Wednesday, December 31, 2008
D.H. Lawrence had an idea where two people meet on a road, and rather then just pass and glance at each other and look away, they accept what equals a confrontation between their souls. Like freeing the reckless gods within us all.
Which is both an interesting thought (especially for a commuter) as well as a good example of what watching the movie is like: 90 minutes of coolly freaky animation filled with thought experiments like this one. (See here for some text from the film.) Can't wait for the snowy train ride home!
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Monday, December 29, 2008
I was told a few weeks back that I had contracted viral bronchitis and that there wasn't anything I could do about it. The doctor gave me some codeine-laced cough syrup (not as fun as you would suspect) and sent me on my way. Two weeks of sleeping on the couch later, there was no improvement in my cough, so, sight-unseen, they prescribed me a five-day Zpack of Azithromycin, an antibiotic for bacterial infections. This, combined with my uncle's advice (he's an Otolaryngologist) seems to have finally cleaned up the problem.
I'll blog more about this later, but my uncle thinks that the coughing was related to my acid reflux. The reflux tickles the throat, causing even more coughing and further aggravating the bronchitis. Taking stronger reflux medicine seems to have done the trick.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Now comes news of a grassroots effort to influence Obama's Secretary of Agriculture so that the USDA might start promoting sustainability rather then simply promoting the interests of the large corporate farms. Here's hoping it works.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
The quotes people pull are beautiful and moving, like this: "The University of Santa Theresa was like a cemetery that suddenly begins to think, in vain. It also was like an empty dance club."
However, i've been burned before. So i'll keep my eye out for it, perhaps in paperback, but i'm not going to buy into the hype this time. Sorry.
He references Alan Porter's fascinating Move over DITA – Chaos Is Coming! article, where he realizes just how out of date the current help paradigm is by observing his daughter research for a school paper. The money quote:
"In fact for most of my working life to date, the technology I used at work far out paced that I used outside of work.
But not any more."
It's a sad truth, and one that will mean more painful discrepancies between user's help expectations and companies delivery methods until it can be resolved.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Monday, December 8, 2008
Friday, December 5, 2008
Thursday, December 4, 2008
In the "Minimalism in complex knowledge domains: can it be done?" section, there's a discussion of minimalist documentation. I've always minimalist idea intriguing, but have never been able to recognize it myself for a number of reasons (software is too complex, need to explain general processes in detail, and the requirement to document around bugs).
However, I liked this:
"Galyna says that minimalist documents should not only contain procedures. Users need more information. As with all types of documentation, two problems that technical authors have are deciding on the level of detail and organising the tasks."
This is the crux of technical writing: you want to provide the steps to help the user solve their problem, but you also need to provide the bigger picture. Galyna's advice seems to be moving away from minimalism, but I think that's almost unavoidable for most application help.
- When picking him up from day care today, on the way home he stops his random singing and says "Good to see you!"
- Lighting up a fire tonight, he looks at the flame and says "beautiful".
Good times. I'm trying to enjoy every minute.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
I love it when Hunter has an announcement to make. He'll stop, lean his body forward, screw up his eyes in concentration, and raise up both index fingers and say "Wait! Hunter will be right back!" or whatever important think that's on his mind.
We were putting him down to sleep on a twin bed, so I was lying next to him one night, rubbing his back, when he started giggling hysterically. His eyes were closed, but something was amusing him, because he was laughing on and off for a good five minutes. Then he passed out, just like that. What a way to fall asleep - happy and laughing.
In Florida, we obviously didn't have all of the toys that we do in Ashland, so we had to be a bit creative when coming up with stuff to play with. The most amusing thing was water bottles. We drink a lot of bottled water when we're down there because the house's well water just doesn't agree with me, so we've got large gallon+ bottles for the house and smaller bottles for trips in the car. Well, one afternoon Hunter literally spent two hours playing with water bottles. He'd get daddy to fill up the smaller bottle from the pool, and then sit down next to both bottles. Then he'd count with his inexact command of numbers, always starting with three: "three, pour, six, sephen, eight, GO!" and quickly unscrew both caps, then pour the water from the smaller bottle into the larger one. This happened a few times before he would upend the by-now relatively full larger water bottle, spilling water all over the pool deck and himself (he spent most of his pool time naked) and cheering loudly.
Another good activity was throwing balls. Hunter would stand in front of the garage looking down the slight incline to the other side of the cement driveway. The balls could be throw or rolled but they would end up in the grass, be collected, then tossed back to the garage where another round of throwing would commence. Occasionally, the balls would be thrown up in the air, or he would gather them all up in a stroller and then walk the stroller around the driveway.
As Hunter gets older, he's expressing his opinions more and more. Our current favorite is when he'll stop in the middle of something and just say "I happy." Another example is when we were flying back to Logan, he kept repeating "Boston" and was so excited to know where we were going and to be going back home that he would say: "Boston! I love it!" He's been telling us when he's having a good time by saying something like "Having fun, Mommy!" or even just stopping what he's doing for a "love you daddy". it's really fun to see him coming into his own. The night after the first day back at day care, he was excitedly telling me that "I played with friends!" and listed them out for me: "I played with Gabby, Danny..." Etc.
Probably the most amusing thing that occurred recently are his imaginary phone conversations. he'll steal a cell phone and walk around the house "talking" on it. When traveling, this distraction can be a godsend, so in the car at one point, he was talking on the phone, but this was a real conversation; he was pretending to talk to "JenandMax":
"Oh hi Jen, [unintelligible murmur] Max [la la la], Dave, oh wow... cool!" And then he hung up the phone.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
The other Buffalo hallmark is to have your hopes built up only to have them crushed in the most debilitating manner possible. After all the promise shown by their scrappy season last year, and then this season's 5-1 start, this season ends up like the rest: a depressing whimper with promises of next year. Not sure why I subject myself to this year after year.
Monday, December 1, 2008
So far - i'm halfway through it - Warlock is a fantastic book, if a bit unrelentingly grim (I know the hardscrabble life was tough, but no one joked at all back then?) It's about a small mining town's efforts to install "law and order" and what that means. Thomas Pynchon, as usual, has the best take on it.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
"KFI's John Ziegler is not a journalist — he is an entertainer. Or maybe it's better to say that he is part of a peculiar, modern, and very popular type of news industry, one that manages to enjoy the authority and influence of journalism without the stodgy constraints of fairness, objectivity, and responsibility that make trying to tell the truth such a drag for everyone involved. It is a frightening industry, though not for any of the simple reasons most critics give."
Ziegler is such a classy guy that he used the occasion of DFW's suicide to publicly blast the newly deceased. Good times.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
That's the season in a nutshell. I didn't expect great things from this team until they played so good at the start of the season. That's what makes their poor play as of late so much more disappointing.
To calm myself down, let's take a look at this passage from the Tao te Ching:
We join spokes together in a wheel,
but it is the center hole
that makes the wagon move.
We shape clay into a pot,
but it is the emptiness inside
that holds whatever we want.
We hammer wood for a house,
but it is the inner space
that makes it livable.
We work with being,
but non-being is what we use.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
Yes, most of us are yuppies heading into town (my train is heavy on be-suited WSJ-reading middle-agers heading into the financial district), but there are still many fascinating faces to look at. And occasionally i'm pleasantly surprised about some of the things that occur. For example, a week ago, I was sitting between two people who, unbeknownst to each other, were reading the exact same Carl Hiaasen novel (Basket Case, I believe it was).
This morning, an extremely stereotypical Boston suburban woman got on the train at West Natick -- clad in designer jeans and black wool overcoat, she had a fashionably large purse with visible stitching and lots of accessory pockets and straightly pure is-it-dyed blonde hair. At first I dismissed her outright, but noticed later that she was reading Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five, not your standard light
train read, and not something that my assumptions had led me to expect.
It's good to get out of my perceptive ruts now and again. Sure, everyone needs to use preconceptions to exist, lest you spend every waking moment questioning the reality of everything you encounter like the amnesiac in Memento, but over relying on stereotypes lead you to missing out on the (hidden) depths of everyday life.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
"A bailout of GM would be a pure exercise of political power to deliver taxpayer funds to one organized group of citizens at the expense of the country as a whole. It should be avoided."
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
William Gibson, Pattern Recognition, p. 229
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
This is a major television, populated by pundits who apparently don't care how sexist someone is as long as he can make them some money. Depressing.
Monday, November 10, 2008
I have a couple of quibbles about this. Mainly, the notion that "Authors don't care about units sold. They care about ideas spread." seems a bit too naive too me. Of course authors are interested in making money off of what they do. The other main factor is the love that readers have for their physical books. Now, someone may come up with a better way of reading someday, but I love having the physical object in my hand, with a nice cover and the ability to flip around as I wish and make annotations if desired. Really the same reasons why, as much as I love my iPod, I hate not being able to see large LP-size artwork, or easily access the song's musicians and/or lyrics.
Having said all of that, I think he makes a good argument, and that the Kindle appears to be the first electronic book reader that is gaining popularity. I'll be watching with great interest to see where this goes.
Friday, November 7, 2008
Instead, we'll just dismiss the last eight years as nothing really notable -- just the standard, garden-variety failures, disappointments and corruption we normally see from politicians. Hence: Bill Clinton had an affair and let contributors stay in the Lincoln Bedroom; George Bush tortured people, stomped on the Constitution, chronically broke our laws, started wars based on manufactured pretexts, committed felonies by spying on American without warrants, abolished habeas corpus, imprisoned human beings in "black sites," etc. Boy, politicians sure are bad. Let's move on and hope Obama doesn't do what Clinton and Bush both did.
There's truth there. I've given up hope that Bush/Cheney will be punished for their crimes, but still hope that perhaps Obama will reverse much of the damage that has been done.
Update: More on this theme.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
"Once someone set out to learn about fear. And in the time which just past, this art was mastered, to our horror. And now, setting aside the progenitors of fear, we are due a more measured sensitivity.
Now it is of the essence that we learn to hope. The work of hope will not fail us; it is devoted to success, and not to failure."
–Ernst Bloch, Das Prinzip Hoffnung
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
To be undecided in this election is to pause for a moment and then ask how the chicken is cooked." - David Sedaris
"V, though he is a brutal murderer and a terrorist / anarchist, nonetheless stands up for and represents the values of the humanities, which are indeed currently under threat by the new fascism emerging at the behest of the political right and the neocons. Moore was telling us, with his great graphic novel, that unless we wish to see things like art and music and literature (and this includes popular culture) disappear altogether, we are going to have to stand up and fight for it."
I haven't seen a good answer to this dilemma. I certainly don't condone terrorism, but it's hard to argue with the steps that V. takes in the comix (even if the "reconditioning" of Evey is brutal).
BTW, I haven't seen the movie yet, so I don't know if it's any good, but the comix, despite some minor flaws, is a stunning work of art.
Monday, November 3, 2008
"Five hours' New York jet lag and Cayce Pollard wakes in Camden Town to the dire and ever-circling wolves of disrupted circadian rhythm."
It sounds a bit like a forced, overly-literary first line (I find that Gibson's writing sometimes has that quality), but his ideas and the way he incorporates them into his stories is first-rate.
Friday, October 31, 2008
However, to me, the most effective scare tactic was the complete amorality of the characters. No irony nor camp for these villains, the glee they showed in pursuing the death of a few of the eponymous corpses was truly disturbing, and why I'll be looking for the sequel in the near future.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
My favorite quote: "In other words, it's not clear that the agencies disobeyed the law because the president said they could disobey it."
In fact, the game would have finished sooner if it hadn't been for several unforced errors on my point. Oops.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Unfortunately, I find most animal flesh to be quite good, and vegetarianism just doesn't have the taste nor the convenience of a lot of meat dishes. However, I've been slowly introducing more veggie dishes to my diet; I just don't ever see them going away completely.
Another interesting take theme on this theme is David Foster Wallace's famous essay Consider the Lobster (PDF link).
Of course, Wikipedia tells me that 4...dxc6 is almost always played at the master level so my opponent played 4...bxc6 instead, so the game is still a bit open at this point. If anyone's interested, i'll let you know how it turns out.
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
‘Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway;
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God’s
When mercy seasons justice.
–William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice. Act IV, Scene I, lines 182-95
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Essentially, a bunch of critics these days - led by James Wood - are pulling out all of the old complaints about postmodernism again, including Thomas Pynchon, my favorite author. As Nigel Beale distills the arguement: "Is realism, "lifeness" or verisimilitude a necessary quality of good literature?"
I think the entire question is off-base. If you like something, read it, enjoy it, learn from it, tell others about it, and all is well in the world. The idea that something is a "necessary quality" of good literature is, to me, implicitly absurd. If it works for you, as an individual, then it's good literature. If it doesn't, then it's not.
I'm reminded of my trip to Napa Valley, all ready to be annoyed at the snooty wine snobs, only to be told at Saywer Cellars that "there are two types of wine. Not Red and White, but wines you like and wines you don't like." It's a refreshing attitude that I wish more of these high-minded literature reviewers would take to heart. Just because someone gets fulfillment out of, for example, a Stephen King novel - writing that some find may find repellent but that I find brilliant - doesn't mean that there's nothing redeeming about it.
I could go on and on about this, but i'll save you the rant. Read what you like. And let me know about the good stuff and i'll give it a read.
This post touchingly muses on the results of having children and sez two interesting things:
1. ...too many black men see child-rearing as "responsibility" and not "personal investment."
2. Obama's mother, a relatively young woman when he was born, will not be here to see him inaugurated, should he win. Whenever, I think of that I just get sad--mostly because she did know the rewards of parenting and threw herself at her kids. There's something unjust in the fact that she won't get to see the results of all her work.
The idea of a child being an "investment", other then a cynical "someone's gotta take care of me when i'm old", is an interesting thought. I've always thought in the back of my mind that bringing a child into this world, with its mass murders, class warfare, and crazy leaders, is implicitly selfish, but this article really made me think that it's really optimistic: you're thinking that your child could really help make things better. Obama's mother certainly realized her dreams of her son making the most of himself - he'll almost certainly be the next president of the United States!
But when Coates writes that Obama's mother "won't bet to see the results of all her work", I think that's unfair. I don't believe she had a child with the goal of having him become president; she had a child out of love, and she did see the results of her work by seeing her son grow up to become a decent human who loved not only her but also others in the world. The rest of it - even being President - is really just whipped cream on top. And to call being president "results" is, I think, to cynically dismiss that accomplishment.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
- An amusing rant about the financial industry and hemp by a broker who's taking his money and getting while the getting is good.
- A good summary of the absurdity of the Republican "voting fraud" faux scandal. Money Quote:
"Miles Rapoport, a former Connecticut secretary of state who is now president of Demos, a public policy group, remarked that ... that with the explosion of voter registration and the heightened interest in the presidential campaign, you’d think officials "would welcome that, and encourage it, and even celebrate it." Instead, he said, in so many cases, G.O.P. officials are "trying to pare down the lists." "
As Robert Pollin, co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, puts it: "What we ought to be doing is rethinking regulating the financial market to channel credit into useful investments instead of useless, destructive speculations."
The lack of this investment is dramatic: "The Globe last week reported that wind turbine projects are being delayed for up to two years because the parts cannot be made fast enough."
What I was able to see of the game was impressive. The Bills finally look like a good team again. If they can stay healthy and beat some of their AFC East foes, then we'll be playing again in January, which is all I can ask for.
Friday, October 17, 2008
Other then the worlds best football game (did you need to ask if it was the Bills?), i've never seen a never-say-die team like the Red Sox. They just don't quit.
Friday, October 10, 2008
One of the deer was surprisingly un-spooked by me, and I was able to walk by it on the other side of the road as we check each other out. They really are beautifully skittish creatures.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
J.P. is essentially Rob Johnson (aka the Big Sack) with slightly better decision making capabilities (and that's damning with faint praise). He'll give you one or two good long bombs a game, 3-4 sacks, and 5-6 head-slapping WTF was he thinking moments. And i've had just a few too many of those over the years, thank you very much.
Having said that, Coach Jauron has it right: 4-1 is an excellent place to be. The Bills now have their bye week to get McGee and Edwards healthy (please) and to try and get their offensive line in some kind of order. Jason Peters' holdout hurt this team more then anyone's saying, and the sooner he regains his form from last year, the better.
Monday, October 6, 2008
He's also taken to reaching up and pushing/pulling your face towards whatever he wants you to pay attention to. For example, sometimes we'll be sitting at the breakfast table, and if i'm reading the paper, and he'll reach over, grasp my chin, and turn my head towards whatever he's trying to talk about. Typically, this is after several "Daddy"s so in his defense its not like he's already tried to get my attention in other ways.
The thing that continually amazes me about Hunter is his energy. He's always running around everywhere (I always joke that you can tell when he's not feeling well because he walks somewhere rather then running). It's a rare occasion that he sits down and spends more than a few minutes in one place. But get him moving, and that's another story. He'll happily ride his big wheel around the car for hours, or run up and down the hallway after matchbox or race cars.
Another "big guy" thing Hunter's been doing is walking Bella himself on our walks. He's been walking along at a good clip, holding Bella's leash, as we walk along a pretty good loop through some newer development near our house (the McMansion section, that actually has sidewalks). He does get a little tired after the loop, which usually manifests itself by him getting cranky towards the end of the walk, trying to get off of the sidewalk into the road or down into people's lawns, etc. but
overall he does a really good job. The funny thing is watching him try to "control" Bella by randomly pressing the leash's "lock" button or pulling the leash while yelling "Bella come!" He obviously watches Mommy and Daddy very closely.
While I think the article contains an element of truth, I think that this overstates the case a bit. Many, many people - including myself, who likes to keep one eye on the art world - don't pay any attention to recent art movements or displays. We simply know what we like when we see it, and if we like something, we'll support it, or learn more about it, or tell someone else about it. (Kinda like what i'm doing now.) Part of which may explain the rush to "novelty" - it's hard to grab people's attentions - but it's also more indicative of the insular world of "fine art". These creative bubbles happen all the time. For instance, it's the same reaction I get whenever I see a clothing fashion show: It's a show for itself, outrageous clothes that no one will ever really wear for the people that created them in the first place.
I'll probably have more to say about this as I work my way through my new book.
"By universalizing the spirit of opposition, the avant-garde’s project has transformed the practice of art into a purely negative enterprise, in which art is either oppositional or it is nothing. Celebrity replaces aesthetic achievement as the goal of art. ...
These days, the art world places a great premium on novelty. But here’s the irony: Almost everything championed as innovative in contemporary art is essentially a tired repetition of gestures inaugurated by the likes of Marcel Duchamp, creator of the first bottle-rack masterpiece and the first urinal fountain.
Of course, not all the news from the world of art is bad. There is plenty of vigorous, accomplished art being produced today, but it is rarely touted at the Chelsea galleries, celebrated in the New York Times, or featured in the trendier precincts of the art world. The serious art of today tends to be a quiet affair, off to the side and out of the limelight."
Saturday, October 4, 2008
Friday, October 3, 2008
Meghan McCain to choose Stereolab’s "Ping Pong" as her September 29, 2008 "song of the day."
Of course, if you listen to the lyrics, the song's a rather scathing critique of capitalism (and actually quite apt for the current climate).
I'm pretty sure poor Meghan simply liked it for the happy, bouncing melody. It's only one of the songs that make the groop's Mars Audiac Quintet a must-listen.
From what i hear, their new album Chemical Chords is a return to form. (And this Boston Phoenix article sums up a nagging feeling I've had about the band ever since Cobra and Phases Group Play Voltage in the Milky Night.)
What fun. Link's stories are glib examinations of the intersection of the normal world with that of the supernatural. Bizarre things happen and yet no one ever bats an eye. Toasters become haunted, rabbits build underground skyscrapers, and people try to live their lives amidst the fascinating chaos. Throughout it all, Link's narration dryly presents and comments upon the action: "[she] yanked at the hem of the skirt of her pink linen suit, which seemed as if it might, at any moment, go rolling up her knees like a window shade."
Or this: "Babies weren't babies, they were land mines, bear traps, wasp nests. They were a noise, which was sometimes even not a noise, but merely a listening for a noise; they were a damp, chalky smell; they were the heaving, jerky, sticky manifestation of not-sleep."
This is good stuff. Even her stories that don't really succeed are entertaining. Pick one up today!
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
I'm having fun with the season, but until Jason Peters starts playing like a Pro Bowler again, and the O Line can start blocking for Lynch on a consistent basis, i'm going to remain consistently optimistic rather then boastfully happy.
Having said that, this Edwards kid is a keeper. Mark my words.
Monday, September 29, 2008
Friday, September 26, 2008
Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow, page 105.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Monday, September 22, 2008
Now all we need is someone to step in and prevent which, right now, looks like a bailout that is neither fair nor effective.
Another neat thing is that he's starting to learn manners. Just Friday he started using "thank you" when he would get something that he wanted. Completely unprompted! It started out with Kelly "thank yee Mommy" and then he started thanking me too. It's not even something we've been practicing!
Another big step is that he's started showing concern for other people. Now, he's always been fascinated with other crying babies, and his teachers tell us that he'll go over to crying babies at daycare and try to give them their pacifiers. So this morning I tripped over this new wheeled bulldozer that we bought him for his second birthday (didn't fall, but did stumble) and Hunter walked over to me, stopped and said "Daddy OK?" When I assured him that I was alright, i just tripped, he repeated "trip" and then, relieved, said "oh, yes. Daddy Ok." I was thrilled, so praised him highly, but this had the side effect of encouraging him to repeatedly ask me if I was OK for our entire morning (about 15-20 minutes) which did get old after a while, but i'll take it if it means that he's starting to learn the proper way to behave around people.
Friday, September 19, 2008
The problem I have is that if you listen to the music for what it is, you're still listening to pretty good stuff. Dylanesque may not be groundbreaking, but tell me you're not moved by his lilting tenor on Knockin' on Heaven's Door, or touched by the gentleness (!) of his take on Positively
In short, sure it would be nice if Ferry could gear it up again and produce some of those weirdly energetic classics from his heyday. (I'd kill for another song on the par of Prairie Rose, myself.) The big problem I think most critics have with Ferry’s latter work is that he just doesn’t take the singing risks that he used to (just listen to what he does in Strictly Confidential). But in the meantime, listen to what we've got now and don't judge it based on your expectations, just what's in front of you, right here and now.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Other then the first five Roxy albums, another example is the drumming by Jaki Liebezeit on "Halleluhwah" from Tago Mago - Can's 1970 acid-drenched masterpiece: the guy plays the shit out of this recurring riff for all of the song's 17+ minutes. It if you didn't know better, you would think that it was the world's most soulful drum machine. It's easily the most stunning drumming i've ever heard in Rock music, rivaling even Keith Moon's pounding.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
their synth-pop masterpiece "More then This" from Avalon (sung by Bill Murray in Lost in Translation), Roxy Music's earlier music is much more energetic and creative then I ever could have imagined.
Probably the most impressive things about their early albums is how prescient they are. For example, I just picked up their eponymous debut album and the track "2 H.B." contains, at times, a drum stutter phrase that could be (and probably is) sampled in any number of trip-hop trax. Combine this with Brian Eno's keyboards and the song sounds like it could have been recorded yesterday.
Wikipedia tells me that it's an album of Shibuya-kei, a mix between jazz, pop, and electropop, which is a pretty good description of the eclectic music on the album. I also sense elements of downtempo, hip-hop, and dance. It's a hip, heady brew of influences that made me feel 10 times cooler then I actually am after my first listen. For example, "Twirling Batons in My Head" could be an intense trance track as recorded by DJ Shadow, while the guitar in "How Many Times Can We Burn This?" uses the exact same tone as Wes Montgomery.
These mostly instrumental tracks are a lot of fun, and I highly recommend it.
(Not to say it's perfect. There are a few "experimental" tracks on here which are basically stylized noise, which doesn't do anything for me. The harley-engine revs and random keyboard blips and bloops of "Why Are You Lying To Your Therapist?" is indulgence at its worst. And "Spooning with Jackknife" combines an intermittent jungle-beat with bubbling-bass and random Hendrix-style guitar, a recipe which sounds like a promising update to Bitches Brew but here only closes the album on an unsatisfying note.)
Whenever I get in one of these moods, sickened by society's invertebrate greed and warlust, I'm reminded of this powerful poem by Rimbaud:
What’s it to us, my heart, the folds of blood
And the coals, and a thousand murders, and long wailings
Of rage, cries from every inferno upturning
Every order; and the north wind gusts over the wreckage
And all vengeance? Nothing!…—But still, just the same,
We want it! Industrialists, princes, courts:
Perish! Down with power, justice, history!
This is our reward! The blood! The blood! The golden flame!
All to war, to vengeance, to terror,
My spirit! We turn in this vise: oh, be gone
Republics of the world! We’ve had enough of
Emperors, regiments, empires and peoples!
Who would whip up the whirlwind of furious fire,
But we ourselves and those we imagine to be our brothers?
For us, romantic friends, it will give us pleasure,
We never shall work, o waves of fire!
Europe, Asia, America, disappear!
Our avenging march has occupied all,
City and country!—We shall be crushed!
Volcanoes shall erupt! And the ocean struck. . .
Oh, my friends!—My heart is confident they are our brothers:
The dark unknowns, if we were to go! Let’s go!
Woe to us! I sense the shudders, the old soil,
Upon me, yours more and more! The soil melts.
But it’s nothing; I am here; I am still here.
–Arthur Rimbaud, Qu’est-ce pour nous, mon cœur (1872)
Monday, September 15, 2008
Sunday, September 14, 2008
I've always wanted to read Infinite Jest, but just don't have as much time these days for 1000 page novels. His short stories are always interesting - especially Brief Interviews with Hideous Men - but to me his masterpieces are his non-fiction journalistic pieces. A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again is a smart, insightful, and extremely fun book to read.
DFW was one of the few authors who always commanded my attention whenever I ran across one of his writings. He'll be missed.
Friday, September 12, 2008
The only reason i'm not on the train tonight is that i'm going to a Red Sox game and was driven away from the train by the MBTA's incompetence. Their schedule says that the train back to Ashland leaves Yawkey station at 10:30 PM. However, on nights with Sox games, this time is extremely malleable. The last time I was at a Sox game, I left at the end of the eighth inning so that I would be sure to be at the train station on time. Hundreds of other Sox fans and I got onto the train right on time. However, the conductor announced that the train would be delayed 15 minutes to account for the end of the game.
Keep in mind that there was no announcement in the schedule that this might happen. No announcement at the game that the delay was a possibility. The end result is that everyone that needed to be on the train was already on the train: absolutely nobody else boarded the train that night in the 15 minute delay period (I took a close look). So all the Sox fans got to miss a Paplebon save, and arrived home 15 minutes, all for absoutely no reason at all.
Note to the MBTA. One way to improve your already incredibly shitty approvial rating with your riders is to keep them informed. Strike a deal with the Sox to announce when the trains are going to be held up so that people can plan for it. (After all, we know you know who the Sox are: we're innondated multiple times a day with announcements from Mike Lowell and Alex Cora to take the T to the game.) All you accomplished was uslessly annoying your customers for no benefit. This is not rocket science.
The sad thing is that this horrible customer service will not cost them any riders; the train (or walking, or biking) is infinitely better then driving in the Gordian's Knot that passes for Boston roads. Think of this the next time someone asks you why you walk/take the train.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
From the article:
"Iraq may be a quagmire, a new cold war may be looming, the economy may be tanking and the world may be heading toward environmental doom, but the presidential race may be decided by the perceived doability of the governor of Alaska."
While she's easy on the eyes (until you comprehend what she's actually saying), I don't happen to find her that attractive, so i'm not buying what she's selling. However, I seem to be in the minority. Actual people I know have talked about how hot she is, while Matt Yglesias sez that Palin controls our dreams.
Is the typical American voter so shallow that they'll vote for someone just because they find them sexy? Or is this a subconscious thing? Regardless, I find this trend disturbing. I didn't want to have a beer with Bush, and I don't want to do Palin. I just want them (or, more realistically, their Democratic counterparts) to take care of my country for me.
I'll have some more later about what some have termed the American Idol-ization of the American political scene.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Andrew Sullivan paints this picture extremely well, and it's hard not to argue with his conclusion: "McCain has demonstrated in the last two months that he does not have the character to be president of the United States." It's a good read.
Monday, September 8, 2008
One notable exception is the song "Altair" in which Fripp plays a surprisingly funky rhythm guitar over spooky keyboards reminiscent of an eerie David Lynch scene.
Sunday, September 7, 2008
It's tough to follow the team from long distance. They rarely get on national TV, and most of their games are on at the same time as the evil New England Patriots which blackout all other games. I'm "watching" through Yahoo Gametracker now: the score is 7-0 Buffalo over the Seahawks, and it looks like the Buffalo defense is keeping them in the game.
Keep the hopes alive by following along at Buffalo Rumblings.
Saturday, September 6, 2008
I've got nothing for you right now, but look for something more substantial shortly.