James Moody, 1925 – 2010

James Moody, a jazz saxophonist and flutist celebrated for his virtuosity, his versatility and his onstage ebullience, died on Thursday in San Diego. He was 85…

Mr. Moody, who began his career with the trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie shortly after World War II and maintained it well into the 21st century, developed distinctive and equally fluent styles on both tenor and alto saxophone, a relatively rare accomplishment in jazz. He also played soprano saxophone, and in the mid-1950s he became one of the first significant jazz flutists, impressing the critics if not himself.

“I’m not a flute player,” he told one interviewer. “I’m a flute holder…”

The song he sang most often had a memorable name and an unusual history. Based on the harmonic structure of “I’m in the Mood for Love,” it began life as an instrumental when Mr. Moody recorded it in Stockholm in 1949, improvising an entirely new melody on a borrowed alto saxophone. Released as “I’m in the Mood for Love” (and credited to that song’s writers) even though his rendition bore only the faintest resemblance to the original tune, it was a modest hit for Mr. Moody in 1951. It became a much bigger hit shortly afterward when the singer Eddie Jefferson wrote lyrics to Mr. Moody’s improvisation and another singer, King Pleasure, recorded it as “Moody’s Mood for Love…”

James Moody — he was always Moody, never James, Jim or Jimmy, to his friends and colleagues — was born in Savannah, Ga., on March 26, 1925, to James and Ruby Moody, and raised in Newark. Despite being hard of hearing, he gravitated toward music and began playing alto saxophone at 16, later switching to tenor. He played with an all-black Army Air Forces band during World War II. After being discharged in 1946, he auditioned for Gillespie, who led one of the first big bands to play the complex and challenging new form of jazz known as bebop. He failed that audition but passed a second one a few months later, and soon captured the attention of the jazz world with a brief but fiery solo on the band’s recording of the Gillespie composition “Emanon.”

For all his accomplishments, Mr. Moody always saw his musical education as a work in progress. “I’ve always wanted to be around people who know more than me,” he told The Hartford Courant in 2006, “because that way I keep learning.”

We miss you.

Justice Department charges 8 over oil spill fraud

The Department of Justice has filed fraud charges against eight people over claims of damages related to the BP oil spill.

The indictments were announced on Friday against people in Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, Michigan and North Carolina who the government said fraudulently sought money from the $20 billion pool financed by BP.

Among those charged were Cam T. Hang of Louisiana, who, according to the Justice Department, demanded $42,000 for business losses related to a restaurant that does not exist. A Michigan man, Kevin Hall, claimed he lost $9,000 at an ice cream stand in Pensacola, Fla., that, according to his indictment, is similarly mythical.

Charlette Dufray Johnson, a North Carolina woman, was accused of filing claims in the name of her sister, saying that she worked for a company in New Orleans that suffered losses because of the spill. The sister is deceased. Ms. Johnson is also alleged to have also filed a dozen other claims totaling nearly $80,000 related to Hurricane Katrina, a California wildfire and storms in Georgia and Tennessee.

The charges announced today send a strong message that we will not tolerate any fraudulent activity designed to profit from this tragic oil spill,” said Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer.

This is the little end of the “American Way” of fraud. Understand these are hustlers who aren’t capable of a real con. They’re just fraudsters accustomed to shucking and jiving past run-of-the-mill bureaucrats. Hopefully, the tidying up that the Obama Administration has been injecting into the DC way of doing things will continue to root out government-job hacks.

Meanwhile, the “Big End” belongs entirely to the Oil Patch Boys, the lying, deceit and payoffs to hacks in the Department of Interior who issued drilling licenses like it was hunting season on the US Treasury – and maintained regulations and inspection by rubber-stamping paperwork.

Some of the layabouts have been bounced. Let’s see if any of the “important” campaign contributors end up facing serious penalties.

For Christmas, you really can’t go wrong with the $85,000 panda bear chair

This chair is number 1 in the edition of 25 pieces.

limited edition of 25 pieces, exclusive to Moss
Each chair is numbered and embroidered with the following: “Pandas Chair, Limited Edition, Campana Brothers” and is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity, signed by Fernando and Humberto Campana.

approximately 41″ x 37″


Why not collect them all? (all 25 chairs, that is)

Gates worries if Senate blocks repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

Secretary Gates answering questions on the flight back from Afghanistan
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

Failing to repeal the law prohibiting openly gay and lesbian people from serving in the military leaves the services vulnerable to the possibility the courts will order an immediate and likely chaotic end to the policy, Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters Friday.

Gates, speaking aboard an aircraft as he traveled in the Middle East, said that “my greatest worry will be that we are at the mercy of the courts and all of the lack of predictability that that entails.”

The Senate on Thursday rejected a Democratic bid to open debate on a defense authorization bill that includes a repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. The House has already passed the repeal measure, but with time running out in the current lame-duck session of Congress, Democrats were uncertain they could overcome Republican opposition and approve the proposal.

Democrats were pushing for action now because the new Congress in January brings a Republican-controlled House and a diminished Democratic majority in the Senate, which will make repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell” more difficult.

On Friday, about 100 people gathered near the U.S. Capitol to urge legislators to pass the repeal. One of them, retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Dennis Laich, said Republican opponents of the repeal measure were “absent without leave” in their legislative responsibility, while the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network called for the Senate to put off its holiday recess until “the task is finished.”

Gay rights advocacy groups, including those comprising military personnel, immediately condemned the Senate vote.

Today leaders of both parties let down the U.S. military and the American people,” said Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign.

And it’s only going to get worse, folks.

Civil rights, education, support for small business, healthcare, regulatory reform of Wall Street? Republicans and Blue Dog Dems will have lobbyists, nutballs and bigots sitting on their laps every day in the next Congress.

A winter treat as Geminid meteors sparkle in December sky

Flaming rocks will soon begin hurtling toward the Earth with the arrival of the annual Geminid meteor shower, one of the biggest of the year.

The peak of the week-long shower will come just before dawn on Tuesday, but the shooting stars will also be visible across the world late in the weekend, says Rebecca Johnson, editor of StarDate magazine from the McDonald Observatory near Fort Davis, Texas.

Where skies are clear, the viewing will be best “before dawn on Tuesday. It starts to get light an hour before sunrise, so any time before that is going to be a good time to look,” she says…

Meteors of course aren’t falling stars. In the case of the Geminid shower, they’re tiny pieces of debris breaking off an asteroid called 3200 Phaethon as it orbits the sun. Although the shower was first seen in the 1860s, the asteroid wasn’t discovered until 1983…

But what’s producing the meteor showers hardly matters considering how lovely they are. For those who can’t make it out Tuesday morning, the meteors will be visible for two days before the peak and a day or two afterwards, just not as plentiful.

It’s “a great shower that many people never see” because they come during cold weather, says NASA’s Bill Cooke. “The Perseids get all the press. It’s much nicer to be out on a warm August night then to be freezing your rear in December.”

Uh, yes.

Although we get up well before dawn – and it’s worth stumbling around outside to see what we can see.

Prime Minister’s diktat has Kazakhs scrambling for iPads

A statement from Kazakhstan’s Prime Minister has sent ambitious ministerial apparatchiks scrambling to get their hands on Apple’s iPad computer, causing shops to sell out…

The craze began when Prime Minister Karim Massimov, himself an avid iPad user, expressed impatience with government employees who didn’t reply promptly to emails.

Please carry tablet computers at all times,” he said at a government meeting in October. “I can send you a message any time, and, as some of you know, I aim to reply within ten minutes. Some of you have not replied to me for three days.”

Ever since, owning an iPad has become a symbol of loyalty for officials in the oil-rich former Soviet republic.

Directors of state-run companies have floated plans to issue tablet computers to every executive, and it is rare to see officials on flights to Astana, the country’s capital, without one.

Sounds like someone who really, really wants to receive timely answers to his emails. What sort of career bureaucrat wouldn’t get the hint?