Monday, July 31, 2006
Sunday, July 30, 2006
Special Relationship, Yesterday and Today.
Vivaldi-Fitty Mashup Video
Art-Made-From-Trash Exhibit at Hammond, IN Rest Stop
There's a ton of cool stuff, all of which was destined for the junkyard but was salvaged and made into art -- A vertical tractor, a quilt made of vintage band/concert T-shirts, a giant fish made of CDs, jewelry made of silverware, etc. The ♥G♥ and I stopped there on the way to Michigan, and we liked it a lot. (They also have something kind of like Chicago's Cows on Parade, called the County Seats Project.) Anyhow, this thing had material from artists such as those you can find here, here, and here. Good place to stop to stretch and walk around for a few minutes once you get through the bullshit traffic on I-94. (Amazing... every single time I take that route, there's at least an hour of sitting in traffic on the Illinois side, but as soon as you pass over the Indiana border, you're free and clear.)
Friday, July 28, 2006
Bella Rossa NOTM Interview
Thursday, July 27, 2006
Vamps; New Yorker Article; Capt. America
- This is the website of author Pam Keesey. Ms. Keesey specializes in writing on female vampires. (I happen to have her book Vamps: An Illustrated History of the Femme Fatale right here.) I like the Theda Bara pic she has on the front of her site. I don't know exactly what happened to that guy, but I guess if you gotta go, at least you should go happy...
- A&LD listed a good New Yorker article on Wikipedia. Excerpt: What can be said for an encyclopedia that is sometimes right, sometimes wrong, and sometimes illiterate? When I showed the Harvard philosopher Hilary Putnam his entry, he was surprised to find it as good as the one in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. He was flabbergasted when he learned how Wikipedia worked. “Obviously, this was the work of experts,” he said. In the nineteen-sixties, William F. Buckley, Jr., said that he would sooner “live in a society governed by the first two thousand names in the Boston telephone directory than in a society governed by the two thousand faculty members of Harvard University.” On Wikipedia, he might finally have his wish. How was his page? Essentially on target, he said. All the same, Buckley added, he would prefer that those anonymous two thousand souls govern, and leave the encyclopedia writing to the experts.
- Here's an excellent essay on Captain America. And this is one of the reasons that I just love Stan Lee: When the original Avengers decided it was time for them to all go their separate ways, Captain America was chosen to lead the NEW team, one composed of three former criminals who now sought to make up for their past crimes: Hawkeye (formerly an Iron Man villain), Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch (both former members of Magneto’s Brotherhood of Mutants). Stan Lee loosely referred to this group of “Cap’s Kooky Quartet.”
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Valenti on the VCR
I found the transcript of that testimony, for which he brought a bunch of Hollywood bigwigs (including Clint Eastwood) with him to testify in front of a House judiciary sub-committee. Extended excerpt:
Mr. VALENTI. And 6 out of 10 films do not retrieve their total investment period. Now, what are you going to do right on top of that? There is going to be a VCR avalanche. Exports of VCR's from Japan totaled 2.57 million units in 1981. No. 2, the United States is the biggest market. No. 3, February 1982, which is the latest data, shows the imports to the United States are up 57 percent over 1981. This is more than a tidal wave. It is more than an avalanche. It is here.
Now, that is where the problem is. You take the high risk, which means we must go by the aftermarkets to recoup our investments. If those aftermarkets are decimated, shrunken, collapsed because of what I am going to be explaining to you in a minute, because of the fact that the VCR is stripping those things clean, those markets clean of our profit potential, you are going to have devastation in this marketplace.
Now, is this all? Is it going to get any bigger? Well, I assure you it is. Here is the weekly Variety, Wednesday, March 10. Head1ine, "Sony Sees $400 Billion Global Electronics Business by the Decade's End," $400 billion by the decade's end. In 1981, Mr. Chairman, this United States had a $5.3 billion trade deficit with Japan on electronic equipment alone. We are going to bleed and bleed and hemorrhage, unless this Congress at least protects one industry that is able to retrieve a surplus balance of trade and whose total future depends on its protection from the savagery and the ravages of this machine.
Now, the question comes, well, all right, what is wrong with the VCR. One of the Japanese lobbyists, Mr. Ferris, has said that the VCR -- well, if I am saying something wrong, forgive me. I don't know. He certainly is not MGM's lobbyist. That is for sure. He has said that the VCR is the greatest friend that the American film producer ever had.
I say to you that the VCR is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone.
The VCR avalanche, I told you about that. Now, what about the VCR owners. Now, from here on out, Mr. Chairman, I am going to be speaking about a survey done by the Media Statistics Inc., which is a prestigious firm out of Silver Spring, Md. We, meaning the MPAA, did not commission this survey. We bought it after it was done when we heard about it. So, this was not a case -- we have commissioned a lot of things, but this is not one of them.
Now, I want to tell you about it because I think it is absolutely fascinating. This survey was taken in October 1981. It is the newest and freshest data available. Here is what it says. Median income of a VCR owner is between $35,000 and $50,000 a year. Not a lot of what we call today the truly needy are buying these machines. One-third of all the owners have incomes of more than $50,000. Now, here is the next one: 87 percent, 86.8 percent of all these owners erase or skip commercials. I have here, Mr. Chairman, if you are not aware of how this works -- this is Panasonic. This is a little remote control device that you use on machines. It has on here channel, rewind, stop, fast forward, pause, fast advance, slow, up, down, and visual search, either going left or right. (Note: Oooooooh! Woooow!)
Now, let me tell you what Sony says about this thing. These are not my words. They are right straight from McCann Erickson, whom you will hear from tomorrow, who is the advertising agency for Sony and here is what they say. They advertise a variable beta scan feature that lets you adjust the speed at which you can view the tape from 5 times up to 20 times the normal speed.
Now, what does that mean, Mr. Chairman? It means that when you are playing back a recording, which you made 2 days or whenever -- you are playing it back. You are sitting in your home in your easy chair and here comes the commercial and it is right in the middle of a Clint Eastwood film and you don't want to be interrupted. So, what do you do? You pop this beta scan and a 1-minute commercial disappears in 2 seconds.
The rest goes on to show what a short-sighted control-freak whiny-ass he was and is.
Blog Puzzle; Bella Rossa Interview; Academic Bloggers; H.S. Reunion; Repo & Sympathy
- Puzzle Fantastica has me totally intrigued. I love stuff like this!
- The other day, Bella Rossa was kind enough to ask me to participate in one of her interviews of other bloggers. Keep an eye out for the interview next week sometime.
- Here are seven academic bloggers commenting on the recent controversy surrounding U. of M. historian Juan Cole being denied a position at Yale. I'm going to add them to the blogroll (the four who are not already there, that is).
- Should be some interesting goings-on (and dredging up of any unresolved adolescence issues) at my high school class's 20th reunion this weekend, which The ♥G♥ and I will be driving up to on Friday. Now that I finally have a laptop, maybe I'll bring it along and blog from the hotel (if it has Wi-Fi).
- The other day I watched Repo Man for the first time in years, and I hadn't realized that it featured the character that was (ostensibly) the basis for Napoleon Dynamite. If you want to see a movie that makes Repo seem like a three-act summer blockbuster script, check out Jean-Luc Godard's Sympathy for the Devil, which featured interesting footage of the Stones recording cut in with experimental performance-piece footage of The Revolution unfolding. No offense to J-Go., but I'm a Truffaut man, and I have to say I liked Repo better.
Monday, July 24, 2006
DJ Mei-Lwun; Sufjan; Dean; Hitch
- Here's the site of DJ Mei-Lwun, the guy who put together the audio portion of You Humped Me All Night Long, referenced below. (The filth they put out these days! Why can't they make albums like they used to?) You can download that song for free, along with AC/DC & Kanye, Snoop Dogg & Jimi H., et al. I downloaded a bunch and sent YHMANL to The ♥G♥'s puter so she can listen to it while she plays Diamond Mine.
- I have just now (finally) been getting around to listening to Sufjan Stevens, and I love his album Illinoise. Next stop, Michigan!
- Dean! Dean! Dean! Dean! Dean! Dean!
- Here's some good Alfred Hitchcock material I found recently.
Saturday, July 22, 2006
A Few More Things...
- Via Kottke, this is a great article about how Allied statisticians were able to figure out the number of German tanks produced each month based on the serial numbers of captured tanks.
- While searching for a cool pic of a Panzer tank, I found a good history site... Lone Sentry, which describes its content as "Photos, Articles, and Research on the European Theater in World War II."
- Here are rare photos of President Lincoln.
- Cinerati raves about the unique music site Pandora (which is part of something called the Music Genome Project -- cool-sounding name), which I had heard of before but never really checked out. I am now motivated to do so. Also, here's a Technology Review article about software that tries to organize music selections by what sorts of feelings they elicit.
- Here's Jeopardista Ken Jennings talking about his upcoming book. Sounds like ripe material for a documentary, à la Wordplay, Word Wars, and Spellbound.
- Let me recommend the DVD Occupation: Dreamland, a documentary about a squad of the 82nd Airborne assigned to Falluja in the months prior to the March 2004 escalation of violence in that city. It's very good, and it might be interesting to watch in conjunction with Gunner Palace, a doc I blogged about some while ago.
- I've added some new links to the blogroll in the past few days, including the blog of European Commissioner for Institutional Relations and Communication Strategy Margot Wallström; The Carnival of Bad History, which introduces itself such: The world is full of bad history. Best-selling novels are full of it. Nostalgia-dripping reruns on Pax and the Hallmark channel are full of it. Blockbuster summer movies are full of it. Statements by the leaders of public opinion are full of it. Boy, are they full of it. Alan and John thought the world needed a place to expose bad history. This is that place.; The blog of Lawrence Lessig, the net-friendly attorney about whom I have been reading in Lasica's Darknet book; and others. Check 'em all out!
- Via Eric Zorn, here's How to Solve Sudoku (Without Even Thinking). Last year I made an Excel doc that kind of helps you do that. One of these days, I'm going to figure out how to post an Excel doc to the Internet and share it with everyone.
- Here's a new Smithsonian article on artist David Hockney, whose work I have enjoyed ever since seeing him featured on an episode of the excellent series Behind the Scenes with Penn & Teller. Here's one of his pieces:
- Speaking of P&T, one of the benefits of having a laptop is that we can sit in bed and watch TV while I blog. We're watching Penn & Teller's Magic and Mystery Tour, featuring the boys taking us on a virtual tour of the magic traditions of China, Egypt, and India. So far so good! I don't think there are any projects or shows I've ever seen them work on that I have not enjoyed very much.
Starting to Paint House
Update: p.s. -- The ♥G♥ wants me to make sure to tell everybody that the Sistine adaptation was her idea. She's very creative!
Thursday, July 20, 2006
Items of Interest
A few things:
- I got two books out of the library this week, and I'm quite excited about both. I got Darknet: Hollywood's War Against the Digital Generation by J.D. Lasica (who did the "You Humped Me All Night Long" video I liked so much) and The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More by Wired editor Chris Anderson. Lasica and Anderson are both on the blogroll. I'm starting with Darknet. One of the first big impressions I get is one of renewed distaste for Jack Valenti, LBJ insider and Hollywood lobbyist extraordinaire. This is the guy who created the absurdly outmoded MPAA (among other things), born of the same Great-Society controlfreakism that gave us housing projects and The Vietnam War.
- The Pew Internet & American Life Project has a new study out on bloggers and blogging, commented on by (for one) the San Francisco Chronicle. Here are a whole bunch of other stories on the report. I skimmed the report; I hope to read it in full this weekend.
- I haven't seen the new Al Gore movie yet, but here's some interesting evidence regarding global warming:
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Lebanese Musician Blogs About Current Events
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
|You Are 72% Open Minded|
You are a very open minded person, but you're also well grounded.
Tolerant and flexible, you appreciate most lifestyles and viewpoints.
But you also know where you stand firm, and you can draw that line.
You're open to considering every possibility - but in the end, you stand true to yourself.
Not a Control Freak.
|You Are 28% Control Freak|
You have achieved the perfect balance of control and letting go.
You tend to roll with whatever life brings, but you never get complacent.
Sunday, July 16, 2006
Berkner & Zanes DVDs
Mr. Zanes and entourage.
I watched a couple of real good kids' music DVDs this weekend by Laurie Berkner and Dan Zanes. Everybody talks about how these two are royalty among under-10 hipsters, and they're right. Wikiparticles here and here. They're part of a trend discussed in this recent Salon article titled Kindie Rock, which appeals to 20ish/30ish parents and their kids. (Interesting to note: On the Berkner DVD, the Starbucks (as in coffee) brand is referenced in the fine print. Both have been marketed heavily in Starbucks stores, along with the Jazz, Blues, World Music, and Indy Rock that you can find there.) CSM reviews here. Salon excerpt: So what does the music actually sound like? It ranges from folksy balladry to faux-ska and proto-punk... ...Zanes' new album tends toward roots rock and charming folk tunes; Berkner's perky songs feature jangling guitars and piano that wouldn't be totally out of place on a Sufjan Stevens record. But like most kindie rock, their music has a special quality that somehow transcends the divide between music for children and music for adults. "Somewhere in-between those two extremes," says Zanes, "there's this whole world of music where everybody can be emotionally engaged and sometimes the songs might lean more toward the super-young people and sometimes they might lean more toward the grandparents.
Ms. Berkner and entourage.
Saturday, July 15, 2006
PSA for Darknets
Friday, July 14, 2006
Stats; Effeneff; Cuantos; Tessellations
A few weekend things:
- Stats.org has a lot of insight of all those things you read in the news that get you all worked up. Excerpt: Since its founding in 1994, the non-profit, non-partisan Statistical Assessment Service (STATS) has become a much-valued resource on the use and abuse of science and statistics in the media. Our goals are to correct scientific misinformation in the media resulting from bad science, politics, or a simple lack of information or knowledge; and to act as a resource for journalists and policy makers on major scientific issues and controversies.
- I really like this Fellini / Eminem mash-up. Something about it just works. They also did an 8 1/2 homage on the Meltdown episodes of The Newsroom, which I recently watched and enjoyed very much (I'm almost done with the second season on DVD).
Thursday, July 13, 2006
Isn't the Internet Great?
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Good Things to Read / Listen to
- Wired Magazine asks the question "What Kind of Genius Are You?" -- Excerpt: Picasso was a conceptual innovator. He broke with the past to invent a revolutionary style, Cubism, that jolted art in a new direction. His Demoiselles d’Avignon, regarded by critics as the most important painting of the past 100 years, appears in more art history textbooks than any other 20th-century piece. Picasso completed Demoiselles when he was 26. He lived into his nineties and produced many other well-known works, of course, but Galenson’s analysis shows that of all the Picassos that appear in textbooks, nearly 40 percent are those he completed before he turned 30. Cézanne was an experimental innovator. He progressed in fits and starts. Working endlessly to perfect his technique, he moved slowly toward a goal that he never fully understood. As a result, he bloomed late. The highest-priced Cézannes are paintings he made in the year he died, at age 67. Cézanne is well represented in art history textbooks; he’s the third-most-illustrated French artist of the 20th century. But of all his reproduced images, just 2 percent are from his twenties. Sixty percent were completed after he turned 50, and he painted more than one-third during his sixties.
- Speaking of Wired, I'm looking forward to reading Chris Anderson's book The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More. Here's an interview with Mr. Anderson conducted by Instaspouses Glenn and Helen Reynolds.
- Lots of good content at Space and Motion having to do with science, philosophy, and other stuff. Plus, a gift shop!
- If you've never tried the BananaSlug search engine, give it a try sometime. They throw a random word into a Google search. It's really pretty cool!
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Ladysmith & Sweet Honey Last Night
One (of many) of Paul Simon's great contributions to late-20th Century pop music was introducing LBM to the American audience at large, via his perfect album Graceland. He, David Byrne (who started a record label dedicated to world music) and Peter Gabriel (who started another record label dedicated to world music) are the three rock musicians (if they can be so easily classified as such) whom I think we have the most to thank for the popularization of world music in the U.S. in the last 10-15 years. There are a number of other labels that specialize in world music, such as Putumayo, Mondo Melodia, and World Village, all of which are worth the attention of the interested.
Back to LBM specifically, check out the great documentary LBM: On Tip Toe on DVD.
Here they are singing:
Here they are singing with Big Bird and company (and no, it's not "F the Police"):
Hip-Hop Star Trek Clips
Saturday, July 08, 2006
- These pieces of Etch-A-Sketch artwork are pretty cool.
- The real question, though, is what if Jackson Pollack had an Etch-A-Sketch?
- Why does the universe exist?
- Here's some backwards thinking from Warner Bros.'s lawyers. Why is everyone in the music and movie business so horrified by the prospect of free advertising?
- There's gotta be a good caption for this...
Sesame Street Sings NWA
Friday, July 07, 2006
- Bookworm points to the revised Myers-Briggs Personality Test. Excerpt: ENFJ: The Cult Leader -- ENFJs are big thinkers. They are extremely charismatic, and wish to offer the benefit of their wisdom to the world at large. They tend to see the grand scheme of things, and to be able to deduce connections between things that other people miss; these psychological personality traits are the result fo the fact that they are the Messiah.
- I'm enjoying watching the Canadian satirical TV show The Newsroom. Very dry, laugh-trackless wit. Partway through season one right now, seasons two and three to follow.
- Here's a Library Journal interview with the creators of Unshelved.
- And here's the Muppet Wiki site. Lots of good stuff here, including the classic Caveman Ernie skit.
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
Bangalore/Detroit; Album Art; WWII Movies; Crossword Doc.; Zorn on Getting a Life
- This is a fantastic article about the growing, vital urban life of Bangalore, India, as compared to the corrupt and nanny-state-oriented attitudes associated with my native Detroit.
- Cool album cover art from artist Rafal Olbinski for the classical record label Opera D'Oro. I only like them because they're art, of course. Highbrow art.
- I watched two WWII movies on DVD in the past few days -- The Longest Day, which has been one of my favorite films for years. (I love the choreography of the whole thing, which in its own way was a tribute to the organization that went into the actual D-Day.) There are lots of good extras including a commentary by the only survivor from among the four directors, Englishman Ken Annakin. (A George Lucas influence, I am led to understand.) Also, lots of stuff featuring Darryl F. Zanuck, detailing his struggles to get the thing made. The other one was a very different kind of war movie -- Beach Red, which was made in 1968 and showed a group of Marines taking part in the invasion of one of the islands in the Pacific. Every time something significant happened (a character was about to be exposed to danger, or shot someone, or did something brave or cowardly) we either heard or saw a voiceover or flashback, akin to the thought-bubble device used in comic strips. And, when characters (both American and Japanese) got killed, the film would abruptly cut to a photo montage of that character's childhood and family life leading up to the point of their death, with images moving so rapidly that it only takes a few seconds. Very interesting way to do a war movie, and you ought to check it out.
- This afternoon, The ♥G♥ and I went to see the new film Wordplay, about the phenomenon of the crossword puzzle (and the phenomenon of the cruciverbalist) and the competitions related thereto. Excellent movie if you're into that sort of thing. Let me do some digging around in the basement (which is now the temporary repository for much of the archival material previously housed in the junk room) and see if I can find the NYT crossword puzzle from Election Day, 1996, which may be the cleverest crossword I have ever encountered. I told her about it on the way over, and said that I hoped they mentioned it. Partway through the movie, none other than Bill Clinton himself explained his own reaction to that same puzzle and talked about how much he enjoyed it. I'm going to try and find my copy of the original, after which I will see if I can represent its cleverness accurately.
- Bad news (or maybe not) for my friend SSMW (aka Getalife Girl), whom I think is on a roadtrip right now. Looks like Eric Zorn has passed judgment on the phrase "Get a Life" as follows: "Get a life!"--translation, "Go devote your energies to something real and productive!" -- may well be useful advice to science fiction cultists, but very few of us are entitled to dispense it with scorn, given the way we spend our leisure time... ...Telling him [a letter-to-the-editor writer] to "get a life" reveals such a paucity of wit, lack of imagination and inability to offer a reasoned response that I was moved, on the spot, to announce a new rule of engagement: "In any debate, the first person to hurl the insult, `get a life!' is the loser." Ouch. However, the good news for SSMW -- when Mr. Zorn tried to immortalize this rule on Wikipedia, he was prevented from doing so, due to it being deemed a "vanity entry." Developments to follow as they unfold.
Happy Birthday, Calvin Coolidge!
Sunday, July 02, 2006
Chickens, Bugs, Other Things
A few other things:
- Of course, I have to make sure I grab a copy of Harper's Bazaar this month. I wonder if they allowed any sculptors into the photo shoot.
- Now that I am dial-up-free, I am enjoying things like this Kill Bill/Super Mario Bros. mash-up on YouTube.
- A while ago, I saw a very interesting documentary called The Devil's Playground about sex, drugs, and rock & roll as practiced by Amish teenagers during a traditional time they participate in called Rumspringa. What I had not realized is that a new book on that same topic was written by the father of Noah Shachtman of the blogrolled Defence Tech.
- Here's a cool blog, Posterwire, all about movie posters.
- Majikthise points to those states that do not have an official state fossil. Interesting to note that Kansas is among them.
Saturday, July 01, 2006
Happy Dominion Day, and Other Recent Events
Meanwhile, down here south of the border, I finally took the plunge and got a kick-ass HP Pavillion laptop with all sorts of doodads. I have to register an account on our new DSL service, and then it should be ready to go wireless (fingers crossed). So, I am blogging for the last (or one of the last) times on dial-up.
After I picked up my new toy, I took The ♥G♥ out for a drink and a desert at a cool seafood restaurant near our river. The bar overlooks the river, and we got to do some people watching, and also check out the quackozilliacs. (Quackozilliacs = Ducks.)
A few things to point towards:
- This is an excellent, comprehensive guide for understanding the numbering and color-coding systems associated with Vitaphone / Warner Bros. cartoons.
- About a year ago, I posted this about my thoughts on the whole F(f)lag amendment thing. Word Munger has a more concise response to the oddly familiar Senate vote from last week. What nonsense.
- Here's an example of why I'm glad I don't live in Iran. Those judiciary guys are assholes! Excerpt: ...In Iran however, the minimum age for the death penalty is 15 years for males, and 9, yes nine years for females (Iranian civil code, Article 1210). Although there is no record of girls that young being executed, the fact that the law opens for this speaks clearly about what kind regime Iran is.