Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Variety and the Spice of Life



Left to my own devices,
this Omega-oil rich snack would be my supper.

There's something about pickled fish-
nature's most perfect food?

I live in a more-or-less
cooperative household.

My turn to cook means:
more than herring on a cracker.

I start some spuds baking
and begin to thaw a steak.

Meat and potatoes on their own,
have little flavor.

Time for a trip to the spice cupboard:



My old pal Onion Powder is right in front.

I'll use that and some Worchester Sauce as a base for the meat.

The Cayenne can stay put.

I see Mrs. Dash and her equally bland sisters.

Huddled in the back- maybe next time.

My favorite fish spice, Vegeta,

is Croatia in a blue jar, but it doesn't do meat well.

The usual suspects are lined up on the left:

no, no, no, and no.

Perhaps something from the lower cupboard?

Bingo!



Curried vegetables on potatoes, yum.

How did I ever make it through the week before I found these?

Lazy man's Indian.

Although the food in these is wholesome.

No nasty chemicals added.

And they are even Kosher!

I'll pick the Peshawari Dal Makhani.

Batty the chef lives to cook another day!


By Professor Batty




Comments: 4



Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Connect The Dots... La, La, La, La...

Still irked at having to watch sub-par "film" over the weekend. Sunday I found more- the modern version of the slide show, a laptop with a video projector. I attended an outdoor expo at a local outfitters, several of the presenters had laptops showing medium or lo-res slide shows. Cripes. You'd think that someone trying to sell you something would have a little better effort than that. Actually, the seminar I got the most out of was done au naturel, so to speak- just a guy talking with a couple of maps and some informative brochures. Classy, and I could bring them home with me.

If the visual materials in a presentation fall below a certain level of image quality, there is no point in having them- one blurry picture of a river or a tree looks about the same as another. I don't think we should go back to the old time slide shows (they had their share of problems as well) but perhaps a little more thought could be used in the selection of presentation materials.

And concerning lo-res digital transfers of movies: if you take all the "wow" factor out of your images, don't expect people to keep paying for the "privilege" of viewing them.

We are still in the middle of the digital transition. Most newer digital cameras can make reasonable high rez images (20 megabyte or larger files- 7 megapixel or larger cameras), a properly exposed slide projected from film is about that. The stuff I was looking at was about a quarter of the resolution of those, some even less. Lots of dots, dithered together in a digital mush. Yuck.


By Professor Batty




Comments: 0



Monday, April 28, 2008

Radium

Rural Minnesota has its share of oddities. The town of Radium, in the extreme Northwestern part of the state, must have had someone with a keen sense of the absurd to name it after a radioactive element. Perhaps he was a fan of Madam Curie, or was a chemistry major. Now a debate has emerged about the use of agriculture as an alternative energy source; subsidized ethanol plants are driving the cost of food grains higher throughout the world. Perhaps Radium will have a resurgence, its solitary grain elevator will be joined by a refinery complex. Radium, as an energy source, of a different kind.


By Professor Batty




Comments: 0



Thursday, April 24, 2008

My Weekend With Baltasar

                          "No! No more cruddy digital projection!"

I'm not really as upset as the fellow in the picture seems to be. Actually, I'm looking forward to spending some quality time with him tonight. we've met before, via a mutual acquaintance: Baltasar Kormákur, the Icelandic director of such films as 101 Reykjavík, Hafið, A Little Trip to Heaven, Devil's Island, and a film that I'm going to see again tonight, Jar City, based on the book Mýrin by the noted crime writer Arnaldur Indriðason. I've seen 101 and a couple of Kormákur's stage productions. Furthermore, I was almost run over by him the last time I was in Rekjavík as I was leaving the National Theatre's box office!

One thing Baltasar does well is create stunning images, both on stage and in movies; the first time saw Mýrin, without subtitles, I was left with quite an impressionistic view of modern Icelandic forensics. Tonight's viewing (after having read the book) should be a little more coherent, but just as rewarding. He just won a "best picture" award for Jar City at the Prague Film Festival. It's worth a look, it will also play Monday night in Minneapolis, you might be able to catch it at other festivals this spring as well.

UPDATE: Just got back from the festival showing, the movie is as good (or better) than I remembered it (yay!), but it had been transferred to digital (boo, hiss!) with a BIG degradation of image quality. The theater was packed, the film received a good response, with a lot of Icelandic-oriented discussions going on in the lobby both before and after the showing. One viewer at a time, Rose.

If this is the only "print" in the country, it might be better to wait for the DVD or pay-for-view. Some kind of "truth in advertising" law must have been broken here, film is film and digital is digital. High quality digital is possible, but this wasn't it.


By Professor Batty




Comments: 4



Tubular!



Jimmy and Suzy, those twistin' teens, get hot 'n funky with the professor's vacuum tubes.


By Professor Batty




Comments: 4



Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Shar-TV

Shar-TV

The professor's new media player only gets one channel, but that one is good enough.


By Professor Batty




Comments: 1



Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Elizabeth the Great


He left her then, but a strange delight
throbbed through her every vein with might,
That the world had opened so wide her gate,
That friendship had brightened the threads of fate,
That he knew her pain, but that loving both
He could shield intact her heart's pure troth.

~Jeanie Oliver Smith~


While going through some old books on a shelf in the guest room I spotted this artistic cover on a volume of Victorian Era poetry. I opened it at random and read the romantic, if somewhat corny passage quoted above. I was about to put it back when I noticed that the fly leaf held the ex libris of my father's sister, Elizabeth.

Aunt Elizabeth. Never Liz or Betty, she was the eldest of all of my aunts, a very dramatic Grand Dame, she was different from my other aunts in many ways, the most obvious being that she had no children and that she had been divorced.

Elizabeth loved books, we always got a book or two from her at Christmas, always with an inscription, and they usually came with a lesson on the "proper" handling of books:
"Don't dog-ear the pages"
"Don't crack the spine"
"Use a bookmark"
and, most importantly,
"Cherish them."

We would occasionally go to her house, a fabulous place, architect-designed, with a massive stone fireplace, the walls of her office included a large bay window. Her two German Shepherds would frolic with us in a large, lilac-lined yard.

Although she loved us dearly, I sensed that kids made her nervous. Actually, I think everything made her nervous. She had been in a bad car accident when she was younger, some said it had changed her. She had a habit of falling in love with drinkers, each one worse that the one before. She lost the big house, then a smaller one, ending up in an apartment, alone. Finally, her "nerves' got the best of her, and she was committed to Saint Peter, a state hospital.

We stored some of her things, books, a combination television/hi-fi console, some furniture. Her record collection was exotic and eclectic, with albums by Paul Robeson, torrid "torch" songs, even novelties from the likes of Slim Gaillard. My father would exchange letters with her, "Epistles from St. Peter" he jokingly called hers as he read from them at the kitchen table. After her condition continued to deteriorate he would read these letters in private.

Elizabeth gave us kids, at least the ones that were old enough to know her a little, a sense that there was more to the world than our tract-house and insular community. The fact that her life didn't play out so well, that she was unlucky in love, can't be held against her.

Sometimes that just happens, everyone is only a twist of fate away from abject misery.

She will always be "Elizabeth the Great" to me.


By Professor Batty




Comments: 1



Monday, April 21, 2008

Live Bookmark feed failed to load...

Oh no.

Was it something I said?

Or something you said?

Not knowing makes it even worse.

Drop me a line.

What ever the reason is, know this:

You never failed me.

If it is the end,

I thank you.

If it isn't,

I thank you, too.

My need to read is selfish but honest;

Didn't it feel good?


By Professor Batty




Comments: 2



Friday, April 18, 2008

Last Meme

Three jobs I have had in my life:
1. Lawn Mower Blade Straightener
2. Evidence Clerk
3. Paper Boy


Three movies I would watch over and over:
1. The Big Lebowski
2. Mulholland Drive
3. Casablanca

Three places I have lived:
1. Minneapolis, MN
2. Anoka, MN
3. Reykjavík, Iceland (OK, it was only a week, but I had my own apartment!)

Three shows that I watch:
1. The Simpsons
2. Ebert and Roper
3. Mental Engineering (local show that deconstructs TV ads)

Three Places I have been (that you probably haven't:)
1. Chinook, Montana
2. Radium, Minnesota
3. Zeandale, Kansas

Three people who e-mail me regularly:
1. Karla Jo
2. Amazon
3. Tim

Three places I'd rather be right now:
1. Reykjavík
2. Hawaii
3. The middle of the Rum River

Three friends I think will copy:
1.) ?!
2.) !!
3.) ???

Three things I am looking forward to this year:
1. The Weaver's Retirement (?)
2. Finishing Home Improvements (Exterior)
3. 40th Class Reunion (gulp!)

That's it! No more memes ever again!

(via Comica, congrats on your imminent graduation!)


By Professor Batty




Comments: 2



Thursday, April 17, 2008

Last Date

Another Saturday night,
spent with my so-called "boyfriend"
and his creepy chums.
I'm a nice girl, attractive,
I wear nice clothes,
so why can't we have a REAL DATE?
All the beer in the world is
not gonna make it any better,
it usually makes it much worse.
I want all that stupid old shit-
going to a show,
or going out to dance,
to DANCE and not just stand around
and listen to his lame band.

My cigarette is out,
this "date" is over.

Good bye, loser.


By Professor Batty




Comments: 0



Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Winter's End

There it is, the last snow of the season.

A little melting pile on the north side of the house:

Tomorrow will hit 70° with a stiff southerly breeze.

Monday morning it froze,

it won't do that again until September at least.

The time has come to put away wintry pursuits,

'tis the time to tend to the garden,

spruce up the house and forget about cold weather.

Oh, and my winter project has been completed as well,

I think Hank would approve:


By Professor Batty




Comments: 1



Monday, April 14, 2008

Legacy

Legacies surround us. Government, culture, religion, even our DNA is a legacy.
Some legacies help us unconditionally (traffic signals), some conditionally (social behaviors) and others rarely, if at all (superstition, bias.) One problem with legacies is that they tend to become ossified- stiff and unyielding in the face of new circumstances.

Recent congressional testimony by General Petraeus and others suggests that there is no end, or least no well-articulated objective in the continuing occupation of Iraq by the United States (and its allies). Senators McCain and Clinton seem to be in agreement in keeping this legacy of the Bush administration alive, at least for the foreseeable future. Senator Obama seems to be less inclined, although not rejecting some transitional period.

The invasion and occupation of Iraq has created its own legacy, and all parties who hold any power in the situation (Arab and otherwise) believe in and are cultivating it. It has become more or less permanent; its expansion limited by the amount of available resources, but it thrives, nonetheless.

Dubya's war. His legacy.

P.S. Taxes are due tomorrow.


By Professor Batty




Comments: 0



Friday, April 11, 2008

Every Child's Mother

No kids of her own,
but not without children.
Every child's mother.
A bad memory, long ago.
But now she is here for the children,
holding them, talking to them.
As they get older,
drifting away,
she will always remain,
every child's mother.


By Professor Batty




Comments: 0



Thursday, April 10, 2008

Twist Party


                                       Jimmy and Suzy,

                                       the Professor's

                                       frisky young neighbors,

                                       get a glow on

                                       while dancing to

                                       his vintage vinyl.


By Professor Batty




Comments: 1



Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Fatal Attraction

Oh my goodness. The New York Times says that blogging causes death. What will become of me? I gave up smoking, I don't drive without a seat belt, I keep my cholesterol within limits, and I'm strictly a glass of wine a day (and not every day) kind of drinker. But blogging? Death? Ha! I laugh in their faces! I am Batty, the Immortal, Lord of Links, Potentate of Posts, a little harmless blogging never hurt anyone, did it? I feel fine... except for that little twinge... things going black... can't breathe... must... hit... "Post"... key...
Aughhhhhhh...


By Professor Batty




Comments: 3



Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Danger

Living as I do in Flatland, finding some proper elevation can be a difficult quest. Down the Mississippi River aways, past Minneapolis and through most of St. Paul, one will come upon some historic bluffs above the water. They were well known, even before the white man, there are numerous Indian burial mounds on the plateau above while in the twenties bootleggers used the caves below to store their goods. The explorer Jonathan Carver "discovered" a large cave there, it was used by the Native Americans for gatherings and ceremonies. In recent times, most of the cave was destroyed to make room for a railroad, the bluffs are notorious for midnight drinking parties by reckless youths, the occasional fatality is not unknown.

Into this locus I brought my then pre-teen sons. Child endangerment? Perhaps. We had a good talk beforehand about the dangers this place possessed; they were duly impressed. We had a good time clambering up and down the cliffs. One of them eventually made it a habit, with various mountain and rock climbing treks throughout the American West, New Zealand and Antarctica. The other son sells rock music in a Media store.

I often wonder what kind of parent I've been, I managed not to have killed 'em (although once did drop a vise on the eldest's head) and they haven't killed me (yet- the Boundary Waters trip last fall came close!) I did put them in harms way that day, if only a little. Kids have to be exposed to the natural world sometime, even if it somewhat dangerous it has to be better than just living a life of computer games and TV.


By Professor Batty




Comments: 0



Monday, April 07, 2008

Virtue

It's all I have to bring to-day,
This, and my heart beside,
This, and my heart, and all the fields,
And all the meadows wide.
Be sure you count, should I forget,
Some one the sun could tell,
This, and my heart, and all the bees
Which in the clover dwell.


~Emily Dickinson~


Virtue Jane Sanford taught remedial reading in my old high school. In my Senior year, due to the "bulge" of baby boomers, there was a need for an additional section of Senior English. She volunteered; I think she saw it as an opportunity to reach students on a little higher level. Miss Sanford had a different "past"- she had been an instructor in the Marine Corps Womens Reserve, she returned to teaching after the war, never married, and was considered a bit of an "odd duck." She was of the generation that grew up memorizing poetry, it was not uncommon for her to illustrate some point with a verse or two.

Emily Dickinson was her inspiration, while most of the class snoozed, she would take the three or four of us who could understand what she was getting at to a higher level. One poem spoke of lovers on a sunny hillside; the love act was described as "blood red" because the poem's narrator's eyes were closed.

Whew! The mental image of this mannish spinster in a romantic tryst with a lover in broad daylight triggered conflicting emotions in my young body. I felt as if she was directing the poem at me, I looked around the room, no one else seemed to have picked up on it.

There were a few teachers that still possessed "the flame" at our dreary school, usually teaching English or Speech, still trying to ignite our passion and curiosity through the works of the masters. Virtue had her own rewards.


By Professor Batty




Comments: 2



Friday, April 04, 2008

The Last Childhood Possession


"What is the shame for human beings to weep at the passage of time and feel it in the disappearance of objects from our past?"
- Bill Holm, The Windows of Brimnes

A simple dresser with five drawers, purchased from a "finish-it-yourself" place in the early fifties. It is, along with my Mickey Mantle baseball glove, about the only tangible thing I have left from my childhood. I used to keep "secret" papers underneath the bottom drawer, there was a star-chart taped to the inside back wall for the longest time; it glowed in the dark. I've never been one to cherish things (although it hasn't stopped me from collecting them) and I usually "clean house" from time to time. Yesterday we moved the dresser down into the basement (Oh! The Horror!) My sons had both used it; it been painted over a few times (which didn't help its appearance any), yet it remains perfectly functional but so anonymous that no one has ever desired it. I've got a few books and papers from high school, my sisters have the old photos, but I'm stuck with this.

No tears will be shed if it ever does leave, but it does have a place in my memory, cherished or not.


By Professor Batty




Comments: 0



Thursday, April 03, 2008

My Back Pages

Of late there has been a small uptick of interest in my heritage. Despite rumors to the contrary, I did not descend from an alien space craft, I will use this opportunity to set the record straight.

This is a page from my family genealogy. It was researched and published in 1911 by the Frank Allaben Genealogical Company, which published many such books around that time. My Grandfather is on that page, along with his brothers and sisters and his ancestral line. He was 9th generation, therefore I am the 11th. The first, William the immigrant, came over from England in 1630 with the Puritans, not exactly a fun-loving bunch, and settled in the Boston area (Lynn), his progeny gradually worked their way westward, marrying and raising children of their own. So, if you make the assumption that the first four or five generations were of British ancestry, then gradually became diluted, by the time of my birth I reckon to have about 1.06275% English blood. Not enough to arouse the nose of Jack's Giant ("Fe-Fi-Fo-Fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman!") but the name survived. The most famous (or infamous) was "Major Jacob" a ne'er-do-well who, in the eighteenth century, disappeared one day only to return seven years later, put his gun in its usual spot and said "I've been out hunting." Court records indicated that he had gone to another state, married and had a child. When his new wife died, he returned home.
One of his nephews was the number two guy in the founding of the Mormon church. Another, barely related, family member changed his name to Sam Cody and became an
early aviation pioneer.

And me? For better or worse, Flippism Is The Key will probably be my only lasting cultural legacy.


By Professor Batty




Comments: 2



Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The Snow Cruiser

When the boys were little, (pre-school age), one of our regular routines was a trip to the city library. It was three blocks from out house; when the weather was fair it was a good way for them work off a little steam and get books to read later. When winter came around some days were too brutal for young epidermis.

Enter the Snow Cruiser. A red wagon with a wooden box built onto the top, with insulated seats, even a sliding plexiglass door. While pop pulled (and froze), the tykes were in cozy comfort. We got more that a few strange looks, but it was worth it. When the boys were old enough to go to school, they were also too big for the cruiser, so it reverted to its previous role of mulch transporter.

I've been writing posts about summer in an attempt to bring warmer weather. It hasn't worked. I'll try posting about a winter experience in hopes that we finally kick Jack Frost out for good.


By Professor Batty




Comments: 3



Bus To Beelzebub



Get on to the bus
That's gonna take you back to Beelzebub
Get on to the bus
That's gonna make you stop going rub a dub...


A steaming hot August night, and Soul Coughing was on the stage, ripping it up...

Your words burn the air
Like the names of candy bars
Your mouth is cold and red
All in rings around your
Laugh laughing laughs


M. Doughty's hipster versification floated over the sweaty crowd along with the occasional body surfer...

It's a grind grind
It's a grind
It's a grind grind


Strange samples, demented calliopes, and a staggered back-beat made for auditory hallucinations...

I'll scratch you raw
L'etat c'est moi
I drink the drink
And I'm wall to wall
I absorb trust like a love rhombus
I feel I must elucidate
I ate the chump with guile
Quadrilateral I was
Now I warp like a smile


Somehow the nonsense lyrics start to make sense...

Yellow no. 5
Yellow no. 5, 5, 5


Oh Man!

Voulez-vous the bus?

Oui.



"Bus to Beelzebub" Lyrics by Mike Doughty


By Professor Batty




Comments: 1