Wednesday, August 23, 2006

One Market Under God

Not interested in boring book reviews? Here's a cat picture at Cute Overload. (And check back on Sunday for the Super Bowl Baby)

I'm not a fast reader (like some people I'm married to) - After months I finally finished by Thomas Frank. The subtitle: "Extreme Capitalism, Market Populism, and the End of Economic Democracy". Dense. It's basically about Business in the Nineties seen from the outside. (Still time to check out the cat picture.)

But if you ever wondered about the origin of our "capitalism solves everything" dogma - for example, the current nut-case Medicare Prescription Part D program - read this book. If it weren't happening to us it would be pretty funny.

In Frank's own words: "This is a book about the faiths and beliefs of business . . As a faith, as a simple, abiding belief, market populism is capable of answering all doubts and silencing all doubters." (p.98) A religion that businessmen can believe at the office.

(his name links to his homepage) details an intellectual revolution - about how "great thinkers" (mostly authors of Business Management books) managed to convince the nation that democracy occurs at the check-out counter not in the voting booth. Just why did people think that any rich CEO is qualified to be president? And exactly what is a Cult Stud?

With examples from books, magazines and especially advertising Frank shows how completely the revolution was put over on us. The book should include a DVD - I really want to see the 1998 Super Bowl commercial for Oracle which compared that company to the Khmer Rouge (p.173). With other revolutions in the dust, businesses paid for a rewrite of history - with themselves as winners.

One Market Under God deals with a specific decade (the gray nineties) when the stock market would rise for ever. It was before the "War on Terrorism" when there was only one "George Bush". But ideas from back then are still steering the ship of state now - without much notion of how close we're getting to the rocks.

I look forward to reading this authors other books, like

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Monday, August 21, 2006

Magazine for Renaissance Brass Players?

Early Music plus Contemporary Fashion - the perfect combination. (Click picture for closer view.)

ZINK LINKS: Zink Magazine (click here) as seen in my local Borders Books (click here). Don't get the joke? (click here.) Some zink-related mp3s at this site. For Wikipedia article on Cornetts click here.

VIDEO LINKS: Click here for a shaky video of a trio playing the tune Popcorn on medieval instruments (but I see no Zinks).

Click here for a "born again" television commercial selling cars using the tune Popcorn. Zaphod would like this.

Click here for a "medieval era" Mixed Meters post about the relationship between composing music and taking drugs - plus links to Crazy Frog videos using the tune Popcorn.

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

In which Bulls Hit High Notes

I found this picture in one of Leslie's cooking magazines. Click on it to get a closer view.Advertisement for Texas - Orchestra with Longhorn Cattle
Cattle aren't actually everywhere in Texas. Bulls just can't hit the high notes. Some might think that the sounds of Texas are limited to moos and whinnies. Well, if you're one of them, consider yourself personally invited to enjoy an evening of fine or performing art in one of Texas' countless symphony halls and theaters. It's the perfect end to a day of shopping, golf, museums, or all the other activities we have for your trip to Texas. You can even still see longhorns, just probably not onstage. They tend to distract the woodwinds. Visit or call 1-800-8888-TEX (ext. 3217) for a free 264-page Texas State Travel Guide. Accommodations Guide and Texas Highway Map. It's like a whole other country.
I think the woodwind players in this photo are a lot better off than the poor bass player. (Check out his position relative to the trailing edge of the hunk-o-beef.)

Here's a link to an interesting blog called Ernie (not Bert)
which contains (among other things, such as pictures of airplanes, animals and Christmas album covers) lots of music-related pen and ink "doodles" from LPs of decades gone by. Like this one:

Click for enlargement. No livestock in this orchestra. (This illustration is definitely far beyond anything I would call a doodle. I define "doodle" as a drawing whose subject matter is not known before it is drawn - and possibly not afterwards either. THESE are doodles.)

Here is another video of a humorous piano performance from a 40's movie. It goes along with the Gracie Allen concerto in the previous post.

Chico Marx plays second movement of Beer Barrel Polka
Chico Marx is soloist in "the second movement of the Beer Barrel Polka" from A Night in Casablanca

This is from back when the United States was still fighting Godless Fascism (as opposed to fighting God-Fearing Fascism like we are today.) (Click here for a previous Mixed Meters Casablanca/Piano mashup.)

Blogger Spellcheck suggested replacing "woodwinds" with "whodunit's"

Sunday, August 13, 2006

30 Second Spots - The Gray Song

click here to hear The Gray Song. I remember thinking how easy it would be to turn this into a never ending piece of electronica. But I resisted the urge and now you will waste less than one minute listening to it.

The title of this piece was chosen by Spark, an artist who hangs out at my local Starbucks. He's never heard the music.

Copyright © June 22 & 23, 2006 by David Ocker - 54 seconds

While in Starbucks Spark often draws cartoons of unsuspecting people using genuine Starbucks napkins as his canvas. For a while he posted them on the bulletin board. But people would steal them and this upset Spark. So he stopped.

Here are two shots of the drawing he did of unsuspecting me this Spring. Click on the pictures for larger versions. Here's a link to Spark's website.

"Mommy, Why Does He Always Have to Post A Video Link?"

Gracie Allen is the solo pianist in her Concerto for Index Finger and Orchestra. The composer says "Chords are on their way out." (It's from a 1944 movie called "Two Girls and a Sailor".)

If you're a fan of Spike Jones, Gerard Hoffnung or P.D.Q.Bach (as I am), you'll like this. Otherwise it's merely wartime entertainment for the troops. Like Lindsay wants to be.

Explanation of 30 second spots

30 Second Spots
Music Video

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Spackle Puss and Crackle Pop

Spackle Puss and Crackle Pop in their deluxe travel boxOur complement of felines is already back to full strength. (Click here to read my earlier post about the last days of Leslie's cat Batty.)

Spackle Puss and Crackle PopAfter just two days we started looking for kittens. We contacted The Catherine Fund in Burbank CA. (Click here for their website.) This is what Fanatic Cat Ladies do when they get together and it's a very good thing. Both Leslie and I were really impressed with their enthusiasm and devotion.

Crackle Pop

Last Sunday we attended their adoption clinic at a local pet store and came home with two totally cute kittens.

Five Little Gray and White Kitties, up for adoption, take a snooze in a Petco in La Canada CaliforniaBoth are from a litter of five. (Leslie did fantasize about taking all five.) All the siblings were colored only with gray and white and our two look quite a bit alike.

Spackle PussWe've named our new female Spackle Puss and the new male Crackle Pop. And we're waiting to see if those names stick - or maybe we'll think of something better.

Crackle PopMeanwhile look at the pictures. Here's the link to our "Animals We Live With - Animals We Remember" page - but it's still completely non-current.

Spackle Puss

Here are Cat-Robot Videos

1) Japanese Cat Robot Television Commercial - it's a tabby

2) White Long-hair Cat Robot gets its neck scratched

3) Black Cat which can't use its rear legs gets around in a yellow robot that looks like a shoe box.

Cat Pictures

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Sunday, August 06, 2006

What to do with a clarinet

Herman cartoon by Unger - Someone's been Selling Clarinets to the Indians"Someone's been selling clarinets to the Indians." A Herman cartoon by Unger

This cartoon has been on all my refrigerator doors continuously since July 9, 1985 - that's the publication date marked on it. I figured I'd better digitize it before it crumbles.

I recently passed the tenth anniversary of my final performance as a clarinetist. This little panel always added a nice touch of absurdity to a part of my life sorely in need of same.

It's also an excellent suggestion for what to do with old clarinets. (Unlike good instruments, such as violins, clarinets deteriorate with age.)

This reminds me of the Goon Show episode entitled "The Call of the West" (first broadcast on the BBC January 20, 1959) in which Moriarty & Grytpype-Thynne travel to "the colonies" to sell saxophones to the natives. Here are a few select lines:

1) Lt. Hern-Hern: "Now we're looking for two men who've been selling contraband saxophones to the Red Injuns ... thereby causing unemployment among white musicians."

2) Grytpype-Thynne: "Yes, he plays lovely doesn't he? It could easily pass for music."

3) Moriarty (in crate with saxophones): "Is it night or day?" Grytpype-Thynne: "Fool ... that sort of thing is only for the rich."
(Did you say "What's a Goon Show?" A 50's British radio show written by Spike Milligan and starring Milligan, Peter Sellers and Harry Seacombe. I've collected several hundred taped episodes over the years. Often cited as an influence on Monty Python. For more info: The Goon Show Site or Dick Baker's Goon Show Preservation Society.)

Ballard Street by Jerry von AmerongenHere's another old clarinet cartoon along the same lines - this one from July 1994 - not funny enough for 20 years on the fridge, but still funny.

"Jerry keeps his interest in the clarinet under wraps." Ballard Street by Jerry von Amerongen

Click on the cartoons for enlargement.

Other Mixed Meters musings involving the Clarinet

Clarinet Flashback (The Del-Rio Mini Sax Affair)

The Laptop in Live Performance (In which you can listen to my failed 30-year old piece for clarinet and electronics.)

VIDEO from before the clarinet became absurd:

Artie Shaw in 1940 (Dig the violin section tapping its foot.)

Eric Dolphy in 1961, God Bless the Child on bass clarinet

Hüsnü Şenlendiri, a Turkish clarinetist. Check out the red outfit on the trumpet player.

Yeghishé Gasparian, an Armenian clarinetist with dancers.

And finally, a 1945 super-excellent animated short of swing-dancing teen bobby-socksers with a Benny Goodman soundtrack. (Highly recommended.)

Music Video

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Good Cat

Batty the black cat on a bathrobe - it's hard to take good pictures of an all black cat with a cheap cameraWhen I met Leslie in 1991 she had 3 cats. Batty, the all black cat, was the last survivor of those three.

Batty was a smart cat, with a large "vocabulary" of vocal sounds. She would growl like a dog when someone came to the door.

Batty and Leslie had an extremely close relationship. Otherwise, Batty was not much interested in humans. After many years Batty figured out that I wasn't going away and started to warm up to me, conditionally.

If Batty let any other human touch her, that was a major complement. Just to appear in front of strangers was a high honor.

A month ago we suspected Batty was sick. She was very old, about 16 years. The diagnosis was intestinal cancer. Estimates of how long "it" would take varied. As it turned out "it" took a month.

Monday we took Batty, too sick to eat, too weak to walk but wide awake and as alert as ever, for her "last ride."

Batty the black cat - a favorite spot of hers, watching through the bannisterI've named this process "euphemizing" the cat - because we never really call it by name (what it is, really, is the murder of something we love). Instead we talk about "putting her down", "putting her to sleep" and the like.

As humans, we're burdened with the knowledge that the cat will die no matter what (and that reminds us of our own mortality, if we care to think of it.) We rationalize that the "euphemisation" will alleviate the cat's suffering. (Ours too, since living with a sick cat is not easy.) We know that "hastening the end" is "for the best".

The cat didn't understand what was happening to her. She couldn't remember being a youngster, doing backflips to catch a fake mouse on a string. Each day, as she became more sick, she was capable of doing less.

I wondered if she knew that yesterday she could have jumped onto the bathroom sink, but today she couldn't. If she did, she would forget by tomorrow. When I'm old I won't remember being able to do backflips either - but for a different reason.

Batty the cat on the covered synthesizer in my officeLeslie and I will not forget Batty. Leslie especially feels a large absence in our house - Batty would follow Leslie around everywhere, from chair to couch to bed. A great void has been created, filled only by a vacuum of sadness.

On my Complete Waste of Time ego-website is a page devoted to The Animals We Live With and The Animals We Remember. It's woefully out of date.

We now have only two cats (OJ is still with us and the new girl Miss Ivy Turnstiles-Perkette is not even mentioned. Riot "left us" about a year go). When I get those pages updated I'll post a notice here.

We've decided to seek out two cute young high-energy kittens to return our cattery to full strength. Anyone out there with a couple adoptable kittens? Drop me a line.

Meanwhile here's a video of a Scuba Diving Feline! (My question is - if there were fish in that pool would the cat try to catch them in spite of the helmet?)

A commercial which compares Cat Herding to "managing the complexities of the digital economy" Cute nonetheless.

Finally - a very early cat animation called "Feline Follies" - I like the sequence where Master Tom plays banjo and turns the notes into a little go-cart.

Cat Pictures