Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Halloween Genius


My neighbor takes elections and Halloween seriously. Halloween more so, based on his intricate yard decorations.

I learned he makes all his own manikins, many animated with motors and electronics. Yard lighting, fake graveyards, cobwebs, his own excellent costumes – a true promoter of the Halloween arts.

In a world with more justice, he would be recognized for his innovation and dedication. We must acknowledge his Halloween stoke!

Monday, October 19, 2020

I Voted


Album review: Grease Cuck “Coronavirus Blues”


From the album: "Deranged, morbid, pure bread, pregnant, faggot"

Take early Black Flag, the Minutemen, add some Frankenstein parts from the Subhumans, Crucifucks and Feederz, and you’ve got Grease Cuck – the band that isn’t afraid to take itself seriously, or not – you decide, if you want to. Or not.

Grease Cuck’s first album, “Coronavirus Blues” is a timely statement to the degraded times we are living in. The songs have a refreshing variance between hurdy gurdy, thrashcore, guitar noodling croon, or full-on, blow out the pipes rage-a-saurus.

But the great thing about the Cuck is to expect the unexpected. Although there is a thematic emphasis on rage and disappointment, humor and a good-timey vibe infuse many of the songs. The title song “Coronavirus Blues” presents a bloviating worship of melancholy noodling on psychic overdrive, but is followed by “Beans” – where one can almost smell the flatulence, or the saucy humor, in this ribald ode to the humble legume.

Repetitive, undulating, hypnotizing. Riding with Grease Cuck is a surprising and awesome experience, elevating the noise and crank of all who suffer. “Covid Cream” and “Smoke Until I Fucking Die (Acoustic)” showcase the band’s talent for empathetic mockery of all who are oppressed.

If you want to be safe, Grease Cuck isn’t for you. But for those of us who are inclined to stomp on the accelerator for a wild ride, play it loud, play it proud.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Toshiro Mifune And The Teenage Mind

A still from "Rashomon"

When I was a teenager I wanted to be a film snob. This was back before the internet so one had to put effort into learning about things that weren’t in the mass media of the day. Or just forgo the learning, see strange movies, and let the thoughts fly where they may.

University showings of films, revival houses, and eventually VHS cassettes gave me just enough exposure to be obnoxious.

When I got my license in 1981 the Uptown Theatre in Minneapolis caught my attention as the definition of cool for foreign, art, and cult films. They would have nightly double features and The Rocky Horror Picture Show screened every weekend.

Often, I would have no knowledge of the film I was about to see, just the desire to see something new, strange, weird. A work not sanitized or glossy, that had not passed through countless marketing feedback sessions. A film oddly stylized and, above all, authentic in an ineffable manner.

In this spirit I saw “Throne of Blood” and the “Seven Samurai” staring Toshiro Mifune. I didn’t immediately become a fan of Akira Kurosawa films, but accepted the premise that Mifune was everything a Japanese hero was supposed to be. Mifune’s absolute control of body and expression made a deep impression. Awesome swordplay was pretty cool, too.

Today I like to pretend I have some concept of Bushido, the code of honor that regulated the conduct of samurai, from watching Mifune’s movies. I accept I have no clue about Bushido but it feels good to hold my face rigid while I make hard decisions.

I realize saying this is equivalent to someone born outside the US claiming she/he knows American culture from an idolization of John Wayne. Sobeit. I celebrate my ignorance. 

Monday, October 12, 2020

My Father's Office

My father’s office in his home, with its shelves of books and documents lining the walls, is a scrapbook of images from his life. For decades he had a picture of me when I was 10 walking on a frozen Minnesota landscape.

I always admire this picture for the snow bears marks of sleds and skis, things that animated my mind at that age. Also, what the land looks like under snow and in the high contrast of a sunny winter day is indelibly etched in my mind – a specific acknowledgement of the timelessness of winter.

The second photograph is a picture of my daughter which rests near the one of me. My father likes the juxtaposition of the different generations in a similar pose.

I have an office in my home as well. I don’t like putting up pictures as I appreciate the serenity of blank space. I do have a burning desire to curate the images of my life which is why I slavishly post to this blog. This is my scrapbook.

I spent plenty of mental calories thinking we are not alike, but perhaps I deceive myself.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

White Castle Still Exists


Even when I was a kid in Minnesota, White Castle burgers never made a significant impact on my culinary landscape. Small square burgers with some cooked onions tasted fine and were cheap, and that was my basic assessment. 

Recently I learned that the restaurant is still in existence and, from outside appearances, is doing fine. 

I'm trying to find a bit of curiosity to go further with this analysis, but ultimately cannot.

If you enjoy the food then Stoke! I'm eating Asian noodles.


Friday, October 9, 2020

Home Repair Made Easier Through Tech


One of the technological disruptions from smartphones is how home repair is made easier through inexpensive photography.

Today everyone has a phone and would think nothing of taking several snaps of a part or a repair that needed to happen. In the hardware store those pictures are invaluable when purchasing the small parts that hold our lives together.

Also, the huge number of videos showing how to do more complicated home repairs is an awesome testament to our collective urge to get things done.

With the tech I do feel empowered to undertake more projects. However, the challenge then becomes evaluating the risk and calculating if there is epic failure how long until help arrives. 

Thursday, October 8, 2020

VP Debate Elevates Harris


Pence pretended Trump wasn't insane, and he didn't explode or burst out laughing, so I guess he did okay from a Republican perspective.

Senator Harris answers were clear, detailed and relevant to the questions the moderator asked. 

Pence ignored or deflected all serious questions. 

Harris won the debate hands down, as Pence revealed the mansplaining, bullying tendencies underpinning the administration he serves.

And a fly settled on Pence's head for about two minutes, probably his best moments.


Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Solving the Problem


My father has a 2007 Honda Fit. On the dash there is this reminder when to change the oil.

The plastic is faded, and the mileage is written in pencil and erased and rewritten several times.

I like this commitment to making things work and finding simple systems to do the job.



Tuesday, October 6, 2020

General Iroh As Role Model


When the kids were small and I would watch a program with them, I would often ask, “What character are you?”

The meaning was what character do you identify with the most strongly. Usually the answer was the obvious protagonist, but not always. For longer series, with many subplots and characters, the results were often surprising.

I have always asked myself this question as I watch movies and read books. As expected, I tend to identify with characters that reflect my current self-appointed role in life, realistic or otherwise. In the past it was hero and rebel, now it is as father and mentor. Elder statesman. Confused philanthropist.

In watching the Avatar series, I immediately identified with the exiled General Iroh. He was a competent and philosophical commander who was banished from the Fire Kingdom for his commitment to humanity. He made no bones about his love for tea and roast duck – all noble in my book.

Furthermore, he disguised his stratagems and therapies for his angry charge Prince Zuko in his sybaritic appetites.

I salute Iroh as a humble and worthy role model!



Monday, October 5, 2020

Minnesota Photo Essay