off we went.

(Scroll down for photos.)

Unless you reserve tickets well in advance, entry to the Broad is handled via a standby line, which, when we showed up Saturday morning, was about an hour wait, i.e., the museum opened at 10 a.m. and we got in about 11:00.

Because the standby line is in direct sunlight, Broad staff thoughtfully hand out umbrellas to anyone in the queue who wants one. (They do ask for the umbrellas back when you enter.)

The Infinity Mirrored Room is an experiential artwork . . . one visitor at a time enters the room for 45 seconds. It requires a separate reservation which you can make, pending availability, after entering the museum.

Once you get signed up with your name and cell phone, you get a text when it’s your turn to see the room. Our reservation came with a wait time of 4 hours and 35 minutes. Good to know.

That gave us enough time to take in the rest of the museum, and walk across the street to MOCA and take in their entire offering.

A couple of differences between the Broad and MOCA:

  1. MOCA is more museum-y. It makes you feel like whispering. The Broad is more open, playful and fun.
  2. Admission to the Broad is free. MOCA costs 12 bucks.

After wrapping up MOCA and heading back to the Broad, we were able to get an update on our Infinity Mirrored Room wait time. We were prepped to get some lunch and come back if we had to wait out the full 4-1/2 hours, but no: only 15 minutes left! Total wait was only about 3 hours.

Here’s a few photos:


Starbucks Chile Mocha Review

9 Sep 2016 /
Starbucks chile mocha

It sounds like a prank, putting chile powder in someone’s coffee. To be honest, the chile is a bit punishing on the palate, but then coffee itself is a punisher, pummeling its consumers into a state of heightened alertness.

So while I wouldn’t order another chile mocha myself, I can understand how some masochists might appreciate the extra kick.


This Morning at Starbucks

9 Sep 2016 /
starbucks name tag

The girl at Starbucks greeted me by name this morning, which surprised me because she’s still pretty new.

“How do you remember people’s names so fast?” I asked.

She kind of shrugged it off . . . “If I see someone enough times, I remember.”

“I know your name, of course. Sophia. But it’s easier for me because they’re are only a few employees to remember.”

“And we wear these name tags.”

“Yeah, that too.”


They’re Looking for the Ottoman Empire?

6 Sep 2016 /


If we have data, let’s look at data. If all we have are opinions, let’s go with mine.

Posted by on 4 Sep 2016

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