It's only mine because it holds my suitcase.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

This, though, is a thing of beauty

I give you The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello, a 2005 animated short that has a marvelous steampunk feel to it. Do click the little HQ button in the corner and watch it in full screen - the tiny window doesn't do it justice.

The official site has some nice desktops and a screensaver.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

My First Singles

I first became aware of the existence of popular music in second grade, and I somehow associate each and every one of these songs with carpooling to school in 1983. I and some classmates whose names I simply can't remember would carpool to school in my mother's 1978 Buick LeSabre and I guess these kids - one of them was named James, I think - knew much more than I about worldly things. They somehow convinced my mother to play the local FM rock station. That was pretty much the end of it - within months I had a largish pile of those orange and yellow RCA singles. It was all innocent enough, but little did I know that a decade later I'd be scrounging around flea markets offering to perform fellatio on random strangers in exchange for early Bowie picture discs. And now - now it seems quaint to remember a time when music took up physical space. Anyway - here, then, are my first five singles.

Styx - Mister Roboto

It took me two decades to work out what "domo arigato" meant. All that time I thought they'd lost their robot.

Toto - Africa

The Clash - Should I Stay or Should I Go?

This one actually held up pretty well - much better than the other ones.

Mountain - Mississippi Queen

I still don't know what you mean. I checked wikipedia, but the song has the single most clinically offputting entry ever:
Early in the song, he compliments her lovemaking skills (or admits his lack thereof) by stating "...she taught me everything", then goes on to say she was a dancer who "moved better on wine". The singer continues, saying that she had asked him to be her man to which he replies, "I'd do what I can". He evidently took her up on her offer as the next line says . . .

Steve Miller Band - Abracadabra

My parents always seemed fairly uncomfortable when I sang this - not just because I sing so badly that Amnesty International has formally protested about me doing so in public. It would be a few more years before I worked out why. Frankly I just like the cool noises about halfway through.

Monday, January 12, 2009

A semi-comprehensive list of free museum days in the San Francisco bay area

I couldn't find one of these, so I made it myself. Feel free to contact me if you have a museum to add. Also, not that this list does not contain museums that are always free or only free to certain patrons.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The sad story of the Kings Inn

This blighted property just off Reno's main drag has been boarded up for a while. It's not prime real estate - about as close as you can get though. It's right across from the old Masonic lodge, right off Virginia where it used to cross the railroad, and it's a stark reminder of just how long Reno has been in decay. This seven story hotel and casino - hardly a marvel of architectural invention - was probably doomed from the beginning, though. Constructed in 1973, the place opened in 1974 - the hotel did, at least. The gaming license took another year [1].

Only five years later, the place filed for bankruptcy, with the casino closing in 1982 and the hotel in '86. That was 23 years ago. It's looked pretty much just like this ever since. The building is condemned, of course. There were plans to renovate the place a few years ago, but nothing came of it. I almost feel sorry for the poor building. Not that it's especially attractive or worthy of my pity, but to spend two thirds of your existence as nothing more than a cautionary tale to those who wish to follow in your footsteps is not an enviable fate.

What's odd to me is that a place like this, in the middle of a largish city, can just sit there for decades, completely ignored, while land is so expensive these days that a person earning an average wage can't even afford a modest home. The law of supply and demand just doesn't apply here, apparently.

As an aside, if you have anecdotes, pictures or memorabilia from the Kings Inn, I'd really like to hear from you. For reasons I can't adequately explain, I'm fascinated by the place and would like to know what it was like.

[1]: The Rise of the Biggest Little City. Kling & Melton, 1999

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The biggest little hellhole in the world.

I guess it goes without saying that Reno isn't what it once was. The advent of Indian gambling in California has really thrown a wrench in the works of the city that once prided itself on the fact that it was. . .erm. . .closer to the bay area than Vegas, I guess. Look, let's face it. That's the only thing the place ever had going for it in the first place. It was always just a pale shadow of Vegas, and it felt like it was in decline all the way back in the seventies.

It's starting to get really bad now. The number of operating casinos is about the same as the number of shuttered ones, and the ones that are still open are starting to look pretty ratty, to be honest. Some of the closed ones have been boarded up for a decade, and some of them have been turned into condos. Great timing, that.

Still, the fact that so much of downtown hasn't been seriously updated in half a century makes for some pretty cool photo ops. I'll be adding some more as I get them edited.