Thursday, March 24, 2005

Ave Tim

I went looking around the web for a song that might work to celebrate Jarrett's acceptance into the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, but none of the ones I found--by the Rolling Stones, Alanis Morrissette, the Traveling Wilburys--seemed to say quite what I wanted to say. Congratulations for breaking my heart? Not really. It all felt a little like a parallel trip to the Hallmark store, where all the cards are too specific in their congratulations. A person accepted into a chorus is not (a) recently engaged or married, (b) the parent of a new baby, (c) the recipient of a new job or degree, (d) a new homeowner, (e) a new pet owner, or (f) the possessor of whiter teeth, and it is so very hard to find a card saying, "Congratulations on the continuance of your public singing career, you bad-ass tenor, you!"

Instead, I'll tell you about the TFC and their upcoming season:
In the spring of 1970, John Oliver was named director of vocal and choral activities at the Tanglewood Music Center and began the Tanglewood Festival Chorus. This summer, the TFC - now a Boston Symphony institution - celebrates its 35th anniversary, and on Sunday, August 7, the group joins Spanish conductor Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos in three major but seldom-heard choral works by Brahms: his Nänie, Gesang der Parzen, and Schicksalslied. This program closes with Beethoven's Symphony No. 5. Mr. Frühbeck de Burgos leads his second BSO program at Tanglewood, featuring two works tied to the Don Quixote story, on Friday, August 12. Manuel de Falla's Master Peter's Puppet Show, based on an episode in Cervantes' Don Quixote, features small orchestra, vocal soloists, and puppets, here featuring soprano Awet Andemicael, tenor Peter Bronder, baritone David Wilson-Johnson, and the Virginia-based Bob Brown Puppets. The second half of the program offers a more traditional telling of this classic story in Strauss' Don Quixote, with cellist Truls Mork and BSO Principal Violist Steven Ansell as soloists.

Well, Congratulations on the continuance of your public singing career, you bad-ass tenor, you! I hope you're saving that green lawn chair for me.

(if only he could get rid of some of that snow.)

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

The Searchers

Confession: unlike freeman (though note follow-up and clarification), I am not opposed to the site meter. In fact, I am fascinated by it. I love the way you can take your data and put it into graphs and thereby pretend that you can predict traffic on your site. Even a computing moron like myself starts to feel all techie-like looking at it. I love it when for no good reason traffic is up, then the next day no one cares. What is not to fascinate?

But what I really like is the "referrals" page, saying how it is that people got to the site. I suppose it is a little like those marketing surveys, which ask, How did you learn about us?
A. From a friend
B. From the newspaper
C. From the radio
D. From your mom
E. Other ________________________

I am just crazy for the "Others," because mostly they arrive at this not at all humble blog (well, OK, humble in the sense of not too fancy, but still very much lacking in humility) through google and msn searches.

THOSE, friends, are my favorite.

Someone actually searched on "Don't get mad--get Glad!" and came to my site. And I've gotten a few hits from people looking for sea shanties, cowbells, not to mention those poor saps back in February trying to learn the calorie count of a paczek. (Give it UP: you don't want to know.) Thanks to March Madness, I am guessing, I have received a couple of hits from people searching for "jumping people," and even "reynolds wrap oven tempered for strength." (Do people just spend time searching the web for product slogans???)

The (as best as I can tell, based on entirely unscientific data-gathering practices) top hit-grabber, though, is "tinfoil hat emoticon." Now I frankly was pretty amused that there was such a thing, and so I could not resist mentioning it--but would you have guessed that people would search for it?

The trick is, I am starting to see, to write about mildly out-of-the-way and yet not entirely obscure things. I fear that no one searching on "Roomba" would be sent my way (and their loss, really).

Sometimes the site meter tells me that I am being watched. For instance, my post about 50 Cent, with its critique of the Daily Press, had not been up for 2 hours before Tribune Media Services (exact name?), the company that runs the paper, had read my post. I was honestly embarrassed: I still believe in my critique (such as it was), but I felt a little sorry that they read it. Because even though the Daily Press used to infuriate me in its coverage of national and world events, I feel a little nostalgic about it, because it serves my hometown.

And courtesy of the Patient Partner, I get a number of hits for "half-velocity coefficient." He concludes that this indicates that this term, championed by his diss director, is gaining ground in the engineering world. Go Jacques Monod!

But I am most sad to report, that against predictions from a smart friend, I have gotten no hits from google searches on "poo spirograph." Damn.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

A plea for help

Can people out there who use mp3 players help me out here?

I was thinking about getting an iPod, because it is time for me to find a more up-to-date way to use my music. I am not looking to load my entire CD collection onto a player, because I don't have that much money, so this would be something separate, something portable. I do not want the shuffle, because I want more capacity than that (oh, how my walkman-porting self of about 18 years ago would faint at such snobbery). I am thinking something in the 4-5 gig range. Maybe.

But there are two things that concern me about the iPod, and here is where I could use some input.

1. I have only a USB port, not a USB 2.0 port. I believe that means that I cannot use one of the G4 iPods, right? And not the iPod minis either?

2. This video, whose assertion I have seen supported in one or two other places. Is there someone out there who has had an iPod for longer than a year who can speak to this subject? I understand the costs on replacement batteries have come down, but I am eager to hear testimonials.

So, I am looking at other brands, and then, despite a couple of hours spent on the Consumer Reports site, I feel completely adrift, since all I ever hear about is iPod, and so I know next to nothing about these other brands. Creative? iRiver? Samsung? Anyone?

Then of course there is the issue of format: some players will play stuff in some formats, others in others, but it does not seem that any player can use both WMA and iTunes formats. And is it only the iPod that will play the stuff from iTunes, or am I misreading these things? And am I right that napster does not connect with the iPod?

(And what the fuck is that anyway? "Uh, no ma'am, I'm sorry but this tape deck will only play cassettes sold by Island Records.")

I was going to make a prize remark about the new Ashlee Simpson Karaoke iPod, but then I worried that if I did that, the Burger King might think this whole post is in jest, which it IS NOT. Really, people, I need your help.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Poor Brutus, with himself at war

So how did you spend the Ides of March?

Me? Well, let's just say that if there is any way you can see the Daniel Sherman production of Julius Caesar, now in previews at the Belasco, go.


I confess it. I went because of Denzel Washington. I did not even know whether he would be good on stage. I am not proud of this, that I know so little about stage actors that I was drawn to the name of a cinema celebrity. (But privately, he was marvelous.)

In fact, I had little desire to see Julius Caesar itself.

Maybe you had a similarly horrid experience reading it in high school. There was no chance to SEE it, or maybe only in a very stilted filmic version from god knows when. And the language is so distant, so that when some kid is reading the part of Brutus they don't have any idea how to intone it, inflect, imbibe it. Then you can't picture what is going on--who is on stage? what is the context for this interminable speech? how are the people listening responding? Let alone everyone's--especially mine--lack of the political knowledge to understand the characters' motivations as well as the lack of emotional experience to imagine why someone might run on his sword, the coward.

I have a friend in London this semester who is in charge of a bevvy of college students and who is teaching them drama in part by taking them to see plays. Those lucky dogs--what I would not give to be in such a class!

But before my friend left for her semester away, we were talking about what the students would see, and it turned out their Shakespeare was to be Julius Caesar. Oh MAN, I said. I know, she said.

We were wrong.

I don't know if I had seen Julius Caesar performed before, but if I did it was during a summer Shakespeare festival at William & Mary when I was a wee thing, still unable to understand the damn thing. And probably everyone was wearing togas. And I see by the lack of a paperback copy of the play on my shelf that I did not read it in college or teach it as a TA.

All of which is fine, because all of this ignorance, all these low expectations, all this fear of cardboard rhetoric let my socks get blown off, right there in the fourth row at the Belasco.

Sherman's set puts the audience firmly in the decay of empire, with crumbling edifices, rebar peeking through, headless statues (holes revealing where metal has been torn for new purposes), rusting steel, exposed lightbulbs and scaffolding. It is a little like the crumbling Colosseum in Rome, but more. Maybe like that giant was back in the day when an unsuspecting Daisy Miller could get her share of malaria. But this Rome is grimmer than that: this is not tourism; it is civic dissonance.

You're right when you note that this is a weird historical move: after all, it was Julius Caesar who imagined an empire for Rome, and Augustus who consolidated it, finding Rome a city of brick and leaving it a city of marble. But this Rome, this imperial city, is already rotten.

The play's costumes are modern--suits, stubbly shaved heads, shades, machine guns. Armies fight with assault rifles and helicopters as well as swords, and they wear fatigues, berets. The murderous hordes avenge Caesar's death, killing 70-100 senators (depending on which report you believe), and they do it wearing black with black ski masks, and they behead their captives with swords--pace those videos that certain TV stations did not want to air.

In case you weren't sure whether such a historical play could resonate, remember this is a play about empire, set at the moment of the republic's death. The conspirators against Caesar are already nostalgic for republican ideals, even as they believe they can revive them through a single act of murder. After they kill Caesar (oh come on: did I really need a "spoiler" notice for Shakespeare?), and justify their act to his friend Mark Antony, the conspirators charge offstage, all bloody from their deed, cheering "Peace! Freedom! Liberty!"

For a brief moment, when Brutus is speaking to the crowd, explaining the deed--"not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more"--we believe that these ideals can win out.

But in a play also about rhetoric, one man's speech is so quickly trammeled by another's, and Antony's funeral oration--where he repeats not fewer than 6 times that Brutus is an "honorable man," emptying out those words of their meaning--wins the day, ripping the city into chaos.

And empire is impossible to beat, once its wheels are in motion. Octavius' arrival in the city quells some chaos, and his prowess on the battlefield defeats his opponents, the conspirators Cassius and Brutus. At the play's end, Sherman has the mantle which had signified Caesar's rise in power (and borne the proof of his murder) placed on Octavius' shoulders, and the symbols of kingship that had startled Brutus and Cassius at the beginning return, their power beyond that of the man whose shoulders they grace, whose portrait they hold.

Why is it that the people so desire a king? Who had bedecked the city of Rome with Caesar's trophies, those images that Murellus and Flavius disrobe in act I? Who cheered, when Antony offered Caesar a crown (one of these coronets)? Who denied the ideals of which Brutus spoke, preferring instead the tyranny that Antony offered? Octavius brings security, remember, his machine-gun-toting soldiers quelling the chaos that killed Cinna the conspirator and Cinna the poet.

This is the Pax Augustae. Clammoring for such peace, we might remember Arundhati Roy's remark, that
for most people in the world, peace is war--a daily battle against hunger, thirst, and the violation of their dignity. Wars are often the end result of a flawed peace, a putative peace. And it is the flaws, the systemic flaws in what is normally considered to be "peace," that we ought to be writing about. We have to--at least some of us have to--become peace correspondents instead of war correspondents.

The Cultural Revolution

Have a look at Whiskey Bar's "Scenes from the Cultural Revolution," which lets the current conservative cabal speak for itself. Example:
I have undertaken the task of organizing conservative students myself and urging them to protest a situation that has become intolerable.
David Horowitz
The Campus Blacklist
April 18, 2003

Students on University campuses were organized into groups of “Red Guards” and were given the chance to challenge those in authority. Students quickly turned their attacks on their closest adversaries, their teachers and university administrators.
Therese Hoffman
The Chinese Cultural Revolution:
Autobiographical Accounts of a National Trauma

There is more. Read it there.
(via Michael Bérubé)

Tuesday, March 15, 2005


My kitten is terrified of my new duvet booties. Well, technically she is neither a kitten nor mine. She joined our rather ramshackle family back in May when the Patient Partner completed his doctorate. Hence, her name is Jacques Monod.

(A few weeks ago one of my favorite friends was visiting, and we explained the name, and then noted that she really was attached to the PP. "Wait," my friend said, "Jacques Monod is a she?" But of course!)

For those of you who are not biochemists, Jacques Monod did many things, including win a Nobel Prize, but for the purposes of this story, his most important accomplishment was crafting the equation that was the centerpiece of the PP's dissertation.

[The PP notes: the statement of the equation to which I have linked would drive his dissertation director batty. What they call the "half velocity constant" is really not a constant. No, no, no. It varies from one compound to another, and so would better be termed the "half-velocity coefficient." Thank you very much.]

And our little Jacques Monod does many things, too, but we are pretty certain she's not going to win any prizes for them.

She climbs the screen door to let us know when she wants to come in. Correction: she only does that as a second step, after she is certain that bodyslamming the door has not worked.

She is an ace rebounder, with her little foam golfballs, which she can catch in midair with both paws. I am working on teaching her the alley oop, but she seems quickly to be exiting her learning years.

She follows the other cats around, and sticks her face in their face, or up their ass, and it is hard to tell which one they like less.

She climbs trees, but then does not know what to do when her momentum runs out and she is only four vertical feet from the ground.

She does windsprints up and down the hallway in the morning, and then leaps up on the bed and puts her face in the PP's face.

Sometimes when I am feeling goofy I put my face up in the PP's face, and he says, "You're getting all Jacques Monodish," by which I do not think he means I am going to win a Nobel Prize either.

But now she is afraid of my new fab slippers. At first I thought it was the sound, because she was sitting on my desk on Sunday night, and then looked a little freaked out, and when I slipped my be-slippered foot along the wall, making perhaps a slightly high pitched scratching sound, she launched herself vertically, then diagonally, then horizontally, disrupting the numerous contents of my desk.

But now I think maybe it is the smell, because she was sleeping sweetly on the bed, and when I came up to her and petted her and called her Baby Faroukh, she was very sweet for a while, and then started to look besieged, and then looked at my feet and twitched her little gray tornado nose and then got up, stretched, and bolted.

This is the first thing that Jacques Monod has ever been afraid of. She is not afraid of either of our cats, or of either of my parents' cats, despite their impressive names, Scylla and Charybdis. She is not afraid of rain or thunder. And, she would like to point out, she is not afraid of the coffeegrinder either, even though she sprints down the hall when it startles her. But the booties? They are another matter entirely, a veritable mystery, here in the furious household.

When you meet Jacques Monod, do not call her Jacques or Monod. She is like Charlie Brown, always gets the full name. You may call her Baby Jacques Monod, but probably only for another few months, because she is already strong and edgy enough that she does not much care for being scooped up and carried around like the bitty baby that she will always be. You might choose to sing to her: "The lovable, huggable Jacques Monod. She's Jacques Monod to you," but she will not dance with you, unless you scoop her up first and then hold on tight--and watch out for the razor claws.

Monday, March 14, 2005

As long as you're comfortable it feels like freedom.

Here is an example of the first kind of marketing that bugs me. In a commercial I heard this weekend, two guys are hanging out at a game, and one is depressed as all get out. It seems he is buried in debt and tired of living paycheck to paycheck. His friend says he knows how he feels. Guy #1 is astonished: he has always believed that Guy #2 has his economic shit together. (I know: I was amazed to hear that word on the radio, too.) But no no no, Guy #2 reveals: he had shared Guy #1's situation. But he has solved all his financial woes by getting a loan against his home equity. Now he has only one easy payment!

Great, said the PP. Now instead of not giving you more credit, they take your house!

And here is an example of the second kind of marketing that bugs me. Again a commercial. Why use a mop and bucket to clean your tiled floor, when you can buy the new Clean-o-matic Super-Jet-o-rama! It has a little receptacle for cleaning fluid and a disposable cleaning pad. Cleaning has never been so simple! The Super-Jet-o-rama retails for $15.99, fluid refills (good for 5 cleanings) for $12.99, and a pack of 10 replacement pads only $9.99! So now instead of one easy purchase of mop and bucket that lasts years, you continually repurchase your cleaning power.

And it is so much easier!

I think I can sum up the third kind of marketing that bugs me in two words: Tooth Whitener.

All of which to say, my question a while back about marketing was motivated by a profound sense that marketing generates a great deal of what is wrong (my humble) with our consumer-based culture. Marketing frequently presents non-solutions as if they were solutions, cost-increasing-and-sustaining programs as if they were improvements, and products to solve non-problems. In short, in a culture based on consumption, consumption must continue and increase in order for the culture to function. That means new needs must be created, and real solutions--like, maybe Guy #1 does not need to keep buying so much useless crap--cannot be considered.

I buy the notion that advertising underwrites products. I also buy that advertising can make economies more profitable to consumers by keeping prices low. But so much of marketing seems to be based on duping people into making bad decisions, that I wonder how one can defend it.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

400 IM of Death

If there is anything more exciting than a swimmeet, it might be an adult swimmeet, and if there is anything more exciting than that, it is definitely a blog entry about an adult swimmeet.

Lucky you!

But you can blame Jarrett, who bit on my last post:

400 IM of death???
So is that, like, 400 instant messages?

Thanks for asking! That would be deathly, indeed, but NO IT IS NOT what the 400 IM of death is.

The 400 IM is, of course, the 400 Yards Individual Medley, made only slightly less horrid by the fact that we are in the midst of short-course yards season, which means the race was 10% shorter than in short-course meters and had about twice as many turns as in long-course meters season--which for those of you who do not swim, means about twice as many chances to take a little breather.

By individual medley, I mean you swim each stroke, in this case 100 yards of each, in this order: butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, free style.

(Aside: The Patient Partner wondered during last year's summer Olympics, right before the men's 400 IM: "Do you think that when Michael Phelps is standing on the blocks, he is thinking the same thing I think?"

"What's that?" I asked.

He answered, "Fly, back, breast, free. Fly, back, breast, free.")

Let me be honest: I signed up for this event of death because you are allowed to swim 4 events each day, and I had signed up for 3 50s. Yes, I felt like a wimp. Yes, I felt I should redeem myself. Yes, I was insane.

I really did not want to sign up for the 100 backstroke, because I am a horrible backstroker. I cannot get the rhythm right, and my hips sink, and my arms go all over the place, and plus I hardly kick. A backwards-moving disaster really. So I did not want to do that race, and the only other alternative that made sense was the 400 IM.

(The somewhat less Patient Partner pointed out that there is a 100 of backstroke in the 400 IM--plus it follows 100 yards of fly.)

Just swimming 100 yards of fly is about to knock me out. It, too, requires a good bit of rhythm, which I can handle for 25 yards, finesse for 50 yards, fake for 75, but by the last length all bets are off.

But I made it.

And then I got to chill on 100 backstroke, to save my energy for the breaststroke. I guess I had a decent performance on the breaststroke, and I managed to kick a little bit on the freestyle, and most important, I lived to type about it. My time, 6:14.94, was about 8 seconds slower than when I swam it back in November, but at that meet it was the first event of the day. So that's fine.

In better news, I managed to pull four "best times" out of six events, including the 100 breaststroke, where I slashed 2.4 seconds off my previous best time--and beat everybody else in my age group. Woohoo!

In worse news, the Carolina-blue duvet booties I bought on sale at REI on Friday and wore during the second half of the first semifinal game of the ACC tournament were not enough to bring UNC back from a bad first half against a mightily impressive Georgia Tech. Curses.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Ah, the rough justice of committee meetings!

For a few chuckles, have a look at Michael Bérubé's Bizarro Academia, where Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity are tenured professors:

Utah Valley State College Faculty News: Professor Hannity of the Department of Kicking Bespectacled Liberals’ Butts will be holding extended office hours on Thursday to meet with students to discuss their upcoming midterms and paper drafts. Professor Hannity has also been appointed to the College’s Adjunct Faculty Grievance Committee, which will meet Fridays 9-10:30, and to the Curriculum Revision Committee, which meets Tuesdays and Thursdays 10-12 from now through the end of the semester.

Professor Limbaugh of the Department of Advanced Psychotropic Research has announced that he will not be able to turn in midterm grades by the end of this week because of unexpected overenrollment in all four of his courses. Professor Limbaugh also chairs the College’s Strategic Planning Committee, which meets Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3-5, and is conducting a semester-long Faculty Senate review of Utah Valley State’s drug-testing policy.

Meanwhile, here’s tonight’s lineup on the Renard News Channel:

7 pm The Bérubé Factor
8 pm "Informed Comment” with Juan Cole
9 pm "Phun with Pharyngula” with P. Z. Myers
10 pm "Scribbling Woman” with Miriam Jones
11 pm "Preposterous Universe” with Sean Carroll

Have a good weekend, folks. I am off to my last swimmeet of the year--including the 400 IM of death--so please send my way any fast thoughts that cross your mind.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

A Full Bottle for the Shanty Man

Congratulations to mtnRoughneck, over at Whiskey Tango, who has been accepted to the Great Lakes Maritime Academy.

Here is a sea shanty in his honor, courtesy of Shanties and Sea Songs:

Whiskey Johnny (Andrew Draskoy's version)

Whiskey is the life of man
Always was since the world began

Whiskey-o, Johnny-o
John rise her up from down below
Whiskey, whiskey, whiskey-o
Up aloft this yard must go
John rise her up from down below

Whiskey here, whiskey there
Whiskey almost everywhere

Whiskey up and whiskey down
Whiskey all around the town

Whiskey killed me poor old dad
Whiskey drove me mother mad

My wife and I do not agree
She puts whiskey in her tea

I had a girl and her name was Lize
She puts whiskey in her pies

Oh whiskey straight, and whiskey strong
Give me some whiskey and I'll sing you a song

If whiskey comes too near my nose
I tip it up and down she goes

Some likes whiskey, some likes beer
I wisht I had a barrel here

Whiskey made me pawn me clothes
Whiskey gave me this broken nose

Oh the mate likes whiskey, the skipper likes rum
The sailors like both but me can't get none

Whiskey is the life of man
Whiskey from that old tin can

I thought I heard the first mate say
I treats me crew in a decent way

If whiskey was a river and I could swim
I'd say here goes and dive right in

If whiskey was a river and I was a duck
I'd dive to the bottom and never come up

I wisht I knew where whiskey grew
I'd eat the leaves and the branches too

A tot of whiskey all around
And a bottle full for the shanty man

So mtnRoughneck, what shall we call you, now that you're a seafaring man??

Don't get mad--get glad!

Leave it to the big-city paper to figure things out.

According to Deanne Bradley, writer for the Virginian Pilot (Norfolk, VA), Newport Newsians should not feel dissed by 50 Cent:

Folks in Newport News got it going on, according to Grammy-nominated rapper 50 Cent. The G-Unit mogul gives the city a shout-out on his latest album, “The Massacre,” which hit stores Friday.

“Ski Mask Way” finds 50 rapping about all that “Bad Newz” has to offer: “I’m tryin’ to stay out them pens, so I switched states/ Bad News V-A now that sounds great/ I see (bleep) wit that ice on, rims shined up/ This towns one big (bleep) waitin to get (bleep).”

Lost? Sorry, folks. We can’t tell you what he really said.

But amid the foul lyrics that will never make it to local radio, here’s what he’s really saying: He’s giving “tha News” its props.

The self-proclaimed thug can’t get enough of the city’s ice (i.e. jewelry) and A.I.’s peeps (Allen Iverson’s friends).

The city, 50 says, is fast and hood. The perfect place to go if you want to leave New York to get away from the feds.

At first listen, the lyrics seem like a dis (that would be an insult). But he’s not playin’ the town at all.

As a matter of fact, he finds the town to be better than he thought.

Wonder how the Newport News Visitor Center feels about the city’s newfound fame?

Now THAT is a press release I would like to read!

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Behold Bollywood

While I was away on one of the stranger trips of my life, the cinetrix asked about Bollywood films.

I do not consider myself knowledgeable in this realm, but I feel passionately about the little bits of knowledge that I do have.

I love the music from these flicks--the delightful combination of dancing (you can see it just in listening), eastern instrumentation, western synthesizers, linguistic blending, and absolutely amazing voices.

And the movies themselves? Oh, the same but MORE.

Lagaan is probably the film that has had the widest distribution in the United States. It, like many such epic films, is 224 minutes long. You do not have to do the math for yourself: that is 3 hours and 44 minutes. And the story centers around a cricket match between oppressed Indian subjects and their British colonial oppressors. Yes, cricket, the rules of which I truly do not understand. But I was captivated for every minute.

My favorite feature of this genre is that there is always an opportunity for a full cast musical number, usually with amazing costume changes and beautiful dancing. In Lagaan there were recreations of scenes from the life of Krishna, complete with dancing milkmaidens. And the music is fabulous.

This summer I made a friend who was as wild for this music as I am. We were at a summer camp for adults (in Rome!), and I will never forget this man doing the complete steps for one of Bhuvan's musical numbers--he had even tied a bandana around his head--in the hallway of our little dormitory.

Sometime I could show you some of the steps, which I learned, despite my friend's sincere belief that I was hopeless.

You should also see Hum Aapke Hain Koun. It's a real genre bender: it starts out as a simple story about families and love and weddings and happiness and then about 2/3 of the way through it takes an amazing melodramatic turn, and the shot angles, lighting, and EVERYTHING shifts. You have to see it to believe it.

But the musical numbers in this movie are legion. Weddings. Ceremonies preceding weddings. Naming ceremonies. An entire scene devoted to singing the praises of a beautiful woman--and not one in her teens or twenties, but in her fifties.

It made me feel that all parties should involve parts where people sing about each other's glorious aspects.

I am building my collection of the music too slowly. After much internet searching, I found a used copy of the Lagaan soundtrack, which is no longer available new. I can also recommend The Rough Guide to Bollywood, which traces quite a vast historical span of movie music, and gives you a sense of flavors.

I am also getting to know The Rough Guide to Bollywood Legends: Asha Bhosle. She is hypnotizing. When I bought this record, the PP said, "Ah, I hear she has the highest voice in India." He might be right.

So cinetrix, anytime you want to have a film festival, I'm game to see more.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Do not miss

Ron Silliman's very good critique of headsets in museums.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

The final frontier?

I am going to start out by acknowledging that maybe this whole thing is a joke, in which case I say, "Good one."

But, uhm, if it isn't?

San Francisco, CA (USA) : Today craigslist, global leader in local classifieds and online community, announced plans to offer its users the opportunity to have their postings transmitted trillions of miles beyond the confines of the Solar System. craigslist currently handles 5 million earthly postings each month, from 8 million humans, in 99 cities and 19 countries on the planetary surface.

"It looks like we may hit 2 billion page views per month in March here on Earth," noted craigslist customer service rep and founder, Craig Newmark. "We wanted to be the first to offer free job postings, apartment listings, personals and other classifieds to the extraterrestrial community. We believe there could be an infinite market opportunity," chuckled Craig as he turned back to his computer screen to respond to craigslist customer service emails.

So what exactly would a person advertise in space? I mean, there are old books I have been trying for years to track down, and it does seem like I have looked everywhere, but REALLY.

For instance, I do believe that this poster is going to get a lot of takers from space:
I'd enjoy company for theatre, music, bike ride or a walk on the beach this weekend.
Me? I'm a male, early 50's, in reasonably good shape for the activities and enjoy the arts. Professional by education, self employed by dint of non conformity, but fun by inclination.

this is in or around Marin
it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

Please note: this poster does not include "spacecraft" in the list:
wanted you old crappy vws any condition titles no titles I do not care money waiting for your old junkers,if you have nice ones I want them to email me and tell me what you have or even what yu know about.Finders fees are paid if I buy the vehicles,also want anything VW related cars busses vans trucks,ghias I want to know waht you have laying around.Judson superchargers,anything ,roofracks wheels whatever..thanks and look at photos of some of the stuff I have brought home allready

Do you think this self-proclaimed elderly widow is going to have better luck in space?
Elderly would like Neil Diamond records for free PLEASE!!!!! She is widowed and has NO enjoyment in life and no money to buy since nursing home from her spouse took her her house and all her savings and asked me to post this for her.

And even though Cosmodyseeus wants a ride out of Chapel Hill, I don't see that the request is COMPLETELY open-ended:
I could use a ride away from Chapel hill somewhere warm preferably south west of here, (painted desert area, or Cali)... I have a very well behaved, road trained, Austrailian sheperd, and a frame pack, articulate conversation, I offer gas money, and um.. thats it.. E mail me for more info

If anyone has an explanation of all this, I would appreciate hearing it.

(Props to timothy at slashdot.)

May I just say...

I see now this is old news, but I just heard it on the radio this morning:

Officials decided today to make the Walt Disney Concert Hall a little duller.

Construction crews are set to take a hand sander to some of the shimmering stainless steel panels that have wowed tourists and architecture lovers but have baked neighbors living in condominiums across the street.

Beams of sunlight reflected from the hall have roasted the sidewalk to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, enough to melt plastic and cause serious sunburn to people standing on the street, according to a report from a consultant hired by the county.

How psyched were Jack Leonard and Natasha Lee when they found out that they got to write the story about Frank Gehry's death ray?

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

He was a navy man...

Like many teens, I referred to my hometown, Newport News, Virginia, as "the armpit of a America." I was surprised one time, when I said this to a jewelry artist, and he responded, "Nah, man, DeKalb, Illinois is the REAL armpit of America!" Surprised why? Because that town is my birthplace!

So I declared myself the armpit queen.

But all that, it turns out, is nothing. Fellow Newport-Newsian Jarrett reports that our hometown paper, sadly NOT the Newport News News but the Daily Press, reports that Newport News has been dissed again:

The Newport News Chamber of Commerce won't be hiring 50 Cent as a celebrity spokesman anytime soon.

"Ski Mask Way," a new song from the New York City rapper, includes some profanity-laced lines about Newport News, or as he calls it, Bad News.

"I'm trying to stay out them pens, so I switched states. Bad News, VA, now that sounds great," 50 Cent raps on the tune. "Ski Mask Way" is to be included on "The Massacre," a CD to be released Thursday. Bootleg copies are currently circulating on the Internet.

Other lines in the tune describe the town as easy pickings for a criminal and make an apparent reference to buying guns from basketball star Allen Iverson's local crew. It's all delivered in thick gangsta rap slang, but the message is clear to rap fans.

OK, so there's the story, but the best part comes next, when they interview the proud citizens of Newport News, who are none too pleased:

"People are really upset, especially in Newport News, about the situation," said Mike Klein, music director for WNVZ-FM (104.5). "Some people are still not OK with it. But some people are looking the other way. It's really a touchy subject."

Ah, Z-104, soundtrack to my pubescent days!

Those kinds of interviews are my favorite thing about getting the local paper. Granted, in this case the interview is merited, because at least this is a story about a national perception of this particular town (though I do not know whether the story merits its slot as a "Top Story"). In the local paper here in the Upstate of SC, the opinions of citizens of Greenville are always represented to be "news," worth as much as those of someone who is, oh, informed.

But back to the Daily Press. The 50 Cent story appears on the front e-page below the paper's most recent poll: "Do you think VDOT will meet its latest completion deadline of Aug. 1, 2006, for the Mercury Blvd. project?" Hmmm, as a longtime resident of the News, and just guessing here, I'll say "it is unlikely." Even though the poll does not allow for sarcasm, 94% of respondents answered in the negative. We love you, Mercury Boulevard!

But 50 Cent is trying to improve his image in Tidewater:

Visiting Hampton Roads on Friday on a promotional visit, 50 Cent said the situation had been blown out of proportion. He said he feels affection for Newport News because people here supported him early in his career. Any offense was unintentional.

"Why would I say that about an entire town?" he told listeners on WNVZ's morning show. "I don't want a beef with a town. No town, nowhere."

I'm down with you, 50 Cent!


If you, like I, were waiting with bated breath for an answer to my poorly articulated question about individualism and less fortunate individuals, then you should look at bk's response in the comments. Then, head over to his blog, where he includes illustrations, and where now the discussion is continuing in the comments.

(It seems that the Burger King had gotten confused by all the paczki references in this blog of late and referred to it as the "furyblob," but he has "corrected" that now--but maybe he was on to something?)

UPDATE: For full context, read all the comments, but here is bk's final answer, starting with my re-(potentially clarified)-statement of my question:
"What I want to know is, in a worldview centered around the freedom of the individual to pursue his or her own objectives, is there a sense of concern about how other individuals fare?" OK, however long it took me, I think I finally understand your question, and why you focused on individualism, specifically.

You're asking if individualists ever think about the welfare of others, or do we state our abstract principles about abstract rights and thereafter close our hearts and minds to the world?

The short answer is this: philosophical individualism is a very specific position with a very narrow scope. It is not a worldview. Individualists as individualists don't worry about positive obligations or the practical welfare of others. But that doesn't mean that someone who is an individualist on ethics needs to stop at negative rights. An individual can be more than an individualist. Individualism tells you what not to do. It limits your options, just as any ethical principle necessarily does, but it doesn't require you to become an atomist.

An atomist is an individualist who ignores the role of community or the plight of others. I am not an atomist. For most of us, philosophical individualism is the starting point, not the end of the discussion. An atomist is is an individualist for whom individualism is both start and end. (Individualists are always being accused of being atomists, which is why I care so much about this particular distinction.)

Classical liberals and economic libertarians believe that the greatest good comes to the greatest number through spontaneous order in the absence of coercion.

This is the source of my interest in economics.

(I hope that finally answers your actual question. Sorry this was such a struggle.)

Life is a struggle, bk. Thanks for your answer.