Look back with satisfaction

January 27, 2012 at 1:33 am (Icepick)

That’s the essence of nostalgia. I’ve been looking through my blog archives tonight, first looking for a particular old post, and then just looking at what I had done, and some of the conversations that had taken place. I stumbled upon this in a comment from a reader, discussing a favored type of comfort music:

Deep saxophone jazz, the kind that sounds like having a cigarette in bed on a hot night after sex and feeling your pulse beat under the drumskin of your belly.

Makes ya want to take up smoking, doesn’t it? I’ll tell you who wrote it later.

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It’s Me, Roo, I’m Kayaking!

January 26, 2012 at 12:26 am (By Amba)

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An old friend returns….

January 25, 2012 at 7:26 am (By Ron)

One of the things I always liked to do is to follow a band, especially a band that you see up close in a relatively smaller venue.
I have several of these favorites, most of whom I’ve  seen at the wonderful Ark venue, which has moved around Ann Arbor in several places before their excellent present location downtown.  As I’ve gotten older the worst part of the place is the steep climb of stairs, done as quickly as possible to get ahead of the oncoming hordes.  As is my wont, I always try to sit up front, as close to the band as I can get.  That alone is its own special experience.
I was completely unfamiliar with Irish music (except the treacly pseudo-Bing Crosby pop) when a friend took me to see a highly thought of band….and they were awful!  But Greg promised me the next band would not disappoint, and 25 years later, they still do not:  Altan.

It’s hard to describe the joy you get from what to you is “new” music; music that doesn’t fit the cliches you “know”, music that shows you so many great things about the culture and the performers…I was buzzed about it for weeks after hearing them the first time, which in turn, has led me to see quite a bit of Irish and Scottish music, more than I ever thought I would growing up!  Not everything reverts back to childhood joys!
There’s also something else  — seeing a band over a long period of time.  You want both the familar and the new, to see where they want to go musically!  It doesn’t always work out, as I recall one tour where Altan was pressured to be a bit more “New Agey” than I think they were naturally inclined to be, but that’s the biz for you!  If you love them, you stick with them in the hope of this being just a phase.
The moment I’ll always remember is when, Frankie Kennedy, one of the original founders of the band, the husband of the lead singer/fiddle player Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh passed away from cancer at a quite young age.  I wasn’t sure if they would tour, but they did with Mairead in black, without the band mentioning his passing during the show.  This lent a somber note to those of us who followed the band, but it was the first encore that nearly did me in.  She came out to sing a song that she had done as a duet with Frankie playing the flute — alone.  I couldn’t look, and covered my eyes so I wouldn’t get upset.  Later, she upbraided me for that telling me that if I had started crying, she’d start crying, and she was on stage!  Crying — and drinking — was for backstage.

A video taste of her singing for you…

I can’t wait to see them again, if only just to get in some solid footstomping to some of the more lively jigs and reels, like this one

If Altan comes your way….I couldn’t recommend a band more highly.  If I can scrape together the $25 I’ll see them March 4th.

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Captain Williard eventually becomes President on West Wing

January 19, 2012 at 11:00 am (By Ron)

continuing the Apocalypse Now!  theme…


update:  Martin Sheen gets demoted in the post title from Col. to Captain as he was in the film.  [nod to Icepick]

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Never Get Out of the Boat!

January 18, 2012 at 12:00 am (Guest Post, Icepick)

A Guest Post by Icepick

Never get out of the boat. Absolutely G*d-damned right. Unless you’re goin’ all the way.

This was a lesson NOT learned by Francesco Schettino, Captain of the cruise ship Costa Concordia.

Authorities were holding Schettino for suspected manslaughter and a prosecutor confirmed Sunday they were also investigating allegations the captain abandoned the stricken liner before all the passengers had escaped. According to the Italian navigation code, a captain who abandons a ship in danger can face up to 12 years in prison.

The accounts so far don’t look good for the Captain’s future. He should have stayed in the boat – or hightailed it to Brazil.

Better still, never get IN to the boat.

For blogger/opinion writer Steve Sailer this brought to mind a similar incident. In 1991 the cruise ship Oceanos sunk off the coast of South Africa. What happened was covered by People Magazine:

On Saturday evening, Aug. 3, as a 50-mph gale buffeted their ship, passengers aboard the Greek cruise liner Oceanos gamely made their way to the main lounge for the evening’s entertainment. No sooner had they settled in than the lights went out. The 492-foot ship, suddenly without power, tossed in high seas off South Africa’s aptly named Wild Coast. For 361 weekend tourists, one of the most harrowing nights of their lives had just begun. The Oceanos was sinking.

Disgracefully, many of the 184 crew members clambered aboard the lifeboats ahead of some of the passengers and paddled to the safety of tankers and trawlers that had drawn nearby. At daybreak on Sunday, South African Air Force helicopters joined the rescue operation. But to the astonishment and anger of the 217 passengers still aboard, Capt. Yannis Avranias grabbed the second chopper off the ship. With no one clearly in charge, an unlikely hero emerged among the remaining crew: Robin Boltman, 31, the ship’s magician.

Giving the performance of his career, Boltman entertained and calmed passengers throughout the pitch-black night. In the morning he ascended to the bridge and maintained radio contact with rescuers. Finally, at 11:30 A.M., after all other passengers and crew had been removed to safety, Boltman was lifted from the ship by a helicopter. At 1:45 P.M. the luxury liner nosed into the Indian Ocean and disappeared under the waves.

I had seen Sailer’s excerpt earlier in the day and left it up. I wanted to read it to my wife when she got home, and did so. This caused her to say, “I think I heard of this guy recently, before this wreck in Italy.” So I hit Yahoo up for some search engine action, and found a story up near the top with an interesting headline:


It’s an article from the Daily News of South Africa, written by Barbara Cole, and starts off with

[M]any are asking whether Midlands magician Robin Boltman was on the doomed cruise liner Costa Concordia. Boltman has a knack of being aboard cruise ships that go to watery graves.

Um, what? He’s been on more than one? Yes, he has, although he wasn’t on this Costa Concordia. Besides being on the Oceanos on her final voyage, Boltman was also on the final voyage of the Achille Lauro back in 1994. In that incident the ship caught fire off the coast of Somalia and eventually sank. Here’s a tidbit from the Daily News story:

When fire broke out on the Achille Lauro, the captain Guiseppi Orssi called Boltman to the bridge and asked for his advice, telling him he did not want to make the same mistakes as the Oceanos captain.

“I told him he first had to sound the alarms,” he said.

“It is important to stay calm and collected. Passengers should also go to their cabins and get their life jacket and any medication.”

So score one for Captain Orssi for consulting an expert!

For those of you who think the Achille Lauro sounds familiar, that would be because of the high seas hijacking back in 1985. So add that to the list of reasons to NOT get on a cruise ship.

So here’s a partial list of reasons to not get on cruise ships: sea sickness, sickness (there’s a freakin’ CDC page for this!), terrorists, pirates, rocks, icebergs, storms, U-boats, rogue waves (two links), drunk captains, dare devil captains, incompetent captains, incompetent crew, too few life boats, Bond villains. Not to mention the strange men in blue boxes looking for some chap named Alonzo OR the freakin’ tigers that try to eat your ass (and presumably the rest of you) when you go looking for mangos!

Never get in to the boat!

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The Silence of the Blog

January 15, 2012 at 8:51 pm (By Amba)

Please do not think of the lack of posts here as an absence. Think of it as a presence, a powerful contribution to and comment on the national dialogue.  What could be more eloquent, more refreshing, more incisive, more definitive, than silence?  Responding to blather with more blather is a defeat.  Responding with silence, allowing it to expose its own blatherdom in a suddenly hushed room, is an aikido-like victory.

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