Friday, August 30, 2013

Change of pace Friday Random Ten

Tomorrow I'm hanging out with a friend who's having a birthday and some other old friends. There's something called the Rhythm and Roots Festival, going on a little further south in the state. So tomorrow I won't be having a leisurely late morning/early afternoon breakfast or taking a trip to the library to pick up an order, which are things I enjoy doing and will happily get back to next weekend. But routines shouldn't be absolute.

1. R.E.M. - Talk About the Passion
2. Yo La Tengo - Point and Shoot
3. Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band - Jazz: Delicious Hot, Disgusting Cold
4. Metric - The Void
5. Roxy Music - Stronger Through the Years
6. Neko Case - Middle Cyclone
7. Pink Martini - New Amsterdam
8. The White Stripes - Broken Bricks
9. They Might Be Giants - 9 Secret Steps
10. Nat King Cole - Non Dementicar

Thursday, August 29, 2013

It's only cos he couldn't think of a punch line

My thoughts on what if anything to blog about are all over the place. In the mean time I might need a placeholder. This should do nicely.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Rites of autumn

Fall is coming.  Which means that allergies are starting to rear their ugly heads again.  Which means it's time for that fun ritual of finding out which antihistamines are more drowse-inducing than the others.  If you're having a hard time staying vertical and can't feel your fingertips, you might want to save this one for nighttime use.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Mise en abyme

When I was a kid I remember reading a Gold Key Star Trek comic, the story entitled "The Voodoo Planet." Kirk and his crew appeared on a depopulated planet marked by exact replicas of Earth landmarks. The title indicates that these landmarks were meant to link up to their Terran originals in some baleful way, but that part I don't really remember. As cheesy as the story might have been, the eerie desolation - and yet balance - of the pictures appealed to me.

And that story came back to me as I looked over this photoessay on the replica of Paris in Tianducheng, Paris. It's fascinating, and while town probably wasn't planned as some conceptual art commentary on the importance of context, it could have been. Because China isn't France, so a semi-abandoned Paris in the middle of it is almost bound to become its own thing. And if this Tiandu-Paris ever does pick up its own population, that will be another difference.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Frontiers: Friday Random Ten On Saturday

Hi again.  Yes, this is  Friday Random Ten and not Saturday Random Ten because I heard all the songs on Friday, it's just that forgetfulness/sleepiness put the transfer off untul now.  Not something I aim for, but...

Also watched Major Dundee last night.  It's a Sam Peckinpah Western with a mostly subdued Charlton Heston as a Union officer going after Apache raiders, and a less-subdued Richard Harris as a Confederate prisoner assisting him for his men's freedom.  It's longish (2 and a quarter) as a lot of Westerns are.  It's fun, though.  Partly because the motley army raised - Union soldiers, Rebs, freed blacks, some renegade Apache, etc - are definitely not a serene rainbow coalition.  Good performances also by James Coburn, Brock Peters, RG Armstrong, and a mostly comic relief Jim Hutton.  Anyway, it was a good capper to what had been a long, sort of frustrating day to that point.

1. R.E.M. - Sitting Still
2. Yo La Tengo - Watch Out for Me Ronnie
3. Elvis Costello & the Attractions - No Action
4. Metric - Dreams So Real
5. Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band - Hello Mabel
6. Brian Eno - Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch
7. The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Red House
8. Edith Piaf - Les Trois Cloches
9. TV on the Radio - DLZ
10. Lou Rawls - Street Corner Hustler's Blues/World of Trouble

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Dome's day

When I was a kid geodesic domes were what the future was going to look like. Thus far that hasn't happened, and it's hard to know what to feel about that. I mean, it's not like I really got attached to them. Seeing this team put a couple up is invigorating, though.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Loss leader

Something I like to do here every now and then is put up a poem I like.  The reasons why it has to be one I like should be obvious.  Anyway, this is a classic exemplar of the villanelle, a form I have a great deal of fondness for.


One Art
by Elizabeth Bishop

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day.  Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and nnames and where it was you meant
to travel.  None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch.  And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went. 
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones.  And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

It's a fairly popular poem, and I think it can be misunderstood.  The speaker isn't bulletproof. If you listen the tone is philosophical, not blithe.  It doesn't deny the anxiety resulting from loss. It speaks of trying to channel it.  (Write it!)

Then again in texture, in mood, it's not a heavy poem either.  It achieves lightness in a paradoxical way.  Which is an admission I'll never really be able to explain it.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Bet you say that to all the girls

For more info on what she's talking about, see here.

I actually went to a seminar once where the instructor told us about this technique. To be fair, it was one among others. Still, though, he did confer on it a certain validity. I couldn't get into it, though. If negging works for you then, best case scenario, you become a psychologically abusive boyfriend. I just wasn't ready to commit to the abusive boyfriend lifestyle.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Friday Random Ten: Observed

One thing about taking DVDs out from the library: you stand a good chance of missing one episode at least just because it's ruinced.  Hate to think what that reveals about my fellow patrons.

1. Patsy Cline - True Love
2. Chic - Everybody Dance (Clap Your hands)
3. Elvis Costello & the Attractions - No Action
4. Radiohead - Hunting Bears
5. Yo La Tengo - Pass the Hatchet, I Think I'm Goodkind
6. R.E.M. - We Walk
7. Brian Eno - Dragging Me Backwards
8. Roxy Music - Trash
9. David Bowie - If You Can See Me
10. Sarah Vaughan - Can't Get Out of This Mood

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Sonnet fail

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
~William Shakespeare on one of his less inspired days.

Actually I do plan to do another poetry post soon.  I didn't get to it tonight because I was distracted by installing a new phone.  (The answering machine I'd been using since 2000 or so was falling apart, and it seemed more efficient to have the phone and ans machine combined at this point.)  So, something to look forward to there.

Monday, August 12, 2013

2 thoughts

1: I just took out the garbage a few minutes ago.  When I threw the bag into the dumpster I heard something scurry out from behind it.  Looked down, sure enough there was a skunk walking among us.  Obviously I gave it a wide birth while I was on my way back in, because obviously I didn't want to get sprayed.  (They can also bite, if you really annoy them.)  One good thing about the new place, though, is that there's enough room out back to get stuff done regardless.  At my previous residence I saw a skunk near the trash cans one winter night and immediately made a u-turn.

2: I remember I was in college during the first World Trade Center attack.  You know, the one with the truck full of explosives that didn't actually do what it set out to do.  Not just in college, I was also on the school paper.  A story occurred to me regarding possible upticks in actions against people of Middle Eastern descent.  I thought getting some white supremacists on the record might lead to a good - or at least attention getting story - and I considered going undercover.  Bad, bad idea in retrospect, and it's good that it died from inertia.  While I'm fairly stoical about a lot of things, expressions of hatred do visibly get under my skin.  Also even though I'm entirely of Protestant British Isles heritage, some byplay of genetics has left me looking faintly Jewish.  Like both Jews and antisemites have noticed this.  So I wasn't going to cut it as a fake neo-Nazi.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Saturday Random Ten: Musin' on a Saturday afternoon, evening, etc

I eat breakfast relatively late on Saturday, at a nearby restaurant/diner I like.  It does give me the "opportunity", though, to listen to top 40 radio.  Now even at the top-of-the-charts level, I don't think all contemporary music is crap.  I haven't grown old in that way yet.  But it does offend me to find that people like Ryan Seacrest are dj's now.  A dj is supposed to be a desperate idealist/possible drug casualty with deep passions and feverish tastes, not a network talking head who "likes" what he's told to like.

Since the '96 telecommunications act, I've seen radio be taken over by megaconglomerates and subsequently shrink.  The number of formats has become ever fewer and ever stricter.  The influence of the medium has shrunk as well.  When/if people still buy music, they're sometimes influenced by blogs and other press, sometimes by what plays in the background of TV shows.  The number of people taking musical cues from radio has plummeted.  This is sad, but also funny.  By making the investment in multiple radio stations around the country, the corporations have made them less of a wise investment.

1. Neko Case - Vengeance Is Sleeping*
2. Yo La Tengo - The Room Got Heavy
3. Arcade Fire - No Cars Go
4. Diana Krall - I Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out to Dry
5. TV on the Radio - Halfway Home
6. Chic - Real People
7. Sarah Vaughan - Ain't Misbehaving
8. The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Third Stone From the Sun
9. Radiohead - Like Spinning Plates
10. Martin Denny - Caravan

Friday, August 9, 2013

Land of dodgy enchantment

Hi-ho, there.  Taking the "Friday" out of Friday Random Ten this week.  Had to refresh the playlist, and didn't get around to it last night.  Saturday it is!

Tonight I watched Ace in the Hole.  I've liked-to-loved most Billy Wilder movies I've seen (Some Like, Apartment, etc) but hadn't seen this one.  It's depressing in terms of plot and maybe a little overcooked, but it certainly makes an impression.  Kirk Douglas is really on fire in this, too.

Also I'm pretty sure it's actually shot on location in New Mexico.  A lot of the exteriors are, at least.  And that is some amazing landscape, between the cubist desert and the cliff-dwellings that are some of the earliest signs of human life in the Americas.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A dose of steampunk cool

The Search Engine from Melissa Wright on Vimeo.

I find this quite beautiful and well done. The title "search engine" is given something of a more concrete nature than we usually see with it. If I read it right it's got a happy ending too.

Be back soon.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

A friend in need's a friend indeed

Here's an interesting blog post.  It has to do with placebo buttons.  These are just what they sound like: fake peyote buttons you press to give you something to do, but that don't do anything in themselves.

Computers and timers now control the lights at many intersections, but at one time little buttons at crosswalks allowed people to trigger the signal change. Those buttons are mostly all disabled now, but the task of replacing or removing all of them was so great most cities just left them up. You still press them though, because the light eventually changes.
In an investigation by ABC news in 2010, only one functioning crosswalk button could be found in Austin, Texas; Gainsville, Fla.; and Syracuse, NY.
The city deactivated most of the pedestrian buttons long ago with the emergence of computer-controlled traffic signals, even as an unwitting public continued to push on, according to city Department of Transportation officials. More than 2,500 of the 3,250 walk buttons that still exist function essentially as mechanical placebos, city figures show. Any benefit from them is only imagined.
- New York Times, 2004
The thing to note is that as far as traffic lights go, I already knew this.  I've heard much the same thing through other sources.

And yet I still press the buttons.  Even at crossings where the light never changes from "Don't Walk" to "Walk" I'll keep hitting it in blatantly false hope.  (I live near one of those, by the way.  Technically I can't cross the street to get home without jaywalking.)  So yes, I guess you do have to grasp at straws sometimes in order not to feel helpless.

Door close buttons on elevators are a different subject.  I never press those in the first place, because if the door closes on someone trying to get on I don't want to be blamed.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Friday Random Ten on the road movie

I just watched Five Easy Pieces tonight.  A little frustrating in that there are a few times when the dialogue is almost impossible to make out, largely in the first third of the movie.  But wow.  It's a great film, and the complaint is a small one.  Hollywood would only finance t these kinds of plot-light, character driven films for a few more years.  The "kind of a prick" approach to writing an antihero isn't as popular as the "kind of a prick, but he carries four guns everywhere he goes.  Still mayor.

EDIT Okay, I have no idea what I meant by "Still mayor."  Seems to have been the product of general grogginess.  Point is, while Bobby Dupea is an antihero, neither the "anti" nor the "hero" part is action oriented in the way that would survive into the age of blockbusters.
1. L'Attirail - Suite en Solde
2. Edith Piaf - Adieu Mon Coeur
3. The Beatles - Glass Onion
4. Martin Denny - Taboo
5. Roxy Music - Dance Away
6. TV on the Radio - Crying
7. Arcade Fire - Black Mirror
8. Radiohead - I Might Be Wrong
9. The New Pornographers - All the Old Showstoppers
10. Nat King Cole - Our Love is Here to Stay