Monday, September 1, 2014

Terry Bozzio: An Evening With and Live in Japan 2007

A solo show on
percussion, more musical
than most full rock bands.

I had the pleasure of seeing drummer Terry Bozzio perform live in Fort Worth's intimate McDavid Studio this past Friday on his An Evening With Terry Bozzio tour. For my first concert in years, other than my boys' school band concerts, I was not disappointed.

During a 2-hour, 2-set performance, Bozzio wove together rock, Carribean, African, and Southeast Asian performances in a seamless and enthralling and often unbelievable display of musicality and technical virtuosity. There were times when you thought an entire ensemble was performing due to his ability to give voice to what usually sits in the back of the band - the drum set. And to call his kit simply a "drum set" is a disservice as the photo below shows.

Panorama of Bozzio's drumset (sorry for the choppiness).
Lest you think he's compensating by performing behind an uncountable number of instruments (his drum tech afterward said it takes 3 hours to set the whole thing up each night) twice during the performance he came up front and played a chorded drum machine (looked like a practice pad you play with your hands) and what was basically a box that he sat on and tapped out a 10 minute performance accompanied by bells he attached to his feet.

Maybe you know him from his 1980s work with Missing Persons or his work with Zappa, U.K., Tony Levin and many others. But to get to know him as a consummate percussionist the CD Live in Japan 2007 (which I purchased at the show) gives you a pretty good taste of what we experienced a couple of days ago. Or you could check out the video below.

Terry's website is and the website for his artwork (yes, he's a painter and inventor in addition to being a musician) is

I received no compensation of any kind for this review.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Only the guy who isn't rowing...

Automata: this movie looks good. (And hopefully it's not just a Blade Runner derivative.)

Robert Irwin, All That Jazz, 2011
(lest anyone think that Dan Flavin is the only artist working in this medium). source
I've been eating sushi wrong. If you fear the same, check out How to Eat Sushi (worth watching). Be sure to catch the joke about not shaking soy sauce off your sashimi (alliteration unintentional).

You might think I'm posting the video Rhapsody of Steel because it's in the craft pr0n category. But I'm not. This film from 1959, entirely animated, includes the work of animation legends Eyvind Earle and Maurice Noble.

But this really is craft pr0n: ceramics masters.

 photo hexwave_zps2d5b6d22.gif
Git yer GIF on with these hypnotizing animations.

Reading this article about a hidden Cold War bunker in the Brooklyn Bridge makes me wonder how many of these are scattered across the country and lost to time.

Is it too early to start planning for the 2017 total solar eclipse that will be perfectly visible across most of the United States?

For each state, find out where its residents were born. (61% of current Texas residents were born here versus 25% for Nevada and 79% for Louisiana.)

The United Sweets of America shows each state's signature dessert item. Texas', not surprisingly, is pecan pie. (Pronounced pah-cahn not pee-can.)
Something sounds fishy, like someone has an agenda, when you call a map that displays demographics like race and income a "justice map."

The average tooth fairy payout is $3.40? Since when did teeth become subject to inflation? What's wrong with a dollar? Better yet, a nice dollar coin? I used to get dimes - Mercury dimes.

Mine was the last class in my high school (class of 1980) required to learn how to use a slide rule in science class. Still have one in my desk at work. (Perhaps not coincidentally, mine was also the first class to learn to program a computer - BASIC on a Wang 3300.) Anyway, here's the International Slide Rule Museum.

If sliced in half, do not let your liver fall out. source
Time to laugh along with Ze Frank: True Facts about Marsupials.

Time to be scared? Humans Need Not Apply. Too fanciful? Read how software found influences in paintings that art historians hadn't.

This could either be the greatest thing ever or an intestinal nightmare. Now available for purchase at Green Bay Packers games is the Horse Collar, a 22 inch kielbasa with beer cheese, fried sauerkraut and a bun.   
...has time to rock the boat. ~Jean Paul Satre

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Micro by Michael Crichton

This horrible book
was so bad that I gave up
before CD 4.

When I saw that my local library had added the audio book version of Michael Crichton's Micro I took a chance and checked it out. I love his The Andromeda Strain but his more recent works suffer from a tendency to read like screenplays instead of novels.

Big mistake.

A couple of completely implausible plot elements were followed by a twist that was so mind-numbingly stupid that I punched the Eject button on the car's CD player. The dopey plot wasn't helped by prose that was so weak and flimsy that it made Hemingway look like Joyce by comparison.

The crappy writing wasn't helped by the voice acting. John Bedford Lloyd punches out each word with the deftness of an oafish eighth grader playing Whac-A-Mole.

Avoid at all costs. At least the first 3 CDs. Who knows, maybe the book gets really good after that.

Better yet, snuggle up with a copy of  The Andromeda Strain. (Or the movie from the 70s.)

Update 30 Aug 2014: Grammar corrections.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

To find fault is easy...

Kent Nguyen wrote an article about burnout that includes a list of symptoms that I could've written myself. His conclusion, drawing from Marissa Mayer's thoughts, is that burnout is a result of not being able to regularly do the thing that's most important to you. (Marissa wrote that burnout is a resentment for the things you're giving up.)

Here's Kent's list of symptoms, copied and pasted directly:

  • A generally negative attitude, often paired with the feeling that nothing is going to work out.
  • Inability to concentrate.
  • General apathy towards your work, chores, and other tasks.
  • Feelings of stagnation.
  • A lack of interest in social activities and being with others.
  • Difficulty with healthy habits like exercise, diet, and regular sleep.
  • Feeling like you’re never doing enough.
  • Neglecting your own needs (and putting the needs of others ahead of your own).
  • Personal values and beliefs lose their importance.
  • Short temper.
  • Constant exhaustion.
  • Feelings of inefficacy.
  • Feelings of detachment from people and things you care about.
  • Frequent boredom.
  • Psychosomatic complaints, such as headaches, lingering colds, and other issues with a cause that’s difficult to identify.
  • The denial of these.

Whether Kent's tips for preventing burnout will work remains to be seen.

Franz Kline, Monitor, 1956
And now for some music.

Genesis announced the late September release of R-Kive, a 3 CD "best of" set including solo work.

Darla Records announced the October release of Memory and Matter: Selected Remixes, Rarities  and Unreleased Tracks by Manual (Jonas Munk). (You have to go to upcoming releases and scroll down the page to read about it.) Or you can just listen to a preview on YouTube. do better may be difficult. ~Plutarch

[23 Aug 2014: Amended]

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Sound and The Fury by William Faulkner

I've lost count of the number of times I've read Faulkner's masterpiece, The Sound and The Fury, a novel I unabashedly call the finest example of the written English language I've encountered so far.

Like a favorite album by a favorite band, Sound has lost none of its appeal for me, even the audiobook version this time around. And each time I re-experience what Faulkner called his novel he loved the most, the one he worked hardest and longest on, his most splendid failure, I discover a bit more.

This time I noticed something about the novel's four part structure, a structure in which the same tale is told from four viewpoints. And what I noticed was a discongruity between the viewpoint and how that viewpoint is written.

"Through the fence, between the curling flower spaces, I could see them hitting."

As many of my friends who've started but never finished Sound know, the first of its four parts is told from the viewpoint of a mentally challenged person. And while the prose can be exasperating because of its lack of adherence to any timeline, its limited vocablulary, and its reliance on experiences, Benjy may be the most truthful and honest of the four storytellers.

And when you make it to Quentin's part 2, the Harvard student and Benjy's brother, and you think you've been dealt a reprieve from part 1, you find that Quentin's rapidly deteriorating mental state distorts what he does, what he says, and what he tells you. At his core, Quentin is truthful, but his struggle to accept that truth is reflected in writing that is virtually bereft of puncutation and adherence to rules of grammar.

Brother Jason's third section is heavy with dialog and, accordingly, very easy to read. But Jason's inept, ineffectual, infertile rage and bitterness completely distorts his viewpoint making everything he says suspect and turning him into a form of comic relief.

The fourth storyteller is Faulkner himself as he assumes a 3rd person role centered on Dilsey the family servant. Here the storytelling is almost lyrical and displays Faulkner's exquisite ability to interweave exactingly realistic dialog and painterly descriptions of scene and setting, especially nature. And as the novel draws to a close, again centered on Benjy, Faulkner ends with a line that is so pure, so crystaline in thought, so transparent and linear that it's almost shocking, especially as it contrasts to the opening line.

"[Ben's] eyes were empty and blue and serene again as cornice and facade flowed smoothly once more from left to right, post and tree, window and doorway and signboard each in its ordered place."

So as the novel's prose evolves from the impenetrable to the richly descriptive, we see the story devolve from the pure truth to the disturbed, the delusional, and the resigned. Benjy no longer suffers the curling spaces and sees everything in well-ordered and timeless linearity.

Tips for those attempting to read Sound:

  1. There are two Maury's, two Jason's, and two Quentins - sometimes with different genders and sometimes with a different name altogether.
  2. Don't try to understand it all at once from a plot standpoint. It's only after reading the entire novel that you see who was doing what when.

Robert Motherwell Open

Sometimes looking at
paintings is much better than
reading about them.

The essays included in Robert Motherwell Open are way over my head. Good thing there are a lot of pictures of the artist's paintings from his Open series.

Let's just say their geometric simplicity is offset by brushwork and color complexity and the combination reveals a sense of infinite possibility.

Robert Motherwell, In Plato's Cave, 1972. (I chose this particular example of Motherwell's Opens for my friend Chris because of its blackness.)

No one in their right mind would compensate me for this "review."

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Hybrid by Michael Brook

Breathless, intimate,
Distant yet immediate,
Hybrid is so lush.

Michael Brook's 1985 solo debut album, Hybrid, obviously isn't new. I discovered it and him via David Sylvian's live album Damage on which Michael plays along with Robert Fripp.

Produced with contributions from Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois, Hybrid features some of the most beautiful ambient guitar playing I've ever heard. The guitar has a muted timbre that gives it the quality of a distant vocal while at the same time the compositions have an immediacy, a present intimacy.

Give it a listen on YouTube and decide for yourself.

I highly recommend Hybrid for anyone who is a fan of progressive ambient music. And now I can't wait to find out more about what Brook has been doing in the nearly 30 years since.

Brook's website is where you can find a lot of music freely available for download.

I received no compensation of any kind for this review.