2004 Independent Spirit Awards

Posted in Film on February 29th 2004 by Randy Reichardt

:: The 2004 IFP Independent Spirit Awards were announced on Saturday night in Santa Monica CA. The awards are given the night before the Academy Awards. “The Spirit Awards is a celebration honoring films made by filmmakers who embody independence and who dare to challenge the status quo.” Lost in Translation was the big winner, taking Best Picture, Best Director, Best Male Lead, and Best Screenplay.

Weblogs, Licence Plates, and Sampling

Posted in Blogging, Miscellaneous, Music, Pop Culture on February 25th 2004 by Randy Reichardt

:: What’s next in writing tools for weblogs? Dave Winer wants your opinion. I’m wondering if something like Textpattern is where things are headed. Then there is the corporate blog movement; anyone heard of SilkBlogs?

:: When I drive, I play word games with licence plates on vehicles in front of me. When it’s a plate with three letters, I try to form words using the letters in the order they appear from L-R. For example, my plate’s letters are WZN, which could be wheezing or waltzing. My previous licence plate was STR, which could be straight, stretch, mustard, magistrate, saturate, etc. Today I saw a plate with CRD, and could though of chord, card, cradle, etc. I also though of The Communards, an 80s UK band. Later while driving, I was switching radio stations (all of the pop music stations in Edmonton suck bobos), and the first song I heard was “Smalltown Boy”, by the Bronski Beat, which later became…The Communards.

Coincidence? Psychic phenomenon? Rift in the space-time continuum?

:: Grey Tuesday happened yesterday. An LA DJ, Danger Mouse, “created” a remix of Jay-Z’s The Black Album and The Beatles’ White Album, and released it on the Internet, calling it The Grey Album. (Jay-Z had released an a cappela version of The Black Album to encourage sampling.)

EMI, claiming copyright of The White Album, is attempting to stop the album’s distribution, having previously sent Mouse a cease and desist order, re: online distribution of the record. The Grey Tuesday web site notes that “Danger Mouse’s album is one of the most “respectful” and undeniably positive examples of sampling; it honors both the Beatles and Jay-Z.” Jason Kottke suggests that “musical sampling without prior consent of the copyright holder should be legally allowed because it does our society more good than harm.” Hundreds of web sites turned grey on Tuesday in protest.

I can’t buy this argument. I’ve been a musician for 37+ years, and don’t see anything creative or inventive in the “sampling” of another artist’s original work by adding new lyrics or rhythm, then claiming credit (or co-credit) for it as an original work. That opinion notwithstanding, how does not informing a copyright holder that her or his music has been taken by another “artist” and morphed into something else, do harm to society? WTF?

So why am I against this, while not against downloading? Because I believe these are two different issues. If the music industry can get its act together (right, and the sun will go nova this weekend, too) to create a fee-for-service downloading service, I’d be happy to pay to download music, if the fee structure was within reason, and the quality of the product could be guaranteed beforehand. So far, the industry hasn’t responded. And P2P downloading is legal in Canada. With “sampling”, an artist takes an original work, changes it, and we are expected to view this as a new, creative and unique product.

DJ Danger Mouse “honors” The Beatles with this effort? The album cover shows Jay-Z in the centre, with The Beatles standing behind him, as if to suggest collaboration. Still other versions have him sharing space with The Beatles on the Revolver and Yellow Submarine covers. Sacrilege.

Many artists allow sampling of their music, but the process begins with permission to use copyright material, and then negotiations for compensation with the copyright holder(s). Many other artists, The Beatles included, do not allow sampling.

Then again, this is just my opinion, I could be wrong.

I Don’t Run With Scissors, Either

Posted in What? on February 23rd 2004 by Randy Reichardt

:: While chopping up a piece of tomato tonight, I sliced off a small portion of the top of my left thumb with the knife. Damn thing wouldn’t stop bleeding for about an hour. Now it’s just throbbing. Some peoples’ kids.

Comics I Don’t Understand

Posted in Pop Culture, Technology on February 23rd 2004 by Randy Reichardt

:: Garth (old Wpg friend living in Mpls area) sent a link to The Comics I Don’t Understand Page. The owner uploads comic strips published during a one-week period, the punch lines or points of which he doesn’t get, and asks readers for their interpretation.

:: Keith advises that Microsoft is offering its Windows Security Update CD free of charge. “This CD includes Microsoft critical updates released through October 2003…” It’s useful if you are have a slow ‘net connection. More info available here. As well, updated info on the Mydoom and Doomjuice worm variants is available, including a free scan of your computer to see if it’s infected with either of these products.

Water Sounds, and an MRI Experience

Posted in Random Thoughts on February 22nd 2004 by Randy Reichardt

:: I discovered a fascinating web site last night, or more specifically, an online ad. But what intrigues me more is how I got there. In the February 8, 2004, issue of the New York Times Magazine was an article by Clive Thompson, called “The Virus Underground.” The article is about an elite group of computer virus writers, some of whom are members of the Ready Rangers Liberation Front. The virus code, or “malware”, which they create is freely available for downloading from their site(s), but almost always, the viruses do not do permanent harm. The codes offered do not (necessarily) harm machines like Sobig.F, Slammer, Blaster, or the recent MyDoom.A, which were designed to do permanent and serious damage, and whose creators have yet to be found.

I checked the rRlf site, and while there, looked at the links page. I noticed on the list a website called Collision Detection, and the name next to it was “Clive Thompson”, who wrote the article I was reading. Thompson’s site is a blog, which “collects weird research I’m running into, and musings thereon.” Scanning through Thompson’s entries, I noticed one titled, “The coolest ad I’ve ever seen“, which caught my attention.

There is a GE commercial running on TV these days which features a string quartet playing music on a stage. The bodies of the musicians, however, are made of water. The online ad opens in a smaller window, and features one “water-bodied” violinist playing a few notes. The ad morphs into a heading about water technologies, and 16 drops of water in a row are left on screen, each representing a different note in a major scale. Moving the cursor over top of a drop from below plays the note. Move your cursor fast enough, and you can play a tune! I was able to do the five-note run from CE3K without much effort. Try it yourself.

What’s of further interest is how Thompson found the ad: he was trying to read an article in Salon, but without a subscription, he had to click on an ad to view it, which was this ad.

:: I had an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) on Friday night at 8:45 pm, in the region around my left elbow, where I have lateral epicondylitis, aka tennis elbow. At the hospital, I had to remove everything I was carrying and leave it in a locker, and wear a hospital gown and a robe over top of that. I was asked if I ever had an eye injury which left metal lodged in my eyes. I was placed on the bed of the imager, and a camera was wrapped around my left arm, and the arm was held in place with straps. I needed to lie slightly to the right of the bed, which was uncomfortable, because as the bed moved into the imager, my right arm was jammed up against the inside wall a bit too tight for my liking.

I was also given headphones to wear, because of the constant loud banging sounds made by the magnetic field gradients. An example of the sound can be heard here. I was in the imager for about 25 minutes, trying not to breathe too deeply or move at all, while doing my best to reduce the pressure against my right elbow. “Your MRI Exam” provides an accurate description of my experience that night.

The Wallpaper Removal Project

Posted in What? on February 16th 2004 by Randy Reichardt

:: Those who know me well, know that I am as good at working on home improvement projects as I am at, say, thoracic surgery or the study of lower paleolithic prehistory. As well, I am as interested in actually doing home improvement projects as I am, for example, in getting hit in the skull with a baseball bat, contracting a terminal disease, listening to country music, or eating ratatouille.

Steaming the wallpaper!

When I moved into my house in November, 1993, one of the walls in the kitchen, and in the hallway, was covered in pink wallpaper. As well, the light switch and electric outlet cover plates were also pink. As the years passed, many visitors to my home suggested that perhaps I might entertain the notion of the idea of the concept of the thought of eventually removing the wallpaper and cover plates, and repainting the walls a different colour. Obviously I wasn’t moved enough to do anything about it.

When my colleague and friend, Kathryn, saw the walls for the first time, she took it upon herself to begin nagging encouraging me to give serious consideration to removing the wallpaper, insisting that it was a relatively painless process, and could be done quickly. Such as it was, her constant pestering encouragement continued until I caved in agreed to give it a shot. Use of a wallpaper steamer would make the project easy and quick.

With that in mind, on Monday, Kathryn, and I began and completed the wallpaper removal project at my house in a mere four hours or so. Turns out she was right, and I actually had fun doing it. But imagine our surprise when we began removing the pink wallpaper only to discover that the wall behind was painted…pink. Not only that, but the exact same shade of pink as the wallpaper. Er…why would someone wallpaper a painted wall with the same shade and colour as said painted wall? We’ll never know.

In the meantime click on the picture or here to see some photos from the event, as well as a short, 27-second movie clip of the wallpaper removing action!
Next up, painting. The colour I’m liking at the moment is called Scotland Road. The three smaller colours (top to bottom) in this combination are Neptune Blue, Southern Breeze, and Parsnip.

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