Library Thannnnng

After thinking about setting up a books database on my computer using Booxter, along comes a Web-based flickr-style version called LibraryThing. Designed by Tim Spaulding, it uses ISBN, bar codes, Amazon, and straight ol’ manual input to create a db on the web to represent your collection. You can then link to it and show people that, in fact, you have way too many Star Wars Universe novels for a 35-year-old man.
As you can see, I’ve already signed up, entered a few books–from my reading pile at work–and installed their blog widget on the left-hand side. Ain’t it amazing?

No, it’s not that deep

My friend Phil has an excellent post (these days he has a lot of excellent posts) on debunking Steven Johnson and his proclamation that Lost (which I haven’t seen) proves the point that American pop culture is now so much more complex that the country is actually full of multi-tasking geniuses (who still manage to elect doofi like Bush).
Well, Phil calls bullshit :

The best American TV really should be trouncing mainstream movies in the “smart, complex and many-layered” stakes, but it rarely comes close. And this is without even letting arthouse movies join the fray. If you’re after complexity, emotion and originality, why not compare TV with the best lower budget films from around the world? Maybe there’s an unspoken caveat to pieces like Johnson’s, that while Lost and its ilk are apparently clever and multi-layered, they’re only as clever and multi-layered as we should expect for something that is hoping to attract a mass audience. Shouldn’t we be asking why this is as good as we get? Why are the most intellectually demanding TV shows only reaching the level of blockbuster movies and airport novels?

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Makin’ Natto

For breakfast, I have started eating natto on brown rice, with some miso soup on the side. Am I crazy? No, in fact. For one thing, I really am a big fat twat these days, so I have to work on my diet, and that means eating healthier. I love cereal and milk in the morning, but after a while I don’t think the combo of dairy and sugar was doing it fr me. And of course I’m influenced by friends Jon and Ruriko, who dabble in the macrobiotics (but not in a doctinaire way, just check the flickr photos of us eating ribs and RibsUSA). But anyway, that’s what my mornings are all about.

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Lord of War

lordofwar.jpgDir. Andrew Niccol
This is a film I wanted to like more than I did.
After The Constant Gardener, which unearthed the nefarious dealings of global pharmaceutical companies, why not a public-palpable expose on the international arms trade?
Except, the script comes at the character two different ways. There’s what Yuri (Nicolas Cage) knows and what director-writer Andrew Niccol wants us to know. Or more precisely, what Niccol wants to hide from us until the end for dramatic impact.

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A nice small haul from the hall

Today I quickly stopped by the annual Planned Parenthood Used Booksale at the Earl Warren Showgrounds. This is one of the biggest sales in S.B., and apparently last night’s opening was a madhouse. I wanted to go, but I was teaching class, so I just hoped there would be something left.
I ran into John Ridland, former poetry teacher of mine, and translator (I wrote on his book here). He had some nice words to say about my bimonthly column and this very blog, and I was glad to tell him that it’s back in business. He also had recently gotten into Modern Japanese Lit through a friend and was very much into Junichiro Tanizaki. Yep, Tanizaki is a good one to start with, more so than Soseki. Of course I put in a good word for Kobo Abe.
I didn’t pick up many books this year, but I did get three: Richard Brautigan’s The Abortion (only later did Jon point out the irony of picking this up at the Planned Parenthood sale); Geoff Dyer’s but beautiful: A Book About Jazz, which some blog or another turned me onto months ago. Now it’s too late to thank them/him/her. Finally, the media contact/organizer Stephanie, who had been yakking back and forth with me on email, had saved a copy of Burroughs’ Interzone for me, after I had written about my WSB Binge in my column. Wasn’t that sweet of her? It turned out that book was a first-edition hardcover, too! Niiiiice.

Petracovich – The New Video


Petracovich – Others (18 mpg)
Alternate Download site
After many months of editing,
learning new software, and purchasing a new external harddrive (and not in that order), I can proudly present the music video for the artist Petracovich. “Others” is from the new album “We Are Wyoming.” Big thanks out to Michael Long (who provided the artwork seen in the video), everybody at Muddy Waters coffeehouse, producer/cameraman/renaissance man Paul Mathieu, extra camerapeople Jon Crow and Annie, and of course Petracovich herself, Jessica Peters, who graciously allowed us to do the thing in the first place.
The file is big (18mb) so please give it time to load. Enjoy.
UPDATE (9/24/05): We have solved some encoding problems (i.e. missing footage!!) so it’s all good to go.
UPDATE (9/25/05): It seems some people are still having a problem with the video freezing up around 1:16. If so, please try saving the movie to your hardrive and then open it with Quicktime, instead of having the browser play it. No, I have no idea why this should be. Also, make sure you have the latest version of Quicktime for your system.
UPDATE (9/27/05): The video has now been reencoded as a letterboxed mpg. I swear this time y’all can get it to work.
UPDATE (9/29/05): I’ve talked with my provider and they say there’s nothing going on their end. The video loads complete and fast. I tried it here at work on a Windows XP machine. So did another guy at the office. So I really don’t know why some people are still getting the “half-video” deal. Dump your cache?

First Lady Comes Second

(On Saturday I went to see Aretha Franklin play the S.B. Bowl. Here’s my review from the News-Press.)

If the history of Aretha Franklin’s career
is that of a frustrated talent held down under her early Capitol Records deal, and then being allowed to flower under Jerry Wexler’s production at Atlantic Records, then her struggle since the early 1970s has been a story of trying to find another worthy partner and living up to early promise.
There have been plenty of producers since, some very big names, from Curtis Mayfield to Narada Michael Walden and Babyface, but they’ve been either terribly mismatched or have resulted in some stultifyingly dull albums, glomming on to trends from disco to ’80s drum machines and syrupy balladeering.
For the Queen of Soul, there’s been much laurel-resting and Saturday night’s appearance at the Santa Barbara County Bowl suggests she’s content to do just that.
But for fans, it must be frustrating. Franklin tours with a huge band, which opened up the show with that most depressing of Las Vegas-style maneuvers, the “medley of hits,” while the singer prepared offstage.
A medley is, on the whole, an admission that no surprises are to come either tonight or in the years to come, a living museum piece.
But perhaps Franklin’s appearance made up for it. She’s 63 now, and overweight, but still looking lovely in a dazzling white evening dress and purple chiffon scarf.
The singer launched directly into “Respect,” but there was something lifeless about it. And then the dancers came on.

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