For more information on my writing, please visit my official author website!

Friday, October 20, 2017

Bad Joke Friday

From a newspaper in 1859. I'm so glad that bad humor is timeless!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Something for Thursday

Continuing with scary music! Or music for scary movies. get the idea.

Here is a suite from Wojcech Kilar's wonderful score to the rather uneven film Bram Stoker's DRACULA. While the film is uneven, the score is a classic of the genre.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

When things collapse....

This past weekend adventure.

The groundwork started the previous weekend, when a large puddle formed at the corner of our street and the street that leads to it. It had rained a bit that weekend, so I didn't think anything of the puddle, except it persisted all week, through dry days. Never shrinking. Just...there.

Turns out it was a water main break.

I got home from work Friday afternoon to no running water as the crews were starting the repair right then. I don't know what made them choose Friday night, but I'm guessing that something happened which forced their hand. So no water that night, which wasn't a huge imposition (we keep water bottles filled and have jugs of water on hand at all times), except that I couldn't shower. I shower after work, not before, because the nature of my job doesn't always leave me particularly clean. Plus, showering after the job helps me make the mental switch from Day Job Me to Writer and Homebody Me.

But Friday? No water until 10:00pm, so no shower. No big deal, really; I figured I'd just shower Saturday morning, after The Wife showered and went to work and I got the dee-oh-gee's walked. Fine.

Except The Wife leaves and calls me from the road, two minutes later. The water main is now broken again, and impressively so: it's making a little geyser and flooding the street in ankle-deep water.

Welp. Water main break on my street. Supposed to go to a party later, but if I can't shower.... #argleblargle


A cop is already there. Within minutes a Water Authority guy is also there, and within the hour the water is back off and the crews are working. This time there are even more big machines and big trucks involved, and the water doesn't get turned back on until between 5:30 and 6:00. Again, not a gigantic deal, except that I was now two days removed from my most recent shower, which led me to conclude that I should not attend the work party that had been scheduled for that afternoon.

That sucked. But, the water was back.

Onward to Sunday. Hiking at Hunter's Creek Park with Dee-oh-gee 1.0. Pretty autumn day, nice colors, warm weather if a bit windy.

Vaguely ominous spot in the trail #hunterscreekpark #wny #eriecounty #autumn #EastAurora #nature #hiking #trees #forest

Hunters Creek. Maybe my last creek-walk of the year? #hunterscreekpark #wny #eriecounty #autumn #EastAurora #nature #hiking #stream #runningwater #forest

Another week, another adventure #hunterscreekpark #wny #eriecounty #autumn #EastAurora #nature #hiking #trees #forest #Cane #DogsOfInstagram #greyhound #overalls #dungarees #denim #biboveralls #zacedenim

But later on that day? A wind and thunderstorm barreled through, knocking out power to Casa Jaquandor (among a LOT of others).

For seven hours.


The worst part of this was that our power company's website is supposed to post updates as to status of outages, with estimated restoration times, but they never posted any such information. Every street was listed as "assessing", which they say means that they haven't even figured out what work needs done.

This went on and on and on. At least I got some writing done by candlelight...

Night time power-outage longhand by candle. #amwriting #writersofinstagram #writerinoveralls #longhand #fountainpen #candlelight #overalls #vintage #Lee #bluedenim #dungarees #denim #biboveralls

...but still, not fun. Especially when we discovered that our back-up sump pumps, which had been working fine, were now overwhelmed and our basement was starting to flood.

Luckily that's when the power came back on and the main sump pump engaged and cleared the rest of the water pretty quickly.

Everybody lived and nothing was lost, but the entire weekend was, for the most part, one headache after another.

At least it's over.


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Tone Poem Tuesday

Another hallmark of scary classical music: A Night on Bald Mountain by Modest Mussorgsky.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Sub-optimal function

As a rule, the underground pipe that supplies water to your domicile should not be doing this:

Welp. Water main break on my street. Supposed to go to a party later, but if I can't shower.... #argleblargle


Showering is postponed indefinitely. Luckily for you all, who are reading this on a screen.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Bad Joke Friday

It's not a bad joke, actually. Seen on Twitter:

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Something for Thursday

( often happens, saved as draft and forgot to actually publish.)

Continuing our month of spooky, scary is a suite from Bernard Herrmann's seminal filmscore, Psycho. No intro needed other than that!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

At least THAT happened in 2017!

Mark Hamill, Luke Skywalker himself, tweeted my name.

Here's how it happened.

It began with, surprisingly enough, William Shatner:

Mark Hamill, cited by Mr. Shatner, replied:

Funny reply! Until, that is, a Star Trek geek from the Buffalo, NY area felt the need to point out that Mr. Shatner never faced the Borg on Star Trek. They came along for Patrick Stewart's tenure as Enterprise captain.

Sayeth the Trek geek from Buffalo:

And then, replyeth Mr. Hamill:

Squeee! Proof for eternity that for a period of time--who cares if it was mere seconds long--Mark Hamill was aware of my existence!

I, of course, couldn't allow Mr. Hamill the last word, so:

And as of this writing, there we stand.

Sometimes the future is kind of cool, in amidst the moments of existential dread and the ongoing awareness that everything is terrible.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Tone Poem Tuesday

Here's something I've never heard before: The Mask of the Red Death, a work for harp and string quartet by Andre Caplet. Caplet was a French composer and a contemporary of Claude Debussy, and in fact his most noted work seems to have been orchestrations of the great master's works. Caplet's work here is based on the famous story by Edgar Allan Poe, and it is an eerily effective piece of mood music, employing a number of sonic effects throughout in addition to tonal moods that suggest atonality.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Something for Thursday

For the month of scares, here's one of John Williams's rare forays into the world of horror: a suite from his score to the movie Dracula.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

On the Pleasures of Raw Denim

Obviously denim is one of my favorite things on Earth. Few things are more comfortable than well-worn denim that has been broken in over years.

Reviewing my notes. Parts of this book flow wonderfully; others, not so much. #AmWriting #overalls #DoubleDenim

But lately I've discovered another pleasure: raw denim. I know, I know -- raw denim is stiff and unforgiving. Its color is uniform, with none of the wear of use. Wearing it, raw denim doesn't hang correctly and doesn't conform to your body the way broken-in denim does.

Raw Lee overalls

That, however, is part of the charm.

I have, of course, discovered this by several lucky purchases of raw denim overalls.

You can find raw denim overalls pretty easily. Any Tractor Supply store or other workwear establishment will have them. (A good local place is McKay's Work Clothing in South Buffalo.) Vintage raw denim overalls are another matter. They often go for princely sums that are way higher than I'm willing to pay for such things, but it's always the case with places like eBay that you never know. You might go months without seeing a good deal on the thing that you want, and then one day, there it is, and for a decent price, too. This happened for me twice in the last year, when I was able to buy two different pairs of raw denim Lee overalls for a song (both for less than what a new pair of Carhartts would set me back these days).

The Lee overalls of the "vintage" era, roughly the 50s through the 80s, have always been my "platonic ideal" of what overalls should be. I love the shape of the bib pocket, the shape of the back part, even the shape of the back pockets and the brass hardware. When I think of overalls, this is what I tend to picture.

(Photos chosen via a Google image search.)

I've owned several pairs of Lee overalls for years now, two in blue denim and one in hickory stripe.

Detail. This outfit made me happy. #ootd #overalls #vintage #Lee #bluedenim #scarf

Red and blue: classic combo! (Waiting for my grilled cheese sandwich to heat. Also, I read a fascinating article yesterday that suggests that humans might NOT have been able to perceive the color blue until fairle recently. Science! #overalls #vintage #Le

Another good writing day in the books. G'night, world! #amwriting #overalls #vintage #Lee #HickoryStripe

These were all nicely broken-in when I bought them, but now I've acquired two in unworn, pristine raw denim. They even came with the tags attached:


What's so great about raw denim? Its deep blue is almost black, and the fabric is stiff. Oh my, is it stiff! But the denim is a wonderful super-dark blue with no fade at all, and no creasing anywhere. The pleasure, here, is in the working with "raw" material (hence the name!). It's the denim equivalent of cooking from scratch, or building a piece of furniture not from a pre-cut kit but from uncut lumber. As another writer puts it:

Raw denim is a true nerd’s category of clothing, the rare subset of fashion that is the domain mostly of men, and thus overrun by complicated terminology and geeks eager to tell you you’re doing it wrong. Basically, though, what “raw” amounts to is denim that wasn’t washed to soften it up (and remove excess indigo dye) before it was sent out into the world — though mine had been Sanforized, or soaked, to pre-shrink them. Raw denim is also usually made of nearly pure cotton — so minimal-to-no Lycra or spandex or what have you, the stuff that gives stretchy jeans their elasticity. What you lose in immediate flexibility, you gain in durability: They’re harder to stretch, but also harder to stretch out. My pair arrived on my doorstep deep blue, stiff, and difficult. Then it became my job to find the patience and persistence to wear them into shape.

There's a process with raw denim, it turns out: you're actually not supposed to just toss them into the washer and dryer right off the bat, nor are you supposed to wash them frequently. An initial soaking-and-drying, without soap, followed by wearing a lot with intermittent re-soakings and gentle washings (hand-washing in a tub with a bit of soap is recommended) followed by line-dryings only, is what's called for. In this way the denim will slowly break in and wear in exact ways that correspond to your body and the way you wear it.

Here's how the ran denim overalls compare, side-by-side with one of my long-broken-in pairs:

Raw Lee overalls

Step one is to put them in the bathtub and hose them off to rinse out as much of the extra dye as possible (I'd have done this outside but the weather was crappy on the day in question):

Raw Lee overalls

Raw Lee overalls

Then I soak them in a bucket for most of a day, periodically wringing them out and changing the water.

Raw Lee overalls

(I was doing to same treatment with a new pair of hickory-striped Dickies.)

Last, they hang on the line to dry. This takes forever. When you thoroughly soak denim, it holds water for a long time. This is not a process for the impatient.

Raw Lee overalls

The result of all this? Well, once dry, you can wear them. The look is great, in my opinion: the denim is still new and dark, with some new wrinkling already starting after the initial soaking and rinsing of the dyes.

Raw Lee overalls

Think Pink! The pinkification of my wardrobe commences! I've been looking for a pink dress shirt and finally scored this banded collar one on eBay. Score! Pink is awesome! 😊 #pink #thinkpink #overalls #vintage #Lee #bluedenim #dungarees #denim #rawd

New overalls V: Head to toe! #overalls #vintage #Lee #bluedenim #dungarees #denim #rawdenim

From the back #overalls #vintage #Lee #bluedenim #dungarees #denim #rawdenim

Remember the raw-denim Lee overalls for a great price on eBay that you were all supposed to talk me out of getting? Yeah. Heckuva job, Internet. #nofilter #lovethem #overalls #vintage #Lee #bluedenim #dungarees #denim #rawdenim

Now, if I could just get the weather in my neck of the woods to dip reliably into the 60s, I'd be all set!

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Tone Poem Tuesday

It's October, which is usually my favorite month of the year. We're off to a rocky start this year, aren't we...but life still must go on.

I'm doing a theme to the Tone Poems for this entire month, starting today. Since we're approaching Halloween, we'll be doing spooky music, or music that meditates on life's darker aspects. Here is one of my favorite works of all time, by one of my very favorite composers of all time: "The Isle of the Dead" by Sergei Rachmaninov.

(The performance and sound are terrific here, but the accompanying movie may or may not work, depending on personal taste.)

Friday, September 29, 2017

Bad Joke Friday

Seen on Facebook and now stolen.

Visit the cartoonist's website! His name is Kaamran Hafeez. I've probably seen his work before, as he has been published in LOTS of places.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Tone Poem Tuesday (the Happy Birthday edition)

Happy birthday, George Gershwin!

And also, Happy Birthday, Jim Caviezel!

And Happy Birthday, Olivia Newton John!

Also, happy birthday to me, but that's not so important.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Three Years!!!

Three years and a couple of days ago, someone joined our family.

I do not know what to make of this development. #NewDog #greyhound #RetiredRacer #HolyShitThatIsABigFrakkingDog #omg #aieee #OhNoes

The dee-oh-gee. #Cane #DogsOfInstagram

I continue to be a big fan of "inside with the cats". #Snowmageddon #Cane #DogsOfInstagram

This dee-oh-gee can give coolness lessons to The Fonz. #correctimundo #Cane #DogsOfInstagram #greyhound

Muddy dee-oh-gee needs to realize that when he gets muddy, he can't come in right away. #Cane #DogsOfInstagram #greyhound

Cane found the lake bed a bit rocky for his liking. #Cane #DogsOfInstagram #greyhound #BuffaloNY #lakeerie #greatlakes #outerharbor #wny

Mud freckles. He gave himself MUD FRECKLES, you guys! He's a bad dog. #Cane #DogsOfInstagram #greyhound

Two adventurers crossing the Dumas Bridge #KnoxFarm #EastAurora #wny #autumn #Cane #DogsOfInstagram #greyhound #overalls #vintage #Lee #HickoryStripe #dungarees #denim #biboveralls #doubledenim #ootd

Obligatory me and the dee-oh-gee #Cane #DogsOfInstagram #greyhound #ChestnutRidge #wny #OrchardPark #overalls #Dickies #vintage #bluedenim

He may be welcome to stay now. I mean, the jury's out, but I'd say that things are leaning in his favor.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Thursday, September 21, 2017

"In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit."

THE HOBBIT at 80! My current collection of copies. Bilbo lives! #thehobbit #lordoftherings #lotr #tolkien #books #bookstagram #reading #fantasy

I didn't know this until I saw it online today, but The Hobbit was first published 80 years ago today.

At no point have I not loved this story (except for the handful of years I was unaware of it), and I don't expect that I will ever not love it. The Hobbit and its more noted follow-up, The Lord of the Rings, are on my shortlist of the stories that have shaped me the most: we're talking Star Wars territory here, to be honest.

I knew the story of The Hobbit -- well, most of it, anyway -- several years before I actually read the book. That's because my first encounter with this story was via the Rankin-Bass animated version that first aired in 1977. I don't recall if I saw it then or on a subsequent re-run, but it didn't matter: I loved this story quite intensely, and when I read the book a few years later, I was done for.


The Hobbit is often seen as a children's tale, inessential to the greater work that followed it, but I've never viewed it that way. Reading The Hobbit is as essential to the experience as anything, and I never ever re-read The Lord of the Rings without reading The Hobbit first. There is so much in The Lord of the Rings that simply doesn't make sense, or at least has the impact blunted, if one hasn't read The Hobbit. The eagles arriving at the Black Gate; the tonal shift about halfway through Fellowship into a more heroic mode; the history behind Sting and the mithril coat.

More than that, though, the adventure story that comprises The Hobbit contrasts greatly with the world-wide import of the events to come. The focus in The Hobbit is intimate, and the focus never wavers from this little hobbit named Bilbo who is ensnared in events larger than he can comprehend, and his efforts to make his way in a world he doesn't understand and barely wants to. The Hobbit is an adventure story, but it's an adventure story that ends somewhat ambiguously with the treasure won but one of its seekers dead. This anticipates the moral direction of what is to come, when the fundamental quest is not to find something but rather to lose something that is already found.

And it is, really, one hell of an adventure story.

Long live The Hobbit! It's been a few years since my last re-read, so...I think that I may be quite ready for another adventure!

Something for Thursday

This is weird. I never knew this song existed until the other day when I heard it as part of the soundtrack to one of The Daughter's video games. It's a peppy, zippy pop song from the 1950s...singing the praises of uranium. I am not making this up.

"Uranium Fever". As the kids say, I can't even.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

On 'ownership'

In the course of a long post about Twin Peaks (of which I know nothing and cannot comment), Sheila O'Malley says this:

In today’s day and age, where every fan feels a sense of “ownership” over the thing they love – to an annoying degree – something like Twin Peaks was refreshing. Lynch/Frost knew the fan base was still there. That ground was set. But after THAT, they owed us nothing.

This is the proper attitude of artists. I realize that’s not a popular sentiment. But I am suspicious of popular sentiments, in general. More so now than ever.

I tend to agree with this. The most an artist owes is gratitude for good will offered their way, but that's about it. This sense of ownership can become deeply obnoxious when fans start to turn on their particular artist because they haven't been getting what they feel they are "owed". Of course, this goes the other way, too: the fans owe an artist not a hell of a lot beyond an honest attempt to approach and engage with their work.

I think that art is best when there is less feeling of being "owed" on both sides.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Tone Poem Tuesday

Got a spare two minutes? Give this a listen, then. It's a very short bit of tone painting, in the form of a folk dance, by Percy Grainger. Here is "Shepherd's Hey".

Friday, September 15, 2017

Something for Friday: Farewell, Cassini

The Cassini mission has ended with the space probe's final plunge into the Saturnian atmosphere. We learned a great deal from Cassini -- and we will continue to do so as more and more analysis of its data is done -- and I find it somewhat of a bright moment in a world where science itself is being deeply undervalued at precisely the time when we need good science most.

Thank you, Cassini.

Bad Joke Friday

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Tone Poem Tuesday

It's increasingly clear that this feature is really "Whatever piece of one-movement classical music I want", because this isn't a tone poem but rather a selection of ballet music from an opera. Specifically, the opera is La Gioconda by Amilcare Ponchielli, and the ballet suite in question is the "Dance of the Hours". This is one of the most familiar pieces of music in the classical repertoire, mainly for having been parodied by comedian Allan Sherman in his summer camp song "Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh". If you can manage to listen to the actual Ponchielli suite with fresh ears, it's really a wonderful and evocative work of classical dance music.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Sixteen years....




I wrote this story not long after the events of 9-11-01. It is not the story I would write today. How could it be? I was on the cusp of turning thirty, and at that point the scope of an attack of that magnitude was nearly impossible to process.

The City of Dead Works

There is never any rest for me, the Ferryman of the Dead.

I pole my barge across the black waters and up to the pier. So many wait this time, many more than usual. I wonder what has happened, what event has sent me this many. "Come aboard," I say. "I will take your coin for passage." One by one they file past me, each handing to me the coin that they never knew they had. It is the coin which determines where they shall be taken to rest, its metal shaped and determined by life. The coins of these dead are gold, every one of them purest gold. Six thousand come aboard my barge, and each has passage for the farthest and greatest of destinations. In that moment I know that something truly dark has happened; the gold coins are always forged in moments of darkness. I am the Ferryman. I can give them no answers to what lies behind their haunted, questioning eyes. I can only take them on this, the last of all journeys.

When they are all aboard I take up the pole and push away from the pier. The barge always feels the same, no matter how many stand upon its decks. Whether six or six thousand, it is all the same to me. I guide us out onto the River Styx. Some of the people look worried, but there is no need for fear. This river can do them no harm. They are already dead.

This is to be a long journey, I know – it always is, to this destination. As I guide the barge through the black waters, I look on the faces of those who have come to me. As different as these people all look, they all have the same expressions of shock, disbelief, and withering sadness. Here is a man of business, talking into a cell phone. He is trying to call someone, anyone, who will tell him that it’s all a dream, that it didn’t happen, that he didn’t die in a blast of fire, smoke, glass and steel. There is a mother who is explaining to her daughter that they won’t be going to Disneyland after all. And there, a group of firemen stand together, realizing that soon they will meet all their brothers-in-arms who have gone into the infernos before them. So many now – colleagues once in business and now colleagues in death, people who have never before met but now have the gravest thing in common. As the current takes hold, I look back at the pier. There are more gathering there. There are always more. They will wait. Time does not exist for the dead.

"Please," a young man says as he turns to me, "I have to go home to my daughters."

"You are going home now," I reply. "To the home where all eventually return." Two black rocks slide past on either side, the rocks that mark the passage of the circling Styx.

"This can’t be," a woman cries out. "My mother needs me."

"She will be with you soon enough."

"When?" Her voice pleads, and yet there is no solace that is mine to give.

"I cannot say," I reply. "The Ferryman has no hand in Fate."

The tears come then, tears from the six thousand that run over the gunwales and into the river which has been fed by tears for centuries. All tears are born in the River Styx.

"Where will you take us?" someone asks.

"To the place you are promised," I answer. I recall the words of a poet: Will there be beds for all who seek? Yea, beds for all who come.

One our left we approach the Hills of the Damned, an endless stretch of shattered lands which reach away into the blackness. The waters echo with the cries of all those who have been taken to the Hills for the agony they have brought on the living. I consider the bag of six thousand gold coins, and I realize that I will have to journey to the Hills this day. There will be a person, perhaps more, who will pay me with a coin of black tin; but not on this journey. As the hills recede behind us, the unending cries of the damned become fainter and fainter until they are drowned out by the lapping of the waters upon the sides of the boat and the marker stones that we pass. The six thousand fall silent, each realizing that it is not a dream. I would offer solace, but as ever I cannot. I am the Ferryman.

We come around a particularly dark bend, and before us lies a very wide expanse of water, as if the Styx has become an ocean – which in some sense it probably has. And beyond that expanse are the thousands of twinkling lights that I have come to know so well. One man, a fireman, sees them too. "What is that?" he asks.

"It is the City of Dead Works," I reply. The lights of the city glow on the horizon, and every one of the six thousand turns toward them as the Styx impels us onward. As we come ever closer to the city, the glittering lights reflect off the black water.

"I don’t understand," someone else says. "The City of Dead Works?"

"Aye," I reply. "Behold!"

From behind us, golden light: the Sun of the Dead is rising as it always does when the dead come near the City. Above us the firmament is turning purple, then blue; soon the light of the Sun will illuminate the City of Dead Works. As the sky lightens, the true scope of that city becomes plain: it stretches away into the land, farther than any eye could see. Not even the highest-soaring raven, cavorting in the breezes and zephyrs of the dead, could take it all in. It is bigger by far than any one city ever built by the hand of men, because it encompasses some part of all of them. Perhaps it is bigger than all of the cities ever built. Now the sun’s first rays come up behind us, and the first buildings can be seen down by the water.

"That one looks Egyptian," a woman says.

"The Great Library of Alexandria," I tell her. "Once the greatest repository of learning the world had ever seen, now only a memory to the living and a reality only to the dead."

A man points to a building high upon a rock. I nod.

"The Temple of Solomon," I say.

"There are ships in the harbor," says another. Thus for him I name the ships: Arizona, Indianapolis, Lusitania, Bismarck, Wilhelm Gustloff, Cap Arcona. And many, many others. I scan over the impossibly vast city and spot Dresden, as it was; and beside it the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And how many smaller villages, tucked into the hills beyond the City? None can say. The Sun of the Dead shines upon those hills now, and the great stone statues in the likeness of Siddhartha Gautama.

"I don’t understand," a young man says. "Why this City? Why here?"

I only shake my head as we continue to float by the City. I do not point out the fairly small, nondescript office building that sits near the water. It is not a particularly remarkable building; nor was it, really, until the fuse was lit. The six thousand almost don’t recognize it.


Not one word is uttered as we slide past the Alfred Murrah Federal Building. Then we turn away from the City of Dead Works, and head again down the waters of the Styx toward distant hills and the place where these people will join their brethren.

"Who lives in that city?" It is a priest in a fireman’s coat.

"No one lives there," I tell him. "The City of Dead Works is not for people. It is for the buildings and the ships. It is for the books and the music, the sculptures and the paintings which are gone forever. It is for everything destroyed by craven people in the name of foolish wars, for everything judged forfeit in the face of transitory desires."

The Styx takes us into the Golden Hills. Soon we will be there, and the six thousand will go where they belong. And then the Styx will complete its circle, taking me back to the pier where more dead await.

"We will be there soon," I say. "Soon we will be at the Elysian Fields, where all heroes go – for that is what you all are. It is what you have bought with your lives, with the shaping of your coins into gold." No one replies. We near the last bend now, and before us lie the Elysian Fields, where peace reigns and where heroes dwell; where all is light and voices are always raised in song. The Sun of the Dead shines warmly on Elysium.

But they do not see it. They, the six thousand, all gaze back behind us upon the City of Dead Works. It will soon be behind us forever as we round the last bend of the River Styx into Elysium. I know they all need one last look upon that City, and I do not grudge them that. For myself, I do not look back; the eyes of the Ferryman are ever forward. But I know. I know that the City of Dead Works is different now. I know that it has changed. I know that the people who come with me now to Elysium, the dead around me, look back on the two soaring towers of steel that now rise above the City where there had been no towers before.

I know these things.

I am the Ferryman of the Dead.

The Secret to Maintaining Canine Happiness

Have cheese in your hand.

Attentive dee-oh-gees are attentive. (Also, I had cheese.) #Cane #Carla #greyhound #pitbull #dogsofinstagram

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Symphony Saturday

Still not ready to discuss Mahler's Second yet, so meantime, we'll go back 120 years or so to Mozart. Here is his Symphony no. 29 in A major. This performance is on period instruments, conducted by John Eliot Gardiner. This symphony is a short and fascinating listen. Mozart was eighteen when he wrote this, and on the cusp of his mature period. The music has lot of forward momentum, as does much of his best music, and it also blends youthful optimism with hints of the profundity that is to come in his later works.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Something for Thursday

Think Pink!

Why this? Well, I noticed a couple of years ago that my wardrobe is heavily representative of dark colors. Not all black, mind you, although I did have my all-black phase in high school like everybody (and black is a fine color anyway). But I decided I wanted to start brightening things up, slowly but surely.

Which brings me to my goal for wardrobe improvement now:


Now, I'm not going to flood my clothes with pink, but I'm adding a few items here and there, starting with this dress shirt I found on eBay. (I rather like the banded-collar look, too.)

Think Pink! The pinkification of my wardrobe commences! I've been looking for a pink dress shirt and finally scored this banded collar one on eBay. Score! Pink is awesome! 😊 #pink #thinkpink #overalls #vintage #Lee #bluedenim #dungarees #denim #rawd

Hooray for pink!

(The song, by the way, is from the Fred Astaire/Audrey Hepburn film Funny Face, which I believe is the first thing in which I ever saw Ms. Hepburn. I've loved her ever since.)

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

On Immigration

As His Malevlonece, Mr. Trump, the President, is preparing to enforce an immigration policy that only a person who thinks that America is at its best a "Whites Only" club could love, here are my thoughts on immigration.

I believe that our nation's immigration policy should make it easier, not harder, for the peoples of the world to come here.
To work here.
To learn here.
To raise families here.
To find safety and shelter here.
To live here.
To practice their religions here.
To continue to do as immigrants have always done: enrich the country and make it wiser and better.

This I believe.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Tone Poem Tuesday

OK, this isn't a tone poem, it's a piece of film music--but it's a classic by John Williams, and as such it is as cohesive and well-constructed a piece of music as any great tone poem. In honor of having seen the movie on the big screen yesterday (the first time I've seen it in a theater since I was nine), here is the finale and end credit music to Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Here's a blog post of mine about Close Encounters. My thoughts on this film have not appreciably changed: it's still a beautiful, magnificent film.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Something for Thursday

This is probably the Platonic ideal for the love theme from a sad melodrama:

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Adventures in Junk Food

So, let's talk Combos!

I first remember Combos showing up in the 1980s, but from what I'm reading online they actually came out in the 1970s. Maybe the 80s were when the first big marketing push happened. If you've never had Combos, really need to get out the cave you're living in. They are a salty snack made by filling little tubes of either pretzel, cracker, or tortilla with some filling or other. Usually it's cheese-related.

SeriousEats offers this, by way of description:

Created in the '70s, Combos have become a staple of rest stop gas stations. They're marketed as the perfect driving food—75% of all Combos sales occur in gas stations**—and those marketers may well be right. They're baked, so they don't get your fingers greasy the way potato chips do, allowing you to maintain proper grippage on the steering wheel as you maneuver through perilous long, straight, highways. They're heartier and more texturally varied than most bagged snacks. They provide just enough interesting structural and procedural challenges to keep you occupied until the next game of Mad Libs, while not so many that you get distracted from driving. They also come in over a dozen flavors that range from "That makes sense" to "WTF, buffalo?"

**According to the statistics I just completely made up

There's a lot of truth to this. Combos really do taste better when eaten in a car, preferably with something carbonated with which to wash them down. I'd estimate that over 90% of the Combos I've ever eaten were consumed in the car. My favorite flavor is the Pepperoni Pizza version (not to confused with Pizzeria Pretzel), but really--I'll pretty much eat any flavor of the things. Cases in point:

I love Combos and I am not ashamed! #yum #junkfood #combos


Of the two, I prefer the Seven Layer Dip ones to the Buffalo Blue Cheese ones. You might find that odd, given that I live near Buffalo and am thus supposed to be enamored of all such flavors, but in my experience, the "Buffalo wing" flavor doesn't always exactly translate to other snack foods very well. It's hard to get the vinegary-spicy flavor of the wings AND the blue cheese in there at once; usually what results is too much spice or salt, or the sour flavor of the blue cheese profile overwhelms everything. The Combos fare better in that regard, partly because it's just the filling that's flavored, so the outer pretzel covering ends up "absorbing" some of the overwhelming effects.

Meanwhile, the "Seven Layer Dip" Combos mainly taste like mild salsa and sour cream. Obviously you're not going to get all seven layers in there! The idea is to hint at the flavor of the stuff, not capture it straight out. So these Combos (with their tortilla shell) are more suggestive of a seven layer dip than actually taste like one outright. And I can respect that: This is a bite-sized snack food, after all.

So there we are! What snack foods shall I try next? It's a wonderful salty munchy world out there!