Saturday, August 31, 2013

Berserk! by Berserk!

This music has been in my head for a long time now.

Rare Noise Records sent me this album before it was officially released. (Thank you.) It's been in what they'd call "heavy rotation" since.

"I carried it around with me for days and days..
playing little games
like not looking at it for a whole day
and then.. looking at it.
to see if I still liked it.
I did."

Berserk! is not an album you listen to. It listens to you.

You don't categorize Berserk! It puts you in your place.

I couldn't get my head around it until I listened to it when I was pissed off. Not because the music is angry, but because its strength only resonates with strong sensations. But now that I've cracked that nut, it's inside my head.

What can be said factually about Berserk!? It's bassist Lorenzo Feliciati, vocalist Lorenzo Esposito Fornasari, and musicians Eivind Aarset, Gianluca Petrella, Sandro Satta, Fabrizio Puglisi, Jamie Saft, Cristiano Calcagnile, Pat Mastelotto, and Simone Cavina. Its heart may be jazz but its brain is ambient and its mouth is progressive metal.

I'll stop. You listen. All the way through.

See what I mean? It's like a beautiful train wreck exploding in slow motion - you cannot look away. If you do, it evaporates.

Perhaps Macabre Dance was too traditional for you. Let's try something with more of an edge: Dream Made of Water.

Berserk! is perhaps the most unpredictable album I've ever heard. That's why it requires active listening. It's lyrical, thumping, poetic, growling, choral, in your face, and peeking around the corner. Listening to it is being tied up in a burlap sack with a kitten, a snake, and two dogs. It has rock, jazz, pop, ambient, electronic, and metal elements. It's unique.

I lack the words to describe it. There are tracks on SoundCloud and YouTube. Just go listen to them.

Do I like Berserk!? Hell, I hope it likes me.

Berserk! is available from Rare Noise Records. They gave me at no cost a pre-release of the album in mp3 format but in no way influenced this review. The lyric quoted in the article is from King Crimson's Indiscipline from their Discipline album.

I used to want to live for a long time...

Darkside is an radio play based on Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. Watch the animated video trailer here and listen to it here.

If you've got an hour and half to spare and are a fan of British progressive rock (Genesis, Yes, Crimson, Floyd, Tull, etc.) this is for you: BBC Prog Rock Britannia.

I don't know whether this video is new or not, but it shows the effects of the 2011 Japan tsunami in horrible detail. Watching it, you get the impression that some people in the beginning of the video had no idea what was coming.

From the Things I Didn't Know You Could Hear department, listen to Robert Frost read The Road Not Taken.

Brewers giveth and brewers taketh away. First we get rehydrating beer. And then we have Backcountry Beverages' beer concentrate from which water has been removed for easy transportation.

Andy Gilmore's math art.
Although a lot of the data in these maps makes me scratch my head, you can lose yourself in these 40 maps that explain the world. My favorite is the map of how the U.S. is predicted to split into 4 countries. Bye bye, East Coast - hope you like the EU. Just for more fund, Worldmapper is full of maps. If you like scifi and maps, here's a map of the Star Trek universe.

Frute Brute is back!
The Racial Dot Map shows one dot per person colored by race across the U.S. It's interactive and highly visual. On the other hand, this district by district map of the religious affiliations of members of the U.S. House of Representatives is quite frustrating - color choices, lack of interactivity to drill down, etc.

I suppose visiting the Disney Animation Research Library would be like finding the holy grail.

Why there is no Hitchhiker's Guide to Mathematics for programmers. tl;dr

The Walter Koessler project aims to publish about 1,000 recently-discovered photos from WWI taken by a German officer.
Don't search - find the worst videos at Booo Tube.

When googling for Chuckie Cheese's don't google for Chucky Pizza. The result may surprise you.

Queen. Victoria's. Underwear.
New? I can't remember. Periodic table of the Muppets.
This list of 7 leadership lessons from a Navy SEAL includes one that is quite damning. "In the world of business, the ethical leader is sometimes a rarity, and truly esteemed." If ethical business leaders are rare, there's something wrong with how people obtain leadership positions.

The National Airborne Operations Center are modified 747s that provide military leadership an airborne platform to direct operations during a crisis like a nuclear attack. This photo essay takes you inside one of these histrionically named doomsday planes.

Back in the day they used to go over Niagra Falls in a barrel, but in 1932 they actually flew one: the flying barrel.
Each year the Beloit Mindset List tries to give the rest of us an idea of where incoming college freshman are coming from.  "Their TV screens keep getting smaller as their parents’ screens grow ever larger."

Learn to program: Idiomatic Python.

Must see: Space Shuttle concept art. I love this stuff.
Playtime: Javascript cloth simulation. Pull on it or tear it. Try to stop.
Do not click this: OMG Cats in Space. I'll settle for taking a long time to die.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Trial by Franz Kafka

It's too easy to compare Franz Kafka's The Trial to his The Metamorphosis. Most of us did (or at least should have) read the latter at some point during high school. Consider its opening line: "As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed into a monstrous vermin." However, if we learned anything in high school English it's that the metamorphosis referred to by the title is not Gregor's. He, in fact, has always been a disgusting insect of a person. The bodily transformation is just an afterthought. The metamorphosis is experienced by his suffering family who, by novel's end, have left Gregor behind for a better future.

So it is with The Trial. Again, the opening line: "Someone must have slandered Josef K., for one morning, without having done anything truly wrong, he was arrested." Note two things. First, blame is already being deflected to someone else. Second, his implied innocence is qualified by not having done something "truly wrong"; wrong perhaps, but not truly so. Pathetic. Josef is such a sniveling, unguided soul, willing to latch his fortunes to anyone willing to talk to him that the only trial is that of society for having to deal with such a miserable person. He's always been guilty and it is he - not the unspecified charges and nebulous court system - that is the cause of his own eventual demise. Plus, the sexual subtext of his relationships with women is just creepy.

For me, The Trial didn't break any new ground relative to The Metamorphosis and simply repeated a tale of an individual's relationship with society. Forced to choose between the two, I'd go with The Metamorphosis.

I received no compensation of any kind for this review.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Every moment is a golden one...

Strike Up The Band

For your listening pleasure, here's a sampling of Tony Levin's favorite bits from the upcoming Levin Minnemann Rudess album (or as I like to think of it, Liquid Tension Experiment 3). Speaking of Mr. Levin, check out this claymation of him playing with funk fingers.

Hardcore ambient fans only - Jacob Kirkegaard's 4 Rooms is a sonic representation of locations within the Chernobyl exclusion zone. Here's Swimming Pool.

MURAL is an improvisational musical trio that performed inside the Rothko Chapel. If you've never been to the Rothko Chapel, I highly recommend it the next time you're in Houston. But I can't get my head around MURAL's work.

Still not happy with the sounds? How about just background noise from Rainy Cafe?

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You can't look away from these animated gifs by Mat Lucas. For my work friends, this looks like a mesh trying to fix itself.

Fill Your Pie Hole

From patty formation to bacon arranging and bun toasting, here is your guide to making the ultimate bacon cheeseburger.

What happens when artists get hold of your favorite beer labels? They animate them.

Can't finish your beer? Save it with silicone bottle caps called Beer Savers.

I'm not a big seafood eater but this Scallop BLT bite looks awesome.
Take a Big Byte

Are you a programmer? Do you sometimes need an excuse to explain something that your program is doing? Excuses For Lazy Coders to the rescue. "I broke that deliberately to do some testing."

How geeky am I? Apparently only 43% geek - "staring in despair at the Microsoft Word help system to write a simple letter." How geeky are you?

In only one second, a lot of stuff happens on teh interwebs.

Bret Victor on the future of programming told from an interesting perspective.

Emoji. Never installed it, no plans to do so. But lots of folks have. You can track the real-time use of emoji on Twitter. The heart seems to be most popular, which I suppose is a good thing.

I had a Spirograph when I was a young lad but never made anything like Rachel Evans' world map.
This NYT editorial about "a society ambivalent, even skeptical, about the fruits of science" struck a chord with me. However, as Neil deGrasse Tyson said, "The good thing about science is that it's true whether you believe it or not." Sorry creationists. Sorry anti-vaccinators.

Moving Picture Show

Ze Frank continues to please with the latest in his True Facts video series. This time it's True Facts About The Owl.

What does love look like?

Ride on a (and chase a) U-2 spyplane.

Take two minutes to see what Curiosity did on Mars during its first year.

Pigments Galore

What every fan of abstract painting fears - paintings by chimps. Fortunately, this is not a challenge to guess which painting is legit and which is monkey business. 

You can probably guess the painting and artist just from this detailed closeup (there are more where this one came from).
Webcam of Andy Warhol's gravesite.

For animation geeks, in this podcast we hear that Chuck Jones and Maurice Noble didn't get along.

From 1931 comes the histomap, an infographic illustration of 4,000 years of history.
Numbering Things Doesn't Make Them Better

When I saw that Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged was included at #6 in the top 10 influential business books of all time, my interest in the list plummeted to virtually zero. Seriously?

This list of 20 things you should always have in your car is so bad it includes duct tape twice. Not that there's anything wrong with duct tape.

From a list of worthless facts: naked means unprotected, nude means unclothed. If you prefer random facts, hippo milk is pink. More facts? Knowledge Nuts says LBJ held meetings while he was making a #2.

The squatty potty is just what it sounds like it is. And this video explains why it's good for you. (Holy crap! It's $99 on amazon!)

Up, Up, and Away

Only WWII/aviation mavens need peruse this list of the most devastating bombing raids. And who in Russia has their finger on the nuclear button? What might the Queen have said at the start of WWIII?

What will they open-source next? An airplane.

Must watch video/audio/graphic mashup of the Apollo 11 Lunar Landing.

A while back we read how abstract art was funded (indirectly) by the CIA as a Cold War tool. Now we read about how artists helped win WWII by helping develop camouflage. “Abstraction’s dissolution of form, surrealism’s subversion of the authority of vision, collage's disorientation of perspective and cubism’s fragmentations were all modernist trends."

This is video inside a German prisoner of war camp during WWII taken by French prisoners.

What are authors' favorite first lines from novels? Jonathon Franzen cites Kafka's The Trial: "Someone must have slandered Josef K., because one morning, without his having done anything bad, he was arrested." Coincidentally, I just finished The Trial and can't say it had any literary impact on me. I'd cite my favorite first line but you probably already know what it is. (Hint: see #25.)

I fear reading Ulysses. This synopsis doesn't help.

Author George Saunders gave the commencement address at my alma mater this year (better than my completely forgettable commencement address from the head of the library of congress) on failures of kindness.
Texter lets you do stuff like this. Why you would want to is another question.
Lovin' those text toys? Check out Typeflash.

I've always thought graphology (handwriting analysis) was fun. (Sorry about the infographic.)

The Downward Slope

Disney fans: check out these photos of the Contemporary Resort under construction.

You knew one was coming, right? A minimalist periodic table made from dots

Guess first before clicking through to the article. At what age are women most happy with their naked bodies?  (When men were asked that question the answer was "yes.")

If your vibrator is programmable, what does a blue screen of death feel like?

If patience is a virtue, how virtuous are you?

And I leave you with, The Blob.

...for him who has the vision to recognize it as such. ~Henry Miller

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty...

And yet again I find myself at a loss for words.

...never grows old. ~Franz Kafka

Saturday, August 3, 2013

All empty souls...

Another respite from drivel.

...tend toward extreme opinions. ~William Butler Yeats