I looked at my watch a little as the movie worked through. the. glacial. pacing., it had problems with inelegant dialog at times, and there were a some noir cliches that could have been cleaned up. But with all of these flaws I still enjoyed I'll Sleep When I'm Dead. We watched this over the weekend, and I've kept thinking about it the few days since then.
This film has become increasingly compelling to me as I realize how much misdirected action there was and how much was left unresolved. Characters lashed out at the nearest object, causing others to suffer through no fault of their own. As with much modern noir, this film is nihilistic, but it's got its own style and pacing of nihilism. Not for everyone but just satisfying enough if you're in the mood.Continue reading "Review: I'll Sleep When I'm Dead (3/5)"
In cases where there are serious doubts or questions, the presumption should be in the favor of life.
- George W. Bush on Terri Schiavo exposes his hypocricy after he had killed thousands of innocent civilians in Iraq for no good reason. (This observation has been pointed out elsewhere, but I just heard Bush say it yet again.)
The Animation Show 2005 is a collection of 12 short, animated features. This is the second collection presented by Mike Judge and Don Hertzfeldt. Although the range of styles represented in these would be enough to make this a notable film, the quality and originality in some of the pieces were captivating. It had only a few weak moments. The Web site has details on each. My favorites, alphabetically:
I can't say enough about the depth of a few of these pieces. Read the details for each on the Web site to get a sense of the technical achievements. Go see it to experience the results.Continue reading "Review: The Animation Show 2005 (4/5)"
Somehow in college, I picked up New Criticism [Wikipedia] (trust the Art, not the Artist) and have been stuck with it ever since. This came up in yesterday's floundering about in the minutiae of pop music. Yet at the same time, I sometimes slip into Historicism's [Wikipedia] environment-aware analysis. Reagarding the fade out in music: I think that the only effective way to understand it in terms of an artistic choice is to view it only in terms of musical arrangement and performance. At the same time, it's at least interesting to try to understand how it came to be an artistic choice above any number of other techniques that are not common. Those are two different questions each with their distinct value.
Gore Vidal on America. Yes, the stories of torture depress me. And the idiocy of the religious right is maddening. And our abuse of the environment for the sake of capitalism certainly seems short-sighted. But what do I know? Now, when someone really in the know like Vidal goes on a sardonic jag about the trouble America's gotten itself into, suddently my anxiety is justified! Yay anxiety.
Anyway, some quotes:Continue reading "The undoing of America"
Quick read.Continue reading "Terry Jones's War on the War on Terror; Jones, Terry"
I have a problem with pop songs that fade out at the end. Maybe. There's a restless uncertainty about it as if the musicians couldn't decide what to do. So they do nothing. There are two important points to consider. First, what are the possible intentions of the musicians involved (the composers, performers, engineers, etc.)? Second, what are the possible impressions it leaves on the listener?Continue reading "The fade cadence"
Pretty busy this weekend (until today) and pretty out of it. I batched it while the wife was in Knoxville, so it was piano and pizza and joggin' and drinkin'. Went to a co-worker's house after work on Fri to see his home studio. I tried out his Alesis keyboard: yuk. Very fluffy touch to it. He said it's an older model, so maybe I can find an (affordable) one with a better feel.
I started Working on a piano arrangement of Yes's "Starship Trooper" (geek). I was thinking of doing a Radiohead or Fiery Furnaces song, but wanted something a little longer. I've always wanted to do "The Gates of Delirium," but that's a little too ambitious right now. Anyway, got a good arrangement for the first third of the song. Much of that music is shared throughout the rest of the piece, so the rest will be cake. The most interesting part will be getting a good accompaniment for the last section and filling out the antiphonal guitar solo. I'm going to try to have the final arrangement later this week.
Man, I love the 40-hour-a-week contract gig. No more hundreds of hours of unpaid overtime for this worker bee.
Almost done picking through The Best American Essays of 2003. There are such gems in many of the essay. This from Francis Spufford's "The Habit:"
The words we learned exclusively from books are the ones we pronounce differently from everyone else. Or, if we force ourselves to say them the public way, secretly we believe the proper pronunciation is our own, deduced from the page and not corrected by hearing the word aloud until it was too late to alter its sound. The classic is "misled," said not as mis-led but as myzled--the past tense of a verb, "to misle," which somehow never comes up in the present tense. In fact, misled never misled me. One of mine is "grimace." You probably think it's pronounced grimuss, but I know differnt. It's grim-ace, to rhyme with face. I'm sorry, but on this point the entire English-speaking human race except me is wrong.
One of mine is "capacity," pronounced CAP-a-city. Learned very young from a sign on a school bus.
For musicians who hate the fact that Condoleeza Rice is a pianist:
So, I was listening to a discussion on the Google AutoLink mini-controversy and realizing what a debating jack-ass Cory Doctorow sounds like. His style seems to be interrupt and scoff. Repeat. Any good ideas are buried in hyperbole.
Then I read glassdog's ranty observation about BoingBoing draping themselves in the cloak of grass-roots as they fill every square inch of thier pages with ads and hire assistants, all the while insisting that they are only writing for friends and family.
It's nice that a hobby's paying off for them, but jeesh ... ads in the RSS feeds?!?
In the New Scientist article "Classic maths puzzle cracked at last", they report that a graduate student from the University of Wisconsin has discovered the pattern behind Srinivasa Ramanujan's [Wikipedia] partition function [Wikipedia]. It broke my brain trying to follow the steps of historical discovery within this problem, but it reminded me much of the Fermat story. Some notes to get it straight in my head:Continue reading "Srinivasa Ramanujan's mad skilz"
The idea of musical context came to mind after a few of the recent writings and readings on pop music. Specifically: is it unfair to judge pop music with a rigor that certain other music might be judged? Or, to avoid the prejudice of "rigor," is pop governed by different rules? Maybe pop works within a different domain. Is it as unfair to criticize pop music composition as it is to say, for example, "this limerick doesn't have the impact of a Shakespeare tragedy"? Or: "this sit-com episode didn't move me as much as To Kill a Mockingbird."
I guess the important point is that I hope to see all music as Music in a single context. If we say that one is meant to be ephemeral and another timeless, then what are the qualities that bend each in those directions and, most important, what then are their shared qualities? Are there universal responses to those shared qualities? If one type of expression only deals with certain subjects, is that choice part of the aesthetic or is it unnecessarily self-limiting? And when we talk of the universal, we have to look at extremes--the avant guarde, folk, archaic--and how they fit into our responses.
Or might Art just be like shedding skin? No matter its importance at one time, after a while it dies and is absolutely meaningless.
Questions such as these always require something concrete, but I just don't have anything in my head right now.
I've read Hullabaloo intermittently and have always ... appreciated what they bring up. It's never enjoyment, but I'm better for knowing what's really going on. The articles are a little vitriolic, but often no more than what the subjects warrent.
Take this post about U.S. soldiers torturing and hunting dogs in Iraq. I read the post but have not and will not looked at the photos that the soldier took (even though he insists that
its pretty funny). Anyone in the comments who had looked has regretted it. There's nothing that can be said.
And fortunately or unfortunately, I was forced to read their post on that feeding tube. I swore I would not read anything else about it (unless it was satire), but this post really sums up this non-story and its melodramatic abuse by politicians. I promise myself that this is now the last word on feeding tubes.
I need some good news.Continue reading "Midweek depression"
My New Fighting Technique is Unstoppable is sayin' what we're all thinkin'--only it's twice as offensive and three times as belligerent. NSFEO (easily offended).
First paycheck in ... five months? I loves the moneys.
I recently had an interesting, small-scale class design that takes advantage of some template tomfoolery. Alexandrescu's Modern C++ Design has some great concepts for compile-time polymorphism, but they're difficult to absorb without implementing. I've used policies many times before but decided to take a slightly different approach this time.Continue reading "Compile- and run-time polymorphism"
There needs to be a word for this. I've encountered it and experienced it many times. Maybe it should be called the "anxiety of arrogance" a la Bloom's Anxiety of Influence. That phrase encapsulates the terror of any artist creating in the shadow of greats: how could you ever attempt to create something unique and compelling when such geniuses walked before? Similarly-but-different, so many of us lay-people are terrified about being critics. Either it's some aberrant Americanism where we don't want to imagine that some things aren't created equal, or some humbling modernism where we don't believe that we're qualified to know what's better even if our values weren't socially constructed.
What to do?
I suffer this new-fangled anxiety and generally err on the side of honesty. Being completely up front allows those in-the-know (or at least in-the-know-more-than-I-do) to occasionally slap me silly and send me on my way. Honesty has it's own flaws--the tendency towards arrogance when your idea doesn't get challenged because it's so idiotic, and you take that as affirmation--but that's the price of freedom. Be ever vigilant. No one wants to queer the deal, so they say they're "cautiously optimistic." Similarly, I'll say I'm "tentatively confident" about my opinions.
That being said: there is some Art that's better than others. I look at the extremes next to each other: the sublime next to the nauseating or the engrossing next to the prurient. There has to be something eternal in there. Some reasons are obvious (effortless skill next to inept pandering), yet when the extremes are narrowed it can become difficult to know where unique expression has given way to lazy experimentalism. Or simply too many adjectives.
Flaming Carrot, No. 25, back cover. Flaming Carrot challenges Death to a game of Jarts a la The Seventh Seal [IMDB].Continue reading "Comic Page of the Week"
How to destroy the Earth via Schneier on Security. Beware the insanely intense background red--after reading the entire (lengthy) article my rods and cones are completely scrambled. I'll be seeing green for hours.
Amazon's A9 is pretty sexy (and loved by all who obsess over short domain names). I am such a Google-head that I don't use A9 enough on reflex. Now, they have a new-ish technology called OpenSearch. It defines requirements for exposing a site's searches as XML--thus turning queries into aggregatable plug-ins. They also point out that
existing search engines can be wrapped so that HTML search results are translated into OpenSearch RSS results, although I think that you would just be screen-scraping and rewriting the content.
Two stories on NPR that caught my attention:
Gary Kasparov [Wikipedia] is retiring from chess competitions to get "involved in" Russian politics. When asked if chess has any relevance to politics, he pointed out that
chess helps us understand the mechanism of decision-making and offers us strategical vision.
The Germans have created a soccer ball with a tracking device that will flawlessly signal when a goal is made. Apparently, because of the speed of play and the absence of instant replay, there are many debatable calls. One of many soccer players interviewed agreed with Freddy Adu [Wikipedia], who feels that such devices are unnecessary and that wrong calls were a part of the game that you should accept. The interviewee stated simply that
it makes you a better person. Perhaps it helps a player to accept the influence of outside forces.
Busy week. Lot's of work. Good code--bosses very happy. Too many nights of drinking (and too early to rise). Couple of nights of practice--fingers feel good. Going out again in a few minutes. Brain can't form full sentences.
Ahh, the weekend!
In the February 2005 issue of Harper's, the Readings section has the short story "Down In Front" by Colson Whitehead. The transcript at this site titles it "Movie." Either way, I've copied the content to my site. Stunning.Continue reading "Colson Whitehead's "Movie""
Hipster people buzzing about M.I.A. (BoingBoing et al.). I'd usually ignore it except that some of the music blogs have picked up the obsession also (gathered and glossed nicely in Tim Rutherford-Johnson's recent entry). He refers to clap clap blog's detailed analysis of M.I.A.'s song "M.I.A."Continue reading "Where was I?"
Stating the obvious, but now backed with research, from Editor & Publisher:
Fox News journalists offer their own opinion in seven out of ten stories on the news channel, versus less than one in ten stories on CNN and one in four on MSNBC.Continue reading "Bias"
Caught a little of Donald Knuth [Wikipedia] on Morning Edition this morning (so there is some benefit to getting up early). They have the audio here. Hey! He looks a little like Larry David. With the story, I was once again reminded that I need to purchase The Art of Computer Programming [Wikipedia]. Amazon has volumes 1 through 3 new for $164.99 or used for ~$100. When's that first paycheck come in?
From Mason: Malcolm Gladwell is in town on Tuesday for a book signing. Tuesday, March 15, 2005; Border's; 3637 Peachtree Rd N.E, Atlanta, Georgia; 7:00 PM Talk and Book Signing.
I always want to go to these things, and yet always miss them. This will be no exception because of the Atlanta bloggers get together at Prince of Wales. Make up for it by buying his books.Continue reading "Gladwell in Atlanta"
During a drunken bout last Thursday, the question of musical integrity and "selling out" came up. Sort of one of those there-could-be-a-universe-in-my-finger, college type questions, but I realized I didn't have a well-formed opinion on it. It was in the context of my music, so the whole discussion made me uncomfortable--it feels kinda arrogant to say what you'd do when your Art is popular, when it's anything but. However, these hypothetical questions are there to help you define your beliefs.Continue reading "Musical integrity"
I was reading recently about the government's reluctance to reimburse soldiers for their personal purchases of armor and supplies.
The difficulties are obvious. At what point are supplies justified? A system of validating purchases, and defining acceptable categories, after-the-fact is filled with opportunity for abuse and chaos. The government has to be a watchdog on what the soldiers purchased, and yet the government should have made the purchases themselves. Support has been turned into scrutiny--a scrutiny that exists to protect the public from frivolous government spending.
Looks like nobody wins except for those whose only goal was to get troops into Iraq in the first place.Continue reading "Support"
In an essay by the always-wonderfully expressive Paul Ford, he says that
[m]any computer types seem fascinated by Postmodernism. Guilty. He includes an unusually inexpressive (ok, almost always) few paragraphs on the subject of geeks and Postmodernism [Wikipedia]. I have my own idea on the subject based on the work I had done with natural language processing. I hadn't considered that many other geeks were so inclined, but there you have it.
Computer types seem fascinated by Postmodernism"
An hour and fifteen (f*cking) minutes and counting. Don't dine at Shout in Atlanta.
I've added a tab to the RadioWave Web page that lists links to MP3s that are available from a few Web sites. RadioWave attempts to parse relevant information from the source sites along with the file URLs. Results are updated once-a-day and accessible through the search page. Parsing is somewhat basic right now, as is the choice of Web site, but I'll try to increase the quality of both. This is a work-in-progress and may-or-may-not be a useful addition.
Got a contract with Mobius (whose logo is not a Moebius strip) that starts tomorrow! Should be a very good gig.Continue reading "Back to reality"
I've recently been warming up before practice with the diminished scales [Wikipedia] and the chromatic scale. I'm quite the idiot for having never practiced diminished scales before. The Kansas piece "The Spider" hints at diminished scales in several phrases, and the rondo from the Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 7 ends with the chromatic scale in the right hand. A thread in rec.music.makers.piano provides the fingering for diminished scales in the right hand. I'll append to those and add the fingering for the left hand along with some cues for practicing them.Continue reading "Piano fingering for diminished scales"
It confounds me to no end, and is probably very "site specific," how impressions develop the longer we listen to a piece of music. I'm focused now on several new works (if I hadn't heard them, they're new-to-me), so it's the short term process that's interesting right now. As much as your opinion can develop over a month or so, it takes even stranger turns over the years.Continue reading "The process of listening"
Thanks to Stereogum for pointing out that Mars Volta has a new release [Amazon]. Their first CD was more metal than progressive, so it's nice to see them flip that ratio around and tackle more ambitious projects. I'm (obviously) tired of listeners and critics complaining that complex rock is "self-indulgent" or "pretentious." You get to the point where the
strummy strum strum strummy strum strum bubblegum is just not enough. This can be a more mature art than it generally is.
More later on Mars Volta...
Here's the painting I did of my friends' dogs (not playing poker).Continue reading "Painting: K.C. and Sunny (2005)"
[Studio-sweet-studio. Here's the current state of my little corner of the condo. I'm currently working on the rondo from Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 7 in D, Op. 10 No. 3. After playing nothing but my own music for-it-seems-like-forever, it's refreshing to get back to some Beethoven or Bach. On the top of the piano is my binder for The Journalist (I'm re-learning a couple of songs from there), for The Silent Spectrum, and the sheet music for "The Spider," an instrumental by Kansas that I'm also re-learning. Out of laziness, I haven't put away any of the recording equipment yet. The wife may put an end to that laziness soon enough.]
Mason recently asked about my recording process: I'm afraid it isn't all that interesting. It's the home studio equivalent of pressing PLAY and RECORD on a Radio Shack tape recorder. I didn't want to labor over it--I just wanted to get a listenable version of the music recorded. The equipment is:
I recorded the piano first (2 tracks) with the top lid of the piano open and the mics positioned right next to the strings. I then recorded the voice separately (1 track) while listening to the piano part on headphones connected to the MR-8. I can only store 128 MB on the MR-8 CF card (too poor right now to buy a sweet 1 Gig card), so for longer songs I had to burn an MP3 and use my iRiver player to listen to the piano as I sang. I'm sure the neighbors were thrilled. Some of the songs' piano parts were recorded in several pieces because their WAVs were too big to fit on the card, but also because of convenience. There are some very obvious and distinct sections in many of the songs, and those were easier to record separately.
You can connect the MR-8 to a computer through USB, but it's not convenient so I just take the card and copy the files to the PC. I then drop the WAVs into separate tracks in a Cakewalk project. The only editing I did in Cakewalk was to paste the sections together, cut out glaring mistakes (then paste in the re-recorded fixes), adjust the tracks that were recorded too quietly, and split left and right piano.
(Considering that an explative-laced monologue directed at spammers will probably not be read by them, I deleted the previous entry.)
Catching up on /. and found this thread by a developer questioning the sanity of quitting his job before he had a new one. No, I didn't write it. The responses have been around 40% "do what you love or else life ain't worth it" and 60% "you stupid asshole--you'll eventually rue that choice."
I'll ignore that I think the OP's reasons were poor (reasons are personal and can be of inexpressible and subjective importance) and say that I recommend it to anyone who feels they need to and can get away with it. Even with the minor difficulties I've had, I couldn't justify staying with a company where I was dissatisfied. I feel like I'm a conscientious worker, but aggravation slips in and makes us slack (as I had seen with many of my co-workers there, conscientious and otherwise). So: you stay with a job you hate, are a poorer employee, and deep down realize that your output suffers (with the requisite rationalizations blaming "the company" for your shitty work).
Here are the MP3s of the demo for The Silent Spectrum.Continue reading "The Silent Spectrum (demo)"
My demo of The Silent Spectrum is up on Radio from the Ether along with The Journalist. I don't own any of my other listening choices and have only been able to listen to them on Rhapsody, so it's all me all the time.
I read some references to and favorable reviews for The Who Sell Out. I had never listened to it, so I thought I'd give it a chance. During my research, I found the Petra Haden (daughter of jazz bassist Charlie Haden [Wikipedia]) remake of a good portion of the album a capella. Should be interesting.
Still wowed by Blueberry Boat. I love the negative reviews on Amazon--there appears to be a lot of hatred for The Fiery Furnaces (and for Pitchfork for praising them).Continue reading "Currently Listening To"
Here's a watercolor I did in 2002. My notes unfortunately don't say where the idea came from. I think I was trying to express a careless, giddy optimism paired with deep responsibility. Kindof abstract, but I know it's in there somewhere.
I don't have a good set up, so please forgive the poor photography.Continue reading "Painting: Untitled (2002)"
I loved the composition and intent of this comment, but felt that it was too many of the things that it said it was (idiosyncratic and superfluous) to actually post it. I still think it's relevant, generally, so I'll remember it here. I had read an entry--whose subject was blogging--from one of my frequently read blogs, and it really hit home how important this impersonal-yet-personal media is:
As much as I know that this comment is superfluous, I also know that it is in many ways essential:
Thank you for that simple thing that is blogging.
These anecdotes, these opinions, these diatribes, everything that is provided is as important as the whole of the Web. I--and I cannot be unique--value this view into your world as much as I value the views into others' worlds. The effort it takes to blog--so subjective--is of unequal value as that perceived by the recipients: those anecdotes written have mass anecdotal value. That's the genius; that which appears casual and is consumed casually may generate much more than that in both instances.
I know that this is unfortunately idiosyncratic (a sentiment best reserved for the commenter's blog), but your entry was coincidental with a timely and personal theme.