Friday, August 30, 2019

Fair Final Four 2019


By Professor Batty

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Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Four More From the Fair

Minnesota State Fair, August 24th, 2019

Chad struts his stuff:

Young lovers finding their own Eden:

Shared communication:
Only at the fair: The French Fry Fairy adjusts her costume while standing a mere 30 feet away from Bernie Sanders:

By Professor Batty

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Monday, August 26, 2019

Four From the Fair 2019

Minnesota State Fair, August 24th, 2019:

A girl and her Guernsey:

Different wavelengths:

Three of a kind:

By Professor Batty

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Friday, August 23, 2019

Parts Esquire

One of my home made guitars.

Modified traditional Esquire switching with a Stew-Mac bridge and a Zenon gold foil pickup. Switch down: bypass controls, switch middle: enables volume and tone, switch up: subtracts about 6db volume and some treble in addition to control settings. The ash body is fairly heavy and the neck is CIJ, probably from a J&D brand guitar.

A minimalist approach to a classic, this guitar was one of my favorites.

It was sold in the great guitar purge of 2019.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 4 

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

2019 Fair Fine Arts Preview

My, my, how quickly doth the days fly by.

It seems like only yesterday that I was attending the Minnesota State Fair Fine Arts Preview Night.

Oh. It was yesterday.

Some rough impressions of this year’s exhibit (click on images to embiggen):

While sculpture is always strong at the fair, Lester Hoikka’s 21st Century Nude Reclining is even better in 3-D (cross eyes for 3-D effect):

My old pal Nicole Houff, Barbie™ photographer, was back—this time with 3 Kens (and a Kip):

Karen Brown’s Foxy is a scary look at pre-adolescence, while Nathan Wagoner’s drawing Asa Nisi Masa looked as if it has been executed in 1918, not 2018:

Of all the photography, I probably enjoyed Tiffany Bolk’s Lost & Found the most:

And Pallavi Sharma (shown with her model Maricella Herrera on the left) was the multi-cultural hit of the show, with the gentleman (evidently a stranger) posing with the two:

Once again, the “no nipples in photographs rule” was in force. The closest it came to being broken was in the image of the 3 topless Kens, who don’t have nipples either!

This rule does not apply to any other medium, of course, and there were plenty in painting and sculpture.

And, as usual, lots of chickens, horses, dogs and images of Iceland.

I think I’ll have to enter one of my “Bubbleworld” photos next year, just to be contrary.

Check out my other Minnesota State Fair Fine Arts reviews.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Monday, August 19, 2019

Return to Bubbleworld

Bubbleworld is my world.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Friday, August 16, 2019

Airfare Roulette

Whew! After much dithering, I've finally purchased tickets for our February Santa Fe escape. For many days the lowest price for the dates/times we wanted had been $404 a piece. I knew from past experience that there were mysterious perturbations in the exact fare depending on what particular day of the week one flew, as well as equally mysterious drops and hikes that would sometimes occur for no apparent reason. We had already gotten our lodging (which was already filling up fast) but I figured I could wait awhile on the airfare.

Yesterday my dalliance paid off. $279 per, a savings of 31%! I know that these fares are set by a computer algorithm, but still! Is the markup on these flights that great? I do know that the non-economy seats had similar price reductions.

I always feel good when it think that I’ve avoided being a chump.

UPDATE: As of August 20th the price of the flight has returned to $404! 

By Professor Batty

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Wednesday, August 14, 2019


In the early 1970s appliance manufacturers conspired to pollute American kitchens with a limited color palate of these three colors: Avocado Green, Harvest Gold, and Poppy Red.

And they got away with it!

Fondue pots were especially popular.

At about that time I was working in receiving for Dayton’s, the preeminent Upper Midwest department store. We would get pallet after pallet of cheesy kitchen goods: pots and pans, small appliances, even tableware—all of it in these three colors. Major appliances were furnished in this chromatic triad as well, with burnt orange and a brown also available.

Where have they all gone? Even antique stores seldom have any. You can get some custom appliance colors, but not at a reasonable cost. Earlier color trends such as pink and turquoise have experienced a dramatic resurgence, but “the big three” evidently wore out their welcome by the late 70s. Dusty Rose, Lavender and other pastels were trending in the 80s, while various creams/bisques/beiges were big in the 90s (i.e., my kitchen). Now everything is black, white or stainless, in kitchens painted gray.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Friday, August 09, 2019

Warmoth “Split” Jazzmaster

It was to be my retirement guitar.

I've always had a hankerin’ for an offset but was put off by the switching arrangements and the pickup sounds of Fender Jazzmasters™ or Jaguars™. Enter the Warmoth "Split" Jazzmaster: a customizable offset body, with routing options that allowed a variety of layouts.

I went with some no-name mini-humbuckers, chosen for their tendency to be somewhat microphonic. The middle pickup is actually a single coil, with phase switching that gives it a bit of a “quack” when used with the bridge pickup. The Warmoth compound neck radius of 10-16 matches the TOM bridge radius of the roller bridge.

It is a fun guitar to play, the vibrato works well and the edgy response of the mini-humbuckers makes this a versatile instrument, albeit not for traditionalists.

UPDATE: I can never leave well enough alone. I've added a hardtail bridge, and a mini-rocker switch setup, one for each pickup, two for tone, with a master volume. I also put in two faux-ricky pickups,  it didn't make much of a difference:

UPDATE II: I went back to the Vibrato tailpiece and put in a Mustang bridge. After polishing and lubing the saddles and the nut slots, it holds tune extremely well, even when using the tailpiece. I also returned to the plain Firebird-style pickups:

I put a little brass logo plate from an antique camera on the head stock, for some unknown reason:

UPDATE III: I made a new pickguard and put in a 5-way Strat switch. No volume or tone controls.

UPDATE IV: Sold in the great guitar purge of 2019.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 4 

Wednesday, August 07, 2019


Welcome to my nightmare:

It is a real place:

An alternative universe hiding in a ray of sunshine:

Bubbleworld is my world.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Monday, August 05, 2019

Girl From the North Country

In Valhalla’s Shadows

A novel by W. D. Valgardson
Douglas & McIntyre, 2019

If the Midwest of the United States is flyoverland, the Midwest of Northern Canada is almost a no man’s land.
When Tom Parsons (an ex-Mountie on a disability pension) moves to a small resort town somewhere north of Winnipeg, he immediately becomes ensnared in the mysterious death of an indigenous girl. Tom brings plenty of his own problems along, most of the townsfolk are suspicious of Tom, and those who do befriend him seem to have hidden agendas of their own.

This is an odd mystery. It is more concerned with the history of the town than the plot. W. D. Valgardson is an experienced writer who has carefully researched this book—at times it has an academic feel; there is a lot of information here. Valgardson’s writing is straight-head and I became completely swept up in it. Again, not so much for the mystery, but just the panorama of small town characters the W. D. struts across the vividly portrayed “stage” of the small town. It is a somewhat dismal book however, the denouement suggests that things won’t really change much for the better, even if the villains do receive their comeuppance. It reminded me of a Henning Mankell novel.

Valgardson has also contributed several essays to my Laxness in Translation site, I had been following his excellent blog until he stopped posting a few years ago. I had wondered what he was up to, now I know.

Many thanks to DJ Cousin Mary for making me aware of this book.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 3 

Friday, August 02, 2019

Dylan Double Down

Weisman Art Museum, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis

Saturday, the Weaver and I attended a museum exhibit about Bob Dylan, the “Bard of Hibbing.” Bob Dylan’s American Journey, 1956-1966, covering Bob’s musical efforts from the very earliest up to his motorcycle crash. The show, originally put together by the Experience Music Foundation in Seattle, had been augmented by local artists, friends and relatives. These homey touches—Bob’s high school yearbook was there—were augmented by some items about the neighborhood Bob frequented when he lived in Minneapolis, plus vintage photos and memorabilia of the venues and performers he knew. Anyone who has been involved with the music scene here is well aware of the shadow Mr. Dylan casts over all of popular music in the last 45 years, his local connections have not been forgotten. There are numerous stories about Bob spending time in Minnesota (he has a farm about 40 miles northwest of town), and he has spent time “hanging” with local musicians and has even patronized consignment shops. He recorded half of “Blood On The Tracks” here, as well as writing many of those songs while at the farm.

FITK, April 23, 2007,Favorite Son”

We were by no means the only patrons of that exhibit. Richard F. Thomas, the George Martin Lane Professor of the Classics at Harvard University, attended a symposium that was tied in with the show, his story of that event (and a field trip to Hibbing) is included in his 2017 book Why Bob Dylan Matters. Thomas spends the bulk of the book discussing Bob’s place in the history of poetry, especially the Greek and Roman classics. He also makes a compelling argument for the validity of Dylan’s Nobel Prize in Literature, the most concrete example of which is the scene depicted on the obverse of the Nobel medallion. The poet Virgil is “meditating the woodland muse”, a muse who plays the lyre (cithara = guitar), as he writes down his inspirations. Virgil’s apt phrase Inventas vitam iuvat excoluisse per artes (… those who enriched our lives with the newfound arts they forged…) circles the medallion’s rim. This book, along with Christopher Ricks’ Dylan’s Vision of Sin (which covers Bob’s relationship to classical English language poets), are a pair of great aids in the exploration of the depth of Dylan’s oeuvre.

Another author who attended that exhibit was Toby Thompson, whose 1971 volume Positively Main Street was a curio from the golden age of “New Journalism.” Toby’s story of his pilgrimage to Hibbing was really the start of the Dylan biography industry. Unlike Tom Wolfe or Hunter S. Thompson (no relation), Toby’s writing here is really very sweet, almost innocent. The updated book (published after he was astounded by the interest in it at the exhibit) adds to that sweetness with his further reflections as well more about Echo Star Helstrom, the original “Girl from the North Country.”

While the Thomas (and Ricks) book(s) illuminate Dylan’s genius, the Thompson book shows Dylan’s humanity. He was evidently a “nice boy” while growing up in Northern Minnesota, interested in all types of culture, on a quest to make sense of it all.

A quest that he has yet to abandon.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

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