Jelly, jelly so fine

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Fleetwood Mac - Future Games

Saturnine Meander

I jettisoned Ulysses. Too much work, no sense that I would ever get any kind of payoff.
I will stick with Finnegan's wake or Steven Hero if I feel the need to get joyced. Great writer, amazing sense of rhythm, I am just too old and lazy to finish.


It is hard for me to read many of the vaunted literary titans, an indication of my inferior intellectual powers and general ill breeding.

Oates, Bellow, Roth, all very difficult for me to plow through. Updike is cool, storyline usually runs along the lines of some neurotic east coast literary professor who cheats on his wife. I jumped off the english lit thing somewhere after Salinger.

Also gave up on the Bradbury compilation, too dark, although he is an amazing writer when you are in the mood. Loved the short story Somewhere a band is playing that I read last year.

I got two books from the library this week, a Nero Wolfe book that I don't think that I have ever read before, Too Many Cooks, and Jon Meacham's biography of Andrew Jackson, American Lion. The Nero Wolfe mystery, written by the best writer to ever hail from Indiana, Rex Stout, was written early, I believe in 1938. A bunch of famous chefs get set to prepare a grand dinner together and wouldn't you know it, one of them gets a squab knife in the back and falls straight into the shad roe mousse. Stout is one of the great gourmet mystery writers and Archie one of the best wisecrackers of all time.

What bothered me about the book was the liberal usage of the word nigger. It is sprinkled throughout the book, set in Virginia. Stout tackles the notion of racism head on in the book, which was and is commendable but you don't know at first why he is using this type of jargon and it is discomforting.

One of my other favorite mystery writers in Arthur Upfield, an englishman who wrote the mysteries of Inspector Boney, the half aborigine detective of the outback. These were written in the twenties and have a crude racist caste at times as well. Guess it is a good things that times have changed.

Marlo at the Bottom Shelf, the book selling arm at the Fallbrook Library, used to sell me mysteries when I was a kid at the late and great Esmerelda Bookstore in Del Mar. She came over last month and brought me some Inspector Otani mysteries, written by a man who used the pseudonym James Melville. These were superb, with great character development and I wished that he would have continued the stories about the head of the Hyogo prefecture. Anyway Marlo remembered that I loved them and that was nice.

My favorite books as a kid were the great tales, the potboilers, the homeric tales, the ring trilogy, anything by Stevenson, Twain or Dumas. Sprinkle in a little Hesse, Lord Dunsany and Burroughs and I was good to go.

I watched the 3-D movie John Carter of Mars last month, to my horror, the acting was even worse than the abominable Lord of the Rings. How dare they! The original, with the quixotic locales like barzoom and helium, were a bit camp but riveting. This one really doesn't click.


My mom called the other day and I answered. She is reading the blog again and I guess that I better watch it. No more complaining about my shitty childhood.  Actually the Jackson book, which is quite good and chronicles one of my favorite and our most interesting presidents, along with his sucessor Van Buren, looks like it will be on par with McCullough's John Adams book. And reminds me of my mother. She taught history amongst a million other things and our home library had over 10,000 books. Lots of Bruce Catton civil war stuff, just a great library. No television for many years, you can read a book, damnit and we did. Buzz and I memorized the World Book one summer.


The book starts off with Jackson (1767-1845), our seventh president, contemplating taking up arms as President and leading the charge against his wayward native state South Carolina. He was born in the remote Scotch Irish, Appalachian town of Waxhaws. Jackson was a most incredible figure and in 1835 paid off the entire federal debt, the only time such a deed has been accomplished in our nation's history.


South Carolina, of course continues to vie for Virginia and Arizona for the stupidest state honor. Spoleto Festival aside, the place is pretty wacky, archly conservative and the politicians fairly deranged. I shan't bore you with the details. Look it up. Anyway it always somehow comes back to food with me and the Carolinas are no different. North Carolina has the worst barbecue I have ever tasted or agonizingly endured, I should say, the vinegar chopped pork not a suitable dish for even, well pigs.

As a self professed connoisseur of all things barbecue I did a little research on Carolina and its particular style of barbecue. And here is the skinny; western North Carolina is tomato based, eastern North Carolina is that dreadful vinegar base and South Carolina is mustard based. Interestingly to me is that one of the meccas of barbecue, where I have dined, Kansas City's renowned Arthur Bryant's, also includes vinegar in their sauce, but in an utterly palatable and delicious way.

I still think that the best barbecue I have ever tasted I bought by the pound and was beef brisket in Texas hill country near Round Top. Served on a sheet of paper. The ultimate. But I confess to never having eaten dry rub in Memphis, something on the to do list someday.

A friend of mine is thinking about moving back east, near Raleigh. I wish he wouldn't, I find the place pretty flat, muggy and miserable and the people even more so. Lost one friend to the evangelicals back there already. Asheville would be okay I suppose. Maybe Greenville. If he does do it, he has to stay out of the way of the book, cross and bible burners. Volatile times, somebody could catch on fire. To even think of moving to a place with such wretched barbecue, even Nero would be repulsed.

david nuuhiwa on the nose

Big Sunday

San Diego area folks might want to head to the coast tomorrow. Waves at certain beaches are expected to be 15 to 18' with occasional monsters rolling in as well. Blacks should be huge. Unfortunately shape is expected to be poor due to an onshore wind.

The shot above was a modest wave on a very large surf day at Swamis, December 5, 2007. The cliff top and street were totally packed with onlookers on that epic day.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Feathered Friend

I snapped this picture of the red tail in the nest yesterday afternoon. Not terribly sharp nor close to being one of my better images but I thought that the feathers above the tail were quite striking. It appeared to be feeding something but I couldn't see a chick. Will keep watching.

Superman & The Mole Men #2

One day at a time.

I had never been pals with him, had seen him around, a mostly friendly face on a barstool. Had a dustup with his kid once that I don't really need to reset. Just thought of him as basically another happy idiot in a room mostly full of idiots, where the scenery never changed and every night was a continuing installment of the same long running movie.

Having grown up in a house of alcoholics, I was never much of a drinker. Drink a little bit for show, but always with a foot on the brake pedal, never wanting to do much harm to the machinery. I like the lodge as a place to grab a bit of local color but understand that it occupies a much larger space in many of the regulars' lives. Fun to get stupid every once in a while but it is a conscious and sometimes difficult decision for me to surrender. Enjoy a glass of a full bodied red now again because they taste so delicious but have always been very conscious of limits. Normal jitters, I suppose, after taking a fair amount of collateral damage in my younger years.

Anyway the man I am discussing showed up at the gym one day about a year ago, stone cold sober and beaming with the glow of a man who had found a better path for himself. Freshly scrubbed and born again. I commended him for his choice and he confided about how happy he was to have come to grips with his alcoholism and for having made the change.  I gave him a lot of positive support. He was now in the program, like many of the early morning gym rats, and the change in him was truly remarkable.

It is tough for somebody who drinks any amount of alcohol to talk with people in A.A.. I get the feeling that deep down that they think that anyone who is drinking any booze t all is an alcoholic. Alcoholics can not social drink. It is every alcoholic's dream to be a social tippler or occasional drinker but we all know that it can't be done. They have to stop completely.

I was amazed and supportive of this man's decision to right his ship. He was almost evangelical in his new relationship with life. That is why it surprised me to hell to hear that he had relapsed. I heard about it, of all places, at the bar the other night. "You must be talking about somebody else, I said." But more details were supplied and unfortunately it was the same guy. Had come into some money and was getting a divorce and he had fell off hard.

I ran into him yesterday and he admitted that the train had indeed come off the tracks. He was once again trying to live on the straight and narrow, showed no shame in his coming up short and was going to try again. Good for him.

We got into a pretty deep conversation about the ins and outs, you know how I like to pry and reconstructed his bender. And what I found interesting was that it was a very similar tale to one that a couple of my best friends had undergone several decades ago. Both were married and both wives left when they got sober. Neither wife drank but both wives had alcoholic fathers.

As long as they had the role of enabling angels everything was okay but when the dynamic shifted and their partners got sober they were left without a comfortable or familiar part to play in the movie. Have to find somebody new to never save. Kind of strange how it works.

I am pulling for this guy to make it. Drink was not helping him and a clearer view of his life demanded changes. He is not so doe eyed and squeaky clean as he was at the beginning of his path to sobriety, understanding that he is facing a long protracted battle with himself. Maybe he needed to fall once again so that he can finally draw a bright line. One day at a time.

Ray Price - Night Life

Thursday, March 29, 2012

2000 Light Years From Home

Superman & The Mole Men #1

First of four parts. My favorite George Reeves' Superman episode. This Lois Lane is a bit hotter than the later version. How would Clark see through the wall to see that the old man was dead?

Bobby's midweek buffet

Did any of you see the great article on General Electric in In these Times last week? The company has initiated an unprecedented propaganda campaign in the midst of reports that against a 14 billion dollar backdrop of record profits last year they also managed to cut thirty thousand jobs. And not only did they pay no taxes on the gelt, they also got a $3.2 billion dollar tax credit. Really worth a read.


The House has just passesd a budget to effectively kill Medicare as we know it. More tax cuts for the wealthy, more coal for the poor. Not to be outdone the Senate today voted not to touch the fat subsidies we are doling out to the oil companies.


Canada killed its penny today. We should too. As someone said at coffee, we can't even put them in fuses anymore.


BigD sends this tasteless cartoon over.


Brett was responsible for a pic of the uniquely shaped shoo shoo fruit from Brazil.


Harwood sends this lovely. I agree. Have you noticed how bad the spelling, punctuation and syntax is getting on the web? Big time newspapers included. Just because everybody is now a writer doesn't mean that everybody is also an editor. Obviously.


LeMasters offered this great clip from Obama's recent trip to Denmark. Can't call him much of an orator. Bit of a bore, actually.


Millard sends over this note from across the pond. Apparently the hippies are heading off to Noah's Ark. Great comments. 


Rupert Murdoch has pledged to get tough with his enemies today. No more Mr. Nice Guy. It seems he already has, his competitors claiming to have evidence that he leaked their secret codes. It is alleged that News Corp's pay-TV smartcard security unit, NDS, had promoted piracy attacks on rivals, including in the United States.

I am frankly amazed that this guy is not in jail. With several News Corp subsidiaries in clear violation of the American Foreign Corrupt Practices act outlawing bribery in a foreign country, particularly Russia and England in this instance, I don't know how this guy still has a shingle. Except that the Democrats in this country are a bunch of big pussies afraid to take him and by association Fox News on, fearing the political cries and repercussions. Damn them all.

Flatt and Scruggs- Martha White

I heard that Earl Scruggs died yesterday. Scruggs was a titan in bluegrass, from his early work with Bill Monroe to his long partnership with the great Texan flatpicker , Lester Flatt. I guess like most Americans my age, I first encountered his playing from the theme song for the Beverly Hillbillies.

I really started getting in to his music and wonderful playing when the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's seminal album Will the Circle be Unbroken was released. He loved to play with the new generation and wasn't an asshole about the "hippies" like Monroe could be. Earl will be truly missed.

Walk the Y

Dear Friends,

As most of you are aware, one of my passions is the pursuit of genetic genealogical research. I have been in involved in several areas of personal testing, including Y-DNA, Mitochondrial DNA, autosomal testing and some deep clade testing.

I am involved with a very cutting edge group of genetic researchers through Family Tree DNA, Texas Genomics Center and the University of Arizona.

I belong to a Y group or cluster known as L792, an offshoot of the E1b1b1c1 haplogroup or as it is now officially known, E1b1b1b2a1d*. It is a fairly large and distinct cluster that left africa approximately 22,400 years ago and settled in the  levant.

In order to amass more information about our cluster I have volunteered to submit my DNA sample for a highly involved testing called Walk the Y. Our DNA is defined primarily by two measuring devices for mutations, SNP's and STR's. SNP is short for single nucleotide polymorphism and STR is a short tandem repeat. Geneticists can chart the human evolution of DNA by evaluating these markers.

Walk the Y will hopefully uncover a whole bunch of new SNP's. In the long term this will benefit a host of people, from medical researchers to genetic anthropologists and more. I would humbly like to ask for your help in raising the $750.00 that this expensive and complicated test will require. I have enlisted a new fundraising device called Crowd Tilt if you wish to donate through that portal. Donations can also be made through Paypal at blheron@pacbell.net or personally to me. If all of my readers offered a dollar I could fund this in a week. I get no direct benefit, except for being a part of a new frontier of genetic exploration.

I offer a little information about Walk the Y.

Walk Through the Y is an advanced sequencing test focused on the discovery of new haplogroup-defining SNPs (Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms) on the Y-chromosome.

"Walk Through the Y is an advanced sequencing test focused on the discovery of new haplogroup-defining SNPs (Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms) on the Y-chromosome."

Essentially, it tests a large sequence of the Y chromosome by testing for known SNPs in every haplogroup, and then looks for new SNPs near the known SNPs.  At present, WTY covers approximately 400,000 bases.  When WTY first started in 2008, it covered perhaps 90,000 bases.  The coverage of the WTY increases periodically -- when new SNPs are discovered via academic studies and external projects such as the 1000 Genomes project, and FTDNA starts testing for those SNPs, they also get added to WTY.

Walk Through the Y goes beyond the scope of Deepclade testing, offering customers the opportunity to participate in testing at the forefront of Y-chromosome DNA research. We test several hundred SNPs by sequencing significant portions of the Y-chromosome, obtaining results for SNPs already discovered, but also searching for new ones.

This research can expedite the discovery of SNPs that help subdivide haplogroups, lead to in-depth studies of family or private SNPs, and increase the SNPs available through advanced orders.

The Walk Through the Y (WTY) test directly sequences your Y-chromosome DNA for known SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms). The lab checks the raw results for new SNPs that are near the known SNP. The test has the following features.

It uses sanger sequencing.
Segments are from the non-recombining part of the Y-chromosome.
It includes both the forward and reverse primer.
It sequences five plates of 96 segments (5x96 = 480).
We test over 180 kB of the Y-chromosome.

There are several outcomes for Walk Through the Y (WTY) testing. They are:
No additional SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphims) are found
A private SNP is found
A semi-private SNP is found
A subclade defining SNP is found
A redundant (equivalent to others on the tree) SNP is found

This testing may lead to the discovery of historic and genetic mutations in our understanding of DNA. The technology is moving forward so fast, now testing over 400,000 base pairs. There is a real possibility of some very exciting discoveries and this exploration is currently near the ground floor. I rarely ask for help and I know that times are tight. If you are able to contribute, it would be much appreciated.

Thank you,

Robert Sommers

Donations - 

Warren b. $25.00 3/29/12
Ed - $20.00 3/30/12
Len - $50.00 3/31/12
Jon - $5.00
Wanda - $20.00
Stan and Tracy - $20.00

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Scalitize it!

It seems like a lot of conservative folks will soon be celebrating the death of their evil nemesis, Obamacare, at least judging from the remarks of our esteemed SCOTUS. I get their arguments. The government shouldn't be able to force you to buy anything. They can force you to fight and die for them but not to carry insurance. The state government can require that you buy insurance if you wish to buy or drive a car but heaven forbid the government requires everyone to have health insurance.

I sort of liken it to what I call the Gary Busey saga. Remember when he demonstrated so vehemently about his right not to wear a helmet, only to have his brains splattered all over the pavement in a horrendous accident. Who paid for that mess? Well, besides Gary, of course.

If everybody carries insurance there then exists a pool of premium money that can cover those that exist on the margins and those with pre-existing conditions. Like the rest of the civilized world, does it.

Sure are a lot of five to four decisions with this court, aren't there? Bush/Gore, Citizens United, no corporate boot that they seemingly won't dry hump, I have little allusion that the health care mandate is not toast. And it will be back to business as usual and you will wait a very long time if you think that you will get an honest plan to deal from the problem with the conservatives, the let them die crowd.

And americans, buffoons that we are, will once again have only ourselves to blame.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Agenbite of Inwit

My photography trip tomorrow just got cancelled. Ken is getting a cold. Probably all for the better, the flowers in the Anza Borrego are not yet near their peak, my ankle is too sore for hiking and I need to make some money to pay the bills. Which never quit.  I commence my annual e-bay dump. I have a nice print by Frank Benson up now and it has already made reserve. Lovely but I don't think I will miss it too terribly. Soon it will be joined by some other pretties.


I was talking to my trainer Jeaneanne this morning and we were talking about the concept of certainty. I mentioned that the certainty of a large pile of bills was ever present in my life, like it is for most people. For most of us life is a struggle to keep up, just the way it is. We all just have to keep grinding. And I must say that looking at those supposedly lucky individuals who have struck gold and freed them selves from such earthly worries, well, they just find new ways to get themselves fucked up. Spend it all on mistresses or therapists. Do the Howard Hughes and sit in a sealed room and watch your fingernails grow.

Anyway we or I desire getting to a point where we won't have to worry about such temporal things, the certainty of having it made if you will. She brought up another point. She said that Tony Robbins says that not only do humans crave certainty but they also crave uncertainty. And I hadn't thought of that. Do we humans crave certainty and uncertainty at the same time?

I guess that if you are living a muggle type existence, winding the same nut onto the same bolt in your factory job for the umpteenth year, you might be desirous of a fresh breath of air. So maybe that's the trick, finding that neat middle ground between breath of fresh air and being camped out in the fresh air permanently holding a cup of pencils.


There are a couple of competing or maybe dovetailing plans that people are developing for the future of our town. Both conceived by well meaning people who devote tons of energy, time and money with little or no reward for the good of their common man and all that. Having seen countless studies and plans in my three decades here, I take it all in with a bit of skepticism and a grin.

It seems to me that things have to grow organically and that grand schemes of social engineering are probably doomed to failure.

The first thing I read about was a plan where my fair burg Fallbrook would emulate Little Italy. The county has put aside 40k for a Fallbrook, Little Italy study. I called up the progenitor of the plan, Vince.

"Vince, we can't do a Little Italy up here," I says. "Why not?" he replies. "We don't have enough italians." (sound of rimshot.)

The other plan aims to create a large art corridor in town on Alvarado. I heard that part of the plan was that this street and Main one block on either side would be reserved for art galleries. I am trying to verify this. The cost of the first strategy would be borne by already tapped property owners like yours truly, the latter by private donations.

The reality is that I have been on Main St. or Avenue since about 1990 and have seen a lot of businesses come and go. Fallbrook doesn't patronize the art galleries and shops that are here now. Both framer/galleries are struggling to get by, the Brandon is subsidized as is the Find and they aren't exactly beating a path to my or Michael Johnson's door.  Why would a surfeit of more galleries be expected to change the existing paradigm?

Like it or not, the once capitol of avocados is a quiet town, caught in a tug of war between the well heeled gentry and the old farmers who don't give one whit about things changing. I figure that if things do change they will change slowly and organically and not by anyone's road of good intentions. I salute the shop owners and businesspeople who have hung in there, no matter what their business might be.

I also readily admit to not having an answer or plan either. Well Robert, what would you do? I have no idea. It just seems like we are applying lipstick to the proverbial porker. This place will never be Carmel or Laguna. Leslie says for that you need an ocean or maybe a good apple pie. Fallbrook is a wonderful place to live and to be retired but maybe not such a great place to make a living. It is not enough to wish and conceptualize a certain type of sophisticated model for the town. There has to be substance and content and one has to be realistic about what the residents will actually support. We are making great progress at being a wonderful town for artists, for people involved in making art, sculptors, printmakers, painters, glass blowers, bronze casters, writers etc. Selling works of art and people making a living is an entirely different proposition.


I was reading Helen McHargue's excellent blog Guacamole Gulch and learned a tidbit about one of my favorite mystery writers, Georges Simenon. I quote:

"In addition to his seemingly endless series of Inspector Maigret stories, he wrote more than 200 novels, over 150 novellas, several autobiographical works, and scores of pulp novels under pseudonyms. He wrote 800 humorous pieces in a two year period as "Monsieur Le Coq" between 1919 and 1921, when he was 16 -18 of age.  He would write 60 - 80 pages a day, vomit from the tension but nevertheless turn out a novel in 6 or 7 days. When he'd start a novel, he'd get a medical exam to assure that he was up to the stress. Next, he'd get his four dozen sharpened pencils ready, put a "Do not disturb" sign up on his room and let it rip."

Now let me just say that Simenon is a fantastic writer (and apparently a prodigious lover, although one would hope that his literary output was not as premature as his apparent tenure in the sack) but can I say in all modesty that if he can output a novel in 6 or 7 days, surely I can crack one out in a month or two?


Some of you may no that I have been writing course curriculum for teachers this past year. I just finished three courses, including one on Vietnam that passed muster and I am actually getting paid for writing. And if the courses sell I get paid pretty well. So I intend to plumb that avenue as well since I enjoy writing so much. Might as well get paid for it.


I saw my brilliant, crazy jewish friend Warren this afternoon. He was feeding his grandkids. He asked about business. "Oy," I said. He said," I know what you mean, just waiting for the vey to drop."

Monday, March 26, 2012

Cassius Clay winning the golden gloves

Cedell Davis - Big Boss Man

Les the Limner

I get kidded for having done so many different things in my life, but I did amble around a bit and there are a reasonable number of witnesses. One of the most fun careers I ever had was when I had my sign painting business, Vital Signs in Rainbow at the old gas station. 1983 to 1985, if my memory serves me correctly.

I always had a thing for lettering and letters and type and paint for that matter and being a sign painter itched most of those scratches.  A world of grey squirrel Langnickel brushes, Ronin and One Shot.

I apprenticed with old Les Gampp. Lived behind Hunter's Attic with that fellow that died his hair black that we called the indian. Les owned Alhambra Signs for over fifty years. Les liked to hit the speed bag every once in a while after our lessons, he boxed a lot in his youth and once walked across Japan. I learned about the sign craft and pugilism. Pacifist, vegetarian, amazing guy. Close friend of the great local painter Ralph Love. Les could really oil paint too, I had one of his paintings of Chile once.

Les taught me the old fashioned way, I got his mall stick when he died. We snapped a big bow for chalk lines, used and upstroke on the one stroke lettering, favored laquer for spirits. I practiced my lettering diligently for close to three years. Just started to get into gold leaf when he passed.

Les was over 90 when I met him. Was really one of the great characters in my life. I got out of the business when I saw the Gerber machines coming in, when vinyl started to take over the world.

Les slept over and caught a flu and died. Always kicked myself for not shutting that window.


I was driving up to Temecula yesterday with the wife when I looked over at the grassy knoll of Temecula Creek Inn and Golf Course. On the grass was a monument of some kind that spelled out TCI. But the C and the I were too close together compared to the distance between the T and the C. They measured out distance from the edges rather than evaluate negative space.

One of the most important keys to good graphics and lettering is layout. They don't teach it anymore and the monkeys running the machines rarely have it. There are basic rules involved. Vertical letters require more space from their neighbors than round letters. C's and O's reach over the top of the grid lines. Many of the people who letter trucks don't quite get this and you can spot the goofs a mile away. That is what happens when you take the humans out of the equation. Things can get stupid.


Today is the anniversary of Ken Norton's defeat of Muhammed Ali, in San Diego back in 1973. It was Ali's second defeat. They called Norton the Black Hercules and The Fighting Marine.

Junior Kimbrough "Sad Days, Lonely Nights"

Monday muddling breakdown

The great boxing writer and personality Bert Sugar died yesterday. Bert was a very smart man and one of the best boxing scribes around. Definitely will be missed.

photo manipulation by robert sommers

I pulled out in front of a cop this morning, rolling through the stop, definitely pushing the envelope. Never  caught his official status until the flashers went off. I guiltily and slowly pulled over to the curb and quickly took responsibility for my treachery and malfeasance.

The cop was of stocky build, shortly cropped hair and what looked to me like a real passion for his craft. He says, "You know what the difference between stop and slow is?" I pondered for a second."When I am beating on your head with this nightstick do you want me to slow down or stop?"

I have always loved a cop who had an appreciation for metaphor. He let me go with a warning.


Just heard a great version of the Grateful Dead's epic Dark Star performed by Garth Hudson on his The Sea to the North album from 2001. Almost has a dust bowl Harry Partch feel at times and I really liked it. Not up on youtube, might have to actually buy the disk or song.

Happy Buddha

My wife loves massages. Yesterday I decided to join her at her favorite new spot in Temecula, Happy Buddha. Happy Buddha is located in the KMart shopping center, sort of near Aaron Brothers.

Happy Buddha bills itself as a reflexology, foot spa but it is so much more. For thirty five dollars you get a whole bunch of fixing. About an hour's work. Since I have been having heel problems with my right foot lately I thought I would give it a shot.

You walk in to the clean and nicely decorated foot spa and are seated in a reclining chair and offered a cup of unsweetened chinese herb tea. The manager handed me a reflexology chart that showed all of the locations on the foor and their corresponding organs on the human body.

A large chinese woman came over with a bucket of herbs and warm water and we started soaking my feet. I first got a scalp massage, then a neck and shoulder massage, fairly deep. From kneading to light pummeling. Then she started working my feet and calves. Ended with more whole body work.

I was blown away by the skill level of this woman. As good as any western massage in memory. Amazing amount of work for the money. Happy Buddha!

A message from Herman Cain

To think this guy was in the final pool of candidates to lead this great nation!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Eric Clapton - Stone Free

This song is from the 1993 Hendrix tribute album. All of the tunes on the album are great but I especially like Clapton's treatment of Stone Free. He, like Jimi, is one of the few musicians who sings as well as he plays. Leslie likes the Cure song on the album a whole bunch.

Saturday's Child works hard for his living

 I met with my camera group at the coffee shop like we do every Saturday morning. Kip brought in a beautiful shot that he had taken in Barcelona and printed quite large on his new Epson 4900. The picture and print both blew me away! Jesus sailing in the ether. The color and clarity is just remarkable. He was gracious enough to send me a jpeg to post. Really a magnificent shot.


Colonel Ken Creech, an ex fallbrookian who now makes his residence somewhere in the Huachuca Mountains of Arizona, showed up at the Klatch as well. Ken is a right wing, red neck, part American Indian auctioneer who still faithfully reads the blast every day. See, we are nondenominational over here at the blast. Some of my best friends are republicans.  He thinks that I should write a book and make some big money. Sends the blog out to his friends in Georgia and Tennessee and they all want to know what makes the crazy california heeb tick?


Planning a quick jaunt to the Anza Borrego desert to photograph some wildflowers and who knows what else some time soon with my buddy Ken.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Harry Johnson - It's Nothing To Me

Bob Dylan played this neat ditty on the wonderful radio hour rebroadcast this week. Did you know there is a Dylan radio site? Just discovered it, pretty cool, I'm streaming through itunes. Simply hit the listen with your media player in the upper right corner.

Wicked Reentry

I'm a little short in the profundity and epiphany department today. Perhaps the weekend was simply too good and the jump back into the lifestream inversely cold and nasty. In the wake of the fairly disastrous show in Glendale, money will certainly be tight and the way out of the woods difficult this month. The spousal unit has heard it all before and figures I will figure it out, I always do. But that still doesn't get it done.


I saw a really old guy at the gas station this morning getting intro a fluorescent yellow porsche boxster and I thought," Ain't it just like life, as soon as you can really afford it, you're just too old to enjoy it properly..."


The news is so depressing. Everywhere. The Obama administration sucking up all of your information in a giant data mining operation, guaranteed to record every squack, creak, belch or fart but don't worry they promise not to look at the stuff unless you are a really bad guy. NYPD infiltrating liberal groups because you never know what those democrats and progressives might do next. Repubs backing out of the budget deal they made last year on the debt ceiling cap, obviously can't be trusted. Geraldo pissing all over himself over the crime of wearing a hoodie, the sweatshirt is responsible, how long ago did this guy lose all vestiges of credibility or did the one time lawyer ever have any? Have fun over there with Juan Willimas, Geraldo. Etch a sketch. I think that the boys over at ALTERNET HAVE TO BE HAVING A FIELD DAY WITH THE FRENCH SHOOTING THING IN TOULOUSE. I CAN (computers should have a key to reverse capital letters and vice versa to cure what I just did and leave on for educational purposes only.) ahem. Back to the Alternuts, I can see the headlines now - Jewish schoolchildren had it coming. Commenter told me today that the kids simply had that old toxic jewish karma, you know like Anne Frank did.

Today a teacher in Rouen had her class stand in memory and tribute to the poor shooter, seems the lad had a troubled childhood. Another commenter says that it is the fault of the system for jailing the assassin for a year for the mere crime of stealing a woman's pocketbook.  On top of the laundry list of crimes he had been convicted for, of course. Other comments derided him for not killing more of the oppressor. The liberals think that it is important to understand how a person could be driven to such evil, not that it is justified mind you but we have to find a way to blame it on the Israeli's, don't we?


BigD sent this panorama photo he took with his iphone.

Manny sent this Lana Del Rey clip over.  And Schmid sent this one. Steve offers this clip.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Jimi Hendrix at Rainbow Bridge

We were in the middle of the Valley of Fire when this song Fire came blasting on the satellite radio. Perfect. I cranked it up.  Check out some of the nice surf action at the end of the video.

Better late than never

KJ finally sent over pictures of that trip we took with his wife Jasmine to Utah. Five years ago! This is me shooting at the Wave, an outrageous spot in the Paria/Escalante National Monument.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Weldon Irvine -- Mr. Clean

Robin Trower - Bluebird

Robert walks through the Valley of Fire

© Robert Sommers

"Turn left," said the voice in my right ear. We were entering the huge parking garage at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas and were trying to procure a fifth floor space that was not too far from the hotel. "I have been studying maze dynamics," said my friend BigD,"When confronted with the choice, the overwhelming number of people will make the right turn, hence making the less traveled left handed choice a better bet for finding that perfect parking space."

I thought that was interesting and asked him if he would be so kind as to supply the underlying data set for his supposition. I had run into similar logic questions before. Years ago, when I was setting up one of my first major art exhibitions, Native Palette, Michael Johnson shared a trick that a museum curator once clued him into; always hang the largest painting on the left because most people will circumnavigate a room left to right. Compositionally it looks more correct. Wonder if it works in the southern hemisphere or if there is a corresponding directional change? 

I once saw the coriolis effect in fine view in Nyahururu, Kenya. I always thought of the equator as an abstract concept but there is a yellow line painted through this town. A handful of stick matches are placed in a tub with a plug on the bottom. Three inches this way of the equator, the water vortexes right, three inches left it cascades in the opposite direction and directly on top the matchsticks dropped straight down when the plug was pulled. The Austrian physicist Otto Tumlirz did pioneering coriolis experiments in 1908.

I must admit that scientists debunk the scientific underpinnings of the experiment and have disproved the notion of a southern and northern vortex differential but as I said, I saw it with me own eyes. Wonder if there is a psychic or behavioral component that changes our innate human behavior depending on hemispheric geologic location?

I suppose that I should start at the beginning to describe my last several days, if you have any interest in the tired minutia of my mundane life. I left home two days ago, venturing a far distance into Riverside County before I got the call from Leslie that I had left my suitcase, and in fact my heart medicine, in the bottom hallway of my home. I drove back sheepishly, repeated my kisses and goodbye's, looked in the back once more for good measure to assure myself that I had indeed placed the luggage in the van and took off once again.

Within a few minutes I was driving through a serious downpour. Snow was low on the mountains near Elsinore and Rancho Cucamonga. Past Devore I was in an honest to goodness horizontal snowstorm. The rest of the four and a half hour jaunt was pretty boring, once I got out of the weather. I checked into the lovely $475.00 per night complimentary suite at my very favorite hotel, The Venetian, and then drove to the airport to pick up my friend BigD. BigD and I have been friends since the seventies, roommates, tech support and pretty much daily constants in each other's lives. 

He has a congenital disease of polycystic kidneys, a malady that claimed the lives of several close family members. He managed to get a kidney transplant but what they don't tell you is that half of the transplant recipients will later get cancer or lymphoma from the anti rejection drugs. He got the latter. BigD has put a tremendous amount of the money he once had into creating better transplant and matching technology for kidney transplants.

BigD has been through several massive chemo regimens recently and it was time for us to kick out the jams a little bit. I had the free hotel, he had free Virgin miles and we were set.

We had a very big and all around great time, I dropped him off at the airport about an hour ago and will try to fill you in as best as I can.  Food was pretty sucky all week. The first night we tried my go to cheap restaurant, the Grand Lux which has never let me down before. It did. He had salad with seared ahi, which was maybe a bit off and sent him running to his porcelain friend. My always good caesar with grilled chicken took the night off as well. Damn. We walked the faux canals after dinner and I bought a pair of Rockports, my sore heel still bothering me fiercely.

The next day we started off at the Canyon Ranch Spa. This spa, which is part of the Venetian, Palazzo hotel complex is simply fantastic. The long hallway to the Palazzo, with its many colored sections, reminded me a Josef Albers painting. 

We had a small breakfast at the spa cafe , which was pretty bad, nutritious and tasteless, unflavored yoghourt over granola and a few similar indecencies and then ww worked out. The workout room is very top notch, including a large rock climbing wall and BigD spun ten miles on the bike, not bad for a week after chemo. I lifted weights and then we started using the fantastic  spa facilities. First the turkish steam, then the tropical rainfall room that dials you in three scented rainstorms, replete with flashing lightning effects. From there, the finnish dry sauna, then the herbal sauna, the heated lounge chairs, a dip in the jacuzzi and then a trip to the igloo, a really cold room decorated in blue light a la Mr. Freeze. I think that we repeated this action sequence about five times in the last three days so I won't bore you with any repeats but this is a great spa and at twenty bucks a day for hotel guests, you just can't beat it. Nice relaxation room to read the wide selection of newspapers and have a piece of fruit for a happy finish. Heaven.

I played a bit of blackjack in the morning and then made plans to meet my other friend Dan at a place called Valley of Fire up the road. Dan lives in Mesquite and we met up at the Moapa Indian store at Interstate 15 and Highway 75.

Valley of Fire is Nevada's oldest and largest state park. The area was the site of an early basket making culture and an Anasazi people that existed roughly between 300 b.c.e and 1100. a.d.. The place is full of arches and petroglyphs. In the summer it goes 120 degrees so this cold winter/spring is perfect. We did a bunch of hiking and photography and really had a great time. I want to return often when my foot feels better. Great place to seek a deeper alignment with the cosmos. The storms to the north were exquisite. This place is such a great natural counterpoint to the Vegas craziness.

BigD spotted this lone desert bighorn sheep by the side of the road and I got very close and photographed it. Very gentle and beautiful creature. It was very hard to leave this park as there are so many undiscovered treasures. I noticed a very far out looking volkswagon prototype at a trailhead that BigD recognized and we later deduced was being used in a promotional shot being filmed in the park. I regret not taking a picture of it on the road but here it rests in the van.

Valley of Fire sounds so tolkeinesque, evoking Sauron's lair on Mt. Doom or maybe the biblical fires at Gehenna. But the place definitely delivers and I look forward to returning and spending a whole day there. It's also home to a bunch of desert tortoises, illustrated long ago on the petroglyph walls. BigD took these two pictures of petroglyphs, not a tortoise to be seen.

We drove Dan back and said our goodbye's and drove back to sin city. We both felt like having a steak and decided to try Wolfgang Puck's Cut restaurant. I had some hesitation, seeing the exorbitant prices and all but had done well at the tables and BigD was asking me when we would have the opportunity again and he's not out of the woods yet so we went.

Cut is Puck's effort to trump Ruth's Chris and Morton's in the expensive meat department. Did we want Nebraska beef, Illinois beef or an Australian filet whose previous host luxuriated in a daily wagyu massage? I went for the Nebraska New York, for a cool $68,  BigD opted for the similarly priced rib eye. 

They kept us full with their excellent bread. Men in black coats and turtlenecks popped out of every doorway offering us some thing or another and educating us on the finer points of the beef. I ordered a lovely burrata with a rhubarb chutney, BigD had a shrimp and crab thingie which he wasn't too crazy about but I thought delicious.

The 1200 hundred degree steak got to our tale and frankly looked a bit overcooked and scrawny. Not as rare as promised (cool center) and maybe a touch too much rock salt. I ordered a cream spinach with an organic fried egg as a side ( about nineteen bucks) and it was very tasty. Meal was a small fortune, decent but not sublime, couldn't see myself returning.

We went back through the casino and I decided to give BigD a blackjack lesson. I was about eight hundred bucks ahead when I called it a night at one in the morning. When the whole trip was over I had a pretty decent pile. Today we went to Harrahs for a pretty lousy buffet and then back to the spa. BigD was hungry again went to Canaletto, which royally sucked, soggy pizza and not the charcuterie we were promised on the menu. Very mediocre. There were pigeons walking around which was odd because, the sky is fake and I couldn't see how they got there. I was informed that they were imported for the verité and ambience. Nothing quite says Venice like pigeon shit.

I drove my friend back to the airport and am hanging and resting before tonight's blackjack session. Too cold to go to the pool and I haven't touched Ulysses. It was a great three days with my buddy. He was self conscious about the no hair on his head, eyebrows, eyelashes, etc. but I thought that he looked quite hip, if somewhat alien.


I drive home in the morning.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Karen Carpenter

Rainy days and saturdays

It's a very wet saturday and there is zero traffic. I got a copy of Joyce's Ulysses from the library and am going to attempt to get through it again.

The noble dog experiment unhappily failed. He had herded animals for most of his life and there was just too much of the past ingrained in him. The last thing the previous owner said was that he can climb an eight foot fence and he will roam but he will come back. He was right. Liked to go down to the river and pick up burrs and ticks. A real sweetheart but low on the dog social ladder back when and some weirdly ingrained beta quirks.

We have had a roamer before and it created neighbor problems so we thought that it would be best to take a break and start over later with a dog maybe younger or older.


I take off for Vegas tomorrow. Three night Venetian comp. BigD and I are going to celebrate the end of his chemo treatments with a couple days of March madness, spa treatments and as much fun as we can stand. Might even get in the car and take a quick run to Utah.


KerryB sent this hot James Brown link over.


Gassed up at Fifth and Center City in Escondido for $4.11. In Fallbrook you pay $4.49. Worth the trip.


Denis sent me down a very interesting book, Exquisite Corpse, Surrealism and the Black Dahlia Murder  by Nelson and Bayliss which ties in nicely with some of my investigations of late. Very odd book, strange peccadilloes of Hodel and Man Ray amongst many others. No DeGaston info.


Renée sent this one over. And this. Ted sent me over a recipe for rice crispy treats.


Robin Adler sent this over: Hello Friends,

This is a fun gig that we are doing next Thursday.  Folkey Monkey is a music series hosted by our good friend Joe Rathburn.  Every other week or so he invites a  few of his musician friends to pick one of their favorite musical artist as the nights theme. Our choice for next weeks theme is "Sting".  As you know we are deeply into Joni Mitchell's music but we thought we'd do something different for this show.  Sting is an artist that both Dave and I admire as a songwriter of substance.  We will be alternating the sets with Joe who is a wonderful singerl/songwriter in his own right.  Dave and I will also throw in a few of our original songs.

Where:  Vision Center, 11260 Clairemont Mesa Blvd, San Diego, CA 92124 (2 miles east of I-15, in Tierra Santa) (on the Seventh Day Adventist campus)
When:  Thursday March 22nd
Time: 7-9 pm
Cover: $10 (at the door)
Phone: 619-303-6609


Ricardo send over this homage to Corky Trinidad. New York Stan turns us on to Solomon Island pipe stampers. And the Four Spirits of Rhythm.


Looks like Kit Bacon Gressitt's longtime nemesis at the Koala is in some deep shit. Matt Weaver arrested for election fraud.


Renée offers this cool short, Fresh Guacamole. And Hudg links us to a story about how the Feds let the AIG's pay us back with our own money.


One of my favorite blogs, Orca Watcher, has been following the mysterious death of killer whale L112.


Happy St. Patrick's Day and happy birthday to my sister Elizabeth Allison Sommers.

Showdown in Claytown © Robert Sommers

Friday, March 16, 2012

Why Can't We Live Together?

Fool me once

I got another one of those nauseating emails from the democratic machine today. The kind that makes believe that we are all part of one giddy democratic lovefest. Dinner with Barack? Goody!

Robert --
I see this happen a lot:
Someone in a crowd yells at my husband, "We love you, Barack."
That's when he interrupts himself, smiles really big, and says, "I love you back." And he does.
That's why Barack's dinners with supporters mean so much to him -- because they give him a chance to show it and to say thanks.
I can say from experience you won't want to miss out on the next dinner. I hope you'll consider donating $75 -- or whatever you can to support the campaign -- and be automatically entered today:
Thank you,
I was at the Glendale show talking to Bijou and Roger about my antipathy for this administration and Roger started repeating Supreme Court, over and over again. And I get it and will be forced to hold my nose and vote for the guy. But the reality is that I feel betrayed by this president. He lied on the patriot act, civil liberties, medical marijuana, environmental protection and a host of other issues. Sens. Udall and Wyden released a letter to the administration the other day that suggests that americans would be apoplectic if they knew how the administration was interpreting its power to spy on its citizens through Section 215 of the Patriot Act. I squirm at the thought of what exactly the spy machine is really up to. But I will never know and most Senators will never know, the information limited to a very privileged and select few.

When the democratic committee calls me for support and a contribution, I give them an earful before I hang up. Because I feel punked in many ways by this administration. I hope that he wins because the alternative is so bad but can not get excited about his re-election. Eat with him?Wouldn't piss on him if he was on fire.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Buckets Of Rain

Aspergers Quiz

I was on Daisy Deadhead's site and saw that she had a link to an Aspie-quiz that is intended to chart Aspergers syndrome. You may want to take it yourself. Not exactly sure how to evaluate the test and conclusion.

Here are my results, pretty neurotypical:

Your Aspie score: 49 of 200
Your neurotypical (non-autistic) score: 182 of 200
You are very likely neurotypical

Elton John - Madman Across The Water

Nice version with the late great Mick Ronson on lead guitar. Ronson, Bowie's longtime sideman, was infamously frozen out by Bob Dylan on his Rolling Thunder Revue Tour, an event that fried Ronson emotionally. The Dylan party line was that he couldn't improvise or follow the changes. I don't know, wasn't there. Later died of cancer. A wonderful guitar player.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Country Hoedown

Great story in the Guardian. Syrian strongmen Bashar Assad is a fan of country western singer Blake Shelton and sent his wife the words to this Shelton song, God gave me you (for the ups and downs):

"I've been a walking heartache / I've made a mess of me / The person that I've been lately / Ain't who I wanna be."


In other news, he bought a chocolate fondue set on Amazon and likes to get his itunes through a third party proxy in England. He likes Harry Potter and America's Got Talent. His young advisors call him the dude. When they aren't wiping out neighborhoods, he and his minions like to get together and play twister. Just another day in the life of a murderous dictator.


Harry Partch: Barstow

Harry Partch (1901-1974): Barstow, eight hitchhicker inscriptions from a highway railing of Barstow, California (1943).

Clearer heads sink Collins amendment

Congratulations to the United States Senate. Last week they defeated a bill SA 1660 to S.1830 by Maine Senator Susan Collins to table EPA boiler pollution requirements.

Her amendment would have abolished clean air standards for the second largest source of industrial toxic air pollution in America. This would result in more deaths and ailments for American citizens,

Her bill, in tandem with House bill H.R. 2250, would have nullified existing protection against air pollution toxins and mercury and delay compliance with any new standards for a minimum of three and one half years.

The amendment finally delivers the sweetheart gift to polluters, indefinite compliance delays, by prohibiting EPA from requiring compliance with new standards any "earlier than 5 years" after issuance, and then eliminating the Clean Air Act's firm compliance deadlines and allowing compliance to be delayed by 8, 10 or even 15 years more.

Congress has been dicking around on this issue for 21 years. The boiler rule has been postponed numerous times since it was first authorized as part of the 1990 Clean Air Act amendments to take effect by 2000. When it's finally finalized later this year, big industry will have at least three years to comply with the rule, and state and local officials have the option of granting a pass for an additional year. EPA also said that the agency would consider providing exemptions for facilities on a case-by-case basis beyond that closure date.

Some experts believe that even a 3&1/2 year delay in boiler remediation rules would result in approximately 28,350 more premature deaths, over 17,000 heart attacks, and more than 180,000 cases of asthma attacks.

In addition, the legislation would force EPA to adopt standards that are "least burdensome" to industry even if they are most burdensome to the American people. The Collins amendment sought to impose "work practice" standards on industry, tune up your vehicles and change a few spark plugs and then it's business as usual instead of adopting measures that would help the health and well being of the American public. The pollution advocates want the EPA to abandon the longstanding requirement to adopt Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) standards if such standards require more from industry than work practice standards or any other weaker alternative to MACT.

The boiler measures are expected to reduce mercury by approximately 3,600 pounds per year and acid gases by 37,000 tons per year, totaling over 85,000 tons in toxic reductions. Mercury pollution is not good for children or other living things. I believe that Americans deserve clean air and the right to be free as conceivably possible of toxic substances. Shame on Susan Collins for her moves to gut the EPA.

The following Democratic Senators voted in favor of the Collins amendment: Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA), Herb Kohl (D-WI), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Ben Nelson (D-NE), Mark Pryor (D-AR), and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). Shame on them as well.

We have to figure out how just many american lives are ultimately expendable for american jobs. Keep the american machine moving and all that. Just how many deaths are acceptable? And whose, of course.

Do What The Lord Say Do

Long lost New York Stan sent this one over. Very nice.

A way with words

I pride myself on having a fairly broad vocabulary. Now I'm no George Will, but I can throw the heavy lumber around when necessary. I had a word throw me off guard last night.

I was having trouble sleeping and was checking out a link to A.A. Aliev's paper Origin of Jewish Clusters of E1b1b1 (M35) haplogroup - The Russian Journal of Genetic Genealogy Vol 1, No. 1, 2010 ISSN: 1920-2989 when the word hit me.
I happen to be on a genetics board with the author and sent him this note:

I have a question in regard to this paper. What does "prevent" mean in the following sentence? Is this a typo or an anthropological term that I am not privy to? Does the author mean detect?

"Given that all listed subclades have been 
from the Middle East and the Eastern Mediterranean, you can prevent their presence in the region even in the era of the formation of Jewish 


I got the following response:

prevent=precede, concede

It means that these subclades were there before the era of the formation of Jewish nation


I had to go to the books for this one. And he was right. A transitive verb, supposedly first used around the fifteenth century. Now I have egg on my face. Might not be able to face my learned cohorts again.

ORIGIN late Middle English (in the sense [act in anticipation of] ): from Latin praevent- ‘preceded, hindered,’ from the verb praevenire, from prae ‘before’ + venire ‘come.’

I am not sure about the exact timing of late middle english but I had never seen the word used in this context. Will have to ask Latin prof Denis about this one. I don't think that his conjunction is correct but this might be a bit of wounded nitpicking on my part. Have any of you ever heard of the word being similarly used? In the last five hundred years anyway.