Tuesday, December 29, 2009

After a week off work I no longer feel sick and exhausted. I just feel really, really tired. This is progress.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Happy Kwanzaa

I missed solstice and it's two days into Kwanzaa, but I don't want to let it pass unremarked. A couple of people have told me recently that Kwanzaa was "just made up". I hate to break it to you kids, so was every other holiday. I can see nothing but good coming from the values and principles of Kwanzaa. You can learn more about them here and here.

Damn, I hope that didn't come across as patronizing, seriously.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Life is funny

San Francisco City Hall, all lit up for Christmas

Let's save our cynicism for better times. A very Merry Christmas to all

Mele Kalikimaka- Asylum Street Spankers (Buy)

Here's a Christmas elf, San Fran style.

Both pictures were stolen from this fine photographer.

Christmas Lights

My friend, Andrew, took this picture of me last week. I won't be driving for Christmas and this, hopefully, has been my last Christmas season at the wheel. I've worked many Christmases. It will be sweet to gather 'round the uketide Elvis tree. Some sadists from the friends o' Bill volunteered to sponsor a 4AM Christmas meeting, so I will be practicing the secret handshake at an unnatural hour, but I intend to go back to sleep shortly afterwards. Here's a few suggestions for those of you who are going out caroling.

From the City of Lakes, where ice surfing has yet to catch on, Minnesota's greatest surf band sends Santa a Christmas wish.

Real Live Doll- The Trashmen (Buy)

From Brooklyn, the borough where hepness reigns, Binky Griptite wishes us a soulful Christmas.

Stoned Soul Christmas- Binky Griptite (Buy)

Some of you are facing a seriously sucky Christmas without job, money or prospects. I've been homeless for Christmas and it sucked. Still, if you are free and not in a war zone you're having a better Christmas than some. John Prine shares a Christmas message from a man in thrall.

Christmas In Prison- John Prine (Buy)

And finally, from Bloomington, Indiana, the city where every Christmas is merry, The Walking Ruins wish you a Happy Hardcore New Year.

Happy Hardcore New Year- The Walking Ruins (Buy)

Go be merry.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Holiday adventures

This image was swiped from the unspeakably cool Invisible Edge

I go away for a few days and when I come back I find out that people have been reading this thing. I've been running around in the three dimensional world.

First, I am in the first week of the seven week pre-retirement vacation. I also just got notice that the large orange bridge, highway and transportation district has approved my paperwork and I am now recognized as a mildly disabled proletarian hero and Stakhnovist of the first order. Just yesterday I was a bum who never bothered to show up for work. It is a damn good thing that I am a recognized gimp because my car is starting to act like it wants money. My car has never wanted a small amount of money. I do not have a large amount of money. My car might be the cause of some terrible health problems before I finally manage to retire. It is good to be able to take off work with only a mild amount of anxiety over job loss.

I am still more than a little sleep deprived. The old timers who have departed for the other shore (retirement) send back messages. One of them told me that it takes about two weeks to realize how tired you really are and another two months to get caught up on your sleep. Yesterday, I got up at an ungodly hour to take a bus to SF a train to Oakland a bus to the island city of Alameda, a cab to South Berkeley a car to Ashby Avenue in Berkeley, a train back to SF and rides in various cars around SF. I tried to fit in a ferry but the scheduling wouldn't work out.

Along the way, I visited my dad in his new assisted living community. It was a nice enough place. The old man was sitting there, unshaved and wearing a dirty sweatshirt. He was sitting at a table with another old gent, quite talkative and 92 years old. Also at the table was a woman who didn't say a word for many minutes. Then she stood up and announced, "It's OK. I'm 95 years old." She grabbed her walker and wandered off. Dad is only 84, but he doesn't seem particularly happy about it. For much of the visit he sat silent and stared into the middle distance. Then he'd get a little smile on his face and say something to me, then he'd go back into his little world. Pretty much the way he's always been, only more so. I'd have to say it was a successful visit.

Then I made a mad dash across Alameda and Oakland to the Berkeley home of Peter Hurney and Pohaku Ukuleles. Peter has just finished several ukuleles. I wanted to try out the new concert sized instruments. I'm looking to buy myself a retirement present. If you've come here from a google search I'd be happy to give you a review of any of the ukuleles that I played. They were all beautifully made and sounded great, but my big, big favorite was a concert sized resonator. First of all, I like the resonator sound. Second I like the sheer "gizmoness" of resonator instruments. The little concert sized resonator was LOUD as hell and pretty as anything. A visit with Peter is a real treat because his ukes are the coolest, but Peter is a cool guy himself. He really likes what he does and can talk about it with great eloquence. He showed me a bunch of nifty graphs explaining the tonal qualities of various woods. He has also just finished putting up an exhibit on California ukulele and guitar makers. He did it in conjunction with the Oakland Museum. The exhibit is on display at the Oakland airport terminal. You can read about it here.

I'll end it there for now. I'm too tired to be writing even though yesterday didn't end until after two AM. The trouble is that today's mad dash started at seven AM.

Here's a favorite Christmas song. Other than the title, it doesn't seem to have anything to do with Christmas.

Archie, the Red Nose Reindeer- Tappa, or if you like, Tapper Zukie (buy)

And remember kids, the axial tilt and the eliptical orbit are the reason for the season.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Let's put the X back in Xmas

Bob Dylan sings a Christmas song that doesn't make me wanna puke. Not bad for a Jewish guy. Speaking of which, Happy Hanukkah to all.

I can't say enough good about the selection of Christmas songs at Big Rock Candy Mountain. I'm just crazy about the world weary sound of Behind the Wheel For Christmas by the Saddle Tramps. "Dashin' through the snow with 40 tons of hay/ Gotta feed some hungry reindeer at a strip mall in LA."

Sunday, December 6, 2009

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Xmas

Jesus at the last supper- As reenacted on the planet Whammo.

People got nothin' better to do than complain about holidays? It's time to remind each other that we're not doing it right. Does Christmas, as we know it in these straitened times, blow? Well, fuck yes, but it's probably the best we can do- for the moment anyhow.

In the meantime I find myself buried under culture war alerts. Raging Xtians claim that they are under attack as the "Holiday" marketing scheme seems to be beating out the "Christmas" marketing scheme in the hearts of bean counters down at corporate headquarters. Truly, when even the marketing experts have lost faith in Jesus as an indicator of consumption patterns our nation, indeed our world, is doomed, doomed.

Across town at socially sanctioned beatnik world headquarters, pagan fanatics and pious areligionists point out the fact that there were solstice festivals of light that predate the alleged birth of Christ. Besides which what were shepherds doing out tending those flocks anyway, what with lambing coming up around New Years and all? Christmas it seems is not only ahistorical it's also a total rip off from the beautiful pagan tradition of worshipping trees and sacrificing children to statues.

Somewhere in the middle "normal" people like to point out that Christmas is dreary. I've got to say that it is California cold as hell where I live. It's nowhere near say, Minnesota cold, but in Minnesota people have insulated houses and central heat. Here in Cali when it's twenty nine degrees outside it's about forty in your living room. I'm rapidly running out of propane while my inadequate furnace competes with my uninsulated walls. Outside it's foggy and gloomy and they're predicting a week of cold ass rain. Dreary.

Well yes, it is indeed dreary and once again it is my Holiday duty to point out that gloom and drear are the reason for the fuckin' season. It's cold and dark out there. Put up some fucking lights. Eat some food. Drink if you like. Do it with friends and family. Stave off the coming darkness by spreading a little cheer.

Pesonally, as a Christian, I find the season a useful metaphor for considering the arrival of Christ in the world. That's why I put up the sparkly black Elvis tree, listen to the Christmas tunes and give a few cards and or parcels to select (usually young) loved ones. I like being with bunches of friends and eating rich food too. Not good for the diabetes, but good all the same.

If the Jesus thing doesn't work for you celebrate whatever of the many solstice based holidays you chose. Just try not to be a poot butt would you? Times are hard enough without anyone spreading miserabilism, OK?

Frosty The Snowman- Man Or Astroman (Buy)

For my brother across the waves, Comrade Ib and for anyone seeking religious salvation, consider a trip to Whiskey Heaven.

Whiskey Heaven- Fats Domino (Buy)

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