Monday, March 31, 2008

...From Broyhill!

(sorry, i've been watching a lot of The Price is Right lately -- it's in high def now you know)

So I was strolling the other day (ok, today) through Guitar World or whatever it's called and I saw this used keyboard...

http://us.st11.yimg.com/us.st.yimg.com/I/rehobothmusic_1990_20627265

...for $160 (image links to description -- "slim and stylish... from Casio!" whispers Rod Ruddy).

If there is one thing I know about keyboards (and by god there really is only one thing I know about keyboards), regardless of any dearth of features, is that you can't get anything with a full 88 keys, decent or otherwise, for less than $300. So I figured this was my chance to implement my plan to buy a piano and finally, after decades of succeeding to not even try, to learn to play more than the two 30-second twinkly-tink songs I got out of two+ years of Suzuki lessons as a child.

The "plan", in this case, has a built-in escape hatch where if I fail to teach myself (I really don't think this is going to involve other people; just a hunch) then I'm only out $160... a far cry from the $800 I considered for a different model just a couple of months ago at another location.

I've had excellent luck buying marked down, slightly used goods (apparently this model goes for about $500) so I didn't think twice about it. The question now is (which is why I'm bothering to put this out here, there, and everywhere).... what autodidactic method to use? Do you know (first or Nth hand), of an adult who, from scratch, taught itself to play piano? What path(s) did they follow?

Sunday, March 30, 2008

There Will Be Reviews

I have seen the last great epic, and it is There Will be Blood. In this, it seems, Ebert and I disagree, and so be it. After all, this is a guy who gave four stars to a teen fantasy movie (which in some ironic sense was actually based on reality) called Almost Famous. Whatever. I guess I never realized what fucking seminal piece of work THAT was.

There Will Be Blood is that rarest of pieces (be they books, plays or films) which bares all, in terms of visuals, plot, and character makeup, yet does not tell you what to think of any of it and you come out not knowing what to think of it, just knowing that you are better off by the experience. It will be a film I will again enjoy watching in 50 years and many times in between.

Ultimately what There Will be Blood is about is about a man, and what we know about this man is terminally truncated... What family does he come from? There is no answer to that, and similar to that other self-made, and un-made, despot, Charles Foster Kane, the answer is specific in its absence (and "what family does he leave?" is equally done and un-done in a self-terminal way as we see in this movie's last scenes). But, unlike Kane (the man and the movie) who is visibly imposing as an African Elephant from the start of his telling, Daniel Plainview is a greaceful and deadly Blue Whale, sliding into view out of the water partially, just long enough to swat us flat with his tail, not out of spite, but simply for being close enough for him to mind. And like the scorpion of that river-crossing fable, we know that that is his nature, and that is all we are allowed to know.

The economics of cinema production will not bear out (with unusually unobtrusive, extremely minimal use of CGI, as this production has achieved) any large, set-piece oriented, location-based plot productions going forward; not without obtrusive corporate or governmental sponsorship. Just as the economics of movie promotion in the early sixties, competing against television, positively demanded that Omar Sharif's introductory shot in Lawrence of Arabia take minutes, not seconds, to ride into plain camera view from a dot in an otherwise blue-on-top-with-sand-beige-on-bottom infinity in order to impress on the movie-goers' experience that "this is something you cannot get from your puny living room screen", director P.T. Anderson, like another P.T. who came before him, is a right lean crowd wrangler, but the times have moved on from this sort of presentation for better and worse.

Going forward, afore and otherwise the screen, the challenge and the promise is to continue to present and appreciate, as Orson Welles and Paul Thomas Anderson have done, equally complex and self-contradictory characters -- identity presentations which challenge the audience in their own self-conceptions, in whatever setting, context and presentation medium; the trick is to do it all budget levels. This endeavor has both succeeded and failed in all settings, contexts and presentation mediums, and at all budget levels, but I look forward to future attempts. Art as dialectic, for lack of a better term (and to paraphrase Gordon Gecko), is good.

My thanks to Paul and Daniel for their work.

Monday, March 24, 2008

In Honor of Holy Sunday, or, as I like to call it, "Sunday"

Some House Tetris


Jesus, don't cry
You can rely on me honey
You can combine anything you want
I'll be around
You were right about the stars
Each one is a setting sun

Tall building shake
Voices escape singing sad sad songs
Tuned to chords strung down your cheeks
Bitter melodies turning your orbit around

Don't cry
You can rely on me honey
You can come by any time you want
I'll be around
You were right about the stars
Each one is a setting sun

Tall buildings shake
Voices escape singing sad sad songs
Tuned to chords strung down your cheeks
Bitter melodies turning your orbit around

Voices whine
Skyscrapers are scraping together
Your voice is smoking
Last cigarettes are all you can get
Turning your orbit around

Our love
Our love
Our love is all we have
Our love
Our love is all of God's money
Everyone is a burning sun

Tall buildings shake
Voices escape singing sad sad songs
Tuned to chords strung down your cheeks
Bitter melodies turning your orbit around

Voices whine
Skyscrapers are scraping together
Your voice is smoking
Last cigarettes are all you can get
Turning your orbit around

Last cigarettes are all you can get
Turning your orbit around

Last cigarettes are all you can get
Turning your orbit around


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

1917 - 2008


The opposite of a suicide

1992 - 2008


"If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything"

Sunday, March 09, 2008

How much did your neighbors give? (And to whom?)

The Huffington Post has put together a hella-nifty map-based interface that allows you to access the entire political donations database. You can look up people by name, occupation, employer, or just navigate the map to see who your neighbors are REALLY supporting, and perhaps help explain why your front yard signs keep disappearing.




Something I may or may not recommend depending on which ad is shown: