Archive for the ‘Arts & letters’ Category

R.I.P., Robin Williams

August 11, 2014

There should be a law against really funny people doing themselves in.

I’m talking the harshest possible punishment here: Bring them back to life and make them be funny some more.

That’ll teach ‘em.

Creative class warfare

June 21, 2014
The Turk' enjoyed some backyard time while I cleaned a bike in honor of the summer solstice.

The Turk’ enjoyed some backyard time while I cleaned a bike in honor of the summer solstice.

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy. Just ask the Turk’, who enjoyed a little outside time in the Mad Dog Media Botanical Gardens, a.k.a. “Weedpatch,” as I washed a bike in honor of the solstice.

Shortly thereafter it began raining off and on, with thunder for flavor, and the feline outings, bicycle riding and Old North End Garage Sale took back seats to working and earning.

Speaking of which, I can see I’ve been going about the latter activities all wrong. Clarity is so 15 minutes ago. If a guy could only learn to deploy with a straight face semantically null phrases such as “further leverage,” “cultural and creative assets,” “place of choice,” “launching new ideas” and “preserving our rich cultural heritage,” why, People of Money would write us fat checks for doing absolutely nothing beyond talking authoritatively and incomprehensibly out of our asses.

Toward that end I’m pleased to announce the formation of the Caramillo Street Collective for Creative Obfuscation, whose sole purpose it shall be to talk shit for money. I know, that sounds an awful lot like what I already do, but trust me, this is a radical departure from business as usual at Chez Dog. It’s a means of further leveraging my cultural and creative assets from my place of choice to launch new ideas that preserve my rich cultural heritage.

Somebody owes me $20K now.

• Speaking of talking shit: Here’s Timothy Noah on the ethics of dog-crap disposal.

Calvin and Hogges

June 7, 2014

Bill Watterson, creator of the fabled and much-missed “Calvin and Hobbes” comic strip, got back in the game for a while this past week as a guest artist for the Stephan Pastis strip “Pearls Before Swine.”

The famously reclusive Watterson, who sent Calvin and his stuffed tiger sledding into history in 1995, collaborated with Pastis in part for fun and in part to help raise money for Parkinson’s research, according to Michael Cavna of The Washington Post.

Pastis did the writing and some of the drawing, turning Watterson loose in the middle panels. And both apparently had a wonderful time.

“I had expected to just mess around with his characters while they did their usual things, but Stephan kept setting up these situations that required more challenging drawings … so I had to work a lot harder than I planned to! It was a lot of fun.” Watterson told Cavna.

As for Pastis, he said: “It’s just massive … the biggest thing I’ve ever been a part of.”

Got them Suburban Snowsick Blues

May 12, 2014
It was a mother of a Mothers Day at Chez Dog.

It was a mother of a Mothers Day at Chez Dog.

The weather has been, shall we say, unsettled.

One minute a fella’s cycling around and about wearing little more than a bit of team kit marinated in sunscreen, and the next he’s huddled over a furnace grate in a snowmobile suit, Ruger Mini Thirty locked and loaded, ready to repel a terrorist yeti raid on his bacon and beans.

I made my preparations on Saturday, whipping up two steaming tureens of Southwestern fare, the first of a pork-and-potato-laden green chile stew and the second of pinto beans with onion, garlic and chipotle chile. To say the atmosphere has grown heavy indoors since would be an understatement of epic proportions.

The weather wizards were shrieking about inches and feet of white stuff, but this latest resurrection of winter proved to be not so much of a much. What little we got was heavy and wet, to be sure, and at one point I had to venture out with a broom to flog it off the tender branches of the young Canadian red cherry in the back yard.

This morning we have gray skies, temps below freezing, a stiff wind, and flurries, which is to say it’s May in Colorado. It caused me to compose a protest song in the style of Mr. Robert Zimmerman, though it’s tough to be musical without guitar, harmonica or talent. Still, I had a whang at it in an email to a friend and colleague in the mountains.

How much snow have you got there?
They said we’d get it everywhere
But mostly, down here below
the worst was that the wind did blow

It sucked, actually
Real cold
Movin’ t’Arizony

(squee honk blaat hoot snort honk twee)

 

Won’t you help to sing …

May 2, 2014

Woke up with this playing in my head for some reason. Now it’s in yours, too. You’re welcome.

Gassho, Peter Matthiessen

April 5, 2014

Author, naturalist and Zen teacher Peter Matthiessen has gone west.

Jeff Himmelman recently wrote a piece on Matthiessen for The New York Times Magazine — I just read it last night, and a good read it is — and today an obit followed in the news columns.

Zen is a tough nut to crack, but I think Matthiessen did a pretty fair job of it while arranging what seems to have been a graceful departure given his circumstances (more than a year spent battling leukemia). Discussing radical experimental measures that might have helped keep him around a while longer, he said,  “I don’t want to hang on to life quite that hard. It’s part of my Zen training. … The Buddha says that all suffering comes from clinging. I don’t want to cling. I’ve had a good life, you know. Lots of adventures. It’s had some dark parts, too, but mainly I’ve had a pretty good run of it, and I don’t want to cling too hard. I have no complaints.”

Speaking with The Guardian newspaper in 2002, he said that Zen “is really just a reminder to stay alive and to be awake.”

“We tend to daydream all the time, speculating about the future and dwelling on the past,” he continued. “Zen practice is about appreciating your life in this moment. If you are truly aware of five minutes a day, then you are doing pretty well. We are beset by both the future and the past, and there is no reality apart from the here and now.”

In the here and now, Matthiessen’s final novel, “In Paradise,” is to be published on Tuesday.

I don’t know much about art, but. …

April 4, 2014
Spring has sprung, the grass has riz; I wonder where the flowers is.

Spring has sprung, the grass has riz; I wonder where the flowers is.

Well, look what the snow drug in.

That nice little dumper did wonders for what passes for a lawn here at Chez Dog (it’s kind of green, and it’s on the ground, so we call it a lawn). And there’s more precip’ in the forecast, so ’ray for April so far.

Elsewhere, something less appealing is crawling out from under its covering. It seems Alfred E. “Worry” Bush has turned his limited skill set to painting since leaving office, and an exhibition of his portraits has opened in Dallas.

You may be familiar with his previous works, “Afghanistan” and “Iraq,” bits of performance art that required gallons upon gallons of blood and bullshit. We can’t afford them, and don’t want or need them — they don’t even match the sofa, f’fucksake! — but we’re paying for them anyway.

Based on what we’ve seen of those, I’m surprised ol’ Alfred’s portraits could find an exhibition space loftier than a refrigerator door in a prison cafeteria. They certainly make a compelling argument for hanging more artists and fewer paintings.

 

 

Rowdy dow dow

March 17, 2014

This is one of my favorite bits for a St. Patrick’s Day playlist. But the first time I heard the song, it was on a Planxty album. A different sort of a tune altogether, don’t you know.

At the time Planxty included Christy Moore, Andy Irvine, Dónal Lunny and Liam O’Flynn; Paul Brady didn’t join up until later. I saw Irvine and Brady play at a small venue in Corvallis in the early Eighties, and it was quite the show. Here’s their take on the same song.

I have all these on vinyl. One of these days I have to get off me arse and digitize ‘em so.

• Editor’s note: And yes, I did make it home without incident. Never even had to check a bag and risk my proud-ofs getting lost in the ozone. The final flight was the topper — Nazi torture seats the size of a child’s car seat and all the elbow room of your “final destination,” a passenger nearby who apparently decided to marinate in cheap cologne in lieu of showering,  another who clearly had given up washing his feet for Lent (1976), and a baby re-enacting episode one of “The Death of Mary, Queen of Scots.” Good times. The next show is in Louisville, Kentucky, and if I go, I am so driving.

Ride ‘em, jewboy

March 5, 2014

The inimitable Kinky Friedman, he of the Texas Jewboys, has made it into a runoff for the Donk nomination for Texas agriculture commissioner.

You may recall that Kinky, who favors legalization and cultivation of hemp and the whacky-terbacky, once ran for governor and got thumped  despite winning slogans like “Why the Hell Not?” and “How Hard Could It Be?”, references to predecessors Alfred E. “Worry” Bush and Goodhair “Bad Head” Perry. His chances in the ag-commish race appear equally poor, since if he manages to beat his runoff opponent there is a Republican candidate waiting in the wings.

Still … why the hell not? Ride ‘em, jewboy.

• Editor’s note: A tip of the Mad Dog Stetson to Ed Kilgore at Political Animal for noting that Kinky was in the hunt again, and for reminding me of the timely melody, “We Reserve the Right To Refuse Service To You.”

And the winner is … George Washington!

March 3, 2014
The last time one of these things was parked outside my house, I was fixin' to trade it in on a Toyota.

The last time one of these things was parked outside my house, I was fixin’ to trade it in on a Toyota.

Some class of awards show was hogging all the bandwidth last night, I understand.

We freelance cycling rumormongers never get to put on the Ritz and walk the red carpet, even those of us who dabble in the cinema. When we open the envelope, our prize for a job well done is a few wrinkly pictures of dead presidents (if we’re lucky).

I was able to skip the big show last night, Herself being on the road for bidness purposes. She had to motor through the mountains to Dysfunction Junction for a library conclave, and it being March in Colorado, rather than rent the usual half-pint fuel-sipper she settled on a big-ass Ford F-150 crew cab with a 26-gallon tank and four-wheel drive.

Holy shit, that thing looked like the USS George Washington, speaking of dead presidents. I asked Herself if she’d need a stepladder to chisel the ice off the windshield and she gave me the rough edge of her tongue, being less than fond of driving in conditions that lead to 104-car pileups.

I wasn’t exactly sanguine about the mission, either. I owned an F-150 once, a bare-bones 1996 4WD model, and it was without a doubt the biggest hunk of junk I’ve ever owned, a real Motor City garbage scow. Everything that could go wrong with it did, and by the time I finally determined to trade the devil-possessed sonofabitch in on a 1998 Toyota Tacoma I was expecting any minute to hear the voice of Terry Jones saying, “And now it’s time for the F-150 in your driveway to explode.”

But she made it to DJ without incident and is bounding merrily about the place with her fellow librarians. Last night they took over a brewery and spent the night putting their hair up in buns, peering over the tops of their glasses and telling everyone, “Shh!”


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