Thursday, November 27, 2014

Not Knowing & 4.30.2014 by Nicholas Szczepanik

Pulsing brooding drone
gets inside your body and
takes over your brain.

One of the better aspects of social media is the direct interaction of musicians and fans. Back in the day, performers were virtually untouchable - you bought their albums, listened to them on the radio, and saw them perform live. Maybe you joined their fan club and obtained a little bit of "insider" status and the truly lucky won backstage passes in a contest and could actually speak to them.

Now musicians are just a post, like, follow, or tweet away.

One of those musicians is Nicholas Szczepanik. I was introduced to his work by a friend (Thanks, wajobu!) with the album Please Stop Loving Me (my comments). That's when I started following Nicholas on Twitter. One day he tweeted that he had a few extra CDs of a live performance 4.30.2014 from earlier this year in case anyone wanted to buy one. Hell yeah. A few tweets later he added a CD of his studio album Not Knowing to my order.

Normally that'd be the end of the story. But our friends at the U.S. Postal Service turned this into a tale of perseverance. The first shipment arrived with a chunk bitten out of both one corner of the envelope and the jewel case for 4.30.2014. Not Knowing was simply Not Found. Nicholas kindly resent Not Knowing. (The CD for 4.30.2014 was undamaged and I told him I'd keep it because the gnarly jewel case made for a good story.) That second shipment simply disappeared into the snail mail ether. Gone without a trace. Not Extant. Again, Nicholas resent the CD for Not Knowing which, thankfully, arrived unscathed. I felt bad about the extra postal expenses and the loss of one of his CDs. But I really appreciate the effort he put in to getting his music to me. Thank you, Nicholas.

Back to the music. Not Knowing is 52 minutes of brooding and pulsing low tones through which a crystalline high tone weaves and builds like a fleeting idea through one's resting body. Must be played a high volume to be fully appreciated. The live performance 4.30.2014 consists of 5 tracks, one by Nicholas, three by Coppice ( and one by Mykel Boyd ( Speaking only of Nicholas' track, it's an open, church-like drone with a sense of place.

You can find Nicholas online here:

Thank you, U.S.P.S.
I received no compensation of any kind for this review.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The fundamental cause of trouble is that...

In which I tentatively dip my toes back into teh interweb pool of gibberish...

Oscar buzz: contenders for best animated short, and animated feature film.

Find out the time and learn a fact every minute with FactOClock.

NOW I see these 10 tips for improving your presentations. #3 Have a solid structure. Oops.

Four of Brian Eno's albums from the 1990s are being re-issued and not only are the original mixes being cleaned up but a large amount of bonus material is being added. Nerve Net (1992), The Shutov Assembly (1992), Neroli (1993), and The Drop (1997). My backlog of new music prevents me from buying these now, but soon... Preview tracks Fractal Zoom from Nerve Net and Prague from The Shutov Assembly are available at the site.

Here's a cool way to listen to King Crimson's Frame by Frame: only the rhythm and backing tracks.

Pierre Soulages, Peinture 324x181 cm, 17 November 2008, 2010. I recently began following the Abstraktion Blog and that's where i discovered this painting that reminded me of both Rothko and Innes.
And Pink Floyd's new album, Endless River, a tribute to deceased band member Rick Wright, is now available and previews can be heard at the band's website.

Why should rhythm be visualized using the common linear bar notation. How about a circle?

OK, Star Trek fan bois, get out your drool buckets for Star Trek Axanar.

Imagine The War of the Worlds spliced into vintage WW I footage and you've got Great Martian War. Very nicely done.

And Blue Skies is for aviation lovers - an "art film" made from footage of the Chisinau Airshow 2014. And while you're at it, watch the Wolfe Air Reel for "glamour shots."

Friggin. Ketchup. Fountain.
I have also begun following the Painter's Table blog for news about painting (duh), especially abstraction.

Every want to print your own paper with certain templates like crosshatch, dots, or grids? Checkout Printable Paper.

I've been keeping my Aviation Pr0n on my Pinterest album but this photo of a Special Ops CV-22 Osprey was too cool not to share.
Have a project that needs a codename? Use the Codename Generator. My codename is Aqua Copper.

Try not to laugh while watching this 4 minute clip from The Penguins of Madagascar. Or this one of All Hail King Julien.

Lettuce tops the list of America's favorite sandwich fillings. (My mother used to make me peanut butter and lettuce sandwiches for my school lunches because the lettuce kept the peanut butter from sticking to the roof of your mouth.)

How the hell does a pastrami or corned beef on rye end up at #42 on a list of best sandwiches? And at #1 is a very tasty sandwich that's too regional IMO to be at the top.

How old is my hearing? I have the hearing of a 50 year old which, I suppose, isn't all that bad.

But my sight isn't bad enough to question Voids, A Retrospective, an exhibit in Paris' Pompidou Centre which consists of 9 galleries completely void of works of any kind. I hope the entrance fee is equally void. But how did mustard fall to #4 and who the hell puts ketchup on a sandwich?

During my lifetime the earth's population has risen by over 4 billion. This and other factoids from the BBC's your life on earth.

Again with the maps. Here we see zip codes colored by affordability: blue is more affordable, red is less. Look at that blue swath up the nation's midsection. My zip code seems to be almost right in the middle: 15,330 out of 28,135.
And a big huzzah! for the wealthiest suburbs in America.

And one last map: ZIP code lookup for all sorts of stuff about where you live.

What a load of crap this is. What museums need to know for the future. "#1 Most adults are not interested in looking contemplatively at art. They want to be active, loud, and visibly engaged." Well then, they either need to STFU or stay home and look at art on their cell phones.

Blood bank. Sperm bank. And now Poop bank. Gives a whole new meaning to making a deposit.

And now your time-waster: Inspirograph.

...the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt. ~Bertrand Russell

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Command and Control by Eric Schlosser

Like a cork from a
bottle, 9 megatons flies
through the Ark. night sky.

There's nothing like a couple of plane rides for finishing a big book. Eric Schlosser's Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusions of Safety has been on my bookshelf for a while and it was nice to finally have a chance to finish it.

The book centers around the 1980 explosion of a Titan II nuclear-tipped missile in its silo in Damascus, Arkansas. The explosion, caused by the simple but unfortunate dropping of a tool that punctured a fuel tank, caused extensive damage including ejection of the warhead which, fortunately, did not detonate.

When you have complex and dangerous machines maintained and operated by kids in their late teens and early twenties the odds of accidental death, injury, and property damage go way up.

Wait, that's for automobiles, not nuclear missiles.

While the book is centered on the Damascus incident, its main thrust is a dialogue on the the lack of true control over the U.S. nuclear arsenal and goes into quite a bit of detail of the history of nuclear weapons development and deployment and accidents along the way. According to the author and some of the experts he cited, it's almost a miracle that we haven't yet had an unauthorized nuclear detonation due to how the weapons are designed, maintained, and deployed.

This illustration of the potential effects of a 9 MT ground burst at Damascus, Arkansas is from NUKEMAP.
On the other hand, there hasn't been an accidental detonation despite all the accidents. So one might say that the existing controls have worked. That might seem a bit cavalier since we're talking about nukes. The debate here, if there is one, is that you want to be 100% certain (OK, odds of 1 billion to 1) that a nuke will never go off unplanned. But when you need to launch one you want to be certain you can get that done quickly before the enemy's missiles take out your leadership, communications, or missiles. Those needs are, to a certain degree, incompatible.

A knife needs a sharp blade which makes it inherently dangerous.

Same argument is made in the intelligent community when dealing with human sources. If you act quickly and resolutely on every bit of intelligence they provide you risk revealing their identify. But if you hold back to protect your source, you're letting good opportunities go to waste while putting your source at risk.

Read Command and Control for nuclear history, for the tales of weapons accidents, and to engage in the debate about how to best control them. Then consider the fact that, despite the history of accidents in the U.S., other nuclear powers like Pakistan have even fewer and looser controls over their devices.

You can read more about Schlosser at his publisher's website.

"Insisting on perfect safety is for people who lack the balls to live in the real world."

I received no compensation of any kind for this review.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Counterfeit Agent by Alex Berenson

Only John Wells knows
who's trying to start a war.
We wait for part 2.

I like Alex Berenson's series of books centered around CIA operative John Wells including the first part of his latest, The Counterfeit Agent.

My problem is with the ending. The book closed with absolutely nothing resolved. Nothing. We're not talking cliffhanger here. We're talking simple dead stop.

To me it smells like Berenson's publisher took a long book and simply split it into two.

This wouldn't be so bad except that it's his latest book meaning I can't even go to the library and start reading part 2 immediately.

Berenson's website is

Supercollider by Stick Men

Stick Men's new album
is a super collision
of sweet crunchy grooves.

Stick Men's Supercollider is the place for those new to this trio to start listening. The Stick Men are Tony Levin (Chapman Stick), Markus Reuter (Touch Guitar), and Pat Mastelotto (percussion). If you recognize those names from their other bands and solo work that alone should be enough for you to buy this album.

Disc 1 of this 2-disc set is best-of collection from their previous albums. Because I already have all those albums, Disc 2 was my sweet surprise because it consists entirely of live improvisations from the band's 2013 tour for the DEEP album. It's simply mind boggling what these guys can play.

Here's a video that gives you a taste of their sound.

Stick Men's website is where you can find 3 more videos.

"Aside from purely technical analysis, nothing can be said about music, except when it is bad; when it is good, one can only listen and be grateful.” -W.H. Auden

I received no compensation of any kind for this review.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

On Hiatus

This blog is on hiatus, on hold, suspended, taking a vacation, going on walk-about, enjoying a holiday until mid-November due to life in meat-space's propensity for getting in the way of life in cyber-space's self flagellation.

Tired and wired, if that's even possible.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Levin Brothers

What more can you say
about music other than
it's enjoyable?

Brothers and acclaimed musicians Tony (bass) and Pete (piano) Levin have created an album of original, classic, cool jazz. The self-titled Levin Brothers recording can best be described as sweet, nice, and thoroughly enjoyable. There's an underscore of emotional vibrance between the two main performers.

Standout tunes for me are Cello in the Night, a luxuriously flowing ballad with a hint of Oscar Peterson and a down-tempo redux of King Crimson's Matte Kudasai with beautifully phrased bass taking the lead.

Here's a taste of their work, the bouncy Not So Square Dance. You can also hear other audio samples here.

You can find more about the Levin brothers at their website,

"Aside from purely technical analysis, nothing can be said about music, except when it is bad; when it is good, one can only listen and be grateful.” -W.H. Auden

Updated 14 Oct 2014 to correct replace the word cello with bass, an error caused by thinking about one song while writing about another.

I received no compensation of any kind for this review.