Wednesday, November 30, 2011


       As you continue on the walk, through Frank's Park (a piece of woodland once the grounds of a large house, preserved and donated to the council by the widow of Farnk Beadle) you come across this unprepossessing pub. At first glance it looks like another faux-named modern monstrosity, but actually dates from 1643 when this would have been part of a main London-Dover thoroughfare. There seems to be quite a few "Leather Bottles" along this route.

NOTE:   I've mentioned Ham's London Daily Photo blog (click link) previously and reposted a couple of items from that space in order to draw attention to the blog and Ham's work.   Every day I look and learn.  Ham deserves everyone's support.

Dark Globe: Refdesk 11-30-11 News Headlines (6:00 am ET)

Prince Narisara Nuvadtivongs:  Painting of the Battle between Queen Suriyothai and the Viceroy of Prome in the Burmese-Siamese War of 1548-49, Date unknown -- pre-1947

Protesters gathering in central Rangoon, 1988

NOTE:  I don't think I'll be watching the news today.  It's just too polarizing.  The article about Secretary Clinton's upcoming trip to Myanmar is particularly confusing.  If you read it, you'll see what I mean.  The pictures here are intended to provide a little context, however.  For more information about Prince Narisara Nuvadtivongs, the artist who painted the picture in first position above, please see HERE.


     Sector 19312 was grim yesterday. Wretched, Eternally Wet and Black, barely only briefly verging into the deepest drabbest Greys.  

     Add one cheap plastic Korean car, slippery-with-leaves roads, obstacle course detours, and the wine aroma known as "wet dog" and all kind feelings wash down the culvert.

     I turned on the radio looking for a Sign and found Three.  (Thank the Lord.)

     First, there was 2-4-6-8 Motorway by the Tom Robinson Band.  It had been so long since I'd heard it and it was even better than I remembered. Kinks-derivative but in the best possible way.  “Ain’t no use setting up with a bad companion.”  Amen.

     Then 53rd & Third by The Ramones, one of Dee-Dee’s realest, truest memories plainly spoken to a tragic melody.  Its stiff awkward gait in night-and-day contrast to the group's usual speedy, gleeful kineticism.  No smiles here at all, only flayed forms in high relief.  I know that corner so well.  I used to park my car there.

     Finally, New Orleans by Gary U.S. Bonds.  Sometimes they say “they don’t make ‘em like that anymore,” but they never really made ‘em like Gary’s noisy, joyful, slippery records, which sound like the Underworld raised to Heaven for party purposes. Caroline worked with Gary during his "This Little Girl of Mine" comeback period and I was lucky enough to meet and share cocktails with him one night.  Gary (Anderson) was one of the most intelligent, charming and charismatic people I’ve ever met, one of those men who seem to know everything.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

All Post-Mod Cons 2 -- The $ 1 million Porsche Design Advent Calendar! (Jesus Is The Reason For The Season)

     What do you buy  the person who has everything? A $1m Porsche Design Advent Calendar tower of course!

     There are just 5 Porsche Design calendars on sale worldwide (one in each continent), and each measures 1.75 metres high, is made of brushed aluminium and possesses that sleek exterior from which Porsche have become best known for.

     The calendar contains 24 windows containing a range of the most exclusive gifts available to mankind, one for each of the days leading up to Christmas Day. Some of the gifts include a Porsche Design P’6910 Indicator  watch in rosé gold, an individual customisable Porsche Design kitchen and a custom-made motor yacht by Porsche’s studio in Austria. Obviously the kitchen and the 8.5 metre-long yacht would struggle to fit inside the windows, so they are represented by illuminated aluminium plaques. Other surprises include 18 carat gold sunglasses, a pair of diamond cufflinks and a pair of Adidas Bounce trainers – one of the most expensive trainers money can buy at $480 per pair.

     This exclusive creation is available at Harrods in London and retails at $1 million.

 Porsche Design Water Pipe Not Included

Parakeet Hero (God Is In The Details): Roy Wood's Music Book Is Released

Shazam Period

Tonight I am a hero to my parakeets.

          As I’ve previously mentioned, Skip and Flip live in Caroline’s office.  Their large birdcage is adjacent to the Mac that houses our digital music collection, but they're mostly left free to fly around, which they do all day.  The birds love music and Caroline frequently entertains them with tunes and sound effects that color the various news stories she reads and websites she visits. 

          Skip and Flip have a distinct preference for military-style music – marches and the like, which tend to accompany stories about the personal appearances of world leaders, e.g. Queen Elizabeth II, Hugo Chavez, Vladimir Putin.  Our birds are lively, interested -- “there and aware” -- of nature’s sounds just beyond the office's casement green glass windows.

     Roy Wood’s Music Book arrived from Amazon UK today.  It’s Roy’s first significant record release in a very long time and signals, I guess, that this great artist has finally made peace with EMI Records (just in time for EMI's recently announced Armageddon).

Skip and Flip

        Music Book collects Roy Wood music spanning his work in The Move, Electric Light Orchestra (Roy’s Braniac brainchild; he abandoned and ceded the group to Jeff Lynne for still mysterious reasons after their first startling, groundbreaking lp), the super-successful (in the UK only) Wizzard, and his extraordinary solo music beginning with Boulders and extending to his frame-breaking present-day big brass band efforts.

               The anthology even contains a couple of curious “cover” interpretations like Nancy Sinatra’s version of The Move’s iconic (it was the first track ever played on BBC Radio One and the subject of a successful libel suit by then-Prime Minister Harold Wilson) “Flowers In The Rain” and Status Quo’s excellent take on the pivotal early Move single “I Can Hear The Grass Grow.”

              What the birds really love, though, are Roy’s dreamy swingy ballads – “Look Through The Eyes Of A Fool,” “Forever,” “Any Old Time Will Do” and “This Is The Story of My Love.”  They approve of the fact that Roy, an awesome, sometimes raunchy lead guitarist (e.g., his version of Mann-Weill’s “Don’t Make My Baby Blue” on The Move’s Shazam) eschews that type of material here in favor of pocket symphonies like Wizzard’s See My Baby Jive,” “Ball Park Incident” and “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday.”

Wizzard Roy

          Watching Skip and Flip bobbing their heads, glancing obliquely in synchronous motion at the ceiling and deliberately and slowly marching in place, I know we're all on to a good thing.  I find myself parroting (or parakeeting) their movements.    Obviously, they’re responding to the music (including what Roy’s voice intonates and communicates, of course) and not directly to the delicate, clever lyrics, which have always painted the portrait of a highly aestheticized, romantic man keen on keeping the stoic mask in place, but with eyes peering through, revealing everything.  Roy Wood's music is God-in-the-decorative details come alive, ornamentation wordlessly explaining everything.

The Move (l-r: Roy, Ace, Bev, Trevor, Carl)

          Music Book is a major release (36 tracks), which will probably not reach the large audience it deserves.  But it’s great to have this material collected in one place, beautifully remastered, bright and new for Christmas.  It's a gift we and Roy both deserve this year.

Electric Light Orchestra (l-r: Roy, Jeff, Bev)


          My two most intense rock and roll memories are hearing Shazam for the first time (just the sound of it gripped my brain like nothing else ever has on initial acquaintance) and attending my first Roy Wood performance at Annie Haslam's War Child benefit concert at Irving Plaza in New York sometime during the 1990s.   Long after The Move's and Wizzard's heyday, most of the audience had never seen Roy play live  before (his U.S. touring history was legendarily spotty and negligilble) and he was definitely the main event that night in Manhattan.  With Cheap Trick ably backing him, it was fascinating to see  every other act on the bill (consisting of key members of Procul Harum, Yes, the Moody Blues and others) standing rapt, visibly in the wings to witness Roy’s astonishing presentation.   That sort of thing never happens.

Boulders Roy playing everything

3. Green Glass Windows (Roy Wood Link)

4.  Interested parties can visit Skip and Flip bio link, line 2 above. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Sunday, November 27, 2011


O soul enchanting poesy
Thoust long been all the world with me
When poor thy presence grows my wealth
When sick thy vision gives me health
When sad thy sunny smile is joy
And was from een a tiny boy
When trouble was and toiling care
Seemed almost more than I could bear
While thrashing in the dusty barn
Or squashing in the ditch to earn
A pittance that would scare alow
One joy to smooth my sweating brow
Where drop by drop would chase and fall
---  Thy presence triumphed over all
The vulgar I might frown and sneer
Insult was mean – but never near
Twas poesy self that stopt the sigh
And malice met with no reply
So was it in my earlier day
When sheep to corn had strayed away
Or horses closen gaps had broke
Ere sunrise peeped and I awoke
My masters frown might force the tear
But poesy came to cheek and cheer
It glistened in my shamed eye
But ere it fell the swoof was bye
I thought of luck in future days
When even he might find a praise
I looked on poesy like a friend
To cheer me till my life should end
 [. . .]

Composed 1821-24         First published 1980

Top:  John Constable, The Hay Wain, 1821, The National Gallery, London

Bottom:  Site depicted in The Hay Wain, 2010

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Exhibit By Chinese Artist Focuses On His Absence

 A museum employee passes an instillation entitled "Forever Bicycles" during the “Ai Weiwei, Absent” exhibition by Chinese outspoken artist Ai Weiwei at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum in Taipei, Taiwan, Friday, Nov. 25, 2011. 


     Taiwan's president urged China on Friday to respect the artistic freedom of outspoken Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who was detained for nearly three months earlier this year and is currently confined to Beijing.

     “He's an artist and should have the freedom to express his artistic views," President Ma Ying-jeou said after viewing Ai's exhibition at a Taipei museum. "This is also the core value of Taiwan."

     Ma said he deplored that Chinese police detained Ai at the Beijing airport on April 3 as the conceptual artist was about to depart for Taiwan to prepare for the exhibit. 

     The detention came during a sweeping Chinese crackdown on activists and sparked an international outcry over China's deteriorating human rights situation. Ai was released in June but is prohibited from leaving Beijing.

     China's government says Ai was detained on tax evasion charges. However, activists say he is being punished for his often outspoken criticism of the authoritarian government.

     The exhibit at Taipei's Fine Arts Museum, titled "Ai Weiwei, Absent," focuses on the political significance of the artist's inability to attend.

     The exhibit of 21 works, which opened last month and runs through late January, includes a white marble-made helmet and a surveillance camera, which Ai created to mock China as a police state. Another piece consists of 1,000 bicycles piled in layers, reflecting his perception of the rapid pace of Chinese social change. 

     The exhibit in Taiwan has a political significance of its own. Unlike the communist mainland, the island of 23 million people is a freewheeling democracy with few restrictions on expression.

     "The distance between Taiwan and China will be determined by their views on human rights protection," Ma said. "When our views get closer, the two sides will move closer."

     Taiwan and China split amid civil war in 1949, but China still claims the self-ruled island a part of its own territory. Since Ma took office in 2008, tensions between the two sides have dropped to their lowest point in decades.

     Ma has pushed for economic engagement with Beijing, but refuses to have political dialogue.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press
Photos:  Wally Santana, AP


November 26.  

3 gallons of brandy from London.


The zig-zag path, Selborne Hanger and Common.  The zig-zag path leads from Selborne village to Selborne Common and the hanger. It was cut by Gilbert White and his brother in 1753, and is now maintained by the National Trust.

Friday, November 25, 2011

220 Years Ago Today -- Gilbert White -- The Naturalist's Journal, 1791

November 25.  Well rises very fast.

From:: The Essential Gilbert White of Selborne.  Boston.  David R. Godine, 1985.

Book illustration from Tacuinum Sanitatis,  14th century, Unknown Master.

Ilya Kuryakin -- My Hates & Loves (Time Capsule; 16 Magazine)

My Hates & Loves was one of my favorite features in the old 16 Magazine.  Occasionally, one of the celebrity (usually a rock star on the "Love Generation" cusp) subjects would insist on varying the format because they said they objected to the word "hate," as is the case in this "time capsule" piece detailing the psycho-biography of David McCallum, one of my all-time favorites.  16 loved The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (who didn't?) and when I encountered this feature, I thought I would make it my day-after-Thanksgiving gift to you.  

I'm fairly certain that I first became aware of David McCallum via his quiet, excellent performance in Peter Ustinov's film of Billy Budd,  which made quite an extraordinary impression on me when I first encountered it, probably on the old NBC Saturday Night At The Movies show, although he was also unforgettable as the sad hydrocephalic super-human in the Outer Limits episode The Sixth Finger.  McCallum is one of those "It" performers.  You can't take your eyes off him when he's onscreen, even in a star ensemble like The Great Escape.  A few years after U.N.C.L.E. ended, he married a girl from Lawrence, NY, where I grew up, and was often seen around our neighborhood.  He was extremely friendly (loved dogs) and I remember my father being thrilled to meet him, as he also was during his single encounter with O.J. Simpson at the Aruba airport years later.  Happy Thanksgiving (Weekend)!

"I KNOW this department is usually called "My Hates & Loves," but I personally feel that these words are a bit strong for some of the things I wish to write about.  So, being rather conservative in such matters, I am choosing to use dislike and like--but you can rest assured that I do indeed feel strongly about all the items I've listed below! 

I DISLIKE having to sleep. I wish I could figure out a way to restore life energy without having to sleep.
I DISLIKE driving in heavy traffic.
I DISLIKE people who try to pry into my family life.
I DISLIKE unruly crowds.  What scares me most is that some young girl my get hurt in the mob.
I DISLIKE being embarrassed--and I do have certain vulnerable spots, but I'm not telling.
I DISLIKE waking up early (before the rest of the family) and just waiting in bed for them to "join me."
I DISLIKE it when people become pushy or possessive.
I DISLIKE interviewers who ask you dumb, silly questions.
I DISLIKE girls who don't make an effort to learn a little something about something, so that they can carry on an intelligent conversation.
I DISLIKE (to put it mildly) fan magazines that deliberately use suggestive and untruthful banner titles on their covers in hopes of raising the sagging circulation of their magazines. They should all take a lesson from 16--whose sales soar each month!
I DISLIKE smoking and feel better and stronger when I don't do it.
I DISLIKE temperament in any actor or actress; also those who think they know more than the director.
I DISLIKE seeing girls walk the streets in tight slacks and with their hair up in rollers.
I DISLIKE cold, drizzly, cloudy days--like English weather. I find it quite depressing.
I DISLIKE inattentive or impolite waiters or waitresses.  If one can't give good service, then they should find another job.
I DISLIKE overcooked food.
I DISLIKE gawdy patterns.  I much prefer solid colors, like black, blue or yellow.
I DISLIKE  seeing bad fingernails on girls.  I know it is often hard to grow long, pretty nails, but it quite simple to keep your hands and nails clean.
I DISLIKE seeing young girls weighed down with a lot of clanging jewelry.

I LIKE (you know I mean love) my wife Jill and our three lovely children.
I LIKE reading good poetry and great novels.
I LIKE people who can carry on a fresh, provocative conversation.
I LIKE Chinese and Greek food.
I LIKE walking by the seashore--day or night.
I LIKE freedom of movement and freedom of self-expression.
I LIKE bar-be-cueing. I can bar-be-cue anything that moves!  My favorites are thick steaks and lamb chops.
I LIKE working on my garden and building things.
I LIKE people who really care about other people.
I LIKE to play romantic parts on U.N.C.L.E. segments.  They've only given me a few, as you know.
I LIKE flying to many different cities all over America and meeting as many people as I can.  Did you know that I have taken out citizenship papers and will soon be an American citizen?
I LIKE hard, physical work, especially doing stunts and driving fast cars in U.N.C.L.E.
I LIKE driving around alone late at night or going record shopping in the middle of the night.
I LIKE 16 Magazine.
I LIKE the TV show Hullabaloo, and entertainers Andy Williams, Carol Channing and George Burns.
I LIKE eating lunch along in the quiet of my dressing room.
I LIKE doing stage plays and readings.
I LIKE casual clothes, sandals, and bare feet.
I LIKE making my own decisions--after listening to people whose opinions I respect.
I LIKE going to Dodger baseball games and devouring hot dogs as I cheer.
I LIKE the portraits that my wife Jill does.  She is an excellent artist.
I LIKE our great old Basset hound, "Gregory."
I LIKE to hear from each and every one of you, so if you wish, write to me at 10202 Washington Blvd., Culver City, Calf. "

David McCallum playing the role of Gunnery Officer Steven Wyatt in Billy Budd (1963)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Our Friend The Turkey (Ornicopia 10)

432. Which bird in the United States has the largest tail?   

Many birds have extremely long tail feathers, both in proportion to their bodies and in actual length.  The ring-necked pheasant, brought to American from Europe and naturalized, has the longest tail feathers.  Its relative, the golden pheasant, often raised by pheasant fanciers, has an even longer tail.  Of the native birds, the wild turkey has the longest tail feathers while the scissor-tailed flycatcher has the longest in relation to its body length. In all these instances, it is the male bird of the species that shows the extreme length of the retrices.

435.   How do birds with extremely long tails such as the pheasant or very broad tails like those of the turkey control them?   

Among the multitude of skin muscles of a bird are many that control the tail making instantaneous work of extreme adjustment whether tilting, fanning or contraction.

365.   Is it true that some birds produce musical sounds with their wing feathers?  

Goldeneye ducks are often called whistlers by hunters because of the whistling sounds produced by their wing feathers as they fly.  Similar sounds are produced by the wing feathers of other birds, among them mourning doves, as they fly.

Many birds produce sounds deliberately with their wing feather.  Among such birds are the ruffled grouse, which makes booming sounds, turkeys that make clicking sounds, and woodcock, which, with wing feathers having special development, plunge downward through the night, causing the air to whistle through them.

366.  Does the sound made by the wing feathers serve any purpose?   

The sounds produced by the wing feathers of grouse, turkeys and woodcock all play a part in courtship activities.

NOTEThis post is dedicated to my mother, Joan Brown Roberts, who really loved the wild turkeys who lived in her meadow in Tuxedo Park, New York and made us love and appreciate them also.  Here's one (link).

From:  1001 Questions Answered About Birds by Allan D. Cruickshank and Helen G. Cruickshank (Toronto, General Publishing Company, 1958)