Saturday, May 4, 2019

The Balkun Brothers' Beautifully Blended Devil on TV

Dr Desert Flower and I recently visited our son in beautiful Charleston South Carolina.  While we there, my son gave me a CD by the Balkun Brothers Devil on TV.  Our son's company had helped facilitate a recent live show by the Balkun Brothers, and he was impressed by their music that he snapped up a CD for his old father who is not on Spotify, iTunes, Pandora, or any other platform that monitors what a human listens to and then tries to market to them; my son knows his father.  He also knows great music when he hears it, as he's a remarkable drummer in his own right (with a faster bass drum foot and more speed metal stamina than his dad, but I've still got him on the 26 standard NARD rudiments. ... and I do miss having bonus-room-over-the-garage drum set duels with him, as we used to do when we lived in South Carolina).

As I was installing window blinds this morning here in California in our new house, I put the Devil on TV CD into the home sound system's CD player, not knowing WHAT to expect.  It might be good, it might not be my thing, but keeping an open mind.  I was blown away.

If you wanted to create the Balkun Brothers music in a laboratory, this might be one recipe that would approximate their sound:
- Start with The Heavy, used as the base stock, but remove the UK and make it home grown American (open track "Don't Be Afraid" is VERY The Heavy like in many ways, as is So Hi, So Lo)
- Add in the following bands in different amounts, based upon your own palate:  RHCP (Flea and Chad), Rollins Band, a healthy dose of Muddy Waters, Lenny from Motorhead, old Yes, a teaspoon of Primus, a few drops of Morphine, an extract of the Black Keys without the mainstream commercialization, essence of Rob Zombie without the shock value, a touch of Mike Giles from King Crimson crossed with John Dolmayan from SOAD mixed with Matt Cameron from Soundgarden, steamed and condensed STP without the heroine, and the soul of Chris Cornell's voice.
- Then, and this is the truly amazing part that I still cannot understand... remove ALL the band members except for the two brothers, Steve and Nick, since they produce all the sound.

I'm impressed, and hooked (listening the the CD on repeat for the 4th time as I write this).  I will seek out the other works as well.  The Balkun Brothers are currently playing in New England and will be headed to Europe at the end of the month.  You would not be wasting your time nor money to go see them.  Highly recommended.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Scots, Casbah, Nov 18th

Dr Desert Flower and I have tickets to the SCOTS show at the Casbah in Downtown San Diego on November 18th.  If you have not seen SCOTS live, you've been missing an awesome show.  They're fun, talented, high energy, eclectic, surf-punk-rockabililly-country-party fun.  The first time I saw them was at Dawg Gone in Spartanburg SC back in the late 80s, and they were a hoot!  I've mentioned them here before many times:
and here:

I've since seen them in AZ, NV, SC, CA (both north and south), IL, and NC multiple times... more than 20 times, with DDF, my son, my buddy Joe, my buddy Matt, and sometimes by myself (though SCOTS is more fun with friends than it is alone).  Our son, Nathan Jr has lit their shows in Charleston more at least 4 times.  You should go see them while they tour the West Coast.  You won't regret that you did.


If you haven't voted yet...

If you haven't voted yet, you need to take some time off work tomorrow and go vote.  I don't care if you're a Democrat, Republican, Independent, Libertarian, Green Party (in the US = throw away your vote) or other affiliation.  Go vote.  Participate in your democracy.  It's disgusting that dictatorships like Iraq and Venezuela have 80, 90, or 99% voter turn out when the United States has barely 50 or 60% participation on a good year.  The USA is supposed to be the birth place of western Democracy. Act like it, citizens!

If you're a hard-core Drumpf supporter who still likes him, despite his narcissism, infidelity, multiple bankruptcies, serial lying, corruption, bombastic irrational flailing, bigotry, narrow minded stupidity, inexperience, fealty to Putin, dictator worship, then you could vote, but it doesn't really matter because you're less than 40% of the electorate and you're not a supporter of the US Constitution which Drumpf viscerally hates and disregards.  Go polish your guns, yell at your hired help, mistreat your pets, children and wait staff, and try to ignore the saliva and pubes they've put in your food.    Why do I say Drumpf hates and disregards the Constitution?  1st amendment.  He calls all journalists (except for Faux News) the "Enemy of the People".  Those are dictator words. Fighting' words.  Those are words of a very small, very paranoid little man.  If you can't shin while being scrutinized, you're not Presidential material.

Doctor Desert Flower and I will likely go to a "Flip the 49th" election night party tomorrow night after she gets home from her grueling job.  If Mike Levin wins, awesome.  If Mike Levin loses, then at least we'll have made the acquaintance of other progressive humans who live in Northern San Diego County who have consciences and who don't think "all the brown people" are coming to take what we have.  And, as a weapons proficient NRA rated sharpshooter, I'll be happy to help protect the gathering of rather defenseless progressives and liberals from any nefarious bombers, shooters, or other mayhem wielding scared middle aged white folks.

Zobaczymy...   we shall see.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

2018 California Judge Voter Guide

Hello my fellow Californian Voters

If you vote by mail, like I have for the last decade + and you're looking for a voter guide as to who backs who, and that their record is different issues, you've got the voter guides the State and county sends you by law, but sadly, those are DEVOID of information on Judges.  When you look at your November 2018 ballot, you'll see there's nearly an ENTIRE PAGE dedicated to state judges... Yes or No... and if they get a majority of Yes votes, they remain on the bench.  If they get a majority of no votes, then they either have to run or resign, or go under judicial review... it's not clear to me, but a NO vote doesn't help them at all.

So I'm watching KPBS this evening and they mention their voter guide online, so I launch my Safari browser hoping to find info on the judges for whom I have not voted.  Nada, rein, pas de tout, nichts, nada... there's no content on KPBS.  I go to the toothless State Judicial Review site, and it too is Devoid of relevant information. has basically only Yelp reviews of disgruntled litigants and is not something you can take seriously nor comprehensively.  So I keep googling... I don't want to make uniformed decisions, or pick randomly.  I find this VERY DETAILED site:

Wow, this really goes into depth, and looks very comprehensive, and I stupidly begin filling out my ballot.  THEN... I google the website's old-white-guide author, Craig Huey.  He looks kinda like conservative national radio show host Hugh Hewitt, so I start looking him up.  He's an extremely far right, hard core conservative.  He's rated everyone from NO to 5 stars, with most being either NO or 5, with very very little in the middle.  So I take Craig's ideological perspective, spin it 180 degrees, and then vote completely against this dinosaur.  Thanks Craig!

I also called my buddy Joe M in the Bay Area, (one of The Most informed voters I know) and he recommended Broke Ass Stuart, who is also in the bay area.  Stuart's picks are good too... but he doesn't cover San Diego.  So if you are looking for factual advice on various candidates, I strongly recommend you go to Craig Huey's page, and vote your heart and mind and social conscious.  If you're a rich, selfish, Mine Mine Mine! greedy, narrow-libertarian who despises anything progressive and socially redeemable, follow Craig's advice.  Otherwise, leverage his driven & fastidious hatred and vote the exact opposite of his sleekly published viewpoints.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Promises vs Reality, Mexico

On my Aeromexico flight from LAX to Monterrey Mexico this morning, I was unexpectedly upgraded to Business Class.  Instead of a cramped coach seat in this Embraer 190 (2 x 2 seating in the back, 1 + 2 seating in business class, x four rows), I have a rather spacious left hand 3A seat, with a window all to myself and no neighbor.  Very nice.

Not having flown Aeromexico Business class for many years, I was curious as to what kind of alcohol they might serve.  I of course, looked at their in-fight magazine and immediately located the whiskey.  Whiskey Bushmills - international flight…. well, that’s what I’m on.  Cognac Courvosier - International Flight.  Mmmmm, choices choices.  I also noted that they had Johnny Walker black for those who love peat and smoke, various beers, 2 tequilas, 2 vodkas, and one rum (or Ron).  The white wine list included a Bordeaux, a California Chardonnay, a Riesling, and 2 others.  2 bubblies, and 3 or 4 reds. I’d ask for Courvosier, then go to the Bushmills if they didn’t have it, and then step down to the vino blanco if that was low as well.

“Courvosier Cognac, por favor” I said in my best Spanish to the flight attendant.  I received a blank stare.  I showed the flight attendant the page from GranPlan Aire magazine.  She looked, and said “whiskey?”  Si, Bushmills whiskey for favor.  She then walked back up to the front of the plane, 10 feet away, and opened a 1750 ml bottle of Johnny Walker Black, pouring me a generous serving.  Not my favorite by far, but drinkable compared to its red cousin, that is better off thrown as a molotov cocktail.  After lunch was served she politely asked if I wanted more whiskey.  “No gracias. Vino blanco for favor”.  I am now on my 3rd glass of vino blanco - I am not driving when I get to Monterrey.

Why am I not working? - you might ask?  Well, the company paid for a non-refundable cheap coach class ticket, where there is not room to open a lap top.  I’m up in business class not because of work, but because of the funerals and vacations I’ve taken with Delta this year that have almost made me gold medallion status.  The domestic and Tijuana based work flights I’ve taken have barely moved the needle.  If work wants me to work on a flight, they can pay for business class, and i will drink less, work more, and be a happier camper.  After 5 decades on this mortal coil, I have no patience for trying to placate cheap employers who drive to the lowest common denominator.  Therefore, I am composing my first blog post in many many many months.

I named this post “Promises vs Reality” because in Mexico, there are No Shortage of lofty promises.  Can you makes these parts? Si.  Can you meet the delivery date?  Si.  Will the parts be made from American bar stock and sheet metal?  Si.  Can you mark each part according to the instructions on the specification?  Si.  All promises made to try and make the customer happy.  None of the promises were kept…  no, not even slightly, remotely, partially kept.  Late parts, unmarked, with no data, made from very cheap Chinese sheet stock… a lie on every front.   This is what the last 4 months of dealing with Mexican suppliers has been for me.  And today’s Aeromexico flight is emblematic of what I’ve seen at various supplier throughout Mexico this year.  

No one ever wants to tell you know…  but they will slowly show you (demonstrating) no.

At least I got to sit in a nice, comfortable seat to compose this post... unexpectedly pleasant.  

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Marketing Failure As Success

Fareed Zakaria's GPS program this morning said it best.
Link here:
"Trump's true talent is marketing failure as success"
I really cannot add anything more than Fareed's succinct summary here.

Why Umerikuns fall for this immoral, misogynistic, sophomoric, bombastic, uncurious, ignorant, narcissistic, illiterate, con man's rhetoric, is beyond my comprehension.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

SpaceX Falcon Heavy Boosters Return Safely Simultaneously

When I was a kid, I remember sitting in front of the 25 inch tube TV in my parents' living room watching Apollo space capsules splashing down in the ocean and US Navy divers jumping out of helicopters in wet suits to attach lifting cables to the outside of the floating capsules.  It had always fascinated me, and I've seen Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo re-entry capsules in Chicago at the Museum of Science and Industry, in Washington DC at the Smithsonian, at the San Diego Air and Space Museum in Balboa Park.  Those capsules exited the atmosphere, and returned, carrying live astronauts, and surviving re-entry through he atmosphere, and the heat and pressure scars on the surface of the capsules was always jaw dropping to me as a kid, as a teen, and as a young adult that we, as puny humans, could design and build and launch something that was so tough it could survive re-entry and return the astronauts back to terra ferma safely.

Then today, South African immigrant Elon Musk's company SpaceX launched the Falcon Heavy as a test flight for future Mars missions, making it the largest rocket (3 million pounds) launched since Apollo moon missions more than 40 years ago.  Yes, SpaceX has launched and recovered boosters before. Sometimes on remote controlled barges, sometimes on land. But they had not done a double booster return yet, and watching today's double simultaneous landing was... amazing... jaw dropping... awe-inspiring... remarkable.  See here:

Sure, the rocket's  "payload" was Elon's personal Tesla Roadster convertible, being driven by a mannequin in a space suit, and outfitted with 3 cameras that have been giving fantastic views of the car and the Earth as it heads into orbit around the Sun and a rendezvous with Mars in about 6 months... and that's cute, and stylish, and amusing, and FAR BETTER than launching a dummy payload of bricks or steel or something really boring (but safe).  Elon had given the launch a '50 to 66% chance of success', setting realistic expectations.  The boosters came back safely, and beautifully.  The main core malfunctioned after separating from the payload at MACH 15, and did not make it to the remote controlled barge in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean as planned... but 2 out of 3 safe returns for usable rockets is not bad. And I anticipate, it will only get better with more practice.

Going into space is hard.  It's not easy nor simple, and few nations have done it successfully.  Fewer companies have done is successfully, and Only One has returned two booster rockets, simultaneously, to a precise launch pad, without using heat sheilds, the ocean, US Navy divers, or parachutes... very impressive indeed!

Monday, February 5, 2018

Balboa Park Botanical Garden

On Sunday, Dr Desert Flower and I had zero interest in watching the Superbowl since it was the New England perennial cheaters against the Philadelphia obnoxious fans underdogs.  [Note: I clearly state "cheaters" not because of just 'deflate-gate', but because of the pattern over years of coach Bellicose's reign, where he sent spies to opposing teams' training camps to video tape their practices, hired professional lip readers to spy on opposing teams' offensive and defensive coaches to gather intel on what plays were coming next, and generally played very dirty, making every under-handed, sneaky, below-board move possible].  Not wanting to spend time in front of the TV watching the glorification of two teams we despised, we decided to go somewhere that normally would have many people, but hopefully would have Much Fewer persons and be far less crowded than than usual.  We decided upon Balboa Park's Botanical Garden, as we'd never been there before and it was less than an hour's drive away.

Much Smaller than Phoenix's Desert Botanical Garden, the Balboa Park garden is cute, compact, a pretty little spot to visit.  It's perhaps 5% the size of Phoenix's botanical garden, but of course much cooler.  The weather was in the mid-to-upper 70s (Fahrenheit), with low humidity in the 30% range, with gentle breezes of 5 mph every now-and-then.  Quite pleasant.  Crowd-wise... it was a different story.  We arrived around noon, and could only find parking in the vast lot behind the Air and Space Museum in Balboa Park.  Not a long walk, but a good 1/2 mile or so to get to the Botanical Garden.  By the time we left 90 minutes later, that large parking lot was jammed full with cars circling like sharks looking for parking spaces.  The crowds were international.  I heard Spanish, Italian, Russian, Czech, Hindi, Mandarin, Japanese and Thai being spoken as we walked through the park and passed various families; International visitors who Also could not care less about the Superbowl spectacle.  We tried eating at 2 of the cafes inside the park and found 30 and 45 minute waits... and not being British, I don't queue very well, so we headed over to Banker's Hill and had a delicious leisurely brunch at Parc Bistro.

Next year, when two teams are playing that we are equally apathetic about, we'll head out to a remote national park and enjoy the serenity and tranquility, devoid of human interference.  = )

Monday, January 15, 2018

Perfect for Today

I saw this on the book face earlier today, and I've been thinking about how appropriate it is all day.
Sad that in my life time, this 'democracy' has empowered the worst among us.

Maybe something good will come out of this misappropriation of hopeful-but-misinformed-quasi-populist protest vote... like #MeToo, or equal pay for women, or awareness of how Oprah is actually a billionaire while Drumpf is a charlatan thrice bankrupt, thrice divorced, who preys upon his rivals' wives and the worst fears of easily manipulated Umerikuns.