Monday, February 8, 2016

GuNg HaY Fat Choy

Here's wishing a happy new year to my readers who celebrate the Lunar New Year- I hope the Year of the Monkey is a happy and prosperous one for all of us. In New York City, the administration has made the Lunar New Year a school holiday, thus furthering the cause of inclusion in a city which has always been at the forefront of cultural diversity. No longer will parents have to choose between sending their children to school or having them participate in holiday celebrations.

Last year, the New York City public school system added Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha to the school holiday calendar. Hopefully, this year they will add Diwali to the list. You just can't have enough holidays.

Gung hay fat choy, everybody.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Once Again, a Sportball Spectacle

As is typical, I am working on Super Bowl Sunday. Years ago, I decided to completely divorce myself from the orgy of consumption, social pathologies, and unearned loyalty that is professional sports in these here United States. The National Football League is an unholy farrago, destroying its players (on the radio today, a physician noted that football is not a contact sport, but a collision sport), countenancing violence against women despite claiming to be dealing with it, devalues the work of women, further victimizes the most marginalized persons, and transfers taxpayers' dollars into the pockets of billionaire owners. I refuse to involve myself in the whole dirty spectacle...
I'd rather watch a bunch of amateurs playing something, anything for the love of the game and a spirit of fellowship.

Given the appetite people have for bruising displays of athleticism, I'm surprised that nobody has ever started a hadaul league. Hadaul is a fictional sport invented by the late, great Jack Vance, one of my favorite authors, and detailed in The Face, the fourth of his 'Demon Princes' pentalogy. Mr Vance describes the sport in minute detail:

From Games of the Galaxy, by Everett Wright: the chapter entitled "Hadaul."

Hadaul like all good games is characterized by complexity and the multiple levels upon which the game is played.

The basic apparatus is simple: a field suitably delineated and a certain number of players. The field is most often painted upon the pavement of a plaza; occasionally it will be constructed of carpet. There are many variations, but here is a typical arrangement. A pedestal stands at the center of a maroon disk. The pedestal can be of any configuration, and customarily supports the prize money. The diameter of the disk ranges from four to eight feet. Three concentric rings, each ten feet in width, surround the disk.

These are known as "robles" and are painted (from in to out) yellow, green, and blue. The area beyond the blue ring is known as "limbo."

Any number of contestants, or "roblers," may participate, but usually the game starts with a maximum of twelve and a minimum of four. Any more creates excessive congestion; any less reduces the scope of that trickery which is an essential element.

The rules are simple. The roblers take up positions around the yellow roble. All now are "yellow roblers." As the game starts they attempt to eject the other yellow roblers into the green roble. Once thrust or thrown into the green, a robler becomes "green" and may not return to yellow. He will now attempt to eject other green roblers into the blue. A yellow robler may venture into the green and return into yellow as a sanctuary; similarly a green robler may enter blue and return to the green, unless he is ejected from blue by a blue robler.

A game will sometimes end with one yellow robler, one green robler, and one blue robler. Yellow may be disinclined to attack green or blue; green disinclined to attack blue. At this stage no further play is possible. The game halts and the three roblers share the prize in a 3-2-1 ratio, yellow receiving the "3" or half share. Green or blue may wager new sums equal to the yellow prize, and by this means once again become yellow, a process which may continue until a single robler remains to claim the entire prize.

Rules in this regard vary from hadaul to hadaul. At times a challenger may now propose a sum equal to the prize, the previous winner may or may not decline the challenge, according to local rules. Often the challenger may propose a sum double the prize, which challenge must be accepted, unless the winner has suffered broken bones, or other serious disability. These challenge matches are often fought with knives, staves, or, on occasion, whips. Not infrequently a friendly hadaul ends with a corpse being carried off on a litter. Referees monitor the play assisted by electronic devices which signal crossings of the roble boundaries.

Conspiracy is an integral part of the game. Before the game starts the various roblers form alliances of offense or defense, which may or may not be honored. Tricks, crafty betrayal, duplicity are considered natural adjuncts to the game; it is surprising, therefore, to note how often the tricked robler becomes indignant, even though he himself might have been intending the same treachery.

Hadaul is a game of constant flux, constant surprise; no one game is ever like another. Sometimes the contests are jovial and good-natured, with everyone enjoying the tricks; sometimes tempers are ignited by some flagrant act of falsity, and blood is wont to flow. The spectators wager among themselves, or, at major hadauls, against mutualization agencies. Each major shadestages several hadauls each year, on the occasion of their festivals, and these hadauls are considered among the prime tourist spectacles of Dar Sai.

Vance being a competent writer, he was fully aware of the Checkov's gun rule, so he placed his protagonist, a man honed since his childhood into an instrument with one purpose (to hunt down and reap vengeance on the five criminal masterminds who killed or enslaved the bulk of the populace of his boyhood home) in a game of hadaul which turns sinister, then fatal. That's pretty much to be expected in a action-packed tale of revenge. Of course, on a planet which generally adheres to the rule of law, referees would be expected to make sure a match doesn't devolve into a bloodbath. It's no more violent than calcio storico, which is played in a city widely seen as one of the jewels in civilization's crown:

And there wouldn't even be a silly old ball on the field to distract anyone.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

For Smut and Thunder... Blame Nutkin

In a comment to my last post, Smut found the culprit for Thunder's slow posting schedule:

Skwirls stole your posts, Thundra?

Yeah, Nutkin has a lot to answer for... In my opinion, Nutkin should have been a featured menace in a men's pulp magazine:

Oh, Nutkin, your perfidy knows no bounds!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Blogroll Amnesty Day 2016

Tengrain, the patron saint of small bloggers, reminds us that today is Blogroll Amnesty Day, the day for promoting other blogs according to three rules:

1. You are not allowed to complain or mention your blog’s low traffic until you have been posting daily for a year.

2.If you’re little, link other blogs that are new or still growing their audience, and encourage them to practice their craft daily.

3. Then, show them how.

Regarding the first rule, I have to wonder if one can complain if one has put up 24 posts in 24 hours... I can't complain about low traffic at any rate, I passed the one million hit mark last November, thanks to your readership and your linkage. I can't express my gratitude enough, you've always been the best.

As far as the blogs I'm going to link to, here goes nothing...

Buddy McCue's place showcases the man's art, which deserves a good look. The man is a true gentleman with a keen wit, please check him out.

Paleotectonics mixes righteous rage and side-splitting humor, with copious doses of nerdery and traditional Midwestern values. He's exactly what the Heartland should be- a take no shit attitude, walleye fishing, and Dr Who references aplenty.

Also in the Heartland, zombie rotten mcdonald is another righteously angry Wisconsinite whose eclectic musical tastes take a backseat to no one's... ZRM and Paleo represent the original Heartland values, not the 'I got mine, screw you' values promulgated by the Scott Walkers and Rick Snyders dicking up 'flyover country' and making it into a place that people really want to fly over, or flee from.

Aunt Snow's blog is the perfect cure for Beauty Deficit Disorder- she was a great chronicler of the sheer gorgeousness of the greater L.A. area, now she's doing the same for the NO LA area. Aunt Snow lives beautifully, and she shares the beauty of her existence with her lucky readers.

Nasreen Iqbal's blog is the newest blog on my blogroll, a wonderful mix of the personal and the political. Nasreen is another individual whose musical taste I find interesting. One of these days, I'm going to hang out with Nasreen and ZRM and we're going to geek out for hours on music.

I'd be remiss if I didn't thank Tengrain for his unfailing support throughout my blogging endeavor. Also, I don't know if I would have gotten this thing off the ground if it hadn't of been for the early support from Thunder, mikey, Kiwi and Smut, Johnny Pez, and M. Bouffant. If there's such a thing as 'Blog Amnesty', these are the bloggers who showed it to me when I was just beginning.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Having Cast Our Eyes to the West

Man, the West has been in the news quite a bit these days. I haven't been out West since the 90s, when I took two cross-country road trips which took me throughout most of the U.S. In a comment to one of the news stories about the Malheur takeover, one commentor noted that this whole affair reminded him of the Wall of Voodoo song Call of the West:

Harshly awakened by the sound of six rounds of light-caliber rifle fire
Followed minutes later by the booming of nine rounds from a heavier rifle
But you can't close off the wilderness
He heard the snick of a rifle bolt
And found himself peering down the muzzle
Of a weapon held by a drunken liquor store owner
"There's a conflict," he said, "there's a conflict
Between land and people
The people have to go
They've come all the way out here to make mining claims
To do automobile body work
To gamble
Take pictures
To not have to do laundry
To own a mini-bike
Have their own cb radios and air conditioning
Good plumbing for sure
And to sell Time/Life books and to work in a deli
To have a little chili every morning
And maybe... Maybe to own their own gas stations again
And take drugs
Have some crazy s**
But above all, above all, to have a fair shake
To get a piece of the rock and a slice of the pie
And spit out of the window of your car and not have the wind blow it back in your face"

Stan Ridgway was onto something there... it's a pity that Wall of Voodoo is best known for a novelty song, even a fantastic one. They were a really fantastic band, blending alt-country, new wave, spaghetti western sountracks, that inimitable Ridgway twang, and a noirish sensibility. Here's a video of the band's performance during 1983's US festival:

Listening to some of their songs still raises goosebumps. These guys were fantastic, even their novelty songs were great.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Insight Into Ammosexuality, or Fry, My Boy, You're Cooked

While reading about the travails of the Malheur Four, I came across a comment linking to an interview with anti-semitic ISIS sympathizer David Fry in which he reveals the real reason why he's unwilling to surrender:

At around the five-minute mark, Fry lets drop that he's terrified of being "sodomized by Bubba" if he is sent to prison. Never mind the fact that he's spent the past few weeks with individuals who fit the common perception of 'Bubba', Fry's statement offers a glimpse into the ammosexual mindset... at its root is the fear of victimization at the hands of a stronger individual. Much of the fear is rooted in projection- these people are violent people themselves, with no qualms about victimizing others. The same fear underlies American racism, the notion that African-Americans would love nothing better than to turn the tables on the whites who enslaved them and brutalized them under the Jim Crow apartheid system. Without his gun, Fry is small fry, and he'll be eaten alive by a bigger fish if thrown in the tank.

The very fact of Fry's presence at Malheur is worthy of a cautionary afterschool special- the tale of a boy being bullied by white classmates for his half-Japanese ancestry who grows up to throw his lot in with white supremacists. It's telling that he was odd man out in the Bundy Bunch until LaVoy Finicum, whose 'book' Fry helped to get published, vouched for his bundy fides though Fry was apparently never truly accepted by the core of the group. Finicum's relationship with Fry paradoxically humanizes LaVoy and makes him more monstrous... it's touching that he took this beat-down misfit under his wing, but he exploited him to serve a cause that he would derive no benefit from. At best, Finicum's 'mentoring' of Fry comes across like Lance Murdock's bad advice to Bart Simpson, seen in a less charitable light, it's a doomsday cult leader's exhortation to a follower to self-immolate.

Fry probably doesn't stand a chance if he continues his present course of action. If he doesn't achieve his 'suicide by cop', he'll probably be shanked in prison for being a snitch- he's the guy, after all, most responsible for the continuous video feed that provided the feds with tons of evidence. Plus, he's not a member of the Bundy inner circle... he's not family, he's a non-white interloper from back East who was never trusted from the get-go. If Fry had any sense at all, he'd surrender and turn state's evidence. He doesn't seem to have a lick of sense, though, and America's own Humongous seems to be doing his level best to get him killed. I'd feel sorry for the guy, he's a pathetic figure, but his self-loathing and fear led him to embrace hate, which led him to consort with a bunch of bad, dangerous people, and he poses a danger to others. There still may be time for him to save his ass, but his naivete and stubbornness will probably land Fry in the fire.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Six Decades of Serious Mischief

Today, I'd like to wish a happy 60th birthday to John Lydon, who has been quite the gadfly since the mid-70s, when he fronted the Sex Pistols, using the nom de guerre Johnny Rotten. It's been a while since I've posted about the 'Pistols or Mr Lydon, but I certainly consider Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols an essential part of my record collection, as well as being an essential document of late 20th century Western malaise. Johnny Rotten was the quintessential intelligent teenager faced with poor economic prospects and the resultant righteous rage... he used his keen wit to slash through the pretensions of a staid, stagnant culture with such sonic onslaughts as God Save the Queen and Anarchy in the UK. While the song Submission is perhaps my favorite 'Pistols song, my favorite political song of theirs is the album opener, Holidays in the Sun, which seems to be the pessimistic counterpart of David Bowie's "Heroes":

I still get a bit of gooseflesh when I hear John Lydon growl that opening line... "A cheap holiday in other people's misery!"

Mr Lydon's pinnacle of bird-flipping, his Johnny Rottenest moment, was his final question to the audience at the 'Pistols' last concert, at San Francisco's Wintergarden:

That's a question that could be asked by just about every denizen of the planet.

After his stint with the Sex Pistols, Mr Lydon formed the band Public Image Limited, with their first single, Public Image, being a kiss-off to the 'Pistols:

My favorite post-Pistols song by Mr Lydon was his collaboration with Afrika Bambaataa, 1984's World Destruction:

Mr Lydon continues on as a gadfly, even though he flogged butter for money a few years back:

To anyone who would accuse Mr Lydon of selling out, I'd have to point out that the Sex Pistols were originally founded to sell clothing, even though John Lydon was too smart and too independent to be anybody's mere pitchman.

The essential account of the Sex Pistols and the milieu in which they were formed is Jon Savage's England's Dreaming, a fascinating read with an indispensable discography in the appendices. I'm not a big 'rawk and/or roll' history reader, but this book was something quite greater than mere hagiography.

Happy birthday, Mr John Lydon. May you have another six decades of troublemaking ahead of you.