Going to a party party

November 28, 2007

On the bright side, I suppose I can rent a car now if I ever need to.

To make myself feel like a complete and utter failure (moreso than already—thanks, Celia ;) ), here is an idiotlist:

  • Orson Welles was my age when he wrote, directed, produced, and starred in Citizen Kane, widely and correctly considered the best film ever. (It’s Terrific!)
  • Paul McCartney was my age when he wrote “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and he and his mates recorded Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, about which more need not be said.
  • Albert Einstein was my age, and had my job, when he had his Annus Mirabilis, for which he was eventually awarded the Nobel Prize and repeatedly referenced on The Simpsons.
  • Neil Young was my age when he released a solo album and an album with Crosby, Stills and Nash, in addition to touring with Crazy Horse (now available as an album as well).
  • Ian Anderson was my age when J-Tull made Thick as a Brick.
  • David Gilmour was my age when P-Floyd made Meddle.
  • Georges-Pierre Seurat was my age when he began work on Un dimanche après-midi à l’Île de la Grande Jatte (A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte).
  • Leandro Barbosa was my age (happy birthday, Leandro!) when he was the reigning holder of the NBA 6th Man Award, and a key player on the most exciting team in the league.
  • Need I continue?

For the sake of fairness, however, here is a counterexamplelist:

  • Eric Blair was my age when he was broke and unemployed, on the brink of eviction and starvation. He considered himself lucky to find a job washing dishes 80 hours a week, as he later described under an assumed name in Down and Out in Paris and London.
  • Little help?

Telling tellers tell me

November 13, 2007

A not-so-recent-anymore article includes the following:

Music sales have slumped in recent years as more people have turned to file-sharing. The Recording Industry Association of America, which is not a party to the lawsuit, says record companies have brought more than 26,000 actions against people alleging they shared files in violation of copyrights.

I’m not going to address the merit of this lawsuit in particular, or the approach in general. There’s enough of that all over the internet already. Nor will I point out that, during the “recent years”, while “[m]usic sales have slumped”, DVD sales have exploded and RIAA labels have released fewer and arguably worse albums. There’s gotta be enough of that all over the internet as well.

No, my point is illustrated by this list of the past 10 or so albums I’ve purchased, along with the record label (if any) for each one:

  • Elliott Brood — Tin Type (Weewerk)
  • Holy Fuck — LP (XL Recordings)
  • Husky Rescue — Ghost is Not Real (Catskills)
  • Junior Senior — Hey Hey My My Yo Yo (Rykodisc)
  • Manu Chao — La Radiolina (Nacional Records)
  • Maserati — Inventions for the New Season (Temporary Residence)
  • Menomena — Friend and Foe (Barsuk)
  • Portugal. The Man — Church Mouth (Fearless Records)
  • Radiohead — In Rainbows (?)
  • Spoon — Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (Merge Records)
  • UNKLE — War Stories (Surrender All)

Green indicates an album is non-RIAA, red RIAA (post-purchase, I looked them up here). As you can see, that means one of the past ten CDs I’ve bought (or one of the past eleven albums I’ve bought) has been a release from an RIAA-affiliated label. I guess that means I’m so indie it hurts [1], but it also illustrates that, without even trying, you can nearly eliminate your support for the RIAA and still buy as many CDs as you did before. So while I don’t necessarily doubt that music sales in general have fallen, I have to wonder whether the fall is as big as it’s been made out to be. Articles tend to parrot RIAA talking points, and it’s not clear where they’re getting their numbers from. If their sales figures are only based on the sales figures from their member labels, then the vast majority of my purchases don’t count, and I know there are lots of people out there with tastes like mine (or, God forbid, even indier).

Incidentally, if not for downloads, I wouldn’t have spent actual money on any of those albums.

* * *

[1] Adam, if you’re reading this, you can consider this post an explicit recommendation to listen to all those albums listed above. Sorry this still isn’t a proper mp3blog, but at least it’s trending in that direction. In any case, all of those albums qualify as ‘best of new music’ in my book; other than the Elliott Brood, which came out in 2004; and the Junior Senior, which came out in 2005 but wasn’t released Stateside until this year. Though the US release of the Junior Senior album does come with an EP of all-new material—which is the entire reason I bought it, since I already had a copy that I got in Denmark this spring.

Suvest sügisesse, mitte ainult mina

October 12, 2007

(Apologies to Juhan Viiding.)

Taevas kisub kõrgeks, sügis astub maha.
Jälle kukub asju diivanite taha.
Liikumatult istun iseenda süles,
pole mingit soovi võtta asju üles.

I’ve been exhausted for weeks, and I don’t see it getting better any time soon. I managed to pull off what amounted to a Herculean effort at the end of FY07, but instead of having some room to breathe I still feel like I’m on the verge of drowning in a sea of useless crap.

There was a moment somewhere, maybe even a week or two, where I was nearly in a ‘zone’ of some sort, which manifested itself in a surprising (and timely) bout of productivity. That productivity, though, was born of not giving a crap, which might not be the best thing in the world, and anyway the crap-giving has returned. Or maybe it hasn’t, I can’t quite tell. Either way, I’m left with a profound sense of ennui. Again.

There are so many things I’ve been meaning to do, and most of them have been on the list for months. Things like filing my state tax return or getting my car inspected I can probably continue putting off fairly safely, but if I ever want to go back to school I need to write an application essay like Right Now, This Instant. And if I ever want to get my colors I need to finish writing that other essay I started in the spring when they were getting impatient about how long I was taking. I ended up being able to stall for time a bit, but now that time has just about run out.

And then there are the other things. I’ve never known what I wanted, but for a little while there I felt like I was at least on the right track, and it was a situation worth pursuing. But I’m not sure anymore of that, either.

But seriously

August 10, 2007

It just occurred to me that what I miss most about college—or school in general—is resolution: finishing one thing, and beginning another. Pass a course, great; you’re on to the next. Flunk it, it’s not even the end of the world; start over next semester. In moderation, at least, it’s no big deal.

This goddamn interminable sameness at work is, I’m pretty damn sure, what I really don’t like about it. I have coworkers who have been doing their job—my job—longer than I have been alive, and that’s terrifying and horrifying and unfathomable. Those people are obviously a hell of a lot better and faster and more efficient than I am, and they’ve been practicing for a hell of a long time, so more power to them. But if I’m going to spend a lifetime—a goddamn lifetime!—practicing a particular skill, I want it to be because it’s something I enjoy doing so much I want to do it for its own sake, not because getting better will let me go on ratrace-autopilot for 40 hours a week until I retire.

Or maybe I’m just making excuses.

Of course, the other nice thing about school is winter and summer breaks. Which are nice for their own sake, but also serve to reinforce the episodic nature of the experience—again, unlike the sameness of work.

Seven months ago I came down with pneumonia. It was a miserable ordeal, but I loved it. Why? It gave me a plausible, undeniable excuse to do absolutely nothing for a week. Not a care in the world, other than the sickening feeling of drowning in my own lungs, and wishing the bathroom were closer because walking 20 feet made me winded. On balance, though, I’m almost wistful for it, because it was a nice interlude. And that’s all I really want.

A modern-day fable

February 5, 2007

Boston Reaches Settlement in Bomb Fiasco

It’s just like the boy who cried wolf, except there actually was a wolf nobody was prepared for that ate up a bunch of sheep, and then the mayor of the village told everybody to be extra careful of wolves in the future, and to pay attention to the color-coded ‘wolf threat level advisory’, and to be sure to tell the constable if they saw or suspected or imagined any wolf-like or wolf-related activity. And then one day a man came to the village with a fluffy poodle with one of those ridiculous poodle haircuts like you see in cartoons, and the poodle’s name was Ignignot, and nobody paid them any mind until some guy shouted “Hey! That’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing!” and the village made the man give them two million dollars in “goodwill funds”, and everybody lived happily ever after.

Kubrick ad nauseam, vol. 1

February 2, 2007

Like any reasonable person, I’d rather see a movie on the big screen than on a smaller one. So it is that while I enjoy going to the cinema in general, I particularly like going to see revivals and rereleases, and I’ve been lucky enough to see such classics as This Is Spinal Tap and a few parts of Kieslowski’s Dekalog in theatres. And one of the biggest perks of the cinema classes I took in college was not just having an opportunity to see Orphée, Броненосец Потёмкин, and The Magnificent Ambersons, but seeing them on a proper screen.

So it was that I was happy to discover that a (fairly) nearby movie theater was having a Kubrick retrospective of sorts, and last Saturday I watched The Shining, which I’d somehow managed to avoid seeing before, and Spartacus, which Mr Lang sacrificed a week of my 7th-grade history class to show us. For both films, it was quite bizarre to see preview and “note the location of the nearest exit” reels that were in better condition than the main features.

» » Continue reading . . .

On the weather

July 9, 2006

How do I like it here, people ask me.

Everything is great—work is going well, there’s always stuff to do, etc.—but I’m of the firm opinion that people were not meant to live in this kind of heat and humidity. Yes, I’m sure there are worse places, but I’d complain about them as well.

And then, as if we hadn’t had enough rain recently, I was just greeted with this:

weather

I can’t wait.

. . .

In other news, despite constantly complaining about the oppressive [atmospheric] conditions here, I remain too lazy to make use of the swimming pool in my apartment building. So it goes.

On tuna

July 2, 2006

Why is it so hard to find tuna in oil? Tuna packed in water is just too dry; you can’t eat it straight from the can. I don’t mind tuna salad or other dishes made with canned tuna, but I do mind being forced to add things to tuna in order to make it palatable. And whatever beneficial health effects you might arguably gain by purchasing flavorless tuna is no doubt offset by the fact that you’re required to combine it with mayonnaise in order to eat it.

And then when I do scour the shelves of a couple different grocery stores, passing over dozens of brands of water-packed fish, all I find is tuna in olive oil. I don’t mind olive oil in general, but I do mind it being used as an excuse to make everything “gourmet” and therefore extremely expensive. That, and I’m not a big enough fan of olives to want everything I consume to have their sweet-salty-fruity aftertaste. Especially tunafish. (Or horse mackerel.)

On homophones

June 29, 2006

Considering how many people seem unable to distinguish between “there”, “their”, and “they’re”; it seems tremendously unfair that the same thing doesn’t happen with “your”, “you’re”, and “yore”.

UNSW Embryology- Molecular Development- Sonic Hedgehog

June 2, 2006

UNSW Embryology- Molecular Development- Sonic Hedgehog

I suppose this is what happens when kids who played videogames grow up and get Ph.D.s. Now we have a bunch of papers with abstracts like

Embryonic stem (ES) cells differentiate into functional motoneurons when treated with a sonic hedgehog (Shh) agonist and retinoic acid (RA).

and

Sonic hedgehog regulates Gli activator and repressor functions with spatial and temporal precision in the mid/hindbrain region.

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