Thursday, October 19, 2006

Beggin'® Strips vs. Milk Bones®

In case anyone was wondering, given the choice, the Rottweiler picks Milk Bones® over Beggin'® Strips every time. And it's not even a close call. He'll drop the Beggin'® Strip if he thinks there's even a possibility that he'll get a Milk Bone®. So don't waste your money on the more expensive (and seemingly more attractive) doggie treat.

But, of course, he'll pick hard-boiled eggs over either, and genuine pig ears are preferred over anything and everything.

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It must suck to have cameras around all the time.

The picture is from How To Spot a Dictator. This article does not necessarily represent the opinions of the management or staff of Wang Chi's House of Pancakes. We just like funny pictures.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006


The Courville's website says:

Join us for "Big Acoustic Jam" at Courville's on Hwy 90 between Beaumont and China. We will have Hayes Carll, Jimmy Kaiser, David Lee Kaiser, Roger Marin, Mark Jungers, Ryan James, Josh Langston and Big John Mills. Tickets are on sale now for this concert by calling 409-860-9811. Limited number of tickets will be sold

I've had some pretty good things to say about Hayes Carll's past shows at Courville's, like this from November 2004 and this from January of this year. Those Kaiser boys are pretty good too. Seems like I saw Josh Langston there too, and he didn't suck either. I don't know anything about the rest of them, but I'm pretty sure they'll be pretty good. Donnie Courville knows how to pick his bands.

Don't miss this one.

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Friday, October 13, 2006

The Global Warming Collection

In my continuing project of cataloging my posts on recurring topics, I offer these my Global Warming posts:

In Hot Air on Global Warming, we marvel at the astounding reasoning behind some of the UN's World Meteorological Organization's pronouncements on Global Warming.

In Thoughts on Global Warming we conclude that regardless of the scientific merits of the human induced Global Warming theory, we're all done for.

In What's Up With the Weather? we express our sense of wonder that the much ballyhooed 2006 Atlantic hurricane season seemed to be falling far short of expectations.

In The Weather Revisited we wonder at the marvelous understanding that allows such precise short term projections about the weather, and doubt not that long term projections are only somewhat less reliable.

In A Discordant Convergence Global Warming met MTV.

In An Inconvenient Truth, we examine one of Al Gore's more bizarre assertions--that cigarettes are a significant contributor to global warming--and then digress into musings about the relationship between Global Warming and Peak Oil.


Just Yesterday: An Al Stewart Retrospective

Laurie over at Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans did a post about Al Stewart in which she suggested that I do a post compiling the links to my Al Stewart concert reviews. On the off chance someone follows her link over here, here it is:

In MY SHOCKING CONFESSION!!!, I let the cat out of the bag regarding my unnatural fondness for Al Stewart's music. And then I proceeded to post reviews that I'd written of some of Al's past shows, like Al Stewart: May 26, 2001, Austin, Texas, and Al Stewart: September 2002, Austin, Texas, and Al Stewart: July 11, 2003, Houston, Texas. Then I felt the need to explain what I'd just posted in my aptly titled post, MY SHOCKING CONFESSION!!! explained. And then a few months later, I saw a couple Al shows in Houston, and I wrote a few words about Al Stewart at the Mucky Duck, September 8, 2005, and Al Stewart at the Mucky Duck, September 9, 2005.

I've also done a few album reviews over the years, and I've decided to include them here in the interest of completeness. Those would be Time Passages Live, Live at the Roxy Los Angeles 1981, and Orange/Past Present Future/Modern Times.

Although I've never gotten around to reviewing them (hence the links to Amazon), Year of the Cat and Time Passages are both great albums, but anyone who was alive during the 1970s should already know that. There's not a bad track on either (although some fans find "Song on the Radio" on Time Passages to be too "commercial").

There are also couple lesser-known albums that I haven't gotten around to reviewing but that I highly recommend. One is Between the Wars, which Al once told me he thought was his best album. I tend to agree:

The other is A Beach Full of Shells, which came out just recently and is really really good:

Finally, anyone who's interested in going a bit deeper would do well to pick up a copy of Just Yesterday from Amazon's UK site. It really is an excellent set, and it contains a lot of good stuff from albums that have been out of print for years. The packaging is about as nice as I've seen too. It's in book form with 70 pages of pictures and text and pockets for the discs.

It's $90 on, or about $60+shipping from some of the other Amazon sellers, but the best way to get it is from (which is where I got mine). For U.S. orders, the total with shipping and after deducting the VAT is £26.03, or just a little under $50. And apart from being cheaper, it's fun to get a package from overseas now and then.

If $50 seems like too much to spend on a set from a guy who hasn't had a hit since the 70s, there's a shorter two disc anthology called Piece of Yesterday: The Anthology that can be had for about $20 on Amazon, or a little less (even with overseas shipping) from

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Time Passages Live

As the name implies, Time Passages Live is one of Al Stewart's live albums, although it is not, as the name suggests, a live version of his album Time Passages. It's not currently in print, but it appears in full in the highly recommended Just Yesterday box set. For some reason, at one time I felt a need to write a review of it on Amazon. Not much of a review really, but in the interest of completeness, I'm including it here anyway. I said something like this:

This is a CD release of a limited production 1978 promotional LP officially titled "The Live Radio Concert Album" and known among fans as "The Blue Album." It's an excellent performance recorded at the height of Stewart's commercial success. No fan should be without it.

The initial release of this CD had a misprint on the spine of the CD case-- it says "TTIME PASSAGES LIVE." BMG has apparently pulled these from the market causing availability problems.

The track list is: (1) On the Border; (2) Sirens of Titan; (3) Time Passages; (4) Roads to Moscow; (5) Life in Dark Water; (6) Valentina Way; (7) Year of the Cat; (8) Pink Panther Theme; and (9) Song on the Radio.

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Live at the Roxy Los Angeles 1981

Live at the Roxy Los Angeles 1981 is one of Al Stewart's live albums. For some reason, at one time I felt a need to write a review of it on Amazon. And I said something like this:

Live at the Roxy comprises the live tracks from the three-quarters live Indian Summer LP. If you want the studio tracks from Indian Summer on CD, you have two choices, and they're both 24 Carrots. The U.S. Razor and Tie edition of 24 Carrots gives you three bonus tracks ("Indian Summer," "Pandora" and "Here in Angola"), while the U.K. EMI release has all five (adding "Delia's Gone and ""Princess Olivia"). Unfortunately, both versions of 24 Carrots are long out of print and can get pretty pricey.

Al Stewart recorded some truly great studio albums during the 1970s, but he was and is at his best live. And Live at the Roxy contains excellent live versions of all of Al Stewart's commercial hits plus a few others that didn't get played on the radio, but are nonetheless fine songs. The quality of the recordings is excellent and the performances are very lively and tend to surpass the original studio versions. "Running Man," "Soho (Needless to Say)," and "Roads to Moscow" are real standouts in this area.

The only flaw in this otherwise impeccable album is "Clarence Frogman Henry," which is a bit of a shaggy dog story that gives a bit of the flavor of the between-songs banter at Stewart's concerts, but unlike the songs, once you've heard it once, it ceases to be of any interest. But it's short and easy to skip, and the rest of the album is superb.

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Orange/Past Present Future/Modern TImes

Orange/Past Present Future/Modern TImes

This is a budget priced collection of three of Al Stewart's lesser-known albums. For some reason, at one time I felt a need to write a review of it on Amazon. And I said something like this:

Disc one contains the complete "Orange" and "Past, Present & Future" LPs. Disc two starts with the "Swallow Wind" bonus track and then moves on to the complete "Modern Times" album. The only thing that you don't get with this set that you would get if you bought the CDs individually are two bonus tracks from the BGO release of Modern times--the single version of "News From Spain" and "Elvaston Place," which was the B side of "News from Spain." Since the album version of "News Form Spain is included on "Orange," you only give up one song by buying this set rather than the individual CDs, and that song isn't one that anyone is likely to miss.

The set comes nicely packaged with a booklet that contains the lyrics to all the songs, plus an essay about the three albums. I did not notice any difference in sound quality between this release and the other CD versions that I have heard. That may be because there is no difference, or it could just be me.

The three albums in this set represent a transitional between Al Stewart's early albums (collected in the set "To Whom It May Concern") with their folk-rock relationship angst and his more pop-oriented 70s hits "Year of the Cat" and "Time Passages." The albums included in this set are "Orange" (1972), "Past, Present & Future" (1973), and "Modern Times" (1975).

A lot of people think "Orange" is a great album. I am not among them. Fans of Stewart's early work would certainly like it.

A lot of people also think "Past, Present & Future" is a great album. I would have to agree, and it is the one that earns this set most of its stars. It is definitely among Stewart's best work.

"Modern Times" is a bit of a let down from "Past, Present & Future," but still a very good album with some very good songs. This was the first of three Al Stewart albums produced by Alan Parsons--the others being "Year of the Cat" and "Time Passages." It's not as good as the albums that would follow, but still a very respectable effort.

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Friday, October 06, 2006

Huh huhuhuh huh. Let's invade Iran. That'd be cool.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth?

According to The Drudge Report:
Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore warned hundreds of U.N. diplomats and staff on Thursday evening about the perils of climate change, claiming: Cigarette smoking is a "significant contributor to global warming!"

I used to think that Al was serious about this stuff. Now I think that he's trying to launch a career as a comedian, playing some sort of clueless straight man who says the most idiotic things with perfect seriousness.

While it's true that every cigarette that gets smoked releases a small amount of carbon dioxide (although certainly not enough, even in the aggregate to constitute a "significant" contribution to atmospheric CO2), something that seems to have escaped Mr. Gore's grasp is the fact that those tobacco plants suck CO2 out of the air in the process of making the noxious weed. You can burn all the leaves you want, but the net effect on atmospheric CO2 will be zero, so long as you grow new leaves to replace the ones you burned. Hasn't this guy ever heard of recycling?

Which leads me to another thought about Global Warming and related Environmental nonsense. And that thought concerns the notion that oil is a fossil fuel. Because if it is, we ought to be able to pump all we want out of the ground, burn it all, and just get back to where we were (atmospherically speaking) before all those dinosaurs died. Certainly we couldn't mess things up to the point that the Earth would become inhospitable to life; the most we could do is restore the balance to the point where life began.

But what if oil isn't a product of the decomposition long buried dead stuff? What if the abiotic theory is right and oil is continuously being manufactured deep in the earth through processes unrelated to long dead dinosaurs? That would mean that all the oil we burn really could increase atmospheric CO2 to levels that the Earth has never seen before. For all we know, that could result in a world of heretofore unimagined fecundity where even areas that are now virtually uninhabitable could be transformed into veritable Edens. Or perhaps it might have the opposite effect. We can only speculate.

But the thing about all this that I find amusing is the political alignments. Political Greenies invariable insist that oil is a fossil fuel because that's a necessary part of their Peak Oil theory. We have to do something, and we have to do it NOW because the oil's running out. (Does anyone else remember the commercial that ran during the 1970s "energy crisis" where the kid was walking on the beach talking about how "they say there may not be any oil left at all when I get big"?)

On the other hand, those on the opposite side of the political debate seem to like the abiotic oil theory (partly, I suspect, because it seems more consistent with the empirical data and partly because of the lack of any evidence to support the fossil fuel theory, but mostly because it's politically expedient). But if the abiotic theory is correct, it is at least plausible that we might do some serious damage to the Earth's ability to sustain life by adding all that extra CO2 to the atmosphere. At a minimum, we'd be taking the atmosphere into uncharted territory, and for all we know, uncharted territory could look sort of like Mars or Venus.

Strikes me as amusing, anyway. But I'm easily amused.

Other thoughts on Global Warming can be found here and here and here and here and here.

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