Sunday, December 27, 2015

Boogie Christmas

It's not easy holding a smartphone in a waterproof bag in one hand and trying to use a boogie board in the other and hold up my shorts from falling down my ass crack at the same time. I had a creative Christmas card idea but it fell through along with my energy as it was sapped by food poisoning or amoebic dysentery for 3 or 4 days. And being forced to move out so the hostel can make more money through the holiday season. So, Happy Holidays, the tropical weather should be global soon thanks to a deep desire for NASCAR drivers to go in circles for 3 hours and huge people watch the action whilst eating chocolate covered chocolate. So, if you survive the apocalypse then you can go swimming in December with palm trees like Oggy even if you live with Arctic Wolves on Ellesmere Island.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Cultural Overlap

Jesus de la Misericordia

Beach paradise

Put the lime in the coconut...

Monday, December 14, 2015

Baseball Ethics

I'm going back to my roots now with an essay on Baseball. I don't want to get overly sentimental or nostalgic but I have a long history with the game.
And Pete Rose is a figure from the past that periodically pops up. He was part of the studio commentator for FOX Sports this past post season and others correctly said he reminded them of 'my drunk uncle' with his slurred ramblings on hitting and pitching. Most players are careful with their words but Rose obviously is never wrong when it comes to baseball. So back in 1989 it was exposed that he was gambling on baseball, which is prohibited by baseball rules, and he was gambling on games he was coaching, and probably gambled on games he had played in. There are some obvious ethics issues because even if you 'always bet your team to win' then it will affect how your relieve pitchers...or if you took the over or under (total score) or specifics. It's classic rabbit hole of bad ethics because you suddenly control the game that you have bet on and if you have insider information on your pitching staff then you can bet with that information on your side. It's a testament to how confident Vegas Bookies are that they would take bets from the person involved in managing the team they are betting on. Vegas is confident because they aren't trying to beat a single person, they are trying to 'middle' the line so it can go either way...and that way 50% of people lose and 50% win...and the VIG is the profit. Vegas doesn't want to 'win'. No, they already know they will win the VIG, which is enough. They simply want to speculate on the lines in such a fashion that one incomplete pass, one missed field goal, one interception or fumble, one injury is the difference in the game and no one can predict those intangibles before the game. Well, Vegas can predict them in a way that will leave you heartbroken if you want to get into sports gambling. It's evil and addictive and all wrong for the sport, but it's not going anywhere. So, I pity Rose for having a personality that suited itself to the delusion of thinking oneself superior to Vegas bookmakers. I guarantee Rose lost more than he won and probably lost millions.

MLB recently rejected Rose's appeal to lift the ban. And even though he was banned for life, the current commissioner seemed to suggest that there were conditions that Rose could meet and the ban would be lifted. But Rose has not met those conditions, such as amending his ways, penitence, sorrow, etc. And this can't really be denied because even though most of the world only knows Rose through his commentary stints, it is clear he's no different than he was in 1989. But seated a few feet from Rose was the villainous Alex Rodriguez, who demonstrated equally abominable conduct on and off the field, but 'played the game' when it came time to serve his suspension and acted regretful, etc. It's all bullshit. Rose and ARod are no different at heart. Most players are looking out for themselves. ARod is not banned from baseball.

This is all kind of pointless since Rose doesn't want to coach or play. The only issue is if he's eligible for the Hall of Fame, which is actually a separate entity involving journalists, but since 1991 they have agreed that those people who have been banned from baseball will also not be eligible for Hall of Fame induction. Rose holds the all-time hit record and if you watch a highlights reel of him you see him running to first base on a walk, which is something no other player does. Today, a walk means the player will take off all the armor they wore to the plate and then jug/walk toward the base. Most walk the entire way.

Should the ban be lifted? Yes, and it's simply because as a player Rose was the best example of a true love of the game. No, he didn't really care about other players, he wasn't nice, he was interested in winning for his own purposes. But he has to be on everyone's all-time team list simply because when he played he was playing to win and he played his hardest on every play. That's all you can ask and it qualifies him for Baseball. A lifetime ban is something completely different...I don't even know what would deserve a lifetime ban. There's a list of people banned and they are mostly drug users and gamblers. But the silliness of banning someone with vague conditions, like, have you learned your lesson? I don't get that because it sounds very grade school to me, something in 4th grade. As adults we have to accept that suspensions and punishments should be pro-active. Some good should come out of it. Sure, Rose bet on baseball and he probably lost a ton of money, so we're going to punish him for losing money? You think he wanted to lose money? He loved winning games more than he loved winning money. Any gambler will tell you there is no joy in winning money because it immediately comes with the realization of how much you've lost and how deep in the hole you still are and...hey is the line moving on NY? I'll take the Over. It's instantly forgotten and only the high of betting is where the thrill lies. The winning or losing is totally meaningless. It's the action. So, Rose deserved to be suspended, certainly. But lift the ban and let the teams decide if they want to hire him. That's a decision they will make on their own. Let the Journalists decide if he belongs in the Hall of Fame. It's too much power in the Commissioner's hands to execute a person's career like this. He can suspend them and investigate, but that's all he can do. Consider that Rose was losing $10,000 a day gambling...and maybe $25,000 a week. If he were getting rich of gambling then we could lynch him, but he was losing consistently. So, either he was betting against his own team...and accidentally coaching to win...or he was betting in favor of his team and then losing despite his best efforts. Either way, he sucked at gambling and ultimately played and coached as a competitor, not a gambler.

The last comment I want to make is on ticket scalping. Stub Hub is a ticket brokering network where people can buy tickets at premium rates. Season ticket holders sell their own tickets...and a $17 seat ends up costing $250. This practice is ignored by the Commissioner, who pretends to be interested in integrity. Fine, let's talk about integrity. Let's talk about $1000 for a family to go see a baseball game. How is that good for baseball? I ask you. It's no good and it's within the power of the Commissioner to change it for the integrity of baseball. Will they? No, because they don't care about the fan, they only care about money, which makes them 10x worse than Pete Rose, who was addicted to winning.

I ask you this, The Red Sox remained segregated, despite horrible win-loss record, for 14 years after baseball was desegregated. The 1st Commissioner of baseball, Kenesaw Landis did not oppose desegregation of baseball but he could not force a team to hire a black player. Isn't it possible to look at Pete Rose the same way? To investigate and publicize your findings, but then let the teams and journalists decide what to do. Rose was making bets from the dugout, so I assume the Reds management knew he was gambling, but they decided it was better for baseball to let him remain a coach.

Baseball is no more devoted to integrity than before, so don't be fooled. Baseball cares about money. Pete Rose cares about Pete Rose. Stub Hub cares about Stub Hub. They can talk about integrity, but there is very little in practice and Pete Rose is simply a scapegoat poster child of what happens when you don't play nice and get put in the corner. It's my belief that the game can be cleaned up in many ways to provide fans a better opportunity for honest entertainment.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Self Portrait

Destined for a museum of modern art

I had a vision of starting a whole movement in painting with wax or tinted glue. I think that's sort of what stained glass paint is. Glue with tinting. But the recipe is not so simple to pull off as I added tinted watercolor paint to Elmers glue and got a weird paste. But a few times I got the right consistency and it applied well.

The main point is an ego scrub, what does Oggy look like to Oggy. Is self esteem tied to self-image? I think it is, but is a self-portrait an accurate self-image? The Hermann Hesse short story about Klingsor, the painter, whose last work is a self-portrait that has him crazed and in love and full of rage and hate, is telling. The portrait was also of Hesse as he saw himself writing the story of Klingsor painting himself. There were many layers of the onion. That reminds me of an eatery in Santa Cruz, the Glass Onion, named after the Beatles song.

My self portrait looks better with a background, but then the work itself becomes hard to see.

This is right side up, in case you were wondering
Incidentally, I buried this self portrait in the dirt because I couldn't stand to look at it, believing myself a failure at everything. also, it is glass without a frame and could not store it anywhere without breaking it or cutting myself. So I've set it adrift into the world, homeless and probably shattered emotionally.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Neuro-Linguistic Programming

Some good content here: I put Media toxicity at the highest alarm rates in degrees of importance. Critical thinking is paramount for any kind of logical development, and the media now seems to be an obstacle to critical thinking. Just based on the precautionary principle I would recommend eliminating all for-profit media from your life. It's mainly a programming tool right now and hinders critical thinking and is ensuring a state of philosophical chaos for humanity. There are so many media satellites in orbit that it's implausible to think about rendering them all offline. It's basically a paradigm where the worst manipulative elements of humanity are currently controlling information and although you can personally ignore it (arguably a vile ostrich approach to existence) you still can't expect everyone to ignore it, so you are trapped either as a sane person in an insane world or an insane person in an insane world. Maybe I'm overestimating how much people pay attention to and react to the News. But then I read something about beheading or political posturing, refugees, protests at mosques, and the rage in my heart tells me that I have been manipulated, and that others can be equally manipulated. So, if we have media that does antagonize and incite violence...then we do not have media, we have neuro-linguistic programming. And maybe we've always had NLP but I like to believe there was a time when we had something less toxic. I think NLP is not automatically an evil, although when it is used secretly embedded within news programming that is supposed to be unbiased information, then I must conclude it's misused. It can also be used in therapy, maybe some kind of patient responds to this reevaluation of self within a neuro-linguistic framework. I'm no expert, but I know the signs of importance when I see them. I've always wanted an analysis of Fox News and I see why no one wants to make one because it's tedious, but it's important. I went through months of analysis of right wing punditry to write an essay on the subject from an analytical perspective and this video demonstrates a more detailed analysis of NLP and media manipulation and the subtle crafting of political spin. I'm not sure if the narrator understand the two parties in the interview likely can only hear each other, so the manipulation that Hannity is doing is purely for the benefit of the audience. His whole goal is to cast a kind of spell on the audience, to entertain and beguile them. It's pure betrayal of critical thinking and I see now that the innocent start of Fox Channel with The Simpsons was a double-edged sword...maybe a textbook example of distraction and shock. While people were thinking Fox was subversive because they created The Simpsons...they were quietly creating a market of the adults who were lured to Fox for cartoons stayed for the entertaining news...and the spell took hold and they lost their minds. Very interesting.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Codependency Anthem

I finally solved the data issue between my phone and my computer (gracias to cheap hi-tech Chinese crap). But these HD cameras create gigantic video files so I have to compress the file so it will upload. This involves editing the footage and saving it as another movie.

Here's the Hoagy tune from 1939, the theme song of the distraught. 
Here's a cool story to go along with it:

I met a drunk girl with big lonely eyes at a bar. She was with her boyfriend but she just oozed self-destructive tendencies and was tired and depressed and I fell in love with her. I dreamed about her and jerked off thinking about her and looked for her at every bar. I thought I saw her vomiting in an alley and went down there to see if she was ok and it was not her and I said, "Sorry, I thought you were someone else."
This went on all Summer and I wanted to kiss her and lay in bed and watch her smoke cigarettes and drive her to the Social Services office to pick up food stamps. We would make love tenderly and she would massage my prostate when I climaxed. Then I saw her boyfriend and we were talking and I was drunk and said, "I have a confession. I am in love with your girlfriend."
We were playing pool and the guy stopped in the middle of taking a shot at the 7 ball.
"Really? Because I've been looking to pawn her off on someone for months. I thought about you but I like you too much."
"But I love her depression, she's wounded."
"No, dude, she's terminal. I wasn't really dating her, she showed up on my doorstep and had nowhere else to go. I couldn't get rid of her."
"She's so dreamy. I could talk her out of slitting her wrists all day long."
"She'd be doing everyone a favor."
"Where is she now?" I asked with heavy desperation in my voice that translated to "Her silky hair beneath the wool beret, where are you my beloved, my angel, my devoted love?"
"Probably in jail. She's been indicted twice for murder." He took the shot at the 7 Ball and sunk it. We were playing 9 Ball and his leave put a lot of green between the cue ball and the 8.
I gasped with ecstasy. This would be the third girlfriend of mine to involve prison.
"Does she need help? I could work a second job to pay for her lawyer. Only the best for her, only the best for my beloved."
"Dude, have you even had a conversation with her? She's sniffing glue, drooling, she has no idea where she is. My 13 year old son finally told me that she has to get out of the house. Then she was shacked up with some junkie and the dude overdoses on her anti-psychotic medication, dies, the second junkie to do that with her drugs, and...hey, are you listening to me?"
I was dreaming of the old scar on her cheek that she didn't even bother to hide with make up, and wondered if it was self-inflicted or caused during one of the many sexual assaults her uncle perpetrated against her.
"I'm telling you that she's been indicted twice for homicide. They call her The Black Widow."
"Yeah, she's so awesome. So divine. Can I call her? Would you be offended?"
He eyed the 8 Ball and not only failed to sink it, but he left it hanging on the lip of the pocket...and the 9 Ball was near a side pocket.
"I think it's a really bad idea. She's sincerely sick, she's a junkie and she's mentally ill and she's homeless, has no direction, indicted for two murders, depressed, suicidal, refuses to take any birth control, fucks anyone, she..."
"So I can call her? Do you have her number?"
"Man, man, man..."
"I'll say that I found it in the phone book."
"Don't mention me at all. She fucking called the cops on me, said I had kidnapped her, talking crazy shit about alien abductions. She's bipolar to the max."
"I won't say nothing about you. I just want to take her walking in the park, play tennis with her, go to the theater and watch Grease or Cats because I love her."
"Tennis? Wow, you are hopeless, shit, good luck."
I stood up and sunk the 8 Ball and then sunk the 9 Ball shooting left handed, easy, like a pro. He shrugged and shook my hand.

So, he gives me the number and I call her immediately and tell her the most babbling drunk excuse in the history of cover-ups as to how I got her number and that I've dreamed about her all summer and wanted to meet her and brush her hair and take her to an ice cream shop downtown for ice cream and show her all the special spots around town that only I know about. Her tone of voice is exactly the opposite of how my fantasies about this conversation would be. I imagined she would be breathless and excited and echo all of my longing but instead she said, "Who is this? No I don't remember you. Did we fuck?" In a very gruff and displeased and bothered tone, very suspicious, very leery and annoyed and defensive. No trace of the affection I deeply desired. My heart broke a little. She tells me she will meet me at a bar and I say I can come get her and she says no, she will drive to me.

And so I wait all night nursing sad watery White Russians in polyester disguise, gay men rubbing my plaid knees, whorish bartenders showing cleavage for big tips. I keep asking the bartender what time it is? And the bartender tells me and I say my girlfriend is late. And the bartender gives no response. I tell strangers that my girlfriend is coming to meet me and we're going to the theater later on. And I tell this story for hours and hours until the bar closes and it's only me and I ask if they will stay open a little longer because I think my girlfriend is stuck in traffic. And I call her number again and it goes to voicemail and in my message I beg her to come to the bar. Is she ok?, I can come look for her and I am a mechanic and will fix her car if it is broken. And I talk until the voice mail runs out of memory and then I hold the cell phone like I'm holding her chin before I kiss it and then the bartender kicks me out rudely onto the street and drunk kids walk by and make fun of my polyester pants and jean jacket ensemble and I yell back, "You motherfuckers, I've got an REO Speedwagon concert pin, so fuck you, I've got the pin and my girlfriend and me are going to the Journey concert this summer and we're going to rock our denim jackets and I'll play her sad Hoagy Carmichael songs on the piano and she'll understand."

And the drunk kids throw empty beer cans at me and I wait in the fog but she never comes to the bar and never answers the phone again. Still, I think of her and how she was perfect for me and she wore a horizontal striped Russian Navy shirt and leaned heavily on the bar and had thin shoulders and I don't know why I love you like I do, I don't know why I just do.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015


The former occupant of my room was a tattoo artist who tattoos water color landscapes. He also painted the walls of his old room like Gauguin in Tahiti. And because I forgot my camera in San Jose I am forced to use a phone's camera and then upload it to a virtual hard drive (because the bluetooth on my computer is broken and I have no data cable) and then retrieve it and upload it again to blogger. These are the dirty details, behind the scenes trade secrets that only Oggy shares with people. And one option on my camera is to upload a scan...and the scan is a photo, that can be edited with the above watercolor effect...and then for some reason is saved as a PDF...that Oggy must reopen on his computer and save after downloading it and cropping it and snipping it with a screen capture. All these ridiculous steps to share a silly photo that was edited...

Photo Edit
I'm digging the guitar. I feel it will be another year or two before the sound starts to free up and my fingers adjust. But thus far I dig it and this picture really looks like a lover's tribute, the curves on the bed, the soft coloring, the undraped nakedness of the guitar and the erotic flowers and the exposed frame of the Nicaraguan hostel, tropical fireworks cracking outside, parades, Leonard Cohen songs drooling from the speakers. "I don't mean to suggest that I loved you the best...I don't think of you that often." I want honesty and authenticity in a lover and that's what the guitar gives me, it doesn't tell me what I want to hear, its body language is clear, it gives me back what I give to it it speaks my language and is silent when I chase my primary keyboard love even though it can see me. It is not jealous because the guitar knows I will come back eventually and it will be waiting.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Holidays in the Tropics

The power went of to the whole town after I took this photo
Tropical Holidays means street fairs and parades every day, holy music sung at a church, Communion, nativity scenes and palm trees decorated in lights. It also means ridiculous blue skies and 80-89 degree days with water temperatures hovering around 82 degrees. The days glide by like manta rays flying over a gypsy drinking mojitos in a hammock.

Monday, December 7, 2015

NASA Readies Team to Retrieve Trump Images

Houston, Texas:

NASA has announced an emergency meeting to brief a top team of scientists in order to retrieve radio transmitted visual and audio data of Presidential Candidate Donald Trump from traveling further into Space, lest the data be intercepted by an alien life form and mistaken as representative Human behavior.

Gordon Thiel, director of NASA special affairs department announced that astronauts, radio engineers, physicists, and philosophers have been assembled to determine the best way to blockade images of Donald Trump posturing for the camera like an actor on Hee Haw.
Images like this, say NASA, must never be seen by aliens
"We're simply afraid that these images will be too much for an alien life form to fully comprehend and they will judge us based on this small selection of images and tasteless monologues and launch an immediate attack against us. Our morals committee has agreed that humanity's greatest threat right now is of an alien life form witnessing our slavish news coverage of this over dressed buffoon and mistakenly believing Trump is a worshiped demagogue who is beyond the reach of rational, emotionally healthy individuals. This alien life form may, in the view of our experts, believe that a culture that worships such an imbecile as Trump must be so dysfunctional and hopeless that they should be euthanized for the survival of the universe. It sounds far-fetched," said Dr. Thiel with a shrug and a smirk, "but unfortunately we don't see any alternative except to find a way to stop those images from going further into the universe. Call it censorship, call it New World Order. We honestly don't have any more time to waste because those digital broadcasts are traveling at the speed of light toward God Knows what hostile alien civilization just waiting for a reason to test their neutron bombs on an inferior life form. Obviously, Trump would be that reason."

The notion that the the Starship Probe Voyager would offset the balance of harm done by Trump's images was laughed off by assistant director Peter Donaldson. "No, the Voyager is traveling at a speed of 55,920 feet per second and will need nearly 20,000 years to realistically be intercepted by an alien life form. Trump's images may have already been viewed. We may be too late."

The Crew of Mission: Intercept
"Mission Intercept is ready to launch with the goal of harnessing the Sun's power to create a controllable black hole which will selectively suck back any broadcast tagged with Trump's meta-data. It's a lot of technical jargon but basically, it's our only hope. Unless someone else can come up with a better idea this is the direction we're going in right now. We can only pray the mission will succeed."

In response to the effect these images have on humans living on earth Donaldson winced. "We at NASA have moved on from trying to protect humanity from assaults by other humans. Our objective is to protect alien life forms from the effects of these toxic statements by this vile creature [Trump]."

When questioned about the Mission, unofficially called "Outer Space Dump Trump", Donald Trump himself said, "I like it! I donated a hundred dollars to NASA and it's good to see they are finally doing something with it. I just hope some of those astronauts are Democrats and they forgot to mail their absentee ballot. Ha! Vote Trump!" said Trump with the repulsive smirk and arrogant haughtiness he is known for.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Memorabilia Snapshots

compelling evidence
Top Left: With my buddy D., Oggy climbs the 3 or 4 pitch Cathedral Ledge in the White Mountains one Fall. I have no idea which specific route we took but I know it was not too hard. Oggy is demonstrating a difficult pose that was required to slip through a narrow gap between his beard and the rock face. I remember falling around the 4th pitch, maybe 600 feet above the ground, my feet hurt so badly they lost grip. The ropes held, the anchors held. The friend at the sharp end of the rope had to belay me while hanging on his own anchor.
The Ledge from afar

I also remember rappelling down one ledge and accidentally unhooking the tether line. What is worse is that I don't remember unhooking it. So this would disqualify me from flying for the Navy because I'm required to have 100% recall and there was simply a time when I hooked that tether on me and then a time when I realized it was gone and laying at the bottom of the ledge. If I had to guess I would say a subliminal death wish took over and set me up for a tragic fall. I have to use the precautionary principle and assume I'm mentally imbalanced for technical rock climbing. This is too bad because the experience is exciting, but unfortunately the shoes cause my crippled toes to bleed every time I climb because they are crammed into those tight rock climbing shoes. So, it's no great loss to the sport. I can see I'm wearing wool military surplus sweater and shorts over blue long underwear: classic Fall climbing wardrobe.

Top Right: Embarrassing photo shoot in San Francisco, with the idea that I would walk into an agency on Market Street and sit with the chiseled gay men and women who were taller than me with huge heads of hair and get a contract. I was pale, didn't go to the gym and smelled like horse shit because I worked with horse shit every day. And I guess I thought a white shirt, western string tie and black pants were a good idea. My hair went over my head like a cape. I spent a lot of money going back and forth to those fashion agencies and they treated me like I was complete dirt. For the record, I did not wake up one day and think I should be a model, someone told me I could make $500 a day wearing boxer shorts and so I cleaned myself up and went to S.F. rolling the dice on my chinline and narrow skull. If I had stayed in costume with manure and ranch wear I probably stood a better chance of getting hired, but not much better.

Bottom: The reason I smelled like horse shit was because I was living in a trailer surrounded by horse shit. My job was to shovel horse shit every day of 7 horses, feed them hay, keep their stalls from falling apart, corral the sheep and chickens and pigs and shoot at the coyotes who tried to steal the eggs. That earned me a free place to stay on the side of a hill in a pervert's mansion which included a piano that I stuffed in there, my first piano, and a refrigerator that was outside covered with a piece of plywood. In the day I would work for an illegal contractor doing mostly ridiculous landscaping and remodeling jobs that made no sense to me. I was constantly digging up trees or digging holes for a mail box post. On the Weekends I took the train to S.F. and begged fashion agencies to dress me up in underwear and take photos of me. Eventually, this got old so I took some classes at the nearby community college, learned that I qualified for a full tuition scholarship at any CSU system college and decided Humboldt State University was where I should go. But for about 2 years I was a horse caretaker. I have no idea whose Volvo that is in the picture.


Should I even attempt an analysis of current events in my condition? I shouldn't, but it is my duty as a philosopher. I have chosen the career path of the philosopher/social critic and though heaped with scorn and derision I have fulfilled my objectives. I did what I set out to do. It has cost me my sanity and my emotional well-being but it's also entertained the woeful court of drunken jesters and that detail entertains me so the cycle is complete. My limbs feel like they are made of soggy canvas of a Cuban refugee raft or Haitian inner-tube floating to safety. I want to write a haiku to the Cuban refugees:

Haiku to Cuban Refugees

The jungle creeps in
on the drunken immigrant.
Lust for Miami

Current events has kept me hiding with the dust bunnies under this Nicaraguan hostel bed that hasn't been moved since Somoza was still an item on an Indian Restaurant Menu. The Chikunguna music festival has an open ticket policy and balloon lanyards float like guitar riffs in the dry Hollywood Bowl.

We harvest our own discord on the backs of cheating hearts and frozen assets in a nostalgia dream. You know who you are who cling to the threads of an imposed emotional refugee. I defy you to watch this Tom Petty* video from when Oggy looked like this:

1988 Fenway Park: vintage patina on memorabilia snapshot

and NOT come away with your life altered. You don't have to live like a refugee....but the Cubans would disagree, they are refugees and they have to live like refugees. I dedicate this Tom Petty tune to the Cubans living on cardboard hopes and dreams in the gravel parking lot of the American Dream. Oggy never looked better...he's a cripple now and an emotional refugee chasing rabbit dreams in the big jangle night.

One mass shooting in Georgia is eclipsed by a bigger mass shooting in California, like a fucking horse on a bad trip kicking you in the forehead this tasty bit of shit sticks on the roof of your mouth like cheap peanut butter from the Ocean Job Lots discount aisle.

Oggy went snorkeling the other day looking for the broken emotional pieces lost in the immigration from youth to adulthood. Wouldn't that be more interesting than gold, to hunt for bits of emotional stability? Oggy destructs his self-hood in pursuit of a unified self-hood, his buffet. The hypocrisy is written on his eyeballs backwards so he can read it when he sleeps. Oggy lives in  Pepperland cavern hidden from view where he analyzes and reanalyzes his mistakes and his trespasses, alternately judging the puerile phantom culture propagandized in the press and also loathing the dark roots that have poisoned his hypertension heart. It's an '80s soap opera that has no good endings so we postpone the guaranteed disaster until the moths of mass shooting appear. Two of them in one day. And what is it all mean, you think you know and pontificate with your belly against the walnut bar but you actually have no fucking clue and are out of your element. Amateur philosophers are easily exposed by their pathetic stroke in deep waters. Don't bother. Stick you Family Guy, stick to date rapes and Campus crime and continued faux support of cause celebre bullshit. Omnipotent and dark chasm where the nostalgic fools never return. All the butterfly cuff links in the world can't save a savage savant.

The term terrorism seems to be thrown around by a lot of couch potatoes on steroids and anti-depressants. I got no time for pundits who don't define their terms and assume previous pundits have trained the humanzees to think. Well, I'm not down with that trip so here's my definition of terrorism:
Terrorism must include three elements: 1) acts of anti-social behavior....2) those who perform acts of anti-social behavior...3) and pundits/gurus/leaders who incite, instigate, misinform, manipulate and encourage, celebrate those anti social acts.

This is mostly what is implied when asshole CNN faces moan about 'terrorism' but since it is never explained or defined I am not sure.  But I do know that terrorism differs from your random spree killer by a simple tangible connection between anti-social behavior and an instigator/encouraging element who was not directly involved in the anti-social act, but whose punditry specifically encourages such an act.

I'm not going to outline every scenario because it gets subjective. Let us all use the term 'terrorism' at least in a situation that is not reserved for the casual lunatic.Speaking of casual lunacy, I think I'll make a prediction based on current events: Since Republican candidates are already more concerned about plastic bags than assault rifles and bloviating about "we need a war-time president" because that prepares voters for an assault on every level...I predict an eventual war between Muslims and Christians. I see it as self-fulfilling. The conditions in America will eventually deteriorate to a violation of religious freedoms beyond simply protesting at a mosque and involve ID cards, food rationing...and lack of access to other constitutional freedoms. This will force Muslims to either leave or to organize and defend their rights. That clash will lead to an explosion of violence and a choosing of sides and I think the Religious nuttery will supersede jingoistic allegiance and the religions will fight to the death for the next century. This may be the ultimate Republican goal because War is their domain and the country associates war with Republican values so they will vote Republican in time of war. Thus Republicans need war to maintain power and they consider American voters collateral damage in their sick quest for control. If Americans were slightly smarter or valued critical thinking then this quest would fail but incredibly the conditions are perfect for a hostile coup by a war hawk organization that will lead to decades of civil war. Honestly, America is overdue for upheaval and is actually overdue for being overthrown, but the marketing machine has figured out that you must maintain superficial regularity while the overthrow is happening behind the scenes. That way, the term "America" can be thrown around to unify people when it is a meaningless statement since around the 1950s when Hoover and Ike conspired to eliminate America's self-determination. 

In other happy news, when the police force acts as judge, jury, and executioner then you have a failed state.

* I walked into a music store in Shreveport, Louisiana and the owner said, "Are you Tom Petty?" I said, "Dig it. Give me that Les Paul and put it on Mick Jagger's bill."

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Funny Stuff

I was appalled about 2 minutes into Victor Frankenstein. Every trope and dusty cliche had been unleashed on this script. The production, the sepia, the dramatic forced moments. The trapeze artist as seen from below by the lonely circus hunchback...I actually laughed out loud and yelled, "Have him cry! Make the hunchback cry so I can be absolutely sure he loves the trapeze artist with all his heart! MAKE THAT DIRTY HUNCHBACK CRY!" The mango salesman next door told me to be quiet.

What an abysmal disaster this movie is. What a vile mess. I wish wish wish it had been accepted that it needed to be a parody. It was like the director wanted to make a parody of this train wreck but he decided to be clever and shoot it like he was serious, but didn't tell anyone else he was making a parody, except maybe McAvoy who set up camp on Parody Avenue with a performance that Mel Brooks couldn't have loved more. I feel that Miss Piggy should've been a failed experiment from the past but was still animated and waddled around serving drinks from a built in cooler on her ass. Now, that would've been funny. But not as funny as the comments I read about Victor F.

Xavier is the X-Man character James McAvoy plays. And Harry potter is the hunchback actor, Daniel blah blah. Never ending laughs
These people are funny without even trying. God bless their ignorance and vapid immersion in pop culture so deeply they are not even cognizant of how despicable they are. "Creed was great, shut up!" says Ray. That's such a classic line I'm going to get it tattooed on my back. I really don't miss how vacuous the movie industry is.

Movies are getting to be all parodies of other movies.

Sunday, November 29, 2015


Was sup a la gran pachicas?

Glengarry Gif Ross

just having some fun

Friday, November 27, 2015

Soy Americano, No Soy Cubano!

I dumbly forgot my camera in San Jose so I have no photos of another epic border crossing from Costa Rica into Nicaragua. I almost kept my cool, and the van was running like a vintage Ferrari but it's simply a complicated process with many obstacles and emotional roadblocks. I tried to get to Nicaragua before dark, but it turned into a long day because of the ridiculous traffic in San Jose. I swear that anyone driving into or out of San Jose should simply do it in the night or before 5am. After that you need to park the vehicle and give it up because it was total gridlock for 4 hours and the van overheated and I was swearing and cursing at the traffic, futile, angry, frustrated, anxious, stressed. How the fuck am I stuck in traffic in San Jose, Costa Rica in this ancient van? Packed with a digital piano and mandolin and 4 guitars? Bullshit. I cursed my fate, my decisions, my belly flab, my neck ached. I had moved my many millions of frivolous items from one house back into the van, packing it nearly full of shit and had looked everywhere for anything I might've left behind but cruelly the living room was always badly lit and my camera case was hidden in the shadows and I was distracted and didn't notice it was not attached to my backpack where it belongs and drove some 400 miles to another country and still didn't notice but later got an email telling me it is waiting back at the house. It's possible a sign of decaying mental fatigue, distraction, depression, self-destruction, all of that is possible. Of all the fucking many things I don't need in this van the camera is not on that list. I need that camera to take frivolous self-portraits and music videos of Bing Crosby songs from 1937. Fuck! And since mail is too unreliable to expect it to ever get to this small village on the coast of Nicaragua I must go back and get it if I want it. Who knows what will happen? Maybe the remainder of my life will be spent going back and forth between old residences reclaiming frivolous shit I left behind.

But the trip itself was another test of my resilience and fortitude. The Pan American highway is not safe or easy to navigate in Costa Rica. I swear the worst I've seen is in Costa Rica because there are too many vehicles for that narrow one lane road with cliffs on both sides. At least in Nicaragua and Guatemala there isn't much traffic. The road itself isn't much better but Costa Rica has too much traffic in general. But this is boring talk, my own misery caused by my desperation and self-destructive nature. "Of all the harm that I have done, alas it was to none but me." I accept that. So, I eventually arrive at the border and now I'm in familiar territory since I was here 3 months ago driving south. And the first thing I notice is hundreds of people camping around the customs office. Here's where a camera would come in handy to demonstrate the desperate conditions people were living in, obviously living long term in grievous conditions. But I don't have a camera because I left it in my old house far what you would see in the photo is similar to homeless camps everywhere except at border offices there are hardly any resources so there is no household trash to pick for bedding or shelter. The hundreds of people were laying on paper, the place reeked of human sweat and feet, urine, people bathing openly, drying clothes on International border plaques, fucking behind plastic corridors. I asked what was going on but the Costa Rican officials only smiled at me as they cancelled my vehicle permit. 

Then I merely had to get my passport exit stamp and move along and that's where things began to go wrong because there is a machine that only takes credit cards and the idea is that I would pay my exit tax of something like $7 in colones, or 3500 colones...but I don't trust those machines at all and furthermore the people trying to use it in front of me said it charged their card twice and didn't give them the receipt that they need to get the exit stamp. So I went to the window and asked if there was a place I could pay in cash and yes, there was, around the corner in a green building. The official had my passport and I thought I saw her stamp it but she had stamped some other piece of paper, some exit paperwork that was not my I went to pay the exit tax...and then changed some money at a pretty bad rate of 28 Cordobas to 500 Colones...I know I did not get a good rate of exchange but there was nothing to be done. But I asked the money changer why so many people were living rough and he said these were 300 of the 5000 Cuban Refugees who were trying to go to the United States. Because of some anti-communist agreement called "Wet Foot Dry Foot" any Cuban will be considered a welcome refugee and allowed to stay if they can get to the United States, provided they reach by land*, so they go to Ecuador because they are not required to have a visa, then travel with the good graces of Colombia and Panama and Costa Rica but Nicaragua stopped them. With the thawing of U.S. Cuban relations these people fear that this agreement will evaporate since theoretically they will not be fleeing an oppressive government anymore. This is all tiresome to those still digesting turkey and stuffing, I am sure very distressing to you all as the cranberry sauce still dries on your Brooks Brothers shirt you wore for the family gathering. But humor me for a moment because the story gets worse and these international disputes normally don't involve Oggy but in this one case, I managed to get entangled in a cold war involving 4 countries.

So, these Cubans are in rough spot, plainly, but I have a tight budget that does not allow for any kind of charity. Sure I can give them some of my clothes I've marked for disposal but is that going to help them? Maybe. Maybe not. I'm cautious before I start thinking my gifts are not Trojan horses of destruction. I'm cautious about everything lately because the intricacies of life demand some caution and reflection but this does not mesh with the fast demands of a eat-on-the-run society. So, I leave with my 1000 Cordobas and drive through a few pre-inspection police barricades that are set up to make sure Cubans do not attempt to run into the jungle and bypass the border. Man, we are talking about thousands of miles to Texas, through some rough land and these families and children and single men are trying to basically walk or hitchhike to the United States. But Nicaragua has refused them entry so they are all stuck at the border of Penas Blancas on the day that I am trying to cross. Sad tale. I have my passport inspected, etc. etc. and drive the no-man's land to Nicaragua....and this is also where a nice camera would demonstrate that I drove into a fully assembled army of hundreds of Nicraguan soldiers and police in full armor ready to repel an assault by the Cuban refugees. "Es una guerra?" I ask the Nicaraguan border man. And he looks at my passport. "No tiene estampa!" I don't have an exit stamp? No, of course I do, I just went through three inspections and they all looked at my passport...I'm not carrying Cubans. "No Tengo Cubanos!" I yell with my hands high as the tensions surrounding me with guns and assault rifles, the whole Nicaraguan army is assembled in front of my van...a sight that would've been great to take a picture of if that fucking camera was not on the couch back in San Jose! They suspect I am trying to blow them up or smuggle Cubans. The army surrounds me...the border guard tells me to turn around. I have so many stamps in the passport that I didn't notice I failed to get the exit stamp from Costa Rica. I say, fine, give me my passport back. And he says he will only give it back once I've turned around. He actually doesn't trust me at all, not even to turn around. But to turn around I have to make this ridiculous turn amid a milling and suspicious and armed Nicaraguan army regiment. Oh, it was a low point for Oggy. Not only had I forgotten my camera but I had this irksome van with manual steering that needs a football field to turn around and I only had this narrow road that was filled with the Nicaraguan army all ready to shoot on command, all gawking at this insane "El Conquistador" van and this sweating crazed hippie driving. It was a rough spot and I had forgotten to check the stupid passport for the exit stamp...the stamp that I now realized I could only get once I showed proof of purchasing that stupid $7 exit tax bullshit that I had paid for in cash because the machine wasn't working right.
Man, nothing could be done...

But then I realized I was going to have to wait for some ridiculous line of trucks to get fumigated to enter Costa Rica. Fuck that. I'll park right here and run back to the Costa Rican office since I could still see it about 100 yards away. But the stress was palpable in the jungle heat. The United States was waiting for these 5000 Cuban Refugees who were stuck in Costa Rica because Nicaragua would not let them in and I was in the exact center of this whole huge mess with no exit stamp and Nicaragua would not let me enter and I could not go back to Costa Rica because the traffic was backed up through the fumigation tent. Am I wearing my suede leather pants through this whole ordeal? Yes, I am, and that would also make for a good photo had I not forgotten that damn camera in San Jose.

But parking in that mess proved to be a challenge and I had to plead with a colonel for 5 minutes to run back and get the stamp. He said, "Rapido, Ellos son loco." And he lets me park in a dirt area near the army barracks. Stress was high and I just happened to unfortunately be trying to cross the border at the exact moment the Nicaraguan army was assembling to defend their country. Horrible timing. I run in sandals and leather pants back through the no-man's land and of course a hundred people are waiting in line now to get their passport stamped so I wait jumping up and down with Cuban refugees sweating and babies crying...sweat running down my ass crack, my leather pants are starting to seem like a bad idea in this jungle heat. But fuck it, all my shit is guarded by the Nicaraguan army so it's probably the safest van in all of Central America at that moment. I finally get the passport stamp because I showed her the receipt for the exit tax...and I run back through the inspections, "No Cubano, Soy Americano" and I run back to my van and proceed through the army, "El Conquistador" surrounded by this army regiment and swat team police.

What the Cubans could not do, I was able to do with some work. There are other explanations of why this is happening and my suspicion is that 5000 Cubans intending to go on land through Central America to find refugee status in Texas was seen by Nicaragua as an invasion of their sovereignty. Maybe the Cubans had passports, but that was too many at once and the Nicaraguans were afraid of something. As I've said Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, these countries are stressed to breaking. I promised and will promise again a sea of millions of Central American refugees breaking every border fence down to access the United States. That will definitely happen in the next decade if major steps are not taken to strengthen the economic opportunities in the CA-4 countries. Only an idiot would fear Mexican refugees when it is definitely the Guatemalans and Hondurans and Nicaraguans who will come knocking. It's very grim situation there. So grim that Cubans who do not even want to stay in Nicaragua are not being allowed to enter because their presence will stress the already stressed infrastructure and resources. Arguably, there are no resources for the current residents of there are definitely no resources for 5000 more poor Cuban refugees, even if it is only for the period of time it takes them to hitchhike to Honduras. That's my assessment of this situation and I could be wrong (although this BBC piece supports my conclusion). Maybe Nicaragua just doesn't like Cubans who are not loyal to the socialist cause that Che Guevara envisioned for all of Central America until Ike and Nixon and Kennedy decided to launch a holocaust on coffee farmers to ensure they did not organize for better terms. Well, that decision will definitely come back to haunt America as these 5000 Cubans is nothing compared to the army of refugees who will swarm north to collect an overdue debt.

So, I got to Nicaragua, a place I remembered fondly as the parking lot where I had multiple gas line ruptures when I was driving south. It took forever to get anyone to cooperate...and I was insulted and irked that I had to buy U.S. Dollars to pay a $12 entry tax...any foreigner must pay in U.S. Dollars that one buys from people outside with the cordobas that I had exchanged from Colones only minutes earlier. Bullshit. Raining on my head...inspection from aduana dude...fill out customs declaration form...the aduana official signs that...then a policeman must sort my dirty laundry looking for Cubans....and he signs the form...and then back into the aduana area in the building after getting a entry stamp on the passport. wait around for truckers to get their paperwork. Then plead futilely for more than 30 days, but get only an icy stare from the woman. Please please give me 60 days...50 days...44 days....35 days...please give me at least after New Years day, after Christmas. No? I must leave on Christmas Day? Por favor! Nothing, no accommodations, no diplomacy.

It gets dark and a waxing blood moon climbs through the spooky jungle and finally I have all the paperwork...and weave through the I even want to leave in the dark, or do I want to risk being near the border when war between Cuba and Nicaragua breaks out? These are the hard choices of travel, the fine details the travel books don't tell you about. Night driving in Nicaragua is the worst, but I had seen the anger and fear in the Nicaraguan soldier's eyes who all live 100 yards away. Violence was imminent and this was the first area that would be overrun by the refugees, by chaos and anarchy and my 1969 van would be the first vehicle they would choose to plunder, casting aside my lifeless body, taking my guitars on a ride north to freedom. They all would fit right in to the American ethic that has repelled and repulsed me: consumption, oil profits, dirty energy, land development. These Cuban refugees are more American than I am. Still, I plunged on north since I could not sleep soundly knowing the potential for invasion and war. I had to reach the beach, about 1 hour away, not far, but the roads are dark as a dictator's soul. My head lights flickered and the final border inspection guards looked suspiciously at my paperwork and checked again for Cuban stowaways. None were found but for all I know one had hidden on top of the van and has since escaped. Considering that I crossed on a day when the refugees were not blockading the road, as they did one week earlier, I actually lucked out.

If I had a camera I would upload a picture of the beach I'm near and my breezy room overlooking the town, the clear skies of the high season in the tropics. No better time of year to be here. The clock is ticking already as my passport is good for 90 days but my vehicle only has 30 day permit. fuck. And I have to hitchhike back through the swarm of Cuban refugees back to San Jose, Costa Rica to get that stupid camera. And this is life.

* Talk about insanity: a Cuban who is only 90 miles from Florida must go south to Ecuador and through the whole of Central America and Mexico to arrive in Texas with dry feet...rather than just sail a boat to Florida. What the hell is the difference? And I would strongly argue their feet are not dry simply because they tramped through Central America and didn't sail a boat. That's just idiotic reasoning. For the love of God, America needs to think about these crazy loopholes that cause people to travel thousands of miles out of their way to satisfy some insane diplomatic clause. It's not only causing an international scandal in Central America but it's seriously depleting non-renewable resources used to sustain these travelers. Ponderous situation.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Saint Lennon

San Jose, Costa Rica has a few pedestrian corridors that make it feasible to walk around without being killed. In Guatemala I would usually walk 2 blocks before nearly being hit. And if I walked 4 blocks then I would be nearly hit twice. And if by some miracle no one nearly hit me after 6 blocks then I was about to be hit. But San Jose's traffic is so miserably bad it never moves fast enough to hit anyone. Cross walks go around cars stuck in traffic. Pitiful.

One of the pedestrian walks has John Lennon sitting on a bench and I was going to sit with him but found his lap occupied. This guy should charge money to let you take his picture like this because it's a pretty classic composition. I saw photographers lining up to get this same shot so it will be all over the internet soon.
Imagine all the people...
I will be traveling for Thanksgiving but I'm not so selfish and self-absorbed to ignore my blessings. Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Top Gun: Riskier Business

I'm going to write a 30 year anniversary review of Top Gun a few months early. It was released in 1986 when Reagan's insane pandering to the Military was in full plumage. I think he believed was a fictional organization in a movie that he was acting in and his befuddled mind basically ignored that the director never called cut. I imagine him going home to Nancy every night and asking, "How did I read my lines today?" He was a sick man, later had no memory of flooding Los Angeles streets with Colombian cocaine to fund Osama Bin Laden's mujaheddin rebellion against U.S.S.R, but democracy allows the people to elect sick men. It's good to know all that crack and cocaine profits not only crippled a generation of drug addicts, but also enabled bloody dictatorships in El Salvador and Nicaragua and Guatemala and also funded a terrorist organization. If Reagan were a character in a movie he'd be a villain in a James Bond film....except no one stopped his plan to destroy the world. And this is the President known for the D.A.R.E anti-drug campaign. Laughable, like a parody of a disaster.

Reagan's jingoistic rhetoric is not really at the heart of Top Gun, because the movie is about taking risks. It's a personality study of high-risk activities...and the genius, yes genius, is that the odd coupling of Kelly McGillis and Tom Cruise, is forced into the pigeon-hole theme of high-risk activities. All the sex metaphors are thrown in one's face, "Crashed and burned...aggressive move...went over the top...come from behind....launching missiles...switching to guns..." these are lines from a parody porn movie but in 1986 they were average double entendre nonsense. They all point to sexual combat. Even the term, Wingman, as a reference to a friend who provides support at a bar, originates with Top Gun.

The movie actually has too many tropes to mention...the son living in the shadow of the father, who was lost in mysterious circumstances...and who flew with the lead instructor...etc etc.
Top Gun falls into the category of the worst movie with the best director. Tony Scott had a high water mark in the '80s with Beverly Hills Cop, True Romance (which would've been ruined by writer Q. Tarantino), the excellentand prophetic Enemy of the State, before moving on to direct Denzel Washington (the black Tom Cruise) in 4 respectable action films. But Top Gun's action sequences are superlative. The script reads, "I can't see him, I can't see him." "He's on your tail..." for like 30 minutes...and it's still watchable.
Because showing an erect penis would totally change the film's rating.

Action is the key word with Top Gun...sexual action....airplane action...emotional action. The movie is its best when gloriously worshiping fighter jets and their clan. It's simply military porn and I like it. The intentional vapor release from the jet engines is absolutely ejaculation symbology. Even the famous "I was inverted." line is basically a sex position reference.  However, the chemistry between McGillis and Cruise hangs on a thread of credibility. The character McGillis plays, a civilian adviser/trainer/instructor has zero credibility, but making her civilian takes her out of uniform (a plus) and removes the clumsiness found between Demi Moore and Cruise in A Few Good Men, six years later. But it's implausible, even treasonous, that a woman with no combat flight experience would be advising top gun pilots on 'textbook tactics'. But the viewer would be overthinking this role, because the romantic intrigue and action in this relationship is supposed to be a social statement on sexual combat. Everything about Top Gun is forced into combat analysis: Maverick fighting his own inner demons, Goose fighting Maverick's 'need for speed', Ice Man fighting his own fading youth, Jester fighting his students, Charlie fighting her instinct for combat safety, Viper fighting the secret of how Maverick's father died, The U.S. fighting a war for freedom. Cock against Cunt, the battle as old as time. So, the fight is either visual (air combat) or it is emotionally conveyed with dialogue and body language and songs by Berlin. But the dialogue that is used has such tired connotations "I've fallen for you" "You've Lost that Loving Feeling" "take me to bed" "I'm going to take a shower." "I flew with your father." "This is going to get complicated" that only Cruise rises to the occasion, demonstrating the maturity that would lead to far better films. McGillis is a decoration and she seems to know it; everyone wants to see Maverick get naked but we can't admit it.
This is pure intercourse metaphor as two inverted F-14 fighter jets 'fuck' in mid air. There is a simultaneous orgasm, ejaculation at the end...
...I guarantee Tony Scott said, "After you come out of the barrel roll, both of you discharge the vapor trails at the same time." How obvious!

Tom Cruise, as an actor, is highly professional and he has great camera/movie instincts. He knows what each role requires and seldom lacks personality. Yes, he leaves Scientology leaflets on the craft services buffet table, but that's because he's better than everyone else and he's also the producer who can do what he wants. If I had his teeth and hair I would leave all kinds of crazy propaganda around. He's a proud peacock and a number of scenes of him in either his underwear, a towel, or shirtless in jeans are adequate eye candy...and he is never camera shy or allows Val Kilmer to steal scenes. For instance, why the fuck would Maverick be wearing an insulated bomber jacket on the coast near San Diego? Because it stands out! It's Mav's movie and Cruise owns the role.

It's amazing to me that Cruise returns to the abysmal and redundant and repetitive Mission: Impossible franchise year after year. These movies are like fast food for the eye. If you've seen one then you have definitely seen them all. At least the James Bond franchise can say it turns out dramatically different (if worse) movies from time to time. Yes, the character is the same, but the photography of Spectre, for instance, is cloaked in an impenetrable darkness so that I can not see anything. Every face is some small blob of flesh in a sea of grey. No, the Ukrainian video piracy is not to blame. It's a very dark film. Simply because the title is Spectre doesn't mean the movie has to look like a ghost. I remember when James Bond movies were almost technicolor. I can't find a screenshot of even a single shadow in View To A Kill from 1985, it's all filmed in the daytime or bright artificial light, but Spectre is lit entirely in shadow or at night and sometimes at night and in shadow, like the whole franchise is trying to hide in Batman-esque mist. Top Gun may be puerile but at least you can see what the fuck is happening. And while we're on the topic of James Bond and lack of personality, can I say it's a relief Daniel Craig has decided to retire as the autistic James Bond whose entire personality seems to be reduced to a botoxed version of an emotionless automaton who can fuck anything with garter belt and stockings. His villains have more personality! His cars have more personality! For a character with so much mystique, it's incredible he was allowed to turn his personality scale down to zero for this role four different times.
Angry James Bond

Sad James Bond
Sexually Excited James Bond
Grieving James Bond

Perplexed James Bond
Laughing Hysterically James Bond

Jeffrey L. Kimball is probably more responsible for the alternative lighting choices in Top Gun, it's not too bright and it's not too shadowy...the choices are natural and effortless. The multiple sunrise and sunset shots over the Nevada desert are not manufactured...the message is 'the boys are still out playing after their mother has called them in'. Turn the audio off and Top Gun is a shrine to military might and human engineering, like taking The Right Stuff one step further to remove all subtlety: These Men Kick Ass! shouts this movie. Humility is totally extinguished and what is left is a vacuum of testosterone and jet fuel killing faceless targets over an ocean.

Point Break is probably my guiltiest pleasure and I only watched Top Gun recently because it was in English with Spanish subtitles so I thought it would be educational. If I brag that I watched Top Gun in the theaters along with American Ninja, Rambo Part II and Lone Wolf McQuade, I'm basically admitting that I am an ancient old man, from a generation that predates computers. I met a park ranger who said haughtily, "I was born the year Top Gun was released...I'm just saying." Well, I was the intended audience of Top Gun and it's not as shallow as people think. Actually, it's more shallow as cold war jingoism is merely a smoke screen for softcore porn.

Once I cracked the sexual combat analogy code that is written into every single interaction of this movie it actually became very boring because the writing forces every scenario into this sex theme. But that's the ultimate beauty of Top Gun; it thinks like a good soldier and does what it is told, it never deviates from its mission of military and man celebration. The message is simple: We kill, we fuck, we feel good, we win. If you want something more complicated then go watch Apocalypse Now. Top Gun is not apologetic and we are not going to let morality get in the way of our mission. Top Gun is basically a 90 minute commercial for erectile function.

As America enters a new phase of 'defend the borders, burn the refugees' cold war against a Putin-led criminal organization in Russia and a shadowy gang of brown men in hand loom scarves, a sequel "Top Gun 2" is predictably in the development stages. I wonder if they will mention the obvious impact of Reagan's blindly funding radical terrorists who would later attack N.Y with illicit drug profits hidden from Congress? No, that would be moralizing, and Top Gun is a very good case study in writing and making a movie that has a single purpose and pouring all the resources into fulfilling that purpose. If you do that then you can make a pretty bad movie that is still circulating television 30 years later. Spectre, like most modern movies, won't be circulating 30 months from now.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Looper and Guitar

Just The Two of Us is a tune recorded by Bill Withers and released by both Withers, who sang, and wrote, the classic track, but also by Grover Washington jr. who played saxophone solo on the same track. Washington was a kind of modern day Eric Dolphy with multiple skills on brass and reed instruments. It has a progression that endlessly goes C/B7/emi/G   (the original recording seems to be in F, so F/E7/ami/C) over and over so it is sort of made for a looper.

The guitar only took 20 years to save the money to have built. It's got all I want. Fylde is an English luthier co. with Roger Bucknall slaving away in the workshop for as long as I've been alive. The quality of craftsmanship is A+, the wood is not super exotic in this case to make it affordable. No Brazilian rosewood, or African Blackwood or Bloodwood. No fancy bindings, but it does have custom width striped ebony fingerboard, and custom Native symbology inlay and installed pickup. I guess I'd forgotten that Fylde's necks are not a perfect oval, they have the slight modified V running down the center, or maybe that's required for the inlay of contrasting wood on the back, or maybe it's just this particular Alexander model. I usually avoid that kind of V as I've found it on old Martin's I don't like, but in this case I will trust that this is my future and adapt. I can see there is a slight advantage of having more wood there to rest the thumb on when playing single notes and while playing chords there is no difference. There are many many factors to consider when ordering a custom guitar and neck profile was one I did not consider deeply... Actually, I found an email I sent almost 2 years ago that says,

"The width of the nut is more a preference and the profile is something I don't have much opinion about as long as there isn't a big blunt edge like I've seen on some guitars. I'm accustomed to a shallow neck."

So, Roger indeed took that into account and gave me a very very slight modified V, which he probably did from tradition or on instinct that I would need that little bulge to rest the thumb on. At any rate, I see that neck profile can be ordered and since I didn't specifically say I wanted a completely oval neck identical to the Seagull, he made me a modified slight V, and I'm sure with time it will be perfect for me.I will measure it with a caliper but I feel it's actually no deeper than the Seagull but the bulge still feels different to fingers used to a perfect oval.

 I also found the width of the nut is the same as my requested 46mm but the spacing of the strings is different/wider by about 1.25 mm, and that also takes a slight adjustment, but at this spacing there is never a danger of accidental bumping of strings. After playing the Fylde for a while the Seagull seems narrow. The guitar's name is Native Spirit and it's a tribute to our roots. I've gotten used to the dull sound of my Seagull, the spotty intonation and the buzzing and general sloppy-ness of the 20 year old Seagull. Odd, because everyone who plays it is impressed. I might do a comparison of the two one day but it is sad how lifeless the solid Cedar top/laminate sides Seagull sounds compared to a Cedar/Sapele solid instrument. The Seagull has about half the volume of the Fylde and 3/4 the sustain. The Fylde, for instance, overwhelms the camera's microphone and causes it to spike. The Seagull never had this problem. So now I own the level of acoustic guitar at which there is nothing higher. All solid wood guitars sound basically the same to me, since I am half deaf, but the details are custom and craftsmanship are different. It's a paradox because it takes about 10 years of playing for a guitar to warm up and break in, so ask me again about this Fylde in 2025 and I'll give another review. It's too new to discuss, but I can promise to keep it busy while I can. I'm amazed actually that I played a Fylde in Hobgoblin music in London in 1995 or 1996 and at that point it was the guitar I wanted most. And when near San Francisco I went to Gryphon to have my newly purchased Seagull's action adjusted and the end block repaired, and I played every high end guitar they had, which is pretty much a buffet of Lowden, Breedlove, Collings, Froggy Bottom, Santa Cruz, Martin...although no Fylde. I played all of those other guitars and only the Santa Cruz and Breedlove compared in my mind, but the first love remained for 20 years and I've played every guitar I could find to see if it was a better fit, but still the Fylde was the tops if I was buying what I consider a "Heritage" guitar, something that I don't own, but merely care-take for the future. But I only now realize that after 20 years there is no reason a Fylde will be the same kind of Fylde I played long ago, so why would I expect this guitar to sound the same as the ones I played then? But it not only sounds the same but the light heft, the balance, the construction, the aesthetics all still surpass anything I've played, though I know I could live with any fine instrument. Even looking at a video of me playing it looks normal and I can't say that for every guitar. I still handle it lightly but once I've dinged it on a moped pedal or scratched it with a metal necklace or something that is bound to happen then I will handle it less carefully and it will become absorbed into my collection. It's amazing that it fits so well because my tastes never changed in this realm of guitars. Price tag never was the deciding factor as I felt everything had to appeal to me. This is not the most expensive guitar and definitely doesn't have the most exotic woods, but it's exactly the guitar I would buy again over all the ones I've played. Picking it up today, a few days after I finally got it into my possession, feels normal, like it was always mine and Roger simply helped reunite me with it. I think it's too personal a decision to purchase a custom solid wood guitar, but I certainly recommend playing a Fylde. Of course my video doesn't showcase the natural acoustics of the guitar because I'm trying to learn to use an amplified looper, which requires the guitar go through a bypassed digitech multi-effects processor and into a Jamman Express and then into a portable Fender Amp Can, which should not normally be played while it is charging because of the hum. So this is the humblest audio for such a great instrument. It deserves to be played acoustically in a van. Heck, when I turn the amp on it's volume is the same as the guitar itself.

Some stats comparisons (all measurements in mm):
                                                 Fylde                     Seagull
Nut Width                                  45.89                      46.20 
12 Fret Width                             56.82                      55.28 
Profile 9th Fret                           28.64                       28.46
String Spacing at Bridge              58.31                      55.46
E-A                                             13                            12.42
A-D                                             12.18                        11.55
D-G                                             11.14                         11.91
G-B                                              13.13                       11.32
B-E                                              11.36                        11.25
Action Height at 12th fret*            5.63                          4.63
*I later adjusted the Fylde by sanding the saddle down 1.5mm. I think it's 1/64th from where I want it but will live with it for now.

Noteworthy comments are that I specifically asked for the nut width to be identical and I asked for 46mm. Considering the luthier and I were about 5000 miles apart that measurement was no small chore to coordinate. My micrometer has a user error rate of 5% so that number is perfect. .1mm is too small to feel. The12th fret is equally important but I didn't request anything specific and they are about 1.5mm different. The main difference I feel is the G-B string distance of 13.13 on the Fylde. I'm accustomed to more uniform distances in the 11.5mm range and this is almost 2mm wider but that G string is also the last wound string considered a "bass" string, so I wonder if this width is intentionally separating the bass from the treble unwound B and high E strings*. After 20 years with my Seagull I can tell any difference of less than 1 mm so 1.8mm feels like a chasm. I may have that changed with an offset groove in the bridge but I don't know yet. There are no luthiers I trust here in Central America so any adjustment will have to wait until another day. The main adjustment is the action, which I neglected to request lowered. 1mm in extra height is a major change especially when combined with the spacing difference. I like an acoustic guitar with low action for lightning fast lead lines like my Ibanez electric. My Seagull actually held the original action I had set up at Gryphon Music in the Bay Area way back in 1995 when I only owned one shirt. Now the G string buzzes and the E string buzzes and I think the frets need work plus a change of nut and bridge. But 20 years is pretty damn good lifespan for the action on a regularly used guitar.

*After further inspection the small string slot on the saddle for the B string was not perfectly aligned with the string/peg hole so the string was coming out at an angle that added up to a wider string spacing. Or maybe the initial placement of strings back at the workshop cut the groove slightly off center. After moving it so it is straight, the strings are now closer to uniform.

The looper is a new Jamman Express Xt and is a budget item to give me some entrance to the looping phenomenon. It's not the most basic, but it's pretty basic, which is what I decided I should have. There are many loopers on the market and I had a hard time deciding which one was best for me. The loopers with SD card and memory options all involve proprietary software coded in Pakistan or Myanmar which barely works and looks like it was coded from a room in 1988. Functionality was Steve Jobs real genius and if you like Apple then the software that comes with some of those loopers will make you weep in your mock turtleneck nest. And drums that are included on these digital devices are usually horrible and limited to a few boring rhythms, not to mention that I already own a unit with digital drums. The option to reverse a track or play at half speed is useless to me. So, that left me with choosing a basic looper in a small box and there are about three that would work for $90, but this one is Digitech, which is reliable and economy. There was some static at first which was either the cheap cable or else the brand new input jacks. It went away after changing the cables around. The unit runs off a daisy chain 9v power adapter that runs my other digitech multi-effects unit I never use. The 9v battery has a lifespan of about 30 minutes because there is no on off switch. When plugged in and a guitar cable is inserted, it turns on and stays on and draws enough juice to kill the battery.

At first I thought there was a flawed delay in the start of the recorded loop but it's definitely the timing of my foot that is the problem. I would recommend starting with a very basic and regular bass line to practice. The lack of automatic start (found on the fancier pedals) means one must begin playing instantly after touching the switch or else the track will begin with a pause. Since music is a timed exercise, the idea of timing a guitar strum with the downbeat of hitting a foot switch (but not before hitting the switch) is pretty essential for starting a loop right. To make matters worse, this looper has a fancy switch that engages on the UP of the button, so hitting the switch is only half the act, as the loop will begin to record when the switch is RELEASED. This allows one to hold the button down and clear loops without starting them playing, which would happen if I simply hit and released the switch fast. And ending the loop must be done with equal precision at the instant before the start of the loop will fit in naturally. There was no flaw in the unit but this takes some practice and the first, fundamental, loop is the most important. After that, your looper will take everything played, while in overdub mode, and replay it. This will happen infinitely even if you don't leave overdub mode. Whatever is played during overdub mode will replay when the fundamental loop goes full circle. You can leave overdub mode and let it all play and noodle around or go get a drink, but if you start a 3rd overdub then that 2nd loop will be absorbed into the fundamental loop and you can't delete it without deleting everything. But the 2nd and 3rd loops aren't as hard for me to segue into and out of because something about the timing of the fundamental loop is memorized and I know what to expect. But recording that initial loop has no click track except in my own mind so I have to hit the switch at exactly the right moment or else there will be a pause or if I hit the switch too late then it will only play 7/9ths of the first beat. This is true with all loopers but some have fancy adjustments if you have a click track that will extend the recording to fit the click track. This jamman express has none of that fancy stuff and I hope to work out some blues and soul arrangements. I figured that with an ipod I can have whatever backing track that I want and the need to have additional memory on a looper is redundant. Endless reviews of all loopers suggest there are lemons in all manufacturers. I will revisit this topic after I get settled in my next gypsy hideaway.
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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.