Friday, September 26, 2008

John Foxx/Louis Gordon at Cargo in London: Update

OK--I've been home resting today, as I've been exhausted. I checked my MySpace bulletins. From John Foxx's page, there was an update about John's recent Japan show, and the upcoming London and Venice shows. As it turns out, both The Garden and Young Savage are on the setlist. I would give my right tit to hear John perform Young Savage live. (Sorry to be graphic, it's just a fact).

So, I have plowed a hole in my schedule for that week by postponing my midterm, and I'm going to the London Cargo show. I am still dazed--as though I will wake up tomorrow and realize it was a dream, I didn't spend $700 on a plane ticket, but I somehow don't care. In case you were wondering--yes, I have my show ticket as well. The Intertubes are just grand.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Devilish things

It's Saturday morning. I was awakened by a large black cat doing this. It is so cold in my house--I finally broke down and turned on the heat. I hate doing that before October, but this morning was ridiculous. Now that things are warming up and Shiva is sufficiently baffled by the sound of hot water moving through the baseboards, I feel like I can sit down and write.

I've gotten two invites on Facebook to the John Foxx and Louis Gordon show in London, and it just makes me more bummed that I can't go. The music is great, the shows are supposed to be amazing, they're selling limited edition CDs, and John is gorgeous, so I feel like I'm missing a lot. Continental is offering seriously cheap fares to London during October, and I have been really tempted to blow off teaching classes and to stay with Sherri for the weekend to see the show. Alas, he is playing on October 16, which is midterms week. If I bail on that, I'm in trouble. This isn't the first time I've been faced with such a dilemma, and it's times like this that I hate my tendency to be a responsible adult. However, if you are reading this and in the UK, you might want to go; the info is here. Write and tell me about it if you do. If it's really awesome, don't rub it in.

Last night I went out with Liz again, for her birthday. After dinner we watched a 70s horror flick she'd gotten through her Netflix queue called "The Brotherhood of Satan". We agree on our assessment of the film: "What the hell was that ABOUT, anyway?" Like most ill-made horror movies from the 60s and 70s, there's a lot of bad acting, poor uses of tempera paint ("is that supposed to be blood?") and an extremely disjointed plot. In some perverse way, that's what makes these movies appealing; you already know they're going to be bad, but somehow the incredulity that anyone would commit something like it to tape makes you want to watch it. There's a reason why shows like MST3K were so popular. In any event, what I took away from the movie was that apparently all children in small towns between the ages of 6 and 9 are evil. This seems to fit in with the tacky horror movie milieu, and the theory probably carries weight with primary school teachers. There is a website of bad album cover art called Show and Tell Music that features a creepy children's Bible album cover on its home page. Those children are definitely evil.

Show and Tell Music has all kinds of bad album art, but I'm always intrigued by the Christian records. To say that I am not a fan of proselytization is an understatement, but the same perversity that makes me want to watch bad movies also makes me curious about these rather absurd attempts to evangelize. They make Tammy Faye Baker look sophisticated. After looking at them and hearing some of the sound clips, I am convinced that if there are real Satanists, they must be making this albums. No self-respecting Christian who wants to convert people would make albums like these. They either talk about Jesus in a way that sounds creepy and disturbing, or they try to scare the shit out of kids (and adults) with eschatalogical warnings and visions of hell. My favorite one is "Pip Pip the Naughty Chicken", a story written for children by a Seventh Day Adventist. It talks about Pip PIp, a little chicken who wouldn't obey, so he ends up rotting in hell with Satan and all his minions. As the owner of Show and Tell Music put it: "It's cute." I no longer wonder why kids exposed to this type of Christianity have a tendency to become serial killers.

Speaking of evil things, I came across an article in my RSS feeds regarding a black fox that was sighted in a graveyard near Chorley in Lancashire. Black foxes are mentioned in Gaelic folklore, but apparently no one has ever seen one in Britain, at least until now. Like black cats and dogs, they are associated with the devil. Personally, I think the opposite--black creatures are good luck. I have 2 black cats, and I've seen no ill effects on my life (other than one of them peeing outside the litter box). We have a number of Indian students who work with us at the university library that I work at full-time. When they look at my Facebook page and see my black cats, they always ask me how I can live with black cats. Since they are believers in jyotish, I pointed out that black creatures are very auspicious for Shani or Kethu dasha. Plus, they make great "basement cat" pictures. Here is the latest one of those.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Saturday During a Tropical Storm

It's Saturday, and I'm at home while Tropical Storm Hanna is unleashing a ton of rain outside. Frankly, it's no worse than the average thunderstorm, at least not here. And as for the tropical storm wind warnings--I get bigger gales from my ceiling fan. I actually wish there WAS more wind--it would look cooler.

So, while I'm avoiding housework and 2 restless cats, I've been listening to more of John Foxx (mentioned in my earlier Ultravox post). I've been checking out more of his solo work, from "Metamatic" in 1980 to "Tiny Colour Movies" in 2006. Much of what I've heard is pretty sublime, and at the same time, very emotionally distant. I'm particularly liking it, because it goes along so well with some of the fiction I've been writing these days. In any case, I stand by my thought that John Foxx is seriously underrated; obviously he has a core of fans, but why he isn't more well-known as an artist is an absurdity to me. Then again--it seems like the best authors, musicians, and artists remain on the fringes, while a lot of trash ends up selling big (particularly true of music AND books). I don't know what this says about humankind, but it can't be good.

Speaking of absurdities--at work I've been working through cataloging a number of curriculum guides for our university's teacher education program. Maybe I'm out of the loop, but I was totally amazed to see that there are curriculum guides in science, math, social studies, and reading for kindergartners. These kids are 5 YEARS OLD. From what I've been told, this has been practice for quite some time now. The curricula get more and more difficult, classes are more and more structured--even their free time is overly structured. Who the hell ever heard of a "play date"? I hear that phrase often from my friends who are parents, and it makes me cringe. My Mom, who is one of the most paranoid individuals I know, would just turn us loose and tell us to be home by suppertime. We NEVER had schoolwork over the summer, not until high school--and that was just summer reading.

If you think all of this makes our kids smarter or more educated, you're wrong. I routinely deal with undergraduates who can barely put a sentence together. Scholarly research is pretty much non-existent (sorry, the first page of Google hits on your keyword search is not research). Most of them would not pick up a book to read for leisure if their life depended on it. My graduate students are a little better, but as I mentioned in another post, the worst offenders seem to be elementary and high school teachers. It scares me that these people do not have basic language skills.

My friend Liz (who used to teach elementary school kids until she became burned out) theorizes that most kids are burned out by the 6th grade. This is probably true. There seems to be little regard for leisure, spontaneity, or creativity in the education system (or kids' lives in general) today. Whatever happened to unstructured play? How do kids express themselves? I'm not encouraged by the kind of adults they seem to become. D.W. Winnicott is probably rolling over in his grave.

There is the whole issue of "protection" in the same way that the U.S. Patriot Act is an expression of "protection"--imposing limits in the name of safety and security. I don't buy either one. I'm sure there are some cases where kids need to be sheltered a bit more. But when I'm told that things "are worse now" than they were before--nope, don't buy it. We just hear about more things now than we did before.

I don't know what the consequences of building a nation of adults who are barely literate and can't fend for themselves will be, but I also imagine that it can't be good.

Ah well. I continue to marvel at the absurdity of humans. Creation science museums, Westboro Baptist Church, George W. Bush, the fact that the Eagles even exist as a band...the list could go on.

It appears that Shiva is shredding my paperwork upstairs. Enough speculation, back to reality...

Friday, September 05, 2008

Evolutionists Flock to Darwin-Shaped Wall Stain (The Onion)

I saw this today. Apparently the Onion doesn't provide content-embedding code anymore, so here's the link:

Evolutionists flock to Darwin-shaped wall stain

I wonder how they manage to come up with this stuff... :)