Friday, December 31, 2021

My Favorite Music of 2021

It's time for the annual blog post no one asks for: my favorites of all the new (to me) music I bought this year.

But I'm exhausted and lack the energy to spend a lot of time on this - despite the fact that I really enjoy and appreciate virtually all of the sixty-six albums I got.

In no particular order...

Fractal Guitar 2 and Fractal Guitar 2 Remixes by Stephan Thelen.

In the Electric Universe by Mahogany Frog.

Naurora by Dewa Budjana.

Mutual Isolation by Burnt Belief

Apophenian Bliss by Red Kite

Music is Our Friend by King Crimson

But this list omits a lot of really enjoyable music.
And of course I need to credit the two record labels that create and share some of my favorite music.
Looking forward to 2022.

P.S. In hindsight, this blog post is horribly written. I blame fatigue.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Music in the soul...

Alan Watts on finding meaning in meaninglessness

Victor Frankl wrote "between stimulus and response there a space." That space is where we find freedom and growth.

Still trying to find time to drive to Dallas and see Slip Zone: A New Look at Postwar Abstraction in the Americas and East Asia at the DMA. We have until 10 Jul 2022. Here's a write-up of the exhibit from the local NBC affiliate.

Miles Davis' iconic Kind of Blue covered in Seinfeld style: Sein of Blue.

The impossible typeface, inspired by Escher.

It's not a spoiler that Rolling Stones' list of the 50 greatest progressive rock albums is topped by Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. I have 20 of them, including 9 of the top 10.

I don't recall why I bookmarked this page of free, open-source healthcare icons but here they are in case you need to use one.

Along those same lines, here's a page with 4000 web badges, those little rectangles that proclaim some affilition.

Michael Crichton's Andromeda Strain novel and the 1971 film by Robert Wise are both absolute favorites of mine. Meaning I could reread or rewatch at any time with full enjoyment. Here's a look at production of the film. If nothing else, click through and watch the original movie trailer.

Visualizing all the world's languages.

Science has found some of the universe's missing matter, "confirming that 80–90% of normal matter is located outside of galaxies."

Yes, the Crystal Bridges Museum is off the beaten path. And yet it's architecturally beautiful (soon to be 50% larger) and the collection is top-notch. Read Alice Walton's thoughts (of Walmart fame) about what she created in Bentonville.

Like most lists, the compulsion is to see where you fit. In the list of most educated cities in the U.S., the Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington metroplex comes in at a disappointing 73rd place. Madison, WI comes in 5th place which is ahead of 6th place Boston, Cambridge, Newton. 

Austin has been named the #1 place for post-college life in the U.S. Fort Worth is #5.

Prehistoric. Giant. Swimming. Head.

From the Things I Didn't Know Could Be Fossilized, here's some dino skin.

An exhibit of Helen Frankenthaler's work promises to "reveal just how accomplished Frankenthaler was in modulating control and spontaneity in her art.

Often in the discussion of Fort Worth's art museums, one gets left out. There's The Modern and The Kimbell, but don't forgot about the Amon Carter.

You've heard about NUKEMAP, the online tool for computing the effects of a nuclear blast. Here's Earth Impact Effects Program (not nearly as snappy of a name) for computing the effects of a meteor impact.

Speaking of meteor impacts, the legend of Sodom may be based in fact.

Early today I tweeted that Mutual Isolation, the new album from the duo of Colin Edwin and Jon Durant, is probably my favorite of all their albums (under the name Burnt Belief). Here's a preview.

Music for the eyes.

"all marks on a flat surface are abstractions" writes David Hockney in Abstraction In Art Has Run Its Course which is interesting but I didn't reach the same conclusion he has.

I won't make it to the San Francisco MoMA before 17 January, so hopefully someone else will checkout the Joan Mitchell retrospective.

The richest man in Jerusalem probably sat on this throne.

What would a nuclear weapon with a yield of 1,000 Mt be like?

A Bulgarian Air Force SU-25 and accessories in a Tetris Challenge. 

A Tardigrade has been found fossilized in amber. Cue theme music for a tiny Jurassic Park.

Get your groove on with Tycho's Red Rocks DJ set.

Never miss an episode of Ze Frank's True Facts. Here are two: The Mosquito and Lurking in the Deep.

Tom Peters reminds us that hard is soft and soft is hard. I had this conversion with our interns over the summer. 

Only a poor artist blames their instrument. So enjoy art made from checkboxes.

I just became aware of (and ordered) John Coltrane's A Love Supreme - Live in Seattle. There's a preview at the site worth listening to.

Speaking of live music, here's Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians performed live in Paris in 1976.

There are many reasons why The Aviationist is on my list of must-read blogs when it comes up in my RSS feed. Here's one of those reasons - a fabulous slo-mo video of the F-22. I could watch this for hours.

Regrets of the dying might seem a little morbid but they do offer life lessons. #3 I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.

CTO Pradeep Dass calls his hypersonic aircraft "Sexbomb." Send bombs and vagene?

There are many candidates for the best animated short film Oscar. The one that stands out to me for its wonderful geometric animation is Any Instant Whatever by Michelle Brand. 

What do you need to know about quantum physics? #3 Many things will be discrete versus continuous.

I believe the $17 million paid for Agnes Martin's Untitled #44 is a record for the artist.

...can be heard in the universe. ~Lao Tzu (incorrectly attributed)

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Where can I find a man who has forgotten words...

This guy doesn't like Uber.

And here are the tunes.

This is a beautiful photo of aerodynamics at work. But it doesn't necessarily mean that the aircraft was travelling supersonically. source

If you don't recognize the name Tacit Blue, you won't want to watch this video interview with a former program manager. 

A time crystal can provide coherence within a quantum computer which can make them much more practical. Google may have create them.

Not to be outdone, physicists discovered a new particle, the tetraquark, which is an exotic exotic hadron because it has two charm quarks and and up and a down antiquark. And if those explanations mean anything to you, let me know.

We saw King Crimson perform in Fort Worth recently. Here's what Tony Levin had to say about that show. Here's a more in-depth interview with Tony.

What's the world's oldest animal look like in fossil form? Those wiggles on the left.

Speaking of fossils, when a human-sized turtle lays an egg that never hatches, you can learn a lot.

Can a brain become fossilized? And I'm not referring to Republicans. Seems so.

A periodic table of the elements sized by relative abundance. source

How about a 3D periodic table?

If you can figure out exactly what to do with Trassel, let me know.

And there's nothing to do with Flying Toasters. I can talk with him? ~Chuang Tzu

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Only fools...

If you've got 17 minutes, this is a nice video showing how the Tate museum restored a vandalized Rothko.

runDisney is back. And by that I mean they're selling registrations for in-person runs. And we're hoping that Covid-19 Delta doesn't mess that up. (Thanks, unvaccinated.)

I'm a GIMP man when it comes to image editing (and my skill set is very lean). But I'm interested in Photopea, an online photo editor.

Even more interesting is Ojoy for scaling up images while improving its quality. (Because usually when you scale up an image the quality goes in the toilet.)

Dan Flavin, Untitled (in honor of Harold Joachim). Sometimes you just want minimalism. source

Brian Eno launched a radio station, Lighthouse, on Sonos Radio. I really like Eno's music but I can't generate enough interest to listen to online radio.

But I will paraphrase one of Eno's quotes. "The great benefit of computers is that they remove the issue of skill, and replace it with the issue of judgement."

Music I'm thinking about.

And in case you've ever wondered about how influential the Blade Runner score was on electronic music, here's Do Androids Dream of Electric Beats.

A brief interview with the artist about Sean Scully: The Shape of Ideas.

It might not seem like much, but M SALT's mix of salt, pepper, and garlic salt is pretty good and versatile. 

The XB-70's cockpit.

Kurasowa's 100 favorite movies is probably worth taking a look at. Those that I've seen include It's a Wonderful Life, A Streetcar Named Desire, Gojira, Lawrence of Arabia, The Birds, The Day of the Jackal, The Godfather Part II, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, The Killing Fields. Which is probably more than either you or I thought.

Need sound effects? The BBC has 'em.

...don't contradict themselves. ~Andre Gide

Monday, August 2, 2021

When you realize nothing is lacking...

Just a reminder that the World Championship Air Race is set to return in 2022.

This is 100% true and if you're a fan of abstract painting I urge you to seek out Norman Lewis, a Neglected Gem of Abstract Expressionism.

Bacteria unknown to science were found on the International Space Station. (Cue sci-fi movie intro music.)

Continuing on the theme of things new to science, a study of 2,000 year old fossilized human feces indicates a) we have a much less diverse gut biome these days and b) we used to have things in our gut that are totally new to modern humans.

Continuing with the butt theme, breathing through their rectums saved oxygen-deprived mice.

And back to poop: new species of beetle discovered in 230 million year old fossilized poop.

Ellsworth Kelly, Colors for a Large Wall, 1951. source

You can now create a custom t-shirt featuring Josef Albers' Homage to the Square.

The one immediate problem I have with the article 6 Famous Abstract Expressionists Who Boldly Defined the Movement is use of the word "famous." 

Markus Reuter's "Living the Dream" podcast continues with an interview with Leonardo "MoonJune" Pavkovic, owner of MoonJune Records of which I am a happy subscriber.

Markus Reuter also interviews Trey Gunn, currently on part 4 of 10.

From a list of 99 bits of unsolicited advice, "If you meet a jerk, overlook them. If you meet jerks everywhere everyday, look deeper into yourself."

More maps: draw all the roads in a city.

A map of the U.S. scaled by the states' populations.

Leave it to the folks at Pantone to come up with a color chart letting you know whether you're peeing frequently enough. (Just like mom used to say, have two pale urinations a day.)

Just a nice interactive period table.

Music that's on my mind.

ICYMI, Jason Matthews, author of the Red Sparrow trilogy, has died. That trilogy got me more excited about espionage thrillers than anything since Clancy.

This set of paintings "Black Windows" emerged from Sean Scully's time in Covid lockdown. One of them is currently in the exhibition at The Modern in Fort Worth.

Another map that lets you follow a raindrop along all the rivers in America: River Runner.

An interactive map of lighthouses.

The A-10 is basically a flying 30mm cannon. This video shows how it works.

Couldn't visit The Walt Disney Studios and World War II at the Walt Disney Family Museum but I could get the exhibition catalog (which I enjoyed reading).

Food and art. I know where I'll be eating next time I visit MFAH.

For you historians, a trove of Apollo-era documents.

JMW Turner coming to the Kimbell this fall.

Need some background noise and/or ambience

True Facts: Wild Pigs.

How to restore a vandalized Rothko.

I would never have guessed this painting was by Helen Frankenthaler (Barometer, 1992). Which is a reminder (to me) to not pigeonhole artists. source.

Hours of pleasure. And cookies. Oreoreo.

Popcat. Because.


...the whole world belongs to you. ~Lao Tzu

Friday, July 30, 2021

Precision, Machinery, War, Destruction, Beauty, and Art

A couple years ago I saw the exhibit Cult of the Machine: Precisionism in American Art at the Dallas Museum of Art. In addition to seeing a startlingly beautiful and unique Georgia O'Keeffe, the exhibit left me with such a positive impression that I used a quote from the curator in a presentation I gave at a CFD conference shortly thereafter. After all, precisionism was a movement that depicted in art the glory and power of technological and architectural development and in America in the 1920s and 1930s. And CFD is nothing if not precision.

Through a recent article in the WSJ on the exhibit Ralston Crawford: Air + Space + War, I found a fork in the Precisionist road. Crawford's work matured during WWII when he had access to a variety of aircraft settings (flights, factories) and post-war nuclear testing - including being in the U.S. Army. That exposure to death and destruction greatly influenced his work, retaining the flatness and precision of Precisionism while introducing an element of chaos that heightens the work's emotional appeal. 

Certainly my initial attraction was the usual juxtaposition of several of my interests (painting, aircraft, nuclear weapons development). But upon reading the exhibition catalog and learning about the development of Crawford's work and how it fits with his contemporaries (the chapter on aviation art was really interesting) I found myself loving his painting solely on its own merits - the shift of perspective, the rough edges, the colors.

So if you're in Pennsylvania, I recommend heading over to the Brandywine River Museum of Art before the exhibition closes on 19 Sept. For everyone else, here's a video walkthrough that deserves more than 72 views. 

Sunday, July 11, 2021

On Vaccination

At what point do we just throw our hands up and say to the anti-vax (or the white-washed "vaccine-hesitant") people, "Fine. Don't get vaccinated. Get sick and die."

Because I've gotten to feeling that way more and more often.

Well, the simple answer is you don't. You go back to protecting the public health.

Because C-19 vaccination is at best only half about personal health.

Remember that COVID-19 (which should've been called SARS-2) is a pandemic and a national emergency. Which is why the other half of vaccination's importance is public health.

Each unvaccinated person is a walking petri dish for the virus and an enabler of its transmission and mutation. As long as the virus transmits, the unvaccinated will get sick and die. If that isn't bad enough, these walking virus hosts will give SARS-CoV-2 the opportunity to mutate. Mutations happen all the time and most are benign but there's always the possibility of something worse than the delta variant, worse in the sense of it being immune to the current vaccines. Which would put us all back at square one.

Not feeling compassion for your fellow citizens? How about the sheer economic cost of closed businesses, the strain on hospitals, the federal expense? Can you be motivated by your wallet?

Sadly, everything about preventing SARS-2 applies to the flu. Get vaccinated, stay home when you're sick, wash your hands. If we all followed those guidelines for the flu, the annual gains in productivity (or decrease in lost productivity) would be enormous. Nothing about remediating SARS-2 is new. It just highlights so many shortcomings in society. (One of which is the abject failure of public education to impart a basic understanding of virology and statistics with which we probably would be in an entirely different situation today.)

Do you have the right to refuse to be vaccinated? Sure. But that doesn't mean society has to accommodate your personal choice. Kids gotta be vaccinated (and prove as much) to attend school. Why should you not have to do the same to return to work or public events? You have freedom of choice but all choices come with consequences.

It's as though half the country is waiting to see World War Z outside their front door before they'll even consider driving over to CVS for a jab. FOR FREE.

To say that I'm disappointed would be an understatement. Surprised? Not so much.

Get vaccinated.

Saturday, July 10, 2021

There is no way to happiness.

Drumming but visualized as bouncing balls.

Free pictures of monkeys.

Here's a Houston Chronicle article about the renovated Rothko Chapel. If the real thing is even close to the photo at the top of the article with the improved natural lighting, it'll be like a whole new experience - in a great way.

If you like the Vim text editor, you may like browsing the web with vimium, a Chrome extension.

In the beginning, there was a perfect fluid (aka quark-gluon plasma).

Clyfford Still, PH-1394, 1979.

A couple of years ago, I got to see fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls that were on tour as a museum exhibit. Just recently, new fragments have been discovered.

Speaking of discoveries, a secret Cold War project in Greenland drilled some ice cores and then forgot about them in storage. When rediscovered, they were found to contain fossilized plants.

To celebrate Tony Levin's 70th birthday, Unquiet Music compile and released Prog Noir (Unquiet Remix with TLEV Collage) which is available for free (or name your price).

Sam Gilliam, The Color of Music, 1967-1973 (source). Lush, rippling with understated energy, with a nearly hidden lyrical line. 

How about a wee bit of King Crimson in the form of a "remnant" from the recording of THRAK: Did We Make the Album?

Yet another reminder that the World Championship Air Race (nee Red Bull Air Race) is coming back in 2022.

If you're a fan of the band Stick Men (Markus Reuter, Pat Mastelotto, Tony Levin) you can enjoy recorded web event with the band and fans talking about the history.

ICYMI, Kansas (yes, the band) has a new live album, Point of Know Return.

Excellent 4-part series of articles on which color scale to use when visualizing data

Gluons glue together quarks to form protons and neutrons. The odd thing (pun intended) about gluons is that odd numbers of them don't like to be together; only even numbers of gluons are typically found. Well, science has proven the existence of odderons (a clump of an odd number of gluons) by smashing together protons at high speed.

From Futility Closet: "Walt Disney World draws its power from a pylon surmounted by a circular steel tube and two elliptical rings."

The taste of chocolate comes, in part, from fermentation. I did not know that.

The notional F-36 Kingsnake is a fighter aircraft to replace the F-16. It is compared to a Nissan 300ZX and because I'm not a car guy I have no idea what that means.

Yes. It's time for True Facts: The Bats! and Trap Jaw Ants.

A long article on how the music industry is strangling economically the musicians from whom they make their money.

Enjoy Hypersonic from the new Liquid Tension Experiment album.

Baby born with 3 penises makes history. Because 2 penises was a snoozer, apparently.

A beginner's guide to ambient music.

Based on imagery from the JAXA Kaguya Orbiter, enjoy Earthrise in 4k UHD.

It'll be interesting to see how closely this bit of concept art matches the actual configuration of the Next Generation Air Dominance fighter (i.e. the F-22 replacement).

Give a listen to a preview track called The Giant Nothing from Supervoid.

What happens when scientists write haiku?

Yummy sandwiches.

Opening 20 June at The Modern is Sean Scully: The Shape of Ideas.

Feels. It's like Where's Waldo but with emojis.

Said to be a classic and a very approachable introduction to the subject, Thompson's Calculus Made Easy (1910) is now available in an online HTML version and a PDF version.

Goldeneye 007 for N64 is worth a lot of money today.

This could be very handy: Ojoy, upscale an image while improving its quality.

Do you like Lava Lamps?

Ze Frank's True Facts is at it again: Deception in the Rainforest and Dangerous Little Ticks.

Science discovered that pigs can breathe through their butts. Doctors wondered whether this gave them an option when treating human patients with lung problems. I think you see where this is going.

Speaking of butts, ever wonder how they evolved?

Happiness is the way. ~Buddha

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

The Tao is near and...

A recording of Harold Budd speaking at USC in 1985.

I'm afraid to use Readable on one of my blog posts. I'm afraid because one of the statements on their home page is "+83% The increase in the number of people who will finish reading your content if its readability is improved [emphasis mine] from grade 12 to grade 5." Maybe we can improve the average reader from grade 5 to grade 12."

What is the first principle of product management? Maximize impact to the mission. You'll have to click through to read the second.

Emily Mason, Ancient Incense, 1981. source

"Music and sleep are the two most natural ways to escape from everything and when they combine it truly becomes a dream. Let us take you there with our artists’ sublime music curated especially for you by The Ambient Zone." That's the introduction to the digital album Sleep 001.

A four-hour, real-time video of the moon from the Kaguya Orbiter.

Restored 16mm film of Magic Kingdom from 1970.

A live performance from 2008 by the Five Peace Band (Chick Corea, John McLaughlin, Christian McBride, Kenny Garrett, and Vinnie Colaiuta). 

Amazon has 14 leadership principles (aka core values) which is a lot and I'm curious how many employees can remember them all. There are so many I'm having a hard time choosing one to show here. "Leaders are right a lot." 

On this list of low maintenance house plants, I'd like to try the sansevieria starfish.

It's kinda pretty - a black hole eating a star from the inside out.

The Super Mario game's soundtrack has been restored.

In the mid 1960s an experiment was run to see whether three physics PhDs could build a nuclear bomb. Their final report is classified so it's uncertain whether they succeeded or not.

"The record is a triumph of atmosphere..." is part of this brief article about one of my absolute favorite albums of all time, My Life in the Bush of Ghosts by Brian Eno and David Byrne.

"Lockdown Throwdown" is an unfinished performance by Gary Husband and the late Chick Corea. Enjoy and marvel at what is and what might have been.

"Poop" and "knife" are two words not usually found together but here you go: you can buy a poop knife for dicing dooky (slicing scat, carving crap) so it fits down the flush.

You may have heard that the Rothko Chapel has been remodeled. If you can't get to Houston soon for a visit, this new book is a pretty good substitute - Rothko Chapel: An Oasis for Reflection.

Looks yummy. Recipe here.

When you gotta cut loose but you're around genteel folks try these alternative (alternate?) swear words. For example, nerts, for the love of pete, and gee willikers.

Just another reminder that the World Championship Air Race is coming back in 2022.

If you've lost your shark, you can track it in real time online with the Shark Tracker.

Unsuck It is a way to deprogram business jargon.

This nice lady from Fort Worth who recently passed away collected a lot of art that's now up for auction at Sotheby's. Check out the collection of Mrs. John L. Marion

Stephan Thelen's Fractal Guitar 2 is definitely on my list of favorite albums of 2021.

Blobmixer. Just try it.

Here's a track from the new Liquid Tension Experiment album. You've ordered it, haven't you?

Ze Frank, the man, the legend, the True Facts: Deception in the Rainforest.

Mahogany Frog's new album is In The Electric Universe

Several people have recommended the Netflix documentary Made You Look: A True Story About Fake Art.

Piet Mondrian, Gray Tree, 1911. From an article about how Mondrian's abstractions became a new way to see the world. Gray Tree is stunning and in it I see all his mature works. They're all there.

Where on Mars is Perseverance?

Fancy a BBC recording of Pink Floyd performing live in 1971?

Wonderful animated film: Cupcake Quarantine.

This had better not be a joke before I drive around trying to find it. Arby's Meat Mountain sandwich.

Coming later this year to the Dallas Museum of Art is Expressive Abstractions: A New Look at Postwar Art.

Roger Waters recorded a new version of The Gunner's Dream from The Final Cut and its everything you'd want in such a remake.  Hearing it motivated to pull the CD off the shelf for this weekend's listening.

You can watch several Oscar-qualified animated short films online. Minor Accident of War has some fantastic texture to it. And more films are here.

Here's a concert video of The Beatles from 1964.

I love this hand-drawn animated film - THE STROKE.

Spend an hour getting a FA-18 walkaround from a former Blue Angel pilot.

...people seek it far away. ~Mencius

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Thoughts on the Great Texas Winter Blackout of 2021

The kindness of friends.

That's what's on my mind as I sit in the morning stillness, warm in a friend's home, listening to a bird chirp outside on this 21 degree winter morning.

Why am I here?

My home has been without power for going on 56 hours, two days with temperatures that never got close to the freezing mark and in fact hit -2 degree one night. Waking up in a house at 42 degrees with smartphone batteries dwindling was enough.

A friend took us in. A friend whose home had power and heat and wifi. A friend who probably would've driven over and dragged us out of our house had we not decided to bail when we did.

We got a hot meal, eight hours of warm sleep, and recharged batteries, both literally and figuratively.

It would be easy to talk about the material things we take for granted: a good night's sleep, a warm shower, decent food. True, I do feel like a fully charged battery this morning relative to last night when my power meter was in the single digits. (Coincidentally, a tweet in my feed this morning said something to the effect that no one needs to be told that they look like they're tired which is exactly what my friend said to me last night. I didn't mind and in fact took it as a reason to go to bed at 8pm.)

What we too often taken for granted are friends and simple human kindness and resilience.

I am inspired by our team at work, all of whom are dealing with some variation of my story. Their energy, positivity, initiative are the warm glow of our shared vision and mission. Not only are they taking care of their family and friends, they are squeezing in work as they can whenever the office has slice of power and the computers come back online. They are going to the office to assess its status and ensure its safety. They are taking initiative and doing what they can when they can.

I am warmed by friends who, while only connected by the tenuous thread of online media, reach out to check on and inspire each other. Friends who take the time to let you know that you're not alone and they are thinking about you. Friends who understand the unifying power of shared experience.

All people are talking about is power, power, power. Why did it go out? When is it coming back? The power that never left us and which remains undiminished is the power of the human spirit.

We've spent several days focusing on the bottom levels of Maslow's hierarchy. The kindness of friends raises us all to its heights.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

The intellect is a beautiful servant...

Start with an aircraft and then right into abstract painting.

There's a website dedicate to the Bell X-2.

Emily Mason, Ancient Incense, 1981. source

My first music purchase from Unquiet Music is In The Name Of... (A Prayer For Our Times). From the label: "Please consider being in a rested state, wide awake in order to maintain concentration whichever duration you may define for listening to this music, at the risk of being annoyed."

Every year I share the same thing. If you only listen to one mashup per year, make it DJ Eaworm's United State of Pop for 2020. As a bonus, here's Time of Our Lives: Songs from Every Year (1970-2020).

From Vistage, the trends facing businesses in 2021.

  • ecological (decreasing energy consumption and CO2 generation)
  • social (healthcare, esp. in light of an aging population, income inequality, housing, education and the future of universities)
  • technology (AI, cloud, mobile, robotics, VR/AR, 5G, and the tech made more important by all of the above - cybersecurity)
  • economic (pandemic stimulus, housing (new home starts up at the same time as evictions are up), effect of digitization on retail sales)

ICYM, the new Tulips live music venue in the location formerly occupied by Collective Brewing, is also a "Texas kosher" deli

Are you hungry enough to eat a 20 pound cheeseburger?

Kelly O'Connor's work explores our preoccupation with temporary, artificial happiness and uses many theme park motifs. In this case, it's Mary Blair's "it's a small world" at Disneyland. I love Blair's work across a variety of Disney projects and "it's a small world" is a zenith of her brand of minimalist design and eye for color. 

Attention Star Wars geeks: droid stamps are coming from the USPS this year. I'm quite partial to all gonk droids.

Pantone's color of the year for 2021 (actually colors) are ultimate gray and illuminating (yellow) for a sense of resilience and hope.

For those of you interested in such things (historians?), Trump's Twitter archive.

It's a real conundrum. Why is the universe expanding so much faster than we think it should be?

Learn from these Emergency Room reports: don't stick things in your butt.

Tony Levin has a new book of photography from his life on the road. Check out this teaser video.

Disney's four keys to a great guest experience. It's a worthwhile read to see how these keys have evolved.

And the music...

King Crimson performed on Conan in 1995 and here's the video to prove it.

Mark you calendar - a Sean Scully retrospective, The Shape of Ideas, is coming to the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth in June 2021.

Meet Mark Waki, an aviation artist for Northrop Grumman.

The F-111H was designed as a competitor for the B-1. I had no idea. The F-111 holds a special place in my heart due to two close encounters with it early in my career.

Speaking of General Dynamics, here's video History of Air Force Plant 4.

Staying on the Lockheed Martin topic, here are Kelly Johnson's 14 rules and practices. It would take time and thought to adapt these to work other than designing and building aircraft but one stands out: 5. There must be a minimum number of reports required, but important work must be recorded thoroughly.

And now you can watch Blackbird: Legacy of Innovation about the SR-71.

Testing the radar cross section of an A-12, the SR-71's precursor.

How can you tell whether a B-2 is male or female? Turn it over and look at it's belly. Not really, but what you'll see is cool despite lack of genitalia.

The Pentagon Papers are available online for you to read in all their glory.

The Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce rebranded themselves and I like it.

Scientists are giddy over finding a perfectly preserved dinosaur asshole

On the topic of buttholes, insect poop is called frass (as in "FRom the ASS"?).

OK, one more on poo. Science now thinks it knows why wombats poop cubes.

Farts aren't poo so here's a quickie on how animals use farts as a defense mechanism.

Think the moon is lifeless? Think again.

Because of the above, check out True Facts: The Incredible Tardigrade.

Enjoy 120 years of electronic music.

Geometry of Circles, Sesame Street, and Philip Glass. 

...but a terrible master. ~Ram Dass

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Random Pandemic Thoughts

Lacking the motivation to weave a coherent theme through all these thoughts (i.e. opinions), they are presented here as nothing more than mental dandruff.

Like it or not, agree with it or not, anti-vax or not, everyone needs to realize that normalcy returns only after a significant majority of the populations gets vaccinated. Every business in this country should be vocally advocating that federal, state, and local governments get their collective act together and make this happen as soon as possible.

Regardless of what political party was or might have been in power at the beginning of 2020 when the pandemic got underway, the weak, ragged, uneven rollout of vaccinations was predictable. The logistical challenges here are huge and are complicated by how the feds and states interact.

Notwithstanding the previous, the administration in power during the first year of the pandemic severely underperformed. They either overachieved or underachieved depending on how you interpret "One day - it's like a miracle - it will disappear."

At lot of musing about "the end of X" where X is movie theaters or fitness centers or dining out is misplaced. Once "everyone" is vaccinated, all this stuff will come roaring back. The flip side is that all the positive behaviors we've adopted like handwashing and not shaking hands and staying away from other people when sick are already disappearing.

It's quite dismaying that the behaviors we've all be asked to adopt (stay home when sick, cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough, wash your hands) are exactly the same things we should be doing regarding the flu. And sadly, many don't. If only one of these behaviors stick, I hope it's staying home from work when you're sick.

If everyone got the flu vaccine each year, the savings in terms of lost productivity at work would dwarf the cost of the shots.

Having an anti-vax opinion is your right. It's my right to say you're wrong. 

The human animal is quite weak and I'm not speaking about susceptibility to viruses. Who knew how strong was the desire to dine in public at TGI Friday's and drink in public at the neighborhood pub? On TV the other day I heard a "man on the street" interview with someone who just had to travel somewhere, anywhere, right now. Who knew 9 months was the limit of human willpower?

If the pandemic was a TV show called "National Emergency," it would rank lower than Joanie Loves Chachi.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

My Favorite Music of 2020

During the pandemic year of 2020 with its lockdowns and working from home, some people compensated by baking bread, others with home fitness, still others binged all their favorite shows on streaming services.

I listened to a lot of music. By "a lot" I mean 107 new (to me) albums. So many that over the course of the year I lost track of what I had ordered, in what format (digital or CD), and whether I had received it or not. It was only after cleaning up the backlog of tunes over the past couple of weeks that I settled on 107 as an accurate count.

It's hard to identify just a handful of favorites from a list that long. So you'll have to indulge me for being lengthy in terms of the list and brief in terms of the descriptions.

PANAMERICA by Stick Men with David Cross

The first new album I bought in 2020 made the list: the 5-CD PANAMERICA by Stick Men featuring David Cross (violin). Recorded throughout a South American tour, the 5 CDs of PANAMERICA are themed as Improvs (Disc 1), Suites (Disc 2), one full live show (Discs 3 and 4), and Soundscapes (Disc 5). 

If you're not familiar with Stick Men they are Tony Levin (bass), Markus Reuter (guitar), and Pat Mastelotto (drums). To become familiar with the band, PANAMERICA is a great place to start because it gives you a taste of everything they do: the subtle application of power, sweeping melody, expressive rigor. 

PANAMERICA and other Stick Men albums are available on Bandcamp where you can preview even more of their work.

Music from the Early 21st Century by Previte, Saft, and Cline

Bobby Previte (drums), Jamie Saft (Hammond organ), and Nels Cline (guitar) recorded this classic, improvisational organ trio live on tour in late 2019. The results are a spectacular springboard of classic forms into future possibilities. 

Music from the Early 21st Century is available from RareNoise Records.

RUMBLE by Lorenzo Feliciati

This four-track EP is a stylistic standout from Feliciati's other albums. It's more of an orchestral take on jazz built upon Feliciati's rich, burbling bass lines that are more vocal than foundational. 

RUMBLE is available on Bandcamp.

Mixing Colours by Roger Eno & Brian Eno

The culmination of years of the two Eno brothers sharing keyboard pieces (Roger) and treatments (Brian) is the album Mixing Colours. The result is a series of shimmering soundscapes that deceive with their minimalism and entrance with their depth.

Mixing Colours is available from Eno's website.

Stillness Soundtracks II by Machinefabriek

Keeping with ambience for a bit, I was totally blown away by the gravity of the sound achieved in Machinefabriek's (Rutger Zuydervelt) Stillness Soundtracks II, five deep tracks scored to accompany Esther Kokmeijer's film of icebergs at the North and South Poles. I can't recall music that more accurately conveys a visual representation of icebergs: solid/liquid, massive/fragile, still/moving, visible/hidden, white/spectral. Amazing.

Stillness Soundtracks II was released by Glacial Movements Records and is available on Bandcamp.

Music of Our Times by Gary Husband and Markus Reuter

When stranded in Tokyo during a pandemic after your tour is cancelled, what do musicians do? They book time in a studio and make music. In this case, Gary Husband (piano), who was touring with Stick Men, and Markus Reuter (guitar) were able to exquisitely capture a moment in time, their take on a world at inflection between live interaction and lockdown. Elegance.

Music of Our Times was released by MoonJune Records and is available on Bandcamp.

Punkt and Firma (96k) by Trey Gunn

I was unable to choose between Trey Gunn's (10-string Warr guitar) albums Punkt and Firma so we get both. All you need to know is their description: "These pieces will reward detailed and repeated listening. Likewise, they will punish casual listening."

Both Punkt and Firma (96k) are available on Bandcamp.

Tranceportation Vol. 2 by Sonar with David Torn

My love affair with the combination of Sonar (a "progressive groove band") and guitarist David Torn goes back to 2018's Vortex in which Torn's playing was the salt to Sonar's polyrhythmic stew. Fortunately their collaboration continues on Tranceportation Vol. 2, described as "pointillistic, metrical complexity with deep subterranean grooves."

Tranceportation Vol. 2 was released by RareNoise Records and is available on Bandcamp.

The Jerry Granelli Trio Plays Vince and Mose by The Jerry Granelli Trio

Speaking of love affairs, I don't recall when I first heard the piano playing of Jamie Saft but it's been a romance for me ever since. Here Saft joins Jerry Granelli (drums) and Bradley Christopher Jones (bass) as they perform their take on the work of Vince Guaraldi and Mose Allison. Fresh and lively without being anchored to the past, the album ends with what's now my favorite version of Christmas is Here.

The Jerry Granelli Trio Plays Vince and Mose was released on RareNoise Records and is available on Bandcamp.

Behind Closed Doors by Thorsten Quaeschning and Markus Reuter

When the pandemic made it virtually impossible for musicians to tour and perform live, some got creative. Markus Reuter, for example, held several live, online sessions with other musicians to demonstrate technique, record tracks for an album, or perform brief concerts. In this later category falls his 50-minute performance with Thorsten Quaeschning (Tangerine Dream). The combination of Quaeschning's synthesizers and Reuter's Touch Guitar is mesmerizing as they cover the gamut of tone and texture.

Behind Closed Doors is available on Bandcamp.

Bonus: Behind Closed Doors 2 came later in the year when the duo added percussionist Shawn Crowder.

Small Moments by Michael Manring

Perhaps not a household name, but when you think bass guitar Michael Manring's name should be at the forefront of your mind. Similar to Trey Gunn's albums cited above, Small Moments features Manring and his basses and that's about it. Pure and expansive, these pieces (written to be performed live), reveal mastery of one's instrument combined with artistic expression.

Small Moments is available on Bandcamp.

Listening to Pictures and Seeing Through Sound by Jon Hassell

Being a fan of Jon Hassell (trumpet) doesn't necessarily mean I've done a good job of keeping track of his work. I was thrilled to hear about his new album Seeing Through Sound and disappointed in myself for finding out it's the second in his Pentimento series, the first being Listening to Pictures. So I got both. And was not disappointed. 

Both of these albums by Jon Hassell are available on Bandcamp.

Spectral by Robin Schlochtermeier

I first heard about Schlochtermeier in an online post by Eraldo Bernocchi whose opinions are usually enough to get me to take action. Spectral is the first solo album by the composer of film soundtracks and "captures some of this mysterious, nebulous spirit of bafflement and wonderment" he witnessed in his baby daughter.

Spectral was released on Denovali Records and is available on Bandcamp.

Selling England by the Pound and Spectral Mornings Live by Steve Hackett

It's not surprising that a Steve Hackett album should land on the favorite list of a person for whom Genesis was the genesis of his musical interests. Yet it may be surprising to know that of all the Hackett albums I own (which are many) this is my favorite. These performances feature Hackett and his band in fine form and the version of Spectral Mornings is fantastic.

This 2-CD live album is available on Hackett's website.

Cuts Open by Merzbow, Gustafsson, Pandi

I'll be honest. I didn't expect to like this album knowing that previous work by the parties was heavy, raging improv. On Cuts Open, they didn't take their foot off the gas but maybe turned down the volume from 11 to 10. 

From a description of the album: "When the occasional bursts of brutality arrive – and they do arrive, in all their eviscerating glory – they’re almost cathartic in their relief from the teeth-gnashing tension of the album’s more subdued moments, where menace hangs in the air like a thinly veiled threat."

Cuts Open was released on RareNoise Records and is available on Bandcamp.

OWARI by Stick Men with Gary Husband

Fittingly named OWARI meaning "the end," this live album was recorded on the last date of the group's truncated tour of Japan thanks to the pandemic. Perhaps because of this, the performances are majestic with Husband's keyboards playing a central role. 

OWARI was released on MoonJune Records and is available on Bandcamp.

Bumerang by Hallebeek, Feliciati, and Voskuil

Bassist Lorenzo Feliciati joins guitarist Richard Hallebeek and drummer Niels Voskuil on this self-titled album by this new trio. To my ear there's a definite Allan Holdsworth influence that's paired with Feliciati's triumphant bass playing. Can't wait to hear what Bumerang does next.

Bumerang is available from Hallebeek's website.

Another Flower by Robin Guthrie and Harold Budd

Even if this album wasn't good (which it is) I would've put it on the list. It was the last album released by Harold Budd before his death due to complications from Covid-19. Unlike their other pairings, this album to my ear emphasizes Budd's piano work over Guthrie's lush washes of guitar. 

Another Flower is available from Darla Records.

Mujo by Eraldo Bernocchi and Hoshiko Yamane

In yet another example of a favored artist of mine (Bernocchi, see above) paired with a Tangerine Dream alum, the result is - let's say - "classical electronica."

Mujo is available from Denovali Records.

Jamie Saft Plays Mr. Dorgon

I do not know Mr. Dorgon but I do love Saft's piano work. If you listened to any of the samples of Trey Gunn's albums above, those are a good analogy for this album of "intuitive, counter-intuitive, and non-intuitive" compositions. 

"One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain."

This album was released by Veal Records and is available on Bandcamp.

PORTAL by Feliciati and Mastelotto

I hadn't realized how much of Lorenzo Feliciati's work was on this list until now but we'll end with his PORTAL album with drummer Pat Mastelotto. Maybe the most melodic rhythm section you'll hear today.

PORTAL is available on Bandcamp

Bonus: A remix version: PORTAL: The Late Night DJ

The Full List

The morbidly curious can see the full list here

P.S. Sorry about all the extra white space but I didn't feel like fiddling with Blogger's editor.