Friday, December 02, 2016

Pauline Oliveros RIP

Pauline Oliveros (May 30, 1932 – November 25, 2016) passed away in November.  She was one of the early musicians that experimented with electronic music, along with musical concrete--a way to combine music, snippets of sound, found sound of machinery or whatever else and snip up tape to create an aural sound composition.

Pauline Oliveros Women Early Gurus of Electronic Music. Central figure in the development of experimental and post-war electronic art music.
* Extract from An interview with Pauline Oliveros
By Alan Baker, American Public Media, January 2003

Let's talk a little bit about… or maybe you can just tell me about your arrival in California and what eventually led you to electronics.

Well, I arrived in California in 1952. I had my accordion and $300. I supported myself with a day job for about 9 months, and then I began to get a string of accordion students. I went back to school at San Francisco State where I met Terry Riley, Lauren Rush and Stuart Dempster. We've been friends since then, and still work together in one way or another. When I arrived there I didn't know anyone, and I had to make my own way. I began to play my accordion at casual engagements, and so on. Eventually, through going to school at San Francisco State College, I met Robert Erickson who became my mentor and teacher for 6 or 7 years. I met, as I said before, my friends, and I became connected with a kind of group of people who were interested in new music. This eventually led to the founding of the San Francisco Tape Music Center with Morton Subotnick and Ramon Sender, which was transferred after several years to Mills College and became the Center for Contemporary Music. It is still there as that today. So that's a brief nutshell history of my arrival in San Francisco.

Below is a lecture she is giving much later in life on music and deep listening:
From a site:  Pauline Oliveros is one of modern music's most important figures, precisely because her work transcends music itself. While many people have heard of her contemporaries like Steve Reich and Philip Glass, Oliveros' five decades of work is so wide-reaching that popular culture has barely kept up. She was a founding member of the San Francisco Tape Music Center in the '60s, and devised a musical concept called Deep Listening, which stemmed from a trip into a giant underground cistern with a 45-second reverb. Those echoes led to an exploration of the difference between hearing and listening and a pursuit of a heightened state of awareness in sound. Oliveros' ideas have inspired not only musicians and music fans but scientists, philosophers and everyday people to think about the link that listening builds between us and our surroundings. So while recordings like Crone Music and Deep Listening are heralded by experimental music and drone heads alike, Oliveros is equally acclaimed for devising instruments for disabled people and teaching students with no formal music training to improvise together.

John Cage was a fan and so is Rabih Beaini, AKA Morphosis, who recently released Fire Above Sky Below Now on his label Morphine, exposing Oliveros to yet another audience of potential converts. She's now 84 years old and still performs and educates around the globe, and when she spoke to Mark Smith at CTM Festival in Berlin, she gave an insight into the mind of woman whose creative impact is still reverberating.

Go here to hear a 45 minute piece by her.  There are also recordings on Youtube that are quite arresting and beautiful.

Here is a live concert that they shot on film of one of her performances with some other musicians.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Arabella of Mars

Arabella of Mars sounds like the type book I'd enjoy, and also the type book Hollywood would want to option for a movie.  It also reminds me of something akin what anime craftsman, Hayao Miyazaki, might have created.  I wish I could speed read about five times or more at the level I presently read at as there are far too many books I'll never get around to reading for various reasons.  I have a fantasy invention: What if scientist invented a chip you could install someway that activates the brain, and you could just skim books like those speedy readers of older television ads, you know the guys that just skim with their fingers down a page, and flip the page.  It looks like they could finish off a novel in a couple of hours--the time taken to flip thru each page.   There used to be a fashionable course or method to that some years back promoted by Evelyn Wood.  You don't hear much about that these days.

Anyway, I have too many distractions to be a very in depth reader.   Below though I'll post a link to an interview with the author David D. Levine.  He talks a bit about the craft of writing.  In it he says his approach to writing is to write clean.  In other words, he sort of proofreads and keeps his errors and such updated and to a minimum before moving too far along.  I think that would be the way I'd probably go about it, and might be the standardization for many other writers.  Just seems natural, to proofread your work before you move too far along on unless your story and ideas are just too immediate that they just compel one to manically get it all down.  And if all that inspiration or chunk of the story is coming to you so fast and furious, you'd probably be better off just outlining it, then go back and begin writing.   With writing like a lot of the arts, there are several ways to go about the craft.  I find that is true to some degree with creating visual art, photography, writing poems, songs, etc.  They sort of come in stages (or at least to me they do).  They first appear as ideas, I jot them down on paper to capture the initial idea, then try and produce some sort of rough cut.  Then you have to shape and work that into something.  I, unfortunately, can't say that anything has ever come to me fully formed, although I've heard artist claim that that does happen to them ie. Neil Young says that is the case for him, and maybe Paul Simon.  It must be wonderful to be so talented and have that gift.

At any rate, here's a review of what Arabella of Mars is about, and below that is the interview with the author.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Alien Interview Audio Book

Halloween is upon us, and I've been enjoying the change in the weather.  However lately, I've gotten some aches and pains, and I don't know if that just a part of older age, arthritis or what?   I've had occasionally bouts of arthritis when there would be certain changes in the weather, but whenever they've happened in the past they didn't stay long.  However I'd had this pain in my foot and hand that has lingered lately, and it's troublesome to a degree.

With Halloween  I've watched my fair share of horror movies.   Really more this time around than previous years.  Some have been good, but most really have been middling to fair, but there were several I was curious about so it has been fun to watch them.

I'm probably not going to remember every one of them, but a brief rundown would look like this:
 Annabelle--I caught this one this past Friday.  It got a lot of negative reviews, and there have been a lot of possessed doll stories in the past or so I read.  It is also a prequel (sort of) to the film The Conjuring, which I enjoyed, and I look forward to seeing the sequel, Conjuring 2 as well.  I enjoyed Annabelle to some degree.  There are a few scenes that I thought could go one way or the other, like  a scene in which the mother gets fed up and tries to smash the Annabelle doll.  It all involves these neighbors that are in cult that lived next door to the main couple and they've summoned up a demon that is within the doll.  Your mileage may vary, but I enjoyed it on some level.
Dawn of the Dead--by George Romero, is the sequel to the original Night of the Living Dead.  I've got it on DVD, but was eating supper and tired last night, and decided to re-watch it as it was somewhere in the middle of the airing of it.  It's the one where the survivors are taking cover in a shopping mall.  Some cheesy acting, and the zombies have this blueish greasy-paint effect, but it's still fun.
The Black Swan really surprised me.  I'm not too much of a ballet fan, but the way it was shot, the acting, the sets, the production, and story pulled me in.  In a broader sense, I guess you could call this horror, either way, it's a good film.   It reminded me of something like Dario Argento's Suspiria, both having ballet themes, and there's a bit of body horror in it as well, like David Cronenberg is known for.
The Birds by Alfred Hitchcock, I'd seen before many times, but it's one of those films I can revisit and still be entertained by it.  Tippi Hedren and Suzanne Pleshette are beautiful, but also have good roles and although you'd think since both had feelings for the same man, played by Rod Taylor there would be some kind of flair up, but Hitchcock subtly creates tension there, but doesn't have a full blown confrontation over it.  There is one scene in it that I had not became aware of, and I need to Google it or re-watch the film (again), as there was a death scene with one of the secondary characters toward the end.   Spoilers:  I'm not sure if that was the character played by Pleshette or another character, but it happens towards the ending when they stop at a house and pick up one of the little girls.  That's the thing about classics, they are worth watching multiple times, and you can sometimes glean something from them later.
Session 9 I'd heard about, and finally got around to watching.   An asbestos clean-up crew low bids on cleaning up the asbestos in an old abandoned mental asylum.  They are chosen as they low bid the job, but also they can get it done within a shortened amount of time.  The dynamics of the crew are shown.  One of the crew is dating an ex-girlfriend of one of the other guys in the crew, and there's friction there. Some get along well, while others tolerate each other.  The days tick by, and things start to unravel, and fray with in group.   While working in the asylum one of the men find a recorded taped session (nine sessions) with a inmate, Mary Hobbes,  that has a multiple personality disorder.   In his down time, he starts to listen to these tapes.  It's a pretty convoluted film, not totally satisfying for me, but was worth the watch. 

I've seen other films this season.  Halloween by John Carpenter generally airs here in the states.
I saw at least parts of the original film, along with II, III, and IV.  Halloween III is the only one that doesn't have Michael Myers in it, and perhaps one of the better sequels.  The original is a classic, but boy it does have some cringe-worthy acting in it.  Sequel II is okay, and brings back Jamie Lee Curtis.  III just goes off on it's own tangent, and was sort of about a novelty shop owner, and witchcraft.  IV is mostly about a little girl and Myers wanting to kill her.  Surprising for the ages of the little girl and the young woman playing her foster sister, they act pretty well.

I ran across this audio book on YT about aliens.  If you are a conspiracy fan or Roswell fan, you might enjoy it.   I'm not particularly diehard about either subject.  I tend to think along the same lines that Carl Sagan does about that whole incident--there really hasn't been shown any hard evidence on the matter to analyze.  That said, however, I don't discount that perhaps life might exist out there somewhere. It's called Planet X: check it out here. 

Monday, October 17, 2016

Art Geek Monday

I've been busying myself lately with making art work.  There's an art show coming up at the end of the week, and if I'm going enter I need to get something officially together as the deadline is Friday.  I think it's doable.  It's just a matter of what I decide to enter.  You can enter three pieces, and then they get judged by a panel from the gallery. 

I'm a bit indifferent to it all, but most of the time I enjoy the experience.  The above art is by me (a photo).  The theme of the show is called, Glassy and Glossy.  Yes, it's vague theme as most are, but it allows one to brainstorm and fit some kind of art into that subject.  It went on to say something like be as creative as you like and try to meet both criteria.   That's a bit hard as in my mind they are so closely related (somewhat), but I think the above work applies.  I'm still putting a few things together. 

I was surprised with the last showing that I entered.  I entered three pieces of art, all photos, one which had been digitally altered.  They chose two of them for the show.  Well, I attended the opening and looked around to see what everyone else had entered.   Tyler is a fairly small-ish town, but don't undersell the artist here.  There are quite a few, and most are very good.   Anyway, when I went to go pick up my artwork on the day of closing, I was told one of my pieces had sold.  Surprised the heck outta me.   So that made my day.  I asked who had bought it, and I didn't know the buyer.  So that made me feel even better because the patron, being a stranger just found the art work pleasing in and of itself without having any other familiarity.   So yay me.

Speaking of art and nerdy stuff, I ran into this interview with SF artist Vincent Di Fate over at the Omni magazine site.  If you are into that sort of thing, you can read about it.  

While over at the Omni site, there is another interview with SF artist, Jim Burns.  I love how both artist can tell a story more or less without any words, just from looking at their subject matter.  You can find that interview here. 

While on the topic of geekdom.  There's a guy over at Youtube I enjoy listening too, Steve Donoghue.  He's an older gentleman that I found while perusing their book Vlog videos.  I'll admit I'm not a voracious reader, but I admire those who are.  Plus I'm always interested to know what someone is reading at the moment and what sort of things they are interested in whether it be books, comics, music, TV shows, movies or what have you.   Well Steve does just that in the below video.  Like a lot of us, his favorite TV shows, comics, TV series, and so forth are informed and inspired by his childhood and early years. Those things that energized and excited us when we were younger in life (and really still do to this day).  I guess that's normal.   Either way, check it out. 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Hey Kids Comics & Crime

Halloween is just around the corner, and I've been in full mode by enjoying some horror movies lately and such.  I picked up Ed Brubaker, Phillips, and Breitweiser's comic, Kill or Be Killed the other day.  It deals with supernatural horror, or does it?  The jury is still out because when reading it one is left with the questions:  Is there something supernatural going on here, or is it all in the main character's head?  I guess we might or might not find out conclusively, but for now, the first issue is just out so it has only started. 

Brubaker wrote another comic series not long back called Fatale which also dealt with supernatural horror in a H P Lovecraft vein.  He mixes up the genres with noir crime, the mob, and monsters.  Overall it worked pretty well.  He's one of those writers that has the ability to pique my interest.  I don't know if it's the topics he writes about or the way he writes, but his projects generally interest me.

If you enjoy that sort of thing or if you're an Ed Brubaker fan, I ran across a great little article on him from the folks over at A. V. Club.  Brubaker also talks about the new Sci Fi series, Westworld.  I've not been able to see any of that series yet, as I don't subscribe to the network, but if it turns out well, I'm sure I'll watch it when time allows.  I certainly enjoyed the original movie, Westworld, and the follow up movie,  Futureworld.   Here's a link to the Brubaker  article.  

While on the topic of crime, I saw a good crime noir movie last night called The Lineup starring Eli Wallach, who played the part of a crazy pschopath, Robert Keith as his older accomplice, and Warner Anderson  as Lt. Ben Guthrie.  The story was basically about a criminals trying to smuggle heroin  into the US by way of using innocent victims in their ploy.   Evidently the film was taken from a TV series that came before it, but I had no knowledge about that series.  Evidently a later TV series, Dragnet, was also modeled off  The Lineup TV show.  I basically rented the film as it was an early effort directed by Don Siegel who has done other crime movies like the first Dirty Harry film, The Killers, Charley Varrick, and many other noteworthy films.

The movie itself was made in the late 50s, but don't let the date distract you from watching this classic film.   Also worth noting is that it's shot in the San Fransisco area, so you see many of the sites around that area many of which are gone now.  It's an area that Siegel would revisit again when he made his more famous film, Dirty Harry. 

So I watched The Lineup last night, and as I watched it, I recalled I'd seen bits of it before on the TCM channel.  I just didn't know what I was watching at the time as I had tuned into late before the opening credits ran.  If you rent the DVD don't overlook the bonus features.  I generally don't mess with bonus or special features, but in this case I checked them out and was surprised that Eddie Muller, a crime aficionado, and James Ellroy, a crime novelist did a commentary track on the bonus features.   If you happen to rent the movie, don't overlook those bonus features as it added a lot for the appreciation of the movie, the town of San Francisco, which is where Muller grew up, and there's a lot of humor and banter between the two gentlemen. 

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Star Wars: And Yet Another Sequel

Unless you live under a rock somewhere on Altair IV, you know there's a Star Wars movie slated for the end of the year.  I'm as big a Star Wars geek as the next Storm Trooper walking around Comic Con, so I know, unless it's a huge critical bomb, I'll be warming a slightly worn stadium seat with my trusty buttered popcorn in hand when it arrives.  I enjoyed Star Wars: A Force Awakens, and I think it helped reboot a franchise that I think even some of the diehard fans felt was needed. 

I read somewhere that it was these  blockbusters like the Marvel films, the endless Fast and Furious movies, the action films, or what-have-you, that keep the money flowing so that Hollywood can occasional make the smaller or less known films.  So I guess it's all good in the end, unless you're like me at times, and you sort of get fed up with them after a while--haters gotta hate syndrome.   But I know in the end, that's what they are, and two, I like some of those films as well.   I'm not a very sophisticated movie critic.  There are enough films out there that no matter what you love or hate to go around, and in the end enough to please most people. 

Here recently I've been watching some horror films.  'Tis the season.  Just this past weekend, I saw Beyond Re-Animator (a sequel to Re-Animator) based on a H. P. Lovecraft story.  For a sequel it wasn't too bad.  They closely followed the original film, had a love story as part of the plot,  Jeffery Combs reprises his role as Dr. Herbert West, and as the film goes along it goes right off the rails with the horror and violence as the first picture did.  Sometimes that's all that's need in a sequel.  That's one of the reasons Star Wars I, II, and III didn't vary a lot from IV: New Hope, V, and VI.   Fans I think want to revisit some of the original story, and experience or try to recapture some of that warm fuzzy a second time around.  For the most part it works, it works as far as a retelling device goes.  Of course now with the computers, forums, and the like, fans and people of all ilk can hash and argue over whether or not it worked.  For a SF fan or genre geek, it's their playground at the water cooler like sports might have been or still is at one time. 

I saw a shift in that at the office as a matter of fact.  When I hired out and was the new greenhorn learning the ropes, I worked around older gentlemen.  Then they talked about family, some sports, household fix it stuff, farming, or some such.  As the years went by, and a newer generation came in, you saw a slight shift.  They'd still talked about family to a degree, sports, but also throw in something about Star Wars, South Park, and so on.  Pop culture was getting more mainstream.

Anyway, I'm bloviating a bit here.   A friend sent me something comical covering the Star Wars franchise so I thought I'd shared it here in case you had not seen it.  I'd not seen or knew of Mr. Plinkett's views over at Youtube.  It is pretty funny.

Monday, October 03, 2016

Such is Life, and Middling Movies

This past week I got picked up for jury duty.  Thank goodness I wasn't picked, but I still had to show up at the courthouse at 8:30am.  It was packed.  I tried parking in the regular juror lot, but it was already filled, so I drove down to another lot that I knew was used for a juror parking and thankfully found a space.  I had to hoof it over to the court house, and once I got to the building noticed a guy at the rear of the building giving a fire and brimstone speech or sermon?  I'm not sure what it was exactly.  I assumed his intent was to perhaps help some lost souls find Jesus or God, but man, I thought what a crazy acting dude.  Quite honestly I didn't have time to stop and listen to him, not that I would have, but just sort of gave him space and hurried on as I was running a bit late.  I don't think it would have mattered to him much as he did not seem to slow down his delivery or insistence.   Whatever he was discussing in the morning air was set at a high-fevered pitch, and seemingly with great urgency and bluster, and I don't know, he seemed a bit crazy to me.  I had to wonder if that ever occurred to him, or if he just didn't care due to his mission.  This screwball town.

Once inside the court house it was still packed.  I found a seat, and they ended up picking I think 60 people to screen for one trial and 90 for the next one.  I thankfully was not picked.  I should have bought a lottery ticket once we were let go.  I chatted a bit with a guy though while going thru the initial screening process off and on.  He had bad breath, which made it difficult at times.  But I found that if I secretively regulated my breathing, sort of holding my breath as he spoke, and then breathing in, it wasn't too bad.  He'd grown up in the Austin area, and had traveled around Texas, and talked about towns like Houston and Crockett and traffic.  He was a friendly sort otherwise, and I read from some of a book I had brought along for the occasion.   At any rate, neither I nor the guy I was talking to was picked, so we scurried on our way.  Boy, was I ever glad.

Finally the super hot Texas weather has broken into something a bit more tolerable.  I guess the bugs have sensed this as well, as I've had more problems with them of late.  So I probably should spot poison around the house, as I have guest arriving to spend the night on Oct. 6.  A couple I know from Austin is driving through town on their way to some family get together.  My friend asked if they could stop over, and I said sure, I'd love to have some company.   My friend and I used to live together when we were going to college in Lubbock at Texas Tech University back in the Stone Ages.  I graduated, and he moved down to Austin to finish up his college, but we've always kept in touch.  We were both big music fans, which seems to be one of our common denominators, but we both share similar outlooks on the world, politics, movies, and such.  I think those touchstones and common denominators create friendships.  Anyway this week I'll be doing some house cleaning and such. 

Movie-wise, I've seen various things.  Nothing great or classic, but fun to watch nonetheless.
Crazy People starred Dudley Moore and Darrell Hanna, both pretty good actors.  I've enjoyed movies by them both, however, this movie didn't offer much.  It was lightweight and slightly funny, if a bit outrageous plot-wise and also drug in a few spots.  Dudley Moore's character is thought to be overworked and strained from his ad agency job, and his recent tendency of coming up with "totally honest" ads, make his mental health suspect to his boss.  Ads that sound like this:  "Smoking, sure it causes cancer, but man, the flavor."   At any rate, he gets blackmailed into getting some rest (and an evaluation) in  a mental hospital, where he meets Darrell Hanna's character, romance and attraction ensues.  He soon meets other people in the institution, and oddly enough the ads he had previously created work, so he recruits the residents of the hospital to help him create more ads.  It's a pretty fluffy movie, but semi-enjoyable. 
I caught Creature, also known as The Titan Find, off my Roku device one night.  It probably was the weekend, and I tend to watch more genre films then.  (Who am I kidding? That's my mainstay.)  This movie was a total ripoff of Alien.  You can tell that from the very beginning when the soundtrack starts, then the viewer gets whisked off to a mining-type, archeological dig off on Titan, one of the moons of Saturn.  Whoa, just whoa.  Two explorers are investigating some oddly sealed, alien-like containers, looks like some kinda creature in there.  I think you know already, like I did, where this one might go, particularly if you've already seen the Alien movies (and who hasn't?).  A creature gets out, things run amuck, people scream, get killed, more whoas, and credits end.  That aside though, it's watchable, particularly if you are a SF nerd like me.  One of the things that caught my attention was the older school use of special effects with the space ships, and for their modest budget staging alien landscapes and scenes, and that sort of thing.  If you don't care for any of that, I'd say, skip it.
Taeter City, I'm not making this up, honest.  That was the title of this movie.  That in combination of the crazy movie poster had me intrigued.  Why?  A sucker is born everyday, I guess.  But you know what?  For what it was, which is a very low budget SF horror movie, it wasn't a total waste of time.   As I've already said, I'm a SF geek and throw in some horror with it, and I'm game.  I knew nothing about this movie beforehand, and that might be the best way to watch it.  It's shot rather experimentally the way George Lucas did with THX-1138, and it has similar tropes.  It takes place in a post apocalypse, big brother society ruled over by a dictatorship or should it say, a dictaetership, sorry, couldn't help myself.   People who go against the system and act out, or dissidents, or people that go crazy are killed off by a Judge Dredd-like police force, and then they are ground up into tainted hamburger meat for the society to eat, which then causes more mental illness in the overcrowded population.  The cops use this odd Zeed electronic system similar to the way the film, Minority Report warned the cops about potential criminal activity that might occur. That causes more perps to get hunted down, and killed, which makes for more hamburgers.  Such is the life cycle in the future.  It's one of those oddball movies, where someone comes up with the plot, and just goes with it, and if it flies off the rails, so be it.  Again, this isn't going to be to everyone's taste.  I was in the mood for something different and it sure filled that bill.  What's odd, is I never could get my TV's audio quality to sound right when watching this movie.  It always sounded distorted a bit, a bit warbled and dirty. I think maybe it's made that way or with that intent--just giving an impression or this warped society.  They probably made it that way to cover some of the more obvious flaws and imperfections.   If you are in the mood for something that's probably brain damaging and different, well seek no further.
You might surmise from that Island of Terror poster that the critters in this British film prefers the crunchy recipe, and you'd be right in that they like eating our bones.  It's an older British SF horror film, and starred Peter Cushing who is always fun to watch on screen.  The film had the flavor of some of those Brit Hammer films, which is fun too.  Science runs amuck and created these sort of parasite type critters.  They have a hard shell like a turtle with tentacles.  They reproduce or divide like an amoeba rather rapidly, which makes it even more a threat.  There's some romance, and then the towns folks at the end get their act together and finally hunt down these beast.  It was a pleasant enough creature feature for me. 
Well, pardner, with them thar two stars, James Stewart and Audie Murphy, starring in a big timey Oater, it's just gotta be good, right?   Well, not exactly.  I was raised partly on westerns and partly on SF fare like the Twilight Zone.  The Night Passage isn't a total failure though as it was shot (at least it looked like) in Colorado, which is beautiful.  The thing is the movie is fairly pedestrian, or nothing special.  I think the flaw for me wasn't so much the two main stars, but it was the performance by the one main bad guy played by Dan Duryea as Whitey Harbin.  He played it too over the top for me.  It seemed all of his lines were spoken, LOUD, YEAH, CAUSE THAT'S THE WAY THE TOUGH GUYS SPOKE BACK THEN, CAUSE THEY WERE MEAN, AND ROWDY, AND THEY JUST MIGHT DRAW ON YA AND SHOOT YOU DEAD.  SO DON'T TRY ANYTHING, IFFIN YOU KNOW WHAT'S GOOD FOR YA.  It became a bit comical and cliched by the time the movie was drawing to the end.  It's not that it's a bad movie, in fact I enjoyed it for the most part, but I could name off some other westerns that are far better.  It also had a pretty good shoot out toward the ending, so there's that.  Otherwise, it was a bit of a middling western, but enjoyable.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

How Ya Been?

Been busy and the absence was pretty fun I gotta admit, but I'm baaack.  I don't know how regular though, off and on, perhaps.   It's not like I get paid to do this junk, you know?  Anyway, I'm up sort of early for me as I need to get outside and mow the yard before it turns into a sweat box as East Texas is prone to do.  We are winding it down though into fall (at least we got out of the 100+ heat zone), and I can dig that.  Summers here, well are uncomfortable, but it's my opinion no matter where you live in the great country there's always something to contend with, so you might as well enjoy the better parts of it, and just deal with the others.  Overall though Texas isn't too bad.  I actually joined a gym this past summer as I just wasn't getting outside to walk or get any exercise because of the heat.  And I'm glad I did.  So much better walking in an air conditioned place with fifteen screens of TV to look at and listen too thru some earbuds, and all sort of cool workout equipment. 

Anyhow, here are how two critics rank Woody Allens 47 films.  That's a lot.  I know Woody has his detractors for one reason or the other.  You can hardly be popular in the public eye without detractors no matter who you are.  Odd times.  Here's the list.

Let's see, been watching a bunch of Vlogs and stuff still on Youtube.  What a great resource of fun and if you're a collector of media or things like books, comics, music, vinyl, and anything like that you can probably find like-minded people on it.   I've been listening to some of the Book videos.  I haven't found one that totally suits my every need, but that's why I watch more than one, for the differences of opinions. 

Here's one by a Steve Donoghue, and I like him as, for one, he's older and more articulate than the average tuber.   He already has many videos, so I've got an ample supply of things to watch, yay me!
You can start to watch his videos anywhere you like, just click on his hyperlink name which will link you to his other videos, but here's a starter where he rates the book site, Good Reads.

So what's out there for the armchair Sci Fi fan you ask?  Well, I've been wondering that myself, and I can't say I've totally found one that bowls me over yet, although I think I may have found a sweet one.  I was perusing i09 for some of my Sci Fi interest, but I don't care for their smarmy attitude, nor that they can hardly post anything with someone lobbing the F bomb or some other silly shenanigans.
Are you familiar with writer, Connie Willis?  Well, I ran across this podcast with her on it.  I started reading or became familiar with her via Writer's Digest where she had a little column.  I've never read anything by her, but it's on the back burner list of my mind, hum, I wonder if that's like the windmills of my mind?  Well, never mind that,  check it out the Coode Street Podcast.  

 If Coode Street Podcast doesn't float your boat, you might check out,  or  Those are pretty good resources as well.   Also Omni has a pretty good site too.  For stories there's also too. 

Anyway if you have a fave, post it in the comments.  I gotta mow.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Miyazaki Influenced Music

Man, time escapes me.  It seems I spent the better part of last week trying to get a Weed Eater working again, and buying parts, etc.  I've also been looking for a replacement, but nothing really strikes me yet.  I might end up buying a electric edger or something like that.  I still may try and get the current edger/ weed eater running, and I've even toyed with the idea of getting it fixed.  Decisions, decisions.  The thing is for probably what someone would charge me to work on the Weed Eater, I could probably buy a new one.  So I might just do that.

The above album artwork is to a new album, Ears, by a new synthesizer musician, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith.  I think it is quite lovely, and really depicts the music that she has created.  It's preformed all on synthesizer and you'd expect perhaps it to be cold and sterile, but actually it's quite lush.  She does a little singing on it as well, but again, not what one would normally expect.  It's closer to maybe a phonetic style of singing and less lyrics oriented.   She states about the album, "Gestures echo the musical tropes used by early minimalist composers, the world she creates on EARS is uniquely hypnotic and full of life, not unlike Miyzaki's film NausicaƤ of the Valley of the Wind, which she cites as an inspiration."   I can hear some of that.   Whenever I hear the music I also am reminded of some of those comic characters like Prince Namor, the Sub Mariner or Aquaman that had under the sea adventures and kingdoms.   It's a pleasant surprise.

 I've also been a Tangerine Dream fan for many years.  I think the first album I picked up by them was Phaedra, and then Rubycon.  Those are still favorites, among many of their others.  But lately I've been listening to Zeit.  It's a dark, space album that starts out the album with four celloist.  It's not something you'd expect from a synthesizer band.  I remember the first time I listened to it after I'd already bought Phaedra and Rubycon, and it totally took me by surprise.   I didn't know what to make of it, no less that first track takes up a whole entire side.  It's rather brooding and dark, and the synth doesn't really become predominate until the second disc (on vinyl, it's a two-disc set).   But now in hindsight, it's a very avant-garde thing to do.  That cover, by the way, depicts a solar eclipse.  It's a classic.

Movie-wise, I watched an odd, creepy documentary last night called, Cropsey.  It was about some children that were murdered and missing up in the Long Island area back in the mid-80s.  I don't recall that incident on the news, although it may have been, I just don't recall it.  It's a rather dark, documentary, but sort of interesting on some level.  It also talks about the mental hospital in that area, and raises the speculation about one of the workers and how he may have committed the murders.  He certainly looked the part, but looks alone should not convict a person of a crime.   The subject matter of the film probably won't be to everyone's taste, but I tend to like documentaries anyway.
I also recently watched the older anime, The Dagger of Kamui (1985), and enjoyed it pretty much.  I've heard it described as a treasure hunt, but I think it's more than that.  I think someone described the plot as a treasure hunt because the main character, Kamui, goes on a journey to find out who murdered his foster mother and sister.  At the same time, it's also about the growth of the main character from boyhood or teen into manhood, and his discovering that the world is not always as it seems.  Even though it's an older anime, the art in it was very well done and eye-catching.  The colors sometimes bathe the flashback sequences in a hallucinatory, dreamlike way.  His journey finally takes him to Russia and then America, along the way meeting many people.  It's quite an emotional story in parts, and worth a watch.

A couple of other films I caught recently are:  Cobra--a Sly Stallone action flick. If you haven't watched it before it's okay and worth a watch once.  It's not a great movie when compared to some of his other more well known movies, like Rocky, Rambo, and others, but for a B-movie, it's watchable if a little silly.

I used to watch the Dark Shadows series when they were showing them on the SciFi  Channel, sometime back in the 90s (you know back when they were good), and started re-watching them again via Netflix. There's something about the Gothic atmosphere I really enjoy, although I'm not sure what modern audiences and teens would think of them now.   For me though I can still enjoy them.  It has a great cast that works well together.  It was a soap opera, so the story plots move pretty slowly.  What can I say, I like them. 

Also I've been watching the Game of Thrones series five episodes. This series just keeps staying interesting for me, and you never know where it's going, which I love.  That's probably why so many fans of the show enjoy it as well.  It's an adult take on fantasy, and sometimes I think they may go a bit overboard with the sexual situations or violent depictions.  But it's not a program for kids though, and overall I've enjoyed it a great deal.

Fantastic Planet--the Czech/French animation. Hadn't seen it in a while, but it is still amazing  cerebral for an animation.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

10 Must Read 50s SF Books

I'll admit I've been a lazy toady lately.  I blame the heat.  But also I've spent the past week doing a few domestic things as well that I won't bore you with, plus I still need to continue weeding my flower beds which is totally out of control.   We really need a good rain, but the forecast isn't predicting any.  I noticed some brown spots in my yard, and turned on the auto sprinkler system, but it didn't seem to be working properly, so had to look into that.  I finally, finally figured out what was wrong with it by Googling (thank you Google, computers are awesome) the brand I have with is a Hunter Pro C.   Somehow it was programmed for an interval run, and I don't even know what that is, but it was.  So I changed it to regular run and reprogrammed it all over again.  It works now, huzzah!  Yay me!
I was in Walmart the other day and noticed they came out with a new 50th Anniversary edition of  Star Trek: TOS remastered and in spiffy new packaging.  They had all three seasons, but I only needed Season 2 for my collection.  They were around $15. a pop, which I thought was reasonable so picked it up.  Season 2 comes with all 26 remastered episodes, and Billy Blackburn's Treasure Chest:  Rare home movies and Special Memories Part 2, the More Tribbles, More Trouble episode from the Trek Animated series, and Trials and Tribble-ations from the Deep Space Nine episode.  So I splurged.  It would be nice to have the other Trek: TOS series like this too, but I'm okay with what I've got.  The First Season I have is just like it was broadcast, without the remastering, but I'm old enough to watch and remember the older show and effects.

Aside from that I've been binge-watching the Game of Thrones Season 5 from Netflix, which is still an amazing series.  I bought one of those Roku stick devices as a friend told me about the Pluto Channel (which actually you can watch on the web, but I prefer to streamed it on my TV).  The Pluto Channel has various programming for a geek like me.  It has retro SF movies, cartoons, a MST3K streaming channel and other things.  I caught the movies Godzilla Revenge aka Attack All Monsters last weekend off of it, and watched a bit of G. I. Blues with Elvis Presley last night among a few other things.

I also have been binge watching Dark Shadows.   I was not the kid that ran home from school to watch the program, if so I might have been a marathon runner as my house was pretty far from the high school I went to.  Aside from that during '66 I got a paper route.  A kid in the neighborhood told me he was quitting and asked me if I wanted to do it.  I asked my parents and they agreed, so I became an entrepreneur.  My first job aside from mowing lawns.  My parents never gave us an allowance, but they'd let us go see movies, and provided us adequately with clothes, an education and the necessities of life.  I had great parents.  But for the other stuff like music and the additional clothes and the whatevers of life that I wanted, I bought them by working.  So I didn't watch Dark Shadows in the afternoons, I was out delivering newspapers, and by and large I enjoyed that.

I didn't discover Dark Shadows until the SciFi Channel started showing them on TV around the 90s (you know, back when they were a good channel).   It was cool.  They showed old Tom Baker,  Dr. Who episodes, The Prisoner, Time Tunnel, anime I never heard of or seen before, and other SF programming that I'd long forgotten about or never knew of.  WTF happened!!?  Now they are a horrible channel with lousy movies and series.  Sharkcraboctopuss, fuhgeddaboutit!

Anyway for a while in the 90s they showed Dark Shadows, and although they only showed maybe a half year's season or so, it drew me in the Gothic soap opera and characters.  I can see how others got hooked.  When I started re-watching them again, I got hooked all over again.  I'm sure I'll save watching many episodes of this series for the fall and winter and for around Halloween.

Anyway ran across this list of the 10 Must Read Science Fiction Books From the 1950s.  They had Tiger Tiger on it, or better known as The Stars My Destination from Alfred Bester, which I loved reading.  It's a SF revenge tale about a guy left for dead stranded in space.  The main character, Gully Foyle, makes it back to earth and then it's time for whoop ass.  Pretty good novel.  Some of the books on that list I have not read, but might have to add them to my "must read" ever growing list.  Sigh.