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We poets will write a thousand words to get at a single one.

Roberto Bolaño

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Friday, March 30th, 2007

I've been having a lot of fun thinking about this photo over the last couple of days. Click the link below the image for a larger view.

posted evening of March 30th, 2007: Respond

🦋 That Voice, and What It Does To Me

I've been thinking, since I listened to the song "Adventure Rocketship", that it was a little silly, and immensely pleasant; that it might however not be among the greatest of Robyn Hitchcock's songs. Listening to it again tonight I had this thought: there is a thing Hitchcock does with his voice, that when he does it, this wave of bliss just washes over me, in a totally reliable way -- it's a reaction on a gut level and it happens quite regularly. Well in "Adventure Rocketship" he does it a lot, like at the lyric, "You crash upon a/ Star...", where it is practically impossible to keep yourself from singing along.

Which makes the song really nice to listen to, an experience of physical pleasure. But getting behind that, I'm not really sure the song is much else besides an excellent vehicle for his Voice -- whereas the songs of his I really love, like "Winchester" or "Love", they have the beautiful voice thing going on, but also another kind of beauty. Well anyway that's what I'm thinking. I do like the video for "Adventure Rocketship" a lot.

(Just now I realized that there is a way of reading the above as setting myself up to make the argument I outlined having convinced myself of around "Globe of Frogs" time -- that is not my intent at all. Songs on the new records, like "Television" which I am listening to now or "Belltown Ramble", "NY Doll", "The Authority Box" earlier, I am even at first listening grouping with the above songs that I love on multiple levels. Hitchcock's Voice, in "Television" even does the thing I'm talking about when he sings "Television, say you love me" with the syncopation before the first beat, and it works exactly like I described.)

posted evening of March 30th, 2007: Respond
➳ More posts about Music

Thursday, March 29th, 2007

🦋 Spooked

I got some records at the concert last night (which was fantastic, though I did not get into the opening act Johanna Kunin so much), to wit: old (and out-of-print) album "I Often Dream of Trains", new albums "Spooked" and "Ole Tarantula", new and unknown-to-me album "Down With Wilco" by the Minus 5. I have listened to some of the first three today, and here is what I think: "I Often Dream of Trains" is everything I remembered it being. And more! -- I had forgotten about the hilarious Uncorrected Personality Traits. (Which they played last night, I took it to be a more recent song). "Spooked" is an awesome, awesome record -- from the first bars of the first song "Television" (which they also played last night) I was thinking, this is exactly the qualities I like about Robyn Hitchcock. "Ole Tarantula" is good, but there are some defects in the CD which makes it sound funny in spots. I will get in touch with the record company tomorrow and see if they will give me one without flaws.

posted evening of March 29th, 2007: Respond

Tuesday, March 27th, 2007

🦋 Weiter dazu

I was talking with Jeremy E. today about Robyn Hitchcock and realized what I have been thinking about my history with his music, which is: I was flabbergasted and overjoyed in 1985, when Jeremy introduced me to "Black Snake Diamond Role" and a little bit later to "Eaten by Her Own Dinner" and "I Often Dream of Trains". When "Element of Light" came out I bought it right away and liked it but I worried that it was just pop music, not the more meaningful, cerebral category where I had been placing Robyn. By the time "Globe of Frogs" came out, I think it was only available on CD and I had no CD player -- I tape recorded it from Jeremy (overwriting my old cassette of "Killing an Arab") but by that time I had stopped listening to Robyn besides the three records I listed first, which I idealized as sort of pristine Hitchcock, unsullied by popularity.

And now going back and listening to this stuff, I am seeing my mistake -- to begin with, "Globe of Frogs" and "Element of Light" are fantastic albums, and in no way inferior to the earlier records. Looking at the music through a filter of its popularity was hampering me from really hearing it.

I have been looking for something new to happen with my musical identity and this could be it. On Sunday when I was playing with Bob and Janis (have I mentioned that we are starting to sound really good together?), I played "Winchester" on the spur of the moment, and I could feel a level of connection to the music that is not always easy to achieve.

posted evening of March 27th, 2007: Respond
➳ More posts about Jamming with friends

Monday, March 26th, 2007

I just did something I have never done, which is to call my cable provider and order a channel. To wit, I ordered the Sundance Channel, because tomorrow night at 10 they are premiering John Edgington's documentary, "Robyn Hitchcock: Sex, Death, Food, and Insects". This looks like it will be really good -- you can see some trailers at the Sundance web site, although the rest of the internets seem not to have heard about it yet. This anecdote made my day.

...The reason the rest of the internets have not heard about it, is that the title is actually "Robyn Hitchcock: Sex, Food, Death, and Insects". Here is the press release.

posted morning of March 26th, 2007: Respond
➳ More posts about Sex, Food, Death, and Insects

🦋 Robyn Hitchcock

Robyn Hitchcock is one of my very favorite musicians. And yet I'm not familiar with much of his later work. My knowledge of Hitchcock is: "Black Snake Diamond Role", "Eaten by Her own Dinner", "I Often Dream of Trains", "Element of Light", bits of "Globe of Frogs", "Queen Elvis" and "Eye". Suddenly I am feeling very interested in getting to know more of his music.

Last Monday, I was listening to Irene Trudel's show on WFMU, and heard Hitchcock playing "Adventure Rocketship", which I had not heard before. The DJ came on the mic and said Hitchcock will be playing next Wednesday at the Knitting Factory. Well ever since then I've been in a state of high excitement -- I ordered my tickets and have been playing Hitchcock on my internal stereo ever since. And I'm listening to some of his more recent tracks on YouTube (especially loving Birds in Perspex; and if you have not watched this radio performance, well you really ought to) and his genius is shining through the poor sound quality.

posted morning of March 26th, 2007: Respond

Friday, March 16th, 2007

🦋 Titles for xterms

Here's something handy: I keep a lot of xterm windows active on my desktop; if I lose track of one it's nice to have an easier way of finding it than to click on every "xterm" icon in my taskbar until I find it. So I give them titles.

The first thing I did was to give each a title with the machine name and the current directory. You can do this by adding to your .bash_profile the following:

PS1='\[\033]0;'`hostname`': \w\007\033[32m\]{\u@\h}\033[0m\] $ '

or to your .cshrc,

set prompt="%{\033]0;%m: %~\007%}%{\033[32;40m%}{%n@`hostname`}%{\033[37;40m%} > "

This just tells your shell to echo escape characters every time it draws the prompt that will force xterm to update its title bar.

Some applications -- generally every application that takes over the prompt, like for instance gdb -- I would like to know they're running just by looking at the title bar. For vi, all you have to do is use vim and include the line "set title" in your .vimrc. For other applications, I created a script called xtitle, which echoes the escape characters:

echo -e "%{\033]0;"`hostname`": $*\007%}"

and alias the application names, like

alias gdb 'xtitle gdb \!*; \gdb'

(this is a csh alias, it's trickier in bash because I don't know how to echo the parameter list with bash aliases.)

posted evening of March 16th, 2007: Respond

Sunday, March 11th, 2007

🦋 Home fries

A recipe I've been playing around with for a couple of months in various combinations bore fruit last night, when Ed and Nina came over for dinner. I cooked something I'm calling "home fries" for want of a better word, even though it's not particularly descriptive, and it was one of the nicest potato dishes I have ever made.

  • 4 or 5 smallish yellow onions, chopped roughly
  • about 1 T. fennel seed
  • several cloves of garlic, minced
  • one pear or apple
  • 1 ½ lbs. red potatoes or Yukon gold potatoes in moderate-size dice

In a skillet, heat a couple of T. olive oil and the fennel seed. Cook the onions and garlic with salt over low heat about half an hour, adding the fruit midway through. When onions are deep golden, add the potatoes and stir to mix. Cover the skillet and allow to steam for about half an hour, until potatoes are quite soft. Stir occasionally, scraping the bottom of the skillet when you do. Serve with roast chicken.

posted evening of March 11th, 2007: Respond
➳ More posts about Food

🦋 Interval

Here is a bash script to determine the interval between two date/times. Parameters are two dates, specified using any format the date utility can recognize; if the second parameter is omitted, "now" is assumed. Output is the number of seconds between the two, followed by "d h:m:s" format.


if [ $# -eq 0 ]
echo Usage: `basename $0` \ \[\\ default \"now\"\] >&2
exit -1

start=`date +%s -d "$1"`
if [ $# -eq 1 ]
fin=`date +%s`
fin=`date +%s -d "$2"`

res=`expr $fin - $start`
if [ $res -lt 0 ]
res=`expr 0 - $res`

echo $res sec
d=`expr $res / 86400`
t=`expr $res % 86400`
h=`expr $t / 3600`
ms=`expr $t % 3600`
m=`expr $ms / 60`
s=`expr $ms % 60`
if [ $d -gt 0 ]
echo -n $d day
if [ $d -gt 1 ]
echo -n s
echo -n \
if [ $t -gt 0 ]
echo -n $h\:
if [ $m -lt 10 ]
echo -n 0
echo -n $m
if [ $s -gt 0 ]
echo -n \:
if [ $s -lt 10 ]
echo -n 0
echo -n $s

posted evening of March 11th, 2007: Respond
➳ More posts about Programming

Wednesday, March 7th, 2007

🦋 Trout and cabbage

I wouldn't have thought of this combination off the top of my head or anything; but that's what was in the fridge. And it came out pretty tasty.

  • 1 yellow onion cut in thin slices
  • Several cloves of garlic chopped fine
  • About ¼ head red cabbage, chopped thin
  • 2 filets trout

Cook the onion and garlic with olive oil and salt in a skillet over medium-low heat, until the onion is golden. Add the cabbage and continue cooking about 5 or 10 more minutes, until the cabbage is soft and hot through. Remove to a bowl, put some more olive oil in the pan, and cook the trout. I served this with soup and some goat cheese. I think, though I did not do this, that you could make a pretty good sauce by deglazing the skillet with beer and cooking the beer for a minute or two.

posted evening of March 7th, 2007: Respond
➳ More posts about Recipes

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