Saturday, August 30, 2014

Only the guy who isn't rowing...

Automata: this movie looks good. (And hopefully it's not just a Blade Runner derivative.)

Robert Irwin, All That Jazz, 2011
(lest anyone think that Dan Flavin is the only artist working in this medium). source
I've been eating sushi wrong. If you fear the same, check out How to Eat Sushi (worth watching). Be sure to catch the joke about not shaking soy sauce off your sashimi (alliteration unintentional).

You might think I'm posting the video Rhapsody of Steel because it's in the craft pr0n category. But I'm not. This film from 1959, entirely animated, includes the work of animation legends Eyvind Earle and Maurice Noble.

But this really is craft pr0n: ceramics masters.

 photo hexwave_zps2d5b6d22.gif
Git yer GIF on with these hypnotizing animations.

Reading this article about a hidden Cold War bunker in the Brooklyn Bridge makes me wonder how many of these are scattered across the country and lost to time.

Is it too early to start planning for the 2017 total solar eclipse that will be perfectly visible across most of the United States?

For each state, find out where its residents were born. (61% of current Texas residents were born here versus 25% for Nevada and 79% for Louisiana.)

The United Sweets of America shows each state's signature dessert item. Texas', not surprisingly, is pecan pie. (Pronounced pah-cahn not pee-can.)
Something sounds fishy, like someone has an agenda, when you call a map that displays demographics like race and income a "justice map."

The average tooth fairy payout is $3.40? Since when did teeth become subject to inflation? What's wrong with a dollar? Better yet, a nice dollar coin? I used to get dimes - Mercury dimes.

Mine was the last class in my high school (class of 1980) required to learn how to use a slide rule in science class. Still have one in my desk at work. (Perhaps not coincidentally, mine was also the first class to learn to program a computer - BASIC on a Wang 3300.) Anyway, here's the International Slide Rule Museum.

If sliced in half, do not let your liver fall out. source
Time to laugh along with Ze Frank: True Facts about Marsupials.

Time to be scared? Humans Need Not Apply. Too fanciful? Read how software found influences in paintings that art historians hadn't.

This could either be the greatest thing ever or an intestinal nightmare. Now available for purchase at Green Bay Packers games is the Horse Collar, a 22 inch kielbasa with beer cheese, fried sauerkraut and a bun.   
...has time to rock the boat. ~Jean Paul Satre

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Micro by Michael Crichton

This horrible book
was so bad that I gave up
before CD 4.

When I saw that my local library had added the audio book version of Michael Crichton's Micro I took a chance and checked it out. I love his The Andromeda Strain but his more recent works suffer from a tendency to read like screenplays instead of novels.

Big mistake.

A couple of completely implausible plot elements were followed by a twist that was so mind-numbingly stupid that I punched the Eject button on the car's CD player. The dopey plot wasn't helped by prose that was so weak and flimsy that it made Hemingway look like Joyce by comparison.

The crappy writing wasn't helped by the voice acting. John Bedford Lloyd punches out each word with the deftness of an oafish eighth grader playing Whac-A-Mole.

Avoid at all costs. At least the first 3 CDs. Who knows, maybe the book gets really good after that.

Better yet, snuggle up with a copy of  The Andromeda Strain. (Or the movie from the 70s.)

Update 30 Aug 2014: Grammar corrections.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

To find fault is easy...

Kent Nguyen wrote an article about burnout that includes a list of symptoms that I could've written myself. His conclusion, drawing from Marissa Mayer's thoughts, is that burnout is a result of not being able to regularly do the thing that's most important to you. (Marissa wrote that burnout is a resentment for the things you're giving up.)

Here's Kent's list of symptoms, copied and pasted directly:

  • A generally negative attitude, often paired with the feeling that nothing is going to work out.
  • Inability to concentrate.
  • General apathy towards your work, chores, and other tasks.
  • Feelings of stagnation.
  • A lack of interest in social activities and being with others.
  • Difficulty with healthy habits like exercise, diet, and regular sleep.
  • Feeling like you’re never doing enough.
  • Neglecting your own needs (and putting the needs of others ahead of your own).
  • Personal values and beliefs lose their importance.
  • Short temper.
  • Constant exhaustion.
  • Feelings of inefficacy.
  • Feelings of detachment from people and things you care about.
  • Frequent boredom.
  • Psychosomatic complaints, such as headaches, lingering colds, and other issues with a cause that’s difficult to identify.
  • The denial of these.

Whether Kent's tips for preventing burnout will work remains to be seen.

Franz Kline, Monitor, 1956
And now for some music.

Genesis announced the late September release of R-Kive, a 3 CD "best of" set including solo work.

Darla Records announced the October release of Memory and Matter: Selected Remixes, Rarities  and Unreleased Tracks by Manual (Jonas Munk). (You have to go to upcoming releases and scroll down the page to read about it.) Or you can just listen to a preview on YouTube. do better may be difficult. ~Plutarch

[23 Aug 2014: Amended]

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Sound and The Fury by William Faulkner

I've lost count of the number of times I've read Faulkner's masterpiece, The Sound and The Fury, a novel I unabashedly call the finest example of the written English language I've encountered so far.

Like a favorite album by a favorite band, Sound has lost none of its appeal for me, even the audiobook version this time around. And each time I re-experience what Faulkner called his novel he loved the most, the one he worked hardest and longest on, his most splendid failure, I discover a bit more.

This time I noticed something about the novel's four part structure, a structure in which the same tale is told from four viewpoints. And what I noticed was a discongruity between the viewpoint and how that viewpoint is written.

"Through the fence, between the curling flower spaces, I could see them hitting."

As many of my friends who've started but never finished Sound know, the first of its four parts is told from the viewpoint of a mentally challenged person. And while the prose can be exasperating because of its lack of adherence to any timeline, its limited vocablulary, and its reliance on experiences, Benjy may be the most truthful and honest of the four storytellers.

And when you make it to Quentin's part 2, the Harvard student and Benjy's brother, and you think you've been dealt a reprieve from part 1, you find that Quentin's rapidly deteriorating mental state distorts what he does, what he says, and what he tells you. At his core, Quentin is truthful, but his struggle to accept that truth is reflected in writing that is virtually bereft of puncutation and adherence to rules of grammar.

Brother Jason's third section is heavy with dialog and, accordingly, very easy to read. But Jason's inept, ineffectual, infertile rage and bitterness completely distorts his viewpoint making everything he says suspect and turning him into a form of comic relief.

The fourth storyteller is Faulkner himself as he assumes a 3rd person role centered on Dilsey the family servant. Here the storytelling is almost lyrical and displays Faulkner's exquisite ability to interweave exactingly realistic dialog and painterly descriptions of scene and setting, especially nature. And as the novel draws to a close, again centered on Benjy, Faulkner ends with a line that is so pure, so crystaline in thought, so transparent and linear that it's almost shocking, especially as it contrasts to the opening line.

"[Ben's] eyes were empty and blue and serene again as cornice and facade flowed smoothly once more from left to right, post and tree, window and doorway and signboard each in its ordered place."

So as the novel's prose evolves from the impenetrable to the richly descriptive, we see the story devolve from the pure truth to the disturbed, the delusional, and the resigned. Benjy no longer suffers the curling spaces and sees everything in well-ordered and timeless linearity.

Tips for those attempting to read Sound:

  1. There are two Maury's, two Jason's, and two Quentins - sometimes with different genders and sometimes with a different name altogether.
  2. Don't try to understand it all at once from a plot standpoint. It's only after reading the entire novel that you see who was doing what when.

Robert Motherwell Open

Sometimes looking at
paintings is much better than
reading about them.

The essays included in Robert Motherwell Open are way over my head. Good thing there are a lot of pictures of the artist's paintings from his Open series.

Let's just say their geometric simplicity is offset by brushwork and color complexity and the combination reveals a sense of infinite possibility.

Robert Motherwell, In Plato's Cave, 1972. (I chose this particular example of Motherwell's Opens for my friend Chris because of its blackness.)

No one in their right mind would compensate me for this "review."

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Hybrid by Michael Brook

Breathless, intimate,
Distant yet immediate,
Hybrid is so lush.

Michael Brook's 1985 solo debut album, Hybrid, obviously isn't new. I discovered it and him via David Sylvian's live album Damage on which Michael plays along with Robert Fripp.

Produced with contributions from Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois, Hybrid features some of the most beautiful ambient guitar playing I've ever heard. The guitar has a muted timbre that gives it the quality of a distant vocal while at the same time the compositions have an immediacy, a present intimacy.

Give it a listen on YouTube and decide for yourself.

I highly recommend Hybrid for anyone who is a fan of progressive ambient music. And now I can't wait to find out more about what Brook has been doing in the nearly 30 years since.

Brook's website is where you can find a lot of music freely available for download.

I received no compensation of any kind for this review.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

If you desire to be good...

Care to watch a mashup of all 135 Space Shuttle launches?

Mixtape 8 from The Hood Internet is available for streaming and/or downloading from Soundcloud.

I've already pre-ordered the new CD from the Levin Brothers. Give a listen to a modern take on 1950s smooth jazz. Read more here.

Jackson Pollock, Lucifer, 1947
During 1957 and 1958, William Faulkner was Writer-in-Residence at the University of Virginia. In addition to transcripts of his various discussions, there are audio clips where the man himself shares insight into his writing.  On a related note and also related to the recent passing of Lauren Bacall, did you know that Faulkner wrote the screenplay for Bacall's film To Have and Have Not?

Mysterious sounds. Unexplained sounds. The slow-down. The bloop. The wow.

The Space Shuttle photographed from the ISS. source
To my architect friends: when are you gonna design a chair?

Less mysterious, but ambient, long-playing sounds. A complete playlist of them, from Star Trek engine noise to the Death Star (12 hours worth), to 2001 to Blade Runner. (I think they threw in 12 hours of Jabba the Hutt laughing just for... well, laughs.)

Need mo' video? Check out this supercut of computer hacking from 1980s films.

They say watching the Teletubbies slowed down 500x is horrifying but in my opinion it allows you see, experience, and enjoy every subtlety of theatrical genius. This should be on Inside the Actor's Studio.
From the Journal of Polar Biology: penguins produce pressures of around 60 kPa to expel their feces away from the nest, a pressure level much higher than that produced by humans during defecation.

Twas a dark and stormy night. This year's winners of the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest (i.e. write the worst opening sentence to a novel) have been announced. If you like moose, read on.

Chocolate Legos. Edible. Buildable. If you act fast, you might be able to get this on the shelves before the Xmas buying season. And you'd make a fortune.
I must not be smart enough to be a particle physicist because I can't quite figure out how CERN's game Particle Clicker works.
On the right is a tiny nano-printed copy of Monet's Impression Sunrise. Your desktop printer is 300 dpi, this new technology is 30,000 dpi.
...begin by believing that you are wicked. ~Epictetus

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Music is the silence...

In the essay The Pellucid Sound of Rain we delve into the gray area between silence and noise; rain and music; Chopin, Sakamoto, and Malhar. I have linked before to articles about the search for quiet including predictions of dystopian futures in which only the rich will be able to afford silence. Take a few minutes with this one.

Great photo of Mt. Fuji's shadow at sunset by Kris J B.
Finally there's an equation that describes how fashionable your outfit is.

Video of nighttime in Fort Worth, 2011. The Fort.

Consideration of possible use of nuclear weapons in Viet Nam.

I have been reserving my aviation pr0n for my Pinterest board but here's an exception: video recollections orf an SR-71 pilot.

40 warships sailing together. source
Animation Scoop brings us the 2nd trailer from The Penguins of Madagascar. We can only hope the entire movie will be this funny.

I offer this shitty map graphic as an example of what not to do: favorite cereal by state.

Faulkner, in his own words, and his own voice. Recordings of him during his time at U. Virginia. There's even him reading from The Sound and The Fury and trust me, it's less dramatic than the audiobook I'm listening too now.

If you're a man, the results of Harvard's 75-year study on what men need to live a happy life is probably going to be of interest. There are lots of details but two high points are: happiness = love, alcoholism = bad.

Why does Speed Racer's helmet have an M on it?
In the original, Japanese version of Speed Racer, the title character's name is Go Mifune so the M on Speed's helmet is for Mifune. The truly interesting part of this trivia is that the name Mifune is a tribute to actor Toshiro Mifune who's famous for Seven Samurai (fantastic) and other films.

Grand Prize winner of Cartoon Brew's Student Film Fest, Mr. Piggy Dies in 25 Dimensions is not for sensitive people. But for everyone else, it's great.

How about a Game about Squares? No instructions, just figure it out as you go.

Can you guess which abstract artist's painting was the inspiration for this floral arrangement?
Here's a hint. She's the top-selling female artist of all time. And it's not Georgia O'Keeffe. And you can read more about the growing popularity of female artists.

Remember when I told you about the voting for Art Everywhere, the program to post images of works of art throughout the U.S? Well, voting is over and it's now happening. Check out the interactive map to find where art is posted in your area. For my Fort Worth friends there's a de Kooning on NW 28th.

Working with all those tiny parts is what makes watchmaking a craft. But did you ever wonder how all those tiny things themselves get manufactured? More craft pr0n than you can shake a stick at.

This Way Up is one of those games involving abstract art that I, as a fan of abstraction, dread. You see a painting and have to guess which end is up. I got 3 of 5 right.

Where do you go to get your poo authenticated? Is this or is it not a 6 million year old fossil feces?
And now, spend some time with your Gentle Brain.

...between the notes. ~Claude Debussy

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Stieg Larsson's The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Next

The girl who did these
things was a truly a complex,
unique character.

My friend Chris said that the 2nd of Stieg Larsson's three thrillers that began with the hit The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was the best. That's why I had to read both The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest consecutively to see whether I agree with him.

I do. Fire gave me the most surprising plot twist in any book that I can recall. Overall the book delivered consistent intrigue without the squirmy and nasty sex from the first book.

Hornet's Nest took way too looooooooooooong time to get going.

Larsson's protagonist was a pretty unique character and his death makes me wonder if we'll ever read anything about Lisbeth Salander again. At least the trilogy makes for good reading.

I received no compensation of any kind for this review.

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Joys of Air Travel

How much fun is air travel?

Airlines added baggage fees. Travelers don't want to pay baggage fees. Travelers carry-on their baggage. End result? Steerage class on the Titanic was probably less cluttered and territorial.

Airlines now charge for "food." Travelers don't want to pay for that "food." Travelers bring food onto the plane. End result? The aircraft cabin smells like a Taco Bell dumpster at an August high-noon.

Travelers like their electronic devices. Travelers personalize them with all sorts of sounds. End result? The aircraft cabin sounds like an Akihabara pachinko hall on payday.

Yes, I ride in the back as a matter of practice. And that's why the perks I love the most from my frequent flier plan are the upgrades.

Now, if I could only earn some.