The 21st Century, Week 822

It’s all fun and games until someone changes their band name to H. Merle Haggard…

Le Butcherettes at Amoeba Hollywood on 17 Sep 2015

Boards Of Canada’s Tomorrow’s Harvest listening party

So I went… Well, I headed out in that general direction before stopping to check Twitter. Presumably someone had to be live-tweeting the scavenger hunt and when @tonx mentioned there were a small group of people there for an “event” I floored it the rest of the way.

The “event” was a listening party for the album. Cool set-up…

Boards Of Canada listening party

More pictures on Flickr.

The album sounds great. Heavy. Claustrophobic at times, but still has that “woozy tape-delay” essence. If you like any of John Carpenter’s/Alan Howarth’s soundtrack work then you’ll want it on your radar. It’s a long album, somewhat meandering in the middle, but the slow burn droning at the end is tremendous.

Took some pictures of what’s left of the park. It’s no longer “in stasis,” but simultaneously dismantled and repaired. The new owner of the property says they’ll reopen. I wish them luck.

Here’s how it looked ten years earlier when I visited in 2003.

Rock-A-Hoola/Lake Dolores

Revisiting Rock-A-Hoola with Boards Of Canada

Boards Of Canada are about to release a new album after a long absense, and I have to admit… I’ve been liking the cryptic marketing campaign with the ultra-limited “Numbers Station” release on Record Store Day, a one-time video projection in Tokyo, and enigmatic leaks that are as mysterious as Random Access Memories is omnipresent.

I like the band, and the promise of “Drone. Heavy. Aeroplane over my house” bodes well around here. I’ve also been digging the Mojave Desert imagery that’s been a part of the campaign.

Earlier this afternoon, the band posted this image to Twitter:

Yermo boc 5 27 13 1700

I know exactly what’s at the center of that picture. In fact, it’s the most commented-upon post in the entire blog. From 2006, “Rock-A-Hoola, water park in stasis.”

Anyway, I wonder what would happen if I showed up there tomorrow at that time? Apart from the obvious risk of being classified as a Crazy Fan. Not that far of a drive for me…

Watching the fires

Just stepped out for a coffee and noticed a new column of black smoke a little bit east of where most of the smoke has been coming from. I wonder if this is the Acton fire. The Mt. Wilson Solar Tower webcam has a better image.

Mt. Wilson webcam image - 2007-10-23 16:17

HPWREN has webcams distributed throughout San Diego County. The Lyons Peak webcam is pretty close to the action.

Lyons Peak webcam image 2007-10-23

I know I’ve been harsh on Twitter before, but the KPBS and LA Times Twitter streams are pretty informative along with this Google Earth/Map page.

California license plate aesthetics

california_licenseplate.jpgFranklin Avenue notes that California license place numbering has incremented up to 6xxxyyy style numbers. Not necessarily a big deal itself, but there’s a greater question that has remained unanswered and it’s something that’s been nagging me for years. I’m serious here, as a Californian this irritates me to no end…

When the HELL is California going to stop using that horrid script font? That Mistral font knockoff screams “I’m a logo for a dubious 1980s Redondo Beach nightclub/cocaine front for yacht rockers and their Magnum P.I.-style red Ferrari 308s!”

How come Oregon, Nevada and Arizona can consistently have terrific looking license plates but California can’t? Even the better looking California plates, the whale, Lake Tahoe, and the new Sierra Nevada one are ruined by that awful font.

Attention California DMV! It’s time to solve this blight upon our highways. There are several metric tons of graphic designers in California who could use some work and some sort of competition is in order to finally pound a stake into that ugly script.

P.S. While you’re at it, why not offer new replicas of the classic yellow-on-black plate? (Make ’em reflective so the CHP will be happy). Nevada offers something similar with their 1982 plain blue plate replica. Nothing kills me more than seeing a classic car with a current-style license plate on it.

P.P.S. A plate redesign does not mean you can splat your state URL on it. Indiana, Pennsylvania, Nebraska, and Michigan all do it and each one looks like a civic cry for help.

Catching up on recent things

My alma mater UC Irvine has always had an odd image and self-esteem problem. Of course it doesn’t help when your campus has had problems with body snatchers, assault by radioactivity, a sign that cost more than some buildings, and a medical center under constant criminal investigation (a running joke was that the reason UCI wanted a law school was to supply enough lawyers for all the med center scandals, but even that fell through). The latest UCI news story? While other colleges are vying for starchitecture and name-brand buildings, UCI actually tears down their Gehry. Go anteaters!

Home again Garden Grove? Speaking of image problems and Orange County: Garden Grove (a name which I actively have to remember because its alternative Garbage Grove name is so widespread) still can’t figure out how to profit from being next to Disneyland. And no one is really hopeful about it.

The Antarctic kite skiers, who ran across those mysterious tracks awhile back, made it to the Pole Of Inaccessibility. A bust of Lenin which was left by a Soviet expedition 49 years ago is still sitting there – looking out over the ice.

Since no one in 2007 is really interested in Nine Inch Nails, I’m not surprised that the conspiracy-themed marketing for the new album is equally as empty. Let’s see how long it takes until it backfires into mooninite-scale pandemonium.

A worthier puzzle is the Perplex City game. Andy Darley of Middlesex worked out the clues to find the Cube and won the £100,000 prize. Game 2 will start soon (and maybe this time I’ll actually play the dang thing)

I’m always impressed with the images that come down via Astronomy Picture Of The Day, but February 8th’s picture of galaxy cluster Abell S0740 has stopped me dead in my tracks. The only feeling that’s similar was when I first saw the rings of Saturn through a telescope.

And finally, there is nothing I can add to this:

Norman Mailer created a film in the late 60s called MAIDSTONE. He played the part of a famous movie director who is considering a run for the presidency. Rip Torn played his potential assassin. At the end of filming, Rip appeared to get a little too far into his role, and he attacked Mailer on camera with a hammer, drawing blood. Mailer retaliated by viciously biting into Torn’s ear, drawing even more blood. This is the fight.

Diedrich coffee gives up

Holy cow!

Irvine-based Diedrich Coffee, conceding defeat in the coffee shop duel with Starbucks, agreed to sell 40 stores it owns to its Seattle rival for $13.5 million.

The local company will remain in business as a roaster and wholesaler of coffee beans. The sale includes all company-owned Diedrich and Coffee People locations. Franchise stores aren’t included in the sale.

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by this, but I thought that the coffee bar cold war wasn’t in danger of heating up anytime soon. The most irritating side-effect of this for us itinerant IT workers that Diedrich’s free Wi-Fi will disappear for Starbucks’ pay system.

California’s Giant Relief Map

Much of the web has been wringing their hands over the giant relief map in China that someone stumbled across on Google Earth. It’s a cool map and yeah, there’s an element of mysteriousness to it but calling it “The Riddle of China’s Area 51” is pretty overblown, even for the web.

Believe it or not, there’s a similar relief map sitting out in the desert just east of Joshua Tree. The concrete map was built in 1942 as a training aid for Patton’s army who were preparing for the invasion of North Africa and covered the entire training area from Indio out to the Arizona border. The training center was built pretty ad hoc and not much was left out there except for tank tracks and foundations, but the map endured for a while.

I’m not sure when this picture was taken (I got it from Larry Digera who put together a sky trail route for visiting pilots), but it should give you an idea of what it used to look like.

ironmountain_relief.jpg

I was first there in 1983 and armed with an old copy of Desert magazine I was able to find the map, but the intervening forty years of exposure had weathered the old map into an unrecognizable series of funny-looking hummocks. It’s still there now – it’s inside the fenced-off area in the middle of this photo.

ironmountain_reliefmap2006.jpg