Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Music Album Covers with Skulls on Them

A composite image of 25 music album covers with skulls on them.
A composite image of 25 music album covers with skulls on them.

Skulls on first thought are associated with death, reminding us of our mortality and to beware of our own follies. They also can frighten and intimidate us.

But skulls – especially some of those on these album covers – also can project coolness and hipness. And one thing we hadn’t thought about until creating this post was that skulls have large eye sockets, and though obvious dead, can look child-like. We are wired to respond to big eyes as being cute – think panda. With that in mind, skulls can look part cute, part helpless, and part ridiculous at times.

1968 The Moody Blues – “In Search of the Lost Chord”
1973 Emerson, Lake & Palmer – “Brain Salad Surgery”
1975 Oliver Nelson – “Skull Session”
1975 The Eagles – “Their Greatest Hits”
1976 Steppenwolf – “Skullduggery”

1977 Jean Michel Jarre – “Oxygene”
1977 The Pirates – “Skull Wars”
1981 New Math – “They Walk Among You”
1987 The Flaming Lips – “Oh My Gawd the Flaming Lips”
1997 Various Artists – “Pickin' on the Grateful Dead”

2000 Cypress Hills – “Skull & Bones”
2003 The Murder City Devils – “RIP”
2005 Felix Laband – “Dark Days Exit”
2007 Boys Noize – “Oi Oi Oi”
2011 Skull Snaps – “Skull Snaps”

2013 Gost – “Skull”
2015 The Arcs – “Yours, Dreamily”
2016 Woods – “City Sun Eater In The River Of Light”
2018 Gost – “Possessor”
2018 Warmduscher – “Whale City”

2019 Dream Theater – “Distance Over Time”
2019 Moon Gloom – “I'll Never Climax”
2020 Bohren & Der Club Of Gore – “Patchouli Blue”
2021 Portugal. The Man, Cherry Glazerr, Sir Chloe – “Steal My Sunshine - Novocaine for the Soul”
2021 Vertical Dreams – “Rhodium Skull”

1968 The Moody Blues - In Search of the Lost Chord
1973 Emerson, Lake & Palmer - Brain Sald Surgery
1975 Oliver Nelson - Skull Session
1975 The Eagles - Their Greatest Hits
1976 Steppenwolf - Skullduggery
1977 Jean Michel Jarre - Oxygene
1977 The Pirates - Skull Wars
1981 New Math - They Walk Among You
1987 The Flaming Lips - Oh My Gawd the Flaming Lips
1997 Various Artists - Pickin' on the Grateful Dead
2000 Cypress Hills - Skull & Bones
2003 The Murder City Devils - RIP
2005 Felix Laband - Dark Days Exit
2007 Boys Noize - Oi Oi Oi
2011 Skull Snaps - Skull Snaps
2013 Gost - Skull
2015 The Arcs - Yours, Dreamily
2016 Woods - City Sun Eater In The River Of Light
2018 Gost - Possessor
2018 Warmduscher - Whale City
2019 Dream Theater - Distance Over Time
2019 Moon Gloom - I'll Never Climax
2020 Bohren & Der Club Of Gore - Patchouli Blue
2021 Portugal. The Man, Cherry Glazerr, Sir Chloe - Steal My Sunshine - Novocaine for the Soul
2021 Vertical Dreams - Rhodium Skull

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Travelmarx Music Picks - Fall 2022 - Home

Composite of 25 albums covers in the Travelmarx Fall 2022 playlist - Home
Composite of 25 albums covers in the Travelmarx Fall 2022 playlist on the subject of home.

In honor of our upcoming move into a new home, we present a themed Spotify playlist about home. Is home a state of mind, a physical place, a community of family and friends, or a word that’s too amorphous to pin down? After a recent 18-day stint of cleaning out of our storage unit, packing, and giving stuff away – we thought about what home is and isn’t. For us, it’s more friends, family, and community and less physical things. 

We are ready to put this playlist on and relax in our new home.

Side note: It was fun digging through our virtual music collection and searching for titles with “home”. Our way of managing our music is discussed in the post Scrapbook Platform – A Personal Information System – Ten User Scenarios.

The Cinematic Orchestra - "To Build a Home" (from the album “Ma Fleur”)
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros - "Home" (from the album “Up From Below”)
Radical Face - "Welcome Home, Son" (from the album “Ghost”)
Aurora - "Home" (from the album "All My Demons Greeting Me as a Friend")
Edith Whiskers - “Home” (from the album “Stop Stealing the Covers!”)
Julia Holter – “Sea Calls Me Home” (from the album “Have You in My Wilderness”)

Leon Bridged - “Coming Home” (from the album “Coming Home”)
Vacations - “Home” (from the album “Vibes”)
C Duncan - “Holiday Home” (from the album “Health”)
Emiliana Torrini - “Home” (from the album “Tookah”)
k.d. Lang - “Coming Home” (from the album “Watershed”)

Jun Miyake - “Home” (from the album “Memories du Sapa”)
Zero 7 – “Home” (from the album “When It Falls”)
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - "Our House" (from the album “Déjà vu”)
Madness - "Our House" (from the album “The Rise & Fall”)
Blessid Union of Souls – “Home” (from the album “Home”)

Jonathan Wilson – “New Home” (from the album “Dixie Blur”)
Supertramp – “Long Way Home” (from the album “Breakfast in America”)
The Sharp Things – “It Took Forever to Get Home Tonight” (from the album Here Comes the Sharp Things”)
Dead Can Dance – “Tell Me About the Forest (You Once Called Home)” (from the album “Into the Labyrinth”)
Mojave 3 – “Baby’s Coming Home” (from the album “Out of Tune”)

Carole King – “Home Again” (from the album “Tapestry”)
The Walkabouts – “Feel Like Going Home” (from the album “Satisfied Mind”)
Vagabon – “Home Soon” (from the album “Vagabon”)
Vanishing Twin – “KRK (At Home In Strange Places)” (from the album “The Age of Immunology”)
Simon and Garfunkel – “Homeward Bound” (from the album Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme”)

The playlist link is You can use the ID "2Q1JBAXZCQXwOtjXQ3hq7U" in our Visualizing a Spotify Playlist - Simple Python Flask Web App Container Running Locally or in Azure post to see each album covers.

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Bergamo Street Sign Language Lesson XXXIX

In this installment of Street Sign Language Lesson, we have scapes, (no) subjunctive, self-storage, gender asterisking, shaving with grandpa, hemorrhoids, and raccoons. Enjoy.

Scapi fiorali dell’aglione della Valdichiana

Scapi fiorali dell’aglione della Valdichiana
Giant garlic stalks from Val di Chiana

In English, a scape is a long stalk coming directly from the root as typical of the stalk of plants in the onion genus like this one, Allium ampeloprasum var Holmense. In English, we call it elephant garlic and it’s known for it’s sweet more delicate flavor as compared to its smaller cousins. This large garlic (aglio + ione) is most associated with the Val di Chiana in Tuscany. Allium ampeloprasum is differentiated into five cultivated vegetables: leek, elephant garlic, pearl onion, kurrat, and Persian leek.

Need a good recipe, see the dish Pici all’Aglione.

Se ti abboni risparmi

Se ti abboni risparmi
If you sign up, you save (gas)

As Italian language learners, we are so conditioned to look for subjunctive when we see “se” (“if”) - hypothetical. So, when I saw this phrase, I was trying to work out where the subjunctive was. Then I realized, it’s just present tense because if you sign up (for a bus pass) you’ll definitely save (gas). I was looking for something that wasn’t there. 

You could imagine a version of this publicity with the subjunctive (Se ti abbonassi risparmieresti), a mouthful and too uncertain as to whether there would be savings - translated as "if you subscribe, you would save". You could also say this using future tense (Se ti abbonerai risparmierai), but that sounds like a mouth full and doesn't convince the reader as much being trasnlated as "if you subscribe, you'll save".

Liberi/e tutt*

Liberi/e tutt*
Free everyone and everything?

One way of dealing with gender (or really ignoring it) is to use an asterisk (asterisco) where there would be letters indicating gender. The graffiti in this photo shows that but the writer seems to only have done that half-way through. Why not liber* tutt*? For more information, see THE ASTERISK FOR GENDER NEUTRALITY.  There is no spoken form of the asterisk; you can only use it in writing.

Lo spazio che ti serve per il tempo che ti serve

Lo spazio che ti serve per il tempo che ti serve
The space you need for the time you need.

We just emptied our storage in the States and now here we are renting storage in Italy. I give up. Well, at least there’s a language lesson in it as in this simple phrase seen at Casaforte. Self-storage is taking off in Italy and we are helping it grow. Sigh….it’s only for 2 months.

Fiocchi di latte

Fiocchi di latte
Cottage cheese

Literally, “flakes of milk”. According to Wikipedia: The term cottage cheese first began to be used for such simple homemade cheese in America in the mid-19th century. 

Pennello da barba

Pennello da barba
Shaving brush

I recently purchased and started using Proraso. The consistency and smell of it reminds me of my grandfather. I remember as a kid watching him shave, using the shaving brush to spread the shaving cream around on his face. I was fascinated by that pennello da barba, which literally means “brush for the beard”.

Cosa c’è dietro il dolore e il prurito? Potrebbe trattarsi di emorroidi.

Cosa c’è dietro il dolore e il prurito? Potrebbe trattarsi di emorroidi.
What’s behind that pain and itching? It could be hemorrhoids.

This sign interested me because the word for itch is prurito and it’s not a word that easily sticks in my head. For the missing "H" on hemorrhoids, see our blog post Italian: The Case of the Missing H in the Italian and English Word Cognates.

Zona di riprese foto – video per monitoraggio faunistico procione

Zona di riprese foto – video per monitoraggio faunistico procione
Surveillance area – video for the control of raccoons.

The interesting part of this sign is the word procione meaning “racoon” - Procyon lotor. And what’s interesting is that this sign was seen near the Hermitage of Camaldoli, north of Arezzo. Why? Because the racoon is native to North America. But due to escapes and deliberate introductions of racoons in the 20th century, they now are in Germany, France, Italy, and Spain. Racoons are also known in Italian more commonly as orsetto lavatore – “little bear that washes”. I remember learning this word in the book Io non ho paura.

Saturday, September 10, 2022

Visualizing a Spotify Playlist - Simple Python Flask Web App Container Running Locally or in Azure

Azure App Service Deployment Screen pulling Image from Docker Hub Example of Playlist Viewer - Playlist ID 37i9dQZF1DXcxvFzl58uP7


This post is about visualizing Spotify playlists. Playlists are an important way of keeping track of music you like. Getting an overview (visually or list of tracks) is often useful. In this post, we visualize/summarize Spotify playlists by creating a simple Python web app (using Flask) and hosting a container with that web app either locally or in Azure. You can try it below.

The GitHub repo with the code to do this is at You can run the code as is locally in a virtual environment or by deploying to App Service as code or a Docker container. We focus n containerizing the Python web app and hosting the container either locally or in Azure in this post. With minor modifications, you can host the container in other cloud services.

Show me how it works

To visualize a Spotify playlist, you first need to get its ID. Here are instructions how to get a Spotify Playlist ID. Briefly, go to and optionally sign in if you have an account. Then, search for a playlist and select it. In your browser's URL find the ID and insert it below. The visualization is limited to up to 100 tracks in a playlist, but that can be relaxed. The playlist Travelmarx Music Picks - Summer 2022 - Unpeopled Spaces is provided for you to start with.


The GitHub repo travelmarx/spotifyplaylistpython has the most complete information about the code discussed here, including different scenarios you might want to run the code. For example, you can get the code from the repo and
  • Run it locally.
  • Host the code in Azure (or other cloud services).
We'll discuss now the deployment scenario of building and running a container locally. You'll need the following:
(If this is too much, see the repo for using just a virtual environment with no containers.)

Step 1: Get the code.

git clone <this-repo-name>
cd <this-repo-name>

You can fork the repo to your own GitHub account and clone that repo. Or, you can just download the code directly as a zip.

Step 2: Build the image.

You can use the VS Code command palette, the VS Code Docker extension UI, or use Docker commands directly to work with images and containers. Here, we'll show Docker commands assuming you are not using VS Code. Start in the root of the project directory and run this in a Bash shell:

docker build --pull \
  --file "./Dockerfile" \
  --tag "spotifyplaylistpython:latest" . 


  • Note the dot (".") at the end of the command.
  • Use the --no-cache option to force rebuild. (Not shown above.)
  • Note that the name of the image comes from the --tag option. When building in VS Code from UI, the name used is the project name lower-cased and with no hyphens.
  • Change the line continuation characters if you use a shell other than Bash.
After this command runs, you should have a new image in the IMAGES part of the Docker extension.

List images:

docker images

Step 3: Run the container image.

First, create an .env file with the following:


Now, run the image locally using those environment variables:

docker run -it \
 --env-file .env \
 --publish 5002:5002/tcp spotifyplaylistpython:latest

At this point, you have a .env file in your project, but it won't be copied into the container because the .dockerignore file has a line to ignore .env. (So does the .gitignore file so that it won't get checked into source.) We use the .env file to pass in environment variables to the container on the command line with the --env-file option. Environment variables contain keys and secrets needed in the program. We don't want them stored inside the container or in a repo checked in to GitHub.

If you are using Visual Studio Code, you can see the see the running images in the CONTAINERS section of the Docker extension. You can also see and work with the container in the Docker Desktop application.

The -it option means runs interactively. You can also run detached. See docker run --help.

Step 4: Check that the container is running.

You can execute a command inside a RUNNING container. For example, if you list the environment variables as show with the first command below, you should see the environment variables passed in with the --env-file option of the run command.

docker exec --interactive --tty <friendly-name-of-container> env
docker exec --interactive --tty <friendly-name-of-container> ls -al

Step 5: Browse the local site.

Go to