August 2007 Archives

Oh, the Things you can Think

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I've been real quiet around here, but that's because things have been so crazy every where else! A few days away from the keyboard, which was quite refreshing actually. I even took an extra half day away when we got back from Storyland, because it felt so good!

Work also has been busy, as we are rolling out a new version of our software, always an exciting time. I've also begun helping out on a new Linux blog called Linux Brain Dump. I've been looking for somewhere to share technical writing chores, and this has been working out pretty well. See especially James' post The 10 Commandments for New Linux Users, which generated plenty of hits and comments.

But I have still been reading and watching movies, so here's some capsule reviews of each. First up, the movies:

     
  • Twelve Monkeys - this was my HD rental and really looked spectacular. Filled with those special Terry Gilliam touches, it really loooked and sounded great. Of course, anothe Gilliam touch is sort of losing track of the story in the interest of great visuals, and I thought that happened here. Looks like from the same future as Brazil. I liked it but it was a little overlong too.
  •  
  • Yi yi - a Chinese movie about family life, I found it hard going for some reason. And when the DVD stopped playing on my player, I gave up and just sent it back.
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  • The Queen - my first HD OnDemand rental, I was very pleased with the picture and sound. Despite missing the icon on the info screen, the sound was, in fact, Dolby Digital 5.1, so it sounded great. This movie, which won Helen Mirren a Best Actress Oscar, is about those trying days for the British monarchy after Princess Diana died in a car accident. The acting was just amazing and so believable, but I kept trying to imagine how they knew what these people were thinking, especially with such a recent event. I also found it hard to empathize with these people, being so insulated from real life. But it was a fun movie.
As for books, I read Bangkok 8 by John Burdett, after reading SteveP's rave review. I've needed a good, easy to read mystery, and this filled the bill admirably. The setting of Bangkok was exotic and interesting. Being a devout non-believer, the mystical Buddhist theory got a little tiring after a while and I lost track of all of the myriad plotlines, but I enjoyed myself nonetheless. To show you how tangled things get, I'm not exactly sure what the Bangkok 8 even refers to!






Mindset List

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The Beloit College Mindset list for 2007:


     
  1. What Berlin wall?
  2. Humvees, minus the artillery, have always been available to the public.
  3. Rush Limbaugh and the "Dittoheads" have always been lambasting liberals.
  4. They never "rolled down" a car window.
  5. Michael Moore has always been angry and funny.
  6. They may confuse the Keating Five with a rock group.
  7. They have grown up with bottled water.
  8. General Motors has always been working on an electric car.
  9. Nelson Mandela has always been free and a force in South Africa.
  10. Pete Rose has never played baseball.
  11. Rap music has always been mainstream.
  12. Religious leaders have always been telling politicians what to do, or else!
  13. "Off the hook" has never had anything to do with a telephone.
  14. Music has always been "unplugged."
  15. Russia has always had a multi-party political system.
  16. Women have always been police chiefs in major cities.
  17. They were born the year Harvard Law Review Editor Barack Obama announced he might run for office some day.
  18. The NBA season has always gone on and on and on and on.
  19. Classmates could include Michelle Wie, Jordin Sparks, and Bart Simpson.
  20. Half of them may have been members of the Baby-sitters Club.
  21. Eastern Airlines has never "earned their wings" in their lifetime.
  22. No one has ever been able to sit down comfortably to a meal of "liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti."
  23. Wal-Mart has always been a larger retailer than Sears and has always employed more workers than GM.
  24. Being "lame" has to do with being dumb or inarticulate, not disabled.
  25. Wolf Blitzer has always been serving up the news on CNN.
  26. Katie Couric has always had screen cred.
  27. Al Gore has always been running for president or thinking about it.
  28. They never found a prize in a Coca-Cola "MagiCan."
  29. They were too young to understand Judas Priest's subliminal messages.
  30. When all else fails, the Prozac defense has always been a possibility.
  31. Multigrain chips have always provided healthful junk food.
  32. They grew up in Wayne's World.
  33. U2 has always been more than a spy plane.
  34. They were introduced to Jack Nicholson as "The Joker."
  35. Stadiums, rock tours and sporting events have always had corporate names.
  36. American rock groups have always appeared in Moscow.
  37. Commercial product placements have been the norm in films and on TV.
  38. On Parents' Day on campus, their folks could be mixing it up with Lisa Bonet and Lenny Kravitz with daughter Zöe, or Kathie Lee and Frank Gifford with son Cody.
  39. Fox has always been a major network.
  40. They drove their parents crazy with the Beavis and Butt-Head laugh.
  41. The "Blue Man Group" has always been everywhere.
  42. Women's studies majors have always been offered on campus.
  43. Being a latchkey kid has never been a big deal.
  44. Thanks to MySpace and Facebook, autobiography can happen in real time.
  45. They learned about JFK from Oliver Stone and Malcolm X from Spike Lee.
  46. Most phone calls have never been private.
  47. High definition television has always been available.
  48. Microbreweries have always been ubiquitous.
  49. Virtual reality has always been available when the real thing failed.
  50. Smoking has never been allowed in public spaces in France.
  51. China has always been more interested in making money than in reeducation.
  52. Time has always worked with Warner.
  53. Tiananmen Square is a 2008 Olympics venue, not the scene of a massacre.
  54. The purchase of ivory has always been banned.
  55. MTV has never featured music videos.
  56. The space program has never really caught their attention except in disasters.
  57. Jerry Springer has always been lowering the level of discourse on TV.
  58. They get much more information from Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert than from the newspaper.
  59. They're always texting 1 n other.
  60. They will encounter roughly equal numbers of female and male professors in the classroom.
  61. They never saw Johnny Carson live on television.
  62. They have no idea who Rusty Jones was or why he said "goodbye to rusty cars."
  63. Avatars have nothing to do with Hindu deities.
  64. Chavez has nothing to do with iceberg lettuce and everything to do with oil.
  65. Illinois has been trying to ban smoking since the year they were born.
  66. The World Wide Web has been an online tool since they were born.
  67. Chronic fatigue syndrome has always been debilitating and controversial.
  68. Burma has always been Myanmar.
  69. Dilbert has always been ridiculing cubicle culture.
  70. Food packaging has always included nutritional labeling.

  71.      


     

I watched Raiders of the Lost Ark last weekend and had almost forgotten what an incredibly fun movie it is! I've seen it a dozen times or more (probably only Casablanca has been watched more), but it has been quite a while since my last viewing. And I'm not sure I've watched my DVD version of it either.

But on the "big" screen, it was a gas! It looked great and I'm pretty sure the did some picture cleaning when they printed it. For instance, I couldn't see the reflection of the cobra when he first goes down into the tomb where the Ark is, which used to be pretty obvious. The upscaling to 1080i looked superb and the sound was fantastic.

I won't even bother to give you a plot synopsis, because if you don't know the story of Indiana Jones, Marion Ravenwood and the quest for the Ark, you probably have no desire to see it. If it happens to be one of those movies you've never really sat down and watched, stop everything right now and go see it. This represents an incredible nexus of talent, from producer George Lucas, to director Steven Spielberg, writer Lawrence Kasdan, to amazing lead actors like Harrison Ford and Karen Allen, and a top notch supporting cast including Denholm Elliot (perhaps my all time favorite British character actor), John Rhys-Davies, Alfred Molina, and Paul Freeman.

There's a wonderful "Making Of..." featurette on the bonus fourth disc of the Raiders trilogy set. It includes both contemporary footage of the filming as well as interviews today with Ford, Allen, Kasdan, Lucas, Spielberg and others. Some wonderful anecdotes, like Rhys-Davies saying he had never been so sick on a set, and that the desert scenes were filmed in Tunisia, just like Star Wars, right down to using the same canyon Luke hunted womp rats in.

A movie that almost certainly earns a place on my embryonic Desert Island list, Raiders is a nearly pitch perfect adventure movie. I particularly like how various themes work their way through the movie, like snakes, drinking games and the like. Karen Allen was one of my main cinematic crushes in the 80s and she still looks great. Karen, if you're reading this, call me and we'll do lunch!

Raiders Of The Lost Ark




Book Review: Homage to Catalonia

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As I mentioned in my review of Pan's Labyrinth, ever since reading For Whom The Bell Tolls, I've been fascinated by the Spanish Civil War. It was a breathtakingly ugly war, with atrocities committed on both sides. It began as an idealistic People versus Dictator attempting a coup, but degraded into a choice between the fanatical right (Franco and the Nationalists) and the fanatical left, represented by the heavy handed Soviet Communists.

At the start of the war, there was hope of a real "workers paradise", which drew many idealistic foreign nationals into the fray. There was even an entire brigade, called, appropriately enough, the International Brigade, fighting on the Republican side. One of the people drawn to their side was a young reporter called George Orwell (soon to be famous for the books Animal House and 1984). After arriving in Spain, he immediately joined the P.O.U.M. militia and was sent to the Catalonia front.

After a couple of months in the trenches, not really doing much, he went back to Barcelona on leave, where he became an eyewitness and participant to an uprising "behind the lines", where some groups on the left battled against the growing Soviet influence. Some blood was shed, but eventually calm was restored. He went back to the front, where he was wounded. After spending some time in hospitals, he went back to Barcelona, only to find that the P.O.U.M. had been outlawed and many of his friends and compatriots had been grabbed and thrown in jail. He managed to avoid this fate, sometimes just barely and came back to  write Homage to Catalonia about his experiences.

What a great book, perhaps the best first hand account of trench warfare I have ever read. He really captures the tedium, excitement, danger and fear of the soldiers waging war. He even gives a very convincing and realistic description of taking a bullet. His foray into explaining the political situation is a little dry these days, as the events he describes happened 70 years ago. But it is indicative of just how reporting can be biased, something all too familiar today.

Kudos to SteveP for recommending the book. Even if you aren't interested in the Spanish Civil War, if you want a clear and involving description of what it is like to be a soldier in a confusing war, this is a great book. It is filled with humor and pathos, and you can feel the Orwell's outrage as he decries the abuses of power against his comrades, thrown into jail with little or no pretense, many of them destined to die there. He also has some great descriptions of the Spaniards. I loved this passage, as he is taking a train from the field hospital ostensibly to Barcelona, where his wife is staying:

One morning it was announced that the men in my ward were to be sent down to Barcelona today.. I managed to send a wire to my wife, telling her that I was coming, and presently they packed us into buses and took us down to the station. It was only when the train was actually starting that the hosptial orderly who travelled with us casually let fall that we were not going to Barcelona after all, but to Tarragona. I suppose the engine-driver had changed his mind. "Just like Spain!" I thought. But it was very Spanish, too, that they agreed to hold up the train while I sent another wire, and more Spanish still that the wire never got there.

Homage to Catalonia
George Orwell


Fickle Faves

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I haven't posted my Favorite Artists last.fm quilt in a while, so I figure I'll throw it out there now.

last.fm Favorite Artists


Lately, I've been on a huge Halflight kick. Their song Worship is on the We♥Music sampler CD I got a few months ago and I just loved it, so I've been watching their MySpace page for word of a CD. When their mini-CD became available I jumped on it and I really dig it. Here's another song by them, the CD title My Disguise. Doesn't hurt that Sarah Howells is way cute... Be sure to check out the song Lose the Lasso on the MySpace page, as it's good too.

Halflight: My Disguise live video, Good Gig Friday 2007




A Child's Guide to US Foreign Policy

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Recently tossed over the email transom is this long nugget:

A Child's Guide To United States Foreign Policy

Q: Daddy, why did we have to attack Iraq?

A: Because they had weapons of mass destruction honey.

Q: But the inspectors didn't find any weapons of mass destruction.

A: That's because the Iraqis were hiding them.

Q: And that's why we invaded Iraq?

A: Yep. Invasions always work better than inspections.

Q: But after we invaded them, we STILL didn't find any weapons of mass destruction, did we?

A: That's because the weapons are so well hidden. Don't worry, we'll find something, probably right before the 2004 election.

Q: Why did Iraq want all those weapons of mass destruction?

A: To use them in a war, silly.

Q: I'm confused. If they had all those weapons that they planned to use in a war, then why didn't they use any of those weapons when we went to war with them?

A: Well, obviously they didn't want anyone to know they had those weapons, so they chose to die by the thousands rather than defend themselves.

Q: That doesn't make sense Daddy. Why would they choose to die if they had all those big weapons to fight us back with? 

A: It's a different culture. It's not supposed to make sense.

Q: I don't know about you, but I don't think they had any of those weapons our government said they did. 

A: Well, you know, it doesn't matter whether or not they had those weapons.  We had another good reason to invade them anyway.

Q: And what was that?

A: Even if Iraq didn't have weapons of mass destruction, Saddam Hussein was a cruel dictator, which is another good reason to invade another country.

Q: Why? What does a cruel dictator do that makes it OK to invade his country?

A: Well, for one thing, he tortured his own people.

Q: Kind of like what they do in China?

A: Don't go comparing China to Iraq. China is a good economic competitor, where millions of people work for slave wages in sweatshops to make U.S.  corporations richer.

Q: So if a country lets its people be exploited for American corporate gain, it's a good country, even if that country tortures people?

A: Right.

Q: Why were people in Iraq being tortured?

A: For political crimes, mostly, like criticizing the government. People who criticized the government in Iraq were sent to prison and tortured.

Q: Isn't that exactly what happens in China?

A: I told you, China is different.

Q: What's the difference between China and Iraq?

A: Well, for one thing, Iraq was ruled by the Ba'ath party, while China is Communist.

Q: Didn't you once tell me Communists were bad?

A: No, just Cuban Communists are bad.

Q: How are the Cuban Communists bad?

A: Well, for one thing, people who criticize the government in Cuba are sent to prison and tortured.

Q: Like in Iraq?

A: Exactly.

Q: And like in China, too?

A: I told you, China's a good economic competitor. Cuba, on the other hand, is not.

Q: How come Cuba isn't a good economic competitor?

A: Well, you see, back in the early 1960s, our government passed some laws that made it illegal for Americans to trade or do any business with Cuba until they stopped being communists and started being capitalists like us.

Q: But if we got rid of those laws, opened up trade with Cuba, and started doing business with them, wouldn't that help the Cubans become capitalists?

A: Don't be a smart-ass.

Q: I didn't think I was being one.

A: Well, anyway, they also don't have freedom of religion in Cuba.

Q: Kind of like China and the Falun Gong movement?

A: I told you, stop saying bad things about China. Anyway, Saddam Hussein came to power through a military coup, so he's not really a legitimate leader anyway.

Q: What's a military coup?

A: That's when a military general takes over the government of a country by force, instead of holding free elections like we do in the United States.

Q: Didn't the ruler of Pakistan come to power by a military coup?

A: You mean General Pervez Musharraf? Uh, yeah, he did, but Pakistan is our friend.

Q: Why is Pakistan our friend if their leader is illegitimate?

A: I never said Pervez Musharraf was illegitimate.

Q: Didn't you just say a military general who comes to power by forcibly overthrowing the legitimate government of a nation is an illegitimate leader?

A: Only Saddam Hussein. Pervez Musharraf is our friend, because he helped us invade Afghanistan.

Q: Why did we invade Afghanistan?

A: Because of what they did to us on September 11th.

Q: What did Afghanistan do to us on September 11th?

A: Well, on September 11th, nineteen men, fifteen of them Saudi Arabians, hijacked four airplanes and flew three of them into buildings, killing over 3,000 Americans.

Q: So how did Afghanistan figure into all that?

A: Afghanistan was where those bad men trained, under the oppressive rule of the Taliban.

Q: Aren't the Taliban those bad radical Islamics who chopped off people's heads and hands?

A: Yes, that's exactly who they were. Not only did they chop off people's heads and hands, but they oppressed women, too.

Q: Didn't the Bush administration give the Taliban 43 million dollars back in May of 2001?

A: Yes, but that money was a reward because they did such a good job fighting drugs.

Q: Fighting drugs?

A: Yes, the Taliban were very helpful in stopping people from growing opium poppies.

Q: How did they do such a good job?

A: Simple. If people were caught growing opium poppies, the Taliban would have their hands and heads cut off.

Q: So, when the Taliban cut off people's heads and hands for growing flowers, that was OK, but not if they cut people's heads and hands off for other reasons?

A: Yes. It's OK with us if radical Islamic fundamentalists cut off people's hands for growing flowers, but it's cruel if they cut off people's hands for stealing bread.

Q: Don't they also cut off people's hands and heads in Saudi Arabia?

A: That's different. Afghanistan was ruled by a tyrannical patriarchy that oppressed women and forced them to wear burqas whenever they were in public, with death by stoning as the penalty for women who did not comply.

Q: Don't Saudi women have to wear burqas in public, too?

A: No, Saudi women merely wear a traditional Islamic body covering.

Q: What's the difference?

A: The traditional Islamic covering worn by Saudi women is a modest yet fashionable garment that covers all of a woman's body except for her eyes and fingers. The burqa, on the other hand, is an evil tool of patriarchal oppression that covers all of a woman's body except for her eyes and fingers.

Q: It sounds like the same thing with a different name.

A: Now, don't go comparing Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. The Saudis are our friends.

Q: But I thought you said 15 of the 19 hijackers on September 11th were from Saudi Arabia.

A: Yes, but they trained in Afghanistan.

Q: Who trained them?

A: A very bad man named Osama bin Laden.

Q: Was he from Afghanistan?

A: Uh, no, he was from Saudi Arabia too. But he was a bad man, a very bad man.

Q: I seem to recall he was our friend once.

A: Only when we helped him and the mujahadeen repel the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan back in the 1980s.

Q: Who are the Soviets? Was that the Evil Communist Empire Ronald Reagan talked about?

A: There are no more Soviets. The Soviet Union broke up in 1990 or thereabouts, and now they have elections and capitalism like us. We call them Russians now.

Q: So the Soviets ? I mean, the Russians ? are now our friends?

A: Well, not really. You see, they were our friends for many years after they stopped being Soviets, but then they decided not to support our invasion of Iraq, so we're mad at them now. We're also mad at the French and the Germans because they didn't help us invade Iraq either.

Q: So the French and Germans are evil, too?

A: Not exactly evil, but just bad enough that we had to rename French fries and French toast to Freedom Fries and Freedom Toast.

Q: Do we always rename foods whenever another country doesn't do what we want them to do?

A: No, we just do that to our friends. Our enemies, we invade.

Q: But wasn't Iraq one of our friends back in the 1980s?

A: Well, yeah. For a while.

Q: Was Saddam Hussein ruler of Iraq back then?

A: Yes, but at the time he was fighting against Iran, which made him our friend, temporarily.

Q: Why did that make him our friend?

A: Because at that time, Iran was our enemy.

Q: Isn't that when he gassed the Kurds?

A: Yeah, but since he was fighting against Iran at the time, we looked the other way, to show him we were his friend.

Q: So anyone who fights against one of our enemies automatically becomes our friend?

A: Most of the time, yes.

Q: And anyone who fights against one of our friends is automatically an enemy?

A: Sometimes that's true, too. However, if American corporations can profit by selling weapons to both sides at the same time, all the better.

Q: Why?

A: Because war is good for the economy, which means war is good for America.  Also, since God is on America's side, anyone who opposes war is a godless un-American Communist. Do you understand now why we attacked Iraq?

Q: I think so. We attacked them because God wanted us to, right?

A: Yes.

Q: But how did we know God wanted us to attack Iraq?

A: Well, you see, God personally speaks to George W. Bush and tells him what to do.

Q: So basically, what you're saying is that we attacked Iraq because George W. Bush hears voices in his head?

A: Yes! You finally understand how the world works. Now close your eyes, make yourself comfortable, and go to sleep. Good night.

I was listening to my Groove Salad station last night (I even contributed US$35 to it) when the song "Lost in Kyoto" by Air came up, one of the first times I have recognized a song on that station.  I figured I'd post my review of the movie from which it came, Lost in Translation. It is a frequent visitor to cable movie channels, and I always stop to watch some of it. I really need to add this to my collection, for those movie watching evenings when I am just looking to chill out and be mellow or even melancholic. I think in retrospect I like it even more than this review indicates. It is amazing how much talent is in that Coppola family. I wrote this review on January 29, 2005.


Lost in Translation was one of the big "indie" hits from 2003.  Nominated for 4 Oscars, winning one (Best Screenplay), it was a critical and commercial success.  Written, directed, and produced by Sofia Coppola, daughter of Hollywood legend Francis Ford Coppola, it tells the story of a chance meeting of two lost souls visiting the bustling metropolis of Tokyo and coming together to form a bond against the confusing world.  Both Bill Murray, as the world-weary fading movie star and Scarlett Johansson, as the neglected wife of a fashion photographer, give standout performances in this very muted film.

Bob Harris (Murray) arrives in Tokyo, courtesy of Suntory, the large Japanese liquor maker.  He's here to film some promos for their whiskey.  Harris' star faded a long time ago, as a sort of Charles Bronson-ish action hero, but he is still revered in Japan. He arrives tired and worn out, and is quickly reminded by his wife back home about forgetting his son's birthday.  He hears from her on many other occasions, each time merely a domestic triviality that get funnier and funnier, culminating in a huge decision involving carpet squares.

Charlotte (Johansson) has been married two years, but is already disillusioned with life and her marriage.  Her husband is a photographer who already pretty much ignores her, leaving her to wander Tokyo, a stranger in a strange land.  She crosses paths with Harris a few times, each time getting a little closer.  When her husband goes off for a 3 day trip, Charlotte asks Harris to accompany her to a local friend's party, after a chance meeting at the swimming pool.

Charlotte and Bob get closer and closer, with several touchingly quiet scenes of them discussing life from different ends of the rainbow.  Charlotte isn't sure what she wants to become, while Bob isn't satisfied at his destination.  Each offers the other a missing piece of the puzzle; Charlotte brings her youthful, albeit muted, optimism, while Bill shows her that things can work out okay in the end.  They orbit around each other for the movie, which ends on a satisfyingly ambiguous note.

All in all, a very low key movie. Probably too low key for its own good, really.  There was no denouement, as there was no real conflict.  Just two people struggling to figure things out, and offering a new perspective to the other.  Bill Murray had some really funny scenes, both laugh out loud (like the exercise machine) and more understated, like the many laconic comments.  Scarlett Johansson was beguilingly beautiful, without being movie star-ish, if you know what I mean.  She contrasted nicely with Anna Faris, who played a movie star promoting her movie and was a confidant of Charlotte's husband.  Johansson's understated beauty contrasted nicely with Faris' perky movie star blondeness.

The DVD had a pretty interesting "Making Of" featurette, that was basically just a hand held video camera, filming while they were filming.  It showed the "guerrilla" filming as it happened, which was pretty fun.  There was also an interview with Murray and Coppola, as they talked about the movie. The music was excellent, while the sounds did not, of course, push your speakers at all.  There was also a collection of cut scenes, which once again showed that these movie makers know what they are doing, leaving these on the floor
.
So I liked it enough to think about buying the DVD, although it is more of a mood piece than a real conflict-laden movie.  Sort of like listening to a favorite CD when in the mood - a blue and confused mood.  I'm not sure I understand all the hype though. For most people, a rental would work just fine.



Ear Worm

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Amanda Palmer, singer, songwriter and piano player for the Desden Dolls (and lots of other projects), writes a blog that I find just so endearing. She's so raw and open on the blog, writing long, almost existential entries at irregular times. I wish I could be an artist!

Anyway, her latest entry had a cool quote:


the germans have an expression for when you can't get a song out of your head: they say that you have an "ear worm".

As I was the one to screw it up, I felt like I needed to tie both previous songs in together. Sorry about that, Calliope...


Groove Salad

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I've been working so damned hard that I haven't had much time for things like posting here or even listening to music. Learning new stuff is both exhilarating and exhausting, and I can't be bothered with music that is front and center, so I look for more background sounds, something to at least cover up the brouhaha that is usually breaking out upstairs as one sister works harder at getting under the skin of the other. Or vice versa.

One of my all time favorite "programming" artists is Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares, a Bulgarian female choir. It is a fascinating and eerie sound, something worth pay attention to if my mind wanders, but doesn't demand deep concentration if I don't have it. I have the first two CDs and find them perfect for a background sound.

But lately I've been listening to a streaming station I found in the KDE music player Amarok (named after the Mike Oldfield song). It's a good player with lots of flashy features, albeit somewhat buggy at times (it has stopped reliably getting CD info, for instance). But under the Playlists tab, there is a Cool-Streams folder, and in there is Grove Salad, "a nicely chillled plate of ambient beats and grooves." Really nice techno gooves that work perfectly as a soundtrack to programming. You can find it on the web at soma fm.com.

We did go to the Crowded House concert last night at the BoA Pavilion. I am not a huge CH fan (prefer the Finn brothers earlier group, Split Enz), but my wife is and I got us fifth row center seats, so it was a pretty spectacular place to watch it from. We had a very good time, especially after I was able to get Neil Finn's set list, which made my wife a pretty happy fan!

crowded house private universe live

On ... Bicycle Bites?

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Funny entry in my "Dumb Things Said" daily calendar today:

Weakest Link host Anne Robinson: The name of which small, wingless jumping insect precedes "bite,", "collar," and "market" to ive three familiar terms?

Contestant: Bicycle.

Well, it looks like the image upload worked that time, Calliope!

Like a Drug
They Eat Their Own



oops - i tagged it but forgot to add it to the group!

RyG in Boston!

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Rodrigo y Gabriela are coming to the Boston area in October - yay! Now I just have to remember to call up the Orpheum and order some tix.

August

05 Aug - Chicago, Lollapalooza Festival

16 Aug - Belgium, Pukkelpop Festival

17 Aug - Holland, Lowlands Festival

18 Aug - UK, V Festival Stafford (North).

19 Aug - UK, V Festival Chelmsford (South).

29 Aug - USA, ALASKA, Bear Tooth Theatre Pub, Anchorage.

31 Aug - USA, Portland, OR, Oregon Zoo Amphitheater, 97202.

September

01 Sept  - USA, Bumbershoot Festival, Seattle, WA, USA - Time : 12:00 am

02 Sept - USA, Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Morrison, CO,  w/ Yonder Mountain String  Band

07 Sept - USA, The Marquee, Tempe, AZ

08 Sept - USA, Rialto Theatre, Tucson, AZ

12 Sept - USA, Canes, San Diego, CA
                               
13 Sept - USA, Grove of Anaheim, Anaheim, CA

16 Sept - USA, Texas, Austin City Limits, Zilker Park, Austin, TX, USA. Time : 3:30 pm

18 Sept - USA, Warehouse Live, Houston, TX

19 Sept - USA, The Palladium Ballroom, Dallas, TX, USA

October

14 Oct - USA, The Echo Factory, Atlanta, GA.  Time : 12:00 am

17 Oct - USA, Orpheum Theatre, Boston, MA

18 Oct - USA, Electric Factory, Philadelphia, PA

19 Oct - USA, Roseland Ballroom, New York, NY, 10019.  Time : 8:00 pm

21 Oct - USA, 9:30 Club, Washington, DC
                               
23 Oct - USA, The Rave, The Basement, Milwaukee, WI

25 Oct - USA, Fine Line Music Cafe, Minneapolis, MN

27 Oct - USA, Riviera Theater, Chicago, IL

28 Oct - USA, St Andrews Hall, Detroit

31 Oct - USA, Paramount Theatre, Seattle, WA

Rodrigo Y Gabriela Live! "Tamacun"



Ingmar Bergman died the other day and so I went on a quest to find any of my previously written reviews of his movies. However, I couldn't find any, although I'm pretty sure I wrote a couple somewhere. It seems to be fashionable to be like Scalzi and say that, while you don't enjoy his films, you understand his genius, which is similar to what many folks say about the "Great" novels of the 18th and 19th century.

But much like those novels, I have truly enjoyed every Bergman film I've seen. Admittedly, I've only touched on the pinnacle of his achievements, but I rank The Seventh Seal and Wild Strawberries as two of my all time favorite movies. In fact, I would consider The Seventh Seal as part of my nascent Desert Island movie list, because there are just so many things going on that repeated viewings are a must. There are so many iconic images in that film, beginning with, of course, the chess game with death:


Symbolism is rampant in both films, but it never felt forced to me. Wild Strawberries even opens with an extended dream sequence, which normally annoys me to no end, but in this case works very well.

Next up for me would be Fanny and Alexander, which I have in DVD (the movie version). And I see that Criterion (who did the excellent DVDs I saw of Seventh Seal and Wild Strawberries) has a bunch of Bergman films (natch), including what looks like a very interesting trilogy of The Silence, Through a Glass Darkly and Winter Light, which would make a great purchase.



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