drwex: (Default)
(slightly modified from a post by Cory Doctorow)

Dear Liberals, Independents, and principled Conservatives
In 2020 there will be a candidate competing against Donald Trump for President. It is very likely this candidate:
  1. Isn't your first choice

  2. Isn't 100% ideologically pure

  3. Has made mistakes

  4. Might not really excite you all that much

  5. Has ideas you are uncomfortable with

Please start the process of getting over that shit now instead of waiting until 2020.

Dear Democratic Establishment
In 2020 we will need to choose a candidate to fight Trump, an actual threat to the survival of the human race. So you might be tempted (again) to ask America to vote for a warmongering, banker-friendly, more-of-the-same candidate, on the theory that we'll vote for the candidate who makes people like you rich as fuck rather than enduring four more years of Trump, even if that candidate is terrible in every way except for not being Trump.

That is a hell of a gamble, and it could literally cost us the only planet we have. Knock that shit off.

Democrats have no future as the "at least we're not Trump" party. Get used to it. You have two whole years; use them wisely.

No love,
Me
drwex: (Troll)
I sign up for online things. Mostly contests. I know I'm not going to win, but who couldn't use a thousand bucks of new camera gear, or a few thousand toward a vacation someplace I'd actually want to go. Mostly these things are gimmicks to get you to sign up for various newsletters. Usually a glance at one or two of them and unsubscribe. Once in a while I find interesting things, like this...

https://www.topic.com/everything-is-okay/everything-is-okay-episode-1

I have no idea how I got on Topic's mailing list, nor did they say anything about short stories but this is a cool series of five short films with a definite F/SF twist. They're a little Twilight Zone-ish in the 'what would you do if this very weird thing actually happened?' way, but they're more humorous/ironic than TZ ever was. Chalk it up to 21st century sensibilities, I guess.

Watch the films at least - it's worth your time. I haven't read any of the other contents yet; if you do, let me know what you think.
drwex: (Default)
The Brattle is showing The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai on Monday the 30th at 9:30. Kind of late for a school night but how often do you get to see a real 35mm print of BB on a big screen?

Who's with me?
drwex: (VNV)
Both the business of work and the dreadfulness of the US government's behavior have cut sharply into my music listening. What I have is a hodgepodge of good and OK things to report back on. But today I turned on my Soundcloud stream to find a nice Father Funk set (patience; it'll appear) and that reminded me it's been nearly a month since I did a music post, so here goes:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fjqs-qmkNug
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_JxMb8RLEY
I'm still enjoying electro-swing. I have a Pandora station that I'm crafting to give me stuff I like, though their source selection just seems too limited. This one was actually posted by a coworker whose musical tastes don't overlap much with mine but I tried it anyway, and the first thing to fill my headphones was Caravan Palace's electro-swing take on "Black Betty". Find it at the second URL above. I've long ago lost track of how many variants of this Ram Jam classic I've posted. It's been remixed and reworked thousands of times and it's a perpetual favorite.

The mix has a lot more of a Roaring 20's feel than I'm used to and that's a nice variation. I tend to think of swing as originating in the 30s in Harlem but in the broader sense it goes back to uptempo jazz and the Charleston of the 1920s. I'm just biased because my parents used to play Cab Calloway and contemporaries.

---- the tracks below come with earworm warnings; I find each of them capable of getting stuck in my head. you've been warned -----

https://soundcloud.com/dopezoundmashups/you-dont-push-the-feeling-discosid-mashup-1
Discosid does his version of Jax Jones' very popular "You Don't Know Me." Another track that's been mashed and mixed a lot, and that I find gets stuck in my head in most every form. This is a fun little electro-bounce variant.

https://soundcloud.com/djbillythekit/billy-the-kit-macarena-free-download
Yes, it's a "Macarena" variant. Sue me (or "die mad" as my favorite cow orker says). The original was stupid levels of overplayed, but having excised it from my rotation for a few years I find it tolerable. There's a reason the original was popular - it's catchy. Billy The Kit's version is kind of a big-boom take on the original.

https://soundcloud.com/rac/the-naked-famous-higher-rac-mix
RAC does what he does best - take a popular track and give it a high-production EDM spin. In this case, it's The Naked & Famous "Higher" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GCsyXSr7u-Q - in case you've somehow forgotten what the original sounds like). It's a modern power-female-voiced ballad that RAC smooths out and lengthens. I think it's an example of his style at its best - the remix retains the good parts of the vocals and if you can get past some of the lyrical bits (sorry, but 'genuine' and 'skeleton' don't rhyme the way I pronounce them) it's a good song. But definitely an earworm for me.

https://soundcloud.com/free-download-friday/the-muppet-show-dj-zsuzsu-wolfgang-lohr-remix-free-download
And what would any earworm section be without a Muppets Show theme song? Poorer by a lot, that's what - hush, you in the back. DJ ZsuZsu give us a very swing-influenced show tune that, say it with me, is going to get stuck in your head.
drwex: (Default)
Before saying anything else about this film, I have to say there is this huge 500lb-gorilla problematic thing about it. People who are raving about the film and saying it should win this or that award are either ignoring that gorilla or just don't care. For me, this movie is going into the category of "likable problematic things." 4/5 stars for what they accomplished.

Let's talk first about the problematic thing because I can do that without spoilers: in a word, REPRESENTATION. The movie barely passes the Bechdel test for one scene between Sylvia Hoeks's Luv and Robin Wright's Lt. Joshi. Both women are good, but this is a sideshow. No major actors of color in the film. Two black actors have speaking roles, and both are - to some degree - stereotypes. In a movie set in future California, the lack of any Hispanic persons is notable. In a movie future where people slip back and forth into Asian languages and writing the lack of Asian actors is just screamingly noticeable.

If you can get past that, let's talk about the actual movie. First, the good bits: it's gorgeous. Visually lush and saturated and rich with detail. The visuals do more than justice to the original. The pace is excellent - the movie is long but never feels like it drags. I would have cut some bits - see spoiler section below - but if you look away you're likely to miss something.

The soundtrack is also rich and lush and omnipresent. It's good - Hans Zimmer does his best to live up to Vangelis's original - but the fact that I notice the soundtrack so much means it's overdone. It's loud and pushy in places, and lacks subtlety.

Gosling turns in a very good performance and Harrison Ford turns in an excellent one. In case you had any doubts about whether Ford has lost it, ditch those. He's a great actor and does a great job here.

There are lots of things to like here. My favorite is the not-actually-sex scene that dives headfirst into an intersection of technology and attraction and physicality I haven't seen represented before. It's not actually a new concept for long-time SF fans but this is one of the best enactments I've ever seen on film.

I also like that the film (mostly) sticks with the core themes of what does it mean to be human? The casual racism of Lt Joshi as she's talking to K is nearly as cutting as Niander Wallace's casual knifing of another replicant. If you don't see them as human then things follow "logically" from that, a fallacy that every slave-owning class has ever fallen into. Unlike the original film, here replicants seem to know they are replicants, but the question of what does it mean to be human still haunts them. This again makes the film worth seeing.
Plot spoilers be here )

So, yeah. Brilliant but flawed, and deeply problematic. A lot like the original.
drwex: (Default)
For only the second time since its start I find myself agreeing with the Trump Administration in something it has done. Specifically the decision to expel Cuban diplomats.

If you've missed the story (and I wouldn't blame you) there have been a series of strange and harmful attacks on US personnel in Cuba. This has resulted in hospitalizations, hearing loss (maybe permanent), and other injuries to embassy staff. As a result, the US has evacuated about half the staff and all families and non-essential personnel. The Cuban government's response has been to throw up its hands and say "not us, we know nothing."

Fine. Maybe that's true; maybe it's the Russians f'ing with us and trying to cause a row. But lost in the war of words is a fundamental principle of diplomacy, called a "duty to protect". Embassies have their own security, and embassy grounds are considered the territory of the occupying nation. But outside those grounds, the host country has a duty to protect the people in the embassy. When that duty is not upheld, things can go disastrously wrong (e.g. Libya, Iran).

Most of the embassy staff are career diplomats. They are the ones who will have to pick up the pieces and try to rebuild once this "moron" (to quote Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who apparently did call Trump that) is gone. If the US does not pressure Cuba to live up to its duty to protect then we put all our diplomatic personnel worldwide at higher risk, make their jobs harder, and endanger the longterm future of US foreign relations.

So, yeah, count me for a second time as supporting a Trump administration action.
drwex: (Default)
Start here: https://whatever.scalzi.com/2017/10/02/2017-word-counts-and-writing-process/

John Scalzi talks about how living in 2017 America has affected his writing process. The way in which the ongoing horror show affects his ability to focus, to create, to detach from the clamoring needs of a house on fire. He talks about how he's political by nature (yep) and despite being privileged (yep) there's no easy way to build a Faraday cage against this stuff. More to the point, if you're a caring human being you don't want to. More below.

Next here: https://www.kameronhurley.com/ongoing-national-horrors-cant-unplugged-go/
A woman, with a disability that could kill her if she loses health insurance, holding onto the idea that the only way out is through.

So, Yom Kippur. On one side, it's a religious observance. The holiest of days in the Jewish holiday cycle. The day on which the Book of Life is closed, and the fates of every person are sealed. Philosophically, it's also the day on which some Jews fast and pray and not only do we ask G-d for forgiveness for our own transgressions, we take responsibility for those committed by others. We safeguard our fellow humans as best we can from G-d's displeasure. Jews who follow the behaviors and patterns of this holiday will often wish each other a "meaningful" fast. That is, observe the strictures of the holiday not because they're strictures but because they help bring meaning to your life.

Y.K. is also supposed to be a day of introspection and reflection. Can I tell you just how hard it is to do that kind of internal work when you are worried that millions of your countrymen are without power, or water, or medicine and your government is ignoring them because they're "uppity" brown people?

And in case there was any doubt, I'm also not OK with pleading for G-d to preserve a pile of shitbag Nazis who would like nothing more than to exterminate me and all my kind. I'm not a big fan of punching them and I'll clench my jaw and extend rights of decent treatment and free public speech to them. But that's my limit. I am not going to lie to myself by saying I want anything more.

So, what to do? I don't go to synagogue anyway. But I fasted - partly to see what would happen and partly because I could. I know there are lots of people who would like to be able to do that, but whose bodies, medical situations, or other obligations prevent them. So in part I fast to stand in for those who cannot. Partly it's that I recognize I do very few things that are hard for me and I was hoping that having the experience would help me move toward some level of meaning.

Instead I got a lot of headache and not much else. But I did realize that this is not a one-off. As Ms Hurley says, anyone who thinks that the 2018 elections are going to bring any relief is fooling themselves. I think I have the majority of the self-care routine down. What I lack is some way to survive four years of constant shock treatment.

Lots of good stuff written these days about the way this Administration is deliberately keeping the population in a state of shock and keeping us terrorized in order to stifle effective resistance. I'm reading and thinking, but don't have anything to say, yet.
drwex: (VNV)
This is my church
This is where I heal my hurts

"God is a DJ" - Faithless

If you've seen VNV before, then I'll just summarize by saying that Ronan was absolutely on and the sold-out Sinclair audience was totally into it. The tour was specifically built out of two of their albums (Automatic and Empires) so I didn't get to hear some of my favorites but the show was energetic and emotional and engaging and funny and very much like being at a party with 400 of your closest friends.

I can't find the earliest records in my blogging archive, but I'm pretty sure I've been going to VNV shows since 2005 and this was probably the second-best I've seen. The venue is good (if a bit small) and for the first time in living memory I was able to go without earplugs for almost all of it. VNV are not quiet and the music was loud, but not deafening.

The crowd was definitely a large part dressed-up goth/industrial but not a total sea of black. I happened to be wearing a gray tee shirt and I recalled that at our very first VNV show Pygment was able to find me because I stood out against the sea of black. This time I was visible but not uniquely so. It was nice to see a good share of younger fans there as well as several older familiar faces.

If you haven't see a VNV show I will contextualize by saying that Ronan does a running patter with the audience before and between songs. He doesn't want people just standing there staring at him - if you go to a VNV show you should expect to sing, dance, shout, move your body. Something to send the audience energy back to the stage.

The crowd at this night was very much in tune with that, and Ronan appreciated it. He remarked several times that he loves doing shows like this and he wasn't afraid to talk on stage about how the intensity of feeling from our side affects him emotionally. Of course, having him respond to us that way only encouraged us to participate more fully, leading to a great feedback cycle. There are a lot of electro-industrial acts out there and lots of them are quite good. But I don't know any other act that co-creates a show with its audience this way.

It's far from heavy and serious, though. Ronan is from Dublin and loves to joke about that and his Irish traits, including making a joke of everything. We were in stitches even before the first song started. The show has lots of little interludes of this banter. Here are a few that stuck with me from this show:

During the opening discussion, where he tells the audience about the participation he expects, and explains that people taking photos or videos need to keep their phones in front of their own faces, not high up blocking other peoples' vision, he asked for lights. The board op killed the stage lights and flipped on some plain white wash. Ronan said something like, "Oh, very good. Got it right and promptly for once."
*DARK* as the board op cuts the lights.
Ronan: Oh, so it's going to be like that, is it?

At one point he was teasing the younger members of the audience, saying there "...used to be these things called singles. And EPs." Then he went on to name-check Manray, not in the sense of "oh yeah it's a thing that people here will recognize" but talking about his own time there and how he misses it. Way to endear yourself to the Camberville goth crowd!

In talking up how people in the crowd liked VNV he noticed that the on-floor bartender was wearing a VNV fan tee shirt and Ronan mentioned how nice it was to have the staff liking the act as well. At which point the bartender held up a bottle:
Ronan: I'm from Dublin and I don't drink Irish whiskey.
*bartender puts away bottle*
Ronan: Now if you had some scotch...
*bartender pulls out another bottle and holds it up*
Ronan: Ah, that's the good stuff

He then goes back to his usual banter. Meanwhile the bartender pulls out a cup, pours several fingers of scotch into it, and passes it to a fan who passes it to another. Eventually it ends up in the hand of a female audience member (dressed like a goth ballerina) who clambers up on the speaker on the side of the stage and holds out the cup with a very Vanna White flourish. Ronan comes over and takes the drink, thanking "...the peat fairy."

I don't know if any of these things will translate to you, dear reader, if you were not present. Just take as given that the show was way more fun and funnier than you would ever expect an industrial show to be.

And Ronan says they'll be back next year with a new album. Can't wait
drwex: (VNV)
Four full sets in here that you can pick and choose from. Like any other sets they're going to have better and worse parts and since they're mostly live, none of them is perfectly polished. I've tried to pick sets that have different styles to suit different moods and needs.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ctN6DO9Wf4
Dmitriy Redko (AstroPilot) put out a nearly two-hour live psychill set last year. I confess I don't find a huge difference between psy-chill and psy-trance, if you know that style. This is not exactly downtempo, but it's airy, breathy, relaxing. Someone I played this for called it "floaty" music and I know what they mean. Good for destressing, or keeping your head down amid ongoing chatter.

https://soundcloud.com/thedolab/woogiewknd-pumpkin
Pumpkin uses a lot of what's good in Motown, rock, country (yes), and hip-hop from the last couple decades. Some of it is just sampled, some is updated and covered in the course of these two hours. It's fun to listen along and see what you can pick out. Some of it is really obvious (Paul Simon and Talking Heads, anyone?) and some of it is recognizable to people who listen to a lot of EDM (e.g. Zhu's "Faded"). Generally a lot of fun and keeping-you-going tempo without being overwhelming or hard-driving.

https://soundcloud.com/young-nrg-productions/nrg-live-show-uk-2years-w-dj-stex-feat-guest-mix-by-ale-tosses
NRG's live show also clocks in a bit over two hours, filled with tracks from other people and their own remixes. It's much more reggae, rap, bounce, and hip-hop than the previous two, featuring names like Defunk and Tribe Called Quest. The style is more scratch, electro, and breakbeats than my usual but I found it a nice contrast to what we've had so far.

https://soundcloud.com/markusschulz/transmissionasia2017
After featuring a good bit of Markus Schultz's work last time I went looking for a sense of what he's like live and found this, a 90-minute set he did earlier this year. This is a pretty straight-up club trance set, with mostly Schultz's own work on original tracks as well as remixes/mashes. High energy, high BPM even when he's using Sarah McLachlan.
drwex: (Default)
Last week was Rosh Hashona. We had a fun and very geeky dinner with the family and metamours. And this Friday will be Yom Kippur.

As I do every year during this time I try to reflect on my behavior during the past year and to seek forgiveness for harms I have done to people I know. I'm opening anonymous comments on this post (assuming I've understood Dreamwidth's instructions for that) and invite you to contact me in any way you feel comfortable to tell me what I may have done and how I can make amends.
drwex: (VNV)
Cancelled meetings today means let's put some effort into a music post. I've been listening to more "chill" music than I usually do. Often after reading some rage-inducing what-the-actual-fuck thing from my news feed. I also have a lot of long sets to post but I'll split those off into their own thing (or two).

https://soundcloud.com/markusschulz/running-up-that-hill-chillout
https://soundcloud.com/markusschulz/winter-kills-me-chillout-mix
https://soundcloud.com/markusschulz/running-up-that-hill-extended
The first of these is a Markus Schultz "chill mix," though its somewhat more intense than a typical chill track. Fronted by Victoria Horn (as Lady V), it has many of the same tonal qualities as the remixes below, but is more complex and intricate. I like both the vocal presence and the complexity of the mix - it's interesting without getting frenetic.

The second is an unusual track in that you don't find a lot of Kate Bush remixes around. "Running Up That Hill" is one of her most popular and accessible songs so if was going to remix any of her tunes this one would make sense. As remixes go it's not bad. Bush's tunes rise (or fall) on her vocal performance and here you get a lot of that. The backgrounds are almost minimalist in places - a single piano note.

If you're interested in the non-chill version, you can also listen to an extended mix at the third link. I've noted before that I tend to like extended mixes and this one carries its extra weight pretty well, even if it does rely on a bog-standard club-dance build halfway through. Where the first version was spare, this one has a lot of extra layers thrown in. The mix keeps them under the vocals for the most part so that's good, but I'm not convinced they add all that much.

https://soundcloud.com/iamsidmoore/mandelbug
Chill electronica often blends into some of the dark film-track pieces I like and this is a great example of that. Mandelbug (https://fanlink.to/mandelbug) puts together a mash here that wouldn't be out of place in many movie soundtracks. It's the sort of thing you hear as the camera follows the protagonist through a dark and crowded scene in some location Americans would consider 'exotic'.

https://soundcloud.com/dirtwire/lost-highway-1
If you start playing this and think... wait, that sounds a bit like Beats Antique, you're right. This is Dirtwire (https://www.dirtwire.net) the side project of David Satori of Beats Antique. It's got that amazing fiddle sound and interesting rhythms galore. The track notes credit Ethiopian electro, a thing I didn't even know exist and now must find more of. Of all the Beats' side projects I like this one best so far and I'm sad they didn't get to this side of the country on their 2017 tour. Maybe next year.
drwex: (Python)
Pygment has made a beef stew while I was out for the evening. Upon arriving home, I give it a taste.

Me: Not bad!
Her: The stew?
Me: Yes, this stew shall pass.
drwex: (VNV)
I have a whole stack of things I've wanted to write but that got backed up behind the Charlottesville and fucking Nazi aftermath. So let's see if I can put this one together quickly; apologies if it's not as well-researched as I usually try for.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-sZyfFX4F0
This came to me via my subcription to Aron Chupa's YouTube channel, which I set up after finding the delightful electro-swing piece from Chupa and Little Sis Nora. Here she is again, and the video is totally worth watching. I have a hard time classifying this music - it's definitely got a few swing beats in it, but it's also electro, and found-sound, and dance, and hey if you haven't ever heard someone rhyme Calvados then you should watch for that alone.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bznxx12Ptl0
And if you think that's fun and don't mind your lyrics a little uncensored, here's Chupa again from an older (2014) track using the same linguistic twist. Here Little Sis Nora isn't directly credited but down in the video info you find a vocals credit for "Nora Ekberg", which I dig into a little further and find out is actually Chupa's sister. This track has some of the swing hints to it but is more typical electro-bounce. Still a lot of fun.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zeMCpfwpOhY
It feels like forever since I've written about funk, though I've been listening to a fair bit of it, as usual. Here, in a track from last summer, Big Gigantic (https://www.biggigantic.net/) do their "Bring the Funk Back" (like it ever left?). This track is a lot of funk and a lot of electro slammed together; I could do with less of the latter but I still found it worth blogging. It's interesting and ironic that this track comes off of Brighter Future an album dedicated to envisioning and making music for a brighter future something we need this year even more than last.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oexhZ7FKLdU
Todrick Hall is someone I hadn't heard of - I followed a curiousity link for Ru Paul and landed here, on "Low" by Hall, but featuring Ru Paul. Web searching tells me that he has been on Ru Paul's show "Drag Race" (see what I miss by not having a television?). I love the visuals in this video - lots of deep saturated lighting, fun dancing, and intense costumes. The rapping is good, but I find listening less fun than listening while watching. Those pyrotechnics and acrobatics would be particularly intense in person, I bet.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z2b2HFHPwGo
A variation on this 2014 track appeared on my stream and sent me looking for the original. The track is "Tortuga (Club Mix)" by DoubleV & Formal One, an instrumental club dance number with obvious overtones to the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, particularly in the whistled bits mid-track. I'm not in love with it (like I am with Chupa/Nora) but I liked it enough for a blog entry.
drwex: (Troll)
Note not a "hot mess" though there's an argument that label applies, too. Charlize Theron's lead in the screen adaptation of The Coldest City is somewhat scrambled and appears to suffer in a couple places from poor editing choices, but that's not what I mean. I mean, first, that Theron's Lorraine Broughton is hot on screen. Theron mastered more of the action and fight moves than the directors initially expected, so several of the fight sequences were improved and put together more tightly to show what she could do. She's now my #3 choice for next Bond. (*) Also, her interactions with Delphine Lasalle (Sofia Boutella) are hot. 4/5 stars if you like spy thrillers and good action flicks (of which there are far too few headed by women).

The film is also messy in a way you don't often see in action films. Broughton fights guys who are bigger than she is, and they hurt her. You get to see blood, not in the the gouts-of-fake-fluid sense, but in the sense that being in a real fight messes you up. You bleed, get cut up and bruised, and it stays with you. Broughton takes hits and gives better than she gets and you see all of it. It's like someone wiped all the "clean" off a Bond flick. Gritty realism has been a thing in Hollywood films lately, but mostly that comes across as oppressive darkness and gloom. Atomic Blonde is not a happy film and few people in it end up happy at the end, but it's not oppressively gloomy and I definitely want to see more. Making this into a Theron-led franchise would be a happy thing in my world.

I mentioned Boutella earlier and she turns in a good performance here as a possible naif, someone who may be in over her head. Broughton's foil in this caper, though, is David Percival (James McAvoy), an agent who has most definitely "gone native" in communist East Berlin in the months before the wall comes down. Nominally, Broughton and Percival are on the same side, supposed to work together to extract "Spyglass" a duplicitous Stasi agent who has managed to assemble a list of operatives. Spyglass will exchange this list for safe passage for himself and his family to the West. Of course, things go wrong. MI-6 sends Broughton in to sort the mess out and get that list, setting up the film's primary conflict.

The intertwined secondary conflict revolves around a long-known double agent, identified only as Satchel. This person has been selling Western secrets to the Soviets for years and Broughton is also given the job of discovering and eliminating this threat. In fact, Satchel's identity may even be on this List that Spyglass has assembled. The movie presents us with multiple plausible characters who could be Satchel and then... well, you should see it if you like this kind of thing.

McAvoy's performance is deliberately scene-chewing. He's loud, brash, doesn't care, drinks too much, screws around, and generally doesn't seem competent. Except he is, leaving us to think the whole brash thing is a front. In counterpoint, Theron's performance is restrained fury - she's cold and calculating and tough as nails. You know what she's capable of, and it's just waiting to see how and when she's going to cut loose. Both actors are excellent solo and opposite each other.

The other really good part about this film is the soundtrack. It's set in the weeks of May and June 1990, right before the demolition of the Berlin Wall. The film's sound includes a number of classic tunes from that era, including "Cat People" (often called "Putting out Fire") by Bowie, "Major Tom", "Fight the Power", and "99 Luftballons". Baby Driver was widely talked up as a movie that integrated music with its visuals and I think Atomic Blonde does an even better job of that. The music sets scenes, appears almost as a character in the film, and the way it's integrated with the action, the dialog, and the effects ought to win the sound designer an Oscar.

Spoilers and detailed discussion you might want to wait to read )

(*) behind Kate Beckinsale and Idris Elba
drwex: (Default)
I give up. I've struggled with this entry for too long. It has deep threads that go into every area of my life and many of my beliefs. Like any such thing, I find I learn more every time I open it up. I am also reminded that I believe incomplete and contradictory things. Godel would be proud, I hope. I keep trying to say things and failing and deleting and rewriting and reading things written by people who've said this or that bit of it better than I and then more awful racist hateful shit emits from Trump's mouth and I'm struck dumb again.

A friend wrote this not long ago: I didn't plan to say anything, but it's hard not to, isn't it?

If you are a person of conscience, a person of moral character, yes, it is very hard not to. At least some of you are old enough to remember as deeply and painfully as I do why we wore "Silence = Death" tee shirts. To do nothing, to say nothing, has ceased to be a valid option. Team Sideline no longer plays in this league. There are now two very clearly defined sides: this side and "fucking Nazis." Our president and his supporters from Putin and David Duke on down are simply wrong to equate them in any way. Voices from across the country, from across the political spectrum, have stated this eloquently, unequivocally, and forcefully. If you are so committed to your support of Trump, or your dislike of other politicians, that you are willing to ignore, excuse, or condone sympathy with Nazis and traitors then you and I likely have nothing further to discuss.

If you ever wondered what you would have done in Germany in 1935, look around. Now you know what you would have done - what you're doing right now, today.
drwex: (Troll)
Baby Driver is Edgar Wright's fast-paced heist-crew movie featuring Kevin Spacey (Doc) and Ansel Elgort as the eponymous Baby (b-a-b-y) who is the driver for all of Doc's gangs. I tend to like heist-crew movies - of which Heat is pretty close to the platonic ideal. This one promised to be something extra-special because Baby listens to music throughout. He has a soundtrack to his life and that becomes a large part of the soundtrack to this movie. You may have noticed I'm a little obsessive about music. Also, I tend to like almost everything Kevin Spacey does so I figured this one was a no-lose for me.

For about 80% of the movie that's true. Spacey is a tough-boss tough-guy with a surprising good streak in him, Elgort is a great pastiche of the "kid who could have been nice, but who fell in with the wrong crew" and the other players also do well. I particularly liked Deborah, as played by Lily James. She's sweet but not naive, beautiful but not glamorous, and it's easy to see why Baby falls for her.

The plot is pretty simple: some time ago, Baby boosted a car belonging to Doc that had valuable merchandise in it. Something went wrong and Doc is now extracting his due from Baby one job at a time, because Baby is an amazing getaway driver. Once the debt is paid off, Baby will, in theory, be free to do as he pleases. Of course, nothing is that simple. 3/5 stars; would've had 4/5 but for the ending.
Not exactly a spoiler but I'll cut-tag it anyway )
Still, see this if heist movies are your thing. Just brace yourself.
(*) or words to that effect.
drwex: (pogo)
This afternoon I was trying to describe to MizA how I was feeling and why and came up with this:

I have spent a lot of energy herding cats this week. This is making me snippier than I should be and not happy with cats that require further herding. Imagine if you set a bunch of balls bouncing down a hill. You'd expect them to bounce, roll, maybe collide, and go every which way but mostly down.

Now imagine that some of them start bouncing back UP the hill at you. Unpredictably. That's been my week. I think it explains why I'm kind of twitchy and jumpy and all up in the "stop DOING that!" space.

(It's also been compounded by off-again/on-again intestinal unpleasantness that has messed with my sleep.)
drwex: (pogo)
I am normally not a memes person but I saw this on a mailing list where people had fun with it and I though my week could use some fun. Love/hate/ate - reply in comments and repost if you think it would help spread more fun.

Love - I love the light in the evenings at this time of year. I notice the days are shortening but there's still a liminal quality to the twilight that I don't think exists in other seasons.

Hate - I hate that cell-phone spammers have started faking local-seeming numbers. I deal with enough contractors and such that I am often fooled.

Ate - fresh-picked fruit. Typically I wait until late in the fruit season to go pick Macoun apples, which are my absolute favorite variety. This year we did some fruit picking as part of our trip and Pygment has been getting fresh-picked fruit from the local farmer's market.
drwex: (WWFD)
I was startled to read (on one of my tech mail lists) that a person felt firing the Google employee who circulated the position piece on the inferiority of women (henceforth G) was "petty." It was not petty, nor done without thought.

I've never worked at Google, nor do I have any insight into their internal processes. But I've worked at a lot of tech companies and talked to many people at many others; I believe my experience generalizes. I have also worked at companies that have made the transition from private to public, which is significant. And finally, I have a background in cognitive science and experience working in Compliance. Both are relevant here.
First, let's deal with the science )
Now let's talk about tech companies for a minute )
Being a public company matters )
and this all explains why this guy got fired and why he didn't get fired faster )
You know who else should be fired? )

[1] Note this is not why Summers was fired; see Cathy O'Neill's explainer from a few years back about what actually got him fired. But that's a digression. Summers was wrong, and G is wrong.
[2] There's a whole lot to say about what's wrong with tech companies in these areas but that's sort of aside. Take as given please that I think places like Uber are a cancer and should be cleansed with fire if nothing other than serving as a warning to everyone else.
[3] My actual background is in financial compliance - NASD, SEC and so on - but the principles are the same across industries. Financial compliance is just more complicated and more expensive.
[4] It's possible that the PR firm did advise them on this and Google didn't take that advice - I have no inside insight.
[5] Google's stock price doesn't per se exist since it's part of Alphabet, Inc and listed on the NASDAQ that way. In the last five days the price has been pretty stable so maybe this is a tempest in the tech teapot and the rest of the world doesn't give a hoot. If the stock was nosediving you'd be hearing a very different tune from Pichai.
drwex: (VNV)
There will certainly be music today and if the meeting cancellations keep coming (two so far today) then I might actually post this on Friday. I think for this one I'm going to do a few of the more gentle and beautiful tracks I've got marked.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-SurvChGFk
We'll start with this lovely piece from Skrillex and Poo Bear. This video is one you want to watch. To be honest I was hoping the video would be a a no-cut one-shot of the boarder. I don't think the generic sunrise shots help and I'd rather watch this guy do his thing. It's not typical Skrillex things, which goes along with my general theory that I tend to prefer him working with other people or remixed by other people to him solo. Bangarang (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJVmu6yttiw) being the notable exception to that. This track has nice vocals and very smooth feel.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJvX6aaQHp8&feature=youtu.be
As an antidote to the blood pressure-raising dumpster fire in Washington I've been playing more chill and ambient music lately. Here's a lovely relaxed track from Boreta (part of The Glitch Mob), remixing Christopher Willits' "Clear". The original (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KPFQvluC7nc) is from a couple years ago, and has much more of a drone feel. I think the Boreta mix is superior.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ik2OsFSfA4M
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bPhz2fvcgGE
First link: another very pretty Reload Sessions offering. Dahlia (whose online presence I've been unable to locate - there are at least six other artists/acts using that name) bring three singer/guitar players to a track called "Heart Would Say". I keep thinking I've heard this before but it might be just because I've had this tab up for a while and played it many times. I like the way the singers pass around the lead and all of them harmonize rather than one being lead and two being back-up.

The second link is Dahlia's cover of "Million Reasons" from Lady Gaga (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WYRJ-ryPEu0). The original is also a simple-vocal-plus-guitar track so this isn't that different. It's interesting to see how the cover distributes the lead pieces so it's once again three strong voices trading off rather than the original's one-strong/two-backing.

https://soundcloud.com/user-74395092/ed-sheeran-photograph-djenergy
DJ Energy's bootleg remix of the very popular "Photograph" from Ed Sheeran (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nSDgHBxUbVQ). The original is a great spare strong-voiced track and the remix respects that. It adds a little energy and some club beats, but they're muted for the most part to keep the original feel.

https://soundcloud.com/snbrn/snbrn-blu-j-you-got-me-feat-cara-frew
And finally, a closer from LA producer SNBRN that takes some intensely breathy trance-style vocals and lays them over a nice deep house vibe. It's a fun combo that mostly works (I could quibble with some of the echo-y repeats as unneeded) and brings this blog set back to my more traditional EDM choices.

(Aside for the tagging geeks: I had originally written that SNBRN was new to me but it turns out I'd tagged him back in October of last year. One of the side effects of losing tags is that I'm going to lose some of my memory for things I've posted in the past; it's just too voluminous to search manually.)
drwex: (pogo)
This past Thu-Sun we took advantage of our temporary child-obligation-free status and went across the border into New York State to enjoy fresh air, beautiful views, and a whole lotta cider.

Pygment wrote it up in quite some detail, which I shall not attempt to reproduce, particularly since she let me put in some editorial bits on her original text. I'll just say that the days were punctuated by frequent remarks of the "boy I'm glad we're getting to do this" and "this is really fun" sort. We vacation well together and found a good balance between doing things each of us wanted.

I'm slightly sad that we didn't have more time and flexibility but lots of this was learning experience. We only had the information that was available on the various Web sites. Once we got to the area we found there were guides and maps that the locals produce but that weren't clearly obvious to outsiders coming to the area.

But that's kind of a detail - the important point was we had a good time and we are looking forward to a time when our travel will be less constrained by other obligations. Also, we'd love to see more people who are far away.

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