Live from Prague! Dave Taht, he who sometimes fixes the Internet from my basement (last week was the most recent occasion) asked me to post this “because G+ is dead”: It GPLs me
I was reminded, earlier today, that one of the interesting side effects of knowing something about hand-to-hand and contact-weapons-based martial arts makes a big difference in how you see movies. Most people don’t have that knowledge. So today I’m going to write about the quality of sword choreography in movies, and how that has changed… Continue reading A martial artist looks at swordfighting in the movies
Some kinds of music travel well – they propagate out of their native cultures very readily. American rock music and European classical music are obvious examples; they have huge followings and expert practitioners pretty much everywhere on earth that’s in contact with civilization. Some…don’t travel well at all. Attempts to imitate them by people who… Continue reading The blues about the blues
I have long been a fan of Mark Twain. One of the characteristics of his writing is the use of “eye dialect” – spellings and punctuation intended to phoneticize the speech of his characters. Many years ago I noticed a curious thing about Twain’s eye dialect – that is, he rendered few or no speech… Continue reading The curious case of the missing accents
I saw Brand X live a few hours ago. Great jazz-fusion band from the 1970s, still playing like genius maniacs after all these years. Dropped $200 on tickets, dinner for me and my wife, and a Brand X cap. Worth. Every. Penny. Yeah, they saved “Nuclear Burn” for the encore…only during the last regular number… Continue reading I saw Brand X live a few hours ago
Andrew Klavan has a thoughtful essay out called A Nation of Iagos. In it, he comments on William Shakespeare’s depiction of Jews in a way I think is generally insightful, but includes what I think is one serious mistake about the scene from The Merchant of Venice in which the (black) Prince of Morocco woos… Continue reading All of his complexion…
I’ve been diving into the history of rock music recently because, quite by chance a few weeks ago, I glimpsed an answer to a couple of odd little questions that had been occasionally been bothering me for decades. The most obtrusive of these questions is: Why does nothing in today’s rock music sound like the… Continue reading The blues ate rock and roll!
As I write, the cascading revelations about Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein’s creeptastic behavior over the last thirty years are dominating the news cycle. Platoons of women are coming forward with credible accusations of sexual exploitation, assault, and even outright rape. Weinstein himself is not actually denying any of these accusations, so I’m going to assume… Continue reading Is the casting couch a fair trade?
I had a very powerful experience recently. I found my love of jazz again. Here’s the recording that did it: Simon Phillips & Protocol + Ndugu Chancler + Billy Ward: Biplane to Bermuda.
Recently, on a mailing list I frequent, one of the regulars uttered the following sentence: “I’m told Breitbart is the preferred news source for the ‘alt-right’ (KKK and neo-nazis)”. That was a pretty glaring error, there. I was interviewed on Breitbart Tech once. I visit the site occasionally. I am not affiliated with the alt-right,… Continue reading Spelunking the alt-right
I just read a very well-intentioned, heartwarming talk about girls who code that, sadly, I think, is missing the biological forest for the cultural trees. It’s this: Teach girls bravery, not perfection. Read it, It’s short I like the woman who voiced those thoughts in that way. Well, except for the part about growing up… Continue reading Bravery and biology
Some years ago I happened across a fascinating book titled Wicked River: The Mississippi When It Last Ran Wild. If you have any fondness for Mark Twain (as I do – I own and have read the complete works), you need to read this book. The book is an extended argument that Twain’s late-Victorian portraits… Continue reading Wicked River: the movie
It’s not news to long-time followers of this blog that I love listening to virtuoso guitarists. Once, long ago in the 1980s I went to see a guitarist named Michael Hedges who astonished the crap out of me. The guy made sounds come out of a wooden flattop that were like nothing else on Earth.… Continue reading Sometimes progress diminishes
Leonard Nimoy, the man who played Spock, died yesterday. There have been some surprisingly sensitive eulogies for him in the mainstream press, but they all merely skirted the edges of what may have been his most important contribution to popular culture: he made braininess sexy.
I’ve been aware for some time of a culture war simmering in the SF world. And trying to ignore it, as I believed it was largely irrelevant to any of my concerns and I have friends on both sides of the divide. Recently, for a number of reasons I may go into in a later… Continue reading SF and the damaging effects of literary status envy
A few months back I had to do a two-hour road trip with A&D regular Susan Sons, aka HedgeMage, who is an interesting and estimable person in almost all ways except that she actually … likes … country music. I tried to be stoic when stupid syrupy goo began pouring out of the car radio,… Continue reading Country-music hell and fake accents
I love classical music. It was my first musical vocabulary; I didn’t start listening to popular music until I was 14. When I grew up enough to notice that I was listening to a collection of museum pieces and not a living genre, that realization made me very sad. But go listen to this: Michael… Continue reading Michael Meets Mozart
So, we’re at a some friends’ place for barbecue this afternoon, and friends say “We know you don’t watch much TV, but you need to see this…” “This” turns out to be the pilot of The Middleman a peculiar and unusually intelligent TV series that ran for only 12 episodes in 2008 before being canceled.… Continue reading Not Eliminating The Middleman
I have just seen something lovely and hope-inducing. It’s a video of a performance of Ravel’s Bolero by the Copenhagen Philharmonic Orchestra – manifesting as a flash mob at a train station. Go see it now; I’ll wait. What is truly wonderful about this is not the music itself. Oh, the Bolero is pleasant enough,… Continue reading A flash at the heart of the West
I’ve done a lot of writing for the game Battle For Wesnoth. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned, and now teach others, is this: genre cliches are your friend. Too much originality can badly disrupt the gameplay experience. This is so at variance with our expectations about ‘good’ art that I think it… Continue reading The Uses of Cliche