Tuesday, July 31, 2007

I leave for a couple of days and everybody stops living...

Bergman who is one of the greatest directors ever made the film Fanny and Alexander. A film so good, yet so painful to watch, that I’m not sure whether I’m ready to view it again. Maybe it’s time to muster some courage. And who hasn't borrowed from his image of the grim reaper from the Seventh Seal?

And of course Michael Antonioni just passed away as well. Two giants on the same day! He is of course most known for his film Blow-Up but if you haven’t seen L’Eclisse RENT IT NOW! There is a great write-up at Hollywood-Elsewhere on his life and work.

And finally, Tom Snyder passed away. If there are truly TV greats than Tom Snyder was a giant among them. He died a couple of days ago and if you didn’t ever see him in his heyday interview celebrities and the notorious you missed out.

Dispatch from the Heartland

I spent the last few days visiting my old stomping grounds in Lincoln, NE. Lincoln is a great college town and has a decent cycling scene with quite a few shops. A reasonably new shop in the downtown area adjacent to the UNL campus is Monkey Wrench cycles. My kind of place with the surly, bianchi, urban/practical riding focus

Back in the day there were some great clubs (the Drumstick, and Duffy’s) that saw bands drive through before they made it big like REM, Nirvana, the Police.

Tour de Lincoln
Art Project from a few years ago is wonderful.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Rasmussen Pulls Out of Le Tour!

From Velonews.com [click the link for more info]
Yellow jersey wearer Michael Rasmussen was sensationally kicked out of the Tour de France by his own Rabobank team, the Dutch outfit revealed on Wednesday. The Dane had seemingly weathered the storm over missing four out of competition dope tests in the past 18 months and had won Wednesday's stage to all but seal overall victroy. However the team has learnt that Rasmussen lied to them over where and what he was up to during the month of June when he was in fact in Italy and not in Mexico as he had told them.

"He broke team rules," said a team spokesman, who said that the Dane has also been fired from the team

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Have a Coke and a ... Heart Attack!

What’s worse, drinking soda with so much SUPER SUGAR (read, high fructose corn syrup) that our bodies aren’t built to process it, or, drinking soda that’s full of chemicals to make it taste like it has so much SUPER SUGAR that our bodies aren’t built to process? Either way it appears we’re F****D! This study talks about what appears to be a connection between soda drinking and heart disease. Apparently one soda a day is all it takes to increase your risk. No mention of how likely it is that if you are having a SUPER SUGAR SODA you are also having a Big Mac and Fries.

Speaking of McDs, it appears that the fast food chain is falling on hard times.

There was the much ballyhooed debate last night for the Democratic Presidential Nominees. The big news was (of course) that the questions came from “real people” via YouTube. I don't know that I believe this statement:
Journalists will never outshine the whole of America when it comes to figuring out good questions.
Turns out the politicians answer with the same platitudes whether it’s Gwen Ifil or Dwayne the Barber asking the questions. Yawn!

Speaking of real people and democracy, I had the chance to witness the court system in action after being called for jury duty. Some of the lameass excuses coming out of people’s mouths regarding why they couldn’t serve were…well, mindboggling. Highlight, one gentlemen exclaiming that his father was a lawyer who used to represent the mob and that made him an expert on the law…and then he proceeded to argue with the judge until he was “escorted” from the courtroom.

People continue to get arrested for cycling nude. It’s hot dammit!

TV News – Bit the bullet and bought a big HDTV this past weekend. I don’t even have cable or a dish but the movie experience is wonderful. And, nobody is talking or kicking the back of my chair, and my feet don’t stick to the floor. Interesting to see the broadcast HD channels. Now I can see the bad makeup jobs on the local newscasters that much more clearly.

Speaking of TV, a few years back I caught the pilot and a few subsequent episodes of the cult show, WonderFalls. It was oddly broadcast in a deadzone on FOX with no promotion and then cancelled because it never gained an audience. That’s logical. Anyway, I was reminded about the series recently while listening to Andy Partridge (Genius) of XTC fame. He wrote the main theme song (which is not one of his best) but with XTC in cold storage I’ll take anything…. Anyway, I remember stumbling onto WonderFalls and thinking it was just plain odd. If you know anything about me you know that Odd is more than likely a good thing when it comes to my tv, movie, music choices. The show feels like a swirl of Veronica Mars, Joan of Arcadia, and Twin Peaks, with talking animal knickknacks. A brief clip can never do it justice but here goes. The first season is available on DVD of course (has been for some time) and I had to check it out to see if it really is as good as I remembered. Conclusion: It’s really good. Great supporting players but Caroline Dhavernas carries the weight of the show very well.

The RGJ published their semiannual “______ Bikes are Popular” story. Insert “cruiser” bikes in the blank. Last time it was Fixed Gear, before that Road, etc, etc. Bikes is Bikes is Bikes!

Tour de France note: Root for Alberto Contador to finish strong and win the tour over leader Michael Rasmussen who is mired in a doping scandal. And, of course, late news from the tour has would be contender Alexander Vinokourov testing positive for doping and the entire Astana team withdrawing from the Tour. Sigh...

What would happen if humans were wiped off the face of the earth? This book explores this idea and sounds very compelling. It reminds me that the planet does very well at “managing” itself thank you very much. Perhaps we should remember that as we continue to build more subdivisions in wildfire prone areas and then spend millions defending homes from burning down? It’s not nice to fool mother nature!

And finally...a picture is worth a thousand words!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

President undergoes procedure - Doctors discover his head

Making jokes about GWB's colonoscopy is just too easy. The question is whether anybody noticed any difference while Cheney was "officially" commander in chief and the doctors tried to figure out just what is up Bush's ass? Well, at least Bush is recovering and going biking today.

I went out for a ride yesterday that included the wild NW Reno area. I thought I might see the illusive NV Golfer in its natural habitat. What with the signs all over the place. Is Somersett the new Stepford? I swear I was riding around this subdivision with its perfectly trimmed and manicured lawns and the only time I actually saw humans was when they were behind the wheels of their cars. On a Saturday. It's not like I'm always outside in my yard but at least there does seem to be a human presence in my neighborhood.

Speaking of Reno neighborhoods, did anybody catch Ed Smith on Face the State? Fascinating discussion about this wildfire season and the increased risk of fires in the west. Here is an article from RGJ to give you an idea.

Oh Joy! More doping news from Le Tour.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

What's on your shelf?

Myrna from Renodiscontent emailed me about this nifty site. Shelfari.com collects your past, present, and (potential) future reads in a way that allows you to connect up with friends and post opinions about what might be on your nightstand. You can scroll through some of my favorite books that I put on my online bookshelf and share your own.

Is a film version of this site out there?

So Much Biking News...

Forgive me for being in a bit of a funk this last few weeks. It's the mid-summer blahs. The heat, the work I'm not quite getting done...jury duty. And here we are with half of my "recharge" time has passed. Time to get serious and share some bike news that has been floating around our fair city.

1. Did you know there is a fire burning in town. Oh yeah, kind of obvious. How many trails are going to be scorched during this fire is still to be determined. Thomas Creek, Mt. Rose wilderness, etc. are definitely in danger. I have a couple of friends who should probably consider this a good thing since they have personally been helping to rename trails in the fire area after the broken bones they've suffered while riding near Thomas Creek.

2. A bit of good news! Kudos to the Reno Bike Project. From the press release:

Reno City Council Funds Bike Project. The Reno City Council approved a grant of $8,000 Wednesday to provide affordable bicycles to Reno residents. The funding will help establish the Reno Bike Project’s Community Bike Cooperative, a local non-profit bicycle shop established on the principles of recycling used bikes, bike repairs, community event promotion, and promotion of alternative transportation.

This project is consistent with the Reno City Council’s priority to establish Reno as an environmentally friendly, sustainable community. Alternative transportation was a major subject of discussion at the City-sponsored Green Summit held April 19. Bicycles offer an alternative to automobiles as a healthy, efficient way to get around town without the use of fossil fuels.

The Community Pride Grant was approved by the downtown Neighborhood Advisory Board, as part of a program to provide financing for neighborhood projects that residents support. The Board has said they support the goals and mission of the Reno Bike Project Community Bike Cooperative to provide services and access for adults and children to affordable bicycles, and education in bicycle maintenance to benefit all Reno residents.

3. Finally, a cyclist was hit and killed in Sparks. Here is some info being distributed within the bike community. Please try to attend his funeral, and/or the Ghostbike ride.

Dear Pedalers and Friends,

Procrastinating Pedaler club member, Don Campbell, was killed this past weekend while riding his bike through the intersection of Sparks Blvd and Los Alto Pkwy. His funeral is scheluded for Friday, July 20th, at 2:00 PM at Walton's Sparks Funeral Home, 1745 Sullivan Lane, Sparks (359-2210). The family said they would appreciate any cyclists that could attend.

We are planning to put a Ghost Bike at that intersection and have a Ghost Bike Ride to remember and honor Don.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Celebrity Political Donors

This list caught my eye as the presidential race heats up. Interesting the multiple candidate love that some celebs are showing:

* Ruby Dee, actress: $250
* Danny DeVito, actor: $2,300
* Fran Drescher, TV’s “The Nanny”: $2,300
* Joely Fisher, actress $4,600
* Tom Hanks, actor: $2,300
* Ed Helms, actor, “Andy Bernard” in NBC’s “The Office”: $250
* Sharon Lawrence, “NYPD Blue” co-star: $1,000
* Tobey Maguire, actor $4,600
* Marla Maples, actress: $1,000
* Paul Newman, actor: $4,600
* Rhea Perlman, actress $2,300
* Pauly Shore, actor $1,000
* Ben Stiller, actor $6,900 ($4,600 is the legal limit)
* George Takei, actor $1,000
* Lily Tomlin, actress $2,000
* Rita Wilson, actress $2,300
* Joanne Woodward, actress $4,600

* John Lithgow, actor: $1000
* Christy Romano, actress, singer, voice of “Kim Possible”: $300

* Oliver Stone, director: $500
* Mary Steenburgen, actress: $2300
* Ben Stiller, actor: $4600
* Peter Coyote, actor: $1054
* Sharon Lawrence, actress: $1000

* Mark Ruffalo, actor: $700

* Adam Arkin, actor $250
* Paul Dooley, actor $2,300
* Jodie Foster, actress $1,000
* Jamie Foxx, actor $2,300
* Martha Hackett, “Star Trek” actress $2,300
* Bruce Hornsby, singer $2,300
* Anna Horsford, “Amen” actress $500
* Cedric “The Entertainer” Kyles, actor $2,500
* Eriq La Salle, actor $500
* Paul Newman, actor $4,600
* Tom Skerritt, actor $1,000
* Jean Smart, actress $4,600
* Jada Smith, actress $4,600
* Will Smith, actor $4,600
* David Sutcliffe, “Gilmore Girls” Actor $1,250
* Isaiah Washington, former “Grey’s Anatomy” Actor $2,300
* Joanne Woodward, Actress $4,600

* Shelley Morrison, actress (“Rosario” on “Will and Grace”): $1600
* Alexandra Paul, actress, “Baywatch” co-star: $1300
* Deirdre Hall, “Days of Our Lives” actress: $1000
* Hector Elizondo, actor: $300

* Michael Douglas, actor: $3100
* Val Kilmer, actor: $2300
* Paul Newman, actor: $2300
* Edward James Olmos, actor: $2300
* Wendie Malick, “Just Shoot Me” actress: $500
* Steven Spielberg, director: $2300
* Kate Capshaw, actress, wife of Steven Spielberg: $2300
* Jodie Foster, actress: $1000
* Christie Brinkley, self-described as “Model/Mom/Environmental activist”: $500
* Bette Midler, actress/singer: $4600
* Sherry Lansing, former film executive: $2300
* William Friedkin, director: $2300
* James L. Brooks, producer/writer: $1000

* Tony Sirico, actor, “Paulie Walnuts” on “The Sopranos”: $1000
* Melissa Gilbert, actress: $4600

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Why Asbestos is a Good Thing...

This image from 1981 is making the rounds via Gawker. Reading the text just gives me this creepy feeling deep in the pit of my stomach. If advertising is art is this where life imitates it?

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Happy Bastille Day

Here it is a week into the TdF and I haven't made one comment about it. I used to be so addicted that for one month a year I would get cable and be up at 5 in the a.m. to watch. I still love Le Tour but am content with live audio updates and video from the web.

Today the riders enter the French Alps and this is truly when the fun begins. having ridden in the Alps it is no easy feat, nevermind that they ride all day over multiple peaks going over 100 miles in a stage.

In 2003 I was in France and followed the tour throught the Pyrenees and witnessed the infamous "fall" and comeback of Lance Armstrong in his closest TdF win. The final day I was in Paris and joined 11,000 cyclists all wearing the free yellow jerseys that the tour organizers handed out as we cycled through the closed (to autos) streets of Paris. Imagine riding by the Louvre, the Seine, the Eiffel Tower, Bastille, and down the Champs on bikes with that many cyclists. That was one of the peak experiences of my life. Someday I will live in a flat in the heart of Paris. It's one of the best places to be in the world.

I have been asked too many times in recent years about the doping that goes on in Professional cycling. Often times the questions come from critics of the sport who don't "get it" and strangely seem to think cycling is full of dopers but believe sports like American football and Baseball are clean...cuz you don't hear about doping as much in those sports. I'd personally love to see the doping tests that are used in cycling applied to sports so popular in America. I won't even touch the Barry Bonds thing. But suffice it to say I think that many American sports are so full of doping that the athletes can have a career in pharmaceuticals after retiring. I've read about the fishing tackle boxes full of "supplements" that football players carry around. Anyway, all doping is bad, but pro cycling has a long history of dope use and (now) some of the most strict testing in all of sports. No wonder they get caught more. I just wish the anti doping groups trying to police the sport had more stringent controls on their procedures. An LA Times article from last December on the state of testing for doping was pretty devastating as far as the inner workings of these institutions. To quote, the part article found that the "arbitration system was flawed...and Anti-doping authorities serve as prosecutor, judge and jury"

Sigh...regardless, these athletes truly are amazing. It's not like you can pop some pills and go from being the 98 pound weakling to a tour champion. I affectionately call these pro cyclists "genetic monsters" because they are predisposed to having these incredible engines that allow them to ride at such speeds. Not to mention the monk's lives and training miles these guys go through.

I only hope that the sport cleans itself up so that it doesn't scare away the young riders wanting to get into this beautiful, "dirty", sport.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

My New/Old Bike

I recently took an older Bianchi SuperLeggera lugged steel frame and replaced the parts with a newish campagnolo chorus group and wheelset. These older frames will accomodate slightly wider tires than the current crop of road bikes so I put some Rivendell ruffy tuffy 28s. The bike combines the best of the old and new with a classy steel frame and a light and very reliable set of components. It rides like a butter! I also put a compact SRAM crank for those hilly or windy rides. Something we are known for in this area. It's my new/old go (almost) anywhere do (almost) anything bike. I won't necessarily be downhilling off of peavine but certainly it can handle some basic fire road riding.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Mark Your Calendars - The Rock and Roll Savior Returns

Polly Jean Harvey will be releasing her new album in late September. There are a handful of musical artists out there who inspire me beyond measure and PJ is on that short list. 50 ft. Queenie indeed, she towers over almost everybody working in music today as far as I'm concerned.

Presented here is a live stripped down performance of one of her best songs, Rid of Me. Frankly, you either "get" this or you don't. There doesn't seem to be any in between.

Monday, July 09, 2007


Back from Napa where it was a bit balmy getting into the 90s during the afternoon riding. Had a quick sidetrip to the Bay where I woke up to 60 degrees. Remember 60 degrees? None of this quite prepared me for the 100+ upon my return to Renoville.

Speaking of the heat, did you check out the commentary on Air Conditioning from Salon last week? Click the link for more on this article on the arguments against owning an air conditioner.

Anybody watch the Live Earth concert? I watched some of the performances which were mostly bad although I liked the Foo Fighters. Isn't Shakira past her 15 minutes of fame? Yeah, I'm not completely immune to her nouveau Charo act but do they really have one camera allocated exclusively to watching her hips shake?

Anyway, it was for a good cause and the best part in the end was a bit more awareness and the pledge to reduce our carbon footprint with a few simple acts. With that in mind check out the Carbon Conscious Consumer from the New American Dream:
This month's pledge has to do with eating locally grown food. Something that it's easy to do with the various farmer's markets and the food coop in town. Plus if you have a garden...

And finally, what a perfect time to go see the band, Hot Hot Heat. They'll be playing at Stoney's July 28th.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Sunday Morning Sufjan Stevens

Just in a Sufjan mood this morning and this is one of his prettiest melodies.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Dispatch from Napa - part 2 - Happy Freakin' Fourth of July

First of all, let me point out that it is not me in this photo. But it seems so appropriate on this the most patriotic of holidays. Another wonderful day of riding and wine today.

Being that it is July 4th and all I thought I would remind folks just how "free" we are by posting Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist's article on the Scooter Libby commutation. Well worth the read but I don't know whether it will make you laugh or cry. Thanks to my sister for sending this article my way. Click the link for the full text:

Scooter Libby In Hell
What do Dick Cheney, Paris Hilton, "The Sopranos" and colon spasms have in common? Find out here!

So there you have it. Bush shrugs and smirks and then commutes the easy soft-focus sit-on-your-ass-all-day-and-knit white-collar prison sentence of a hollow political lackey who, in turn, took a bullet for his sneering mafia thug of a boss, Dick Cheney, who in turn was complicit (along with lead flying monkey Karl Rove) in the appallingly illegal outing of a CIA operative, which itself was a tiny but particularly nasty link in the giant chain of lies and deceptions undertaken to lead our wary and tattered nation into an unwinnable impossible costly brutally violent war that will now last, if current estimates are correct, until the goddamn sun explodes.

You have to laugh. You have to laugh because if you do not laugh you will likely be overcome by a mad desire to stab yourself in the eye with a sharp feral cat and/or shoot yourself in the toe with a high-powered staple gun, over and over again, all while tearing out pages of the United States Constitution and crumpling them into tiny little balls and hurling them into the smoldering firepit of who-the-hell-cares as you shiver in the corner and swig from a bottle of Knob Creek and wail at the moon. Or maybe that's just me.

But really, you do have to laugh at the vicious antics this administration, and perhaps Dick Cheney in particular, that most nefarious molester of U.S. law and ignorer of all political integrity and deeply homophobic father of a creepily lesbian daughter and overall gruntingly guff sneerer at all moral principle, masterful mocker of everything you somehow still manage to think, even in your most despondent and ethically disillusioned state, that American politics is somehow supposed to be about.

For it was Cheney, you well know, who yanked Bush's puppet strings in order to get Libby off the hook. It was Cheney who whispered sweet, oozing nothings into Dubya's ear to convince him to screw the goddamn law and mock the American jury system and further lock down America's standing as the most corrupt and least accountable nation in the entire developed world.

What, are you surprised by all this? Of course you're not. It is, of course, all about the cover-up, all about preventing Libby from revealing the real criminals in all this, about Cheney's nefarious role in the Plame case, all about ensuring the cabal remains intact and unassailable and throbbing with misprision.

It was so cute as to be actually damaging to the soul. Bush actually ambled forth and said that, while he "respects the jury" in the Libby case, the 2.5 year sentence was simply "too harsh." Baby, if 30 months in a comfy well-stocked rape-free Martha Stewart-decorated facility for compromising national security is too harsh, I've got a draconian little thing called the Patriot Act to sell you, cheap.

Here's a swell side note: You know who gets harsher sentences than 30 months in white-collar prison, George? Pot dealers. That's right. The average sentence for a convicted marijuana dealer in California is 3.3 years. In real prison, George, not that namby-pamby Club Fed where Scooter would've played badminton and sipped tea. Hell, in places like Oklahoma and Alabama, you can get a life sentence for possessing a single marijuana bud, which is ironic indeed, given how if you live in Oklahoma or Alabama, there is nothing that would serve your miserable id better than to be deeply and thoroughly stoned every single day and twice on Sunday. But that's another column.

Just a hint of perspective, George. See, we all know you drank like a monosyllabic fish and were rumored to enjoy your share of premium flake during all those years you were skipping poli-sci class in college as you snorted money from the silver spoon you were born with, so maybe you can appreciate this viewpoint. Or, you know, maybe not.

You know who's now done more jail time that Scooter Libby? Paris Hilton. Paris Hilton has now accomplished more in the eyes of the law to pay her debt to society than the VP's former chief of staff ever will for assisting BushCo in corrupting the soul of the goddamn nation. Isn't that cute? Cute enough to cause sharp stabbing pain in your abdomen requiring great amounts of scotch and marijuana to anesthetize? You bet it is.

Lest we forget, Dubya's latest abuse of law follows hot on the heels of Dick Cheney declaring himself a unique and unassailable branch of government, free to ignore the law and refuse to hand over detailed reports of how he's handled classified information to the federal, Bush-approved oversight agency in charge of making sure people just like Dick don't take too many liberties with power and ego and dictatorial megalomania. Whoops, too late.

Just another appalling notch in the belt for Dick, really. To be added to the collection, right alongside the bit where he endorses torture, or how he initiated the secret detention of foreigners in brutal Eastern European prisons, or his love of military tribunals, or the hard-on he gets for detaining foreigners illegally, for years, at Guantanamo Bay, or the way he works to derail freedom of the press, or how he abuses environmental law and rearranges the federal budget as he sees fit all while sucking up Halliburton kickbacks, and...

Oh my. The list is long indeed. And it is, in its way, far uglier and more dangerous than that of his bumbling, inept boss. But you already knew that, right?

All in all, you could say it's much like a very bad episode of "The Sopranos," all thick-minded thugs and boorish mafia tactics and the childish calling in of violent favors, all about ruthless loyalty at the expense of, well, everything else: humanity, integrity, decency, the will of the people. And there is Bush, the hollow figurehead, the smirking decider, with Cheney as the henchman, the hangman, the guy at the door with the black gloves and the baseball bat and the black van waiting outside.

Except wait a minute; in this endless episode, there's no deeper sense of existential angst, no smart-tongued therapy sessions full of humor and revelation, no hint of greatness, no darkly heroic Tony Soprano character who transcends it all and suspects there is more to life than this world of blood and violence and war and even craves, somewhere in his soul, to find it.

OK, check that. It's not "The Sopranos" at all. It's more like a particularly noxious episode of "Mama's Family," all Neanderthal redneck inbred imbeciles doing bad accents and idiotic pratfalls and slapping each other in the face to the tune of an insufferable, forced laugh track, all centered around a laughably dreadful character who blurts out sarcastic one-liners so stupid and inept they make your skin crawl.

Except no one's laughing. And tens of thousands of people are dying. And the country is rotting at its core. And the world, oh the world, the world knows this degrading, deeply humiliating show cannot be cancelled fast enough.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

And now for something completely different - Dispatches from Napa Valley

I'm currently taking a bike tour of the Napa/Sonoma area so I thought I'd pass along a few shots of the trip. My pencam is on the fritz so I'm mostly relying on the camera phone which unfortunately doesn't exactly convey how beautiful the landscape is. Good wine and food is almost as wonderful as biking. Almost. Check out the link to see the best winery I visited today: Gundlach Bunschu.

Monday, July 02, 2007