Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Year's Eve

I've come across a few interesting sites recently that I thought I would share. Sorry, nobody gets hurt in these links- in honor of it being New Year's Eve, there will be no violence today. The Southwestern Pork Stew is cooking in the crock pot (doubled the recipe and started exactly at 8:00 AM) for the party later so I decided to make a post.

I learned from the Wisconsin Historical Society website that at the begining of the 20th century, many rural towns realized that through post cards they could make their create a certain utopian myth about their area. Some photographers became well-known for their ability to phycially manipulate photos for so-called "tall-tale" postcards that, supposedly, encouraged settlement and growth of the area. Click on the picture for more.

Next, is a site of photographs by Shotaro Shimomura XXI (1883-1944). As you can read on the site, he was chairman of a huge department store chain (The Daimaru Inc.) who embarked on an around-the-world trip in 1934 - 1935. There are just two pages of photos, but they are incredible.

Finally, here are some pictures of Dubai, which, thanks to Wikipedia, I have learned is one of seven emerates that make up the United Arab Emerates on the Persian Gulf. After seeing this site, you would think that all this construction is being financed with oil money but, in reality, only 7% of their gross national product is from petroleum. You won't believe these pictures, but it's all true!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

No More Death, Please!

I just watched a video someone took with his cell phone of this morning's Saddam Hussein execution. I know all the news outlets would like me to feel good about this- it was called a "milestone towards peace"- but I just don't see it.

I recently read a book titled It's the Crude, Dude: Greed, Gas, War, and the American Way by Linda McQuaid. Granted, she is a Canadian writing about American politics but she brought up many points that make me begin to wonder about the future of our country and government.

In the mid '80s, Ronald Reagan sent Donald Rumsfeld as a special envoy to Iraq to work an alliance with Hussein, after our government helped him defeat a largely democratic government that was already in place. This alliance led to our satellites being used to aim Iraqi chemical strikes against the Iranian troops.

Now, we wage a war again Iraq heading into its fifth year, costing $2 billion dollars per week, and almost 3000 American lives.

Added to that, today is exactly 10 years since my mom died AND the UConn men had their first loss of the season!

Maybe today will be "an important milestone" as President Bush says, but I just don't see it.

On a brighter note, but not too bright, this video cracked me up (see, I still love a good accident video!). A Subaru rally car is being towed by a Land Rover when the steering locks around a hairpin turn. I love the reaction of the two in the Subaru!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

More Death, I'm Afraid

Jeez, this is turning into a blog of death instead of a blog of Smokeshow.

I'm sure everyone has heard that former president Gerald Ford has died. I'm a little too young to remember his presidency (and it didn't last very long) but I did hear an interesting fact about him. He is the only president never to be elected to a national office- he was appointed to the vice-presidency by Nixon after Spiro Agnew was forced to resign from office by scandal. Then, Ford became the 38th president when Richard Nixon resigned.

Of course, there is some humor in just about everything that happens in life and here is a little bit regarding the death of Ford. In 1996, Saturday Night Live ran a skit with Dana Carvey playing Tom Brokow and, well, here it is:

Monday, December 25, 2006

James Brown - Sex Machine

As someone wrote: "I guess heaven felt it was time they got FUNKY, get on up dancing with the angels in heaven, James."

This is a live performance of James Brown singing Sex Machine:

James Brown dies at 73

I was checking the obituaries this morning to see if any library patrons have died (no, I'm serious, I really do check, right after I check the police logs to see if anyone from my last job was arrested!), and I see James Brown, the "Godfather of Soul" has died from pneumonia.

That's too bad, he was a great talent who didn't take his act too seriously (and I think in his later years he was a little bit nuts). MSNBC wrote:

Along with Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan and a handful of others, Brown was one of the major musical influences of the past 50 years. At least one generation idolized him, and sometimes openly copied him. His rapid-footed dancing inspired Mick Jagger and Michael Jackson among others. Songs such as David Bowie’s “Fame,” Prince’s “Kiss,” George Clinton’s “Atomic Dog” and Sly and the Family Stone’s “Sing a Simple Song” were clearly based on Brown’s rhythms and vocal style.
'No one near as funky'If Brown’s claim to the invention of soul can be challenged by fans of Ray Charles and Sam Cooke, then his rights to the genres of rap, disco and funk are beyond question. He was to rhythm and dance music what Dylan was to lyrics: the unchallenged popular innovator.
“James presented obviously the best grooves,” rapper Chuck D of Public Enemy once told The Associated Press. “To this day, there has been no one near as funky. No one’s coming even close.”His hit singles include such classics as “Out of Sight,” “(Get Up I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine,” “I Got You (I Feel Good)” and “Say It Out Loud — I’m Black and I’m Proud,” a landmark 1968 statement of racial pride.

Anyway, I was reminded of a movie he was in for an online BMW ad campaign a few years ago where, in one of the films, James Brown sells his soul to the devil to be young again. Gary Oldman plays the devil and there's even a Marilyn Manson cameo. What a great Christmas film.


Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas!

I found this video tonight- I think it's the most elaborate Christmas light setup I've ever seen!

And just to add to everyone's Christmas spirit, here's a photo I took last night at the Essex Steam Train:

That's it from me. I'm off to bed and can't wait to see what Santa leaves under my tree.

Oh, wait. I didn't set up my tree.

Uh oh.

Now, I'm in trouble.