Friday, June 25, 2010

Summer Hiatus

Summertime, and the livin' is easy..."

...and the blogging is not, I'm sorry to say. Too many summer projects, too much gorgeous summer weather, and too much daylight after dinner. I'll be back come September, with all-new posts (as if!) and other whimsy (ha-ha!)

In the interim, I'll leave you with some of my favorite new links (check out the sidebar for more):

  • Tywkiwdbi, high quality ephemera...
  • Geoff Manaugh, BLDGBLOG- social design issues...
  • Genomicon, crowd-sourcing intelligent design...
  • Some Chilean Woman, down-to-earth and earthy...
  • TPUTH, irreverent news skimmer...

    See ya later...

    (But I wouldn't be at all surprised if Sharon Spotbottom would make an occasional appearance between now and then... )

    UPDATE: Annie is posting to her blog again! One of my all-time favorites (and winner of the 2009 Irish Blog Award for "Best Personal Blog"). She's also got a book out, which, IMHO, should be adapted for a movie- I mean, if the mopey Morvern Callar got made into a film, Annie's To the Left of the Midwest  should win an Oscar.

    UPDATE: My favorite Icelandic girl-group, Pascal Pinon, has started a blog about their current recording project. They've been signed to a German label!
  • By Professor Batty

    Comments: 12 

    Thursday, June 24, 2010

    Finally Found The Word For It

    Anosognosia is a condition in which a person who suffers from a disability seems unaware of or denies the existence of his or her disability.

    Great piece by Errol Morris in the NYT, explaining why people blithely continue making the same mistakes, even in light of being shown the error of their ways. Insert a personal example about yourself, a friend, a co-worker or boss into the definition and it becomes even clearer.

    A must read.

    By Professor Batty

    Comments: 0 

    Wednesday, June 23, 2010

    Yellow Dog Contract

    Charlie Broten, Cedar Theater, Minneapolis, 1971

    A band that has almost been forgotten.

    A dressing room concert for an audience of one.

    Did this stuff really happen?

    I mean, a camera never lies, right?

    And I'm still willing, still looking for those moments.

    By Professor Batty

    Comments: 0 

    Tuesday, June 22, 2010

    Life is a Carnival

    Anoka, Minnesota, 1993

    The community carnival season is upon us. These used to be a big thing, with lots of kids and an active involvement by the adults. Home baked pies were the high point of out neighborhood church's fair. The kiddy booths were also staffed by people from the community, lots of fun for the young 'uns. and probably just as much fun for the grown ups.

    They've been declining for many years now, health department rules put an end to the pies, and the carnival operators took over the fish pond and other kid attractions. Even the bingo/beer garden has shrunk. I haven't seen the rides in the church parking lot yet, it is usually held next week-end.

    I think my town is getting old.

    By Professor Batty

    Comments: 2 

    Monday, June 21, 2010

    Surprise Party

    That will teach me.

    Posting a picture of me playing a guitar on Friday finds me playing for a surprise birthday party come Sunday. The guy who was the drummer for my first band turned 60 today. His wife had called up as many people she could find who had played with him, plus the usual relatives and friends. There was a good turnout and he was truly surprised. I was surprised as well- a guitar was thrust into my hands and I ended up singing and playing for over two hours with an old pal (who had been in my second band.) He was a "ringer"- he knew a million songs, while I was more of a "ruster", but I did manage to add something to the festivities. It must have been OK, the manager of the place wanted to hire us!

    About two-thirds of the way through the set my pal threw me a curve with his choice of a song: We'll Sing In The Sunshine, a "modern" love song written and made popular by Gale Garnett. I had sung it before, sung it to an audience of one, a dear friend who was leaving the state. The lyrics aren't what you'd call romantic, but rather more realistic, almost to the point of being brutally frank:
    We'll sing in the sunshine
    We'll laugh every day
    We'll sing in the sunshine
    Then I'll be on my way

    I will never love you
    The cost of love's too dear
    But though I'll never love you
    I'll stay with you one year

    And we can sing in the sunshine
    We'll laugh every day
    We'll sing in the sunshine
    Then I'll be on my way

    I'll sing to you each mornin'
    I'll kiss you every night
    But darlin', don't cling to me
    I'll soon be out of sight

    But we can sing in the sunshine
    We'll laugh every day
    We'll sing in the sunshine
    Then I'll be on my way

    My daddy he once told me
    Hey, don't you love you any man
    Just take what they may give you
    And give but what you can

    And you can sing in the sunshine
    You'll laugh every day
    You'll sing in the sunshine
    Then be on your way

    And when our year has ended
    And I have gone away
    You'll often speak about me
    And this is what you'll say:

    We sang in the sunshine
    You know, we laughed every day
    We sang in the sunshine
    Then she went away

    Lots of shared memories at that birthday party, lots of smiles and laughs.

    One private memory, too. No laughs, but definitely a smile.

    By Professor Batty

    Comments: 2 

    Friday, June 18, 2010

    Finding the Lost Chord

    She's back, making music again, her voice has been restored.

    Guyatone LG-200T, pictured with some geezer guitarist.

    By Professor Batty

    Comments: 7 

    Thursday, June 17, 2010


    A recent issue of The New Yorker has an article about an Australian man named Julian Paul Assange and the "organization" he belongs to called WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks was set up to expose secrets about immoral government and business activities. This is a very hot-button issue with the Obama administration, and there are reports that The Pentagon is actively seeking him in an attempt to prevent the release of diplomatic cables and further videos of purported U.S. war atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    More on this subject can be found here on Alda's excellent blog, The Iceland Weather Report, including her video of Assange discussing the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative (recently made into law in Iceland) whose intent is to safeguard whistle-blowers and related internet and journalism freedoms.

    This WikiLeaks thing is going to be BIG, as big as The Pentagon Papers were in the 70's...

    UPDATE: Alda's interview is now on ABC news...

    By Professor Batty

    Comments: 1 

    Wednesday, June 16, 2010

    Sports Gear

    With World Cup fever raging, now would be an appropriate time to discuss the impact of football (soccer in the States) on my life.

    I broke my arm playing soccer on the last day of school in 6th grade, spending most of that summer vacation in a cast. End of story.

    Actually, there is a soccer ball in the garage, along with various other sports implements from the boys' childhood. It's covered in dust, it has hardly been used, I guess I never was never much of a "soccer dad"; the boys spent their summers in the Boundary Waters. The camping, fishing and canoeing gear is still there- that gets used fairly regularly, but that really doesn't count as sporting equipment does it? The only prize you get is experience, no one wins or loses.

    There are such things as fishing contests, however.

    I wouldn't call that sport either.

    By Professor Batty

    Comments: 1 

    Tuesday, June 15, 2010

    Children's Hour

    The New Kids on the Block (see previous post) are at it again. A dozen boys and girls are outside milling around, going back and forth on the street just s few feet from my screen porch. There is no pattern to their movement, no discernible speech, just a random dance, back and forth, punctuated by chirps, grunts and squawks. The group is like an aeomeba, constantly flowing and changing shape. As the twilight deepens, the voices get quieter, the outbursts are fewer. A couple of the kids peel off from the group in order to be home before dark.

    I don't mind it. This group doesn't have any bullies, taunters or fighters- at least not yet. It's only posturing and checking each other out. The darker it gets, the more it reminds me of those nights from my youth- hanging out, doing nothing, yet being fascinated by the intense social interplay going on between us kids. If anything, I should feel regret, but for what? We had our halcyon days of yore. They were a good thing, unstructured play, it was the last true play of childhood before everything changed.

    And now, back in the present, there is a shout of "Let's go!" and the sound of sneakers slapping the pavement; the music of the kids' laughter starts to fade away. It's quite dark now, and from down the block a girl's voice rings out distinctly: "Can I have a hug?" Murmurs, more laughs, then, only the night sounds of the city: the dull roar of distant traffic, the hum from the factory a couple of blocks away, a motorcycle going through its gears, and the mournful cry of a train horn. The children's hour is over.

    By Professor Batty

    Comments: 0 

    Monday, June 14, 2010


    School is out.

    The neighborhood is swarming with adolescents. Living on a corner lot which is situated at sort of a cross-roads for the sidewalks in this part of town, there is a never ending stream of kids on it who are old enough to be on their own, but are still too young go out in cars. The girls are usually in groups of two or three, while the boys generally have a "posse" of five or six.

    There is one boy who is more of a loner- I'll call him "Skaterdater." With his long hair, baggy pants, backwards baseball cap and skateboard, he would be similar to numerous other boys his age were it not for his public displays of affection. No girl is safe, it seems, from this juvenile Casanova's charms. He is only about 5 feet tall and some of the girls have a good five inches on him. He must have "it", because the girls usually initiate the kissing- in broad daylight! Tsk, tsk! In my day we saved that kind of activity for basements or between garages (or in the cloak room at church functions- but that is a story for another post.)

    File under: Hell in a hand basket

    File under: Some things never change

    By Professor Batty

    Comments: 2 

    Friday, June 11, 2010

    Iceland Redux

    Another pair of photos from Frederick W. Howell. Cornell University has put their archive of the Icelandic photos of Frederick W. Howell, Magnús Ólafsson, and Henry A. Perkins on Flickr. Fascinating. Family group at Grund, Skorradalur, Borgarfjarðarsýsla, Iceland ca. 1900 Family at Holt, near Kirkjubær (in Síða). Vestur-Skaftafellssýsla, Iceland, ca. 1900

    By Professor Batty

    Comments: 4 

    Thursday, June 10, 2010

    Pictures Worth a Thousand Words

    Family at Brattholt, near Gullfoss, Frederick W. Howell

    For those of you who have an appreciation for the writing of Halldór Laxness, especially Independent People and Salka Valka, Cornell University has put their archive of the photos of Frederick W. Howell, Magnús Ólafsson, and Henry A. Perkins on Flickr. Taken circa 1900, these views of the land and the people of Iceland give another dimension to those stories.

    Fish Washing Indoors, Reykjavik, 1911, Magnús Ólafsson

    Via Ólafur Arnalds.

    More on Halldor Laxness at Laxness in Translation

    By Professor Batty

    Comments: 4 

    Wednesday, June 09, 2010


    Meet the newest resident of Flippist Headquarters:

    She's the little sister of the Frank Lloyd Wright/Alfonso Iannelli designed statues seen at the Loveness Cottage in yesterday's post.

    They originally graced Wright's Midway Gardens in Chicago.

    Her countenance of serene repose has already had a calming effect on the household.

    These smaller versions are sold as garden statuary, but the Weaver (who birthday present this was) has said that this one will be staying inside.

    Except for parties.


    By Professor Batty

    Comments: 3 

    Tuesday, June 08, 2010

    Dream Home

    I'm not much on scouring the house listings in the Sunday paper. Flippist World Headquarters isn't much to look at but it is home. There is one other place, however, a place I've had my eye on for a long time. I think it is still available, but its 2.6 mil price tag puts it just a tiny bit out of my reach anyway.

    This is the link
    to a story about the property. If you have a few minutes, scroll down to the 360° views...

    By Professor Batty

    Comments: 2 

    Monday, June 07, 2010

    Siggi Ármann 1973 - 2010

    Siggi Ármann on stage @ Iðno, Iceland Airwaves, October 21st, 2006

    I saw this humble troubadour perform in 2006; his was the first act of the Kitchen Motors Night. He was one of many Icelandic singer-songwriters I have seen and heard perform, he had put out a couple of albums and there is another on the way. He was a man apart, and from the very first song that night I could hear that he had a different approach to music and performing. With him it was 100% personal, and I doubt that there was any difference if there had been an audience of 10 (when I saw him) or 1000 (when he opened for Sigur Rós on their 2002 tour.) His music was direct and honest, the way all music should be and is seldom attained. His former collaborator Johann Johannsson has published a fine remembrance on his site.

    Here is a sample of Siggi's understated performance style.

    By Professor Batty

    Comments: 1 

    Friday, June 04, 2010

    Summer Fun with Sharon Spotbottom

    Sharon's summer fun checklist:

  • Tent

  • Lawn Chair

  • Coffee

  • Marshmallows

  • Knee-high boots

  • Oven Mitts

  • Spandex

  • Dreadlocks

  • Extreme deep-tanning lotion

    Sharon sez: "Have fun and be safe this summer!"

  • By Professor Batty

    Comments: 2 

    Thursday, June 03, 2010

    Ghost Trees

    By Professor Batty

    Comments: 0 

    Wednesday, June 02, 2010

    Bringing Her Back

    I met her in the Thrift Store.

    She was almost a goner.

    Beat up, neglected, but I could see that she had once been a babe.

    She was completely unstrung and her nut was cracked.

    Her bridge was missing, but I could get her another.

    As I began gently turning her knobs, she seemed to shudder.

    The scratches on her back and neck weren't too deep.

    I washed off her dirt and grime.

    I even cleaned in those hard to get at areas.

    But her body still had those amazing curves:

    I knew there was something wrong with her guts:

    How do I love thee? Let me count the ways:

    Guyatone LG-200T, $20.

    By Professor Batty

    Comments: 6 

    Tuesday, June 01, 2010

    Broken Glass

    I was walking down Laugavegur at night in the heart of Reykjavík's old town. It was crowded with night clubbers and revelers, all dressed to be seen. An old man was collecting bottles and cans, probably to augment a meager pension. A group of young rowdies came up and one of them thought it would be great sport to smash the bottles in the old man's shopping bags. He kicked, once, then again, and then harder, until he heard the tell-tale sound of breaking glass. The young man laughed, boasting to his buddies and then they were off, down the hill, leaving the old man bewildered and frightened.

    The next day, I was walking on a side street, near where the previous night's incident occurred. A woman approached her parked car, keys in hand. On the sidewalk lay the remains of her side mirror, smashed by some unknown delinquent. The woman had the same look which the old man had.

    What is it about breaking glass? Is it the sound? Is it a little bit of chaos making itself known- Shiva the destroyer made manifest? Is it in defiance of the purity of glass? Or is it a method of intimidation, as it was in Nazi Germany?

    By Professor Batty

    Comments: 0 

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