Friday, September 30, 2011

Deep tracks

This is a project I can get behind. You can turn just about anything at hand into a musical instrument. So indeed, why not an entire tunnel. Oh yes, of course, I hope the sound doesn't crack the Earth's core or rouse Cthulhu. Still, these are the risks you take as an artist.

The particular train station they're working at has a musical history, of course.

(Oh, and probably Saturday Random Ten this week.)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Shut off

Not long after I came home today, the few appliances I had on went off. Annoying, yes, but I knew I wasn't alone in losing power. I knew this because the light in the hall wouldn't go on either.

But it didn't stop there. I went out a little later and saw that basically every house on my street was dark. The stores had their own generators, apparently. And it turned out much of Angell St was down too. I learned this by talking to a girl at a coffee shop who I'd overheard talking about flashlights.

The blackout only seeme to have lasted for an hour or two, but it was surprising. We didn't lose power when we had an actual--if diminished--hurricane. But we did during tonight's much more modest rainstorm. Expect the unexpected, I guess.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Good pictures of stuff

I've watched DVDs of several seasons of PBS' Art 21 series. It's an interesting window of the creative thinking and processes of various artists, only a few of them are annoying enough to make me want to escape.

The organizzation has also put a bunch of profiles online of artists who they haven't covered on TV. This is one of those.

Lucas Blalock's 99¢ Store Still Lifes | "New York Close Up" | Art21 from Art21 on Vimeo.

From what's shown, Blalock is an interesting guy. He admits to going down some blind alleys, which is I think a potentially embarassing subject for creative types. I also enjoy the physicality of the photos he's shown making. Guess using the old view camera is a good move. (Isn't that the same kind of camera that keeps getting wired as a bomb in all those old Warner Bros cartoons?)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Notes from a sound sleeper

I'm a pretty sound sleeper. Once I'm in the land of nod, a fair amount of noise and ferment can occur without disturbing me.

Still, when ten pounds of wet plaster and wood fall from your bathroom ceiling, that's not really something you can sleep through. Not if you have hearing.

Going back to bed until you feel up to dealing with it? Different story.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Wet weekend Friday Random Ten

Due to my prospects of working in a hospital, this week I got a PPD test for tuberculosis. I went back today to get it checked on. Turns out I'm 100% TB free. Not that I had any reason to doubt the outcome, but you take your good news where you can find it.

In other news, we're heading into the weekend with a heavy drumbeat of rain. But the weather's not being all drama queeny about it like it was in late August.

1. Blossom Dearie - A Fine Spring Morning
2. Elvis Costello & the Attractions - Kinder Murder
3. Roxy Music - If It Takes All Night
4. Reading Rainbow - Cut in Two
5. Annie Lennox - Ladies of the Canyon
6. Arcade Fire - Neighborhood #2 (Laika)
7. Wes Montgomery - My Romance
8. Talking Heads - Found a Job
9. Simon & Garfunkel - Mrs Robinson
10. Patsy Cline - Strange

* Like so

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Polarized visions

Through Matthew Cheney, I caught sight of this feature today. It's an ad from 1968 with various science fiction authors of the day declaring their position on the Vietnam War.

A lot of the names are unfamiliar to me. This includes much of the "pro" side. R. A. Lafferty is an exception, as he's one of my favorite all-time writers. Despite being progressive on race--especially for an Oklahoman who turned 50 around the time the Civil Rights era started in earnest--he was pretty conservative overall, so I'm not really surprised.

There are fiction authors now who specifically appeal to right-leaning audiences, and who often seem to be popular for their politics as much as anything else. The field of science fiction definitely has some. From the excerpts I've seen Dan Simmons' latest is basically a hundred Glenn Beck rants poured into a Strange Days novelization. So could some of the names I don't know belong to sixties equivalents? Or is this more of a contemporary phemomenon?

There are some notable omissions. Theodore Sturgeon and Roger Zelazny are nowhere to be found on either list. I can kind of guess their positions, but I have to wonder. Did no one ask? Or did they make themselves scarce?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Man with a brush

I just learned of this artist, Andrew Young, from an entry about him on Booooooom! I won't go off on any long tangents and make big claims, but I like what I see of his style. The texture reminds me a little of old masters and a little of old paperback covers. And his frinds certainly seem to be game models.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Welles family outing

The Lady from Shanghai is a film noir that Orson Welles made with himself and then-wife Rita Hayworth in the leads. If you know anything about the genre, you can guess that they won't be playing one of those happy ending couples.

He's an Irish sailor, and Welles overdoes the brogue a wee bit when the movie starts, toning it down as he goes along. Her husband (yep, warning #1) hires him to work on their yacht. Welles is unable, largely because of his own nature, to stay out of their bacstabbing and headgames. These also involve the husband's law partner, who says he wants to be murdered.

The word on this movie is that Welles took on the directing job because he needed money to finish a play he was working on, and that he chose to adopt a novel he hadn't yet read. If this haphazard way of choosing the project shows, it's not because the film is bad, because it's not. In 1947, though, Welles already seems to have been bored with the genre elements of cheating spouses and elaborate capers. He shows more interest in creating dreamy set-pieces.

The Lady from Shanghai really comes alive when they're out on the yacht, in Mexico, and the wacky partner is singing along with the piano. Welles is creeped out by the lawyers and goes to the lower deck, where one of the other laborers is playing guitar. Almost seamlessly Hayworth, still in the piano room, starts singing along with the guiarist. It's a little disorienting and a lot trippy.

Following later in the movie are a tryst set in a brilliantly shot aquarium, and of course the funhouse mirror scene depicted above. All in all, you come for the treachery of women. You stay for the erosion of reality.

Friday, September 16, 2011

And just to go nuts, let's have us a Friday Random Ten, too

Over the past couple of days I've been re-reading Jonathan Lethem's Amnesia Moon. Man, that book throws some wild ideas at you, and a lot of them. Then the next chapter starts.

Haven'had one of these in a couple weeks.

1. Arcade Fire--Crown of love
2. Tom Waits--On the Nickel
3. Grizzly Bear--On a Neck, On a Spit
4. John Lee Hooker--Drifting From Door to Door
5. Teh Veldt--Dusty Blood
6. Neko Case--Bought and Sold
7. Fol Chen--If Tuesday Comes
8. Wes Montgomery--God Bless the Child
9. Elvis Costello--Hurry Down Doomsday (The Bugs Are Taking Over)
10. The Dave Clark Five--Bits and Pieces

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Hot enough for ya?

This is one of those nights where I have the window fan on high, but I'm still a little sweaty. Not so much that I'll have trouble sleeping, thank God. But when nights like this occur in September you have to beware. Because the summery weather can end at any time, and you may not be prepared for it. I assume someone finds it funnier that way.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


The constant refrains of "Never forget!" and "Remember 9/11" get more inexplicable the more you think about it. It's not really the kind of thing you forget. They don't really encourage lobotomies that extensive anymore.

So while you're remembering, what should you do? Learn? Empathize? That would be a healthy response. Then there's the path of stewing and resenting. I don't want to dwell too much, but there are certainly people out there making that choice.

Excerpted from a thoughtful and probing response:
Then that goddamn Saving Private Ryan movie and Tom Brokaw's book about "the greatest generation" came out, and every Baby Boomer in the country, especially the millions with access to a microphone or an op-ed page, were begging the fates to send them their very own Hitler to sock on the jaw like Captain America. I'm pretty much convinced that the response to 9/11, or rather the response to Bush and Cheney's response to 9/11, would have been very different if it hadn't been timed to coincide with so many Boomers' midlife crises.

But this is the baffling part. I can understand envying the soldiers of World War 2. If you weren't there and your only source is the movies, it's easy enough to believe it was all the adrenaline rush of battle, alternating with being serenaded by the Andrews sisters.

But envying the homefront? Being nostalgic for a time when everyone had to agree on the war or be exiled from polite society? The idea of wanting to go back to this is hard to fathom.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Get Bach to where you once belonged

Borrowing movies from the library, it's better to get them on DVD, because you don't have to deal with rhe rewinding rigamarole. But sometimes curiosity gets the better of one even when the film is only available on VHS. Thirty-Two Short Films About Glenn Gould was one such case.

It came out in 1993. partly financed by the CBC. Colm Feore, who plays the eccentric musical figure, has also done a lot of B-movie villains. That's not too surprising. His Gould is cerebral, cunning, and a little arrogant, the way a good Bond villain is. It just happens that he's a benign character. (And if he were evil he'd probably be too smart to explain his deathtraps.)

It's an unusual movie. Not weird, because nothing weird happens. But it has a fittingly playful structure which makes it enjoyable to watch.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Non-Facebook status update

Right now I'm writing this in a Starbucks with wi-fi, because I don't have Internet service at home. Why not? Because I don't. The bill's paid up, the equipment is hooked up, and it's just not working the way it should. Anyway, I took the day off today but the only time the cable guy could make it today didn't work for me, so I have to wait until tomorrow evening to get it fixed.

What else is up? Various and sundry things.

When a man starts losing his hair, he'll at least think about shaving his head to cheat the hangman, as it were. Monday I actually went ahead and did it. May or may not keep it up, depending on whether I like the results. This I can tell you: Anyone who does this, at least the first time, isn't going to get much more use out of that razor blade.

Also I put my number on the Do Not Call Registry. That's probably overdue. I used to have a roommate--and we're still friends--who enjoyed telemarketing calls because he liked fucking with the salespeople. I could see enjoying that, but what I'm getting now is an unending stream of auto dialer calls. Don't pick up, they'll call back in five minutes. Pick up, say "hello" and you won't get an answer, but they'll still call back in five minutes. There's a company in Seattle called "technologygolf" that's apparently too shy to ask me out. This I do not need.

And today I went to Miriam Hospital for prospective volunteer orientation. Even during the week, I think I can squeeze in four hours to help. There were apout eight people at the meeting, not counting the volunteer organizer. There were a few high schoolers and at least one pre-med student looking for experience. The remainder were adults like me, bored and/or at loose ends. I was kind of surprised not to see any retirees. Maybe it's more of a summer thing for them.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Ground to Major, bye-bye Tom

A Golden Book-ish illustrated version of David Bowie's "Space Oddity" is an unlikely idea, but damned if it doesn't work. First found it through Popped Culture, to give credit where credit is due. Since Bowie himself could easily be floating in a tin can for all he's made known of himself lately, I guess it's good to make use of the music he's already given us.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Let love in

If it's possible to not love Billy Wilder, I don't know how. There's an infectious joy running through his movies, even when the subject matter gets dark.

Which it doesn't in Love in the Afternoon. It's a sprightly romantic comedy where the sexual innuendo is pretty single-entendre. But that's okay. It's not as gloriously wacky as Some Like It Hot, and it doesn't have the heart of The Apartment, but those two are among my all-time favorite films, and a high standard to match. It has a lot of great jokes, and gives them a good summary in its last act.

The trailer below isn't that great. I'm starting to think trailers that managed to sell the movie without giving away the entire plot have always been the exception. But it does have a glimpse of the sauna scene, complete with gypsy musicians. That's one you have to see.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Ongoing service advisory

Hi there. I'm having connectivity problems, and have to varying extents for a few days now. Thus the sparse blogging.

Update: Yeah, this was weird. I began having loading problems just after Irene, although I can't say the two things are related. Over the course of a few days it became impossible to watch videos online (they'd play for three seconds then have to buffer for an hour) or listen to radio stations online. The latter is a problem because reception on my actual radio is limited to half a dozen tightly formatted commercial stations. Also it got to the point where any page might get stuck while loading.

I cleaned out my Internet history, which did nothing. I ran Norton antivirus, which turned up four pissant tracking cookies. I downloaded the latest version of Flash, but nothing helped. Until it did, and today the problem seemed to have been solved, somehow.

In deference to the late Mr. Clarke, technology has advanced to become indistinguishable from really annoying magic.