Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Dr. Grordbort's SteamPunk Ray Guns

SteamPunk is all the rage. The genre confounds and delights me with its emphasis on retro, neo-industrial metal machinery. Art that whirs, cranks, groans; and yes, occasionally emits steam is just too intriguing not to be cool. So it is. Cool, that is. And the reigning metal master in the kingdom is Dr. Grordbort's lead designer, Greg Broadmore. Greg is a speaker at the very first ever SteamPunk conference held in (where else?) San Francisco. Here's a description of the piece above from the website.
The Rayguns: Dr. Grordborts Infallible Aether Oscillators, are a line of immensely dangerous yet simple to operate wave oscillation weapons.

Meticulously built to the exacting standards and plans of Dr. Grordbort, these weapons, bespangled in fine detail and with various (most likely quite dangerous) moving parts are the perfect addition to a gentleman's study or a deterring centerpiece for a lady's powder room or chiffonier.

These highly limited edition pieces and made out of metal with articulated parts. Every full-size Raygun comes with its own Moon-velvet lined case, Certificate of Authenticity and an assortment of implements and crafting tools. Not only that, these weapons are hefty - with the larger guns weighing in at over 7 pounds these are no light investment.

Tokyo Street Style

The Japan Fashion Association tracks Tokyo Street Style. They maintain a neat website that has the latest photos from Harajuku. If you are a serious fashionista, you know that the varied looks of Tokyo "street fashion" are as influential as "South Central" and hip-hop. So check it out. You know you want to.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Come as You Are

Family Reunions Rock

Back from a three day "event" in Phoenix, AZ. The Guadalupe & Estefana Munoz family reunion was way fun. Massive bash, total party, good times for all. Except that I lost my iPhone, which was found, then lost again. Some party! There was a whole Javolina and a half a steer buried in the ground to cook, 22 dozen fresh, home made tortillas, and pots of rice and beans. Coolers full of every kind of beverage including lots of beer, and a full-bar with hand-crafted artisan Tequila. 150 attendees from five generations. The party included an evening affair at the local VFW hall. Uncle Jimmie Munoz is a veteran of the 101st Airborne, and the family had seven other vets involved from multiple generations. Two of the girls had served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Came home with 8 CDs full of pictures and a DVD of the entire event. Now to find the iPhone.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Off to Phoenix AZ

Leaving tonight for 3 days in Phoenix, AZ. At the airport now. My partner Lupe & I are headed to a Munoz family reunion. The Guadalupe & Estefana Munoz Reunion, to be specific. Five generations are expected, over 150 are signed up as I write. Looking forward to lots of Albondigas, BBQ, and Menudo on Sunday morning. Yeah. That's what I'm talking about. Signing off til Tuesday. Hasta luego amigos.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


The Author enjoys Portuguese Fado almost as much as the ancient Celtic tunes remembered from childhood and years of NPR's Thistle & Shamrock. The music of my Celtic ancestors reflects so accurately the rhythms of life and the land.

Fado is all about the rhythms of the heart and emotions, and the embodiment of loneliness and longing. Powerful longing that rises up in the songs of the Fadistas. A previous post celebrates the new generation of artists that perform the Fado and yet another article cites an upcoming concert by Mariza that I will be lucky enough to attend. That post includes a video. So why another video today, and another Fadista? Dulce Pontes version of Fado Portuguese and the accompanying video does the best job yet of communicating the soul of the genre. Just watch it, as Pontes' voice rises in plaintive heartfelt supplication, and you'll see for yourself what Fado is all about. Powerful and beautiful. That's so cool. Rare to find a song and a video that accomplish so much as this one.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Sexy iPhone Weather App

Gotta love it. Seduced by the weather. Teased into the rain or shine. Now this is an iPhone App a guy could learn to love...though it might lead to a lot of obsessively checking on weather conditions worldwide. Got this via the fine folks at Gizmodo.

Pin Up Weather from visuamobile on Vimeo.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Jung Yeon Min

A young, Korean artist of note is beginning to show her work in the U.S. Jung-Yeon Min was born in Seoul in 1979. After an education emphasizing the arts, she has met with considerable attention and success for her colorful and fanciful work in Acrylic. You can scan a gallery of her work and check out her bio at her American agent's site, here.

Mariza in April - Fado Fix

The Author has made no secret of his affection for worldbeat music. That subject is a major focus of this blog. On occasion, a worldbeat superstar comes to Portland or Medford, Oregon and we pack up and head out to a concert. A favorite venue is the Schnitzer Center for the Performing Arts in Portland, where we are scheduled to hear the international diva of Fado, Mariza. Anticipatory excitement is increasing daily as we wait for the appointed April evening to arrive. Fado was the subject of one of Pop Impulse's first few posts. Read it for background. A more recent post, here, extols the virtues of Lisbon (Lisboa) and its Fado Clubs.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Surplus Shipping Containers for Housing

The world is in a global economic depression, as we all know. Depressions, especially this one driven by home foreclosures, result in a significant loss of income and housing while increasing unemployment. Not a pretty picture. So we downsize our homes and our expectations. We make do, adapting to changing times. Tent cities, like the one growing daily outside Sacramento, California, are not the answer. For at least some, the surplus of shipping containers just might be the short-term solution to homelessness.

I am taken by the story of New Mexico cousins who came up with the idea for affordable, easy to construct housing based on ISO standard shipping containers. The company is called PFNC: Global Communities. The acronym? Por fin, nuestra casa. Or in English: Finally, a home for us. Check out the crew's Website and their inspiration. The plan was recently awarded Notre Dame University's business school prize after several years of preparation and competition. Props to the crew for that, and for the viral explosion of favorable coverage they've been able to earn for their breakthrough concept. If you don't believe that viable, affordable housing is possible based on the enormous surplus of shipping containers, take 42 seconds at do the video walk through. The Author was impressed. I think you will be too.

For more information on other, container-based housing units, check out this list.

Friday, March 13, 2009

David Pena Dorantes - Andalusian Piano

According to David Pena Dorantes, there's not much going on on the fringes of Flamenco. Ojos de Brujo and the work of Diego El Cigala aside for the moment, the Piano of Pena Morales definitely explores new musical territory. And in the case of his latest album, Sur, focuses on very well-known ground: Andalusia. Here's a cool video of one of his new tunes set to images of one of my favorite Spanish cities, Sevilla. Enjoy.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tim Berners-Lee: Stop Snooping on my Web

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the father of the World Wide Web, is worried. (image: Sir Tim Berners-Lee) As well he should be. The nature of his concern? Pervasive, Internet snooping by commercial interests that definitely don't have your best interests in mind. How pervasive? 24/7/365. Every URL, every keystroke, all your browsing habits and behaviors. Read about it here.

Why is that important? Think about it. Imagine the profile that can be created with that much data. Take a minute and actually contemplate that. Your personal profile is deep, wide, detailed and potentially dangerous in the wrong hands. Companies you've never even heard of know you better than your family and friends. And the upstart is, we just gave this up over a decade ago without even a conversation. There were no town-hall meetings, no forums, very few on-line threads around this issue. Total and complete loss of personal privacy... anonymity gone forever - without so much as a whimper from the peanut gallery. Breathtaking. From the article cited, here are some of Sir Tim's concerns:
Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the world wide web, today warned MPs and peers that they should not allow third parties, including commercial companies, to snoop on people's internet browsing.

"We use the internet without a thought that a third party would know what we have just clicked on," Berners-Lee said.

"Yet the URLs [webpages] people use reveal a huge amount about their lives, loves, hates and fears. This is extremely sensitive information.

"People use the web in a crisis, when wondering whether they have a sexually transmitted disease, or cancer, when wondering if they are homosexual and whether to talk about it … to discuss political views."

He said people "use the internet to inform ourselves as voters in a democracy", adding: "We use the internet to decide what is true and what is not.

"We use the internet for healthcare and social interaction."

He said people would consider using the web in a crisis in a different light if they knew they were being monitored and the data would be shared with a third party such as an advertising company.

"There will be a huge commercial pressure to release this data," he said. "The principle should be that it is not to be collected in the first place."

American Israeli Lobby Blocks Obama Nominee

If progressive Democrats thought the election of Barack Obama would somehow moderate America's unrealistic and counter-productive support for Israeli occupation and massacres, think again. In a stunning display of DC muscle, AIPAC, the American Israeli lobby has derailed the nomination of a key member of the new Intelligence Team. Read about it here. His sin? To question the unending opression of the Palestinian people by the state of Israel. AIPAC, by the way, is under investigation by the FBI for syping on the US for Israel.

Also today, the Obama administration reassured the Israelis that the $30bn in promised foriegn and military aid will indeed be delivered to Israel as planned over the next ten years. That's right. We're providing a very prosperous country with nuclear weapons galore more foriegn aid than all other recipients combined. More than all of Africa for example. How is that possible? Or even defensible? It is ironic at a time when the current prime minister of Israel is being accused of corruption and the country's immediate past president is being tried on multiple charges of rape and molestation we continue our myopic, boundless and unrestricted support. US support for Israel ranks as the absolutely worst foreign policy in the history of our republic. It has cost us countless dollars, lives and our international reputation. Time to re-think the strategic relationship, and long past time to banish the influence of AIPAC - the most powerful of all lobbying organizations.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Crystal Wall Lancaster

Tonight, The Author stumbled quite incidentally on the art of Canadian Crystal Wall Lancaster. Interesting new art is always worth sharing.

Round faces framing extravagant eyes, pouted lips replacing chins, and very long necks adorn the fanciful, elongated female visions of this former animator who has returned to her roots. And she throws in a pinch of steampunk, especially in some of her sketches, to complete the relevance and coolness quotient. I like it. Right now, Lancaster has a show in LA, Cali. So her visibility factor is going up. What's plaguing me as I write is one simple question: When's the graphic novela due? Check out Crystal's blog here.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Huston's East Side Uncovered & Imaged

Today's Google "Blogger Play" find is the fine foto-blog "Life with Lulu & Rufus" which features images of East Huston. That's right, East Huston. Now Huston is not the first American city that comes to mind when The Author thinks of photogenic locales, but as Lulu has discovered, there are fantastic and amazing images everywhere. I especially like Lulu's pension for Cantinas and street art. We share both of those interests. I'm posting this note today, without even writing Lulu and asking permission to use one of her fine photos. Yes, her blog is that good - if you like serendipity, authenticity and great pictures. So go see for yourself. You know you want to...

Friday, March 6, 2009

Abigail Washburn, Bela Fleck & The Sparrow Quartet

Asian Bluegrass fusion. Mandarin Chinese over Banjo and strings. Uh-huh. Now this is something different and way cool. You just knew that Bela would some how be involved. The Author has often noted that Banjo player Bella Fleck is one of the few "Mozart-quality" musical geniuses alive on the planet today. But in this video, the props go to Washburn for the unexpected fusion. And it sounds so good.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

White House Names Kundra CIO

The Obama administration today introduced the president's choice to be techie-in-chief at the White House. The Author is impressed. Vivek Kundra sounds like just what we need, at just the right time. Born in New Delhi, India, Kundra moved at an early age to Tanzania and his first language is Swahili. Awesome. And the man did a great job getting DC's technology shit together, and prior to that as the first dual cabinet member in the state of Virginia. Yeah. A real braniac. That's what I'm talkin about. Read about the appointment here. And check out Kundra's Wikipiedia entry for more background. I've extracted some of the relevant background in the quote below. Again, exciting news. After all, it's the digital age. What could be more important than technology and information management?
Vivek Kundra formerly served in Mayor Fenty's cabinet as the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for the District of Columbia, responsible for technology operations and strategy for 86 agencies. He has been recognized among the top 25 CTO's in the country and as the 2008 IT Executive of the Year for his pioneering work to drive transparency, engage citizens and lower the cost of government operations. Kundra is also recognized for his leadership in public safety communications, cyber security and IT portfolio management. Before Kundra came to the District, Governor Timothy M. Kaine appointed him Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Technology for the Commonwealth of Virginia, the first dual cabinet role in the state's history. Kundra's diverse record also includes technology and public policy experience in private industry and academia. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia's Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership and holds a MS in Information Technology from the University of Maryland.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Art of Mexican Cooking

Diana Kennedy has updated her definitive work: The Art of Mexican Cooking. This book is a treasure, and Diana is a recipient of the prestigious Order of the Aztec Eagle bestowed by the Mexican government. Kennedy, originally from the United Kingdom, has spent 45 years living and cooking in Mexico - where she is now considered something of a national treasure. You can order her latest edition for under twenty bucks at Amazon. Money well spent for the true foodie.

That said, my late father-in-law's salsa recipe is still the best in the known universe. I'm not just saying that either. Noted techie columnist John Dvorak agrees with me and covered the recipe on his last-page column in BoardWatch Magazine years ago. Read that story and get the recipe. You know you want to.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Comics for Adults

The Author is a long-time fan of good comics. What's not to love? Good, engaging stories combined with stylistic, graphic art. Yeah. I read my share as a child, but as a young adult I discovered the "underground" comic world and an addiction was born. It didn't hurt to have a couple of friends involved in the scene as it unfolded.

My friend Michael J. Becker was an pioneering underground comic artist in Berkeley who took an environmental direction very early on in the 70's. Rob Landeros, with whom I work today, was also a contributing artist to the movement. Rob took that experience and leveraged it into a key role in the computer gaming world. And my late partner-in-crime, Joe "Jose" Kent, represented Victor Moscoso and Rick Griffin. As a result, I am the proud owner of a signed copy of "The Gathering of the Tribes," the poster that launched the hippie movement, and, "Mescalito," which celebrated a certain psychedelic cactus. Jose was responsible for some of the best-known concert and Love-In posters of the time. Like the Grateful Dead posters that used to blanket the Bay Area during concert season. I remember him for his pension for dreaming-up odd ceremonies, like the infamous "circle-of-filth." And for his sarcasm and humor, but I digress.

My own collection of underground classics includes multiple issues of Skull; Insect Fear; Deviant Slice; Young Lust; Mr. Natural; Zap and the obligatory Freak Bros. And yes, I rather like the edgy, filthy and utterly depraved stuff as it stretches the imagination and often lends itself to outrageous art. After decades of life, it appears, there's still a rebellious youth lurking in the fringes of my personality. Yeah! Feed me, feed me. With that in mind, I was delighted to find on Boing Boing a video trailer for Tommy Kovac's newest SkeleBunny series which hit the shelves just last month. Read the post. Check out Tommy's Website.

Nasty SkeleBunnies, doing Satan's bidding. Total deprivation. Feed me. Check it out:

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Hypocrisy Watch: Conservative Evangelicals Love Porn

Surprise! A recent study concludes that eight of the top-ten Porn consuming states voted Republican in the last election and are characterized by large numbers of conservative evangelicals. You know, the folks who see themselves as the moral and ethical guardians of America's righteousness. The uber-pious. Just recently, a business acquaintance of mine, a member of a prestigious service club for many years and former chair of the local Country Club, was arrested and plead guilty to soliciting an underage minor on the internet for sex. He actually got on a plane and traveled across state for a rendezvous. It was a sting. Ouch! This is an individual who once told me that he hadn't listened to anything but Christian Rock and Gospel for 30 years. Uh-huh.

Consider the following distillation from the article cited (ABC News via the Huffington Post), then read it for yourself.

"When it comes to adult entertainment, it seems people are more the same than different," says Benjamin Edelman at Harvard Business School.

However, there are some trends to be seen in the data. Those states that do consume the most porn tend to be more conservative and religious than states with lower levels of consumption, the study finds.

"Some of the people who are most outraged turn out to be consumers of the very things they claimed to be outraged by," Edelman says.
Next time anyone questions your taste in adult entertainment, feel free to point out this particular hypocrisy. I know that I'm fond of saying that those who appear the most concerned are often the ones with the biggest problems. Me? I've got no problems with choosing my own entertainment free of outside influence or advice. And yes, some of it is most definitely of the adult variety.