Thursday, September 22, 2016

Dildos on Mixed Meters

September 15 was the eleventh anniversary of Mixed Meters.  I must have started this blog for some good reason.  Right?

In my very first post I admonished myself to keep things short.  I've failed at that quest many times.   In one early post an anonymous commenter said that I "went on and on and on about it..."  ('It' was a hip hop song which quoted the Dies Irae.)   Dude was right.  "Going on and on" has become a motto around here.  Thanks, Dude.

I really appreciate everyone who reads my blather, either here or via email.  Getting comments is a pleasant bonus.

What's really amazing is not that I'm still posting.  I'm amazed that I haven't found an excuse good enough to get me to quit.

It's been remarked that Facebook has killed blogging.  True enough.  Many things which I used to post here I now post there - and they disappear completely in a few days.  If I link Mixed Meters posts to my Facebook page they might get a few extra comments on Facebook.  FB, however, doesn't increase the traffic here much.

Incomprehensibly Google tells me that Mixed Meters keeps getting hits anyway.  Google, as you know, owns Blogger and competes with Facebook.  They provide me with this fine web forum for free.  Thanks, Goog.

What's more, they've been keeping track of my hit totals since 2010.  Last month MM registered the highest monthly hit total in that entire time, double the amount from the previous August.  Why?  I have absolutely no clue.  Certainly not because of all the great articles I've been posting.

In 2008 I joined something called Google Adsense, where the Goog posts ads on my blog which they think will interest you, my dear readers.  Every time you click their ad a small sum of money is paid to an account in my name.  Over 6 or more years I had gotten over $25 in credits.  Hey, don't laugh.  It's the biggest revenue stream in Mixed Meters entire history.

The trick - and there's always a trick - is that in order to get paid in actual currency, my earnings would have to reach $100.  And that would take, give or take a long time, another 24 years or so.

Recently I learned that this is not the incredibly sweet deal I thought it was.  Google Adsense, for all its largesse, does have a few rules.  And one of those rules is 'family friendly'.

Last February (the February in 2016) an email arrived calling my attention to one particular page - an archive of all seven posts I made in September of 2007.  Their complaint was pretty non-specific considering the variety of subjects I addressed that month.

Google ads may not be placed on pages with adult or any kinds of non family-safe content. This includes, but is not limited to, pages with images or videos containing:
  • Strategically covered nudity
  • Sheer or see-through clothing
  • Lewd or provocative poses
  • Close-ups of breasts, buttocks, or crotches
Were they complaining about my piece of music named after my dog's genitals?  Maybe.  Maybe they didn't like this picture of a topless Hawaiian goddess:

Or this historical, usually strategically blurred, photo (from my article comparing judicial punishments for Abu Gharib prison and Nazi death camp officers):

Or this musically relevant photo of nude people doing couples yoga on a Paul Horn concert poster which I had found in Leslie's papers:

I'll never know exactly which post that month triggered the warning, only that it took 8 and a half years for me to get the news.  I opted to ignore the notice.

Then in June another warning, this time for a specific post from an even earlier date:    This time their complaint was more specific:

Google ads may not be placed on adult or mature content. This includes fetish content as well as sites that promote, sell or discuss sexual aids. Examples include, but are not limited to:
  • sexual fixations or practices that may be considered unconventional
  • sexual aids or enhancement tools such as vibrators, dildos, lubes, sex games, inflatable toys
  • penis and breast enlargement tools
So Google objected to my discussion of the legality of saying the word dildo in Texas.  I was inspired by this video clip from a film called The Dildo Diaries. Watch for a good laugh at the Texas legislature's expense.  It features Molly Ivins, a political reporter who had a knack for finding humor in narrow-minded politics.

These days, 10 years later, I have no clue whether it's still illegal to say the word "dildo" in a Texas sex shop, though, apparently,  at least parts of this particular law have been declared unconstitutional.  I do know that Molly Ivins, then the reigning champion at exposing Texas hypocrisy, has since died.  I hope someone is carrying on her work because it's a sure bet that Texas politics are still jaw-droppingly crazy.

Anyway, after the second notice I decided to make Google happy and remove the ad from Mixed Meters.  It represented my blog's only source of income.  Now it's gone.

Had I kept the ad, sometime around the year 2040 — when I'll be nearly ninety years old — if Mixed Meters still exists then — if the Internet still exists then — if I'm even capable of writing blather then — I might have earned $100 from Google as payment for my 35 or so years of blog writing.  That would have been a sweet moment of validation.   And I'm giving it up to preserve my right to write about dildos if I want to.

Hey, that's the Mixed Meters blog news for another year.  Thanks for reading.

The subject of penises used to come up a lot on this blog to the point that I created a "penis" label.  Click here to see all my blog posts marked "penis".  Google Adsense would have been shocked by that.

Read more Crankshaft.
Buy stuff that says No One Cares About Your Stupid Blog.
Buy the complete Dildo Diaries.
On my original dildo post you can still watch the Dildo Song video and the links to OhMyBod and The Phallic Logo awards remain active.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Florence Foster Jenkins

Music students who are fans of opera - or who, like me, were friends of fans of opera - inevitably get exposed to the singing of Florence Foster Jenkins.  Imagine a late night, a group gathered in someone's dorm room, everyone's well stoned listening to all kinds of music.  Eventually, without explaining, someone plays Florence's album.  Hilarity ensues.  It's better when you don't know what to expect.

If you aren't familiar with Florence's work, here's a recording.  Enjoy:

It's natural to wonder whether Florence Foster Jenkins was having a little joke on her audiences.  No, apparently not.  All evidence suggests that Florence was completely serious.  I mean, she was no Darlene Edwards.  Florence was, at least in her own mind, a serious artist.

And that's just the beginning of her tale.  The whole story would make a good movie.

Oh right.  That movie is out now.  It's entitled Florence Foster Jenkins and stars Meryl Streep as the eponymous prima donna.  Since Florence seems like a perfect patron saint of Illusory Superiority (which is the pop psychology trope I have recently adopted as a feeble excuse for not fulfilling my own lofty career expectations), I was tremendously anxious to see it.  I dragged Leslie off to a local theater last week.   Here's the trailer.

I think the essential point is that Florence Foster Jenkins is a love story.  Bad singing is just the hook.  Florence and her husband, St. Clair Bayfield (played by Hugh Grant) had a non-traditional marriage.  Theirs was clearly a loving supportive relationship.  Co-dependent even.  I ended up rooting for Bayfield to help Florence succeed.

It's a good movie because of the acting.  Streep makes you feel that this might have been what the real Florence was like.  And she mimics Florence's singing exceptionally well.   Grant is perfectly cast.  Simon Helberg, who plays the accompanist Cosme McMoon, escapes his Big Bang Theory persona and holds his own against these two formidable talents, although I found his high voice annoying.  On the other hand it was a pleasure to watch an actor actually playing a piano instead of faking.

I even liked the sound track by Alexandre Desplat - especially the Rota/Fellini-esque cue as the crowd streamed into Carnegie Hall.   The best musical moment, in my opinion, happened just after the scene where Florence and Cosme play a Chopin prelude together.  The scene cuts outside while the music transforms perfectly into the John Kirby arrangement of that same music; sad, mournful and very 40's. 

Another oft-mentioned moment shows Florence singing while we hear her presumably as she heard herself.  It's excellent singing, also sung by Meryl Streep.  Here's where I suspect the common perception of Florence Foster Jenkins goes slightly awry. 

It's been suggested that Florence's hearing was affected by the mercury treatments given for her syphilis.  The movie shows her enjoying Lily Pons' excellent singing.  It's possible that what Florence actually heard when she herself was singing was the same thing she heard when she listened to Lily, both performances would have been scrambled by a maladjusted auditory system.

In my twisted version, we would have heard Lily Pons in concert through Florence's ears rather than hearing Florence through Florence's ears.  And in Florence's ears, Lily Pons would have seemed (to us) just as distorted and out of whack as Florence actually sounds.  Maybe everything sounded different to Florence - her own audio universe.  Florence set her own standard for excellence.  Music sounded like that to her and she loved it.

It would be fascinating to learn the results of whatever audiometric tests Florence might have taken.  (I've not heard of any.)  You can anonymously test your own hearing right online - pitch acuity or tone deafness.  Give it a whirl.

Like most movies Florence Foster Jenkins has a villain - a critic from the New York Post named Earl Wilson, portrayed by actor Christian McKay.  His big line is "Music will not be mocked."  On the other hand, maybe the real villain is any classical music fan, professional critic or not, who is just too serious about this stuff.  (And, I've never understood how newspapers in the 1940's could run reviews of concerts the next morning - while newspapers of today can't.)

If you're interested in the real story behind the movie, here are two good sources I've found.  The first is at a site called History Versus Hollywood.  Also watch this documentary "Florence Foster Jenkins: A World Of Her Own" by Donald Collup.  It's excellent.  I enjoyed all the first person reminiscences about Florence and the real life confirmations of some of the stranger scenes in the movie.

Also don't miss the picture of Cosme McMoon with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

In this documentary, starting at about 1'14", several actual reviews of Florence's Carnegie Hall recital are read.  I've transcribed them here:
NEW YORK POST by Earl Wilson  Hey you music lovers, I heard Madame Jenkins.  Mrs. Florence Foster Jenkins, 76, a widow lady of our town, has a great voice.  In fact she can sing anything but notes.  Lady Florence, or Madame Jenkins, as she likes to be called, if you are thinking of her as an artiste, indulged last night in one of the weirdest mass jokes New York has ever seen.  I witnessed it.  She gave a quavering recital at Carnegie Hall on a stage filled with flowers to resemble an expensive mortuary.  She hired the hall.  She filled it with three thousand people with an acute sense of humor who paid about $6000 for the privilege of snickering squealing and guffawing at her singing, which she took very seriously.  
I sat in row T and around me I heard people saying "Shh.  Don't laugh so loud." "Stick something in your mouth."  "We were jackasses for coming."  "She didn't hit three notes in that one."  "Now that one wasn't bad at all."  But Mrs. Jenkins today can brag that she probably packed in more than Lily Pons could.   "Bravo!" roared the playful listeners.  She heard some of them laughing.  It came, she said, from those hoodlums.  Which hoodlums?  The hoodlums planted in the audience by her enemies of course.  When she walked onto the stage in white and with a large white ostrich fan, she looked like a plump apparition.  The mirth exploded when she took her place beside some flowers as big as a small tree.  From all over the house came the laughs - at the wrong time.  "I'm no music expert," Irving Hoffman (who isn't, either) remarked, "She hit only a few notes."  The rest were promissory. 
It was a great show she gave.  Her accompanist, Cosme McMoon, leaped up and kissed her hand in courtly fashion after several numbers. She got herself mixed up flinging some rose petals and singing Clavelitos.  The first one she undertook to throw stuck to the end of her finger.  She kept trying to pitch it off and it was like some one frantically trying to divest oneself of some flypaper.  Even the rose petals were playing.  And, incidentally, she walked away with about four G's last night.  Maybe the joke's on us.  None of us walked away with anything except dizziness, a headache and a ringing in the ears.  
NEW YORK SUN by Chester Thompson -  It was largely a recital without voice.  For the tones Madame Jenkins produced were tiny to the point of disappearing.  Most of her singing was hopelessly lacking in a semblance of pitch.  But the further a note was from its proper elevation, the more the audience laughed and applauded.  And the upper notes, when they could be heard, had an infantile quality.   But the audience always backed up its laughter with thunderous applause and everybody had a pleasant evening.  
WORLD TELEGRAM by Robert Bagar  The quarter tone touch.  Of all the singers appearing before the public today, only Madame Jenkins has perfected the art of giving added zest to a written phrase by improvising it in quarter tones, either above or below the original notes.  Think of the difficulties involved in making this possible.  She was exceedingly happy in her work.   It is a pity that so few artists are, and the happiness was communicated, as if by magic, to her hearers, who were stimulated to the point of audible cheeriness, even joyous laughter and ecstasy by the inimitable singing.  A night of nights in the musical annals of this fair city.    

So, what's the moral of the story?

It would appear that Florence Foster Jenkins was, as so many of us are, a devotee of the magical power of music - there's a strong positive psychic payback for listening, creating or performing music.  She had ample determination and resources to overcome any obstacles to participating in music making.  It was her right to pursue something that made her feel good.

As long as she followed her bliss in private, for her friends, things were okay.   Florence's problems really began when she opened herself to public criticism.  It can be difficult to accept the negative judgements of others.  The public simply does not hear things the same way you do.  Discovering this could kill you.

And yet, decades later, Florence is still fondly remembered.  Her recordings still give us pleasure - much in the same way the audience got pleasure, as reported by these music critics, at Carnegie Hall.  Besides this movie there are books and plays about her.   Despite her naive cluelessness, her alternative musical interpretative style represents a very real, very unique talent.  And that talent has been clearly validated by her audience over the years.  Hers was the power to transmit happiness.  The danger, either for music critic or coloratura soprano, comes when you take yourself just too seriously.

It's not impossible that Florence's fame will continue to grow.  That has happened to other great musicians.  J.S. Bach comes to mind.  The question is not so much what they accomplished during their lifetime but how we, the listeners, regard those accomplishments right now.
the happiness was communicated, as if by magic, to her hearers, who were stimulated to the point of audible cheeriness, even joyous laughter and ecstasy by the inimitable singing.

Here's a photo of the crowd at Florence's Carnegie Hall recital:

As far as I can tell, this movie actually looks like the 1940s in New York City - in full color yet. Yeah, a few bloopers are listed on IMDB, the biggest being (I think) that parts of the story were compressed into a much shorter time span.  The bustling New York street outside Florence's hotel is actually in Liverpool and who knows how much digital cleanup was required to send the exterior of Carnegie Hall back in time.   Period costumes and technology and set design - all good.   I laughed at Florence's battle with a roll of old-fashioned cello-tape.

In this video Meryl Streep mentions that the she recreated Florence's entire Carnegie Hall recital for a live audience and that it can be found in the extras section of the DVD.  I'm looking forward to that. Also, in the same video Donald Collup talks about Florence's hearing problems, including tinnitus (a ringing in the ears.).

The actors Nina Arianda and Stanley Townsend who played the comic characters Agnes and Phineas Stark, real "New Yawkers", deserve a mention.  The least musically "authentic" scene in the movie - in my opinion - was Florence's singing lesson with vocal coach Carlo Edwards played only for laughs (by actor David Haig).  One wonders if, in real life, anyone ever suggested to Florence that she might want to practice matching pitches.

In this program of Florence's recital, note the name Pascarella Chamber Music Society.  When I was studying at CalArts (in the 70s) there was a gentleman on the faculty named Cesare Pascarella.  He and his brothers apparently performed quartets while Florence changed costumes.  I guess those of us who knew Cesare were only one handshake away from Florence herself.

You can see other pictures of Florence here

Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Last Strawberry Plant

Years ago Leslie optimistically planted some strawberries in our back yard. The plants did not thrive in our hot dry summers, although one of them has survived against all odds.  We thought it too would soon be a goner.

Recently that remaining plant was moved a few feet so it sits under an avacado tree. This new spot seems to have given it a new lease on life.  It still doesn't produce much fruit, but the plant is flowering and is showing potential.

Here is the entire strawberry crop from the last two weeks.

The plant is in a big cloth pot.  The bricks and the dog have nothing to do with this story.

I noticed a praying mantis on one of the leaves.

I shot some video of Mr. or Ms. Mantis.  Watch in hi-def for less than a minute.  Keep your eyes on the scurrying ants.

The music is the opening from my piece Allegro (Winter 2013 short version) from The Seasons.

Read about another fruit on Mixed Meters: In which I remember the Great Cranberry Scare of 1959

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Breezes In The Danger Garden

Back in April I posted pictures of Leslie's carnivorous plants thriving in her garden. I called it the Danger Garden.  Dangerous only if you're an insect.

Here's a plant that didn't make that post.  It's called a Rainbow Plant, very small and delicate and gorgeous.  But still a carnivore.

I also shot lots of video.  I was fascinated by the plants swaying in the wind.  I spliced the least unsteady video segments into a sequence, rather at random, and began adding music.

Before long I had to put the project aside, only one third complete, in favor of real work.

I returned to the project several weeks ago and, to be honest, I didn't like what I heard.  The music was way too busy for aimlessly bobbing plants.  So I started decomposing - moving things around, adding silence, cutting things out, thinning the herd.  (Or should I say 'thinning the heard'?)

Then, using the time-honored musical technique called Cut and Paste, I expanded what remained to the necessary length.  After some tucks and tweaks, adjustments and embellishments, fiddling and fixing, and finally a lot of random transpositions both vertical and horizontal, I made the music fit the video.

"Good enough," I exclaimed to no one in particular.  "Not your best work," I told myself in the mirror the next morning.

So here it is, Breezes In The Danger Garden, by David Ocker (© 2016 by David Ocker 395 seconds.)  It's good enough.  Just click it to play it:

I could have spent hours more doing tucking and tweaking on Breezes in the Danger Garden and it would have remained, in my opinion, only good enough.

The issue here is my opinion.

I've been thinking a lot lately about the opinions I form of my own work.  That's because self-evaluation is the only evaluation I get.  No one else tries to understand or explain what I do.  Fair enough.

The final product, my actual music, however it sounds, might be great art -- although it probably isn't.  And how would I know one way or the other?

You'd think by now I'd have an instinct or a set of tools for evaluating the quality of music, developed over decades of writing, hearing and thinking about music.    This is different than knowing what I like and what I don't like; I know that subjectively.  My likes change over time.  Knowing what's good or bad ought to be more objective, right?  Permanent.  Something others agree on.

So here's the problem: I no longer trust my ability to distinguish good from bad, even in my own music.  Especially in my own music.  That's why, when I read about the notion of illusory superiority it made sense to me.  The idea grabbed me and wouldn't let go.

Simply stated, it made me realize that I believe I'm a better composer than I actually am.  A kind of self-protective mechanism.  I guess it prevents me from getting depressed.  In other words, a useful delusion.  And, based on what the Internet tells me, many people in our society display this tendency in all sorts of ways.

Now it's not my job, as the writer of an ego blog like Mixed Meters, to explain issues of pop psychology to you.  You could just do a Google search for "illusory superiority".  Then you can read what other people have written and I won't need to try to explain it.  And you won't need to try to understand it.

Meanwhile I've concluded that the notion that I think I'm better at my endeavors than I actually am probably applies to all my creative pursuits.  And if you've read this post to the very end, it probably applies to you too.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed Breezes in the Danger Garden.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Collected Selfies

Lacking the time to create a blog post at the high standards you expect, I've created one at the low standards you also expect.  Yes, it's an exhaustive compendium of pictures I've taken of myself.

The Hairline Selfie

The Nonet Selfie

The Out-of-focus Selfie

The Across-Colorado-Boulevard Selfie

The Selfie in Judy's Sunglasses

Six Failed Selfies with Dr. Pyewacket 

The Two-headed Selfie

The Television Selfie

Click any of my selfies for a larger selfie.
More than you wanted to know about selfies.
And then there's THIS POST with my extremely long video selfie.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Mixed Meters Predicts The 2016 Election

Warning - if you don't like the F-word permanently incorporated into the presumed Republican candidate's name you might want to start your own blog.

Blonde woman slaps Donald Fucking Trump and says "Fuck You, Trump!"

Mixed Meters has a short history of predicting the political silly season.  I'm always wrong.  That won't stop me from trying again.

With their combined negative polling near 100%, the general election between Hillary and Donald Fucking Trump will be the most negative ever.   As Election Day approaches all advertising will be negative and none of it will be accurate.  On CNN Reince Preibus will claim that lying is perfectly acceptable in Presidential elections.  No one will contradict him.

Both vice-president candidates will be white, male, Protestant politicians almost unknown outside their home state.  In fact both will be from the same state or maybe adjacent states.  Both will make  Dan Quayle look over-qualified.

There will be campaign violence - lots of it - much more than 1968.  Baton-wielding cops will fire tear gas at Occupy Wall Street and at Black Lives Matter.  Someone who appears to be transgender (but isn't) will be beaten up while trying to take a shit.  

Michael de Adder cartoon - Donald Fucking Trump being shit out of a Republican elephant

Expect at least one fatality during this election cycle - some innocent person will die during a protest. 

At the conventions both parties will have ugly platform fights: Republicans will obsess over gay wedding cakes and Democrats will argue about Israeli fascists.

At one point, everyone in the media - nutcases and reasonable pundits alike (although I admit it's sometimes hard to tell them apart) - will start to agree on some one thing.  No, I don't know what it will be.  This common wisdom will emerge the same way everyone said that Donald Fucking Trump would never get nominated.  Once again everyone will be proven wrong.

Something Ted Nugent says will lead the news cycle for several days. Also Jorge Ramos.

Donald Fucking Trump will turn his campaign into a reality television show with behind the scenes cameras following his every move and showing off-the-cuff exchanges with his supporters.  A nightly broadcast hosted by Sarah Palin and Ben Carson.  Donald Fucking Trump will claim he is winning because the show gets high ratings.

Donald Fucking Trump's head with the face of Alfred E. Newman

Donald Fucking Trump, trying not to sound like a bigot, will simply allow the Democratic campaign advertising to remind his vile racist followers that he too is a vile racist.  In spite of this he will accidentally keep insulting women and minorities almost every time he speaks.  His supporters will love him all the more for it.

Hillary will deny ever changing her political positions but then abandon her recent pivot to the political right when she eventually realizes that she needs Bernie Sanders' help.  Therefore, late in the campaign, she will desperately re-pivot to the left, talking incessantly about free college tuition.  (It is too much to hope that "re-pivot" will become a generally known term.)

Conflicts in Syria, Libya and Iraq will drop out of the news because ISIS leaders will be afraid of affecting the U.S. elections.  Kim Jong-un, however, will keep launching satellites and missiles and saying provocative things leading Donald Fucking Trump to display a large prop red button which he will symbolically press to show his willingness to launch missiles at North Korea.   He will offer to travel to Russia during the campaign.  When Putin politely declines, he will offer to travel to Israel.  Sheldon Adelson will politely decline.

Wall painting of Vladimir Putin and Donald Fucking Trump kissing

The October Surprise: Someone will discover sex tapes for both Donald Fucking Trump and Hillary Clinton.  Except Hillary's will be a fake edited by James O'Keefe.  The size of Donald Fucking Trump's penis will not be revealed in the video.  Donald Fucking Trump's hairdresser, however, will tell all in a TMZ interview.

Donald Fucking Trump will talk incessantly about Bill Clinton's sex life, comparing him repeatedly to Anthony Weiner.  In the final Presidential debate Donald Fucking Trump will tell Hillary that no woman could ever be qualified to be President and her too-polite response will cause a drop in her poll numbers.

Donald Fucking Trump will finally release one year of tax returns less than a week before election day.  His true net worth will be pegged at two billion, his income about $100 million, his tax rate at less that 5% and he gives virtually nothing to any charity except Planned Parenthood.
Diffee Cartoon Quit saying 'President Trump' You're spookin' the horses.
So, who will win . . .

The final result will be very close - there will be no big sweeps or political mandates in 2016.  It's going to be a nail-biter.

If Donald Fucking Trump finds his A game by:
  • figuring out how to act Presidential while constantly demeaning the Clintons, 
  • using social media creatively and 
  • managing to not say anything really really stupid 
and Hillary turns in a lackluster performance by:
  • not getting her supporters excited, 
  • getting indicted for email, 
  • raising obscene amounts of money from big banks and criminal felons and 
  • acting like a restrained, thoughtful, conventional boring politician  
then Donald Fucking Trump will be our next president.  

Electing Donald Fucking Trump as president would be very bad.  He is a spoiled rich kid for whom the word affluenza fits perfectly.  I passionately want Donald Fucking Trump to lose.  He is the most worst candidate, so bad that even Hillary is a far better choice.

You can take very little solace in the fact that I'm always wrong about these things.  Maybe the fear that he actually can win will motivate all of us to go out there and make sure he loses.  

Friday, May 27, 2016

Mixed Meters Endorses Bernie

Mixed Meters (i.e. me, David Ocker) commends you to vote for Bernie Sanders in the California Democratic Party Primary next month.

I am assuming, of course, that you live in this state and are registered as a Democrat or as NPP ("No Party Preference").  (There are a bunch of other states who have yet to vote.  If you live in one of those, I commend you to vote for him there as well.)

There are two reasons I make this recommendation.  Both of them have really pissed me off.

First, Bernie has repeatedly demonstrated that he actually believes things which I also believe; things about economic equality, ending the endless war, reforming politics and investing in people's futures.

Second, he has brought millions of voters - many of them young - into the electoral process and gotten them excited about those ideas.  Their numbers and excitement demonstrate that his ideas might well be viable public policy someday.

Before Bernie I had naturally assumed that in this election, like in almost every previous one, there would be no candidate who actually reflected my political beliefs.  And even if there were, that candidate would have no chance.

Bernie came along and proved me wrong - forcing me to support him in spite of my utter distaste of politics as usual.  How annoying is that?  My fleeting moment of hope - now dashed by Bernie's likely loss of the Democratic nomination - gives me the right to be pissed.

Yeah, it's true, Bernie has no chance of winning the Democratic nomination, although at the moment polls are all over the map.   I suppose he still has a chance of winning in California just like I have a chance of winning the lottery.  Winning anything, even this one large battle in the nearly completed nomination war, would be a huge accomplishment for his supporters to celebrate.

So, on June 7, I'm going to have a rare opportunity in American politics.  I'm actually going to get to vote FOR someone who, if he  became President, would promote ideas I believe in.  In this one election I'm not going to be voting against someone.  First  time since 1972.

Eventually, I can only hope that some real social liberal candidate wins office someday and she can begin the even-harder-than-getting-elected job of changing the laws, the society and the hearts and minds of the people.

A vote for Bernie on June 7 will send a message to that as yet nameless candidate of the future that there are voters who support her ideas: we are out here and we will vote if given something to believe in.

The pictures of homemade Bernie signs were all taken in Pasadena except the Post No Bills graffiti which was near USC.  The two girls with signs were near a voter registration table.  I asked a nearby supervising adult for permission to take their picture, but I still felt as though I should obscure their faces.

Here is an 2008 Mixed Meters post showing homemade Obama for President signs.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Recent Pet Pictures

Mixed Meters' Three Readers are saying "What? Three posts in four days?"

Yeah, I try to do three posts a month and if I put it off until the end I need to work fast. To prove to you that quality drops when the deadline looms, I'm offering some pictures of our pets.

You may remember that about this time last year we adopted a little black kitten who was stranded in the bushes near our home. We named him Dr. Pyewacket.  You can see his baby pictures here or some from last summer here.

Here are three recent pictures of Dr. Pyewacket on various couches.

Dr. Pyewacket eyeing me suspiciously from the couch

Dr. Pyewacket yawning on the couch in front of a window

Dr. Pyewacket on the back of the couch, yawning and arching his back while Leslie reads her Kindle

Our other two cats Spackle Puss and her twin brother Crackle Pop came to us in the summer of 2006.  See their baby pictures here.  (I'm impressed that the video links in that post still work.)

I'm happy to report that The Ackles are in good health and have accepted Pyewacket into the family pretty much.  (Crackle is in the top photo.)

Crackle Pop the cat sitting on the floor

Spackle Puss the cat on a chair in front of a hat

The remaining four-legged family member is Chowderhead, the big red dog.  Here's Leslie holding Chowder's legs up.  If you look closely you can see that he is erect in more ways than one.  (Click on any picture for enlargement.)

Leslie holding the legs of Chowderhead the dog

In the 2007 post Dog's Balls and Elizabethan Collars you can see Chowder's penis before he was "fixed".  Since Chowder was about a year old when we adopted him he too is about 10 years old.  He's doing pretty well for an old dog.  Maybe it's time to try teaching him a new trick.

You can see all Mixed Meters posts labeled Dogs or Cats.
You can see all Mixed Meters posts labeled Last Day of the Month.

Hooray - I've done three postings this month.  The deadline is my friend once again.

Friday, April 29, 2016

From The Danger Garden

Spring is a nice time in Southern California.  Like Springs everywhere plants here begin to grow again.  And so it is with Leslie's collection of carnivorous plants.  We call them CPs for short.  She has a lot of CPs in her garden.  It's a dangerous place to be if you're an insect.

(Click on any picture for better viewing.)

Saracennia plants in Leslie Harris' garden

In the winter she cuts these little insect-meat eaters back and we wait for new shoots to sprout out in the brighter sun and higher temperatures.  Or maybe we wait for new sprouts to shoot out.  This year has not disappointed.  In fact it's been downright amazing.  I have taken many photographs.

Saracennia plants in Leslie Harris' garden

Leslie grows multiple varieties of Saracennia, commonly known as Pitcher Plants.  These bad boys trap their unsuspecting little buggers in tall horn-like pitchers.  The pitchers have a cap on them giving them the profile of a large animal with its mouth open.

Saracennia plants in Leslie Harris' garden

Saracennia plants in Leslie Harris' garden

The different varieties are colored with combinations of green and red and white.  There are colored veins of great intricacy.  And little hairs that help ensnare dinner.

Saracennia plants in Leslie Harris' garden

Saracennia plants in Leslie Harris' garden

Before the pitchers form, they send out thin stalks with a round bulb on the end.  This becomes the flower with droopy petals.

Saracennia plants in Leslie Harris' garden

Saracennia plants in Leslie Harris' garden

Saracennia plants in Leslie Harris' garden

Saracennia plants in Leslie Harris' garden

The plants send out flat stalks which slowly open into the pitchers.  Then they just spend the rest of the year waiting for food to fly right in.

Saracennia plants in Leslie Harris' garden

Saracennia plants in Leslie Harris' garden

Saracennia plants in Leslie Harris' garden

Saracennia plants in Leslie Harris' garden

Leslie has many other varieties of CPs.  Here are a few pictures of Sundews.  This guys full name is Drosera capensis.  Sundews catch their food using little balls of stickum from which a hapless six-legger can't escape.  Clever.

Drosera plants in Leslie Harris' garden

Drosera plants in Leslie Harris' garden

Here's a drosera flower stalk with delicate purple flowers.  Apparently there's a good reason CPs have tall flower stalks.  They need to trick insects into pollinating them.  If the flowers are too close to the parts of the plant which catch the insects, pollination won't happen.  Once the plant sex is over, however, the insect is back on the menu.

Drosera flowerstalk in Leslie Harris' garden

Other Mixed Meters posts in which carnivorous plants play a role.
Freud Was Wrong About the Cigar
Carnivorous Plants (with pictures of many different types of CPs)