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On the one hand, they were paranoid about the financial commitment.

On the other, they were really, really into the food.

If you're gonna get stoned before the salesman comes over, at least have the decency to air out the house.
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Sometimes the brain produces a phrase or idea that is just wrong.

Example from past works:

Pol Pot Pie.
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Golden Age Science Fiction has not, in far too many cases, aged well. I can suspend my disbelief when it comes to the inability of authors to predict things like cell phones or portable computers. Some of the economic, racial, gender and social assumptions being made, though, really speak to a group of minds firmly rooted in the 1930s. Were the stories set in the 1930s this would have been easier to ignore.

As you might guess, a few months ago I delved back into the books of my youth...early Heinlein, E.E. "Doc" Smith, Asimov. I read a bunch of Asimov and Heinlein and the whole Lensman epic by Smith. One character of African descent. And he's a witch doctor. Admittedly it makes sense in the story and he's treated with a semblance of respect, but really?

I look at Star Trek and realize what a ground-breaking concept it seems to have been to have a multi-cultural crew simply function. I mean, it seems quaint now, but when you read even massive amounts of what is considered the better stuff from the earlier era there is just no representation of positive diversity. Even when Asimov wrote a major female character into the Robot stories (Dr. Susan Calvin) she was a homely, icy spinster. And heaven forbid a female character should (with the exception of Dr. Calvin) reach any level of professional responsibility.

Anything off the beaten path of sexuality? Are you kidding?

Okay, I know they were writing to a specific audience, but they were also perpetuating ugly stereotypes, in that by omission of any other culture or ethnicity they in essence proposed a future devoid of any ethnicity but middle and upper class Europeans.

Okay, I'm done.


Sep. 25th, 2009 08:08 am
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Tag me with "icons" in the replies and I will choose some of your icons to tell us about. Reply in your journal!! Or don't. No skin off my back.

Chosen by my long-time pal [livejournal.com profile] lotusice:

1. Electrified fence
This fence surrounds a power relay station in the industrial area at the east footing of the Fremont Bridge in Portland. The photo itself was taken largely because I find industrial, utilitarian things fascinating. As for its inclusion as an icon, if I use it one might infer a less-than-public entry.

2. Burma
This is a teensy gif I put together from a series of shots of Mission Of Burma, that venerable and storied Boston Post-Punk musical goliath, playing at the Doug Fir. Of late my photography m.o. has been to set the camera to take repeated exposures and just lean on the shutter release button. I have nearly song-length sets of images, but it helps cut down on those moments lost to focusing time and perceptual lag. (Of course, I also end up with 1200 exposures of a single show, but c'est la vie.) I refuse to use a flash to shoot live performances, as I think it's rude to the artist(s) and to the rest of the audience, but if someone else is using a flash I'm willing to exploit that. One frame of this gif is someone else doing just that. The icon was intended for use on music posts, which haven't happened as often as I'd like.

3. Erosion
I am still unconvinced I can call a thing "art" to which I haven't actually taken my hand. This is a 18" x 24" oil pastel self portrait I did for an architectural graphics class in the early 2000s. It's based on a Photoshop file in which I gradually ate away at two overlapping high-contrast photos of myself. It's actually the penultimate version. When I turned it in my instructor informed me he'd be keeping it, and suggested I might want to explore one further iteration. I did, but apparently I looked bummed enough by his intent that he took pictures for future use in class & returned it. So now I have two similar works. In person neither of them are always recognized as human, looking more like some abstract mapping of some sort until one sees them from a distance of 8' or more. This pleases me. As an icon it's to indicate a bad mood, or feeling worn & at wit's end. (NOTE: Version two, on the living room wall, absolutely fascinates my infant son. He rarely tires of smiling at it. He's my son all right.)

4. knotwork heart
Circa 1994 I decided I'd try my hand at knotwork. (Working at Books, Inc. at the time I had access to several decent books and a remarkable amount of on-the-clock downtime, so it made sense.) It proved simple, so my designs got a little more complex. HOWEVER! At home I made a real show of struggling with a simple trefoil knot, much to Kelli's perplexity. Meanwhile, I worked on the heart at work as Valentine's Day approached, and on the big day I shocked the heck out of her. She loved it, but when she realized that she'd been had, she hit me. I considered that a win.

5. Doomed!
A distant wildfire colored the sunlight amber. The whole week was like that, and the feeling was surreal, as if some apocalyptic event were hovering over the entire city. At night the moon oscillated from blood red to a citric orange. My photography of celestial objects has been a lingering source of frustration, as they rarely turn out. This moon is one of the few exceptions. This icon usually indicates some sort of world-is-ending-via-human-stupidity entry.

6. Mt. Angel
Ah. Mount Angel. This is a heavily cropped shot of the main reading room of the Mount Angel Benedictine Abbey Library, my favorite building. It is one of two full-on buildings in North America by otherwise prolific Finnish architect Alvar Aalto, one of the ten best architects of the 20th century. (The other building is the Baker House dorm at M.I.T., where he taught in the 1940s.) The Abbey, a seminary by vocation, has had a large collection of important religious texts (including original Gregorian Chant notation and centuries-old Judaica), but they'd been keeping the books all over the place since their library burned down. In the mid-1960s a monk was sent down to U.C. Berkeley to ask who they'd ask to design a library. Not taking it too seriously, someone at Cal blurted out the best-case scenario, Aalto. They wrote to Aalto, who politely blew them off by insisting on a face-to-face meeting, in Finland. Aalto was knocked for a loop when the head librarian showed up a few months later, and, taken with the site map Fr. Barnabas Reasoner brought with him, began designing the library. The Abbey is on a bluff overlooking the Willamette River Valley, with the buildings perched along the rim, surrounding a central gathering area. The library is low-key in presentation, the lowest building on the bluff, a single story brick building, resolutely rectilinear and, in many ways, humble and boring. Then you enter, and the building spills down the hillside into a three-story height, creating a an amazing, breathtaking space that, in the words of my wife, combines the serenity of "a library and a monastery." The monks are proud as punch of the building, and welcome architectural tourists like me. I had a conversation with a monk who'd met Aalto when he visited in 1971 and the man was so happy to tell me about the experience, and what a gift the building had been in the last 30 years of his time at the Abbey. As a side note, this was the Abbey Dave Guastaferro attempted to join, and he and I had a frighteningly intense conversation about the awesomeness of the library.

So it's my default icon, and if I ever, ever design a building with even 20% of this library's power to enrich the lives of users there will be no living with my massive ego.


Sep. 22nd, 2009 08:54 pm
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So, I sold my film cameras. I vowed not to do so until a decent simulation of TMax-3200 came along.

And here it is. )
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I was recently reading the liner notes for the new remaster of The Beatles' Revolver and was reminded of a still-startling fact.

Revolver was recorded and released eight months after Rubber Soul. Eight months. Rubber Soul was a stylistic and songwriting breakthrough for the band, which is really easy to forget. Then to make the breakthrough look like a warmup by releasing Revolver and the "Paperback Writer"/"Rain" single well under a year later? (Oh, and did I mention Revolver was recorded on four tracks of tape?)

I'm going to set aside the agog post about the massive creative and technical growth by these musicians in such a short time period and cast a wider net.

Bands used to make a lot more music. Not all of them, and of course not all of the albums were as chockablock with good material, but some of them were.

Led Zeppelin's first four albums were released in the space of three calendar years. Setting aside comparisons of creative growth, that's four albums of fairly consistent material by a band that also toured throughout those three years.

Fairport Convention went from the British Jefferson Airplane to making rock music mining a rich vein of traditional folk music in a year and a half, during which time the band lost their drummer in a van crash that injured every member. From "Time Will Show the Wiser" to epic versions of "Matty Groves" and "Tam Lin" in eighteen months, again, while touring.

I hate to get all fuddy-duddy-ish here, but I don't see that happening much now. Two or three years seems to be a minimum for anything beyond a self-released album, and some bands seem to think nothing of going five or more years between releases. And even at that, how many of those are really worth a front-to-back listen? Or represent much beyond more of the same?

I suspect three things are at play here. First, labels seem to think flooding the market with product will dilute earning potential. They might be right, but it bothers me that that has an influence on musicians. As Duke Ellington once said when told he wasn't selling enough, "I though my job was to make the records. You're the one who's supposed to sell them."

Second, too much time farting around in the studio. The Beatles and Zeppelin and Fairport albums sound great even now. Why is it so hard to record quickly? If anything, with 24 tracks or more music should be simpler to record and mix.

Third, the bands I mentioned treated it like a job. Not to say they punched in and punched out, but they sat down and wrote and played and rehearsed with a work ethic, rather than viewing it as a strictly creative pursuit. No doubt that pervasive mindset led to a whole lot of crap, but for the really good bands it also meant a ton of good music in short spans of time. I'll sit through more Gerry & The Pacemakers albums if it means more Beatles, Fairport and Zeppelin.

Just random thoughts.
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If I don't laugh I'll either cry or start punching people in the face.

I look like an idiot when I cry, and more people can beat me up than I can beat up.

Laughter it is.
wileypeter: (Beg pardon?)
What the hell is wrong with these idiots? The planet is an incredibly complex system, resilient but able to be damaged. We're seeing that as the average global temperature slowly inches up the mercury. So, given just how well such a simple environmental factor as CO2 could produce a major unintended side effect, what possible harm do you think might come from screwing directly with major weather patterns?

The idea that a simple technological solution, applied with enough force and pure intentions, can solve a problem without unbalancing a delicate system is a near-constant theme in 20th Century scientific, engineering and social catastrophes. And now we're looking at altering things in even more profound ways.

This isn't Windows, Gates. If you foul this up you can't issue a patch or tell us to wait for the new OS or offer a downgrade to the old system.
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Robert Zemeckis has never been the shining light of cinematic achievement. You knew starting out he wasn't going to be the second coming of Orson Welles or Akira Kurasawa. It seemed possible, though, that he might make a career of a string of entertaining, workmanlike releases, hitting his mark with every other one. Indeed it kind of looked that way.

But this, THIS looks to be an astoundingly stupid career move. It's one thing to take a kids' book and turn it into a creepy, soulless exercise in CGI rendering. Maybe even trying to take a classic epic myth and wasting a remarkable cast on more dead-eyed, stiff-faced CGI. But to make an (almost) animated remake of an animated movie of no small profile? To do this is to set up massively unflattering comparisons.

The primary reason a CGI Pixar movie with humans as the subjects can work is because Pixar's smart enough not to try reproducing human form and expression exactly. A friend of mine was testing the audio/video synch for Adobe's video editing software some time ago, and despite his best efforts, nothing worked as well for the task as footage of people speaking. We are hyper-attuned to the qualities and actions of the human face. It's how we know each other. So trying to capture those ridiculously complex nuances has, to date, resulted only in quasi-human creepiness. It's kind of like seeing a pseudo-realistic Thomas Kinkade painting. It's ugly, and the groping for reality just underscores the failure to achieve it.

And now Zemeckis has in essence decided to Kinkade-ify another artist's work. Tone-deaf doesn't even cover it. Yellow Submarine worked because it was stylized and abstract, like the best of Pixar's work. This may not be akin to repainting Monet's "Water Lilies" as shiny, pseudophotorealistic hotel art but it will make him look just as stupid.
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Suing them. Why? Trina Thompson, 27, can't find a job.

No. Really.

"As Thompson sees it, any reasonable employer would pounce on an applicant with her academic credentials, which include a 2.7 grade-point average and a solid attendance record."

I'm not a violent man by inclination. I must admit, I want to smack this woman silly. I have two degrees, one a professional Masters. My UC Berkeley g.p.a. was well above hers and my U of Oregon g.p.a. was a ridiculous 4.3. I can't find an architecture job. Why?

Because morons with business degrees brought the economy down like an outdated Vegas hotel. And she wants more than her money back. (Of course, if she graduated knowing so little about real world business situations as to think she can snag a job in this economy she may well have a point.)

I'm stopping here so I don't begin to use nothing but obscene language. Or throw my computer through a window.
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Does it annoy anyone else to really like a song/album/movie/book, but know it was inspired by drivel?
wileypeter: (leftleaning)
So, about two hours to go and the three bites I got on the camera setup on Craigslist were two scammers wanting to wire me money from Africa (sure! Why not!) and a guy who just wanted the flash, but not MY flash, a better one from the same manufacturer.

Hm. Since damn near every lens is a duplicate, and every lens works with both bodies, I think I'd do better to sell each setup separately. And cheaper.

This sucks. It's a solid set of equipment, albeit old. I could get an adapter ring to use the lenses with the digital camera, but they'd be utterly manual (even light metering) and I already have lenses that do most of what the older setup does. I know, I should keep it all. No. Half the fun of shooting film was seeing the print appear in a tray of chemicals and I gave away my darkroom five years ago. Besides, I always told myself that I'd go wholly digital only when I saw a convincing replication of the results I've gotten with TMAX3200. This was pretty convincing. I don't have the money to buy it, but maybe if I sell the damn cameras...
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...and selling my film cameras and all the attendant lenses.


I've got two solid old Minoltas, wholly manual, and ten lenses (though a lot of duplication, so really it's two set-ups).

My heart hasn't been in film photography since I donated my darkroom to a High School in Hayward.

So Craigslist, here I come!

(Yeah, I'm being totally optimistic on the price, but it's not far off what someone is asking for a similar set with one body and no 1.4 lens. I gotta try!)
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Moe! Staiano just opened one of the coolest eBay auctions you'll ever see:

He's selling the Pressure Cap Marimba.

Were I not unemployed I'd be all over this.
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I'm a whisker away from finishing my revamped portfolio, so the feelers are once again going out. Maybe with the jobless rate in Oregon stabilizing I can find at least part-time work in the chosen field?

Fingers crossed. Fingers cramped from being crossed for a year, but crossed none the less.
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I've been meaning to post this for years.

What you see here is The Treniers, a band led by identical twins in the 1940s, '50s and thereafter. It's basically hopped up Jump Blues, an earthier variant on Swing, and they were a MAJOR influence on early Rock 'N' Roll. A Western Swing outfit was playing the same venue as these guys, and after he sat through a show or two the group's leader, Bill Haley, revamped his outfit into The Comets.

Particularly fun is the "Dancin' Bug" routine they do here, an archival clip aired in the show Sunday Night Music (later just Night Music).

They had a minor hit with this tune:

The two brothers, Cliff & Claude, had the most awesome raucous voices and a great stage presence. I can only ascribe their relative obscurity to the facts that they weren't white (like Bill Haley, who frankly doesn't compare) and that their sound has some clearly defined limits, meaning (I suppose) a more limited appeal than artists who had a wider range. Still, folks like Dean Martin counted themselves as fans. The Treniers appeared both with Dean and Jerry and on Dean's later solo show, so props to Dean for throwing gigs their way.
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