Monday, June 30

Paris is 3,000 years older than first thought.

(don't believe me, though.)

(photo by Declan McCullagh)
Migrating stingrays off the Yucatan peninsula.

(AP photo)

Wacom Cintiq

While I'm being materialistic, I'll take one of these Cintiq 20WSX 20" wide-aspect touchscreen monitors from Wacom. It uses a pen (stylus) like their other drawing tablets, but now you can just doodle, write, paint, make selections or corrections, or play games directly on the screen instead of a big grey pad corresponding to the monitor. What a great idea! It'll look nice next to my iPhone too :-)

It's only $1999, a bargain!

Sunday, June 29


(unknown credit)
Maybe the emperor wears no clothes because he wants to know how it feels.

People build empires. Empires fall into ruins. Ruins are appreciated by people. People end up dying, in pain, but usually not before creating another empire of sorts from a microscopic seed within them.

The world is a cycle. We are born confused, amnesic. We runs through the greenest grass as children, eternal. Then hatred sets in for what we have lost as we are given the shabby, rusted keys to the 'real' kingdom. Some modicum of peace may settle over some. Some look directly upward and become dizzy and they never recover. We all end up underground or scattered to the wind or simply gone, another ruined empire.

The universe is a balance. There are dark stars which need hang in the heavens every bit as much as yellow suns and supernovae. Swirling chaos is beautiful. Orderliness is ugly. They each embody within them the other trait as well. A boundless space is horrifying, a single novel delightful. But that can change if we want it to.

Music has to be this way. People who only like light music or happy music are limited and inane. People who stoke the flames of adrenaline too often burn out in their own simplicity. Music has to be light and dark, fast and slow, melodic and discordant.

Dan Fogelberg needs Leonard Cohen. Tim Buckley needs Martin L. Gore. Dead Can Dance needs Swans. Crowded House and Billy Brag need David Bowie and Nick Cave and REM needs Violent Femmes and U2 apparently needs no-one and 'new country' music deserves no-one. But the principle holds. The most beautiful opera ever sang deserves the saddest dirge capable of conjuring. Every rousing, majestic symphonic climax that sends one's soul exalting amongst the angels has a counterpart, somewhere, in the most sublime pianoforte solo or delicately-fingered harp.

People who don't understand this and embrace it miss most of what life has to offer. People who don't listen to me over years and years of trying to force their eyes open and yet who convert at the drop of a pin when hearing the same thing from somebody on TV, are frustrating to say the least. These people seem to need the stamp of 'authority,' as perceived authority lends credence in their minds, rather than valuing equally what others might have to offer and, finally and most fundamentally, their own ears and mind and heart.

I've had very few people who I've been extremely close to in my life. Trying to open their minds to new and universal experiences only to find my assumed parochial insights amounted to nearly nothing, while those whom they'd never met by virtue of some vulgar fame could sway their tastes in an instant has been one of the most irritating experiences for me. It makes me feel an artistic solitude and an otherness from those whom I would truly love to see handed the shiny keys to new heights, new depths. Of sound, of mind, of character, of the living experience.

Music is just one topic I chose to illustrate my point, but it's an important one to me. Maybe the most important. Truly though: Visual art, literature, poetry, travel, cuisine, or any unopened physical or mental vista is something to be crashed into head on and just thanked from the bottom of one's heart that it exists at all. Positive (in existence) material aspects of the world never take away from what is already there; they don't ruin other things. People only believe they do. Find what you like and favor it perhaps, but keep your mind always, always open to new additions and don't shut down and die inside. Don't languish in a tiny cage of your own construction surrounded by easy interests. It's the challenges that makes one grow, that make for a full life, that make us even be alive in any meaningful sense.

Life is a circle. The clock goes round and round, a beautiful blue world makes larger loops about its parent star. There are precious few of these loops we have in front of us, whatever our age. Why not see/hear/smell/taste/touch/read/feel/do all that we can in those years? Or shall we die experientially impoverished? To the universe, or even to your siblings or best friends, perhaps, it makes no difference. But hopefully it does to those who really love you. I wouldn't call a closed mind and a settled life much of a life at all. I don't pretend to truly know anything, if that is even a sensible statement. But I feel in the core of my body that the pursuit of new delights and broader and broader expanses upon which to gaze and take stock is one of the only worthwhile things, philosophically, a person can pursue.

And when you come upon something new, for god's sake shut your mind's chatter up for a few minutes and listen. Observe. Take it all in without distraction. Breathe. Ahhhh. Do you feel that? THAT is life, and the good news is it's happening every second of every day, with or without your participation. All you need to do is merge with it.
My friend Mario.


There are so many wounded people in this world
With souls wrapped in ice to keep them from aching
And others to take credit for what they make,
And keep their hearts breaking.
There are so many tragic lives upon this world,

I don't know that I'd do any of it again
People can be so senselessly cruel and not believe it
When everyone else knows,
When it shows in the depths of their eyes
The ignorance and heartlessness makes me despise

That I was ever brought into such an ugly mess;
I chose and choose wrongly and so do the rest.
But when others mess up they don't confess,
Just go on living smugly and blessed,
Or so they figure in the depths of their chest;

But these kind of people are the filler of the world,
The styrofoam popcorn you plunge your hands through
When you lunge for that thing which excites you.
There are always in this enormous world very rare gems
But not many I've ever met can shine like them.

California Poppies.


And if I could do it for you, I would.
Close your eyes when you felt tired
And mired in a mood.

And if I could change the world for Good,
Then I would be a better man by far
Than life's made me.

You gave me the power to hope again, to love.
I don't want to throw it away out of pride,
You make me feel more understood.

And if I can love you the way that you need
Without hurting either of us permanently,
I'll hurl away planets that rush in our way
And kiss you and be with you night after day

And love you the way you love me.
I'm up for anything if you've got the time,
So please come share some of mine,
'Cause time and love are free.

Saturday, June 28

iPhone 3G

Once it gets more internal memory (say 64 GB or so), you can get me one of these.


lady of ice
fire melts below your soft stare and you scare me
into loving you
what a world twirled in the palm of your mind
you wield and still will a patience greater than mine

even the stars in my dreams cannot shine light
bright enough to bathe me in the cold radiance of your smile
Alocin, inebria the gold
what a rotten time human beings of have of necessity
in perplexity of growing old.

in person

i want to visit people in person.
see them in person.
sit with them in person.
talk to them in person.
laugh with them in person.
cry with them in person.
play a game in person.
enjoy a meal together in person.
have coffee or tea with them in person.
have a glass of wine with them in person.
share conversation deep into the night
know that i will be alright
when the morning comes
and i can see the light for myself
in person.

Music & Books.

What kind of world would exist without music?
Music dominates my life, is the soundtrack
To my dabblings and triumphs and loneliness
I have a song for each mood and a
Mood, yes, for each song, each GOOD song
And what would life be without clothes
That are comfortable and classic?
I've also noticed most people don't
Continue to educate themselves
Throughout their lives. Why do they stop?
This I cannot understand; I do nothing else.
What do they do in their free time?
Oh, that's right, they watch sports
And network television and reality shows.
It sends chills up my spine
Makes me think most people on the planet
Are less than half alive.
If I don't learn a new word, a new skill,
A new program, a shortcut, or produce
Something I can show other people
Every single day I feel I've lost all
My piss and vinegar and will probably
Be a marshmallow within the week. But these...
People? They exists within a world
Of work and half-remembered nights
That vary little from one to the next
It must be a practice purgatory of sorts
To get ready them for a future of not existing.

Friday, June 27


I won't let my heart be broken again
It could happen anyway
I'm not going to stop flying because
A little rain is pouring down
I won't let my body and mind fail like
They did once before
I'm too young to stop riding trains,
Driving fast cars
And snapping photos of anything weird.

And if my chest ever cracks in two
The little voice in my head says cuckoo
I'll simply soldier on, as though
A simple soldering iron lay on my arm
And I purposely paid no attention
It may not be the easiest way to go,
But it will feel real until the end
With no ropes or tubes or meds.

Thursday, June 26


Une petite mort.

Beneath the heavens
There are demons of both sexes
Not out to charm or sway opinions
Not to issue hexes or
Drag you to their dominions
Rather they are ordinary people
With a void where their heart should be
This isn't me.

But beneath overcast skies
Small Hitlers get by
With hungry gleams in their eyes
It could be your lifelong friend
Your lover you'd cling to til the end
It could be your own kin
But demons are not interested in
Anything but your destruction.

Above the sky there are angels
Who are powerless to stop these demons
Who are very pretty to look at
For an hour or two
Until they lose interest in you
And carry on grooming their wings
Creatures made for higher things
Than your little death brings.

And above all in this play
There is both God and Devil,
Two-faced embodiment of absolute
Apathy within the universe.
It doesn't care if you're here nor there
If you're devoured or your spared
And its head spins around with frowns
And the wicked smiles of mirthless clowns.


Chris Cornell, playing acoustic guitar only, in a small club in Sweden. This was his only his second ever run through of this this song supposedly!

The song was written while Audioslave were touring and Hurricane Katrina hit. If you listen to the lyrics of the song this is obvious, as is the indictment of FEMA and the White House for "sleeping at a time, when you should have been wide awake."

Cornell's voice is hard to find adjectives for. There are all kinds of voices in rock - smooth like Jack Johnson, heavenly like Jeff Buckley, full of gravitas like Leonard Cohen, crooning like Mozzer's. But Cornell's... Well, just listen. The only person I think can give him a run for his money is Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder.

I'll give you his revamped version of Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" as a bonus and as Exhibit #2 of his voice and sheer emotiveness.

These versions are both from the album "Chris Cornell: Unplugged in Sweden (2006)" by the way. I can't recommend that album highly enough. 12 of the 13 tracks are nearly perfect. One of my favorite CDs in the last year or two (since I discovered it).

Tuesday, June 24



Monday, June 23


I wonder what cats think when they look in the mirror. They don't seem to be very impressed.

Scientists say they don't recognize that it's themselves in the mirror. But then why don't they hiss? The implication is that they don't recognize it's a cat at all, but this is clearly nonsense seeing that they recognize a cat outside that approaches, even through a window. So what the heck are they supposed to be thinking when they look in a mirror, according to these scientists? Nothing?

My theory is they just think, so what, that's me in the mirror. Besides, I asked Jackson if he was sentient and he said that he was. But then, you'd expect that. It's like asking the killer if he's innocent. All these animals out there showing clear signs of sentience and emotion, they're all just clever little liars aren't they?

Silly scientists.

Sunday, June 15

(Kristeen Young)

Animated video to demo version of song...

Sunday, June 8

Sunday, June 1

You don't have to dream it all, just live a day...

Whoever said that Duran Duran was just a talentless "hair band" riding the New Wave of the early 80s and escaping obscurity by virtue of the relatively new music video phenomenon (and there were many such critics at the time, I clearly remember), didn't know what he or she was talking about. Over Duran Duran's early career, before they split up and reformed a hundred different ways for some truly mediocre (and one or two very good) LPs in later years, they made three albums that, videos or not, stand on their own as great works of art nouveau in music.

Surely it didn't hurt their popularity that girls liked their looks, but one shouldn't let that take away from the quality of their work. I can see a critic perhaps citing them as too "artsy" and pretentious - but never as lacking talent. Unlike today's boy bands and carefully crafted pop stars, DD came together under their own gravity and played all their own instruments. Simon LeBon penned all their lyrics with a poetic flair that is uniquely his, and Nick Rhodes was truly a master of mood (much the counterpart of Martin Gore of Depeche Mode) with the synthesizer. And yes, the other three (the Taylors) could all write and play their parts on bass, guitar, and drums with more than mere competence. In fact, when the group was going through breakups and lineup changes after their initial success, all of these musicians were in heavy demand from other bands. If you listen honestly to a Duran Duran song, behind the synth wash is always a sturdy drum pattern and prominent, interesting basslines, complemented by John Taylor's fine, understated guitar work. David Gilmour even worked with them (in their one-album incarnation as Arcadia) producing and playing guitar here and there. You don't get Dave Gilmour to work with you if you don't have a lot of talent. He's one of the richest entertainers in England and has done everything artistically one could dream of with Pink Floyd, so if he takes and interest in your sound, it speaks volumes. He also worked with (actually more like discovered) Kate Bush in the 1980s, another underrated talent.

Anyways, everyone knows the hits like "Planet Earth," "Is There Something I Should Know?" "Rio," "Hungry Like The Wolf," "Save A Prayer," and "The Reflex," and those who were paying a trifle more attention would also readily recall "New Religion," "Wild Boys," "Union of the Snake," and "Notorious." And as good as most of those songs are, holding up better than just about anyone thought they would after 25 years when other many other bands from the period now sound dated to the point of being embarrassing, in my opinion their real gems are the album songs that didn't make it to the radio, songs like "Night Boat," "The Chauffeur," "The Seventh Stranger," and the excellent James Bond theme song "A View To A Kill."

The "New Romantic" movement of the early 80s may not have been your bag, but you can't deny that in any movement, some artists have talent and some don't. Anyone who put (or still puts) Duran Duran into the latter category is simply daft, the same way people who dismissed The Cure or The Smiths as "mope rock" didn't get the humour and irony that came entwined with both the melodrama the genuine angst of the time, and still probably don't. These bands, the Marc Bolans and David Bowies to call their own, made rock-as-art and explored themes outside the mainstream - the safe islands of the love ballad, the rebellious song about wanting respect, the feel good song you wanted to dance to - all the crap like Genesis and Madonna and Whitney Houston (despite her lovely voice) that was the mainstream and the other choice we had if we were to listen to contemporary music and not find our answers in the past. These less conventional bands all swam in that sea of sharks between the charted islands, much as The Doors, Hendrix, The Floyd, and others had done before them, and found murkier and, frankly, more intellectual subject matter. LeBon, despite his glamorous image and marriage to a model, is an extremely intelligent man who continues to this day to study philosophy and spirituality extensively, speaks eloquently on the subject, and writes from a unique perspective and with a voice that reminds me of no other lyricist. While I'm not saying his vision was thus somehow better, it was at least largely free of rock cliché and brought poetry back onto the stage even if all the screaming girls at the time couldn't be bothered to listen to it or suss out its more subtle themes; the Beatles in their early years suffered this same problem, and the only solution for them was to stop touring, end the madness, and as their fans grew up a bit and were forced to listen to them on vinyl rather than just scream their damn heads off, they were able communicate with that audience on a higher plane (one likes to think).

Time has proven that Duran Duran were not solely an "MTV band," though of course they benefited from the exposure just as Wham! and others did. But they're still touring and selling albums while most of that ground has long been collecting dust or appearing on VH1's "Where Are They Now?" programme. But look what George Michael went on to do, given such exposure; one could hardly call him a mere product of television when he has one of the best male voices in pop even to this day, plays nearly all the instruments on his albums, writes beautiful lyrics and music, and even has a major hand in mixing and producing his work. And he can command a stage live - he's the whole package. The same goes for Morrissey, though he needed Johnny Marr musically to be truly great, and the Moz of today is as acerbic as ever but no longer innovative in delivering his venom or melancholy or nostalgia for a world that never was. He's become locked into a formula in his writing that's pleasant but predictable, like an old poet who refuses to change once he's found an effective voice. Still, it's too bad so many of the bands who happened to appear in the early 80s (Depeche Mode also come to mind, as well as A-ha, Echo and the Bunnymen, and Tears For Fears) got dismissed as ephemeral marketing products and their success attributed to the new video medium, and so were not seen as the solid, sometimes great bands that they were. Don't get me wrong; just as with any period of music, there was a lot of derivative crap around too.

The Seventh Stranger
(words by LeBon; music by Duran Duran)

Those words are all remainders
Echoes growing in the heart of twilight
They lay back laughing at naivety's star
Awaken all those whispers
The dusty shadow of a passing favour
I wouldn't say that you were ruthless or right
I couldn't see from so far...
Was I chasing after rainbows?
One thing for sure, you never answered when I called
And I wiped away the water from my face
To look through the eyes of a stranger.

For rumours in the wake of such a lonely crowd
Trading in my shelter for danger
I'm changing my name just as the sun goes down
In the eyes of the stranger.

Can't tell the real from reflections
When all these faces look the same to me
In every city such a desolate dream
Some days are strange to number
Some say the seventh sounds a little bit stranger
A year of Sundays seems to've drifted right by,
I could have sworn, in one evening...
And I'm not seized in desperation
No steel reproaches on the table from before
But I still can feel those splinters of ice
I look through the eyes of a stranger.

For rumours in the wake of such a lonely crowd
Trading in my shelter for danger
I'm changing my name just as the sun goes down
In the eyes of the stranger.

I must be chasing after rainbows
One thing for sure, you never answer when I call
And I wipe away the water from my face
To look through the eyes of a stranger.

For rumours in the wake of such a lonely crowd
Trading in my shelter for danger
I'm changing my name just as the sun goes down
Walking away like a stranger.

From rumours in the wake of such a lonely crowd
Trading in my shelter for danger
I'm changing my name just as the sun goes down
In the eyes of the stranger.

Save A Prayer
(words by LeBon; music by Duran Duran)

You saw me standing by the wall, corner of a main street
And the lights are flashing on your window sill
All alone ain't much fun so you're looking for the thrill
And you know just what it takes and where to go.

Don't say a prayer for me now
Save it til the morning after.
No, don't say a prayer for me now
Save it til the morning after.

Feel the breeze deep on the inside look down into the well
If you can you'll see the world in all his fire
Take a chance, like all dreamers can't find another way
You don't have to dream it all, just live a day.

Don't say a prayer for me now
Save it til the morning after.
No, don't say a prayer for me now
Save it til the morning after.

Pretty looking road I try to hold the rising floods that fill my skin
Don't ask me why I'll keep my promise I'll melt the ice
And you wanted to dance, so I asked you to dance, but fear is in your soul
Some people call it a one night stand but we can call it paradise.

Don't say a prayer for me now
Save it til the morning after.
No, don't say a prayer for me now
Save it til the morning after.

Ordinary World
(words by LeBon; music by Duran Duran)

Came in from a rainy Thursday on the avenue
Thought I heard you talking softly
I turned on the lights, the TV and the radio
Still I can't escape the ghost of you
What has happened to it all?
Crazy, some'd say
Where is the life that I recognise?

Gone away...

But I won't cry for yesterday
There's an ordinary world
Somehow I have to find.
And as I try to make my way
To the ordinary world
I will learn to survive.

Passion or coincidence once prompted you to say
"Pride will tear us both apart"
Well now pride's gone out the window, cross the rooftops, run away
Left me in the vacuum of my heart
What is happening to me?
Crazy, some'd say
Where is my friend when I need you most?

Gone away...

But I won't cry for yesterday
There's an ordinary world
Somehow I have to find.
And as I try to make my way
To the ordinary world
I will learn to survive.

Papers in the roadside tell of suffering and greed
Here today, forgot tomorrow
Ooh, here beside the news of holy war and holy need
Ours is just a little sorrow.

And I don't cry for yesterday
There's an ordinary world
Somehow I have to find.
And as I try to make my way
To the ordinary world
I will learn to survive.

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