Monthly Archives: April 2012

I Turn 50

I Turn 50

I turned 50 this past week. 50 amounts to a pretty major milestone in my book. Jimi Hendrix, Janice Joplin and John F Kennedy all died before they turned 50. In other words, despite their talent, passion and brilliance, in the field of survival, the prime directive of all life on Earth, I am more successful than any of them. Thankfully, I never experimented with heroin, and politics just makes me puke.

 

I actually feel pretty good about turning 50, mostly because I still feel pretty good. Everything still works, and I’m actually getting pretty good at being me. Not that I have any competition for the position, but after half a century, its nice to actually start to get a handle on it.

 

Sure I’m fatter and balder than I was at thirty, but looks were never my strong suit. Today, I look around and see lots of folks who had further to fall in that regard, who have fallen further than I have in the onslaught of the ages. So, compared to people my own age, I’m no uglier than I ever was, and I’ve grown comfortable with my appearance.

 

Of course, every year we get a new crop of unbelievably hot young people, and every year the rest of us become sexually less relevant. I’m comfortable with that, but I’m also very thankful that I am still sexually relevant to someone, who is extremely sexually relevant to me.

 

I don’t wish I were young again. I don’t envy young people. I worry about young people. I feel sorry for young people. We’ve really failed them. They deserve a better culture. They deserve better parents. They deserve oceans full of fish, forests full of wild animals, and a way of life that doesn’t systematically exploit and exterminate them all.

 

Yes, young people deserve better, but I’ve managed to have a pretty good time here, despite it all, and I think I can keep laughing my way through it for a little while longer. Now it looks like the whole damn planet is falling apart faster than I am. So, I imagine that I’ll die at just about the point that life gets so bad on planet Earth, that the living start to envy the dead, which seems like pretty good timing to me.


Introducing: The Living Earth Connection

Introducing: The Living Earth Connection

 

Maybe you don’t get my perspective. Maybe you think I’m just a knee jerk reactionary, or maybe you just think I’m a jerk, but if you want to know why I see the world the way I do, you should listen to my partner, Amy Gustin’s radio show, this coming Sunday April 29 at 9:30 AM on KMUD (or you can download an mp3 file of it here, to listen to at your leisure). I cannot recommend this show highly enough.

Her program, The Living Earth Connection draws from the writings of Daniel Quinn. The show takes a long view of human history, instead of dividing the story of our species into “history” and “prehistory”. From this perspective, the program examines the success of our species as well as the success of our culture, drawing conclusions that shatter the dominant paradigm.

Amy did a great job of putting this material together. She’s put together a program that can change the way you see the world forever, but just because its profound, that doesn’t mean its going to get religious. Our problems run deeper than religion, and so does this show. You should listen.  (This link takes you to the Living Earth Connection blog)


Word Power, Circuit-Bend

Word Power

Building Your Vocabulary One Word at a Time

Circuit-Bend

cir cuit – bend (‘sir cut bend) v, to rewire electronic devices to exploit their untapped, unintended, or unpredictable potential.

 

Q Reed Ghazala, now considered the godfather of circuit-bending, coined the term circuit-bending to describe the process he used to rewire electronic toys into bizarre, less than predictable musical instruments. Circuit-bending has since grown into a world-wide movement with Ghazala’s book, Circuit Bending as its bible.

You’ll likely see the term used frequently in this blog in coming weeks, in anticipation of, and preparation for the very first circuit-bending event ever held in Garberville, so far as I know. On Monday, May 21, at the Veterans Hall in Garberville, The Southern Humboldt Amateur Radio Club will host a pot-luck, and circuit-bending workshop led by the Dekalb Ill based circuit-bending band, CMKT4.

 

CMKT4 employs numerous instruments with bent circuits in their music, ranging from the sound modules from talking stuffed animals to educational electronic toys, to synthesizers and fuzz boxes. The three piece band also play more conventional instruments like drums, bass and guitar producing a sound that can take you to outer space in a swirl of sci-fi sound and then take you to breakfast at the Waffle House to show you the gritty dark side of America.

 

In the workshop, CMKT4 will teach you how to solder, show you the basics of circuit-bending and help you build your own contact microphone from a kit they provide. You can use your contact microphone as pickup for an acoustic guitar, or or almost any other acoustic instrument. It makes a great electronic drum trigger, and can turn almost any object into an electric musical instrument.

 

The cost of the workshop and kit is $15 per participant, and includes microphone kit, comic book instruction manual, use of tools and building supplies, and expert instruction. You will leave with a high quality contact microphone. Similar, often inferior, products sell in music stores for over $50, so attending the workshop pays off immediately. Besides that, the workshop will build your base of skills and knowledge and inspire your imagination.

 

CMKT4 will close the evening with a set of circuit-bent original music. I hope I see you there.


On The Money, The Zombie Apocalypse

On The Money;

Financial Advice for the Working-Class

The Zombie Apocalypse

Lots of people throughout history have speculated about the coming apocalypse. John (not me, the biblical author of Revelations), envisioned four guys on horseback, a prostitute and a seven horned animal. That doesn’t sound like the apocalypse to me, that sounds like a republican hunting trip. Some people think climate change will do us in. Some people think the Earth will get struck by a giant asteroid, and others think we’ll all die in concentration camps set up by the New World Order.

All of those seem more plausible to me, than the apostle John’s psychotic acid trip story. However, as the end of the world gathers steam around us, we no longer have to make predictions about the end of the world. We can simply make observations. To me, the end of the world looks like a zombie apocalypse.

I imagine that the “Start Date” for the end of the world will remain a subject of academic debate, but as far as I’m concerned, we’re there.  I know it just seems like normal life, especially if you are young, but we passed the tipping point a while ago and have moved into a state of free-fall. Nothing can stop it from crashing now.

Why do I say zombie apocalypse? Where are the zombies? When I talk about a zombie apocalypse, I don’t mean the walking undead, as in corpses that come to life. No, I’m talking about the walking unliving, as in live humans caught in a dead culture.

Most of us learned to become the walking unliving when we went to school. The more time you spend in school, the more of a zombie you become. Having learned to behave like a zombie in school, you join the zombie workforce, where the apocalypse becomes just a job. We didn’t have to die to become zombies, we became zombies when our culture died.

When was that? You ask. Like I say, the specific date remains a matter for academic debate, but some scholars put the time of death at 1962, fifty years ago, the year Rachel Carson published Silent Spring. For many, Silent Spring represents the first incontrovertible case against our culture; our particular way of doing things. Silent Spring proved to everyone that our industrial high-tech civilization was killing the planet.

One could argue that the entire 20th Century, with two devastating world wars, a global economic collapse, and the ungodly spectacle of an atmospheric thermonuclear explosion, was the century that our culture died. That is, the century where everyone had to face the fact that the way we live, destroys the planet, and the quality of our own lives. Whether our culture died in 1917, 1929, 1945 or 1962, or even 1967, when Tim Leary told us to “turn on, tune in and drop out”, our culture arrived in this new century DOA.

In the 21st Century, we all know we’re killing the planet. We know we live an unsustainable lifestyle, but we just keep on doing things the same way, and we want more of the same. We want more jobs. We want more economic growth. We want to drill for more oil, and we want to build new nuclear power plants, but Thorium reactors, this time. The walking unliving crave these things like the walking undead crave brains. That’s why I call them zombies.

Why did everyone become zombies, rather than face the death of our culture? Having your culture die really fucks up your day. Its worse than having a parent, or both parents, die. Its even worse than God dying. Its like both parents, God, and everyone you’ve ever known dying, at the same time you realize that everything you’ve ever been taught is wrong. People can’t handle that kind of shit. They can’t even imagine what comes next. They crack. They dissociate. They go into denial. They become zombies.

People made investments in this culture. They don’t want to walk away from the life they’ve planned for themselves, whether its the degree they earned, the property they’ve acquired or the position they’ve achieved, they don’t want to face the fact that everything they’ve ever known is meaningless, and falling apart. They can’t face it. It’s really more than most people can take.

That’s how we got so many zombies in our zombie apocalypse. The death of our culture sent people spinning out of control. Old habits die hard, especially when you have no idea what to replace it with, so they keep doing things the same way they always have. They act like nothing is wrong and everything will be fine, but things have changed. It’s over.

We thought we were so on the right track with this secular, technological, democratic, oligarchy thing, but we were wrong. In fact, we were so wrong, we can’t even remember what it means to be right. Our culture didn’t go wrong, 100 years ago, or 500 years ago, or even 1000 years ago. Our culture made a wrong turn away from a traditional, stable, tribal culture, to a centralized, totalitarian system roughly 10,000 years ago.

That centralized totalitarian system meant that the people of this culture work harder than anyone else in the world, and that our population grew faster than any other on earth. That culture threw sustainability, leisure time, human dignity and cultural identity out the window, for power, hierarchy, and unbridled expansion. What we call “World History” amounts to the story of just this one culture, ours, as it expanded out of the Middle East, and spread all over the globe, annihilating the sustainable cultures of tribal peoples all along the way.

Except for the few remaining tribal peoples clinging to their ancestral homelands and cultures, in the ever shrinking margins of our expanding global economy, we’ve never seen a sustainable culture, or one that meets the need of its members effectively. 150 years ago we called those people “savages”, and it was legal to kill them here in California. We were that convinced of our cultural superiority… until WWI, the Great Depression, WWII, The Bomb, Silent Spring, Vietnam, LSD, the collapse of the Middle-Class, and the Global Climate Crisis. Today some people still think of our culture as “advanced”, “evolved” or “superior”, rather than “flawed”, “dysfuctional” or “dead”, despite the evidence to the contrary. I call these people “zombies”.

Zombies want to “restore America”, “take back our democracy”, and “reclaim the flag”. Zombies pray to Jesus, worship Allah, or meditate on nothingness. Zombies stay in school, keep their nose clean, and work hard every day. Zombies just keep going through the motions, even though they know its doing no good, and a whole lot of harm.

It’s easy to join them. You can go through the motions too, …but you’ll know. Deep down in the pit of your stomach, you’ll feel a dark empty hole where a vibrant, sustainable culture should live. You’ll consume stuff to fill that hole. You’ll make stuff for other people to consume to fill that hole. That hole has become the primary force that drives our economy.

As long as we keep going through the motions of an undead culture, we’ll never create, rediscover, or intuit the seeds of a new living culture, and unless we stop going through the motions of an undead culture, we won’t have a habitable planet to build a living culture on. So, welcome to the zombie apocalypse, you’ll have to face it, if you want to survive.


Twitchy .gif Cats

Twitchy .gif Cats

This past week I spent an inordinate amount of time playing around with a new graphics programs instead of writing, and I have precious little to show for it.

.gifs seem to have lost their appeal on the internet. I can see why. Their incessant twitching can get irritating pretty quickly, especially if you are trying to read a whole page of text around them.

That didn’t prevent me from wasting half my week making them.

Anyway, I know you don’t read this blog for twitchy animated cats, but I only have one other new piece to post this week, so here ya go.

Btw, you can download any or all of the programs I spent the last week playing with, for free.  These programs all seem to work well on my machine. Gimp Shop is the one that’s new to me, but I also use Ultimate Paint, (freeware version) and Photoscape, which includes a .gif animation utility that I like.


You Call That Cooking, Quisp and Quake vs. Cap’n Crunch

You Call That Cooking?

How To Make Not Quite a Meal From Stuff That is Not Quite Food

Quisp and Quake vs. Cap’n Crunch

 

Ok, you’ve seen every Rocky and Bullwinkle and Dudley Doright cartoon, right? But have you seen Quisp and Quake? Quaker Oats Co employed Jay Ward, the creator of Rocky and Bulwinkle to produce a series of commercials for their, then new, excessively sweet cereals, Quisp and Quake. Here we see their very first commercial from 1965.

As cereals, Quisp and Quake very much resembled another, much more successful Quaker Oats cereal from about the same time, Cap’n Crunch. All three hyper-processed, super-sweet, milk-repellant cereals shared the same Simpsons Yellow color and an other-worldly texture somewhere between Funyuns and Foamcore.. The three cereals really only differed in shape. So, if you wonder what Quisp and Quake tasted like, you could go to the Quaker website, and order a box of genuine Quisp cereal, or you could pick up a box of Cap’n Crunch, if you are lucky enough to have never tasted it before. Here’s the very first Cap’n Crunch Commercial from 1963

As long as Cap’n Crunch can avoid mutiny, and of course a steady diet of Cap’n Crunch cereal assures that, his ship, the S.S. Guppy, can seemingly weather any storm. Cap’n Crunch not only remains a stalwart staple of the cereal aisle, The Cap’n’s empire has grown. I’ve seen Cap’n Crunch with Crunchberries, Peanut Butter Cap’n Crunch, and just last year I treated myself to a box of Christmas Cap’n Crunch for the holidays.

Quisp and Quake, on the other hand, flamed out early. Quaker Oats Co keeps Quisp alive on life support at the Quaker Oats web site for geezers like me who remember him as family. However, Quake died young, and no one liked him anyway, so they pulled the plug on him years ago. Despite their quick demise, Quisp and Quake had a profound influence on me between the ages of three and six, and my work from that era strongly reflects that. Here Quisp and Quake compete to save Nell from the ravenous wolves, in true Jay Ward style.

Why didn’t Quisp and Quake survive? Like I said before, Quisp, Quake, and Cap’n Crunch are all basically the same cereal, all made by the same company. By far, Quisp and Quake had the best commercials.  How did Cap’n Crunch kick Quisp and Quakes asses so badly? Watch this commercial, featuring all three of them for a clue.

You hear the good captain refer to his “loyal crew”. This “loyal crew” was a big deal to Cap’n Crunch. You’ll notice, its a “loyal crew” of children. These children regularly “swab the deck” and take care of all of the other chores aboard the SS Minnow. Cap’n Crunch knows how to use food as a motivator, and his cereal works wonders. Yes, Cap’n Crunch’s biggest fear is mutiny, and he uses his cereal to motivate, placate, and reward his underage sailors, and this keeps them in line. You see, Cap’n Crunch is a happy and successful parent. His kids do what he tells them to do, and his house stays “ship shape” as a result. Cap’n Crunch appeals to parents, as much as he does to kids.

On the other hand, Quisp and Quake constantly compete with each other, bicker, and pick on each other. They are children, siblings even. While Quake mostly hyped the strength he got from the vitamins and iron in his cereal, Quisp hyped the “quazy energy” he got from the sugar in his cereal. Actively marketing hypoglycemic hyper-activity to children might have seemed like a good idea at the time, but it clearly backfired with parents. Kids, on the other hand, never cared for Quake. He seemed like too much of a “goody two-shoes”, and spent too much time with his mother, as we see here.

We can dig a little deeper into the dynamics of Quisp and Quake if we examine them individually. We’ll start with Quake, the noble, slow to anger, strong-chinned miner. Quake’s mother, less than half Quake’s height, ever proud of her son, appears in a few of these commercials for his cereal, primarily it seems, to adore her noble son. Here’ Quake saves his dear mother from the Rock-Crock.

As parental figures, Quake’s mother, and Cap’n Crunch could hardly contrast more. Quake’s mom is a helpless damsel in distress, who adores her son, and depends on him, but clearly inserts herself into his business rather forcefully. Quake always seemed repressed, like he could crack at any moment, and his mom seemed a bit overbearing. None of this helped Quake’s popularity.

Everyone I knew, loved Quisp, including me. The annoying, smart-alec hyperactive alien, charged with Quazy energy, Quisp, has no parents, and he craves everyone’s attention. Quisp is out of control! Quisp does whatever he wants because he’s the crowned prince of planet Q. Someone named Quuncy also lives on planet Q, but Quuncy has clearly resigned himself to Quisps servitude.

While Quake obeys his mother’s every command, Quisp constantly disobeys authority figures. Here an authority figure from “Space Command”, looking very much like Cap’n Crunch himself, orders Quisp to “Turn Back!!” Watch Quisp flippantly ignore this stern warning.

Quisp represents the out-of-control, hyperactive child who constantly craves attention. Quisp is every mother’s nightmare. By drawing attention to the fact that Quisp cereal will make your kid more of a nightmare, Quaker unwittingly unleashed a backlash against against super-sweetened cereals. For the first time, parents objected to cereals that listed sugar as their primary ingredient. Quisp responded by battling the Groosome Galactic Grouch Gloud.

But resistance grew. Kids hated Quake. Parents hated Quisp. Televised bickering really didn’t help either cereal. So, Quaker stooped to bribery. Here, an animated Quaker Oats executive, explains the bribe.

Quaker soon attempted to remake Quake. I thought, for most of my life, that in this commercial Quake surrendered his miner’s helmet for a cowboy hat. Wikipedia informs me that Quake became an Aussie. Whether Quake became a cowboy without a horse, or an Aussie without an accent, Quake’s remake failed to win him much popularity. Here, Quake’s mom looks on as Quake subjects himself to his New And Improver machine, and promptly moves to Australia.

Unfortunately, the coolest thing about Quake was his underground lair. I don’t know why he gave it up and moved to Australia. Perhaps he moved to get away from his overprotective and domineering mother. I could understand that. While his cereal continued to languish, Quake seemed to find the move liberating, seemed more relaxed, and soon introduced everyone to his new friend Simon.

Simon, the Quangaroo, which I presume is short for queer kangaroo, totally lacked charisma, but he made Quake happy. His Johnson Baby Aspirin flavored cereal never caught on with kids. He and Quake both got out of the cereal business, and bought a piece of land in Orangania where they raise emus.

Quisp, on the other hand, showed up on game shows for a while, but as his celebrity faded, his bad behavior became more of an embarrassment. By 1980, Quisp cereal no longer sold well enough to support Quisp’s notorious coke habit, and, in 1982, he got busted selling crack in West Hollywood CA.

After helping Quisp secure a generous plea deal and a trip to the Betty Ford clinic, Quaker Oats quietly scaled back Quisp cereal distribution. Today, you can only get Quisp cereal online, at the Quaker Oats website.


Vote Zombie Rodoni For Second District Supervisor

Vote Zombie Rodoni For 2nd District Supervisor

The Second District deserves a supervisor that reflects the earthy character of of this rural community. Zombie Rodoni has spent the last four years under the earth in Humboldt county. Zombie Rodoni’s got Humboldt County under his nails, in his hair and stuck between his teeth. Yes, Zombie Rodoni springs from the very ground he inhabits, and no one has a more intimate relationship with the grassroots in Humboldt County than Zombie Rodoni.

 

Remember, Zombie Rodoni didn’t vote for the draconian new “Emergency Ordinance” to stifle political dissent, oppress the poor and silence the occupy movement, like Clif Clendennen did. Zombie Rodoni would never vote for that measure. Zombie Rodoni would pick the protesters brains for a solution everyone could more or less live with.

 

Zombie Rodoni doesn’t work for the greedy real-estate bloodsuckers that got rich off of the housing bubble, wrecked the economy, and now want to make Humboldt County a more expensive place to live, like Estelle Fennel does. No, Zombie Rodoni knows what it is like to wander the streets day and night in relentless torment, in search of the sustenance his body craves.

 

Yes, Zombie Rodoni knows what its like to be homeless. Zombie Rodoni knows what its like to have mental illness. Zombie Rodoni knows what it means to have a substance abuse problem, and Zombie Rodoni knows what it is like to be dead. Who is better qualified to make those life and death decisions that effect all of us here in Humboldt County, than Zombie Rodoni? No one, I say.

Zombie Rodoni has name recognition. Zombie Rodoni has the experience, and Zombie Rodoni has a track record as one of Humboldt County’s most colorful supervisors. Now, Zombie Rodoni is back! Lets put him back where he belongs.

Before we try to decide which of these two dish sponges is the least slimy, Fennel or Clendennen, lets dig deep in the mud for the man in the black cowboy hat, and make Zombie Roger Rodoni our next 2nd District Humboldt County Supervisor.

Zombie Roger Rodoni is ready to tackle today’s challenges. This isn’t the same old Roger. His years underground have changed him. This is the new walking undead Roger Rodoni. He’s ready for action, and knows how to get things done. Asked recently, “What will you do about the General Plan Update?” Zombie Rodoni replied, “Arrgh…urgle…chomp…BRAINS!!!…gorgle….ahhhgh” as he killed and partially ate a Times Standard reporter.

When Zombie Rodoni says “Arrgh…urgle…chomp…BRAINS!!!…gorgle….ahhhgh” He means “The GPU is like a horse without a cowboy. It isn’t really going anywhere, except to the next green patch of pasture. It’s time we rode this horse around awhile.” Zombie Roger Rodoni still has that colloquial wit and charm that made him an unbeatable force in the 2nd District before his untimely death.

Zombie Rodoni has a bold new plan to get things done in Eureka this term. Dubbed the “Eat Brains Now” strategy, Zombie Roger Rodoni plans to, one by one, eat the brains of his fellow supervisors, starting with current board chairperson, Virginia Bass. Wouldn’t you pay money to see that at your county Board of Supervisors meeting? Wouldn’t that be worth the drive from Whitethorn, or wherever?

Zombie Rodoni will balance the budget. Zombie Rodoni will finish the GPU. Zombie Rodoni will eat Virginia Bass’s brain. In these troubled times, can we afford not to call upon the dark forces of the undead? At the moment that we need him most, Zombie Rodoni is here for us.

Zombie Rodoni needs your support. Support the Elect Zombie Rodoni Campaign by giving generously. Support the pro-Zombie Rodoni Super-Pac; I’d Vote For A Brain-Eating Zombie Before I’d Vote For Either Of Them, and don’t forget to write in Zombie Rodoni for 2nd District Supervisor on your ballot this June.


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