May 26, 2011

The Three Musketeers; Alexander Dumas

I really enjoyed the two 70s films adapted from this book. They had a sense of fun throughout and yet they didn't seem simply thrown together for laughs. The book has much of the same, silly attitude. I'm around 1/2 through now. The first third contained the first 1973 movie and so far the material for the second 1975 movie has only been hinted at.

This was sitting on my Kindle as part of the Gutenberg cache I'd loaded up in preparation for our Thailand trip. I was re-reminded of it from a reddit thread about book recommendations and someone brought up The Count of Monte Christo specifically and Dumas in general.

Continue reading "The Three Musketeers; Alexander Dumas"
posted by sstrader at 12:06 AM in Current Interests , Language & Literature | permalink

May 17, 2011


Eli Pariser's TED talk and new book, The Filter Bubble, has sparked some new/old discussion on the idea that the Internet creates isolated islands of reality [ via Reddit | Slashdot ]. This is an old fear that the Internet enables us to surround ourselves with only those news outlets, social groups, and encyclopedias that support our beliefs. Pariser's twist on the story is that not only will we self-select the facts that surround us, but the tools we use (e.g. Google and Facebook) will start selecting for us. He illustrates how Googles search results are tailored not only to what you've clicked before but also to where you're physically located (a total of 57 dimensions are parsed for customization). Facebook slowly eliminates friends' comments from your feed if you haven't clicked on their links in a while. Yeah, I'd like to have silliness automatically removed from my environment, but the state of machine learning is such that some very black-and-white parameters (click/not-click) are making for crude silliness eradication. What was that about good intentions and roads?

In contrast, there was a paper put out a year ago by Matthew Gentzkow and Jesse M. Shapiro titled Ideological Segregation Online and Offline that got some equal, if forgotten, attention [ via David Rogers -> David Brooks ]. A long summary from Brooks:

According to the study, a person who visited only Fox News would have more overlap with conservatives than 99 percent of Internet news users. A person who only went to The Times's site would have more liberal overlap than 95 percent of users.

But the core finding is that most Internet users do not stay within their communities. Most people spend a lot of time on a few giant sites with politically integrated audiences, like Yahoo News.

But even when they leave these integrated sites, they often go into areas where most visitors are not like themselves. People who spend a lot of time on Glenn Beck's Web site are more likely to visit The New York Times's Web site than average Internet users. People who spend time on the most liberal sites are more likely to go to than average Internet users. Even white supremacists and neo-Nazis travel far and wide across the Web.

The authors of the paper summarized their findings: We find that ideological segregation of online news consumption is ... significantly lower than the segregation of face-to-face interactions with neighbors, co-workers, or family members. We find no evidence that the Internet is becoming more segregated over time. There will always be ideologues, but maybe those who spend time on the Internet will be exposed to greater diversity than those whose dominant interactions are IRL.

posted by sstrader at 11:26 PM in Internet | permalink

May 15, 2011

Movie week, days 7, 8, and 9: Four Lions, Blank City, Bridesmaids

Four Lions [ 4/5 | IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes ]

Suicide bomber slapstick. The bumbling stupidity--and its crude implication that criminals are dumb--is redeemed by the deeper characterizations given the two brothers in the group. The lead's relationship with his wife and son is moving and absurd. Wonderful final scenes.

Blank Ciy [ 4/5 | IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes ]

Documentary about experimental films from the 70s and 80s NYC, specifically the No Wave and Cinema of Transgression movements. This is a must-see for any cinephies, especially those who love avant garde art. Notable: The Blank Generation, The Foreigner, Vortex, Minus Zero, Permanent Vacation, Wild Style. My initial search for these films on DVD brought up nothing. Links of interest:

Bridesmaids [ 4/5 | IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes ]

I thought I'd purchased tickets for the simulcast of the Met's Die Walkure at Fork and Spoon. I had not. Plan B was Bridesmaids. This really is the tour de force of Kristen Wiig that everyone is saying it is. At times more disgusting than any guy flick, yet Kristen's scenes with her love interest, her best friend/bride, and her mother were amazing examples of comedy dialog.

posted by sstrader at 5:22 PM in Movie week | tagged metropolitan opera | permalink

May 13, 2011

The untimely demise of RadioWave

For the past month, I've been struggling with keeping RadioWave up based on complaints from the web hosting company, Lunarpages. I'm on a shared hosting server that's gone up from hosting ~300 sites a couple of years ago to >500 now. In the same time RadioWave has grown from ~5,000 hits/day to ~15,000. After the initial complaints, I moved the databases to a non-Lunarpages server. That helped for two weeks, but earlier today Lunarpages finally took RadioWave completely offline due to "extremely high traffic". The solution they offered was to purchase a dedicated server for $110/month (up from the $8/month I'm paying now). Even if I decided to dump ads on the site, it's unlikely that enough would be brought in to make it worth it.

I started RW in 2004 (a little over six years ago), and it's still a site I go to almost every day. I listen to internet radio a lot. It was also the first Java code that I wrote--some of which is looking quite hairy now. Every few months I'd get an email suggesting a new station or providing a corrected stream link, so it was nice to offer something useful to a few people. This is a busy weekend, but some of it will now be spent researching hosting companies. meh.

posted by sstrader at 5:52 PM in Programming | tagged radiowave | permalink

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.

Continue reading "The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch; Philip K. Dick"
posted by sstrader at 5:08 PM in Current Interests , Language & Literature | tagged philip k. dick | permalink

May 12, 2011

Movie week, days 5 and 6: Out of the Past; The Four Musketeers

Out of the Past [ 3/5 | IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes ]

From one volume 1 of my film noir collection, so far every one of which has been solid. This had the unusual form (though maybe common in noir) of having 30 minutes early on spent in narrated flashback. The odd aspect was that lead Robert Mitchum's narration detailed his time with a past love and was told to his current love interest. Twisty and interesting and with a very satisfyingly off-kilter final 20 minutes. It had many noir characteristics (the abovemetioned flashback, lead is a detective, femme fatale, lots of double-crossery) but, as with any good genre film, rose above being merely a genre film.

The Four Musketeers [ 3/5 | IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes ]

Sort of the Ocean's films of the 70s: a group of some of the biggest named actors of the time return to the sequel and have a lot of fun on screen. Watched the first movie last month. Both were ripping good yarns with action, humor, and the odd sets and wardrobes that I associate with the 1800s of 1970s films. These would be ideal choices for the now-defunct Screen on the Green: a perfect spectacle for large format viewing.

posted by sstrader at 6:21 PM in Movie week | tagged film noir | permalink

May 10, 2011

Movie week, day 4: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1

[ 3/5 | IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes ]

This movie was entertaining, but it felt a little thin even when the overall bleakness resonated effectively. Starting with the cast fleeing Voldemort's minions then attending an interrupted wedding, the action continues through most of the film as an extended road movie for our heroic trio--echoing the opening chase. The core of the film nicely reveals, recaps, and allows the relationships to deepen (despite some scene gaffes that should have been worked out), but I was expecting to have experienced more by the end of the film. It's successful as a part one and successful in not feeling long at 2-1/2 hours.

posted by sstrader at 8:27 PM in Movie week | tagged harry potter | permalink

May 9, 2011

Movie week, days 2 and 3: The Teacher; Chocolate

The Teacher [ 2/5 | IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes ]

A bit of mid-70s softcore porn from Drive-In Cult Classics Volume 1. Probably what passed for Cinemax at the time. Angel Tompkins (as said teacher) saves the film in a few scenes while Jay North (Dennis the Menace) was just odd as the 18-year-old who is afraid to have sex with her. Awesome jazz flute throughout the soundtrack. Enjoy House of Self-Indulgence's more detailed review.

Chocolate [ 3/5 | IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes ]

Thai martial arts flick. An autistic 14-year-old sallies out to collect from her sick mother's debtors. A vehicle for lead JeeJa Yanin to show off her skills. Many scenes were supposed to be split-screened to show her against those she was imitating (Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee), but sadly the company couldn't get the rights to include the clips. This movie continues my accidental foray into Female Bad-assery, paired with Nyx in God's War and Hanna. The Teacher canceled them all out, feminist-wise.

posted by sstrader at 6:34 PM in Movie week | tagged drive-in | permalink

May 7, 2011

God's War: Kameron Hurley

Sci-fi. An amoral, ex-assassin works with her team to track down a missing off-world visitor. Their world remembers vaguely when its first settlers came millennia ago. For almost as long, two countries have been involved in a war of religious differences. The fauna consist mostly of bugs and bugs are a component of everything: vehicles are run based on some organic combinations of swarms of bugs, messages are sent via documents composed of masses of tiny bugs shifting like e-ink, radio is transmitted via swarms. And there is magic of a sort: individuals born with the ability to manipulate nearby insects or born with the ability to "shift" into other animal forms. Social norms fluctuate with odd gender roles across the different nationalities. Much of the background of this future is given in passing, which is nice.

Recommended by Kelly over at io9 where they always have good suggestions (got The Windup Girl based on their reading club).

Continue reading "God's War: Kameron Hurley"
posted by sstrader at 3:03 PM in Current Interests , Language & Literature | tagged io9 | permalink

Movie week, day 1: Hanna

[ 3/5 | IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes ]

Inventive entry in the bad ass chick and abandoned spy genres, Hanna had both visual style and humor. The latter was needed to temper the sheer over-the-topness of much of the movie, something Sucker Punch could have learned from. The lead was perfectly cast, and her friendship with the delightfully vapid Australian girl provided some of the best quirky scenes. Excellent chase scene through shipping containers paired with one of the many gems in the soundtrack. The soundtrack was perfectly integrated and includes original work by The Chemical Brothers (adding some very No Fun Fest type of noise) plus: an absolutely beautiful Gypsy song, a track from David Bowie's first album, a menacing whistled tune a la Peter Lorre's "In the Hall of the Mountain King" in M, and "In the Hall of the Mountain King". Much like Shoot em Up uses cartoon references to telegraph meaning, this film uses fairy tales.

Pair Enter the Void's ridiculously overfull title sequence with Hanna's blunt statement. Both wonderful examples of the form.

posted by sstrader at 11:54 AM in Movie week | permalink

May 3, 2011

Where was I?

Some crazy bird graffiti from Cabbagetown:


The weekend of the 15th was our second, tri-yearly cabin trip with friends. This visit took us to Morganton, GA with all members of the prior craziness plus new pals Eric and Perla and Mike. It was mostly decadent, as expected, but Sat morning I had a good run around the mountain where a gang of three dogs decided to join me in an impromptu pack. Girl Talk was, perhaps, overplayed. Sat nite ended late with a packed hot tub.



The weekend of the 22nd was our 3rd annual Crescent City Classic trip to New Orleans. Due to the voodoo calculus that put Easter three weeks later than normal--making NOLA three weeks hotter than normal--our asses were quickly kicked by the 10k.

IMAG0770.small IMAG0772.small IMAG0781.small


Some crazy bird graffiti from New Orleans:


Last weekend (the 30th) was the Xth annual Inman Park Festival at Dan and Alicia's. At the festival proper, Lisa bought me several prints of robots and rabbits (separately) from Mr. Hooper, and I bought her a painting warning of the evils of sunbathing from R. Land. To the frame shop!