Video Fridays: R.I.P., B.B. King

BB_KingI can think of no simpler and better way to sum up why B.B. King, who has sadly left us, so completely deserved his nickname, King of the Blues, than to point out that when I and millions of people around the world think of the blues, the sound we hear in our heads is B.B. King.

B.B. was the quintessential bluesman: raised a sharecropper on a cotton plantation, he knew and lived the hard life that is the very heart of the blues. Fortified by the gospel tradition, inspired by the blues from the very first time he heard it on the radio, he taught himself how to play the guitar, spent his Saturday afternoons, when done with work, busking and honing his craft, and was finally able to leave the plantation thanks to relentless touring on the Chitlin’ Circuit.

Though he was unsuccessful in marriage — two failed 8-year stints, 15 children with 15 women — by all accounts he was a very warm, friendly, and generous person, beloved by all of the musicians who were fortunate enough to know him and/or share the stage with him.

Beyond the sound that I hear in my head, as a musician myself, when I think of B.B. King I think of the depth of his immersion in the music, the visceral feeling he could wring out of his instruments, both guitar and voice, and the visual component, the wonderful facial expressions he’d make as he performed evidence that he was totally committed to authenticity. He also smiled a lot, and the overall impression, as you watch him play, is that he felt deep gratitude and joy for his livelihood as a musician.

I have the closest, personal connection with his biggest hit, The Thrill Is Gone, as I’ve performed it in several bands that I’ve been in. I love minor key blues!

And so, without further ado, here’s this week’s Video Fridays installment.

R.I.P., B.B., thanks SO much for your wonderful music, and Happy Weekend, everyone!

Hillary Comes Out As … A Republican!

hilaryI hate to pile on, really, I do, but while there has already been a monumental pile of derision dumped on the logo unveiled yesterday, and pictured here, for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, the logo, to me, is so painfully bad that I just can’t keep quiet.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that, after having spent a chunk of time reading through the tweets and blog posts, from pundits to plain people to professional graphic designers, I don’t really have anything all that original to say on the matter.

My criticism is best summed up by this cartoon, from The New Yorker:



Translation for anyone not familiar with U.S. political symbolism:

You don’t have to be an expert on U.S. political symbolism to see the problems here, but you’d think that any design team working for the Clinton campaign most certainly should be expert, and it just boggles my mind thoroughly that any so-called expert design team could propose this logo, much less manage to convince the rest of the campaign team, and the reportedly very bright candidate, to approve it!

Anyway, while I’m no expert myself, I was tempted to see what the Hillary 2016 logo might look like if I played around with it using my favorite free online photo editing software, Pixlr, and this VERY interesting thing happened!

Pixlr has a filter called ‘Hope’, which makes ordinary photos look like the famous Barack Obama ‘Hope’ poster designed by artist Shepard Fairey, and when I desaturated the Hillary logo and applied the ‘Hope’ filter, while I’m still not crazy about the arrow pointing to the right, it kinda worked!

hilary2

As someone on Twitter said, you could argue that if Hillary is wearing the logo as a lapel pin, then the arrow would be pointing to her left!

Video Fridays: The Onion Roasts Netflix

netflix-app-logoIf, like me, you are a Netflix Streaming Video subscriber, you know the drill.

You rationalize that, at $8.00 per month, less than one adult ticket at a movie theater, Netflix is an incredible deal. That same $8.00, after all, lets all of the adults and all of the children in your home — plus as many other people you can cram in front of your television — watch unlimited movies and endless episodes of TV shows each month.

But then, slowly but surely, you realize that Netflix offers a VERY small selection of recent movies, and an even smaller selection of recent and not-so-recent good movies, and often, before you even get to watch a good movie that you’d been trying to find the time for, you find it’s no longer available for streaming.

Before long, you notice just how much time you spend browsing the titles, clicking on the occasional thumbnail to read the description, cast, director, and viewer ratings, etc., looking for that diamond in the rough. Try doing this with a spouse or teenage offspring or a friend who has different tastes in movies or TV shows, and it is not inconceivable that you spend nearly as much time browsing as you eventually will watching a video. On numerous occasions, I’ve even browsed so long without finding anything that I want to watch that I eventually give up and move on to some other non-screen activity.

I’ve been a big fan of news parody purveyor The Onion for a long time, all the way back to when it was solely a paper publication, and I’ve featured The Onion in many of my Tweet of the Day installments.

Today, however, for this week’s Video Fridays, I’m sharing a video from The Onion that absolutely nails the Netflix phenomenon described above.

Happy Weekend, everyone!

Headline of the Day: Food, Sex, Charity & The Green Frog

grilled-cheese2If you are a lover of comfort food, according to an article today at Salon, there’s a good chance that you are also a giving and prodigious lover, all made clear by today’s tantalizing Headline of the Day installment:

Study: People who love grilled cheese have more sex, are more charitable

Now, the photo accompanying this Salon article (shown above) is admittedly representative of what most people think of when they think of a grilled cheese sandwich.

BUT, if someone who loves this sandwich is having more sex and is more giving of themselves, just imagine the possibilities, pornographic and/or philanthropic, if this same someone was eating, on a regular basis, the AMAZING grilled cheese sandwiches available here in Bellingham, Washington at The Green Frog!

I mean, take a look at this thing of beauty!

grilled-cheese

With grilled cheese varieties like the following, off the Green Frog menu, you can guarantee that people of every possible sexual orientation and benefactor persuasion will find inspiration at this Bellingham institution:

  • The Gorgonzola – Gorgonzola, Mozzarella, Bacon, Green Apple
  • The Hamzilla!! – Swiss, provolone, piled ham slices, deli mustard
  • The Wise Guy – Mozzarella, Hot Italian Sausage, Peppers, Onions
  • The Caprese – Mozzarella, Basil, Tomato
  • The Fun Hater – Daiya Vegan Mozzarella Cheese, Red Onion, Apple
  • The Elvis – Cheddar, Peanut Butter, Bacon, Banana
  • The American Pie – Cheddar, red apple, cinnamon, bourbon maple syrup

Bon Appétit!!!

Bill Clinton Deserved The Portrait He Got

Bill-Clinton-PortraitSo, I’m late getting to this, but I’ve been thinking about it on and off since the news broke.

Two days ago, artist Nelson Shanks admitted that when, in 2006, he painted a portrait of then former President of the United States (POTUS) Bill Clinton, he included in the portrait a reference to the Monica Lewinsky scandal that led to Clinton becoming only the second president in history to be impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives.

In the portrait, pictured here, you can easily see the reference, and Shanks explained the reference to the media thusly:

“If you look at the left-hand side of it there’s a mantle in the Oval Office and I put a shadow coming into the painting and it does two things,” Shanks said. “It actually literally represents a shadow from a blue dress that I had on a mannequin, that I had there while I was painting it, but not when he was there.”

The shadow “is also a bit of a metaphor in that it represents a shadow on the office he held, or on him,” Shanks said.

Full Disclosure: I’m NOT a social or political conservative. I am an unapologetic liberal.

And yet, Clinton’s affair with his intern Monica Lewinsky, and how he responded to getting caught, caused me to lose all respect for the man whom I twice voted for.

Right wingers like to smear liberals by suggesting that, in addition to all kinds of sins and transgressions, we’re just fine with people sleeping around and having affairs. Not true.

So, since I’m not a fan of the religion’s judgmental rubber stamp known as “sin”, let me explain why I objected to Bill Clinton’s behavior and why he lost my respect, with this list of reasons, in no particular order:

  • I don’t think stupid people should be President of the United States, and any man or woman who has made it through the court of public opinion and the media gauntlet involved in running for any office — Clinton was elected Arkansas Attorney General, Governor of Arkansas five times, and, of course POTUS — knowing all that that entails and how under the spotlight and microscope these offices are, and yet chooses anyway to have an affair with an intern…in the White House!!!…is stupid, Rhodes Scholarship notwithstanding, and should not be chief executive and commander in chief of the most powerful country in the world. The affair was, of course, wrong for other reasons, for example…
  • When people get married they are making a solemn vow to commit to another human being, until death do they part, and it’s a beautiful thing to do, not because the bible or some other religious document says so, but because marriage is a powerful contradiction to how humans otherwise see each other as replaceable and expendable. And if our president breaks his wedding vow, how do we know, then, how seriously he takes his oath of office? Some might argue that human beings can be failures at relationships but geniuses and very effective and successful in other areas of their lives, maybe that’s true, but I still don’t approve and they still lose my respect.
  • When you are the most powerful man in the world and you have an affair with an intern, you obviously have no clue about the relationship between privilege, sexism, and oppression. This man should not be POTUS, and when, under another oath, this man characterized the affair as “I did not have sex with that woman!” because, reportedly, only oral sex was involved, well, that’s just disgusting insult to injury and a disgrace to the office.

Now, it should be noted that many news outlets reported this story incorrectly, referring to the Shanks portrait as the official presidential portrait, which it decidedly is not.

While the Shanks portrait, as mentioned, painted in 2006, five years after Clinton had left office, IS part of the permanent collection at the National Portrait Gallery (though currently in storage), the official presidential portrait was painted by artist Simmie Knox, commissioned in 2000, while Clinton was still in office, completed in 2002, and it now hangs in the East Wing of the White House.

I’m not naturally inclined to hold grudges, but at least for now, I still think Bill Clinton deserved the portrait he got. He abused his power, he lied, he was stupid, and we need SO much more than that from our president.

If the polarized, dysfunctional, corrupted state of our government didn’t have such dire consequences, if we weren’t entrenched in perpetual war, doing nothing substantial about climate change, and allowing the wealthiest 0.1% to own as much as 90% of the population does, combined, I might be more forgiving.

Headline of the Day: Crime Really Doesn’t Pay

Reese'sToday’s Headline of the Day installment is the second selection from our local daily newspaper, here in Bellingham, Washington, since I started this Recurring Series back in January, and it’s a real doozy!

Police: Robber spends more than he gets in Bellingham gas station hold-up

Bellingham Herald

I LOVE the fact that they include the detail about what the robber bought. LOL!

Brandon Lee Riley, 30, bought a Reese’s peanut butter cup at the Shell gas station on the corner of Sunset Drive and Orleans Street around 11 a.m. Monday, March 2. He then handed the cashier a note that said he had a gun but left before the cashier gave him any money, Sgt. Carr Lanham said.

Headline of the Day: Mummy Monk

Mongolia_monkWhen you see a headline like the following, you expect it to be a hoax or from The Onion.

Instead, this story is making its way into mainstream news outlets.

Mongolian scientists study 200-year-old mummified monk who is ‘still alive’

The Telegraph

Meanwhile, Hollywood agents have expressed interest in casting the monk in the next Night At The Museum sequel. (just kidding)