May 13, 2011

The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch; Philip K. Dick

Of his books, I'd previously only read, and greatly enjoyed, The Man in the High Castle. Movie adaptations were plenty: Blade Runner, Total Recall, Screamers (only recently), Minority Report, and A Scanner Darkly. Yet to watch The Adjustment Bureau. Three Stigmata had a wealth of wonderful ideas that got derailed, at times, with clumsy dialog. It took a few chapters to get used to the dated quality of some of the conversations similar to what I felt with The Demolished Man from 1953, Three Stigmata coming 11 years later. The sheer number of "golly!"s and "nuts to you!" were odd, but the writing for some of the conversations was just bad. Ignoring that, you have to admire the prescience of the subject matter: the population spending the majority of their free time in a virtual world, paying for virtual accessories. PKD lays on top of this the concept of Christian transubstantiation and an Inception-like uncertainty about "real" reality.

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posted by sstrader at 5:08 PM in Current Interests , Language & Literature | permalink | comments (0)

April 3, 2009

Where was I?

Again, remiss in logging my comings and what not. Quickly:

Two concerts last month. First Horacio Gutierrez effortlessly performing the Prokofiev 3rd Piano Concerto.

tickets.prokofiev-beethoven

March 27th was the Sibelius Violin Concerto performed by Leonidas Kavakos. Sibelius wrote two versions, the first being more demanding, and Kavakos was the first person sanctioned by Sibelius's descendants to record it. I'll assume that's the version we heard at the ASO. Like Gutierrez's performance, Kavakos made the impossible look effortless. The concerto was more programmatic than I remember although it seemed to have more the manner of a psychological examination. The first movement had the soloist and orchestra in conflict, melodic statements were contradicted with a blast of horns. Themes echoed in each, but the orchestra seemed decidedly antagonistic to the pathos of the violin. Second movement brought more than a reconciliation. Here, the orchestra was positively sympathetic with the violin's passionate monologue, coming in at times to support and coax the story being told. The final movement brings them together in celebration and allows the soloist full reign without either rude or supportive interruption.

tickets.prokofiev-beethoven

L & I went to the concert with Shelby, Robert, Alicia, and Dan, and afterwards went up the street to Blue Fin for drinks and food.

Last weekend (28th/29th) Lisa was in Knoxville for her first 1/2 marathon! She finished with a notable, nearly Kenyan, 2:09. I on-the-other-hand stayed in town to go to my niece's confirmation. I made the unenviable mistake of getting lost in the church's parking lot and ending up in the Baptist church instead of the Methodist. Realizing my error just as I made it to the ASO-like auditorium, I skipped out and found the next closest church. Success! Although I wasn't too late, it will be a long time before I choose to suffer through (and, Caroline, if you're reading this, first: stop reading my blog because it's usually NC-17; second: I dislike your church, not you!) another interminable 90-or-so minutes of being told (1) the only correct way to live is to live in praise of Jesus and (2) a church's primary goal is to recruit the young into the church. My only hope is that those young learn to think critically and cast off the propaganda. I had thought that church would attempt to be a proponent of community good. From what I saw, your time would be better spent actually volunteering a few hours a week at a food bank or charity organization. I'm sure churches actually do that, but the waste of time that is the weekly insistence that your sky-daddy is the one true sky-daddy only serves to perpetuate and reward ignorance.

That being said... while Lisa was gone I took advantage of streaming Netflix + laptop + TV to watch A Scanner Darkly [ 3/5 | IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes ]. I'm still not sure what to think of this movie. I never really got engaged with the characters though I'm not sure that the viewer was intended to. The author seems to be denouncing the "war against drugs" because of its symbiotic relationship with addiction itself (a position I can't really see), and also denouncing the cost of addiction. There are a few scenes that resonate: the protagonist being assigned the role of monitoring his alter ego; the constant, big-brother quality of law enforcement given too great a power; the protagonist's nostalgia for the family he may have abandoned. Ultimately, the parts didn't come together for me. Mild recommendation. Some might actually love this film.

Also watched was Dollhouse on Hulu. I've got lukewarm feelings about this show. Lots of fan service which is nice but does not continued interest provide. There are some dramatic surprises paired with some overly self-conscious Joss Whedon dialog. I'll keep watching. And I love Hulu: although the frame rate is a little low, the image is beautiful (laptop -> 40" Bravia). Kudos, I say!

Finally, I'm battling giant cockroaches in my bathroom. Four in the last month, but I think the Agent Red (Raid) I've applied is diminishing their numbers. I've begun tracking cockroach sighting on the chalkboard calendar in the kitchen. No sign of them in any other area of the condo. weird...

posted by sstrader at 4:12 PM in Cinema , Concerts , Where was I? | permalink | comments (0)

June 27, 2006

Morgellons continues

The Adrants thread continues to grow and gets weirder. First, Morgellons sufferers are banding together to chastise the insensitivity of those who would question their disease's existence. Then, there are accusations of identity deceit: "KC Ridgewalker"--the most voluminous poster and appears on only one other page, a web site that touts Better Living Through Atmospheric Engineering--is really "Karen Marsh." Their accuser "Jay Reynolds" is really "Ron" or perhaps a govt. spook and possibly the purveyor of a conspiracy (or possibly spoof-conspiracy) site that examines the evils of contrails (vapor trails).

Mind Hacks has also taken up the Morgellons question. Their conclusion is that it's too esoteric and imprecise to be viral marketing (Philip K. Dick's fictional descriptions of parasitosis have it manifesting differently). But then--get this--they state that Randy Wymore, a genuine professor of Pharmacology and Physiology at Oklahoma State University [emphasis mine] has made public statements on the disease. Mind Hacks link to their genuinity points to an okstate.edu page that lists 30 doctors in their biomedical sciences department: Wymore is the only one that doesn't have a bio/credentials link.

It's like people are injecting weirdness. I can appreciate this recent comment on Adrants:

What the heck happened to this thread? Is this some sort of college prank? It's degenerated from a thoughtful discussion to a spellcheck war, who can google better contest! ... these patient accounts are ridiculous! So, a person is spewing long fibers, using a whole roll of tape to extract them, and when they go to the doctor, all they have is a lesion with a little blacm speck that they're picking away at with a magnifying glass and tweezers??

Another poster from a Hondo's World entry on Morgellons points to an article on the Morgellons Watch blog that a few doctors are making money off of patients who may be delusional and will therefore require indefinite services. Comments ensued.

Continue reading "Morgellons continues"
posted by sstrader at 12:18 AM in Culture & Society | permalink | comments (19)

May 23, 2006

Mutability

It's getting easier to organize a reality that may-or-may-not exist.

An article at Adrants proposes that Morgellons disease--that weird-as-shit, alien-type skin problem that's been cropping up in south Texas--could be viral marketing for the upcoming Philip K. Dick movie A Scanner Darkly. Morgellons is compared to delusional parasitosis (which is just what it sounds like) and has an alleged history of doctors refusing to treat it because it's all in the patients' minds. Dick is notable for his novels of paranoia equal to Pynchon yet with some extra psychosis mixed in. Add in viral marketing to blur the lines and the mind boggles. Add to this the comments with the Adrant article. Several people--with that rare disease Morgellons--immediately called bullshit and called the author out. Almost as immediately, others noted the dubious nature of those posts: duplicated entries with different names, duplicate IPs on different entries. More examination only clouded the truth. The mind boggled a little more.

And here we have a Junk Charts article calling for caution in the use of Google Trends. Although I couldn't imagine serious citations coming from GT, its irresistibleness is undeniable. Like Google Battle and Google Fight before it, Google Trends compares two searches but then trumps the other sites by adding a (ungraduated) histogram over months or years. Neat-o. Who wouldn't be compelled to over-emphasize the fact that Java is more important than .NET is more important than Ruby? And so these throw-away comparisons become like a more compelling urban legend. Instead of "my uncle's friend's co-worker's mother said" type of supporting evidence, you have Google to stand behind your assertions. Not so crazy when even Language Log relies on the opaque cipherings of a Google search to determine common usage, even though on several occasions they puzzled over the fact that A OR B != A + B (see here and here and here for starters).

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posted by sstrader at 12:06 PM in Culture & Society | permalink | comments (0)