Saturday, January 03, 2009

In Memory of a Shutter-Bug

In Memory of a Shutter-Bug, article, funny and enlightening.

Wii scream

Beware, noisy video.
It seems the claims that video games can do strange things to kids' minds may not be so wrong.

With other family members, I bought a Wii for my nephews. The reaction was more erudite than this, but sincere. "How do you say thank you for a present like this?"

I actually bought one for myself in 2007, but got bored with it because what I did with the stick seemed to have only so much influence on what happened on the screen. For instance it was impossible to throw a gutter ball in bowling.

Working at Apple

A veteran Apple employee, ex, tells it.

André F. Chocron

You heard it here first: André F. Chocron will be famous. (Though he should lose the F.) His work is just compelling.

Déjeuner du matin from André F. Chocron on Vimeo.

Bars & Tones from André F. Chocron on Vimeo.

Rob Zombie interview

Update: this is a very cool video. It perfectly captures films of a century ago.


Rob Zombie interview. Some interesting things are said. But I also show it as an example of what's wrong with post-MTV TV and videos: producers are so terrified of viewers becoming bored that they can't show an interview without weird jump-cuts and camera moves, and sometimes actually putting music on top of it. I really hate when films and TV has music on top of dialogue. It's like putting text on top of photos or art. Come on, guys, respect the communication.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Death of the hero

Somebody made a list of superheroes who actually died. That's impressive until you notice that most of them have been resurrected. Lame... it's almost harder to find a superhero who hasn't died and been resurrected. The trick is to find one who stayed dead. (I find it very hard to believe Captain America will be the one.)

Wouldn't it be fun if just once a prominent superhero died and was never resurrected, despite popular demand. Wouldn't it be fun to hear a commercial publishing company say: "Do you really want us to go against our word? The guy is dead! We have integrity, you know."

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Rob Zombie and Beatles

And now for something entirely different.
Though again it is the melody which is the base of the appeal for me.
Embedding is disabled for this one, but you can watch/listen to it here.

And now for something quite different again: All You Need Is Love, performed live and in color in 1967.
What synergy those guys had. Spooky. You'd never think two fellahs like John and Paul could mesh like they did, musically.

And lo! My favorite version of Revolution. I wish they'd done more hard rock.

John Travolta has talked about a theory that anybody has a personality like one of the Beatles. And that his is "Paul all the way, baby".
If so, mine is clearly John.
But what are the personalities of George and Ringo? Pardon my iggorance, I'm just slightly too young.

Does anybody know in which documentary McCartney tells that he and Lennon would sit across from each other and "sort of play at each other" when they were composing?

Rich said:
The son and I went to an Ozzy concert last year with Rob Zombie opening. Didn't know a thing about him until the night of the concert. We were instant fans - he was more fun than Ozzy. Really cool set, goofy death robot, catchy tunes. Retro-horror-kitsch done right !

Sean said:
I've never particularly gotten into Rob Zombie's music, but I really respect him for doing his own artwork and videos in addition to his music. And his horror movies may not be everyone's cup of blood, but he definitely brings his own special something to the genre.

I just looked him up on wiki, and I'm pleasantly surprised to see he has five platinum albums! I'd no idea he was so popular. He deserves it, he is perhaps the single artist I know who combines near-Ministry intensity levels with great melodies.

... I just checked Rob out on iTunes, and he had one album I didn't have, Educated Horses, so I bought it. Fun to see his titles and looks are getting more subtle.
Man, my connection is great these days! I downloaded all eleven songs in under ten seconds! I remember a few years ago, Steve Jobs showed download speed like this on stage, and the audience laughed with delight and surprise.

Black Box Recorder - "The Facts of Life"

This song has been amongst my faves for a while, and I suddenly wondered if a video was available. I like the sweet melody and the voice of the singer.


Here's a popular classic: STEAL THIS BOOK By Abbie Hoffman.

It's about grifting and stealing your way through life. That seems to me an unloving attitude towards your fellow man, not to mention an admission that you can't pay your own way.
But wait, there's a morality:
"Our moral dictionary says no heisting from each other. To steal from a brother or sister is evil. To not steal from the institutions that are the pillars of the Pig Empire is equally immoral."

... Though the very first chapter is about how to steal from restaurants, so clearly people who own or work in restaurants are not brothers or sisters, but "pillars of the Pig Empire".

"There are still some places where you can get all you can eat for a fixed price. The best of these places are in Las Vegas. Sew a plastic bag onto your tee-shirt or belt and wear a loose-fitting jacket or coat to cover any noticeable bulge. Fried chicken is the best and the easiest to pocket, or should we say bag. Another trick is to pour your second free cup of hot coffee into the plastic bag sewed inside your pocket and take it with you."

Good lord, what a fucking pathetic life that sounds like.

When looking at Abbie Hoffman (male), he looks to me like somebody who may have had some worthwhile things to say, but who was a person who was deeply mired in a viewpoint of intense conflict with most of the world. (The book contains advice on how to get armor and weapons for conflicts with police!) If you see it that way, that's what you see. Self-fulfilling prophesy.

Employee of the Month

Employee of the Month - totally hil. I don't know why it has mediocre reviews on Amazon, and I don't care much, I'm guessing they were expecting a different kind of movie. It's a highly entertaining satire.

Little person (or whatever the singular of the PC term "little people" is) Danny Woodburn as Glen Ross has a great line: "I like people. From a distance." That's exactly how I feel.
Or as Linus van Pelt put it: "I love humanity. It's people I can't stand."

The media landscape

Hans Lysglimt is echoing here what I've been saying since the mid-nineties, that the decentralization of media will have far-reaching effects we can hardly imagine now.

Back then I didn't realize how big a barrier the technology would still be to most people, but blogging and vlogging is finally changing this now.

Hans says: "The fact that we have a free society in the West ... is an anomaly... Right now we are in an amazing time in human history where we do have a free society for the most part, but that can change very easily..."

Debbie Harry: I Want That Man

I'll keep the money You can have the fame
Debbie Harry, I Want That Man

Very wise words.

I think Def, Dumb and Blonde was a terrific solo album. It's not often a solo spinoff from a popular band is that good.

This seems to be the original video:


Adam Isler Photography

Adam Isler Photography.
Funny how it's clear that some pictures are modern, some are from the seventies, and some are from the fifties.
(I wish he'd make the text on the pictures more discreet. I never liked text on pictures.)

I love the tones and lines in this one.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

"A word to the wise ain't necessary. It's the stupid ones who need the advice."
--Bill Cosby

That's funny, but not really true. Stupid people can't take advice, they are convinced they know everything. Wise people can, and even the wisest need it sometimes.

"Let us be thankful for the fools; but for them the rest of us could not succeed."
--Mark Twain

That's funny, but not really true. I think all of us would be profoundly more successful if everybody were smarter. I think the bulk of the resources and work in the work are wasted by stupidity.

"...there are some things that can beat smartness and foresight. Awkwardness and stupidity can. The best swordsman in the world doesn't need to fear the second best swordsman in the world; no, the person for him to be afraid of is some ignorant antagonist who has never had a sword in his hand before; he doesn't do the thing he ought to do, and so the expert isn't prepared for him."
--Mark Twain

That's funny, but not really true. The odds are (if the fight was serious) that the master swordsman would take down the novice in three seconds.

Marketing Prank Proves the Power of Social Media

Marketing Prank Proves the Power of Social Media, article.

Frostbush (updated)

New photos from today.
Never let it be said that Stobblehouse won't brave the winter of Ole Blighty for the sake of art. :-)

Get the full gallery here.

Nikon D90 with Nikkor 85mm F:1.8

You wouldn't guess that all of these are of a small hedge next to a boring playground where nobody ever comes. You had to go very close to see all these details and colors. And the short depth-of-field and a slight contrast enhancement turns it into fairyland.

Get the full gallery here.

Alex who knows this area well, said:
I would have thought, even if old corporation green, the steel structures in the playground would have caught the frost well too.

Not as much as you'd think. The cobwebs did though, here are some in the corporation-green fence around it.

BTW, it was very hard to keep the focus squatting on my toes for the hedge pictures (it was low), and with that super-shallow DoF.
It was also a very dull day, so I was grateful for the D90's high ISO. Even with ISO 1000 and F:1.8, I only got about 1/250 sec, which I needed with the longish lens and precarious poses.
Of course internal image stabilization would have helped a lot (since that lens doesn't have any), but Nikon has not seen fit to provide this. Dang their bollocks, I hope they change their mind soon.

Update: here is the place, photographed later. See what I mean?

Pratchett and Bond

"My advice is this. For Christ's sake, don't write a book that is suitable for a kid of 12 years old, because the kids who read who are 12 years old are reading books for adults. I read all of the James Bond books when I was about 11, which was approximately the right time to read James Bond books."
Terry Pratchett interview

I agree. I read them in my young teens I guess, and the Tarzan books about the same time. I remember the promotion for those said that they fulfilled the two premises for being great boys' books: they were written for adults, and in America. Of course Bond was written in England, but in Denmark in the sixties that probably felt closer to America than to Denmark.

By the way, last year I heard Stephen Fry give his warmest recommendation of the Ian Fleming books, so I thought I'd re-read a couple and bought them as audiobooks. But they don't really seem to hold my attention these days. Admittedly very little indeed does.

Madonna: Frozen

Another one from Ray of Light I really like: Shanti

More on Leibovitz

Mike has an interesting follow-up on that Annie Leibovitz photo. It's like I guessed: it's pretty much assistants doing the work.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Not Another Teen Movie

There has been many parody movies in the past decade, and Not Another Teen Movie is one of my favorites. It's so far out. This scene is a parody of the scene in American Pie where the guy gets caught "wearing one sock". They made the character a girl instead, which I think is genius, and stretched everything to the breaking point.

Simple tools

Do not wait; the time will never be "just right'. Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as
you go along.
--Napoleon Hill

One could argue against this for many situations, sure. And I was about to, but then I remembered when I started Domai. I started it with only the knowledge of web design I could get from two or three magazine articles. And just had fun with it.
And then traffic started coming, which really encouraged me. (I clearly remembered the day I was told I had 5,000 visitors a day.) (Over ten years ago.)
And later when I made it a commercial site (it was never meant to be), I also did it with primitive tools. But early sales then encouraged me to go on, and to make it better.
If I had tried get everything up to a top pro standard before launch, I would never have had the energy to keep going.

Hasselblad 500C

In the seventies, this was the Great Dream for the teenaged Eolake, to own one of these, and now I finally do.
Unbelievably, in the meantime, I've never even held one!
This is forty years old, amazingly, but it still feels like the high quality kit it is.

Of course Hasselblad was, and is, like Leica, very expensive because it's hand-built in Europe by European workers for European salaries.

It'll be interesting to see what happens to prices if and when the planet ever gets to the point where there are no more Third World countries where we can get our shit built for bottom prices. If that whole world is a First World country, what then? People don't often think about how Wall-Mart keeps those amazing prices.

Monday, December 29, 2008


I don't normally understand "world music" *, but I guess her hips spoke to me.

I like her obvious delight at performing, she does not seem jaded like many big pop stars are.

*I put it in quotes, because like "ethnic" it's a typically anglo-centric term. Isn't all music from the world?

Hyper-linked fiction (updated) (several times)

SF author James C. Harwood commented on my SF post:
"I've been experimenting with layered story ebooks and the use of internal hyperlinks, trying to break new ground. For example, a reader can click on the name of a character and be taken to the Glossarium support blog website to get more information about that character."

To which I said:
Yes. I've long (since the nineties) been interested in hyper-linked fiction as a new creative medium. You could create a whole little universe which people could explore. If it was good, I think people could get quite hooked. I think the curiosity factor could be stronger that it is with strictly linear fiction.

To expand here: one could do it in a myriad of ways, of course. Character profiles. One could have overlapping stories for many characters. One could link to... well, recipes from a cafe in the story, for god's sake. The possibilities are endless.

One might make certain parts of the site subscription-based and get an income.
(Putting artistic integrity issues aside for the moment, imagine J. K. Rowling making such a site for Harry Potter, maybe getting some help from selected writers. That could be a gold mine.) (Not that she needs the money.)

Has anybody had thoughts about such a thing? Or heard of anybody actually doing it, (besides Harwood)?

Update: when it gets big and complex enough, some may ask: what's the difference between this and, well, a web site? Or even the web? The answer is wholeness. The whole thing has to be created with the Whole in mind, so it's collectedly one piece of art.
And the reader will delight in finding all kinds of connections... this character once met that character, though they were not aware of it... both of these characters are trainspotters... this character and that character are both interested in the same girl...

I think it might be a good idea to have the links under each page, rather than within the text. Otherwise the reader ends up with unfinished pages all the time.

Update: Nancy from the yahoo Tim Powers group gives me our first example: 253. (He's very funny.)

Update: Dragonlady says:
> Reading this made me think, I'd say that video games, role-playing-games in
> particular, are in part just that. You can interact with the story and
> there are side quests etc.

Well, you *could* certainly do that with hyperlinked fiction. The reader could choose what the character should do, etc. But that's not what I was thinking about, more like traditional fiction at its heart, but just not arranged linearly. It's all fixed by the author, but the reader decides the sequence of reading, and even what bits to read or not.

And I guess it would be most natural for it to be looser than most novels, so the reader does not have to find and read *all* of it for it to make sense. The individual bits and sections should be satisfying on their own, but should support each other.

Actually this will be an important difference from pre-web storytelling. When you start a traditional story, you know you're stuck with all of it, or miss the point. With a hyperlink story, you can read as few or as many pages as you want, and if it's a well done one, it should give you something. So there's less "investment" in starting to read.

One page is about Lizzie's morning. She gets a phone call from Pam. There's a link to a page containing how Pam's morning went, and how the phone call affected her. Pam leaves home and meets Bob on the stairs. There's a link to how Bob's day goes. There should be some meaningful relation of some kind between the characters, of course.
There can also be links to non-storytelling parts. And there can be bigger stories interwoven with the small bits, like a murder mystery or whatever.

I think this ties in with a development I've noticed in modern fiction, not the least in quality TV shows like _The Sopranos_ and _Weeds_. Until recent times, if a character in a story lied to another character, you could bet your bottom dollar that later it would be found out and there would be consequences. But these days it's as likely that nothing happens at all as a consequence. Life/story just goes on and other things happen. And so it's less predictable.

I think it's a busting loose from the old rigidity of storytelling principles.

Hypertext fiction just feels like it may be the right way for me to write. I always had the greatest struggle fitting my creative writing into traditional story format (three acts, problem-solution, etc), it totally kills the creativity for me. But I'm very good at writing "organically", people always think I'm writing about real events even when they are pretty fantastic.

Update: Stephen found this interesting resource.

Sculpting dead birds

[Thanks to TTL] I thought I was a bit obsessive, but I'm clearly an amateur. Here's Adam Savage telling the story (video) about how he sculpted a Dodo skeleton, and a Maltese Falcon.

Joe said...
Goes to show that if you have a strong Obsession for some thing and are willing to put forth the effort you can obtain it.

You can buy, steal or make it.

TTL said...
It does, doesn't it. There are no limits.

The funnest moment was when he wrapped the bronze Maltese Falcon in the 1941 Chinese San Francisco Newspaper he had obtained from eBay, held a short pause, and said: "I know."

I immediately had to go check out The Replica Forum which he mentions in the talk. Wow! I had no idea. With a mouseclick you can buy an accurate replica of the outfit Deckard wore on Blade Runner or pretty much any movie related prop or thing that springs in to your mind. Amazing. Crazy, but amazing.

MythBusters rule!

Back to me:
A thought that sometimes strike me is that watching hollywood making-of documentaries, it's clear that if you have the money, you can get anything built if you can imagine. Small or big.
Like, even the huge interior of the hotel in the shining... it was a set! Built for the purpose.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Science Fiction going away?

"Despite an avidly reading public, some types of fiction have become less popular and less profitable. As a result, many imprints that once published Science Fiction have disappeared from view."
- Great Authors Online

I've been suspecting this for a while. Even myself... I still consider myself a science fiction fan at heart, but apart from a couple of vaguely disappointing recent Ian M. Banks books, how many SF books have I really read in the past decade? Hardly any. And I'm not sure why.

Even outstanding authors who used to write SF, like William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, and Neal Stephenson, don't do it anymore, they write contemporary fiction, science fact, or historical fiction.

It's not the least puzzling part that fantasy is more popular than ever. (With a certain scarred teenage boy dominating half the market, but still.) I tend to prefer SF. While I do like some of the more off-beat fantasy, I never really took to the princesses-and-dragons stuff which seems to dominate the genre.

Why is this? Is is a change in the public consciousness? Why and how and what?

World numbers

These are some pretty overwhelming numbers. How do you think with that?

Lauren Ambrose

Lauren Ambrose, the latest in the long line of actresses I pine after.
(Six Feet Under, Can't Hardly Wait (which I really like).)

A beautiful redhead. And unlike Lindsay Lohan, she is not ashamed of it.
Okay, I don't know that ms Lohan is ashamed of it, but I have a hard time forgiving her for bleaching her gorgeous red hair. What a crime, such a rare color.