Thursday, December 06, 2012

The One Place Where You Can Survive the End of the World on 12/21/12


Grab your passport now and head to southern France to the small village of Bugarach.

The tiny village will survive the coming End o' The World, according to Doom Watchers, because an alleged "spaceship garage" located underneath Pic de Bugarach mountain will open up, an intergalactic craft will emerge and aliens will then take aboard anyone who wants to go with them to safety.

Bugarach has been swarmed with The Curious in recent months. It is a rather nice looking place and entrepreneurs have been selling rocks and bottled water from the town, rooms and campsites are available for rent, and the town's sign has been stolen a few times, apparently some think the aliens will need to utilize a city limits sign to coordinate the evacuation.

Meanwhile, at least one world leader is proclaiming that yes, the world is ending soon - Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard - "Whether the final blow comes from flesh eating zombies, demonic hell beasts or from the total triumph of K-pop, if you know one thing about me it is this: I will always fight for you to the very end." 

It is somewhat endearing to hear the Australian twangy pronunciation of "flesh eating zombies".

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

The Vast Legacy of Dave Brubeck

"One of the reasons I believe in jazz is that the oneness of man can come through the rhythm of your heart. It’s the same anyplace in the world, that heartbeat. It’s the first thing you hear when you’re born — or before you’re born — and it’s the last thing you hear.” -- Dave Brubeck

A legendary musician and a master of jazz, Dave Brubeck died today at age 91, one day shy of his 92nd birthday. Much will be written about him, now and for many years to come, and I wanted to instead showcase some of his music. (The 2010 documentary "Dave Brubeck: In His Own Sweet Way" produced by Clint Eastwood provides a most comprehensive look at his life and career for those wishing to know more about him and his vast influence worldwide on jazz and music in general.)

His 1959 album "Time Out" stands as one of the best-selling jazz albums of all time, and the tune "Take Five" is immensely well known, though the composition is credited to saxophone player Paul Desmond. I think the first track on the album, "Blue Rondo ala Turk", is much more emblematic of Dave's style. The album grew from the Quartet's experiences traveling in Eastern Europe and the Middle East as ambassadors touring on behalf of the US State Department - Brubeck was captivated by the musical time signatures of the music from other nations, Turkey in this instance.

Some in the music world thought Dave's piano style and the Quartet's music was too extreme, others thought it far too tame. Thankfully, Dave and his colleagues followed their own Muse. His 1957 album, "Dave Digs Disney", was way too hip and way too square all at the same time - but his improvisations on classic Disney tunes are excellent, and today jazz inspired by Disney music is a genre all its own.

The 1961 album, "Time Further Out" is my own personal favorite. And the tune "Bluette" is a knockout, blending jazz and blues and evokes strong and subtle emotions. Thanks, Dave, for such a vast legacy.

The Pope's First Tweet

"Ian Maude, of Enders Analysis, says that “The Pope’s going to be enormous, but I’m not sure he’s quite going to get to Lady Gaga levels.” 

"Monsignor Claudio Maria Celli, the president of the Vatican’s social communications office, has said the papal tweets aren’t to be considered infallible teachings. They’re just “pearls of wisdom” in the Pope’s own words, he said. 

"Back in his January proclamation, entitled 'Truth, Proclamation and Authenticity of Life in the Digital Age,' Pope Benedict said 'I would like to invite Christians, confidently and with an informed and responsible creativity, to join the network of relationships which the digital era has made possible.'” 

Folks can ask the Pope a question via his Twitter account by using the 'hashtag' @askpontifex ... and plenty of questions are already submitted, including:

"Who would win a fight between Jesus and Wolverine?”

Monday, December 03, 2012

Dangerous Interest at Boring 2012 Conference

The annual Boring conference was of little interest, but even that might negate it's purpose:

"I regretfully agreed that all this did sound extremely boring and proceeded to the large neo-Georgian auditorium, where an audience of about 500 mostly twenty- and thirty-somethings were listening with careful amusement as a dapper young man talked about toast. There was a large screen behind him on the stage, and he was clicking through a series of photographs of toast slices, ranging from the entirely burnt to the effectively untoasted, in order to demonstrate what he called “the confusing, non-regulated series of toaster settings on the market.”

Discovery of 6 Million Pounds of Explosives Force Evacuation

Epic incompetence and likely criminal activity could have wiped an entire town off the map.

The entire town of Doyline, Louisiana has been evacuated after the discovery of some 6 million pounds of explosives improperly stored, stacked and strewn around a massive storage facility. Oddly, back in October a massive explosion rocked the facility, but it was only last week that investigators went to the site in a "follow-up" and then realized that millions of pounds of M6 artillery powder were left outside or in roofless buildings.

At first, residents were told it would just be a short evacuation, but now that officials have been on the site of the explosives, residents are being told to stay away until ... whenever.

Some 27 tractor trailer loads have been removed and stored in safer and appropriate facilities, but more work, obviously, is needed.

Explo Systems, which runs the site, has been very quiet on the issue, and the owners are on their way back from South Korea.

Residents have to consider themselves lucky that the first explosion back in October was small and did not reduce the town to a hole in the ground. Why did it take more than 6 weeks after the explosion to notice millions more boxes and crates, especially since so much of it was just left outside of buildings?