Wednesday, December 27, 2006

3 Minute Climaxes - Jungle Bells & Jingle Bulls

I have great difficulty with Christmas music. (Does it sound like my palaver is going to be dull? So skip to the end of the post and just listen to my 2 pieces of music, already, why don't ya?)

My seasonal music problem dates to my minority Jewish childhood in 1950's Iowa - when I was expected by my parents not to sing carols in public school along with my majority Christian classmates. Although I was expected by my teachers to stand there not making a fuss, preferably mouthing the words, holding a flashlight covered with red or green cellophane; a branch of a Christmas tree made entirely of children.

Our family tried to make Christmas as normal a non-holi-day as possible. It was not very possible.

Ceramic Christmas ornaments on sale at my local Vons supermarket
My difficulties are compounded as an adult and a musician because some Christmas music is quite beautiful. Other Christmas tunes stick in your brain. These are insidious ear worms . This is a malady to which musicians are more prone than normal people. A few Christmas tunes are both beautiful and earworms - very dangerous!!

And of course some pieces have religious content - like proclaiming "Remember Christ, our Saviour, was born on Christmas day," which is not a thought I want to have. So I seriously berate myself over just humming the tune to myself.

Yes, I do have massive difficulties with religion. Any religion. Avoiding Christian music in the U.S., where 17 out of 20 people are Christian, is nearly impossible at this time of year. I know what you're saying "Just lighten up and deal with it". And I say you could have skipped ahead to the music.

Up on the rooftop in Old Pasadena - green reindeer on a giant ornamentI was amused to read this article (at an English website The Register) about an effort to protect shop workers from the dangers of repetitive Christmas music listening. I'm still not quite sure it's not a hoax because this could simply never happen in the U.S. Here's the first two paragraphs:
Christmas music in shops is "torture", the "forgotten pollutant" which shop workers must be able to silence for the sake of their sanity, according to activists, trade unions and a peer. The government is being asked to investigate the problem.
Campaigners and trades unions have spoken out about the playing of Christmas music in shops over an ever-extending festive period and the psychological effects that the repetitive tunes can have on staff who have no choice but to listen to it.
Last year I mixed-metered about Christmas music several times both in words and music, including a 30 Second Spot that's still available for listening: And Pretend That It's A Circus Clown. That has a companion spot Until the Alligators Knock Him Down.

It's red and it's green - what more do you want?
This year I decided to pick a familiar Christmas earworm and use it as the basis for an entire 3 Minute Climax. I called it Jungle Bells. When I finished I still had ideas so I wrote a second piece on the same tune - and called that Jingle Bulls. But I'm not going to tell you what the tune is.

My intent was to take something lovable, familiar and pleasant and make ugly new music out of it. When Leslie heard Jingle Bulls she said "That's delightful." - so apparently, once again, I'm a failure as a composer. Next year, after I'm assaulted by Christmas muzak yet again, I'll certainly want to try another assault on Christmas music. Check back then for Jangle Bells and Jingle Balls.

click here to hear Jungle Bells

Jungle Bells: Copyright (c) 2006 by David Ocker - 3 minutes, 29 seconds

click here to hear Jingle Bulls

Jingle Bulls: Copyright (c) 2006 by David Ocker - 3 minutes, 51 seconds

Hannukah (or Hanukah, or Hanukkah or Chanukah) is not really the Jewish Christmas - but it serves as an excellent assimilationist foil during the "holiday season". (I heard someone at the supermarket this year call Thanksgiving & Christmas the "High Holidays".)

Apparently purveyors of foodstuffs think Jews celebrate every holiday by eating matzoh. This picture was taken last week at Bristol Farms in South Pasadena.

Chanukah Matzos and dreidel napkins on sale at Bristol Farms, South Pasadena CA - December 2006

Explanation of 30 second spots

Earworm Tags: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Who's Saluting What?

This is like a quiz. Answers below.

1) What was this native of Austria doing in this photo?

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, his well-defined muscles all oiled up, makes a gesture that's easy to misinterpret
2) What were these men of god doing in Berlin in August 1933?

Priests giving the Hitler salute at a Catholic youth rally in the Berlin-Neukölln stadium in August 1933

3) What explanation was given for what these imaginary men are doing in this illustration from a recent article about a new German toy?

Nikolaus macht den Hitler-Gruß - Santa Claus makes Hitler salute - illustration of article about Nazi-saluting Santa models

4) What is this child dressed as Hitler doing during this man on the street interview?

Beat Kids - Man on the Street Interview - What's Wrong With Youth Today

1) Showing off his muscle development.
2) Giving the Nazi salute.
3) Pointing at the sky.
4) Asking for a high five.

The priests-at-a-Catholic-youth-rally picture came from here.

Here's a story in English about the saluting Santas.
Another in German.
The toymaker behind the Nazi Santas is unimpressed with the unwanted attention their product is receiving. "We are surprised that a Santa pointing skyward has been associated with the Hitler salute," he told Bild.
Here's a fascinating article at WFMU's Beware the Blog on the subject of Christmas under the Nazis.

The Child-Hitler-interviewing-people-on-the-street picture comes from this disturbing video.

Tag Salutes: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Stalking the Christmas Penguin

Here's a short joke. It's funny because it's based in truth and funnier if you don't believe in deities.
God created war to teach geography to Americans.
Thanks to George II and his cronies, the highest percentage of U.S. citizens in history can find Fallujah on a map. (Still hardly any, however. ) Another bit of good news - kangaroos have finally been captured in Austria! (Click here.)

A Christmas PenguinLast year I noticed for the first time that penguins have become Christmas critters - taking an entry level position in the holiday animal pantheon along with reindeer, polar bears and snowmen.

Hey they're cute, they dress formally and they're movie stars. And it's easy to imagine they would make cuddly pets.

But clearly the penguin's secret weapon is that they evoke cold. Penguin equals wind, snow, shivering. Wind, snow, and shivering equal North Pole. North Pole equals Christmas. Therefore Penguins Equal Christmas.

But there's one problem.:PENGUINS DO NOT COME FROM THE NORTH POLE!! (Um, they come from the South Pole - about as far away from Santa Claus' secret lair as anyone without a spacecraft can get. But you knew that.)

Here are some pictures I've taken of our penguinish friends in a reversed hemispherical context. The first two are from an inflatable yard display - one penguin emerging from his igloo and the other with a sign directing us northward. The second shows polar bear and penguin in matching snowflake caps - maybe they're a couple.

inflatable penguin in an igloo, penguin with this-way-to-North-Pole sign

inflatable polar bear and penguin with snowflake caps
The next picture is from an advertisement for Coca-Cola. The Cokers have often used polar bears to associate cold freshness with their own brand of sugary poison. In this ad (snapped from a movie theater screen) polars meet penguins and sugar water cuts through the ice.

Coca Cola advertising showing penguins and polar bears
Finally, here's my wife Leslie posing (in coordinating colors) before a panoramic picture of our seasonal animal friends - yes, penguins and polar bears and even a walrus - together.

Leslie at the LA Zoo - penguins and polar bears
This is a take-your-own-Christmas-card-photo display. The scandal of this picture is that it promotes the Los Angeles Zoo - where someone should realize that we Americans will start to believe penguins and polar bears live together in the wild once we've see enough mass produced pictures of them together. And when Americans really fervently believe something is true, bad things can happen. Just ask the polar bears in Fallujah.

Maybe I missed seeing the little sign (suitable for reading to young children) which explained where penguins really come from. (No, the stork doesn't bring them.) It wouldn't even have had to use the term "Bio-Geography" - which Leslie says is the name of the study of where animals live.

Happy Holidays from the LA Zoo - penguins and polar bears

If you missed it in the theaters last year - here's a short animated feature about how a squad of military penguins in New York City save Christmas for a sad polar bear.

Oh - here's a fascinating story about the chemical reactions inside your body after you drink a Coca Cola. - or any soda. But I don't feel bad about blaming Coke for the sins of all soft drinks.

Biogeography Tags: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Reagan says Give Chesterfields for Christmas

Here's a picture of Ronald Wilson Reagan (before he became the Insane Anglo Warlord, see previous post) with a lit one in his mouth, telling us that Chesterfield cigarettes make great Christmas gifts.

Spokesman for Chesterfield Cigarettes
(Note, this picture came from this wonderful archive of old tobacco ads on Flickr)

The fine print suggests that we all go see Ronnie starring in the 1952 movie Hong Kong (also called "Bombs Over China") in which he practices for his later acting roles by battling movie Communism.

This is my mother, Edythe Ocker, a few years earlier, before I existed. She has a drink in one hand and a cigarette in her other hand (although the fag itself is not visible.) Mom's brand? Chesterfield.

That's my uncle Ben Shuman, now of Jerusalem Israel, a non-smoker, cavorting in the background.

Edythe Ocker - late 1940s - with Chesterfield cigarette

This is one of my Mother's last packs of Chesterfields. I saved these after she passed away from smoking-related cancer twenty years ago this month. Although she told us that she had given up smoking when she started chemo, apparently she was sneaking the occasional nicotine fix in her bathroom using the exhaust fans to hide the evidence. (Click for enlargement.)

Edythe Ocker's last pack of cigarettes - she kept smoking even after she began chemotherapy for smoking-related cancer

This is the detail of the drawing on the front of the Chesterfield package, an idyllic Middle Eastern coastal scene. I count seven minarets and four domed buildings. One boat. I don't see any Humvees.

Chesterfield Cigarette logo - detail of package - minarets and domes

I recently scanned and posted dozens of my old family photos to share with family. If you'd like to see them too, drop me a line.

Someone in Russia will buy Chesterfields cheaply and mail them to you for Christmas or any holiday. Click here. I don't recommend this. Poison is not as much fun when you are aware that it is killing you. (Even if you are someone who still believes Ronald Reagan could tell no lies.)
"I'M SENDING CHESTERFIELDS to all my friends. That's the merriest Christmas any smoker can have - Chesterfield mildness plus no unpleasant after-taste." Ronald Reagan.

See RONALD REAGAN starring in "HONG KONG" a ?? Thomas Paramount Production. Color by Technicolor.

CHESTERFIELD Buy the beautiful Christmas-card carton.

Commie Cancer Tags: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Remembering L/Laurie/Laurence Gold

Here's another memory dredged from my box of old photographs. This is me (on the left with the beard) in 1979 with my good friend Laurence Gold (on the right with the beard) in Madison Wisconsin. I was quite surprised to discover that any shots of the two of us together even existed.

David Ocker & Laurence Gold - 1979, Madison Wisconsin
Laurence and I met on my first day of college in the Fall of 1969 and became instant, lifelong friends. I most often called him "L", just his first initial - but everyone else called him Laurie, which is what he called himself.

L was intense, creative, enthusiastic and empathetic with an honest rage against the wrongs of the world. Alas, he was also a complete non-conformist, an unmotivated and often ineffective misfit.

After I moved to California in 1974 we saw each other just a handful of times, so I have little knowledge of the indignities of his adult life. I do know that a better world would have made better use of his talents. He passed away several years ago. Thinking of the things he never accomplished makes me quite sad.

I've scanned two postcards from Laurie - the first is from 1980. The second is timeless, or rather, dateless, but during the late Reagan years. Click on the backs of the cards for enlargements. I've typed in the text below so computers can read it. The drawing of the pig is by Speed Gold, Laurence's mother.

back of Laurence Gold Postcard - 1980
Here are two Laurence Gold anecdotes:

We communicated mostly with ear-numbingly long phone calls and War-and-Peace-chapter-length letters. More than once he wrote me a multi-page letter, then forgot to mail it for six or more months.

One such letter arrived starting with page 5, mid-sentence and mid-topic. "You forgot the first half of the letter" I wrote back. "Nope." he replied (eventually but with great glee) "Fooled you!" He had carefully constructed the thing, with references to stories he never actually wrote down, to make me puzzle over the missing writing.

Laurence Gold postcard front - drawing of pig by Speed Gold

Another time, while I was listening to an NPR news "letters from listeners" segment, my ears perked up when the announcer read that the name "RONALD WILSON REAGAN" could be rearranged to spell "INSANE ANGLO WARLORD."

I immediately thought "L needs to hear that. He'll love it." We both knew that Reagan was an insane anglo warlord, but it was beyond serendipitous that he should actually be "named" that - sort of. I wrote to Laurence to report this good weirdness. His reply came uncharacteristically within minutes - plus a delay of 4 weeks.

Laurence himself had discovered the anagram and written the letter.

After he sent it in he listened to ATC in hopes they would use it. On the day they did use it, the day I accidentally heard everything but his name, he had missed the broadcast.

Yep, you could call it a coincidence.

Laurence Gold postcard, anagram of Ronald Wilson Reagan is Insane Anglo Warlord

Coincidently, RONALD WILSON REAGAN is a very rich source of anagrams. Click here to find others. SLAIN NOEL WAR DRAGON is another one. You know "Noel War", like in "War on Christmas."

The book The War On Christmas is available now on Amazon for 14 cents (plus $3.49 shipping.) Here's a quote from a news story about Bill O'Reilly interviewing the author of "The War on Christmas".
"We continue our reporting on which American stores are using "Christmas" in advertising this Christmas season and which are not. ... Again, our litmus test is which operations are using the greeting "Merry Christmas" in their advertising and which are not. ... Again, this investigation is designed to spotlight retailers who have knocked the word "Christmas" out of the Christmas season. We're not too interested with the word "merry." Don't really care about "merry." Bill O'Reilly

With that in mind, I'd like to wish both my readers a sincere "Merry Holidays". Coming soon, a Mixed Meters Christmas Music Special.

Here's a previous Bill-O'Reilly-related Mixed Meters post.

front of Laurence Gold postcard - 1980 - Pink Flamingos at Bascom Hall University of Wisconsin

Flamingus Pinkus Plasticus
Once every 210 years, thousands of pink Flamingos flock to the University of Wisconsin's historic Bascom Hall. Care and feeding of the birds are provided by the Wisconsin Student Association.
Norris Cord
Apearl 24, 1980
Dewer Daffyd,
This cart hear is juts toilet ewe no that U.Arnot four gotten, Ann DaLettur is bee ink composted for male ink sooon. (Skal aegger laere hone? Den er, pa engelsk: Will you teach your grandmother to suck eggs?) Life finds me shorn and shaven and much smaller. Beyond that, however, I'm current if unemployed. ..(Paragraph) It was a pleasant Battersea, / And a Battersea was he. / He called for his pipe / And he called for his bowl / And he called 918-0613. .. (Paragraph) Is stream of couscious still legal? There's something remarkably subversive about un-ordered random (redundancy) thoughts. James Joyce was a secret Proustianist! But it's only subversial of social order, not of political reality. As any musician should know, it is discipline and control that empower and free one. Love, Laurie


August 31
Dear David -- Thanks. More thoughtful letter eventually, but thanks. I arrived at the last (paragraph), though, and had to write back immediately (i.e. 3 mins. after finishing yr. lett, and while still listening to ATC.). The reason for this is that I missed the ATC broadcast you referred to, in which they finally put on the air the anagram of RONALD WILSON REAGAN that I sent them more than a month ago. I had decided they weren't going to air it. Sorry to have missed it, but perfect that I should hear about it from you!
And yes, I will keep in touch, even without a word-processor ... Music was a real vital part of it all. Only after I was done with school did I begin to appreciate how much.
Sept. 28 - I thought this was mailed 4 weeks ago! Just located it today. L
Someday I should tell you both, dear Readers, the story of Battersea. But not tonight.

Gold Tags: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Gift of Music

"iPod" - just say the word once and you'll find a dozen products to connect to it. And if you're looking for the perfect gift for your favorite iPod-swilling music fan, here it is: The iPod toilet paper holder from Atech Flash Technology. You'll want one for every room.

iPod toilet paper holder

Is there a hard-to-buy-for giraffe lover on your list? Yep, think the "giraffe listening to an iPod" t-shirt from the Los Angeles Zoo. (Click on the picture for a close-up of the orange musical notes and "scented apparel" sticker. It doesn't say what the t-shirt smells of, however.)

giraffe with ipod scented t-shirt at L.A. Zoo

Miuro, an iPod robot is available now only in Japan. It apparently moves about the room doing tricks to the music. Here's the site in Japanese and also translated into English by Babelfish. Here's Miuro in action at YouTube

Some Babelfish translated quotes from the FAQ page:
It is the worldwide first music player who loads autonomous locomotive function.

miuro - iPod robot
List of what it does:
* IPod playback
* The playback of iTunes and WindowsMediaPlayer
* Playback of Internet radio program
* In addition playback of audio equipment
* It moves with remote control
* Autonomous movement to listening point
* Remote manipulation/the music communication which becomes more familiar
* Dancing & illumination

The new-music hacker college student in your life will love taking this plastic toy apart and figuring out how to hook it to their iPod or add a midi interface (that's definitely not what its makers intended however). It's the Blue Man Group Percussion Tubes Music Station, for ages 8 and up. The tubes are motion sensitive controllers - wave your hand over them and sound comes out. No physical contact required. Face paint not included.

Blue Man Group Percussion Tubes Music Station
We didn't have cheesy Blue Man percussion toys like this when I was a college student - we had to make do with cheesy Casio keyboard toys. Like the Casio VL-1 now completely and virtually and digitally and freely emulated as a VST plugin - whatever that is. Click here to get your copy today.

Casio VL-1

(I found this via Create Digital Music which also turned me on to this quiz - Can YOU tell which commercial logos are for digital audio products and which are for hair care products?)

Someday I suppose I should tell you the story of the Merlin Philharmonic Octet. Not tonight, kids.

Gift Tags: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Filling Silences

The Improvising Guitarist (or TIG, an anonymous author of an eponymous blog) took my post about the dancing Feldman pianist and ran with it in this post. Hard for me to keep up - too much mental cardio. But do check it out - it's about the rigid ways we expect performers to move in concert.

Hans Liberg in concert
TIG writes:
"I'm sympathetic to the idea that these rituals and context can (should?) be (re)examined, and the process of opening up these black boxes might reveal the unfamiliar, the unorthodox, and the complex (all good creative stuff)."
Yes, that's right.

Simultaneously John Steinmetz (see my previous post about the Skunk Hunt triptych) sent me this quote from a Milton Babbitt program note:
"[I]t is just the progression from the local to the global in relational implications which should provide the listener with the means of achieving that cognition of cumulative containment and successive subsumption which human memory in general, and musical memory in particular, requires for a musical work to be entified, eventually, as a unified, closed totality . . . ."
Quoted in a 1982 article by Greg Sandow who comments "He's something of a pedant, obviously". I've found that reading (or listening to music by) a pedant is an activity best suited for another pedant.

The mysterious TIG does find redemption, however, by linking to this wonderful and familiar performance by Victor Borge (with someone who isn't Leonid Hambro) playing Liszt. Their choreography is fast, precise and completely in the service of humor. The music is incidental - something I can accept with Liszt much more easily than I can with Feldman.

And losing track of the point again, YouTube suggested this video by someone named Hans Liberg - who, like Borge, seems pretty funny in spite of being an excellent pianist - mixed with just a hint of Gallagher

Hans Liberg, pianist, has talented hands

And now, a video to help you recover from Hans Liberg, Glenn Gould playing Bach accompanied by Leonard Bernstein. Two really idiosyncratic guys (who were also distracting performers) making beautiful music. Fear not, it's all Bach - nothing but Bach.

Oh, by the way - I think Feldman's music (in part) is about the silences between the notes. Our culture needs silences. Filling them with dance (or with shadow puppets or an Iron Chef competition) does us all a disservice. But making fun of Franz Liszt is okay. The Polymorphic Pianist is just 150 years ahead of her time. If she wants to dance and play the piano at the same time - she should write her own music - or play Liszt.

P.S. Here's my favorite Improvising Guitarist post.

P.P.S. I knew (and even performed with) Lee Hambro years ago at CalArts. I was sad to read that he recently passed away.

Deathly Silent Tags: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Monday, December 11, 2006

Photo triptych - The Skunk Hunt

Long ago my friend, bassoonist and composer John Steinmetz, presented me with a framed panel of three photos - showing a young barefoot boy hunting and killing a skunk. I believe he had found it in a thrift shop. The first picture is marked 1924.

I was never sure why I liked it. Once someone asked if I was the boy in the photo.

It hung in an out-of-the-way place in my office for many years. Then it spent more years in the closet. Soon it will return to another thrift shop.

But first, in an effort to both throw it away and not throw it away, I scanned it for blog filler. Click on it for a closer view.

Young barefoot boy hunting and killing a skunk
Each picture has a caption:
1) "I saw him go in!" '24
2) "Here he is!"
3) "See! Smell!"

The back of the frame has a sticker which reads: "GERRITY - 50 Central St. Bangor, ME. - Frames Pictures Photographic Supplies".

Skunk Tags: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Do The Silences Make You Uncomfortable?

Here's a video of Debora Petrina (who describes herself as a "polymorphic artist") filling the silences in the music of Morton Feldman with distracting movement - and later accompanying herself on the drum.

I fear this is a good example of the global decline in attention span.

 I found this Feldman workout video at Sequenza 21 which asked "Who says you can't dance to Morton Feldman?" More people ought to say that. Speaking of distracting movement during performances - here's a 1960 video from Dutch television. This rock 'n roll band has their moves down. Watch for the drummer walking around during his solo - all while keeping the beat. Gasp as the lead guitarist stands upright on the recumbent bass while playing a solo behind his back. Much more exciting than a dancing Morton Feldman pianist because there are no uncomfortable silences to fill.


 Read more about the Tielman Brothers - (so who knew there was an Indonesian rock 'n roll scene?) - at WFMU's Beware the Blog. Here's an extended Mixed Meters post about the inappropriate use of total silence in concert. Silent Tags: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Philip Glass enjoys a Cutty Sark

Here's a picture of me in college - May 1973 (i.e. just before I graduated) in my 3rd Watson dorm room - standing in front of my found object wall collage and also in front of my liquor collection - of which I was considerably more proud.

David Ocker - 1973 - Carleton college senior with liquor and wall collage

Okay, I'm a pack rat. Not as much as Leslie who is a professional pack rat, but it's hard for me to throw stuff out. For 20 years I've kept several large boxes filled with family picture albums - stuff my Mother collected.

For the last few years one of those boxes has sat smack dab in the middle of my office, serving only as cat bed and claw sharpener. I've resolved to reorganize the stuff. Get it out of the way. Scan some of it into the computer. Clutter up my hard drive.

For some reason there was an envelope in the box with pieces from another collage from the early 80's. This one was mostly printed matter - but the idea was the same: stuff which should have been discarded juxtaposed irrationally. It's an offline analog weblog - without the web. Can I call it an "analblog"? Someone stop me before I compare it to Mixed Meters.

This Philip Glass advertisement for Cutty Sark was part of that 80's collage. It came from the October 25, 1982 Newsweek. It's still just as slyly hysterical to me as it was then. I want to share it with both of my readers.

At the end of the day Philip Glass enjoys a Cutty Sark - Newsweek 1982

I'll input the entire text below so the web-crawlers can enjoy it. Click on it for an enlarged version.

Using composers to sell alcohol? Who would have thought. Click here to read about Freak Out Ale. I tried to buy some -- failed.

One more thing - on the reverse of this page is an ad for "Record a Call" - a telephone answering machine. Young people today have no idea how impressed their free-lancing elders were with telephone answering machines. My first one, several years before this, cost about $400. That's about $1000 in today's money -click here to see how I calculated that.

Record A Call Advertisement - 1982 Newsweek

Something called "Record a Call" still exists. Click here.

The text of the Cutty Sark ad:

Until his late twenties, Philip Glass was a typical bright young composer. Foundations showered grants on him for writing music in a conventional, somewhat imitative style.

Then, Glass found his own style. Its roots lay in eastern as well as western music, and it was fresh, original and unexpected. In music circles, it was unacceptable. All the grants stopped.

But that didn't stop Glass. He found other ways to fund his work. One was driving a taxi.

Today, the music establishment has changed its tune. Philip Glass is considered one of the foremost serious composers in America, with an audience so large and so diverse it even includes rock fans.

Success hasn't made Glass any less of a maverick. But for all the traditions he breaks, there's one he respects. At the end of the day, he enjoys a Cutty Sark.

The Scotch with a following of leaders. CUTTY SARK

(at the top) 86 proof blended scotch whisky distilled and bottled in Scotland. Imported by the Buckingham Corporation New York, N.Y.

Copyright 1976 Philip Glass

(The copyright must be of the completely illegible music behind his head in the painting which is attributed to "Lettick".)

And the Record a Call ad:
Do you miss your boss?

Not everything that happens in business happens before 5:30 p.m.
When you're not home when your boss calls, it could be a problem.
A telephone answering machine is your answer.
And nothing can keep you and your boss in touch as easily and efficiently as Record a Call. Thanks to the advanced micro-computer technology of our new model 580 shown.
And you can get your messages by remote control without going home.
So see the full line of Record a Calls at your dealer. And hear what you've been missing.
Record a Call
Because people are too good to miss.
T.A.D. Avanti, Inc., 19200 Laurel Park Rd., Compton, CA 90220. For dealer nearest you call toll-free 800-421-2412 (in California, Alaska & Hawaii call collect 213-603-9393).

P.S. Leslie actually claims she (and all taxonomists) are pack rats genetically - evolved from Neotoma. Personally, I think she's kidding.

Other Mixed Meters Posts which may (or may not) be of interest:

  • Christina Aguilera does the Boogie Woogie
  • Rating the music of J.S.Bach versus the music of ABBA
  • Mingus
  • Mingus Epitaph
  • Terry Riley's In C as Classical Music?
  • A New Rhapsody in Blue - with improvisation
  • Selling Nike Shoes with a Hip Hop Dies Irae
  • Saturday, December 09, 2006

    3 Minute Climax - The Real Jejune Vasectomy

    As you listen to "The Real Jejune Vasectomy" remember that the title has nothing to do with the music. I first heard the words "Jejune" and "Vasectomy" used in the same sentence when KUSC DJ Jim Svejda tried to help listeners spell his name correctly.

    click here to hear The Real Jejune Vasectomy .

    Copyright (c) 2006 by David Ocker - 2 minutes, 41 seconds

    Explanation of 30 second spots

    Junectomy Tags: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    Thursday, December 07, 2006

    Morph Your Face

    The effects of growing old, the obsession of my boomer co-generationists, can be reduced to a few seconds of video thanks to the new verb "morphing". According to the Online Etymology Dictionary "morphing" is celebrating its 15th anniversary of "verbal wordhood" this year (or should that be "verbness") - making it just slightly older than my marriage to Leslie.

    Click here to view a portrait of a real woman changing gradually over 69 years in just a few seconds. She never takes her eyes off you. (Warning: annoying music.)

    Here's a YouTuber of something even better - but virtual. (Warning: annoying music.)

    Of course morphing can have its dark side - and I'm not talking about skin color. (Warning: really disturbing images.)

    (Here is another Mixed Meter posting on Michael Jackson explaining how he will be remembered in the future.)

    And finally - here is Noah - one picture per day for six years crammed into 6 minutes. Stare into his eyes or you'll get really dizzy. I hope he keeps this up at least until his hairline starts to recede. (Warning: really annoying music.)

    Meta Morph Tags: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    Tuesday, December 05, 2006

    What You Can't Call An Artificial Penis In Texas

    There are a lot of things you can't say these days. A few people are just starting to say "civil war" when they talk Iraq. During the last election we learned that you can't call a black person "slavish" - especially if he's a Republican Senate candidate on his way to losing the election.

    Now here's a trick question - which is funnier:

    A stand-up performance by Michael Richards saying words forbidden by Jesse Jackson?
    A lecture by columnist Molly Ivins saying words forbidden by the Texas legislature?

    The winner (without question) is Molly Ivins. When I saw her name associated with a video clip from a movie called The Dildo Diaries I watched immediately.

    (Probably shouldn't watch this if you're a child, at work or a Texas politician.)

    In Texas, apparently, you can buy a dildo but you can't ask for it by name. Molly tells the history behind this prohibition. Then we learn how to legally ask for a dildo in Texas. And there are some scenes of the state legislature debating the matter.

    For a more light-hearted musical treatment of dildos - here's The Dildo Song. (Hang on for the adhesion out-takes at the end.)

    As long as we're on the subject of music and dildos - here's a dildo that you can attach to your iPod. The OhMiBod vibrates along with your mp3s. The website features a woman-on-the-street video and a chance to share your favorite vibratory playlists.

    a little plastic protective-tip thingee that came with a Belkin power strip

    And finally, here's a website of advertisements which will remind you of things longer than they are wide. Yes, it's the Phallic Logo Awards. Be sure to check out the winner The Brazilian Institute of Oriental Studies. It must be a hoax. It's just gotta be a hoax. Please tell me it's a hoax.

    But someone did tell me this was a hoax and I refused to believe it. We already proved that Texas politicians aren't too bright.

    Take your pick of the other fine penis-related Mixed Meters posts: Penis Fencing or Penis Painting

    Read Molly Ivins here.

    Long Wide Tags: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . .. . .

    Thursday, November 30, 2006

    3 Minute Climax - The Best Thing About Led Zeppelin

    My friend and colleague Tom Brodhead visited Southern California recently from his own private hell, Cleveland Ohio. As we were driving through LA's Chinatown, on the way to Walt Disney Concert Hall, Tom began a sentence with these words "The best thing about Led Zeppelin is ...".

    California Blue Sky plus Los Angeles' Chinatown and Skyline
    Impolitely, I interrupted at that point to say "There is no best thing about Led Zeppelin." The conversation veered off in another direction and I never did find out what Tom thought the imaginary best thing might be.

    California Blue Sky plus Disney Hall
    Later it occurred to me that if something doesn't exist I'm free to create it myself - so I've written my own piece of music which is The Best Thing About Led Zeppelin.

    California Blue Sky with a contemplative Tom
    Disclaimer: All music in this work is fictitious and any resemblance between it and any rock music or band, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. This piece was produced in a back beat and fuzz-tone free facility.

    Warning: This piece contains gratuitous dissonance, intemperate intervals and unstable formal structures which may cause confusion and disorientation. If you are unsure about your ability to endure over 4 minutes of this please consult your Doctor of Music before proceeding.

    Warning Number 2: Leslie calls this "The Scary Piece" and has refused to listen to it a second time.

    California Blue Sky with Stop Sign and Graffiti
    Still here?

    click here to hear The Best Thing About Led Zeppelin.

    Copyright (c) 2006 by David Ocker - 243 seconds

    Tom - remember that the sky is always blue in California!

    Explanation of 30 second spots

    Blue Sky Tags: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . .

    Monday, November 27, 2006

    Leslie and The Ackles

    My wife and resident Marine Biologist, Leslie Harris, spent most of October hunched over her microscope remarkably free of nausea aboard a NOAA research vessel searching for spineless critters smack dab in the middle of the Northern Pacific Ocean - also known as in the middle of nowhere.

    And - she never even left Hawaii. Here's a picture of her at the railing of the Oscar Eldon Sette somewhere in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands.

    Although apparently unchanged since they returned to dry land, the project's website is available here if you'd like to know more. Also on the website is a feature article on Leslie's work with Illegal Aliens (er, I mean, Introduced Species).
    Leslie Harris aboard the research vessel Oscar Elton Sette, mid Pacific, October 2006
    Meanwhile, as promised, back on the homefront, here are some Occasional Cat Photos. This is Spackle wishing she could swallow a fly.

    Spackle, flying insect alert system
    Here are Spackle (L) and Crackle - now collectively known as "The Ackles" - photographed by Leslie with her spiffy new digital camera.

    Spackle and Crackle, our cats, on my synthesizer which I never ever use

    Click on either of the larger pictures for a closer look.

    Here's a previous Mixed Meters post about The Ackles (with some kitten pictures from when we called them Spackle Puss and Crackle Pop).

    Picture Tags: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    Thursday, November 23, 2006

    Thanksgiving and Forgiveness

    There was a soundbite of Richard Perle, one of the evil neo-cons who got us into our most recent Vietnam, on NPR yesterday as I made yet another trip to the supermarket in a quest for more Thanksgiving calories.

    Perle said "It's time to talk about the true price of failure."
    He meant Failure in Iraq. The story is called "Cultural Shift Coming at the Pentagon" by reporter Guy Raz.

    Perle is an ultra-fervent true-believer idealogue who shares a lot of responsibility for our Iraqi fiasco. When he calls our Iraq adventure a "failure" it ought to be big news. But it's a holiday so no one will pay too much attention.

    Our turkey, before dinner

    This week America is busy travelling and eating too much and wasting what we don't eat and watching football and shopping for bargains on Black Friday. Since everyone knew in their hearts that Iraq was a failure anyway, saying it outloud is no biggie, I guess.

    Whatever the "true price of failure" really is, all Americans will have to help pay the tab. I suspect the neocons are sitting around their Thanksgiving tables giving thanks for having engineered such a resounding failure of a war and gotten us to pay their share.

    Meanwhile I'm waiting for just one neocon to apologize.

    Yeah, like that's gonna happen.

    We, as Americans, should be asking ourselves "What do the Iraqis have to be thankful for this year?" I mean besides the obvious fact that we Americans are stuffing ourselves with stuffing and standing in line trying to save a buck or two at WalMart and they are not.

    Is there anything about Iraqi life that is better now than it was 4 years ago back when Saddam was in power? I doubt it.

    Is there anything about the American invasion that Iraqis would give thanks for considering their monthy civilian death toll is higher than that of 9/11? Hard to imagine any enthusiasm when the news cameras are off.

    Our Turkey, Afterwards
    As a nation, the United States of America needs to get our collective nose out of our national bird's carcass and start considering how much harm we have done. Good intentions are no excuse. Instead of celebrating a holiday of excess and waste and ascribing good fortune to invisible gods, we need a Holiday of Asking for Forgiveness.

    Yeah, like that's gonna happen.

    George II visited Vietnam recently. Forgiveness for the Vietnam War seems possible. The Vietnamese are even doing pretty well adopting our favorite dogma, Capitalism.

    The Iraqis, still upset about all those medieval Christian Crusades, are not likely to be forgiving at all. Moving beyond our mistakes and crimes in Iraq is going to take a lot of effort and collective sacrifice and compromise and money and humility from all Americans for a very long time.

    Yeah, like that's gonna happen.

    Poor Turkey

    Here's another quote from Richard Perle:
    A year from now, I'll be very surprised if there is not some grand square in Baghdad that is named after President Bush.
    Turkey Tags: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . .

    Sunday, November 19, 2006

    Follow the Bouncing Balls

    This is a very cool music video on YouTube. The accompanying description says this instrument was made of John Deere farm implement parts at the University of Iowa. It also says over 13,000 hours was required to calibrate the performance and that the machine will be donated to the Smithsonian.

    As someone who grew up in Iowa, I'm so proud!

    No, wait! It's an animation (duh!) - and it came from here. It's included on a DVD of animated music from Animusic. The company is located in Texas. (doh!)

    Not fooled? Here's a picture of a typical college practice room instead. Never enough space, right?

    A Drummer in a John

    I found this picture at Bits & Pieces but apparently it was imported from Belgium.

    Speaking of Iowa - here's a high-number Iowa license plate on display in Robins, my local Pasadena barbecue restaurant where the food is good and the menus uninformative.

    Iowa license plate #56
    The number 64 is the year; 21 is the county which issued the plate. Click here for the complete county list. I grew up in 97.

    Here's a prior Mixed Meters post concerning both music and toilets. (Also rich people and prison riots and Ojai and Attica.)

    Barbecue Tags: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . .