Archive for August, 2007

Sharing a Dream

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

I was watching the bonus features on Tideland, and Terry Gilliam hit me with this:

The dream that used to stick with me was my ability to fly. But it was never like in Brazil, flying through the clouds. It was only about 3 or 4 feet above the ground. I zipped along at about that height, but i wasn’t touching the ground. And years ago after having dreamt this for so many years I actually had a sense memory of the whole thing. My whole body felt that I had flown.

That is my most frequently occurring dream, and it is so vivid that, when I wake, I remember the experience so well that I feel as though I’ve actually done it. I was really just levitating a few feet above the ground, though. Nothing grandiose. No flying high above the trees. Anybody else have this?

Take My Job…Please

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

My job is an oasis. The primary impediment to me moving anywhere else has always been that I have a great job that I enjoy. More and more people have pointed out to me, though, that I should not let my job dictate the course of my life. There are any number of jobs I could potentially enjoy. So if y’all know anyone who can do good HTML with some CSS, and who is diplomatic enough to communicate with a wide variety of clients, let us know. Epoch Online is a small but thriving company, with a fantastic president and a laid-back atmosphere. Compared to a larger company, I’d say there’s less slacking off, but there’s also less pressure from above. Not to say that we don’t spend time goofing around, but the majority of our days consist of billable hours. Oh and we are a cubicle-free environment. It’s a great place to work.

Be Your Husband

Monday, August 27th, 2007

Last Friday I was humming this tune, the first cut from the Legacy Edition of Jeff Buckley’s Live at Sin-é (if you don’t own this, you Must get it, it’s phenomenal), and I wondered if there were any videos for it on YouTube. Alas there were not. No live cuts, no covers, no fan-made videos. So I took it upon myself, since I needed to learn how to use Adobe Premiere Elements (thanks, Brian). I dug up some marital instruction footage at the Prelinger Archives and sliced and diced them over the song. Here is the result:

Oklahoma City Resident Designated As “Da Man”

Saturday, August 25th, 2007

Be it known on this day, the 25th of August, 2007, that Heath Harrelson is Da Man. Not only has he masterminded my improved navigation bar (now on the right), he actually wrote the collapsible archive plugin at lower right. We’ve been using WordPress apparently longer than most people, and so our archives dating back to 2003 were getting absurdly lengthy. My repeated complaints spurred Heath’s innovation and now all our lives are improved as a result. It is for this reason that we must bestow the title of “Da Man” onto Heath Harrelson of Oklahoma City.

Radio Meditation and My Absorbent Mind

Friday, August 24th, 2007

I’ve recently come to realize that my brain absorbs a great many things. This is distinct from learning things, or retaining facts. My brain takes on the characteristics of various sets of stimuli. I’ve always been a sympathetic person, taking on something of others’ experiences, putting myself in others’ shoes. Lately I’ve come to wonder if that tendency is related to my ability to mimic vocal accents after just a few minutes of exposure. Or the fact that, after reading an engaging book, I start to narrate my own thoughts and become obsessed with describing everything around me in the voice of the book’s narrator. This is why I have to limit my exposure to Hunter S. Thompson.

My absorbent mind also tries to comprehend everything when I travel. Traveling means all-new stimuli at all times, and the effect is alternately thrilling and anxiety-inducing. I can turn myself into a nervous wreck trying to comprehend the depth and breadth of New York City, for example. So many people, so many stories, so many understood details and assumptions to absorb.

I’ve been listening to NY news radio station 1010 WINS online in an effort to acclimate myself to the region. It’s particularly helpful and comforting to listen to because of my familiarity with news radio (I spent my first year in Little Rock working as call screener for Pat Lynch’s talk radio show on KARN), and the fact that WINS shares its primary voiceover talent, Jim Cutler, with Little Rock’s KARN (who’s also the voice of our local Fox TV affiliate). Even the AccuWeather meteorologists are occasionally people I’ve worked with at KARN[1]. So score one for the homogeneity of radio.

A pleasant characteristic of the WINS broadcast is its constant bed of fake teletype machines in the background. I like to lay down and listen to it meditatively; the unfamiliarity of another city’s news lulls me into a uniquely dream-like state. I’m taken back to listening to WINS last February at Arika’s place in Brooklyn. I feel vaguely refreshed when I’m done.

1.) Via ISDN line. Yes, America’s local radio weather people are all located at AccuWeather in Pennsylvania.

del.icio.us

Thursday, August 23rd, 2007

I joined. del.icio.us/coltermac

Featuring my latest piece for the Times on my hero and yours, Ted Ludwig.

Teach Your Children Death Metal

Thursday, August 23rd, 2007

Glenn McDonald is a guy from Boston who happens to be one of the most brilliant music critics I’ve ever read. He has an infant daughter now, and has been posting occasional blog entries addressed to her, presumably for her future reference.

This recent blog entry I found particularly amusing.

Some things to point out: “B” is Glenn’s wife and “we” refers to the two of them. It’s almost as if the fact that this blog is public is an afterthought to Glenn.

Tideland

Tuesday, August 21st, 2007

Terry Gilliam has lost his mind. And made maybe his best film.

You haven’t seen Tideland. Even I was barely aware of its release in 2006. From what I’ve read, it may be the most polarizing film I’ve ever seen. Most reviews are either one star or five. If you’re the type of person who is a moral absolutist, you will hate this film. If you believe that morals and behavior are culturally and socially derived, then you might enjoy it. If you’re fascinated by child psychology and the ability of a child’s imagination to shield themselves from trauma, you just might love it.

It’s almost a horror movie. Without giving too much away, I should mention that it resembles Psycho and Texas Chainsaw Massacre in one respect: it looks into the lives of people who exist off of society’s moral grid. Norman Bates and Leatherface freaked me out not with their violence, but with the norms they fashioned for themselves, particularly their reverence for their dead relatives. The scariest thing about them is the thought that people like them may exist in the darker corners of modern society.

Add into that mix an innocent young girl (Jodelle Ferland, who gives an astounding performance that puts Anna Paquin’s Oscar to shame) growing up in that madness, and you’ve got Tideland. There are a lot of uncomfortable scenes, but they’re only uncomfortable to adults putting themselves into the shoes of the child. What most often makes a film resonate with people is the empathy of experience with the main character. You put yourself into his or her shoes. But if you’re an adult, you can’t quite see through a child’s eyes. You have assumptions and boundaries and preconceived notions about how people should and should not act, but children don’t yet have that. For example, there’s no difference for them between heroin and insulin – they’re both just things that are administered with a needle.

From all that I read about the film before I saw it, I knew that this would test my loyalty to Terry Gilliam – the only director who has never disappointed me, and who has most consistently produced motion pictures that I adore (Billy Wilder, Cameron Crowe and Steven Soderbergh are close runners-up, though). I need never worry again.

One Evolutionary Advantage of a Rudimentary Nervous System

Tuesday, August 21st, 2007

Animals like squirrels and small birds often move in short, rapid twitches. I’ve read that this is because their nervous systems are fairly simple, and don’t allow for much fluidity of motion. The other day I began to wonder if this might be a survival advantage for prey animals. Many predators react to movements rather than color or shape recognition, and so the less time a prey spends moving, the better for them.

Also, if you’ve ever wondered why squirrels are so indecisive when they’re in the middle of a road in front of a fast-approaching car, it’s because their first instinct at the sign of trouble is to freeze up and remain motionless. I’d also wager that a car’s fluidity of motion confuses them – they’re perhaps more accustomed to a predator bounding up and down as it runs toward them. Also, they’re most often oriented perpendicular to the car, so they only see the car with one eye, without depth perception. All they see is an object increasing in size somehow. I wonder if squirrels have depth perception at all, actually.

And in other zoological news, a great lesson I learned from Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion is that moths and other insects are attracted to lamps and flames because their internal navigation systems are going haywire. Many flying insects use distant light sources like the moon as fixed reference points in their flight. But artificial light sources like street lamps make that impossible. We can keep the moon on our left and travel in a reasonably straight line, but a moth can’t keep a street lamp on its left; it will end up circling it forever. Or at least until daylight when the lamp turns off. Or until it plunges into the bulb and dies.

Last night a massive cicada was buzzing my porch, and I made the mistake of turning off the porch light with the door open. He zoomed into my living room and headed for my lamp, briefly stunning himself while I turned the lamp off and turned the porch light back on. He recovered and zoomed back outside. The poor bastard.

Fun with Photoshop

Monday, August 13th, 2007

Here’s a technique that Sara and I played with on Sunday. It’s really easy to do. All you need is a tripod and Photoshop. Just keep a stationary background, take a few pictures with something different going on, and pull them all into Photoshop as layers. From, there, just erase from the top layers the things in the lower layers that you want to reveal. I’ve got some more ideas that we’ll try to delve into this week.



And here are two more ideas we shot at my house in the music room and the dining room.