Thursday, June 30, 2011

Mississippi Mud

When the sun goes down, the tide goes out,
The people gather 'round and they all begin to shout,
"Hey! Hey! Uncle Dud, It's a treat to beat your feet on the Mississippi Mud,
It's a treat to beat your feet on the Mississippi Mud"...

What a dance do they do! Lordy, how I'm tellin' you...
They don't need no band... They keep time by clappin' their hand...
Just as happy as a cow chewin' on a cud,
When the people beat their feet on the Mississippi Mud.

~MISSISSIPPI MUD (James Cavanaugh / Harry Barris)

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Summer Starts Today

Hov Farm, North Dakota, 1995

Head out on the south 40, the sun is hot but the air is dry. The creek is down the hill, there's always something to do, even when there's nothing to do. And when we're tired of that we'll come back and play cards in the screen porch. When the sun goes down a little, we can play a game of baseball with the cousins.

Summer starts today, and it won't last forever.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Monday, June 27, 2011

Summer Starts Tomorrow

The back garden, Flippist World Headquarters, 2011

In our small town the wild ducks and geese strut about as if they were the ones who paid the taxes. In the last couple of years the addition of derelict properties and newly-empty lots from tear-downs to the city has all sorts of "new" birds gracing the skies and trees with colorful plumage and song.

Gangs of Goldfinches swarm in the early evening, socializing on the power lines above my driveway. Every block has its resident cardinal, each bird with a slightly different song. Jays flash their blue plumage as a sign of authority, while the Mourning Dove sings the vespers of this avian congregation. Even the raucous Crows seem a little mellower this year.

With the extended cool and damp spring, the vegetation is as verdant as I've ever seen it. For a place that just recovered from six months of snow cover, this is as close to paradise as the Great Anoka Sand Plains ever gets.

Summer starts tomorrow.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Friday, June 24, 2011

Sharon's Story of the Milk

Sharon's her-story-day is Friday at FITK.

Used by Permission

By Professor Batty

Comments: 3 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Indian Story

The Darjeeling Limited
A Film by Wes Anderson
Fox Searchlight Pictures, 2007

Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, Jason Schwartzman

First off, this isn't really an Indian story. Wes Anderson's films are primarily dysfunctional family studies but in this iteration India is not only the backdrop, it becomes a character in its own right. The Whitman brothers (Francis, Peter and Jack) are in India on a "spiritual quest" to regain familial unity. They are in various stages of depression and denial after the death of their father a year ago. The eldest, Francis (Owen Wilson) organized the trip and is trying to assume the mantle of pater familias. He also wants the brothers to connect with their mother, who has fled to a convent in India. Peter (Adrian Brody) is running away from the responsibilities of fatherhood and the youngest, Jack (Jason Schwartzman), is a hedonistic writer who can't make an emotional commitment. Fueled by dubious drugs, the brothers stumble through the motions of "spiritual discovery" while superficially sampling the vibrant kaleidoscope of Indian culture which whirls around them.

This type of film is not for every one. A casual viewer is sure to find it disjointed and confusing. Plotting is incidental. But if one can let go a little, there is a lot to be discovered in Wes Anderson's terra incognito.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 3 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Japanese Story

A Film by Sue Brooks
Written by Alison Tilson
Starring Toni Collette and Gotaro Tsunashima
Sony Pictures, 2003

This review may be a little late. I saw it in the theater when it came out- a year before I started this blog! I ran across the DVD in the thrift store the other day and brought it home to watch it again. The film had haunted me over the years, especially Toni Collette's portrayal of an Australian geologist who gets stuck with the job of transporting a junior executive (the son of the owner of a Japanese mining company) across the Outback. I'm usually wary of cross-cultural films (and the usual tropes of cultural misunderstandings are all here), but as the story develops this mismatched couple overcomes these and other hurdles and develop an odd but strangely liberated relationship. This is no ordinary love story, and just when you begin to think you've figured it out the plot takes a wrenching turn. The ending of the film is devastating.

To say any more would be a disservice to anyone who hasn't seen it. It is haunting, however, and it made me reflect on the way men and women relate to each other, and how fate can sometimes be impassively cruel. It is not an action movie, but if you are in the mood for a meditation on love and life, this might be the film for you.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Icelandic Stories

Over the last few months I've been discovering (and rediscovering) some Icelandic sites and blogs; all of them telling stories- each in their own fashion:

Reading in Reykjavík, by "Bibliophile" is a first-rate book blog with a twist- every Friday she posts an Icelandic folk tale and encourages readers to retell it in their own words, helping to keep the oral tradition of these stories alive. Check out her other blogs too- her food blog is wonderful.

Midnight Shoveler is the blog of Nathan Hall, a composer and Fulbright scholar, on a fellowship in Iceland. Great coverage of the classical scene, especially choirs, along with general trips around the rock.

The Dog-Days Queen is Abi Cooper, a young woman from Somerset who is a rabid Halldór Laxness fan and lives and works in Reykjavík. Lots of photos and stories of her adventures.

I've been following Maria Roff's Iceland Eyes for almost 7 years now, she's recently redone her award-winning blog, including a dynamic view option. Years of posts, photos, and links make this one of the most informative blogs about Iceland. A must for someone thinking about a visit.

The Welsh/Irish artist Annie Atkins has been mentioned here many times, the Little Pinch of Salt is one of the few blogs you can read from beginning to end- just like a novel. She's back in Iceland for a little while, the first link is a good example of her elegant, bittersweet writing style, the second displays some of her photographic talent.

Last, but certainly not least, is I Heart Reykjavík, a new web site by Auður Ösp, offering pictures and short stories about the sights and "scenes" in Iceland's biggest city. Auður has a "wealth" of knowledge about the city and expresses herself with a quirky writing style with a perspective you'll seldom find in a guide book. She's worked in the travel industry for years.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 4 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Sharon's End

Ponder Sharon's existential quandaries every Friday at FITK.
Used by permission.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The New Standards

Chan Poling, John Munson, Steve Roehm

It isn't everyday I can walk to a concert, much less one by a cutting edge group. The New Standards play re-imagined versions of "modern" pop songs in the format of a jazz trio: piano, bass and vibraphone. Chan (founding member of The Suburbs and John (founding member of Semisonic) share the vocals and all three members trade solos on such unlikely tunes as Gnarls Barkley's Crazy, Little Richard's Tutti Frutti, and even a poignant cover of the show tune On a Clear Day You Can See Forever.

The crowd at the Lyric Arts Theater in Anoka, Minnesota (my home town) was delighted. Even the presence of former Vice-President Walter Mondale in the audience couldn't detract from the Standards command of their high-concept material.

One of the knocks against pop music is that is doesn't "grow up"; not many songs in recent years become "new standards". Most acts are so heavily produced (and lightweight) that they don't have the nerve or the chops to cover their contemporaries. The New Standards have the chops, maybe they could use a little more nerve on the vocals (or was it just a bad mix?) but their records are great, they are popular, and their shows are fun, not an endurance trial. Even if they are "grown up".

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Further Adventures in Singularity

   Realizing that one is not a rolling stone ("How does it feeel to be on your own?") but rather part of a larger whole can be just as devastating as wallowing in one's own crapulence. When you can't afford a vacation a chemical one, albeit risky, is tempting.  

   Fun for some, not for all.

   When the mystic secrets are revealed, write them down:

   Everything is everything.



   e, e, e, e...

By Professor Batty

Comments: 3 

Monday, June 13, 2011


Edison's invention of 1878 may have been one of the few times in history when there was only one of a "thing". Most other inventions are developed with many trials and reworkings; a continuum, not a singularity. Edison's light bulb went through hundreds of trials. Edison's phonograph worked the first time.

Now we are fast approaching a new singularity- but of a different sort. With potential "cloud" based storage of sound recordings (and print and video) there will be one huge "record" that we will be able to access anytime, anywhere. One hundred thirty-three years isn't a very long time, the difference between Edison's first recording and the modern state of the art is many orders of magnitude. What the next century holds is anyone's guess- although I think that limitations on distribution (bandwidth) will kick in sooner than that.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Friday, June 10, 2011

Sharon Hyperventilated

Thus spoke Sharon's rebirth.

Sharonus Fecundus, at FITK, Fridays.

Used by Permission

By Professor Batty

Comments: 3 

Thursday, June 09, 2011


When the women of my social group started having kids it was like Chicken Pox. Pretty soon they were all showing, birthing, nursing; in a span of a few years it was over.

Of course having six or more kids in a family is pretty much over now, except maybe in Utah.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Carnal Carnival

Always being a bridesmaid doesn't mean that a girl
can't have a little fun... if I could only ditch
Mr. Normal here... that carney working the Tornado
looks kind of cute, in a sleazy way... I wonder if
he'll might still be around after the reception...

Hmmm... do you think this bow makes my butt look big?

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Monday, June 06, 2011

When Cars Had Tits

The automobile is a highly designed object, with a visual language that has evolved over decades to illustrate the consistent progression of contemporary aesthetic concerns and priorities.

~ The Culture Engine
Usually referred to less vulgarly as Dagmar Bumpers, these conical protuberances were featured on a variety of makes and models of cars in the 1950's. Perhaps they were a post-war collective subconscious fertility symbol, a mix of destruction (bombs) and nurturing (boobs). Woe be to the pedestrian who ran afoul of these lethal weapons- the power of iconography made manifest. With the dawning of the sixties the era of anthropomorphic cars was over.

In the seventies, the "Car Bra" became popular. It's probably a good thing that these two eras didn't overlap.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 4 

Friday, June 03, 2011

Sharon's Tip of the Day

If you love something, set it free.

Fly away with Sharon, Fridays on FITK. Used by Permission.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Pennies for Cancer

This punch-card charity game from the late 1940's was a fund raising device for the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation. One cent would allow the donor to play a few innings of a baseball "game" on the honor system. The foundation still exists, it claims to give 100% of donations to cancer research.

Dichloroacetic acid is a chemical compound that has shown some effectiveness in treating mice; human studies have been very limited and inconclusive. It is being used as a non-approved drug by doctors and has been used by individuals experimenting on themselves. It costs pennies per dose.

There are no large scale tests currently underway- its manufacture is cheap and it is out of patent so there is no financial impetus for development.

A quick search of the Damon Runyon site brought no results for Dichloroacetic acid.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

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