Wednesday, December 5, 2018

A Kinder and Gentler Nation

"Prosperity with a purpose means taking your idealism and making it concrete." 
--George H. W. Bush, in accepting his party's nomination as their candidate for the Presidency, August 18, 1988

On this national day of mourning, I offer a tribute to President George H. W. Bush. With hope for our great county, and inspired by today's solemn Google Doodle, let us search for a kinder, gentler Nation. 

Monday, November 12, 2018

Impossible FreeCell?

Any fans of FreeCell out there? I find FreeCell to be a fun and relaxing mental challenge. I enjoy playing a hand or two on my iPad to unwind. I often listen to a little Pandora or I Heart Radio in the background while I work out the solution to the next random puzzle.

I've played 1620 games of FreeCell on my iPad, and I've won 1590 of them. Once I figured out that every array has at least one solution, I stick with a game until I figure out a way to win. Clearly some starting setups are more difficult than others, but this one (Fig 1) nearly cost me my 1402-game winning streak  In all of that time, I've never seen a more difficult starting setup.

Fig 1. The most difficult starting setup I have seen in over 1,600 games

What makes this setup so hard? How can one tell at a glance that this will be a tough challenge? Look at the face cards. The topmost three rows contain only 3 face cards. That means 9 of 12 are in the lower half of the array. The aces are distributed widely (columns 1, 3, 7, and 8). But more importantly, notice how high they are in the array. Face cards low and aces high spells trouble! Now, look at the fourth column. The red 10s are inaccessible, meaning the black jacks in the bottom row of columns 1 and 3 are going to be anchors for many moves.

Fig 2. The red 10s are in place, but now what?

My initial strategy involved clearing my way to the red 10s, since I assessed that bottleneck to be my worst problem. I came close to a solution here. Look at where the red 10s ended up. However, there are too few remaining moves available. This interim arrangement (Fig 2) does not have a successful outcome--at least not one that I could foresee.

Fig 3. Victory is in sight.
Once I got to this point (Fig 3), I knew that victory was soon mine! Can you look at this interim stage and play the remaining moves out in your head? How many moves are left until victory?

Fig 4. VICTORY! (Finally)

Yes, I finally won this game, but it was a struggle. It took me just under 3 hours over the course of several days. For me, the feeling was similar to catching the biggest marlin I've ever seen.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

The Year in Rock: 1971

Though I might have been a tad young to appreciate it in real time,

1971 was a great year in rock music! 

Offered herewith is a seven-song sample to give credence to the claim. This set of songs was played on "The Sunken Roadhouse," a weekly two-hour broadcast of music curated by DJ John on radio station KPUP 100.5 FM out of Patagonia, AZ. 

Wild Horses by The Rolling Stones.

One Of These Days by Pink Floyd. 

Yesterday's Numbers by Flamin' Groovies.

As each of these classic tunes played, I used my Shazam app and captured a link with additional details about the song. Follow each link, and you might see album covers, music videos, related tracks, lyrics, liner notes, band member bios, and more. 

Shazam can identify the music, movie, TV show,
or advertisement from a short snippet of sound

Do you agree that 1971 was a great year in rock? Was it perhaps the greatest year? In the comments, cast your ballot! 

You can listen to all of KPUP's community programming 24/7 online at Tune in Friday nights at 7 PM* for The Sunken Roadhouse. If you enjoy the show, ask John for a playlist--he'll email it right out to you. Simply respond to the email address he provides over the air. Check out KPUP, John's show, and these great songs, and share your reactions in the comments!

1971 was a great year in rock music. One influential music journalist, David Hepworth, claims it was the greatest year in rock music. Here are some links to articles or radio programs about Hepworth, his book, Never a Dull Moment, and the evidence he cites to bolster his claim.


Loudersound: 71 reasons why 1971 is rock's greatest-ever year

NPR: why 1971 was the greatest year for rock music ever

Spectator: was-1971-really-the-best-ever-year-for-music?

The Guardian: 1971 Never a Dull Moment Rock's Golden Year

Telegraph: was-1971-the-greatest-year-in-pop-history?

Visit Patagonia
*That's 7 PM Arizona time, folks--and remember, Arizona don't play that Daylight Saving Time nonsense!  

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Let Light Shine Out of Darkness

Everyone in the whole world is not always as small, 
thoughtless, impatient, ungrateful, or petty
as the worst of us can be. 

And even the worst of us can be cheerful, 
kind, helpful, generous, or brave. 

So how then to live? 

Focus on the positive. Seek it out. Nurture it. 
Exemplify and exude positivity.  

Only light can dispel the darkness

Getty Royalty Free Image

Read more:

David Suzuki writes about how to live in dark and troubling times (with nice references to Leonard Cohen and William Butler Yeats).

Light is used to symbolize God, faith, or holiness throughout the Bible. Here are 21 Bible verses about light. Read these to gain a better understanding of light as the symbol of positivity.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Under Lime

That pencil sketch at 2:20 comes back in light color at 2:30 and looks quite dashingly bold at 3:34!

Who is Maurice Worm (4:35)? That's none other than Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame pianist, Stephen John Nason. Stephen is better known to Elvis Costello fans as Steve  (what's a "groupie"?) Nieve! A man of many names, Stephen is also known as Steve A'dore (get it?), Norman Brain, and yes, Maurice Worm.

Credit for the video's artwork is given to one Eamon Singer (0:10), who also produced the video for 'Unwanted Number'. Elvis fans will remember paintings by this artist appeared on the inner sleeve of his 1984 album 'Good Bye Cruel World' and on the cover of his 1986 LP 'Blood and Chocolate'. If you liked those paintings, you'll love the cover of 'Look Now'.

Who is Florence Lacy (0:38)? Who, indeed!

The character at 2:00 is reminiscent of the chap on the cover of 'Imperial Bedroom'.

The Imperial Bedroom cover is a painting titled "Snakecharmer & Reclining Octopus" by Barney Bubbles (but credited to "Sal Forlenza").

Look Now Tracklist:
01. Under Lime <<
02. Don’t Look Now
03. Burnt Sugar Is So Bitter
04. Stripping Paper
05. Unwanted Number
06. I Let The Sun Go Down
07. Mr. & Mrs. Hush
08. Photographs Can Lie
09. Dishonor The Stars
10. Suspect My Tears
11. Why Won’t Heaven Help Me?
12. He’s Given Me Things
Deluxe Special Edition Tracks:
13. Isabelle In Tears
14. Adieu Paris (L’Envie Des Étoiles)
15. The Final Mrs. Curtain
16. You Shouldn’t Look At Me That Way
Elvis Costello Tour Dates:
11/02 – Bethlehem, PA @ The Sands Bethlehem Event Center
11/04 – Washington, DC @ DAR Constitution Hall <<
11/06 – Asbury Park, NJ @ Paramount Theatre
11/07 – Verona, NY @ Turning Stone Resort Casino
11/09 – Wallingford, CT @ Toyota Presents Oakdale Theatre
11/10 – Boston, MA @ Boch Center Wang Theatre
11/11 – Buffalo, NY @ Shea’s Performing Arts Center
11/13 – Detroit, MI @ The Fillmore Detroit
11/15 – Minneapolis, MN @ Northrop Auditorium
11/17 – Grand Rapids, MI @ 20 Monroe Live
11/19 – Memphis, TN @ Orpheum Theatre
11/21 – St. Louis, MO @ Peabody Opera House
11/23 – Thackerville, OK @ WinStar World Casino
11/25 – Denver, CO @ Fillmore Auditorium
11/27 – Phoenix, AZ @ Comerica Theatre
11/28 – Anaheim, CA @ House of Blues Anaheim
11/29 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Wiltern
12/01 – San Francisco, CA @ The Masonic
12/03 – Seattle, WA @ Paramount Theatre
12/04 – Vancouver, BC @ Queen Elizabeth Theatre

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

An Ode to the 1952 Vincent Black Lightning

1952 Vincent Black Lightning
by Richard Thompson

Says Red Molly, to James, "Well that's a fine motorbike.
A girl could feel special on any such like."
Says James, to Red Molly, "My hat's off to you.
It's a Vincent Black Lightning, 1952.

And I've seen you on the corners and cafes, it seems.
Red hair and black leather, my favorite color scheme."
And he pulled her on behind,
And down to Boxhill,
They'd Ride.

Says James, to Red Molly, "Here's a ring for your right hand.
But I'll tell you in earnest I'm a dangerous man;
For I've fought with the law since I was seventeen.
I've robbed many a man to get my Vincent machine.

And now I'm twenty-one years, I might make twenty-two.
And I don't mind dyin' but for the love of you.
But if fate should break my stride, then I'll give you my Vincent,
To Ride."

"Come down Red Molly, " called Sargent McQuade.
"For they've taken young James Aidee for Armed Robbery.
Shotgun blast hit his chest, left nothing inside.
Oh, come down, Red Molly, to his dying bedside."

When she came to the hospital, there wasn't much left.
He was runnin' out of road. He was runnin' out of breath.
But he smiled, to see her cry.
And said, "I'll give you my Vincent.
To Ride."

Said James, "In my opinion, there's nothing in this world
Beats a '52 Vincent and a Redheaded girl.
Now Nortons and Indians and Greeves' won't do.
Oh, they don't have a Soul like a Vincent '52."

Well he reached for her hand and he slipped her the keys.
He said, "I've got no further use...for these.
I see Angels on Ariels in leather and chrome,
Swoopin' down from Heaven to carry me home."

And he gave her one last kiss and died.
And he gave her his Vincent.
To Ride.

Can you imagine Red Molly taking James Aidee's Black Lightning on that first solo ride?

Red Molly
Now it's time to have a listen to Richard Thompson performing his classic song.

To hear the soul-stirring sound of a vintage Vincent
>> HERE <<

Now let's have a look at some of the motorcycles James Aidee considered and dismissed in favor of his Vincent Black Lightning, 1952.  

Museum of Contemporary Motorcycles Referenced in the Song
1952 Vincent Black Shadow, similar to the Black Lightning

1949 Vincent Red Rapide

Let's agree with Richard Thompson's James Aidee: compared to the Vincent models, and especially to the super-fast Black Lightning, the contemporary Nortons, Indians, and Greeves' simply won't do. 

1952 Norton Model 7 Dominator, the Norton
factory's first twin cylinder machine

1953 Indian Chief, big and bulky and built
for comfort on the wide open road

1955 Greeves 20T, built three years after the Lightning,
and for a different purpose (time-trials) 

1957 Greeves Fleetwing has the same unusual downtube as the 20T,
but a bigger engine and more of a road-worthy design

To my eyes, the Ariel comes the closest to matching the soul of the Vincent. Still, it isn't quite right, either. Not even the 1938 Red Hunter seems fit for a leather-clad angel on a soul-saving mission. 

1938 Ariel Red Hunter

I can't imagine why the Triumph fails to get a mention in this song.

1952 Triumph Thunderbird

Being more of a Harley man myself, I propose an edit:

"I see Angels on Harleys in leather and chrome, 
Swoopin' down from Heaven to carry me home." 

Just for the sake of comparison (and as if to prove my point), here is an image of my angel's preferred chariot. When my time comes. take me home on a Harley! 

1952 Harley-Davidson FL Hydra-Glide
As we know from another post on this blog, 1952 was a big year for the Harley-Davidson Motor Company. That's the year that their large-frame bike, the FL Hydra-Glide, was fitted with a new style of transmission featuring a hand clutch and a foot shifter. This would soon become an industry standard. The old EL model, with its foot clutch and hand shifter, was discontinued. Note: my leather-clad angels would not let a suicide shifter deter them for a moment!  

But this post is about the legendary Vincent Black Lightning motorcycle. Capable of speeds up to 150 mph, the Black Lightning set many speed records in its era. In January 2018, it set one more record: A 1951 Vincent Black Lightning motorcycle sold at auction for the highest price ever paid: $929,000!
Jack Ehret signed this bike on which he set the Australian land speed record (141.5 mph) in January 1953

The most expensive motorcycle in the world is one of only a few dozens known to exist, and one of only 19 with full matching numbers (same numbers on both the frame and the engine). It bears Jack Ehret's signature on the fuel tank. Bonhams sold it in Las Vegas in January 2018 for $929,000–a record for any motorcycle at auction

Read more about the bike on The Hot Bid, and learn about a second Vincent Black Lightning going up for sale at Bonhams in Alabama in October 2018.

I wonder if Richard Thompson, whose brilliant folk song has added immeasurably to the lore of the Black Lightning, will get a share of the proceeds?

"Red hair and black leather, my favorite color scheme."

As always, thank you for reading PhilosFX. Feel free to follow, comment, and share if you are so inclined.