Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Jack White's final gig, 2015-04-26, Fargo Theater (video)

Edit: video is back 10/2017 Edit 4/29 - Video has been removed from YouTube due to a copyright claim. A copyright claim that in this case is difficult to argue with.

Jack White recently said he was quitting live tours for "a long period of time", and announced a handful of acoustic gigs in states he'd never played before in order to draw a line under his touring.

The last one took place in Fargo, North Dakota on April 26th, 2015. A friend of mine flew across the country on the very rumor it would take place and was more than satisfied, so that's one good review.

It was streamed live by the subscription-only Third Man Records' Vault, and by Jack White's latest venture, Tidal. And, as is the way of the web, it's also available on the down-low on YouTube. I don't expect this link to last long, so watch while you have time!

And if you DON'T have time, KeepVid is now available as a web service so you don't have to download any scary .exe files in order to use it.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

In which birthday celebrations are had, and unhad.

Warning: gross.

So yesterday I went to the DMV to renew my driver's licence. It was my birthday, the last possible day to renew. On the other hand, when I booked the appointment months ago, it was the first slot they had.

My eyesight has been getting worse for a few months now and I was worried about about the distance vision eye test they give you, so that kind of overshadowed the birthday thing. In a completely unconnected way, I've also been eating low-carb for a few months. Every now and again a chip or a fry or a spoonful of rice, but not much and absolutely no sugar. Also equally unrelatedly, I discovered eye-glass lanyards a couple of months ago, so I wear my reading glasses all the time - around my neck on the lanyard.

I went to the DMV and got sent to the window immediately. Score! Then she asked me to read the eye chart. I panicked and said I couldn't. She was patient and eventually I read the lines first with both eyes and then with each eye separately. (When you wear reading glasses, they compensate for whatever the eye rotation inward is called. When you take them off, your eyes have to remember to rotate separately to focus on a distant object. So a few seconds preparation makes a big difference to what you can see with a single eye.) It was a bit difficult with the left eye though - she made me read two different lines in case I had memorized the first one. Which in fact I had, in fact. CA eye charts are easy to memorize. They are the same five letters over and over in different orders. You know if you've used up the "p" the one that looks similar later is the "f".

She asked me if I normally wore glasses and I said I didn't. She looked at them, bouncing on my chest. We got over that difficulty, and she gave me a bit of paper to tide me over the couple of weeks with an expired licence until the new one arrives.

I was so relieved I felt like celebrating so I went to Vons and bought a GIGANTIC piece of carrot and coconut cake with about two inches of sugar-cream-cheese frosting.

I got home, drank a tumblerful of vodka, poured cream over the cake slice and ate it. It was the sweetest, most carrotty and coconutty cake ever and the cream cheese frosting was so rich it was almost 100% cheese AND 100% white sugar.

About six hours later - so after midnight and technically not on my birthday - I woke up and realized Mr. Cake was not appreciated by my stomach. I ran to the bathroom and I swear when I saw it again, it was more or less whole. The crumb structure was intact. The frosting was intact. If I had a fork and the inclination I could have reassembled it, complete with cream cheese frosting on top. Nothing, not even the sugar, was missing.

This probably means I should stay on a low carb diet, right?

However, my eyesight is better today, which means that when the eye doctor told me my eyesight would be best after a good night's sleep of at least 9 hours, what he actually meant was my eyesight would improve no end after I got up at three in the morning to take a call on the porcelain telephone and spent the next three hours re-hydrating.

Moss vs. Spirogyra: Two plants enter, one has leaves

I don't know why this mattered so much, but during winter someone posted this photo of an alligator with plant matter on his back on Facebook, and said it was "moss" growing on its back.  I replied that it was pondweed, and the animal may have rolled in it.

He replied to say it was obviously moss as it was "hairy" and pondweed is "not hairy".

It was winter, so there wasn't much growth in my pond, but now it's spring, so here we go.

The stuff on the right is moss. Moss is famously not "hairy" - it's one of the most primitive plants to have proper leaves.  The stuff on the left is pondweed - this is the equally famous spirogyra of school microscope lessons fame - and it is by definition hairy, as it's made up of very long filaments.

In my case the spirogyra is being heaped up on the edge of a water flow, and lies in long, curly tangles.

The alligator photo was originally posted on Reddit, and you can read the thread about it here. The Redditors are interchangeably calling it "moss" and "algae" (algae is the plant type to which spirogyra belongs). They're not sure if the animal is sick and unable to clean itself, or growing the sweater, as they call it, or if it has rolled in it. Since alligators shed their scales like other reptiles, they should cast off any plant growth regularly. A few think it's the animal's ghillie suit, but I remain optimistic that alligators aren't that clever. I hope.

But whatevs, moss is not hairy.

He'll never see this, as that was on Facebook, and he's a friend of a friend anyway, i.e. someone I've never met and never will meet.  But, hey, picture of moss and pondweed.

Western Oriole on a hummingbird feeder

Edit: I'm told he's a Western Oriole.

I thought it was a goldfinch, but there are goldfinches on the seed-feeder which are much smaller. And this has a yellow forehead and black breast. The goldfinches are supposed to have a black forehead and a yellow breast.

Here's a hummingbird for size comparison.

Whoever he is, he's a big meanie. He chased away all the little hummers.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Doctor Who is Cliff Richard's father

Unearthed from 1969, a Tyne Tees series in which Cliff Richard tries to do the right thing.

Nicholas Whyte is responsible for the disinterment. There are three episodes surviving, down from six originally broadcast.  The TV is itself remarkably primitive - the black and white square box looks as though it's from 1949, not 1969. And the sentiments aren't much more modern.

It seems to stem from a Sunday sermon program. I don't recall it, but then I didn't see much Tyne Tees (I was in Yorkshire) in 1969.  The format is: youth is disaffected; youth goes in search of his roots; youth learns he is wrong and the Church of England is correct. Wait, that sounds boring. But it's not boring! It's Cliff Richard at the height of his powers along with The Settlers singing fairly good songs. If you like to play "guess the parable", or if you just wonder how Imaginary Youth interacted with Imaginary Police, this is the series for you.

NSFW: Beware that when you see what's graffiti'd on the wall at the beginning of Johnny Up the Creek, you'll want to bail. No TV station on earth would put that phrase up there for all to see nowadays. But the program's heart is in the right place. The type of person who wrote the slogan is shown up as an idiot later on. Still alarming to see, though.

The great delight is seeing William Hartnell, the original Doctor Who, as Johnny's father in Johnny Come Home.

4/23 Edited to put the NSFW warning earlier in the post.
[edited to renew links 10/17]

Monday, April 06, 2015

About the Hugos

I should blog about the Worldcon nominations for the Hugo, but words fail me.

For the record, anybody on the RP or Sad Puppy slate is going below "No Award" on my vote card. 

Yes, I have thought about it. I've read everything I can on the issue so far and that's the nuclear option, but it's the only way out. Abigail Nussbaum explains in detail here.

I've read all the threads on Making Light, Whatever and Antipope, as well as thousands of posts on Kotaku, Vox Day and Brad Torgersen.  I'm voting Noa Waard for anything on a slate - this year only the Sad and the Rabid Puppies, but next year who knows. Slates poison the Hugo.


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