RIP: SNL Announcer Don Pardo, 96

August 19th, 2014

Longtime Saturday Night Live announcer Don Pardo has died. I think he was the last person who worked on the inaugural season of SNL who stayed on with the show for it’s entire run. (Lorne Michaels went away for five years before coming back to the show.)

He was a great announcer, and he did a lot of work in radio and on TV game shows like Jeopardy.

Here he is on why script writers should use short words:

Shoegazer Sunday: Slowdive’s “Golden Hair” Live

August 17th, 2014

Since their reunion, Slowdive seems to be a vastly better touring band than they were in their heyday. I think it helps that they’ve brought on more touring musicians to fill out the sound.

Here they are covering Syd Barrett’s “Golden Hair” (from that post-Pink Floyd recording session here he never played anything the same way twice). The Barrett original is some two minutes long, and the original cover Slowdive did was four minutes long. This version is eight minutes long, and ends with one of the most beautiful, multiguitar Shoegaze solos ever recorded. (No wonder that one woman in the audience looks like she’s having a religious experience…)

This was recorded at the Best Kept Secret festival in The Netherlands on Saturday, June 21, 2014.

Pictures from the Bovington Tank Museum: German Tanks

August 12th, 2014

(Cross-posted from BattleSwarm to here for non-political tank buffs.)

I hope you like tanks.

Here’s the first batch of pictures taken at the Bovington Tank Museum in Dorset, which I visited on Saturday as a gift to my inner 12-year old. (There are few prospects more pleasing to the preadolescent male mind than being encased in a 30 ton metal killing machine.) The first batch is all German tanks and tank destroyers from World War II. Let’s face it, the Germans had far and away the best tanks, and shortly after the allies managed to catch up, Germany would be about ready to introduce something better. Germany’s problem (as compared to America or the Soviet Union) was an inability to manufacture enough of them. (Good thing for us.) They had an enormous array of German tanks, and probably the best collection outside Germany’s own tank museum in Munster.

The first picture of the first of two King Tigers (AKA Tiger II, AKA K√∂nigstiger, Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf. B) they had on display. The mosty powerful tank Germany produced during the war, its 88mm main gun could destroy any tank on the battlefield. It didn’t get on the battlefield until 1944, and Germany produced less than 500 of them.

The other Tiger II they had there.

Here you can see the Zimmerite anti-magnetic mine coating the Germans used.

Selfie, with tank.

The first of several tank destroyers.

This is a German tank destroyer that ended up in Finland. Stalin thought he could walk all over Finand, but the Finns tore the Soviets nine different new assholes in the Winter War, though this tank destroyer obviously post-dates 1940.

Alternate barrel used for the Sturmtiger close assault variant.

Here’s an early Panzer Mark I command tank. It’s amazing to realize that the initial German blitzkrieg was carried out with relatively slow, under-armed, and underpowered Mark I and Mark IIs, that, with Heinz Guderian’s new tactics of mechanized warfare, were simply Good Enough.

A Mark II.

I think this is the Mark III, would would be the mainstay of the Wehrmacht armored divisions through the end of the war.

A muzzle-eye view.

Armoured car.

An 88mm field canon.

“But Doctor, I Am Pagliacci!”

August 11th, 2014

Robin Williams dead of an apparent suicide at age 63.

Williams, along with Richard Pryor, was one of the true authentic comic geniuses of my lifetime. As a stand-up comic, his mind was so quick and his work was so manically innovative that his basic appeal actually survived transition to the straitjacket confines of a prime-time sitcom. He was a solid dramatic supporting actor, but it’s a shame that (unlike Pryor) he never found a movie that served the true essence of his comic genius.

(Subject line hat tip.)

MIT Review Does a Good Interview With Gene Wolfe

August 11th, 2014

Jason Pontin at MIT Review has done a nice interview with Gene Wolfe. It even references the Nova Express interview with him.

(Hat tip: Derek Johnson.)

Shoegazer Sunday: Alcian Blue/The Antiques Cover Slowdive’s “Primal”

August 10th, 2014

The sound quality is not the best, and the vocals pretty much suck, but this cover by Alcian Blue (AKA The Antiques) is still the best live cover of “Primal” I’ve heard from anyone (including Slowdive, who only played it at early shows, and not particularly well).

Like I’ve said before, anyone doing good cover of “Primal” will get linked in this space.

As for Slowdive, their new tour shows their live shows have improved considerably, as we shall see next Sunday…

Shoegazer Sunday: The Swells’ “Golden”

August 3rd, 2014

The Swells were an Austin-based Shoegaze band. Here they are with “Golden.”

Evidently they’re now known as Seaholm Electric.

Library Addditions: Three Michael Moorcock Books

July 28th, 2014

Three more books from L. W. Currey’s $10 sale:

  • Moorcock, Michael. The End of All Songs. Harper & Row, 1976. First edition hardback (with the author’s name misspelled “Moorock” on the spine, as per Currey), a Fine copy in a Fine dust jacket. Third book in the Dancers at the End of Time trilogy. Currey (1979), page 370.
  • Moorcock, Michael. The Golden Barge. New English Library, 1983. First hardback edition (preceded by a trade paperback original), a Fine copy in a Fine dust jacket.
  • Moorcock, Michael, and Philip James. The Distant Suns. Unicorn SF, 1975. First edition trade paperback original (perfect-bound comic book format), a Fine- copy with slightly yellowed pages. Currey (1979), page 369.

    Distant Suns

  • Shoegazer Sunday: SummerMay’s “Shine”

    July 27th, 2014

    Here’s “Shine,” another one from Zurich’s SummeryMay. The best description I can come up with for them is “Imagine a Christian shoegaze Night Ranger that doesn’t suck.” They were having some trouble wrapping their head around the concept…

    Library Additions: Three Art Books

    July 23rd, 2014

    Three more items from L. W. Currey’s $10 sale, all art books (for certain values of the word “book”):

  • Fabian, Stephen. Women & Wonders. Charles F. Miller, 1995. First edition hardback, a Fine copy in a Fine dust jacket, still in shrink wrap.
  • Finlay, Virgil. An Astrology Sketch Book. Donald M. Grant, 1975. First edition hardback, a Fine copy in a Fine dust jacket. Oddly enough, $10 is the actual cover price…

    Finlay Astrology

  • Finlay, Virgil. Finlay’s Illustrations for Weird Tales. Showcase Art Productions, 1976. First edition art portfolio of 9 illustrations (one in color) in a cardstock cover, a Fine copy.

    Finlay Weird Tales 1