Monday, January 31, 2011

Serious chorus for a radio hit

Eminem and Nicki Minaj have saved music.

Twosquare league results

Carson and Josh played six games and split the result at a match apiece. First match: J 21, C 19; C 21, J 18; C 21, J 19. Second match: J 21, C 12; C 26, J 24; J 21, C 16.

It was a day of ups and downs on the newly redrawn court, with both the highest and lowest scores ever recorded in league twosquare and even the closer games were often the scenes of long scoring streaks.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Dirty, dirty beardos — it's science!

Microbiological Laboratory Hazard of Bearded Men got sent to me by Christa today, and it's awesome (if vaguely dispiriting). Check those pictures!

"Bread! Freedom! Social justice!"

The Atlantic's translation of the protesters' manual

Al Jazeera has a live stream of the Egyptian protests, fascinating stuff.

An eyewitness account of the protests.

Esquire's prescient worry over Egypt's instability.

Finally, MoJo's great summary.

Twosquare league results

Carson beat Josh in two sets. The first: C 24, J 22; J 21, C 17; C 21, J 19. The second: J 21, C 19; C 21, J 19; C 22, J 20.

These were the first sets on a new court drawn by Carson. Josh blames performance dehancing drugs.

O'er the world a star is sweetly gleaming

The story of a Jew, a Freethinker, France's campaign of banquets, transcendentalism and abolition all came together to create the hymn "Silent Night," coincidentally the first song ever played on radio.

I love discovering that things taken for granted in the tapestry of modern ritual have lefty origins.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

New old records

From Record Surplus on the west side, I picked up: Sugarloaf, "Spaceship Earth," a goofball earnest '70s rawk album full of stoner environmentalism and multi-part vocal harmonies featuring a future member of Disco-Tex and the Sex-o-lettes and Four Seasons; The Detroit Emeralds, "Let's Get Together," a cheesy Westbound disco-coke-funk LP with Dennis Coffey's guitars and fantastic breaks that redeem moribund choruses; Tomita, "Mind of the Universe — Live at Linz," the electro-classical noodlings of an egomaniac Japanese visionary, tragically oversold by the liner description (which included glowing lines about speaker systems suspended by helocopters) and just not crazy enough to respect the results.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What the dormouse said

An oldie but a goodie.

Let me clear my samples

The nation born at Versailles

In reading about the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, both through Juan Cole and The Guardian, I keep thinking about the peace process after World War I, and how France's forcing of an extremely punitive settlement at Versailles basically crystalized German nationalism. Of course, it's not like Bismark did it differently when he beat the French.

But the Fatah/Palestinian Authority faction seems to have already made all the concessions they could without alienating the polity they nominally serve, and without a drastic reduction in American military aid, Israel has no need to consider making real concessions in return, because the occupation of Palestine is an acceptable status quo for them — especially given that any peace process, especially one that is so lopsided, won't likely reduce the amount of political violence from the Islamic nihilists in Hamas.

I realize it's a semi-fatuous comparison, but Israel reminds me the bullied kids often turn around to become bullies.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Twosquare league results

On Saturday, Amy quickly took two games against Josh, 21-14 and 22-20, respectively, to win a best-of-three in two.

On Monday, Josh beat Carson in a nine game tournament, two matches to one. The matches were scored as follows:

C 21, J 15; J 21, C 19; J 24, C 22. Result: Josh
J 21, C 18; C 21, J 18; C 22, J 20. Result: Carson
C 21, J 19; J 24, C 22; J 21, C 19. Result: Josh

Carson honed his new super-move, as yet unnamed, in which the ball comes to a sudden and surprising stop. Josh continued good all-around play and emphasized fundamentals. For the course of the game, both wall and ceiling were "in."

A new court is required before future play. Carson was given access to the score documents, and may thereby play league games.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

I want to live like (not) Common People

I have mixed feelings about (Not) Common People, where I swiped the image above from.

On the one hand, I really like the dreamy, grainy saturated vibe of the photographers they feature. On the other hand, it all gets to feel really samey after just a few pages of scrolling through. It feels like any one photographer would have a broader range than what the blog hits, and as such, it probably does a little bit of a disservice to the photographers. It's also a bit indie-porny (NSFW sometimes).

The hatness of Depp

Title of WorkHattednessIMDB score
Nightmare on Elm Street07.4
Private Resort06.6
Lady Blue06.2
Slow Burn05.2
21 Jump Street07.2
Edward Scissorhands18.0
Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare04.6
Arizona Dream17.3
Benny and Joon16.9
What's Eating Gilbert Grape07.8
Ed Wood08.1
Don Juan DeMarco16.6
Dead Man17.7
Nick of Time06.3
Donnie Brasco17.8
The Brave16.3
Fear and Loathing in Los Vegas17.6
Ninth Gate06.6
Astronaut's Wife05.0
Sleepy Hollow07.5
The Man Who Cried16.0
Before Night Falls17.2
The Fast Show17.8
From Hell06.9
Pirates of the Carribean: Curse of the Black Pearl18.0
Once Upon a Time in Mexico16.2
Secret Window16.5
King of the Hill07.8
And They Lived Happily Ever After06.6
Finding Neverland07.9
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory17.1
Corpse Bride07.5
Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man's Chest17.3
Pirates of the Carribean: At World's End17.0
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street07.7
Spongebob Squarepants07.9
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus07.1
Public Enemies17.1
Alice in Wonderland16.6
The Tourist06.0

When trying to decide whether or not to see The Tourist, a question was raised about whether Johnny Depp, a star widely reputed to wear a lot of hats, was hatted, implying that hattendness would be a reasonable predictor for quality of Johnny Depp movie.

Unfortunately, the data does not seem to support the conclusion that quality of Depp movie can be predicted by his hattedness: Both classic and tragic Depp movies appear in both categories.


Roles were selected from Depp's IMDB page, a binary determination of "significant hattedness" was made (with 1 representing "hatted" and 0 representing "hatless"), and the IMDB cumulative rating as of 1/23/11 was taken. Absolutely no further data processing was attempted. See: Opportunities for future study.

Possible sources of error:

Depp's IMDB page may or may not be correct. All Depp roles were included, even those categorically unlikely to include hats (if hats predicated on Depp's personal love of hats), e.g. Spongebob Squarepants. Degree of hattedness is debateable — for the purposes of this study, headbands counted, as did Depp's hair in Edward Scissorhands, but masks did not. IMDB scores are not an objective rating of film quality; there's no way that Crybaby is a worse movie than Pirates of the Carribean.

Opportunities for further study:

A more thorough survey of Depp's oeuvre may uncover more instances of hattedness. Likewise, a more thorough study may allow us to develop a more nuanced hattedness metric, dependent upon duration and significance of hat wearing, which could be broadly applied to develop a universal hat measurement. The proportion of hattedness within Depp's films could also be compared to the hattedness of other actors, ultimately resulting in predicting the amount that hattedness contributes to the overall quality of a film. The study of hattedness, or hattery, or capology, is young and has many opportunities. With more funding, this data set could also be run through all sorts of pretty graphs and plots. But someone would also have to show me how to do that.

Literature review: Why Does Johnny Depp Wear So Many Hats?
A Degree in Hats

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Strip club of the future

YayTM is a modified ATM that calls over passersby, plays them a song, and rewards their dancing with money. Then it uploads the video (sadly lacking sound) to the internet.

Obviously, it holds incredible possibilities for the tele-freaky.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Updated Twosquare Match Play

In the two league games, Amy beat Josh by scores of 21-16 and 21-19, respectively. She thereby also won best of three.

In non-league play, Josh beat Carson in two games, before it became too dark to play. There was some dispute about "carrying," and everyone agreed the squares were "wonky."

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Five "Best" artists

While I was back bullshitting with Chris in Ann Arbor, he asked me to name five artists that I thought were "the best." Not my favorite but "best," which allows me to vest my subjectivity in criteria rather than naked aesthetic judgment.

1) Pablo Picasso

We got onto this because I started talking about some floppy softcover retrospective on Picasso that I just took out of the library. Like every time I read about Picasso, I was struck by his tremendous range and productivity. Something like five canvasses a day when he moved back to Barcelona after his first trip to Paris. He's the name, right?

Picasso has two criteria that I think are important for deciding "the best," that of technical mastery (his earlier portraits are totally solid) and an experimentation that enlarges what art is.

Plus, he never got called an asshole.

2) Gerhard Richter

RIchter hits those same criteria for me, the enlargement of art in general along with technical skill. His Capitalist Realism ties in well with Warhol's commerical Pop, his wiper abstractions are lush and engrossing, and his blurred photo paintings are one of the few series from artists that make me more interested in the biography of the artist and of the subjects (in contrast to the flat iconography of Warhol's Elvis or Jackie Kennedy).

And, frankly, I just tend to like him. Nearly everything I've seen from him, I've enjoyed. That's not even something I can say about Picasso, though I suppose saying it at all shows just how quickly I let go of making any attempt of objective purity in "best" artists.

(I also love this article, right down to the little toes of the author's last name being Kuntzman, not Künstmann or Künstler.)

3) Edouard Manet

What brought me over to being a big Manet fan was seeing an exhibition of pen and ink drawings at the UMMA, which included a lithograph of Le Balloon, along with a handful of sketches that he did for the print. In seeing them up close, I was amazed at his sense of gestural line and the flip and effortless feel of these sketches that managed to sum up so many people in so few marks.

I love Manet's apparent slap-dashery, what with his overt brush work and his lack of transition colors. I like his referentialism and early Modern feeling and his sense of humor. He's a lot more narrow than Picasso or Richter, but he both innovates and demonstrates technique.

I also love to call him Edweird Mayonnaise when no one is listening.

4) Edward Weston

Even more than Adams or Stieglitz, Ed Weston nails Modernist photography. His nudes, the still lifes, the Point Lobo work, everything shot with an immaculate sense of tone and composition and printed brilliantly. I might like more Walker Evans images, but there's no way that I'd call Evans the "better" artist, he just can't compare with the incredible tone that Weston gets on EVERYTHING. He makes green peppers sexy.

He also has a huge range within his career, from early pictorialism through Modernist abstraction and fairly classical nudes; his influence is felt on pretty much every photographer worth seeing… It doesn't even matter that he was a tremendous dick to every woman around him his entire life, because his work covers that up.

5) Marcel Duchamp

Duchamp's here mostly because of the LACMA exhibit last year that featured a huge amount of Joseph Beuys' work. In a lot of ways, what I like about Beuys is there in Duchamp, the puns and gags as well as a real sense of not just moving art forward but moving humanity's ability to conceive forward. Which, of course, is the sort of lofty earnestness that Duchamp loved to skewer. I went with Duchamp mostly because I suspect that my bias toward Beuys is due to how recently I've seen a bunch of his work.

6) Michelangelo

Dude was the best painter, sculptor and architect in the world all at once. Pretty badass. Maybe shoulda put him higher, but I found his performances too pizza focused, and never found his sewer surfing credible.

In Chicago? Want to be a better (vegetarian) cook?

Chicago Vegetarian Catering, run by Dan Boucher (my ersatz brother-in-law) will teach you, or cook for you.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Detroit 442

Julian Cope, the last living rock 'em sock 'em journo, compiled a great mix of Detroit RAWK (as Big Daddy P might bellow on the Riff).

It's full of great sides, with a lot of stuff that I remember getting to play around with when I was working with the guys, like a couple of the Terry Knight sides that are surprisingly awesome given what a tepid catalog the dude has, and there were some new-to-me gems, like the Mynah Birds (a Rick James/Neil Young collabo that sounds mythic). My tastes for Michigan music are a little more eclectic than this sampler, but props to Cope for keeping it tight. It's also a handy reminder for the fuzzmonauts out there as to what Detroit rock used to sound like (just try to listen to Pas/Cal after a diet of this stuff).

My ongoing hope is to one day track down enough of the late 70s/early 80s 45s to make a real No Detroit comp, with The State, Laughing Hyenas, Destroy All Monsters, etc. on it. Oh, and Was (Not Was) from back when they brought the weird funk… But now that Art Lyzak just moved to LA, maybe I should content myself with trying to force him to reissue the Mutants discog…

How to fix America's energy policy

The answer is scrap all the subsidies.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

You know, the Internet used to be good for something.

I was watching the Simpsons with my girlfriend, and I had a question about what the English-speaking soap plant employee's t-shirt said. It said, "Champions of Winning Superb!, but I had to scroll past nearly ten bootleg t-shirt results on google before I got there.

Can't we all just have courier text pages? These days, the kids with their .swf and their pudding pops, doh.