Friday, May 20, 2022

Friday Night Videos

Friday Night Videos

Ever since I became interested in tiki I've had a deep fascination with the music associated with it. Moving beyond exotica and hapa haole, I've been exploring more and more lately the music of indigenous peoples from the Pacific, who take their traditional sounds and instruments, fusing them with modern instruments and expressions for distinctive, contemporary sound. Matato'a is one of those groups--a band from Rapa Nui (also known as Easter Island). Their video for the song "Here Ma'ohi" is awash with their culture and landscape. It's kind of astonishing to watch. Really, how many bands get to perform alongside giant Moai statues carved by their ancestors?

Previously on Friday Night Videos... Hall and Oates.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Lunar eclipse 2022

The last lunar eclipse I had clear skies for came back in 2014. I did a bit of astrophotography for that one, and managed to put together a crude animation of the event. It didn't turn out great, because I had no plan going in, but was a neat proof of concept. For the 2022 eclipse, which May 15, I planned to do better.

Except that I forgot about it completely, until Lisa stuck her head into my office and asked if I was interested in watching the eclipse, which had already begun. Argh! There wasn't time to set up my telescope (762mm focal length!) and calibrate its equitorial tracking, which meant I would not be repeating the animation trick this time around. So instead I settled for using my Canon FD 500mm f/8 reflex lens (converted to EOS mount by yours truly) on my tripod-mounted 7D. The results of this setup were... okay. Adjusting the camera on the tripod was a real pain. You forget just how convenient an equatorial mount is for making tiny observational adjustments until you don't have it. The 500mm lens I used is, in fact, a small telescope. Emphasis on small. Still, it performed as well as can be expected and respectably documented the event. Next time, though, I'm going to plan better...

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Friday, May 13, 2022

Friday Night Videos

Friday Night Videos

"Adult Education" is one of Hall & Oates' odder hits. There's a cynicism to it, the staccato beats of the lyrics hinting at something ominous, or at least stressful, lurking around the corner. It's very much in the vein of high-school-as-a-horror-story done with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, save for the lack of supernatural elements. Or is it? I'm not so sure after watching the deeply weird video. What the heck is going on here? It starts off with something of an Indiana Jones vibe, but then takes a left turn into some occult ceremony with a mostly naked couple being blessed with what looks to be an Aztek paper weight. And John Oates is really, really pissed off about something. Was he angry because he didn't get to be one of the naked people? Is that why he's not wearing a shirt? I honestly have no idea.

Previously on Friday Night Videos... Jefferson Airplane.

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Friday, May 06, 2022

Friday Night Videos

Friday Night Videos

I can never quite get over just how astonishingly good Jefferson Airplane was. That gets overlooked in light of the fact that Jefferson Airplane wasn't as good but had significantly more success on the charts, and then Starship, which was insanely successful from a commercial standpoint but is considered artistically disposable today. But it's easy to remember how powerful Airplane was when revisiting past performances, like this one of "High Flyin' Bird" and "Today."

Previously on Friday Night Videos... Prince.

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Friday, April 29, 2022

Friday Night Videos

Friday Night Videos

For most of YouTube's existence, you couldn't view a Prince video on the platform. That's because the artist refused to take his music online. Condiering the raw deal most legacy artists got from their record companies over streaming, this made all kinds of sense. But then Prince always marched to his own drum beat. Since his death, much of his work has made its way online, presumably enriching the estate. Case in point: "Cream," which is the last single of his that I absolutely loved prior to Prince's long, drawn out feud with his record company and that weird, changing his name to a symbol strategy in getting out of his contract. This song doesn't make much sense, being more a stream-of-consciouness compilation of catchy phrases more than anything else. But when you've got a groove going that seems so effortless, and that whole Asenio Hall Show-era Bob Fosse-style sex dance choreography, who could complain? Also, that retro train station introduction is outright bonkers and has nothing to do with the following video, but when you're viewed as eccentric, you must live up to expectations.

Previously on Friday Night Videos... Night Ranger.

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Saturday, April 23, 2022

Chicken Ranch anniversary: Happy birthday, Dolph!

On this date in 1923, Dolph Briscoe, who would go on to become the 41st governor of Texas, was born. He would've been 99 today. Briscoe, a long-time Uvalde rancher, is generally remembered fondly from his terms as governor for being a decent guy. But his administration did earn some dubious distinctions. Briscoe was the last Texas governor to serve a two-year term and the first to serve a four-year term. He undermined two efforts to rewrite Texas' abysmal constitution (which remains a trainwreck to this day). Briscoe once appointed a dead man to the State Health Advisory Commission, and if what I've heard is true, called a press conference in the aftermath to reassure the press and public that he hadn't lost his grip on sanity.

But what most people remember him for--and which doesn't appear in most official biographies--is that he was the governor who ordered the closure of the infamous Chicken Ranch brothel in La Grange. Ironically, Briscoe had no actual legal authority to order the Chicken Ranch (or any other brothel, for that matter) closed. But he did, hoping nobody would call his bluff. Fayette County Jim Flournoy certainly knew the governor had no authority to do so, but acquiesced to Briscoe and effectively ended a surreal two-week media circus that captured the attention of Texas as well as the rest of the country.

Governor Briscoe died June 27, 2010, after ignoring my interview requests for the better part of a year. Happy birthday, Dolph!

Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch: The Definitive Account of the Best Little Whorehouse is available from both Amazon.com and BarnesAndNoble.com. It's also available as an ebook in the following formats: Kindle, Nook, Google Play, iBooks and Kobo.

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Friday, April 22, 2022

Friday Night Videos

Friday Night Videos

"Sentimental Street" is Night Ranger's best song, hands down. Sorry "Sister Christian" fans. That said, the video doesn't really make a lick of sense. The conceit of being crashed/marooned on a desert island with a magic lantern (a nod to the album title "7 Wishes") is taken up in video for "Four in the Morning," but doesn't make much sense there, either. There's a lot of pseudo-nostalgia throughout the video about old girlfriends and the band struggling before finding success, but there's no real context and the vibe is all over the place. There's no narrative through line, but goodness, who needs consistency when the band is sporting hair like that? The video itself may not be peak 80s, but the coiffures are almost there.

Previously on Friday Night Videos... John Cougar Mellencamp.

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