Sunday, April 12, 2015

Absinthe & A Cracker by TU

2 and Two and TU
might be the minimal prime
and maximal sound.

TU is the duo of Trey Gunn (Touch Guitar) and Pat Mastelotto (drums), aka the rhythm section of 1990s King Crimson. My first exposure to them was their 2011 live album, Live in Russia, which remains one of my favorite live recordings of all time. Powerfully expressive.

On the internet they describe their music as "crazy, sick, heavy, loud and raw tunes and improvisations." Yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes.

In fact, I can't write a better description of 2004's Absinthe & A Cracker than the line above. And in hindsight it makes sense if you consider bass and drums the engine behind any rock band. These two guys are killin' it and (sound like they're) having fun the entire time.

Check out this live recording of TU playing the tune Untamed Chicken. (OK, it's not the best recording but it's the only one I could find on YouTube.) And what is it with the rubber chicken sound anyway? Those guys in The Aristocrats are doing it too.

Perhaps my favorite track on the album is Make My Grave in the Shape of a Heart followed closely by Misery, Die... Die... Die. These two tracks bring together everything this duo has to offer.

If you're a fan of top-notch, innovative performers I highly recommend anything by the Gunn-Mastelotto duo, TU. Here's another quote about their style: "Zeppelin bombast tempered with ambient Eno textured calm, juxtaposed with the fury of a Coltrane improvisation."

You can read more about the band online at:
I received no compensation of any kind for this review.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Dead and Alive by Dean Koontz

By asking "What if?"
Koontz challenges us to go
beyond just "what is."

I'm a long-time fan of Dean Koontz's novels. He has a knack for taking a scientific factoid (or quasi-factoid) and building an engaging story around it. In my first exposure to Koontz's work (thank you Heather for recommending Mr. Murder) consider what it would be like if you were cloned without your knowledge - and the clone was a hitman. In another book that really creeped me out, imagine if we could open a doorway to another dimension - but then forgetting it was a two-way street.

You get the point.

Dead and Alive is the third installment of Koontz' Frankenstein series which is pretty much what you probably think it is - Victor Frankenstein really had succeeded in re-animating the dead and creating life. The first two installments focus on current day New Orleans detectives who pick through the nasty results of Frankenstein plying his trade in their town.

Now, a digression. From the world of painting, a great example of a man isolated within a swirling and chaotic world is Van Gogh's 1889 self portrait. He looks so withdrawn and tense while around him dizzying vortices of paint provide a shifting, unstable background.

Without going into details that would risk giving away the plot, the detectives in Dead and Alive find themselves in a similar situation to Van Gogh; perpetually behind in a race against time as the spawn of Frankenstein cause chaos within the Big Easy. But, one author's havoc and chaos becomes one reader's farce or even silliness.

I'm still a fan of Koontz; but Dead and Alive isn't my favorite.

You can find Dean Koontz online at

I received no compensation of any kind for this review.

Man is the only animal for whom...

Ranger's home opener yesterday afternoon, stayed up later than normal watching Edge of Tomorrow, up before 6am today, breakfast with friends at 9am, Plano trip later. Existence.

Frank Bowling, Bird, 1992. Bowling's work is currently the subject of an exhibition at the Dallas Museum of Art.
If you like value when it comes to music purchases, how about 75 tunes for only $5? That's what it'll cost to download the MoonJune Records Sampler (progressive jazz, rock, etc.)

In The Path you see an interpretation of a photon's path across the universe.

Don't paint the interior walls of your office white.

Each state mapped only by its roads.
Another map, this one of the most liberal and conservative cities in each state.

Yummy deviled egg recipes. Who's up for smoked salmon and capers?

A video trailer for Lorenzo Feliciati's new album KOI is available.

And there's a new band on the scene. O.R.k. is comprised of Lorenzo Esposito Fornasari (aka LEF), Carmelo Pipitone, Pat Mastelotto, and Colin Edwin. Give a listen to Jellyfish from their upcoming debut album.

If you prefer your maps global, colorful, lumpy, 3D, and interactive check out the Geoid Viewer.
Will my whisky drinking readers like these Johnnie Walker glasses from the Peaks Collection?

Of the 320+ million people in the U.S. at least 1 but perhaps only 2 have my name. Find out how many have yours at How Many of Me.

Glazed. Cannoli. Donut.

Add some beauty to the rest of your day by streaming Harold Budd from Soundcloud.

...his own existence is a problem which he has to solve. ~Erich Fromm

Saturday, April 4, 2015

All the rivers run into the sea...

Based on a strong recommendation via Twitter from music maven wajobu and followed by a couple listenings of my own, I second his support for The Places Where I Worship You by Fraser McGowan, an "aural statement" consisting of environmental recordings and manipulations of an old 78 rpm album.

Peter Schmidt, Intersecting Triangles, 1969-1971. Schmidt did cover art for some of Brian Eno's albums.
Nothing like a list of music to spark debate: the 20 albums to begin your introduction to jazz. I have 4.

David Allen updated his widely loved personal productivity book: Getting Things Done 2015 Edition. I use a bastardized version of his methodology with a certain degree of effectiveness. Time to double down?

Oh, snap. Isaac Asimov wrote "Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’” Read more In Defense of Difficulty.

Uh oh. When are you least happy? Age 53.

"What happens when great works of art change with time?" This question is relevant to Rothko's Harvard Murals and their "restoration" using a digital light projection technique that makes them appear new. I think it's interesting that, as the article reports, the paintings draw large crowds at 4pm each day when the projected light is turned off.

First there was Pecha Kucha (a presentation based on 20 slides automatically timed and advanced for 20 seconds each). Now there's PowerPoint Karaoke.

SnapPower Charger has everyone worked up on Kickstarter to the tune of $530,000 versus an original goal of $35,000. What is it? A faceplate you put on your wall outlets - no rewiring - that instantly gives you a USB charger.

A double-dose of sophomoricishness hereafter follows.

A good boy always sleeps with his hands above the covers. And we were just talking about Goofus and Gallant at work this week. source
It's never too early to start your Xmas shopping. (Thank you reader Chris.) source
...yet the sea is not full. ~King Solomon

Friday, April 3, 2015

Creating Magic by Lee Cockerell

I like Disney World.
I like reading business books.
Therefore, I bought this.

During our last visit to Disney World I purchased a copy of Lee Cockerell's book Creating Magic: 10 Common Sense Leadership Strategies from a Life at Disney. (The author spent many years working for Disney including running their resort operations.)

Like most business books, common sense is an apt phrase to put in the subtitle. Like most business books (and maybe I've read too many), there are common threads through them all. Unlike most business books, this one inspired me to act.

Judge for yourself. The 10 strategies are:
  1. Remember, everyone is important. Be inclusive, communicate well, treat your people as well as your customers.
  2. Break the mold. Be clear about responsibility and authority, flatten your structure.
  3. Make your people your brand. Define the perfect employee by talent, nurture your people, fire quickly and kindly.
  4. Create magic through training. Become a coach, give your people a purpose, train and teach them.
  5. Eliminate hassles. Learn first hand what's working and what's not, stay technically up to date.
  6. Learn the truth. Get out and about, meet regularly with people, answer the tough questions.
  7. Burn the free fuel. Appreciation, recognition, and encouragement are free fuels that keep your organization running.
  8. Stay ahead of the pack. Be a life-long learner and expand your horizons.
  9. Be careful what you say and do. Set high standards and have positive attitude.
  10. Develop character. Have moral and ethical strength, train for values not just skills.
Like I said, common sense. So what about it compelled me to act? Don't know. Maybe just the association with Disney? That seems silly if that's what it takes for me to act.

Lee Cockerell's website is

I received no compensation of any kind for this review.

Perpetual by Sakamoto, Illuha and Deupree

Timeful or timeless,
Perpetual or inert,
there's expansive space.

Upon reflection, it seems that my favorite ambient music captures a singular moment in time. Paradoxically titled for that interpretation, Perpetual by Ryuichi Sakamoto, Corey Fuller & Tomoyoshi Date (aka Illuha), and Taylor Deupree does precisely that. The four musicians had never played together before and yet when put on stage to improvise what resulted was a unique expression of that moment.

Consisting of three movements, Perpetual weaves in and out of conscious listening. Melody, tone, and effects dart in and out of time, opening space for deep examination and smoothing it over again for focus elsewhere. The level of compatibility the performers exhibit in improvising a consistently empathetic interpretation of that place and that time is arresting if you dwell on it for too long.

Sakamoto appears to have posted all three movements online for your enjoyment.

Perpetual is available from 12k records.

More information about the musicians can be found on the web here:

I received no compensation of any kind for this review.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Compare and Contrast These Rising Suns

Random neurons firing produced this "Hmmm" moment. Compare and contrast these two rising suns.

Nuclear test shot Hardtack Oak, 28 June 1958, Enewetak Atoll, 8.9 Mt.

Claude Monet, Impression Sunrise, 1872, Le Havre, France