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Showing posts from August, 2007

On immigration

My Uncle sent me something last week and it made me so angry I had to write a response. I actually made an effort to organize it as a proper essay. I would like to make it as good as possible. Please feel free to comment with constructive criticism and discussion.
Lamm rebuttal.pdfHosted by eSnips

Dreams deferred

I bought a fashion magazine this week. The big, fall issue of Vogue. There have been times in my life when I've subscribed to fashion magazines. Other times when I've bought them off of the stands, different ones at different times.

I used to love fashion--the designers, the creativity, but somehow, this time I didn't enjoy it. I don't know if it was because of my mindset this week, or the stresses going on, but it just all seemed absurd. These things that 99.9 percent of the world will never be able to buy. All that money being spent by absurd people who should be doing better things.

And it all seemed old and boring. I thought, "I've seen these clothes before. I've seen these layouts before, this make-up, these hairstyles."

I've collected fashion magazines for nearly 25 years. I have files of garments I admired, things I wanted to wear, or to try to make. What's different now? Is it because I now know that I won't have a futur…

Steampunk!

I love this: http://www.boston.com/news/globe/ideas/articles/2007/08/26/the_age_of_steampunk/ from the Boston Globe this past Sunday.
I've loved Steampunk, well, since before it had a name. Thomas Dolby is a master of it. I think it's criminal that he isn't mentioned in the article. Dolby strips out old equipment and puts his new synthesizers in it so that he can control them with levers and dials. I've coveted a good pair of goggles for over a year now.
Steampunk is a sort of sub genre of science fiction--as if computers and modern technology existed alongside Victoriana. There was a comic I read in the late 80's--Baker Street, an alternative universe where World War II never happened (I remember a headline in the comic--where a 92 year old Hitler had died). It's one of those slippery things--people debate its boundaries, its style. It's becoming an ethos as in the article of DIY, arts and crafts and high tech. The desire, as in the last turn of the century …

Peter Gabriel

Thinking of Kate made me think of Peter Gabriel. Kate started out under the wing of David Gilmore and sang back-up on two Peter Gabriel songs. If you think that Big Time is the most outrageous that Gabriel gets, watch this (and this is not Gabriel at his height), Shock the Monkey:


I saw this late at night at some point in the early 80's. I don't remember if it was at a friend's house watching MTV or on some video show. I was overwhelmed--the sound, the vision--it was a seminal moment for me.

This is the first Gabriel song with Kate, Games Without Frontiers:
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She's singing, "Jeux Sans Frontieres"--games without frontiers. I love this one too.

Guinness, the Bean

Guinness is our of surgery. They tell us it went well and that he might be able to come home tomorrow. They biopsied his liver.

It cost more than I expected. It cost as much as our wedding and honeymoon. I believe it cost about the same as our trip to Britain, much more than our trip to Montreal. What else were we going to do?

For House fans

(Isn't it funny how a plain noun has become a metaphor unto itself).

Anyway, since I'm strolling down memory lane, and my Zen gave me both of these songs today on random:


Yes, that's a very young Hugh Laurie, and Dawn French of French & Saunders, Vicar of Dibley and co-creator of Absolutely Fabulous. This is one of my favorite Kate Bush songs. It was the only new song on an album of hits in 1986. I always thought a Greatest Hits album from Kate was pretty funny since at that point she'd only made five albums. She's only made three more albums since then. If you YouTube Kate, you'll see that her early videos are dreadful--they look like high school productions. For some reason, for her fifth album she got a lot of money for videos. She was hanging out with a lot of comedy people then--working on The Secret Policeman's Other Ball (a charity event in Britain). This oddly enough also reminded me of Atlas Shrugged--there's an experiment with sound in the n…

End of the month--rush for posts

Time for me to make some short fast posts. Nine to get in between tonight and tomorrow. To find topic, inclination and time. I generally have one of the three. Sometimes I think I should split the long posts into separate posts, or break the ones that ramble into different posts, but I always think I shall have enough for the month.

File under D'Oh

I'm now going to admit something so amazingly dumb that your estimation of me may go down.

My husband and I have been driving our car in third gear for the past year.

This is due to the design on the gear shift that has 3rd and drive in line with each other. But it was obvious to JT when he was riding in our car.

D'OH, D'OH, D'OH

http://emuse.ebaumsworld.com/flash/play/1848/

Now, we did wonder why it was so noisy, why it seemed to over-rev and why our gas mileage was so much worse than reported for the Yaris, but we thought it was just a side effect of living in the city.

Well, at least it was only a year (in my defence, this is only the second car I've ever driven at length--my husband feels mighty stupid). I'm looking forward to seeing how much better our mileage is going to be.

Putting my money (read time) where my mouth is

Some Duran Duran with some songs that I believe prove their musical merit. eSnips gives me the power and I'm going to use it. (Bwahaha)

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This is one of my all time favorite songs. I have it on a B-Side Collection, although I can't find any mention of what it was B-Side of, just that it came out in 1988.
The words are quite haunting, as is the melody. But, I can hear you say, this is not at all a standard D2 song. Well, no, but what is a standard song by any band? How do you average that? Thomas Dolby's singles were always abnormal compared to the rest of their respective albums. Same with Barenaked Ladies. I think the B-Sides are often truer to what the band wants to be without the pressure of the labels for commercial success.

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This is probably more like Duran Duran you're thinking of, right? It's from Pop Trash, released 2000. The words are based on the true story of a boy who was building a nucle…

On acting

I thought of and then failed to post some thoughts on two lessons I recently had on Voice-Over. Having debated the merits of doing a Voice-Over demo for almost two years now, and having polled and gotten good advice from everyone I know in theater, I finally realized that unless I paid a stranger to help me, I was never going to pull together copy. So I grabbed a name from the various things that come into my mailbox, made a private apt., and went.
First of all I was late due to traffic for my first apt., but she was very friendly in an earthy, crunchy sort of way, by which I mean that she probably says terribly cheery, upbeat things to everyone. She then had me read copy and praised me and then said, "Try to sing the copy--no tune, just whatever feels good. Then go right into the copy." This was very hard for me. I have a lot of hang-ups about singing, but because I'd been late we'd jumped right in so I had no time to dig in and try to get out of it. She was …

More on Angell

Two things: One, Angell was recently completely refurbished, so the waiting area was completely different from the night we went there for an emergency. Bizarrely it looked quite a bit like the human hospital in my dream, even down to the vending machines at one end, the curved wooden benches, the big automatic doors (which Guinness nearly crashed into). The only difference was that the one in my dream was brightly colored and this one was monochrome. Almost disturbingly similar.

Two, Angell has an adoption center, which we foolishly walked through. My husband fell in love with several cats, including one who was so fat he looked like a pillow with a head. The dogs' stories were just heartbreaking--owners got to old, owners died, owner's abandoned, didn't deal with newborn baby. They were such sweet dogs who had no idea why their happy home wasn't there anymore. Some of them were huge--they're going to be hard to place. I kept tearing up and had to leave. On…

Long day

Guinness went for his ultrasound today. This became a much bigger process than it should have been for several reasons. One, there are only two animal hospitals in Boston and the more convenient one to us only had weekday slots. We also couldn't just bring him in for an ultrasound, he had to be examined and then the Vet would decide if he really needed one, or something else. The other is located in the heart of south Boston neighborhoods--areas we are not familiar with, where I had gotten lost only Thursday, and where certain areas are...less savory. We'd been there before, but late at night with no traffic. So we went down taking a long a roundabout way (I don't want to sound like a travelogue, but for those in Boston, Storrow to Kenmore, to Longwood, to Huntington St., to JP), but had given ourselves plenty of time. Guinness doesn't deal well with other larger dogs, so I walked him around the little park while husband waited. Vet was very nice, very thorough. Could …

Movies we have watched and some observations thereof

In the last two weekends, we've watched the following movies in reverse order:

300
Aeon Flux
Hollywoodland
The Queen
The History Boys

300 - lush visually, fairly simplistic but we'd both read the graphic novel, so no surprises. We kept counting the ways the lead kept slipping into brogue and comparing him to Sean Connery. We also spent some time speculating on the computer effects.

Aeon Flux - better than we'd been led to believe, not extraordinary, but then, while we enjoyed the original, strange shorts, we weren't 'in love' with them, so not wedded to them. I thought it a decent, basic sci-fi story and I was happy that the KwisatzHaderach of this was female. [Sidenote: apparently when a friend of mine saw The Matrix in the theater, someone stood up at the end stood up and yelled, "He is the KwisatzHaderach." That was exactly why my husband didn't like The Matrix. I said, "There are a lot of Messiah's in sci-fi; get over it." He said, &quo…

Pieces of Whitey

Writing Life x3 (Pat) has an interesting post about his play "Pieces of Whitey." I saw the production he's referring to, and I would agree with his assessment (the set overwhelmed the actors at times--never a good, I say, as a set designer; the pacing was odd, etc.) but some very funny AND very thought provoking lines. I also saw it with my friend C, a beautiful black woman, who was dating (at the time) one of the white actors. She had also auditioned and they had discussed with her why they were going with an all white cast. I did find myself glancing at her through the night. I think she enjoyed it.

KARAOKE

This is for Musing and B to take both of their minds off of other things. I happened to find it instead of what I was looking for (which was the 5Lives--they know what this means).



Now, I'm not a fan of Karaoke, but I found this entertaining not because of the song, which is not a favorite of mine (more on that in a minute) but because it's written three different ways--Romajii, Kana and English translation. I wish I could find more (perhaps of the songs I like more), but the irc seems to be dead. I did find this:
http://www.karaokebox.org/
which is kind of fun, because you can sing with the artist, and then try it alone, but it doesn't tell you WHEN to sing, like a real karaoke version.

Now, what I was saying about it not being my favorite got me thinking. L'Arc has 118 song by rough count--counting "My Heart Draws a Dream" due out next week, but not any of the remixes, Ectomorphed songs, D'Arc, P'Unk, live versions, Hydeless versions or the new songs th…

Mad Men

In the midst of the Gladiatorial games which are reality television, it is interesting to see some very good dramas appearing. I never managed to watch 6 Feet Under, or The Sopranos, but I am watching the new one on AMC, Mad Men. Set in 1960 in a Madison Avenue ad agency, it really has a filmic quality to it.

It starts with the opening credits--an animated sequence capturing both the glitz and the despair--worthy of a Hitchcock or some of the other amazing animated sequences of the 1960's. It's even shot like a film. A power struggle moment is shot so that the main character is framed between the underling and the boss. It's shot slightly below eye level so we're looking up at his face in the V between their bodies. Fantastic! The look is amazing, and nothing has been smoothed over. Everyone smokes, every moment. The bosses drink at lunch, pinch, ogle and proposition the secretaries. The only black faces are in restrooms and driving the cars and doing the lawns. Th…

"What Came Before He Shot Her"--Elizabeth George

I'm really, really close to finishing Moby Dick, really. I'm also reading a book by Elizabeth George. In a post that I can't at this moment find, I talked about not liking her last book and this is a sequel. I was also afraid of reading it. The last book featured the death of Inspector Lynley's wife, shot on her doorstep. The perp. turned out to be a 12 year old boy. The police force wants to throw the book at him--one of their own,yada, yadda. That's about where that one ends. This one is exactly as the title says. I knew it was going to be sad and hard, because the ending is known. The sweet, sad little boy of the first chapter is going to end up shooting someone and facing a life in prison. Destroyed in some way or other.

I'm a little over a third of the way through and it is sad and hard, because this is such a doomed little boy, and George, whom I've criticized for the distance she places between the reader and characters has done a very good job of ent…

Do you have what you need, if not what you want?

Guinness, my Cairn Terrier, may have calcium stones in his bladder. This means he needs an ultrasound and then probably an operation. His liver also looks enlarged in the x-rays. The vet wasn't sure what this means, as his liver function enzymes are fine, with only one elevated. Could just be a genetic anomaly, could be something more...

My first dog died when she was 7, a year and a half after my father. I cried more for her for a variety of reasons, among them because I felt like I had killed her by not getting her regular check ups. My mother, in one of her rare bursts of being a perfect mother said that this was understandable as Fedora was with me every day, whereas I hadn't lived with my father since I was 12. In other words, every moment was a reminder of Fedora, while I could go long stretches without thinking about my father's absence.

Guinness is 9, but the breed average life-span is 15 or 16. I am trying not to worry--to worry before knowing the facts is to waste …

L Learns Photoshop

I was going to type my name because of the alliteration, but I don't want to use my name here and Novel Learns Photoshop doesn't work. I thought about Novel Needs Photoshop, but that's just daft.

Anyway, this is what I've been doing all evening, because I have nothing better to do, natch. Nor do I need to get up early and take the dog to the vet--ha ha.
Matt linked to a very cool site with fun things to do with Photoshop, and as I'm going to be using Photoshop more and more I decided to try some of them:
My car as a car from Cars by Pixar. It's not perfect by any stretch. I couldn't get the color blending right around the mouth--I'm still working on figuring out paths, levels, etc., but it gets the idea across.
Of course what I really want to use it for is a better version of this:
My car as Tonari no Totoro. As soon as we brought the car home last year I said, "I think it looks like Totoro, don't you?" (to my husband). "I bet we could Pho…

Mortality part 2

My mother has an aortic stenosis. This means the valve in her heart is getting more and more rigid, and eventually it will stop moving altogether and she will die. Her doctor told her it could happen anytime with no warning, "Any time from two weeks to a year." That was five months ago. She mentioned it then, but I put it out of my mind at the time. That seems extraordinary at this moment but my mother has often cried wolf. Last night she mentioned it to my husband again and told him not to tell me as I'm so stressed from work. He, of course, told me after I'd finished speaking with her. I called her back and asked if the diagnosis had changed, if she felt different. If that really meant she had ONLY a year to live, or was it more in the lines of now, or some vague time in the future. She wasn't sure. She said it was just one of those things doctors say. She also said she had no intention of dying. She'll be 83 in October when I'm planning to see her. I h…

Nalini again

Nalini did a reading in Boston on Monday night. I didn't find out about it until late on Sunday, and I made no effort to go, but last night I dreamt that she came to my house (it wasn't really her) to find me only in the dream, she was not a writer, but a classical guitarist (something she'd been trying to learn in college). She made me go and there was some sort of conflict at the event.

The problem with...

Not getting back here every day is that posts pile up and then, sometimes, other things happen which reduce the first post, so do I post in order even though mentally I have moved on or rather that new developments put past things in different lights? Do the old events simply become part of the new posts, or still stand on their own?

While driving to work last Friday, on my way back from a deep clean at the dentist, a rock flew up and chipped my windshield. The chip is about 1/2 inch wide and low on the windscreen, so not a priority to fix at the moment. It's annoying because the car is only 1 1/2 years old so to need to replace something as large as the windscreen seems particularly galling. Whatever flew up was large enough for me to see as it hurtled towards me and I was shaken, though kept driving. Recently here in Boston a man was seriously injured when a drainage cover flew up from the highway, shattered his window and hit him. They weigh a couple of hundred pounds and shoul…

Oh, I love this! Duran Duran vindication

Matt sent me this interview:
http://www.transpacificradio.com/2007/08/07/tpr-spotlight-2-japans-foreign-labor-market/

I think it says it all, plus it's a pretty interesting interview after the Duran Duran stuff, and OH, how the interviewer does not want to acknowledge that Duran Duran might have musical merit. Probably loves U2. I hardly think D2 is the most plugged band--certainly not anymore.

Here's to ignoring it all...

Despite the documents I have not finished, the graphic that could be improved, the reading I should be doing, the layers of dust on everything I own, the piles of ironing which have taken over my sewing room (ironing is on an "as needed" basis at the moment), the personal filing of paid bills and important documents which is inches thick, Husband and I went to the beach in Salem. I did something I haven't done since I was a teenager--stuck my legs out to actually try and get a tan (pursuing goth paleness, I usually try not to get a tan), did a quick swim in the very cold water and read Moby Dick. Then we had Fried Dough and came home where I brushed the cat (he was shedding faster than he could cope). I did pretty well on ignoring the above while sitting there on the sand. It was bliss and I am only lightly burnt.

I also made this for work (I've put a USB drive next to it for scale):

I'd always meant to make one, but I haven't always been in a cube, plus I got …

The pitch

After working for two nights to clean up the guitars and play with the colors of the dollar signs (I'd shown my boss a rough with only a few styles of guitars on a white background before continuing) I took what I considered the finished product into my boss and he said, "It seems busy. Don't you think it looks busy? Can you make the guitars smaller and the logo bigger and maybe the guitars could be fainter. But I like the concept."

Well, that's good, I guess.
So this is the new version that I'm taking to him tomorrow: I don't like it as well, I think that the grouped guitars worked as a single image, while this just looks scattered, but I don't pay the bills. I also know better what he wants for the future--an image that suggests but then disappears instead of a strong signature. Good things to learn. What I have to work at is trusting that a) just because the client doesn't want it doesn't mean it's a bad design b) the customer is always r…

The design

One of the things I've been doing at home for work is developing the theme for the company's fall conference. This is what I came up with:


I've blocked out the company name.



I realized that I seem to have a thing for weaving dollar signs with objects. This is the image I drew by hand for my high school production of All My Sons (forgive the photo--it's a camera phone in night mode of a t-shirt that's become a quilt top. The original shirt is actually red):



Obviously, in All My Sons, the pursuit of the dollar is a bad thing. I would imagine that my boss sees dollar signs as a good thing. I'm not sure how I feel about it.
I am not obsessed with using dollar signs in graphics (these ARE 20 years apart), but I realized, what I do like is the shape of text as it relates to an image. I like picking just the right font to fit with the image and arranging them--puzzle like on the page.

A Painfully Horrible Movie--avoid at all costs

So I'm working on the laptop last Friday night (not this past Friday, the one before) and I see that "Wicker Man" starring Nicholas Cage is coming on and I had a faint curiosity about it. My husband decides to go to bed and I start watching.

Oh, dear God. If I hadn't been actively doing something else, I'd wish that I could have that hour and a half back. It was such a bad film, poorly plotted, ludicrously acted. Smoking guns developed and then let drop--it wasn't even suspenseful or creepy. Just laughable. The only reason I watched was because I vaguely remember liking the original with Edward Woodward from the 70's.

Now the only reason that this rates a post--since I don't usually burden you with bad films--is that the screenplay was written by Neil LaBute. He of "in the Company of Men" and "The Shape of Things." He also directed. Oddly enough, I have never seen another Neil LaBute film--I've only seen his plays. …

The Water's Lovely--Ruth Rendell

The night after my last July post, rather than blog I decided to read a book that I had just received from Mystery Book Club. (Having given myself permission to read other things than manuals and Moby Dick has been a relief as well.) I was so good with Harry Potter the week before--reading half on Thursday night and half on Friday.

So, even though it was a Wednesday I read the entire Rendell in one sitting. I always do that with her books. I can't put them down. I've been reading Ruth Rendell since I was in high school and I worked in a library. She's virtually the only mystery writer I read consistently and one of only a few that I read at all (P.D. James, Elizabeth George--though I have mixed feelings about her). These are living writers--I've read all of Doyle, of course, and Dorothy L. Sayers. I've never been a fan of Agatha Christie. I like writers who are more interested in the why than the how or the who.

I think Rendell is the world's best myste…

I've missed this

I've been stupidly, insanely busy at work. I've been sitting here at the main computer every night or in front of the TV with the laptop every night for most of the last week with a few exceptions.

I say stupidly because a) I want things to be better and that takes time and b) I'm not an expert or even particularly trained in any of the programs I'm using so I find after days of work that there were better ways of doing things. It's very frustrating. I keep trying to remind myself that eventually I will be very good in these programs simply by trial and error, but it's slow going now.

For instance--looking at this post by Matt, http://photojojo.com/content/tutorials/best-movie-effect-photo-tutorials-photoshop/, I remembered how simple it is to do something dramatic in Photoshop and made the new picture (although at the moment, it's distorting slightly). Just putting things onto transparent backgrounds has taken a chunk of time. Added to the problem is …