Saturday, April 25, 2009

Platform wars

[Thanks to Norm.] I got over the platform wars, but if it looked like this, maybe I'd still be a spectator at least.

Elizabeth Gilbert about creative anxiety

Elizabeth Gilbert about creative anxiety, TED video.
(Man, I wish TED videos would not start with that explosion of noise, I jump in my chair every time.)

It's interesting, only a few years ago I'd have disagreed very much with Elizabeth here, in that I felt that assigning cause of creative inspiration to something outside us was just a failure of responsibility. But I've changed opinion.

Beyonce vs Little Girl Arianna

If I were Beyonce, I'd invite Arianna to dance in the next video. Really.
Beyonce's video is here.
And Arianna might be interested in this instruction video for the dance steps.
And here's a skit (with herself) about it from SNL.

Reverse dictionary

TC found a highly useful site: the reverse dictionary. It's for when you have concept, but can't think of the word, and other uses too.

By the way, I wish Safari's auto-complete feature also worked with the name of a bookmark, so I could hit command-L and type "reverse..." instead of "onelook" which I probably won't remember.

Space after quotes

Some have been struggling with a Blogger bug in recent times: when making a comment after quoted text, the paragraph division between them often disappeared.
Pascal wrote:
I've just found out how to avoid the quotes ending up stuck to the following text. I just type a space after the italics and before he next line.

Blogger has so many bugs at the moment. I still have to try to remember to save a post before posting it, otherwise I often get an error message, and have to go to 'edit posts', and even then often the latests sentence has to be retyped. Highly irritating.

(Update: even after just typing the above, I still forgot it when hitting the 'post' button! Amazing.)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Of Oprah, Daughters, Sex and Vibrators

Of Oprah, Daughters, Sex and Vibrators, article.
"... the show cut interesting ground when it took on the sadly-still-delicate subject of masturbation, with Berman urging parents to be unambiguously masturbation-positive with their kids, particularly with their teenage daughters, and Oprah backing her up 100%."

Bravo Oprah, brass balls there.

Art from old gadgets

Art from old gadgets.

The Smurfs Were Communists

The Smurfs Were Communists, article. Scary.

Let's face it, it's no more silly than saying SpongeBob Squarepants is gay propaganda.

Mike's gifts

If you enjoy The Online Photographer like I do, consider a voluntary "subscription". It's tax free for Mike, and he deserves it, it's one of the most intelligent and entertaining sites on the web. (I chose the highest level, six bucks per month, but for more casual readers there are lower levels.) Info here.

Reality and happiness

I've wrestled with reality for 35 years, Doctor, and I'm happy to state I finally won out over it.
-- Mary Chase, Jimmy Stewart in "Harvey", 1950

I love characters who are sort of out of phase. What they call "reality" is a tyrant.

The pursuit of happiness is a most ridiculous phrase; if you pursue happiness you'll never find it.
-- C. P. Snow

I think that's true. But why?

Queen Bohemian Rhapsody Old School Computer Remix

Queen Bohemian Rhapsody Old School Computer Remix, video. Totally hil. Thanks to an anon (put in a name, guys, thanks).
No effects or sampling was used. What you see is what you hear (does that even make sense?)
Atari 800XL was used for the lead piano/organ sound
Texas Instruments TI-99/4a as lead guitar
8 Inch Floppy Disk as Bass
3.5 inch Harddrive as the gong
HP ScanJet 3C was used for all vocals.

By the way, I don't know if it's clear to everybody: when I use italics and colored text, I'm quoting somebody else. (I use blue for qouted comments from this blog, and green for web sites.)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Loving Batman

This is a nice coincidence: Neil Gaiman writes the "final" Batman story. Should be good.
Gaiman: "When I was 5, I was in a car with my dad and he mentioned that there was this Batman TV show in America about a man who dressed up in a costume and fought crime. The only bat I ever knew was a cricket bat, so what I thought he looked like was rather odd, based on that. Months later, the series hit the U.K., and I remember watching and being affected by it. Really worrying, genuinely worrying, on a deep primal level, "Will he be OK?" That is the way it was with every deathtrap. If I missed the end of an episode, I'd get my friends to tell me he was OK."

Personally I think it's a stupid choice for a publisher to throw away seventy years of continuous numbering. You can't replace it, and I don't see how you gain very much except for temporary publicity. I was even talking about that recently with somebody, about when they did it with Superman, just on the say-so of writer/penciller John Byrne. (It was Mike J, and he said "that's like if Leica rebooted the numbering of their cameras.") (Apropos Mike, he has just made a fun post inspired by a video I blogged recently.)

It's odd, I can't remember reading Alan Moore's "Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?". It seems incredible that I should not have read it. But perhaps it was before I really became aware of Moore, I have to admit I was slightly behind the cutting edge in the seventies, I was still an X-Men fan. (I also didn't get the first half dozen issues of Sandman, because the art and coloring didn't appeal. Dammit.)

That Gaiman interview is good.
"So I went out to Hollywood with beautiful artwork and toys and did a presentation, talked them through the storyline. We talked about what it was and who the characters were, and how you could do it in three, four or seven movies. I got to the end, very proud of myself for encapsulating 2,000 pages of comics into a giant visual pitch, and what I got was, "Jeff and I had lunch and were talking about the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings franchises, and we agreed that each was successful because they had a clearly defined bad guy. Does The Sandman have a clearly defined bad guy?"
I said, "No it doesn't," and they said, "Thanks for coming!" They know that even if it is one of the jewels in comics' crown, it wasn't designed to be a film. "

Coraline the book was very good, and it seems the movie is too. More about it here, including intro video.

Disney recycling

As Cheech said (or maybe it was Chong): "there's a saying in Hollywood: if you have a working formula, don't change it". Cheech and Chong certainly took that to heart, and so did Disney.

Printing Money

Wow, I didn't realize the fed was that desperate and that irresponsible. This is short-term thinking at its worst. Danger, Will Robinson.
(I don't know Glenn Beck. From his style I'd guess he is controversial. But the important bit is the graph.)

Even comic book writers are smarter than these people. In a Donald Duck comic by Carl Barks from the fifties, there's a huge economical crisis, and a gov speaker is giving a speech where he proposes printing tons of new money to solve it. Scrooge McDuck is so disgusted by this rampant stupidity that he is forced to step in himself.

I'm right in the bullseye of this target myself, because I earn my money in dollars, but I have to spend them in Sterling. Oh shit. Now I'm glad I've been living well below my means for years and have saved up, I may need it if the dollar really crashes.

On another note, I was briefly surprised to see Fox News attack the administration, because they are pro-administration, aren't they? Then I realized, they are not pro-administration, they are ultra-conservative. So now there's a democratic administration, that makes it all right to attack the government!
Which just goes to show you how brain-dead partisanism is, because no matter who sits in the white house, most of what the government does is always the same. They make war, they make inflation, they take away responsibility from people.
Of course blaming the government for all that is just another form of partisanism, because if the people didn't want all those things, it wouldn't happen. Government is just the collective mind of the people.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


OK, so I just found out Robin (Batman's) appeared as early as early as 1940, only a year after Batman himself. I thought it was much later.

I find Robin a little puzzling, because he's always been very popular, but if you'd asked me: "so we have a dark, brooding, vindictive vigilante/detective dressed in black who is the scourge of the criminal element at night, trying to make up for the brutal murder of his parents. And the idea we have is to add another character, who is an adolescent, wise-cracking boy in a bright-colored costume, a gymnast prancing and bouncing around making light of everything." ... I think I'd have said "bad idea, dudeskis."

It seems to me it should be what Seth Godin calls a "meatball sundae". An incompatible mix.

I am honestly not sure whether it really works artistically despite all that, or whether it only works because people in general just need a lighter element in the mix.

Batman ridiculeuse

[Note: I hope not to cause offense to people who like the show, any experience is a valid experience. I just sometimes fly off the handle about little things like this.]

Many will be amazed that I have never watched the old Batman TV show with Adam West, but like with Star Trek, Danish TV had too good taste to show it, fortunately. If I'd seen it as a kid, I'd either have been homicidally enraged, or worse, I'd have liked it and it'd have ruined Batman for me forever.
It's impossible to figure out how Batman The Dark Knight and this TV show was inspired by the same comic. (OK, granted, the Batman comic of the sixties was very different from more recent incarnations.)

I'm watching (so far) Batman The Movie, by the same producers and actors. In the beginning Batman and Robin get an instant and automatic costume change... while sliding down a pole! Batman's hood has eyebrows drawn on in purple pencil.... Then they're in a "batcopter", and Batman tries to land on a boat... from a "batladder"! Robin flies so incompetently that Batman is lowered half into the ocean... albeit very, very slowly. And within three second a shark attaches itself to his leg! He keeps battering this shark which looks so fake it does not even look like real rubber... But in vain, so robin hands him the "shark-repellent" spray! (I guess it is only for sharks met above water.) And the shark falls down... and explodes! And that's just the first five minutes.
I'm not sure if it's supposed to be funny, but oh my gawd, it's nauseating.

Judging from Amazon reviews, everybody loves this movie/show. I don't get it. I could understand it if it was a parody and was funny, but I don't see that at all.

Mid-level cameras

Mike J sez it well again: any mid-level DSLR is great.
"all of them are superlative products, all of them are cameras that skilled shooters could easily use to do top-quality work, and all of them are more camera than most photographers really need at a minimum."

Update: see comments for Mike J's advice for choosing between an Olympus E-420 and a Pentax K20D. 

Crazy medical practices in history

Crazy medical practices in history, article.
Some of them in very recent history, like the lobotomy. Did you know the inventor of the lobotomy got a nobel prize for it?
I wonder if electroshock therapy (electroconvulsive therapy or E.C.T.) will follow soon in being regarded as barbaric mistake? It seems to me to be only maginally more sane than a lobotomy. You don't flood your computer with thousands of volts to fix it crashing. I'm reading Wishful Drinking, an autobiographical tale by Carrie Fisher (played princess Leya and wrote the wonderful and funny film Postcards From The Edge). She has/had big problems with depression, and she tells she has had E.C.T. I did not get a clear impression of how much it has helped her, but she is clear that it has wiped huge portions of her memory away. That can't be a good sign.

Pascal, a medical doctor, gives perspective and information in the comments section of this post.

The "Enicycle"

Bert found this powered unicycle. Way cooler than a Segway. Also pretty remarkable that it's invented and built by one man.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Black Canary Barbie and self-reliance

Mattel's Black Canary Barbie (a superhero doll) is being attacked for being sexually suggestive, and thus inappropriate.

I can understand the instinct. You don't want your daughter pregnant at thirteen, of course.

But I think the issue at the heart of the matter is: are we doing well by shielding our children from the way the world is? Or are we doing them a disservice by letting them grow up in an artificially innocent environment, and dumping them all unprepared into an entirely different world at eighteen?

And, by making their decisions for them, are we stunting their own natural development into making sound judgements of their own?

This issue goes very deep. I think it's the same dilemma at heart as, for example, drug laws. When we make a dangerous drug illegal, are we protecting people or are we taking choice away from them, thus making them rebellious and creating a lucrative black market and further criminality to support the buying of drugs at artificially high prices?

You can say it's totally different situations because one involves children, but I think apart from degree (children need more nurturing and educating than adults), it's the same issue at heart: how much can and should we make decisions for others?

The most well-adjusted, happy, and successful adults, do they come from homes with a lot of protection and a lot of discipline, or from homes which encourage self-determination and self-reliance? I've not read any studies, but anecdotal evidence suggest the latter.

Other parents said to my parents: "your children are so nice and polite, how do you do it?" and the interesting part was that my parents didn't do anything, in fact I think they may have gone overboard in the direction of leaving us alone.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Bottle Shock

I'm watching Bottle Shock. It seems well made and humorous. But I'm not sure how much "wine culture" I can stand. Do these people really stand around talking about a wine being "oakey" or "wolly"? Or is it an elaborate joke they are pulling on the world?

It also rubs me the wrong way the spectacular importance they attach to wine. Like it's something monumental, transcendental, spiritual. To me, wine is no more important than soda pop or orange juice.

If I really stretch my largesse, I guess it might be similar the other way around. For me, art can be monumental or transcendental, but for some I guess it's just something pretty to have on the wall so it doesn't look so bare.

International money orders (updated)

Sometimes people want to pay me with international money orders (from US to UK). I'm resisting because it seems I may have to go to the bank personally to cash it, which ain't worth it. But it's not very clear. Does anyone know more about this?

Update: does anybody have more information about why Paypal may be used for paying for hardcore content on eBay, but not for even the most softcore pay site? Paypal is very adamant about it, I used them before they adopted this policy. There seems to be a difference between physical items sold, and downloadable content.

Collector's Leica

Leica is coming out with yet another collector's item Leica, this one is white.

Many commentators, including some of our favorites (hi Mike!), are derisive of such cameras. And I can understand the viewpoint, cameras were made to photograph with, after all.

On the other hand:
1) what is wrong with fetishizing cameras, really?
2) It's not like there's a limited number of them, if a brand sells more, they make more.
3) The collectors' market support the photographers' market. I doubt Leica would even exist anymore if there were no collectors.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Extreme hand-held film-making

Extreme hand-held film-making, interview with the makers of the Crank movies.
Seems they consider semi-pro vidcams disposable.
(I was not a great fan of the first Crank movie though, and the second one sounds a bit nutty.)

Running man

One of my most successful paintings of recent years has been reviewed.

Update: I like both flat pictures and structured (impasto). Flat is easier to make and to distribute digitally, so it makes sense to do impasto when working on canvas.

Why is it stressing to me to do creative things? Not sure, but it seems like it is undoing old hard-packed emotional energies. Which is therapeutic and wonderful, but it easily goes too fast for me and becomes painful. So I have to do it in moderation.

(updated) Eccentric Swede turned empty cans into gold

Eccentric Swede turned empty cans into gold, article. This guy was the antithesis to the current "live high on credit" culture which has crashed the word's economy. He may have been overdoing it a tad, but still food for thought.

Here's the opposite to that guy. Boy, did this guy mess up.

Passenger on a fighter jet

[Thanks to Mark F.] Passenger on a fighter jet, video (the sound is quite loud and you can't dial it down).
While I'd prefer that all that toughness and money went to, say, space exploration or education, there's no denying that the male lizard brain loves what military hardware can do.