| < retrospect: 1 aug >


  ...of the moment  

(iPhone 5 macro mode isn't half bad. Although the lens isn't up to my Canon's quality, the touchscreen helps...)
The performance that Inspired the new James Brown movie. I checked out the soundtrack for the new James Brown movie on iTunes, and was kind of bummed that it was the original versions, and not remixes with a modern feel - as great as the classics are, they've been available for a while. Anyway, watch this. James Brown was the showman of the century.
"At my husband's grandmother's wake my MIL took my 4 or 5 year old up to see his grandmother in the casket. Everyone was hushed, listening. He paused, looking curious. "Why is there a pillow under her head?" he demanded.
My mother in law faltered. "Ummm, so she could be comfortable," she said, trying to placate him.
He looked at her incredulously and spoke to her as if she understood nothing at all. "Grandma, she's dead. How could she be comfortable? What do you mean? You could take a chain saw and cut her up and it wouldn't matter at all. " Everyone was literally speechless."
--Anita Bozzo, via Say goodbye to Radio Shack, for reals. I'll miss it; sometimes for the odd bit of obsure electronics it was pretty great. (Not to mention for my first laptop in 1991, an hard drive free 1100 FD (haha someone put that 20 year old machine on the Internet via the serial port... )

Now I've now started grabbing little things like that from Amazon - that's the dark allure of Amazon Prime, stopping me from having to arrange trips out for things I can wait a day or two for.

It will be really hard to convince the next generations that the name "Radio Shack" was kind of a retro thing in the 80s and after, that it wasn't quite as out of date as the juxtaposition of "radios" and "shacks" would suggest.

Also, for all your old RS catalog nostaligia needs... I can almost smell the weird newsprint they used.

(4) playlist july 2013
The songs I added to my regular rotation, not many this month so I kept them in the order I added them. 4-stars marked in red, interesting videos with a "!".

  ...of the moment  
"Gas prices don't seem so bad once you realize you're buying explosive liquid dinosaurs"
New "prime the canvas" technique in art class.

(8) the faces of divers

Making the rounds, This Is How Olympic Divers Really Look While Diving

  ...of the moment  
"Love and work are the cornerstones of our humanness."
--Sigmund Freud
""The Lord works in mysterious ways" is another way of saying "Thinking hurts"."
"A stranger with your door key explaining that I am just visiting / And I am finally seeing / Why I was the one worth leaving"
--The Postal Service, "The District Sleeps Alone Tonight" - if you like James Bond and/or infographics this is for you!

(5) the living end
Before long the end
Of the beginning
Begins to bend
To the beginning
Of the end you live
With some misgivings
About what you did.
--Samuel Menashe.... Amber mentioned something about the "begining of the end" middle-age wise and made me thought of this little piece I hadn't thought of in a whie...

  ...of the moment  
"A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved."

(12) photo roundup
EBB2 in the expression.

Usually powerlines just get in the way of photographs, they're kind of a bit of urban blight, but I thought this looked pretty cool...

Graffiti on a Red Line train.

This poster, Blueprint of a Hot Fudge Sundae, I've had since I was a kid. Amber recently put a decent frame on it for me.

Actually this whole corner of our kitchen is pretty cool, how Amber used the kind of odd triangle cut on the other side of the stairs leading down to the basement.

Finally today Amber, Kjersten, and I went for a walk and Kjersten spotted this clover and moth...

(10) infinite moonwalk


  ...of the moment  
"It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers."
--James Thurber

(5) augusted
So Manny is out of here...
in retrospect, his lackadaisical outlook could get annoying, but in some ways, it's nice how relaxed he could be. "It's only baseball, have a sense of perspective" was an attitude that served him and, as much as we hate to admit it, the Red Sox as well.

Photo of the Moment

--Fast Moving Bird outside the Au Bon Pain near Copley Square - wasn't expecting two catch an image like that.

  ...of the moment  
I lived Slylock Fox this morning! "Man on T thinks Kirk has his stolen bag. How did Kirk prove it was his own?" [Kirk showed him the holes]
Charming. Boston has a god damned first of the month expired inspection sticker patrol.
Ah the highway food court service plaza. Such a throbbing mass of humanity...

(11) rabbit rabbit
Sweet day in the morning, August already?

Quote of the Moment
"Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays."
--Soren Kierkegaard.

That's an interesting thought. Even for a skeptic it enters into the argument of the appropriateness of religious practice. (Of course that's a two-edged sword: there are certainly some mindsets where fostering dependency on action by an external agency rather than one's own effort is not a positive thing.

Once when discussing the merits of relatively casual (though not necessarily not-heartfelt) utterance of "I Love You" EB pointed out it's not always a reminder to the hearer, but the speaker as well.

Movie Poster of the Moment
--Polish poster for the Hollywood movie "Working Girl", from this page of Polish posters from the 1940s on. Some recurring motifs, but also some interesting takes on familiar topics. Feels very dark and Cold War-y. Via Boingboing who also links to this poster shop.

(13) where the heart wasn't
In general I'm a lazy guy, but when I get the idea for something that seems interesting and do-able, it almost doesn't matter how much effort it's going to take, I attack it like a pitbull. Case in point...

Project of the Moment
OK, this requires a bit of explanation. In 1990 there was a pretty nifty film callled Where The Heart Is-- unfortunately it has sort of been eclipsed by the film of the same name made a decade later.

It was an uneven film (one reviewer pointed out it would have made more sense if it had stayed set in London) but great in many ways. It's the story of 3 adult children (and some of their friends they enlist to help out) whose real-estate mogul father forces them to support themselves while living in an ugly-ish Brooklyn building they fought to save from his wrecking crew. One daughter, Chloe, is commisioned to make create and photograph a series of these lovely, large-scale trompe l'oeil works for an insurance calendar. The paintings feature a subject in body paint that causes them to match the backgrounds... it's quite a great effect. Many of the paintings seem to reference famous works, but I'm too much of a lout to get most of them.

It turns out that the artwork was actually by Timna Woollard... but information about her is very difficult to come by. I would gladly have paid for a small book or copy of the calendar, but there's nothing to be found online. (And, you know... if Google doesn't know about it it must not exist.)

The paintings are shown as a series at the end of the movie, behind the credits. But the credits are pretty distracting... so this weekend I made up a custom Java program to help me extract the background by splicing lines from frames where the text isn't. It was a lot of work.

<geekness level="severe" type="artsy">My first attempts were a simple program that let me select the sections by hand, but that was error prone, and annoying, and too much work in general. I tried a few more approaches, "averaging" the pixels over a series of frames (which, as expected, led to a big blur in the middle), an odd "voting" system where a pixel becomes the color it is the most often (left odd color sparkles all over the place, because of how I broke up the R/G/B information) until finally I made up a kind of primitive AI filter that could take a guess about whether or not a scanline currently had text on it (counting the areas of sharp contrast.) The end result still needed some hand-tweaking in picking out extra frames to import and rejecting 1 or 2 that could fool the heuristic, but it was much, much easier than what I tried to do originally.</geekness>

So here is the series, one day at a time. (Or more quickly if you enjoy hacking URLs) I think a reasonable Fair-Use argument can be made for it, or at least that no one yells at me for it. Once the series is finished I plan to make a simple app displaying the images together, with the option of embedding them in a calendar for any given year.

Art of the Moment

click for fullsize

"January" by Timna Woollard
from Where The Heart Is.

Painting Suggestion of the Moment
Stampede of Nudes

The trouble with most paintings of nudes is that there isn't enough nudity. It's usually just one woman lying there, and you're looking around going, 'Aren't there any more nudes?' This idea solves that.

What has frightened these nudes? Is it the lightning in the background? Or did one of the nudes just spook? You don't know, and this creates tension.

--Jack Handy, from this New Yorker Shouts and Murmurs that I heard him read on Studio360.

(6) five six seven eight / who then do we blame for fate
Quote of the Moment
"Fate is what you call it when you don't know the name of the person screwing you over."
Lois on Malcolm in the Middle

(6) act now! time is running out!
--A stylized 60 second timer, written in Processing. (More convenient to use than the PalmPilot version I made earlier I think, at least if you have a laptop.) One advantage over a regular timer is you don't have to wait for it to run down to reuse it... (Here's the Source...geek note: one thing I like about these toys is, so long as you don't use external graphics, they are 100% described by a single text file...)

(12) space, the commercial frontier
Logo of the Moment
So I noticed that tempur-pedic mattress tv spots featured this "Certified Space Technology" logo. The logo is appealing on a few levels, the title "Certified Space Technology" is nicely clunkly-retro-future, and then the letter "C" in SPACE is very clever. I guess it's a legit program. Man, I wish I could get my webpage to be Certified Space Technology.

Poem of the Moment


A blue bowl on the table in the dining room
fills with sunlight. From a sunlit room
I watch my neighbor's sugar maple turn
to shades of gold. It's late September. Soon...
Soon as I'm able I intend to turn
to gold myself. Somewhere I've read that soon
they'll have a formula for prime numbers
and once they do, the world's supposed to end
the way my neighbor always said it would -
in fire. I'll bet we'll all be given numbers
divisible by One and by themselves
and told to stand in line the way you would
for prime cuts at the butcher's. In the end,
maybe it's every man for himself.
Maybe it's someone hollering All Hands on
Deck! Abandon Ship! Women and Children First!
Anyway I'd like to get my hands on
you. I'd like to kiss your eyelids and make love
as if it were our last time, or the first,
or else the one and only form of love
divisible by which I yet remain myself.
Mary, folks are disappearing one by one.
They turn to gold and vanish like the leaves
of sugar maples. But we can save ourselves.
We'll pick our own salvations, one by one,
from a blue bowl full of sunlight until none is left.
--Thomas Lynch, Poet and Undertaker. I'm currently reading his wonderful collection of essays "Bodies In Motion And At Rest" (Mo pointed it out to me on the discount rack at Barnes & Noble, I think because of its interesting cover, but it was on my PalmPilot go books to get, based on hearing him on NPR.)
Lynch says this was one the only standalone success of a method he has of breaking writer's block. The method is to write a poem on 1. an inanimate object in your home 2. something you see outdoors 3. something from the daily papers 4. something from TV, possibly also pick some arbitrary poetic structure to adhere to.

(1) thrill ride
Narrative of the Moment
Buzzelli had just passed the twenty-second floor when the North Tower gave way. It was 10:28 in the morning, an hour and forty-two minutes after the attack. Buzzelli felt the building rumble, and immediately afterward heard a tremendous pounding coming at him from above, as the upper floors pancaked. Buzzelli's memory of it afterward was distinct. The pounding was rhythmic, and it intensified fast, as if a monstrous boulder was bounding down the stairwell toward his head. He reacted viscerally by diving halfway down a flight of stairs, and curling into the corner of a landing. He knew that the building was falling. Buzzelli was Catholic. He closed his eyes and prayed for his wife and unborn child. He prayed for a quick death. Because his eyes were closed, he felt rather than saw the walls crack open around him. For an instant the walls folded onto his head and arms, and he felt pressure, but then the structure disintegrated beneath him, and he thought, "I'm going," and began to fall. He kept his eyes closed. He felt the weightlessness of acceleration. The sensation reminded him of thrill rides he had enjoyed at Great Adventure, in New Jersey. He did not enjoy it now, but did not actively dislike it either. He did not actively do anything at all. He felt the wind on his face, and a sandblasting effect as he tumbled through the clouds of debris. He saw four flashes from small blows to the head, and then another really bright flash when he landed. Right after that he opened his eyes, and it was three hours later.
--William Langewiesche, part 2 of The Atlantic's "Unbuilding the World Trade Center". Buzzelli was one of the very few survivors from inside the collapse itself. Man, I've had dreams where that kind of stuff happens, the whole free fall thing. Excellent article, though I wish it had a bit more about the supporting culture that grew up that my mom told me about. The article has a very...I dunno, macho perspective in a sense, all about the engineers and the firemen and the politics of the power structure that spontaneously formed there. (But maybe that makes the better story, I dunno.)

Link of the Moment
A little bit of cyberprimitive fun with google...and a much more impressive example of the nascent art form. (via boingboing)

(6) minimalist
A minimal update today.

"A baby seal walks into a club."
--via John Sawers

A formal study in lab practicalities entitled Electron Band Structure In Germanium, My Ass.

What happens when people get their understanding of genetics from religious superstition and the Monday Night Monster Movie Madness: The House votes to outlaw therapeutic cloning.

KHftCEA 2000-08.1 August

KHftCEA 2000-08.1 August

Terrence McKenna and the Heroic Doses.  Sounds like some kind of rock group.

< retrospect: 1 aug >