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A person who needs no introduction.


June 2019: About 40 minutes west of here.

Saturday, June 06, 2020

Trail of the Lonesome Pal

Today I went out for my usual walk, planning to hit the Auburn Trail (formerly railroad tracks for the Auburn line), which became viable once I started thinking of walks as being around three miles long. I take different walks, most often through the streets of my neighborhood, but lately I've rediscovered the Auburn. It's easier now than the first time I got on it, at which time it dead-ended up against a property owner in the Cartersville neighborhood who believed that he owned this public land because it was next to his place. The Town of Pittsford spent some time changing his mind, and a few years ago, it all opened up.

I went in the usual way. A beaten path skirting a farmer's field (the Knickerbocker area, and Knickerbocker Hill, are all named for this farm, which is still apparently in the Knickerbocker family) leads to the former railroad tracks, sometimes a dirt trail, sometimes a cinder trail. A few feet of it are paved where it joins Knickerbocker Road.

Here I am, looking back toward the invisible spot where the trail begins. On the horizon is the Knickerbocker Farm. I'm given to understand they aren't wild about people walking on their pasture, which I did once before I knew that. Now I am good. YOU HEAR ME? GOOD!

 I turned the corner of the field and walked east toward the tracks, and saw white blossoms, which my camera didn't want to photograph. Well! Who's to be the master, here? I paid money for you, my fine photographic instrument! I boldly turned the wheel from Automatic to Manual for a walk on the wild side. I experimented with ISO and shutter speed today. So far I've been able to capture detail in darkness at the expense of losing all detail in the sky and some other bright areas.

By the way, these photos will enlarge if you click on them. Well, they do for me. Perhaps your set-up differes from mine in this way. How can you find out? Go on, give it a try. I clicked and adjusted my way along through a couple more turnings, and could see the cinders of the Auburn below me. One thing I like about this route, there's more up and down and the terrain is less regular. One thing I don't like: I think it's where I'm getting the majority of my bug bites these days. 

I wasn't quite satisfied that my photo looking down captured the elevation change satisfactorily. Hitting the trail (not literally: I stepped on it), I turned around and tried the converse shot, looking back at where I'd come from. As advertised, this shot captures some detail while losing the blue of the sky. I might be able to get it back in Photoshop, or turn a darker shot to account, but for immediate gratification today, I'm dumping them all in just as I clicked them. The greens of the foliage seem to lose some of their yellow and tend toward blue. You should see the ones I threw away.

There we go. Captured the trail looking back, and the one that forks off if it.


Holy George Gordon, Lord Byron, there's another path there, leading into the enticing thick of the woods that I could see from the crest of the previous path. Here was my chance to see something new, and I took it right away. It led through grasses and elbow-high shrubs with flowers and a dragonfly and a lovely dark butterfly way cooler than the little white cabbage butterflies I've been seeing back in (ptoo!) civilization. A creek I had never suspected in my twelve years here ran along quietly, easily accessed from occasional forkings of the path, and full of rocks to stand on. 

I took photos that looked surreal when I got them home, some with rocks as green as the foliage, and many with what could have been the atomic flash of The Big One in the area outside the shade of the trees. 

After all that, the path eventually led to a big flat area where it stopped being a path and became something else. A bit patio, maybe. I returned to the railroad trail, where I saw a half dozen people in all as I made my way toward Knickerbocker and pavement again.

On the downhill side of the Auburn trail, the creek opened up into a gorge. There was also one upstream, come to think of it. I tried for a couple more shots, going portrait mode for this one. I'll preview this and see if I made it too big. I hope I can leave it this size.

I turned aside to capture the sorels. Is that the word? Tree mushrooms. A couple passed behind me while I did, and when I returned my attention to the trail, they had proceeded far past the point of pantomiming a hello through my mask. All through this, I'd been listening to Act III of Sullivan's grand opera Ivanhoe, and would have had to pull an ear bud out to communicate anyway. 

Another view of the sprawling Knickerbocker farm, with its huge barn. The high ground here conceals a horse or two that might have been visible otherwise. I boldly took another side path as a shortcut to the road, but missed little of the steepest uphill part of the whole walk. I once saw a turkey coming out of the corn on the south side of the road and stopped and jogged back with my camera, but it was gone. Since then, I've looked for it two thousand times or more, and can report that it's still gone, "like a turkey in the corn."

Here, not far from the entrance to our neighborhood (through the subdivision built next to ours, and I believe more recently--Knickerbocker Hill, named for the hill named for the farm named for the Knickerbockers--dates to about 1965, and in the aerial photos we received along with this house, seems to have been the first thing put here) is the farm stand that sells corn grown in the fields on the north side of the road. They also sell other vegetables and eggs that they buy from other farms or, more likely, from a jobber who brings them stuff. Useful, sometimes, if you need a tomato.

The road leading into the newer (and ritzier) subdivision is a short avenue, with a median and everything. On the left is a rather nice house that I got to be in one time when an outgoing owner had a moving sale before returning to England. The downstairs had a room full of built-in cabinets that I, of course, envied.

Behind that fence, off the large back yard, this gazebo sits and looks out over the Knickerbocker fields to the rolling hills (are they Appalachian mountains? hmmm) and far horizon. I often wish I'd had the foresight to ask the outgoing owner if they'd mind me sitting out there for about a half hour while slowly sipping a glass of cold water. Missed opportunities (like not asking the owners of an enticing tree swing at the end of a private drive I used to see on bike rides around the Mariner's Park, back in Newport News)!

1902 map, I think. I see these plats here and there, usually for wall decoration, and usually when I only have my phone to take pictures with. It's instructive to see the progress over the years. Our subdivision seems to be the Blodgett holdings, but was expanded to include the Knickerbocker lands just south of them. Then the newer stuff came in on the James Stewart spread (didn't know he owned land here, did you? DID YOU?). Silco's place became another subdivision. Other patches were filled in (I guess) as patriarchs died and their families cashed in. East Road was moved somewhat around the turn of the century, which may be reflected in the map. You can see the railroad tracks. They crossed the canal on big cement piers that still stand, and I wish somebody'd built a foot bridge over them so I could walk the trail across the Erie Canal there. Oh, the places I'd go.

Since I'd done so much extra walking, I cut through Joe and Deb's yard, once I'd located their house. They're our back neighbors, living on a street of lovely individual homes which had some of the best trick-or-treating back in the days when I had a trick-or-treater in the family. As I got to our yard, I met them coming back through our yard (or our neighbor Bob's yard, which also backs onto theirs) and criticized them jovially for walking on other people's property, and they asked if I was the guy photographing the tree on the railroad trail. We chatted about trails and other possible complete circuits one might make by going right onto the Auburn instead of left, and caught up on where our kids were going to school and such.

A good day walking. Next time--Monday, most likely, as I take Sundays off--I think I'll take that right turn, and either walk on Mill Road, or follow the RR trail to Thornell and re-enter the neighborhood through one of several little paths that give shortcuts to Thornell Road Elementary and the houses near it (those houses take miles to drive to, but I can walk or ride right to them) or the high school (located in Clare Barker's old spread), or Thornell Farm Park (due south of Barker's).

Thursday, June 04, 2020

Status Update, June 2020

No time like now to write this! For one thing, I have clients. Jobs! I'm earning money at home in my spare time.

I'm getting exercise. When I felt I had to stop going to the gym, I increased my walking to six times a week, three miles each time. First, I went toward town on the paved sidewalk, but I spent too much of my time stepping aside, calculating whether I actually could step aside (between a fence and a puddle), and resenting people who don't step aside when I do. I sat down and figured out a three-mile path in this neighborhood, where everyone walks in the street and it's fairly easy to be six feet away from someone coming toward you. After some weeks of that, I've started exploring a little more, and have rediscovered the overland route to the railroad trail. It makes the walk a little more than three miles, and includes uneven terrain and a bigger hill. Presumably, that's all good. I carry a camera and an umbrella much of the time. The latter not only repels rain, but gives me moving shade. I also use the occasion to research the best way to keep my glasses from fogging up with exhaled breath that comes up from my mask. So far, the second best is the folded-tissue-at-the-top trick, and the most effective method is carefully folding the glasses and placing them in a pocket.


And I'm making music. Once a week I record a piece for the Irish group that can't meet at the college at present, and send them to Jane (mandolin player) to forward to the group, and then for a couple of days, people thank me, and some of them record tracks of their own, or record themselves playing along, or send a link to something else musical.

I'm also getting together with a violinist who wants to play the same music I'm interested in. We had been sending mp3s back and forth. I'd send her an accompaniment, and she'd send back the track with her playing on it. We finally got together here, outside, and practiced under the tree out front for a while, properly distanced, and since then we've been playing at her place in Victor while her husband applauds (gently, as he is recovering from shoulder surgery). Next week, we're going to try this wild idea I have of practicing in the garage here. Better acoustics, and there's an outlet right there, and we can still be far enough apart to feel fairly safe.

Now and then, I send a link to the Shakespeare group, which has had its last two meetings via Zoom, which I still haven't installed on my laptop. It doesn't feel like a meeting. Only one person can talk at a time. How am I supposed to whisper to the person next to me?

I'm also slowly collaborating with an old friend in Colorado on new comic projects. It would go faster in person--for me, drawing is often a social pursuit, passing a clipboard back and forth across a kitchen table, that sort of thing.

I also have a project to transcribe some of my sister's songs to sheet music format. Robert Benchley once explained that you can get all kinds of things done, provided you have a big job you are doing all the others to escape from. I'm hoping something bigger will come along so I can devote more time to this worthy project.

And sometimes I blog.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

five tweets (May 2020)



A regular reminder that I wouldn't have to think about deleting apps I use all the time if Android would let me delete the built-ins I have never touched, or even just move some of these space hogs off the internal drive and onto my SD card.



The beef bibimbap bowls at Trader Joe's that I like so much were gone for a while for retooling. Whenever I'm opening one, it occurs to me the change was undoubtedly the glue that holds the box shut. "To hell with this pansy-ass gorilla glue! I want the stuff barnacles use!"


Bear Lobby: "You keep saying these people were killed by bears, and it's just a lie! This guy fell out a window to his death when a bear chased him. This guy had a fatal heart attack while being mauled by a bear. This woman drove off the road when a bear got in her jeep..."


"Metaphor? Parable?" "Well," she hesitated. "A fictional construct: shepherd, sheep and all those allusions." "Simile?" "I just didn't think it was... literal." An angelic voice said "You two are next." Glancing back at the milling flock, they ascended the chute. #MicroSFFH


A train of thought: Ripping Yarns was a hilarious show that dealt with a dissection and reassembly of classic boy's stories ("Boy's Own," wasn't it?). Why doesn't someone do a version of it for girl's stories? 

But, hell, there are plenty of talented "gals" out there who know a lot more than I do on this subject and could probably find the right aspect of it for a truly ripping deconstruction. Assuming they haven't already. I mean, what do I know? I don't even live in the UK!

But I do think I'd enjoy to see a half dozen or so prime individual tales subverting the standard tropes of fiction designed to pry the hard-won non-decimal pennies from the clutches of the young girls of Britain. Won't someone do this for me? Also, send me money. Thanks.


(The last one is three threaded tweets, last seen in the twelve days of Christmas, which is how one steps around the 280-character limit. Watch this space for more creative reuse of my stale old material!)


Friday, May 15, 2020

Time and Tide

Grum waited patiently in his cave. He couldn't see, but he had other senses and other talents, and he was patient. Hungry he was, but he didn't need to eat every day. He could have lived where there was more food, but Grum was smart enough to know that too much food got you too much attention. Better to be patient and wait for food to come his way.

Grum had waited for three days already; he'd waited longer. Different foods came at different seasons. The summer season brought lightly dressed food with long hiking sticks and backpacks. Sometimes it brought food that hunted food. Grum smiled, remembering that time when he got one lugging a fresh deer. Two for the same work as one!

The winter season, on the other hand, brought food that was dressed very warmly, in many layers of cloth and leather and fur. Often, this food came sliding on a pair of smooth boards, or stumping on big flat feet of wood and woven leather. The food called these "skis" and "snowshoes," Grum knew, but he didn't worry about that much. He liked to sit and wait, sniff the air, and think about philosophy.

Oh, yes, philosophy. The minds Grum fed on gave him food for thought. He had an active mind, and he spent his idle time exploring grand ideas. Where did Grum come from? What was Grum's purpose? Where would Grum go after he stopped being Grum? Would he be food for someone else? Would he go to... he paused, thought back to the concept... heaven? Why did the seasons change from warm to cool to...

...Wait! Time for that later. Grum had work to do. Food was coming!

Grum got busy. His cave was off the path, and it took skill to get food to make the right choices to get within his grasp. He suggested the sight of something shining here to make it turn to the left. Next, an eye-blink impression of a small animal that way to move it forward. Closer... closer, where it got easier. Now he made it see a bush right there, bringing his food even closer. Now he could reach a thought into the smell center and make it think it smelled -- hm -- bread baking!

Yes! It worked again.

It was close enough now that Grum could simply make it walk into his home with a little befuddlement and an image of a place irresistible. As it often was, a scene from bygone days; a former home, members of a family now scattered or forever gone. Dinner walked right into Grum's kitchen. Musing on the transitory nature of life, Grum savored the contents of the mind for three or four long seconds -- enough material for more philosophical musings -- before mercifully silencing the thoughts. Grum was not cruel. Now he would feed.

Working methodically, Grum removed layers. Furry hat, earmuffs, mittens, boots, outer coat, inner sweater, another sweater, shirt, socks, thermal underwear -- must be colder than Grum thought, or else this one hated the cold. Grum knew cold from hot, but it wasn't a central concern. He kept working, removed hair, epidermis, fat, muscles, vessels, and tendons with the same care, putting the good parts in a neat pile and discards into two piles: one to be thrown in a pit for scavengers, and one for imperishable items, which Grum either needed to take care of soon, or find another cave with more room.

Preparation over, Grum sat down to feast. For a moment, time waited as he enjoyed anticipation: sweeter even than feasting. Grum pitied the lower animals, who did not anticipate. How dark their lives were. How meaningless! Grum wished he could help them somehow, but food was losing freshness now. Time to eat!

Grum began delicately, as always. He brought his meal back into the cave to where a natural cleft in the rock rose up and brought fresh air in. He sampled the meat, reflecting on the different flavors that chased one another and livened the blood. Salt, always lots of salt, but Grum prided himself on seeing past the obvious. What else? Minerals, sweet tastes, seasoning notes.

Ah! Little flavors that showed up at special times. The herb Rosemary. Evergreen scents lingering -- not from this mountain, but a sort of manufactured evergreen essence. Nutmeg, rum, dairy, all mingled -- Grum suddenly realized it was egg nog. Egg nog!

Realization struck him like a falling tree. He almost dropped the food. It was that time of year again! The special season! Grum knew, knew from many minds that this was a deeply important time of year. A philosophical time. If only he wasn't too late! He had a job to do.

Grum took in a big chewy mouthful and rummaged through the discard pile, found what he was looking for, and hung it on a finger of rock by the flue. He adjusted it, patting it to refine his mental image, and adjusted it again. Then he stepped back and pictured his work: a large, thick sock hung on the wall, waiting for a supernatural being, the embodiment of the season, to come and fill it with something wonderful. Something for Grum!

He just hoped he had been good enough.

Originally written in 2006, for the prompt "Tasting the Season."

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

My Inner Felines

Nine Cats
a quick meditation for when I'm in a hurry

I call upon the spirits of nine cats.

1) First, Poosy Gato, Gordo's cat, for joy, coolness, and wordplay.

2) Second, Mehitabel, for strength and resilience; self-belief in adversity despite the judgments of others.

3) Third, Tom Cat, foe of Jerry Mouse, for dexterity and fighting spirit, even when loss is foreordained, without complaint.

4) Fourth, Eek! the Cat, the kindest cat of all, for whom it never hurts to help, even when it darn well does.

5) Fifth, Sylvester, whose self-concern reminds me not to forget to take myself into consideration.

6) Sixth, Felix, for the will to keep on walking. Left foot, right foot: If not there yet, repeat.

7) Seventh, the Kliban cat, for the vision to see things that we can't.

8) Eighth, Snagglepuss, for discretion, and knowing when to exit, Stage Right.

9) Ninth, the Unknown Cat, heard at night or glimpsed in passing. A mystery, already gone.For qualities not enumerated.

To augment my own inner cat spirit, I summon these, like nine numbered spirits in an animated cartoon, to gather around me and commune, nourishing my soul and adding their strength to mine.

Good kitties.

Note: This may be where I first wrote my procedural motto, "Left Foot, Right Foot: If Not There Yet, Repeat." If you take nothing else away from this, I suggest remembering these words. They have been getting me through life for some time now, and work in a number of ways, metaphorical and literal.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Oh, You Fortuna Kid!


O Fortuna! Like the moon, a
Vast and slowly turning wheel.
Rising, trending, now descending,
Sans regard for what we feel.

Blame the Muses, make excuses,
Pin our guilt on other hands
Yet it finds us, and it grinds us
Mocks vain prayers and rash demands!

That's not an actual translation. It's more like my impression of the import of the beginning of the most famous bit of choral blustering, known to us in its many uses in action movies, action movie trailers, and TV commercials.

The verses come from a book called Codex Buranus, found and named for a Bavarian monastery in the opening years of the 19th century. The choral setting is from the late 1930s by composer Carl Orff, who told his publisher he could destroy all his earlier material, because his composing career started with his 'scenic cantata.' It's still his most famous piece, though his Schulwerk has also found its way into some hearts and TV ads. I've searched for more things by him that I can like as much, and though I haven't succeeded at that, I can't say I looked and listened in vain. It's just that he only had one piece in him that was this brilliant.

Maybe it's because of the words. When I wanted to put translations into my piano-vocal score of the cantata, I had to use the subtitles from a TV performance for some of them. Orff jealously guarded the texts, or at least their translations, with the result that many LPs and CDs were sold without them by groups that didn't mind paying for the right to record it, but balked at the additional price he and his lawyers wanted for including translations. I Am Not A Lawyer (IANAL), so the legal intricacies of this escape me.

When we were last in London, I got to walk from our hotel to Boosey & Hawkes, music publishers, and run rampant through their showroom, bringing a pile of books with me as I went from one bin to another, now increasing, now diminished as I weighed my desires against my allotted funds. Here was a hardcover edition of the dizzying piano transcriptions of Gyorgy Cziffra, where many times a single measure took the entire width of the page to fit all the notes in. Too pricey for something I'd never even be able to slowly pick through, I decided. And there, just around a corner from Cziffra, was a handsome, substantial hardcover printed in multiple colors: a complete facsimile of the 11th and 12th century profane verses (some 13th century, too, I'm told) that make up the corpus of the Codex burana. Man, oh man! What a feast! I couldn't understand a word of it, even if I'd been able to pierce the veil of the antique hand it was in, but it was gorgeous. Incomprehensibly gorgeous. I picked it up and put it down repeatedly, "like a dog that was too full to eat any more, but didn't want to leave his bowl," as Raymond Chandler once said. Finally, I sighed loudly enough for Cathy to hear me back at the hotel, and put it down for good. It would have taken about half the money I had, if not more. I picked it up again and looked at it once more before I left.

Today, I happened to think of the book again, as I do now and then, and it occurred to me that everything's online somewhere. After finding some copies being offered for sale (yeah, like I have  more money now than I did then), I looked harder and found that my friends at the IMSLP--source of so many pieces of Public Domain music that I'd never have found otherwise--have the whole thing, and apart from the annual pittance I pay to help support IMSLP, it would only cost me a little temporary bandwidth and 66MB of storage.

Here's the most famous bit. Most people you will run into who know what "Carmina Burana" is are probably talking about the part that opens and closes the set--24 poems in all--whose thundering "O FORTUNA!" is part of a verse something like my loose paraphrase up there. We see Dame Fortune at its center, and an ambitious man crawling up the right. He becomes King at the top, then falls, and is broken beneath the wheel he once ascended to glory. That ought to sell a few running shoes!

Most of the book is text, though from time to time the exuberance or boredom of the scribe breaks through into a marginal illustration or richly ornamented capital. The book's pages have been broken up over the centuries, and rearranged, and lost, and sometimes found again (seven of the pages turned up somewhere else and were deemed part of the text).

What are the contents? These poems are drinking songs, songs of debauchery, declarations of love for pagan gods and goddesses, songs of feasting, the excitement of the discovery of Amor, a lament from a goose being cooked, and more. Knowing the content of the songs has added to my enjoyment greatly (as with Schumann's incredible setting of Heine's aching verses in Dichterliebe), and I'm glad I spent the time awkwardly inking the translations, however good or stilted they were, into my score. Without spending time in comparison, I'll note that there are multiple versions online now. This one seems fairly recent, and includes some poems that didn't make Orff's cut.

And (I have to break the paragraph here, or the previous link sticks to my foot like toilet paper to a shoe) here's another recent version, made apparently to be effective when sung. I considered myself lucky to have a handful of the lyrics included in a collection of medieval song verses that I found at a college bookstore sale in the early 80s. Just that much more I didn't have to transcribe from a paused VCR. There was one line I had to translate myself, because it wasn't in any of the versions. Yeah, that one was the talk of the Academy, all right.

Incidentally, one of my lasting regrets, apart from not spending sixty quid or whatever it was for the facsimiles, was that I didn't have a quarter to hand when I stood in the Salvation Army store in Loveland one day in the 70s looking at an LP that said it was Carmina Burana sung in English! I've mentioned this several times in classical newsgroups and such, and nobody else on earth has ever seen or heard of such a thing, except for me and whoever bought it before I got back to that store with cash in hand to return to the place in the bin where I'd carefully tried to hide my prize from other eyes. Okay, and whoever sold it to them. And the record company, and the singers, and yeah yeah, we get it.

Anyway, here's the haul: Codex buranus (Carmina Burana) pages at IMSLP. I'd say more, but everybody probably just left. And I was going to sing, too.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

"Awright, ya goldbricks!"

Salute to the Silver Age. It's SGT ROCK!

My buddy Randy helped inspire that. Blame him, not me.

Wednesday, May 06, 2020

Haiku by the Front Porch, 6 May 2020

Pink buds cluster tight
Waiting to explode in white:
Slow-motion popcorn.

ps: 7 May 2020. Same song, second verse:

And May 10 (Happy Mother's Day):

Monday, May 04, 2020

Photoshop tips from Kip

Gestural size. That's what I call the fact that most of us have a particular size at which we can best do certain tasks, like draw a circle or a straight line. Therefore, size your workspace to suit what you have to do next. Enlarge or reduce, whatever. Maybe even rotate it if you have to.

Draw and erase. I can sail right along (in black and white linework, particularly) by choosing the brush tool and keeping my other hand on the X key, which lets me switch the foreground and background colors (usually Black and White), thereby using the brush as an eraser part of the time. Draw, erase, draw, erase, draw too much, erase it down, and so on. Sailin'.

You can get rid of the blasted circle that appears when you start doing anything with your tablet (assuming that you, like I, use a Wacom tablet for Photoshopping) and messes you up, by going to the Wacom control panel doodad, and finding and unchecking the tickybox that says "use Windows ink." Found that today. I may need it again some time.

Quick color adjustment with Control (or Command) L. Learn this one! Open that menu and move the triangles on the left and right so that they just touch where the black leaves off at each end. You can also mess with the middle. If your colors are off, open your separate color channels one by one (there's a pulldown menu, and you'll notice it also tells you the keyboard shortcuts for next time) and give them a go. When you finish, you can also try goosing the middle of the curve up or down and see what looks best to you. For this you need judgement. Good luck.

Right after that, you might want to fade back. Before you do another operation, bring up the Fade window (Control Shift F, I believe), and you can hold the shift down to go in 10% increments to rein in your enthusiasm in the previous step.

Back to Control (or Command... I'm not going to say this every time) L, if you've scanned an old page of music or comic art or just anything, you can get rid of the years by taking out that big hunk of black at the right-hand edge of the histogram or whatever that thing is. Try it all at once, or color by color. When you're all done, you might want to fade back just a tad, for comics, or not at all, for sheet music.

Tip for scanning sheet music: The straighter you get it on the scanner, the less work you'll have to do straightening it out later. I don't know if that matters to you, but I'm really dippy about that.

Tip for scanning two-sided originals: Put a black sheet behind it on the scanner. The scanner lid (well, mine, anyway) is white, and that really helps it to include the stuff on the other side of the page. I have no idea why it wants to do that, though, because to me that stuff is a bother and a distraction. I made my black sheet by copying both sides of a piece of paper with the copier's lid wide open. Then I laminated it. That was fifteen or twenty years ago, and the sheet is still giving me good service. I also have one or two book of just the right size with solid black bindings that are quite useful as well.

Photos that are a little blurry or smeary can be partly rehabilitated by proper adjustment of the curves. Besides the Control-L (remember, I'm not bothering to say Command every time now) adjustment, there's also the Control-M adjustment. You can actually steal contrast from one part of a photo and give it to another sometimes. Let's say you want a face to show up better. When you're in Control-M, slide your cursor around in that face and notice where the little dot is sliding up and down the line (which is 45 degrees by default). Then add a point or two and slide them in just a tiny bit to make that part of the line slightly steeper. Do this for each color plate (same pulldown menu as with Ctrl-L). Look at the before and after when you're done by using Undo, and be amazed. Before you do anything else after that, use the Fade thing to cut back on your brilliance just a tiny bit, if (like many of us) you fear you have gone Too Far.

5/7/2020: I just drew the ventriloquist cartoon and colored it in greys. The second thing I did was the dummy's hat with the gradated grey band. I did that by making a 50% grey (zeroed out the C, Y, and M values and just put 50 in the K) and using the Burn tool to darken one side, and the Dodge tool to lighten the other. After I did that, whenever I needed a grey tone, I didn't have to make it fresh: I just reached for the Option key (still using my Mac keyboard--it's something else on the laptop's keyboard, which is far enough away that I don't reach for it) to get the eyedropper tool and selected what I wanted.

To color the areas, I made a new layer to color in. Then I selected the places I wanted to fill with a color, using the Magic Wand (one of the W tools), and expanded it by a pixel (Select > Modify > Expand), and chose the bucket tool (G), moved to the new layer, and filled the marquees there.

You probably know, but holding Shift as you press the letter for your tool, like W for the wand, or O for the Dodge/Burn, lets you cycle through the tools that the letter brings up. Dodge, for instance, cycles through Dodge, some sort of sponge, and Burn. I should probably learn how to use that sponge, and will smite myself on the head when I realize what I've been missing. Then I'll run over here to post it as a hot tip.

More if I think of it. It's not always easy to remember three decades of tippage all at once.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

The Zombie of Oz

ZOMBIE WARNING: Song about Zombies. If you don't like zombies, and zombie activities, don't read the song. Or sing it. You can hum it, if you don't think about the lyrics while you're doing it. So anyway, this should be sung by an undead Ray Bolger in 1939, and it includes the verse, which doesn't appear in that movie, except (I think) as an underscore to some of the dancing. I know we used it for that when I was in this on stage, anyway. Okay, you've been zombie warned. Now comes the zombie part:

Said a dead man, lurching to his feet:
"I'd be happy, if I had some meat!
Not just any meat, of course--
I wouldn't eat squirrel or lion or tiger or horse...
But I sure would like your brain!

Zombies hunger once they pop off,
And crave to pop your top off
For pudding you contain
I would do you in discreetly
And give thanks to you most sweetly
If I only had your brain!

I would smile while I'm a-munchin'
The warm cerebral luncheon
You fight against in vain.
I would happily get crackin'
And I'd save the rest for snackin'
If I only had your brain!

Oh, I
Could bake a pie
Or canapes galore
I could relish it on crackers by the score
It's just the taste
That I adore.

I'm so sorry this portrayal
Might strike you as betrayal
And bring you fear and pain
But I'd never have to miss you
While I scarfed your nervous tissue
If I only had your brain!

I regret this will be bloody
Though I was once your buddy
But think of what we'll gain
'Cause the bright side is, you'll love us
And be one of us--one OF us
If I only have your brain!


Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Memes Help Us Avoid Doing Anything Productive!

On Twitter, Tom Tomorrow (I think it was) said "The dog in the fire saying 'This is fine' meme peaked too soon. We could use it now." Or something like that. I said "How about if the dog was out walking with a fire and saw another fire and said This is Fine while the first fire looks unhappy at him?"

This got me some of the attention I crave, and one person even said they'd like to see that. So, since I have nothing better to do, I made it so.

And there it is. I left out the caption. Just lazy, I guess.


original guy looking back meme (from Getty Images):

original dog and fire meme (by K.C. Green)--my proportions were a compromise between the sources:

So now it's funny, huh? Funny? Get it? Funny??

Saturday, April 25, 2020


[ttto: Born To BeWild by Steppenwolf]

Get your blower running
Head up on the driveway
Lookin' for some dead leaves
Or whatever will fly 'way

Yeah, we're gonna make it happen
Kick the world in a lovin' place
Fire all of 'em up at once and
Explode in its face!


We like smoke and loud noise
Any kind of thunder
Only play with loud toys
When we're plowin' nature under

Yeah we're going to make it happen
Make this lawn like a graveyard lot
Feed every blade of grass and
Then poison what's not


Like the cool, dangerous toys
We were born, born to make noise
Gonna feel so proud
We're the loudest of the loud

(Vroom vroom vroom )
(Vroom vroom vroom )
(Repeat without fading)...

Dedicated to the guy next door at 8:45 am.

Fifty Fifty (Keep it Fair)

Fifty Fifty

[ttto: Roving Gambler--traditional]

I am the rag of record, job's to keep it fair
Whenever I discern two sides
My stand's between them there
Stand's between them there, stand's between them there.

A liar got in office and he gaslit all around
I stood up straight beside him
And split the difference down
Split the difference down, split the difference down.

He poisoned air and water that the others had kept clean
And I declared right then and there
"The truth lies in between
Truth lies in between, truth lies in between."

He lied by noon and morning and lied some more at night
The others stood for truth and I said
"Each side is half right
Each side is half right, each side is half right."

He treated his position as a self-enriching game
And I pushed out my chest and said
"Both sides are to blame
Both sides are to blame, both sides are to blame."

He stole and robbed at random, hired hacks as bad as he
And I retailed his lies and said
"Some would disagree
Some would disagree, some would disagree."

And now he says drink bleach, folks, inject a Lysol spray
I wear my wisest face and write
"Dems in disarray
Dems in disarray, dems in disarray."

We're seeing widespread death now and ruin's in the air
And I stand proud and say it loud
"I always kept it fair
Always kept it fair, always kept it fair."


Friday, April 24, 2020



Years and years ago, in Georgia, during our poor days, we were at a yard sale and I spotted a chainsaw for just $10. It was small, bright yellow, and just $10. I put in a suggestion on it, but it was determined that our financial situation couldn't bear even a cute yellow ten-dollar chainsaw. I moved on, as one does.


Five or six years later, there was a weird situation at our apartment. Someone was honking endlessly at the apartments next door to our units, and I finally went over and told the driver that it seemed likely nobody was home, or they’d have come out, and they left, and when I turned around, several folks from my apartment unit had come out and were watching, and made comments about me being brave to go over like that with nothing in my hand.

My next door neighbor, the architect, reached behind himself and held up a.45-looking pistol that he'd had tucked in the waistband of his jogging pants. Other neighbors said some words that gave me an impression there might have been a shotgun or rifle nearby as well.

It felt a little odd, going back inside like everything was normal and all over, and I reminded Cathy of the time she hadn’t let me buy the little chainsaw at the yard sale. “Because, you know,” I said, “A man should be able to protect his home.”

And I figured then, as I do now, that if I was a burglar in someone’s home, and I heard a chainsaw start up in the next room, I’d simply leave.

But I guess I’ll never know! I don't have a chainsaw.

S1K - 034 to 039 [15 songs] (55 so far)

S1K - 034 to 039 [15 songs] (55 so far)
what, again?Continuing our methodical walk through The Book of a Thousand Songs [Wier, 1918]

p 34: "The Blue Bells of Scotland" Scottish folk song written by Dora Jordan and first published in 1801. Sufficiently well known that I've heard of it, maybe because Leroy Anderson made a version of it.

"Boat Song" by Carl Maria Von Weber. Can't find any references to this, so it could be a repurposed opera aria, or an idiosyncratic translation.

"Blow, Boys, Blow" (A Hoisting Chantey Song) is originally from slave-trading days, but the references to the Congo River and race are not included in the two short verses reprinted here. (Except in very special cases, this book only gives two verses of a song, period.)

p 35: "Baby Mine," an 1874 sentimental song about a father coming home from the sea, by Archibald Johnson. I looked up the remaining verse and was surprised to find that the father did not meet a horrible fate just before coming home.

"Baby Bunting," an anonymous lullaby with a pleasant lilt. This was on an album of lullabies I used to play to Sarah sometimes at bedtime.

"Baa! Baa! Black Sheep" is a nursery rhyme to the same tune as "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star," and "A, B, C," and the French "Ah! Vous dirai-je, Maman," for which Mozart wrote some variations that are still popular.

p 36: "Bonnie Charlie" is a traditional Scots tune used for a setting to a poem by Lady Nairne (Carolina Oliphant), known for "saccharine imitations of Jacobian songs." This is an imitation of a Jacobian song, set in the days of Bonnie Prince Charlie, who reportedly was hosted by her family back in the day. Book credits Finley Dun, who doesn't seem to have a thing to do with it.

"The Blue Juniata" was immensely popular in the 19th century. Mark Twain mentioned it, the Sons of the Pioneers recorded it in 1937, with the deep voice and fiddle of Hugh Farr front and center. Mrs. Marion Dix Sullivan wrote it in 1844.

"Ba-Be-Bi-Bo-Bu," uncredited in the book, appears to be by my main man, Philadephia composer Septimus Winner! Just eight bars long, it gets longer if you put every consonant in the alphabet into it for twenty-one verses. Ca-Ce-Ci-Co-Cu, and like that there. Also known as "Spelling Bee," and it could predate Winner (who was often just collecting and publishing songs, and complicated the issue sometimes by using other names and so on). It lived on well past him in a different form as "Swinging the Alphabet," and was used in the 1938 Three Stooges short Violent is the Word for Curly (where they stopped just short of an apparent naughty word in the F verse), as well as the 1980 cult film FORBIDDEN ZONE (which sang the F out of the F verse) that was Danny Elfman's first movie score. It's the only song Larry, Moe, and Curly sang in its entirety, lip-synching their own voices.

p 37: "Begone! Dull Care" is found in Playford's 1687 Musical Companion, and might be by him or might not. It's a recurring joke in a series of comic strips by "Little Nemo" creator Winsor McCay, who depicts a character lugging a satchel with the words DULL CARE on it. Metaphor. At first it sounds like it's going to be "Plaisir d'Amore," but not quite.

"Blow The Man Down" is a well-known sea chantey, written before the 1860s. The title seems to refer to either a man being knocked over by a swinging sail, or a man-of-war suffering a loss of balance that could be pretty serious. Author? Yeah, right.

"Bohunkus" uses the tune of "Auld Lang Syne, and apparently originated around 1891 at Ohio State University, where it was a favorite of the Men's Glee. The burlesque lyrics concern a pair of brothers, Bohunkus and Josephus, who each had a suit of clothes, went to the theater, and died. One went to heaven, the other to a place that varies from one singer to the next. Some say Hell, some say Delaware or Michigan.

p 38: "The British Grenadiers" has a tune that seems to date back to early 17th century. It shows up in Playford in 1728 as "The New Bath," and was first printed as "The Granadeer's March" in 1706, gaining its lyrics between 1735-50. It's been an official march in a number of militaries for centuries now.

"The Brown Hair'd Maiden" is a Scotch song (it says here), whose traditional lyrics were translated into English in the 19th century by Scottish poet John Stuart Blackie. It's been used as a regimental march. Original title was "The Nut Brown Maiden" and some continue to use this title.

p 39: "The Bridge" has a definite writer and composer: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Maria Lindsay (who also composed as Mrs. J. Worthington Bliss, and I wonder if the "Honest John" character in Pinocchio got his name--J. Worthington Foulfellow--from this monicker). The song is a somber one, with the author contemplating suicide. I don't know how it comes out, and whether her husband the Reverend would have approved if the song surrendered to the urge to self-terminate. This version, which fills a whole page, is (like most of the book) a choral rendition, and I might be missing all sorts of cool accompaniment figures. The only recording I found in a cursory web search has someone singing it with his own accompaniment.

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