June 29, 2007


I've always thought that there were two classes of people: alcohol people and pot people. I'm the former and don't understand the latter, however I don't understnad why the latter are being assaulted by weird propaganda. Thus:

The animation's cute, but the message sucks. Get over yourselves, govt.

posted by sstrader at 11:36 PM in Culture & Society | permalink

Stravinsky's Petrushka

I had originally thought I'd move from Schirmer's to Stravinsky's transcription of Dance of the Coachmen and Grooms from Petrushka. Until I read through it. Ugh. Compared to the Schirmer's, it has much more register shifting with the chords and hand swapping with the melody. It would've become more work and less enjoyment. The differences are fascinating though. The Stravinsky version stands on its own as a piano piece. The Schirmer version is a little drab in comparison.

posted by sstrader at 9:04 PM in Music | permalink

June 28, 2007

Ghost in the Shell (4/5)

I have a lot of notes that I don't think I can/want-to structure. Here they are:

  • References the cult sci-fi movie Dark Star where the agent is in a claustrophobic, shotgun control center. This looks exactly IIRC like the control center on the space ship in Dark Star. References Bergman's Persona when the puppet master and the female lead (names?) were on the floor talking near the end. The final scene where TFL wakes up references 2001's bedroom scene in The Infinite and Beyond. I may be stretching a bit on that one.
  • Interesting comment with the human as eternal rookie to the cyborg cop. It keeps the cliched cop movie trope, but re-purposes it in an AI world.
  • Obvious symbolism: birth when TFL was diving (although emotional and effective), the evolutionary tree being shot up (we're on the threshold of a new etc.). Rich overall in its symbolism though. High signal to noise.
  • Voice work was monochromatic, may be translation issues. They, all, talked, like, they, had, commas, in, between, their, thoughts.
  • Directing was in the same class as the best directors in cinema history. Just because it was animated doesn't change that.
  • The freeze frame (only the character's mouth moves) during heavy dialog does not help you focus on the importance of the dialog. In theory it should, but in practice it only illuminates lazy animation.
  • Oh MAN, in many of the city shots without narration or dialog this was so very Tarkovsky. Beautiful stuff.
  • The emphasis on water and glass reflections was subtle symbolism to mind/body/consciousness issues even though it sounds trite in the telling.
  • Much more heart than the cheap wire-fu-retread of The Matrix.
  • Even though it's an animated future, their clothes look too Miami Vice. Sorry, they just do.
  • The layered plot within a genre narrative was much like good film noir: it rises above its basic genre vocabulary. Great noir breaks the bounds of its language while still using its language. That's what GitS did.
  • More symbolism: the puppet master and TFL looking up at the shattered skylight when they were crippled (and child-like?) saw a birth canal in the elongated lozenge of light.
  • I do recommend this to non-anime people (which I am). I saw the second film with Kabao when it came out in the theaters and loved its heady dialog and exhaustive animation. I was just as happy with the origin story.

    posted by sstrader at 8:44 PM in Cinema | tagged ghost in the shell | permalink

I'm on the hunt

OK, Old Spice is soo 1940s, and lounge rock is sooo 1990s, but Bruce Campbell can do no wrong:

Hey! My first YouTube embed!!

posted by sstrader at 10:51 AM in Culture & Society | permalink

No means yes

I keep reading about Sam Harris's statement to-the-affect that religious moderates have perverted the word of god because they attend it only selectively. That is to say: the fundamentalists are the true believers. I haven't been able to find the source of this reference, but the intent is compelling. The most timely If a man lies with a male as with a women, both of them shall be put to death for their abominable deed; they have forfeited their lives. seems to be adhered more than the most humanist (and Christian) thou shall not kill. Is diplomacy inappropriate for absolute truths?

I don't even want to deal with the idiocy of ignoring For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death: he hath cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be upon him. I'll leave that to their feeble consciences.

Finally, I look at the quote from Eric Hoffer's The True Believer:

Passionate hatred can give meaning and purpose to an empty life. Thus people haunted by the purposelessness of their lives try to find a new content not only by dedicating themselves to a holy cause but also by nursing a fanatical grievance. A mass movement offers them unlimited opportunity for both.

How do I determine from that quote if my hatred of ignorance is more valuable than their hateful bigotry? So many questions. Maybe questions--and not Three Stooges movies--are the true abominations. Maybe?

posted by sstrader at 12:09 AM in Culture & Society | permalink

June 27, 2007

June 26, 2007

Petrushka, Dance of the Coachmen and Grooms

Here are the opening bars of Dance of the Coachmen and Grooms from Petrushka from IMSLP's copy of Stravinsky's transcription:


From Schirmer's version for piano:


Full score from IMSLP:


I'm working on it from the Schirmer's edition, but may make a closer comparison w/ Stravinsky's transcription and decide to un-learn what I've got so far. From a quick comparison, his actually reads easier where he breaks it up into three staffs and this section specifically doesn't look too difficult.

posted by sstrader at 8:01 AM in Music | permalink

June 25, 2007


Gay Pride Parade on Sunday, and I'm embarrassed to say that it's the first we've attended since we've lived here in Midtown (~7 years?). The weather was perfect (dare I say god approved?) and the parade was entertaining if a little less flamboyant than we'd hoped. A good turnout even if we couldn't match the 3 million that showed up in Sao Paulo. The sunglass sisters were there:


It was rather late before the first disco ball made an appearance:


And we ended the day at The Vortex:


The only "activism" we saw was a plane buzzin' around with a Christianny/judgemental banner saying that Jesus Christ offers "hope for homosexuals." It's all wacky fun until you come across this garish piece of offensiveness that bubbled up this morning [ via PZ Myers ] (don't watch, it's vile). After I watched it I truly wanted to just pass it off as the product of a hateful hateful minority until I encountered the same hateful minority at the office and had to re-think my Pollyanna ways. After regaling my co-workers with the tale of my first Midtown GPP, all were entertained but one who--and I completely am not fucking you with this quote--said "they're an abomination, it's a shame that our city puts up with that."

(Yeah ... let that wonderful statement of human kindness sink in ...)

You may mock me for my complete bemusement at the existence of anti-evolutionist in the tech industry, but the sheer hatred and unlettered ignorance of that statement is on a whole 'nother level. It's one thing to ignore first-grade science to satisfy your voodoo belief system--appalling in its willful ignorance, but not out-and-out hateful--it's another thing to denigrate a class of people based on your shallow world-view. I try not to assume the worst w/ you religious types, but the scales keep tipping.

I quickly dropped the discussion to avoid any further revelations.

On a lighter note, my new favorite word outside of the office is abomination. "This bran muffin is an abomination!" "The Three Stooges In Orbit is an abomination compared to Sing a Song of Six Pants." Ah, it just rolls off the tongue.

posted by sstrader at 7:54 PM in Culture & Society | permalink

June 21, 2007


Birds have come back to nest in our dryer vent. I didn't realize this was going to be a multi-generational thing.

posted by sstrader at 11:21 AM in Personal | permalink

June 16, 2007

Hapax legomenon

Awesome word. How is it that I've never heard of this before? A hapax legomenon (ἅπαξ λεγόμενον) is a word that occurs only once in a corpus (a book, an author's works, a written language, etc.). An example from Wikipedia:

Autoguos (αυτογυος), an ancient Greek word for a sort of plough, is found once (and exclusively) in Hesiod, the precise meaning remaining obscure.

That entry also points to nonce word. A nonce word is made up on the spot and probably won't be used again (think "debigulator" from The Simpsons). I only knew of "nonce" from a wacky British show called Brass Eye. They had a fake documentary in 2001 (hilarious transcript here) mocking the overblown fear of pedophiles at the time. Nonce is a British term for pedophile. A sample of the wackiness:

KATE THORNTON (Broadcaster/Journalist) : We even have footage that would be too alarming to show you of a little boy being interfered with by a penis shaped sound wave generated by an online paedophile.

SYD RAPSON (MP Labour) : We believe that paedophiles are using an area of the internet the size of Ireland and through this they can control keyboards.

RICHARD BLACKWOOD (comedian/musician) : Online paedophiles can actually make your keyboard release toxic vapours that make you suggestible. (sniffs keyboard) You know I must say I actually feel more suggestible and that's just from one sniff.

Heh-heh. An area of the internet the size of Ireland. That still makes me laugh. Phil Collins got spoofed into being interviewed for the show and later tried to sue them.

posted by sstrader at 11:48 AM in Language & Literature | permalink

June 14, 2007

The Fog of War (4/5)

Watched The Fog of War [ IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes ] the other night. It's about one of the highest-ranking officials of the Department of Defense who later became president of the World Bank and who served during one of the worst wars in American history but (wait for it) recognized many of the colossal mistakes that he had made during that war. To be fair, McNamara reveals himself in a much more ambivalent light than to say that he was mea culpa-ing, but a little self-examination goes a long etc. His confessions/remembrances are mixed with pride of accomplishment, grave regret, and pragmatic deflection. This movie is an historical document.

The reviewers' obsession with the camera viewpoint (McNamara looks directly at you) didn't hit me while watching. Perhaps a subtlety of affect that I couldn't discern. The Glass soundtrack was--and this is odd--too distracting as Glass. His music has possibly become iconic and no longer capable of resting in the background even though I thought his piano pieces for The Hours were outstanding and appropriate. The coda of the film was artful and daring and precise in capturing the ambiguities told throughout.

W/r/t Iraq: we are so fucked.

posted by sstrader at 8:46 PM in Cinema | permalink

June 12, 2007


I am so ready to try out Rare on Piedmont near North across from the Publix. Tapas with a southern flair (crawfish, grits, chicken and waffles...). Beware their need-I-say-annoying Flash site. A co-worker went there and from his description and the photos it sounds like Bazzaar near the Fox. That area of Piedmont has been cursed by its location. We used to go to the average-but-pleasant Tin Roof Cantina (until it turned into some other, more average, bar) and enjoyed the seedy Brit-pub down the street (now closed). It's an odd area for an upscale joint, but we'll do our best to support the effort.

If only for the nice wine menu.

posted by sstrader at 11:38 PM in Personal | permalink

June 9, 2007


The false equality of bipartisan corruption [ via Kyle Gann ] is being passed off as some sort of insight from conservatives. As if a low-level clown like Jefferson is equal to the DeLay-Libby-Cunningham-etc. cabal of theives that are regularly forgiven by the Republicans.

OK, enough of that.

posted by sstrader at 2:14 PM in Politics | permalink

Man Bites Dog

I watched this film yearsandyears ago and was recently reminded of it. The lone comment on IMDB sums it up: I really wonder what happened to those who made this. They should have been stars by now. ... Genius doesn't come along often. Do yourself a favour and watch this. It's an ultraviolent and absurd view of media voyeurism that doesn't fall into the trap of sensationalism (yeah, I know, that's what everyone says). Matt Zoller Seitz's essay from the Criterion release is a good read.

posted by sstrader at 12:16 PM in Cinema | permalink


Matt Nisbet and Chris Mooney are giving a talk in a scant few locales around the US titled "Speaking Science." It deals primarily with Nisbet's favorite subject: how science is represented and mis-represented in the public sphere (and how to fix that). Josh Rosenau has the lowdown and points to a YouTube video of the talk for those of us in backwater burgs. He also sums up the issue at hand:

In policy debates, the public tends not to have the background to assess scientific arguments, and can choose not to expend the effort needed to become educated on complex topics. I do this with particle physics, you may do this for art history or sports.

This is similar to the there-are-only-two-sides approach to politics that media watchdogs have been deriding for years. The public accepts a crippled version of issues simply because of time constraints (I don't care to research sports either). Nisbet regularly covers topics on science and the public in his blog Framing Science.

posted by sstrader at 11:22 AM in Science & Technology | permalink

June 7, 2007


Although presidential "debates" make you cry for democracy, you can't help but wonder at the horrible/absurd statements that come out of them.

posted by sstrader at 8:20 AM in Politics | permalink

June 6, 2007


Lisa got me Snow Crash in a buy-2-get-one-free frenzy at Barnes & Noble and so I gave it the One Page Test (tm), part of which contained:


WARNING. The National Parks Service has declared this area to be a National Sacrifice Zone. The Sacrifice Zone Program was developed to manage parcels of land whose clean-up cost exceeds their total future economic value.

This after seeing photos of the worlds most polluted river and Darryl Hannah sullied by big oil in Equador. What's a good word to describe when the line plot of fiction starts crossing the line plot of reality?

posted by sstrader at 7:37 PM in Culture & Society | permalink

June 3, 2007


The Lives of Others (5/5) at Landmark on Sat. It takes an easy target--the tragedy of state surveillance in socialist East Germany in 1984--and pulls out a finely structured and poignant drama. The emotional impact lasts until, unbelievably, the very last minute of an unusually paced final act. Really, this film needs to win some sort of award.

After I found out that I was foolish enough to order Arrebato from 5 Minutes to Live even though it was in "Spanish with no English subtitles" and not in "Spanish with English subtitles"--making me question my command of reading English anyway--we watched Figures in a Landscape (3/5). A nicely abstract flick that examines the idea of man as primarily a malignant atagonist to society. Robert Shaw and a young, doughy Malcolm McDowell are Mac and Ansell: fugitives fleeing in the titled landscape from a helicopter of great menace and (eventually) military troops. Their characters are bristly at first and eventually become almost sympathetic. It has the dry, dramatic minimalism of Truffaut's Fahrenheit 451 and the existential barrenness of The Naked Prey.

posted by sstrader at 8:52 PM in Cinema | permalink