Thursday, 27 July 2017

Street Level Zen: Don't Know Mind

Nelumbo nucifera 001
"There ain't no answer. There ain't gonna be an answer. There never has been an answer. That's the answer."

Gertrude Stein

(Photo courtesy of H. Zell and Wikimedia Commons.)

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

WW: Mottled starfish

(Evasterias troscheli. These were among the worst-hit in the recent virus strike that decimated starfish here on the North Coast. Thus I was pleasantly surprised to find this beach littered with them on a recent minus tide. All were small – hand-size, like this one – and many were deformed or missing rays. Whether any survive remains to be seen. The virus, which is believed to have been triggered and intensified by the rising water temperatures, has wiped out the once-ubiquitous sunflower star [Pycnopodia helianthoides], which preyed on this and the leather star. Some researchers are now using the word "extinct" to describe formerly robust Pycnopodia populations here.)

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Gunfire Meditation

I've lived in the middle of many nowheres: France, Scotland, Latin America, Canada. Guns are common to all of them. Mostly shotguns in Europe; rifles in Canada, automatic weapons in Central America. You hear them occasionally. But the American bush crackles like No Man's Land.

On the Acres I often heard target practice, to put it charitably, across the river. Mid-range shoulder arms for the most part, .308 and .30-30 cowboy rifles. Practical weapons, deliberate and steady; I could almost hear the measured kachik-kachak of their lever actions. Los pistoleros, on the other hand, son muy locos; they spat out their little slugs in spastic swarms, like matinee idols.

Americans harbour a great superstition about handguns, a medieval fetish linking them, somehow, to national survival. I've been around guns and their owners all my life. Pistol people make me nervous.

But it wasn't a pistolero that shot my neighbour in the head. Some years before, Jim told me, the fellow on the east parcel had been shot clean off his tractor while mowing. He'd survived, but no arrest was ever made. The gunfire in the hills took a different echo when I knew that.

One sunny evening, while I meditated beneath the Tyvek, an AR15 (another crowd my gun-collector father taught me to misdoubt) opened up on Stripped Hill. A precise, military .223, tapped out as fast as the shooter could trigger. Thirty tight, symmetrical reports; a full clip.

"Dweeb," I grumbled. "Real revolutionaries carry AKs."

(Adapted from 100 Days on the Mountain, copyright RK Henderson. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons and a generous photographer.)

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

WW: White foxgloves

(Digitalis purpurea. Digitalis is a weed here, and comes in
many colours, but the white is both recessive and striking.)

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Rock Groups 2017

Well, it's July again, and you know what that means: another random blast of speculative rock groups. As I first explained five years ago, I have a gift for naming musical ensembles – one that goes entirely uncapitalised-upon, given the utter lack of a venue for such genius.

Therefore I routinely dump the cream of the harvest on the world right here in the Seventh Month. The usual caveats apply:

1.)  These names are entirely free for the taking, public domain, unregistered, homeless, motherless, and legally usurpable by anyone who wants them. Should you adopt one, you owe me no money, credit, thanks, or apologies. (But see Caveat #4, below.)

2.)  That said, be aware that I can't guarantee others haven't already named themselves something similar, or even exactly the same thing. So do a thorough Google search before taking the plunge.

3.)  Any suggestions I make about possible genres is just me talkin'. You can use these names for anything you want.

4.)  Any group that takes one of these names is entitled to tell fans they were named by a Zen hermit monk. Because nobody else has such a cool origin story. (Not even Nirvana.)

So don't be a clown; bump that frown and scroll on down. Because The Wolfman comes just once year.

Rock Groups 2017

Don't Tell Dad
DDT (thrash metal)
Scythe (funeral doom)
The Akkadians
Miri and the Grups
Northern Soul (Yukon, NWT, or Nunavut group)
The Denisovans
Rock Bass (that's bass as in fish; country rock, maybe)
Kapz-Loc (political rap)
The Red Paint People
Real Meat
Narrow Sparrow
Tin Foil Cat
Willie Wiki and the Socks
Les Chats Libres de Marseille
The Banned Italians
Whooping for Christ (non-Christian group)
The Organic Cavalry
Architect of the Capital
Wankel (industrial punk)
Bullhead (Southern rock)
The Divorced Presidents
Gang of Four
Catfish Walker and the Invasive Species (warning: apparently there is, or was, a blues singer named Catfish Walker)
Love Spoon
Harrow (British folk rock)
Igneous Music (record company)
Iceberg Let Us
The Walking Onions
Buddha Bowl
Auntie Christ
2-Ply (quirky rap)
Plywood (alt country)
Ten Foot Pole
Home To Roost (political country rock)
The Mangerdogs
Critical Mass (in High Gothic script, with Catholic imagery on the album cover)
Los Hongos Serios
Early X

(Photo courtesy of and a generous photographer.)

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

WW: Marine railway

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Good Song, Good Movie: Sabhyata and Sita Sings the Blues

Here's a neat convergence of genius, for a little customary Rusty Ring summer fun.

First off you've got Sabhyata, by Indian/Algerian group Karmix. That all by itself is awesome, but a YouTube artist had the good sense to double down on its awesomeness by creating this compelling video for it, by sampling animation from Sita Sings the Blues.

Which is undangerously legal, because that excellent film is public domain, by unambiguous declaration of Nina Paley, its author. (If you missed the whole ridiculous attempt at corporate piracy against Paley, read about it here.)

And that move begat an opening for the luminous work embedded here. So screw you, rights-scalpers.

And if you haven’t seen it yet, check out Sita as well. It's a really entertaining riff on a tale from Hindu scripture; the hip, wisecracking shadow puppets alone are worth the price of admission.

Roger Ebert loved it. So do I. Free o' charge and at full resolution, right here.

Watch both at full screen on your computer, bare minimum. Television is even better. Good speakers will also greatly enhance the experience.

Happy July to all, from all of us here at Rusty Ring.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

WW: Red rock crab

(Cancer productus)
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