Sunday, March 1, 2015

It Doesn't Matter if You're Black or White

This is one of the coolest pictures I've ever taken from a moving truck!

The ducks in these pictures aren't very remarkable, or rare.  The ducks are domestic ducks raised for food.  Domestic ducks are bred mostly from the anas platyrhynchos (common mallard).  They are usually more common in southeast Asia, where duck is a more common cuisine.  They need more space and yield less meat than chickens, which is why they aren't as popular in the west.

I'm not sure why these particular birds were hanging out in the middle of nowhere, but the recent suburban trend of raising farm animals for eggs, and milk, or just unique pets means there are plenty of strange things wandering around.

I like the colors here, and the monochrome pattern.


Friday, February 27, 2015

The Second Coming of Janis

Alabama Shakes
Boys and Girls
ATO, 2012
produced by Andrija Tokic

Brittany Howard - vocals, guitar, piano
Zac Cockrell - bass, guitar
Heath Fogg - guitar
Steve Johnson - drums

  • Hold On
  • I ain't the Same
  • Hang Loose
This is probably the best record of 2012 that no one talks about.  There is so much nostalgia concerning the music period between 1965 and 1975.  Everyone loves the Beatles, and the Stones, and Led Zeppelin, and Hendrix.  I feel there isn't quite as much fanfare for a new contemporary band that plays in similar styles while keeping their sound fresh and distinct.  This makes no sense.

Alabama Shakes debuted in 2012 with their hit song Hold On.  They are from Alabama, but I wont hold that against them.  Their soul/blues/rock fusion sound is a throwback to the era when Hendrix and James Brown were kings, and it seemed that every big rock band was influenced by the blues.  They totally deserve more coverage than they receive, and certainly more recognition that just an award for album packaging (ridiculous).  

There is a renewed push for women's rights and healthy body image, and it surprises me that Brittany Howard, fronting Alabama Shakes, hasn't become beloved of feminists everywhere.  Her voice is amazing, and she doesn't necessarily fit into the pop/diva ideal.  But who cares, she's awesome.  

The similarities between Howard and hippie icon Janis Joplin have been made before.  However, I feel this comparison may not be the best, and might actually be a little insulting.  Joplin was a great talent, but she borrowed her style from singers like Etta James, Big Mama Thornton (also from Alabama), and Bessie Smith.  I'm not going to discuss race here, but you can arrive at your own conclusions.  If we are going to compare Brittany Howard to Janis Joplin, it would only be fair to also include these other women.  

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

As Surrealistic as a Pillow

Jefferson Airplane
Surrealistic Pillow
RCA Victor, 1967
produced by Rick Jarrard

Marty Balin - vocals, guitar
Grace Slick - vocals, piano, organ
Paul Kantner - rhythm guitar, vocals
Jorma Kaukonen - lead guitar, vocals
Jack Cassidy - bass, rhythm guitar
Spencer Dryden - drums
Jerry Garcia - guitar

singles - 
  • Somebody to Love/ She has Funny Cars
  • White Rabbit/ Plastic Fantastic Lover

In 1967, The Jefferson Airplane replaced their original drummer and female singer with Spencer Dryden and the iconic Grace Slick.  Grace Slick had been part of her first husband's group the Great Society.  When she joined the Airplane, she brought two songs from her former group, both would become hit singles for her new band.

Jerry Garcia, of the Grateful Dead, is known to have been involved heavily on this record, although his actual involvement is debated by band members and producers.  Depending on who you ask, Garcia's participation varies from absolutely nothing, to playing on several tracks, producing most of the album, and even rewriting a few songs.  He is credited on the record as "spiritual advisor", and it's been said he named the album too, by stating the record was "as surrealistic as a pillow".

The Rolling Stone listed Surrealistic Pillow #146 out of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

I Don't Fly Around Your Fire Anymore

I think it's sort of odd that we tend to think of Butterflies as being beautiful and lucky, but moths, which are from the same order as butterflies, are seen as dirty pests.  I don't really get it, as both have a variety of species which can both be harmful and helpful, and plenty that look pretty darn cool.

The other day I found this fella, hanging out, I nearly sat on him, actually, but managed to save him from getting crushed.  This is a moth from the subfamily Catocalinae.  As far as I can tell, it is either the Sweetheart Underwing (Catocala Amatrix), the Penitent Underwing (Catocala Piatrix), or the Dark Red Underwing (Catocala Ultronia).  It is difficult for me to tell, they have similar coloring, and my pictures aren't clear enough to make any sort of intricate distinction.  

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Orinthological Criminal Mastermind

Remember when I constantly complain about goofy gimmicky comic book villains?  The subject of this Batman Villains post is the worst (or best?) example of a crazy gimmicky character that really doesn't need to be crazy or gimmicky in order to work.

Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot first appeared in Detective Comics #58 (1941) and is another one of the older Batman villains.  Like many of these first villains, the Penguin has evolved as a character.  At first, the Penguin is portrayed as a Gotham outsider specializing in art theft.  He dresses in tails and uses a tricked out umbrella as a weapon.  Over time, the Penguin changes into more of an organized crime boss character from an old Gotham family.  He launders money through his night club, and, for a time, turns informant for Batman.  During the watered-down 60's, his bird and umbrella themes would be accentuated to the point of comedy, and overshadow his potential to be a ruthless criminal entrepreneur.

The Penguin could be one of Batman's more interesting and dangerous villains, if portrayed correctly.  Ideally, Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot is a descendant from European nobility that settled in Gotham and became one of the founding families, along with the Waynes and the Kanes.  He has physical deformities.  Those, along with his habit of dressing in black tie, give him the nickname The Penguin.  This origin of coming from money plays off of Bruce Wayne's own origin, making the Penguin a sort of Anti-Batman, just like the Roman Sionis, and Tommy Elliot.

birds and umbrellas totally go together
I prefer seeing the Penguin as a highly influential, dangerous, and powerful capitalist mobster.  There are some stories that portray him as a gun runner and racketeer, posing as a legitimate business owner.  Gotham has, after all, a history with organized crime families, and after Batman takes down the Falcone and Maroni crime families, it would be only logical for someone with shady business ethics to fill that void.

He does have some crazy themes though, just like most of his contemporaries.  The Penguin, like his name suggests, has a bird theme, and as his name does not suggest, also an umbrella theme.

Being infatuated with birds is okay, I suppose, birds can be pretty creepy, but having him obsess over bird-related crimes doesn't make sense realistically.  No capitalist would risk his entire portfolio, and his reputation stealing bird related artifacts without much resale value to anyone but himself.  Bird themed heists just make me think of 60's Adam West Batman, and no one wants that.  Also, using birds as weapons makes no sense.  No one realistically would strap a bomb to a bird and expect everything to go as planned.

The umbrellas, however, make far more sense.  Umbrella weapons are actually a thing, historically, and presently.  There's even a company that specializes in umbrellas for self defense.  So... having the Penguin carry umbrellas with hidden swords, or ones that fire bullets makes complete sense, let's just agree to discontinue the ones that let him fly.

penguins are flightless waterfowl, fool