acroyear: (coyote1)
Ohio Republicans Think Romney Killed Bin Laden? | Dispatches from the Culture Wars
Every once in a while you see a poll result that just leaves your jaw agape. Here’s a perfect example. A Public Policy Polling survey over the weekend asked who respondents thought was more responsible for the death of Osama Bin Laden, President Obama or Mitt Romney.

Now the answer to this should be obvious, since Romney could not possibly have had anything to do with it. Not so to Republican voters in that state, apparently, since only 38% of them answered Obama — with 15% saying Romney gets more credit and 47% saying they don’t know. I’m dumbfounded.
Stupidity of this magnitude should be painful.
acroyear: (don't let the)
A touch over a year ago I ranted about how prismnet had sold off the domain 'io.com' (my original isp) and wouldn't say who they sold it to, having me worried about the idea that spammers had bought it in order to re-open customers email accounts (like my acroyear at io.com) in order to collect personal information and create either unwanted direct marketing spam or worse, identity theft.

It turns out all is well.  io.com is owned by I/O Data Centers LLC (official domain, http://www.iodatacenters.com/ ), and they're legit.  
acroyear: (ponder this)
The one thing I captured from the film and music montage section of the opening ceremonies was this:

Everything we yanks started, and then got tired of, the British picked up and turned into a bigger success and reinvigorated it. Sitcoms (The Office?), soap operas (they invented the idea that one could go prime time), war movies, sports movies, rock and roll (remember, in America, the music died in February of 1959, and everybody at the time expected it to stay dead), and much more*. They didn't invent the art forms, but they turned them into something that can last and continue to be built upon where-as the Americans burn out an idea almost instantly and tire of it thinking there's nothing more to do.

Tim Berners-Lee didn't invent the internet, but he invented a technique that reinvigorated it in a way that nobody could ignore. And THAT is why he was there - what he did to internet technology was exactly what each of the British film and music groups represented in that section had done to the genres of American pop music they developed from.

*(game shows, for example, though the montage didn't include that genre)

[This is distinctive from the Canadian presentation 2 1/2 years ago, where the overall expression was "you know all that stuff you like? well, some of that is actually us, thank you very much...]
acroyear: (coyote1)
Not enough to paint the founding fathers as Evangelical Christians (which most weren't, certainly not by the standard of modern Evangelism which only dates back to the 1880s), the right-wing nutcases are now lying by mixing present ideologies with past political parties.

Bryan Fischer has decided that because it was Republicans that ended slavery 150 years ago, it was "Conservatives" that ended slavery and the "Liberals" wanted to keep it going.  Similarly, because Southern Democrats of the 1960s (a demographic concept that ceased to exist as Newt implemented the final step in the election of 1994) were the ones that filibustered the Civil Rights acts at the time, Fischer declares the obvious non-conclusion, that "Liberals" were the ones doing that.

The Party now is the Ideology always - history doesn't matter anymore, because nothing has ever changed, ever.

I suppose if you believe the earth to be 6,000 year old, that must make some kind of sick sense...

--

update: I'll note it is very unlikely that he'll take the example of Republican President Teddy Roosevelt and decide that
  1. National Parks are a great way to spend public funds
  2. Large monopolistic corporations, including banks, need to be split up and regulated
  3. Unions are the backbone of corporate and economic justice


acroyear: (timing)

American Landmarks Series

I posted these, one every half hour (give or take) today on FB.  Here they are collected...


The Jefferson Memorial
The Apollo Project
The Giants of Sequoia National Park
Dr. Seuss
The Grand Canyon
Jim Henson & The Muppets
Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine, FL
New York's Central Park
Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek
Great Smokey Mountains National Park
The National Mall & Washington Monument
The Wright Brothers' Plane
Times Square, NYC
Zion National Park
The Cherry Blossoms of Washington, DC
The Great American Southwest
San Diego Harbor at Sunset
The Fender Strat
Yosemite National Park
The Las Vegas Strip
The Shelby GT Cobra
Antietam
Disneyland!
acroyear: (space 2 ring)
Paul Wallace: Intelligent Design Is Dead: A Christian Perspective:
For a person of faith, ID is not just an unnecessary choice; it is a harmful one. It reduces God to a kind of holy tinkerer. It locates the divine in places of ignorance and obscurity. And this gives it a defensive and fearful spirit that is out of place in Christian faith and theology.

Looking upon the new star in September 1604, could Kepler have envisioned stellar evolution, mass-transfer binary stars, and explosive carbon fusion? No, and so he remained silent. His humility, his belief in the richness of creation, and his expansive faith allowed him to admit ignorance while leaving the door of causal science wide open.

ID denies its proponents that freedom. Having opted to close the door on science, they steal from themselves the opportunity to see nature more deeply. In so doing they dig in their heels, refusing to be drawn, Kepler-style, closer to the creator God they all believe in. This is the great irony of ID.
acroyear: (each must dance)
it is very interesting to compare the background music for various Yosemite Valley (or Grand Canyon or Yellowstone) documentaries over the years, the type they would show or sell at the visitors center. Each generation assumed it was creating a soundtrack to last, yet each sounds pretty well dated and is more a distraction than a support to the wonderful visuals each has.

The 70s attempted to use contemporary orchestral scoring to heighten the drama, but comes across as unnecessarily dark and tense.

The 80s countered by restoring friendliness to the parks through the synth-heavy newage vibe, which didn't last and now sounds as dated as disco (some artists like Kitaro are immortal but this particular stuff is quite dead). Think the same reason many people had the rock portion of Ladyhawk (I don't mind and quite like Ladyhawk, but I understand why many don't care for it).

The 90s countered that by going back to full orchestral scores in a neo-romantic vein (trying to restore what Grofe had mastered in his Grand Canyon Suite), but that tended to continue to over-dramatize the landscape, a landscape that doesn't need any help in producing drama. Still others latched onto the Clannad/Enya led "natural" synth sound, which like the 70s scoring, tended to make things too heavy for what one saw.

The 2000s followed (or led) Ken Burns in going to all acoustic instrumentation, mostly guitars and pianos, plus a lot of native american percussion and whistles and an occasional soft keyboard wash. Today that certainly sounds the most "natural" and feels the most comfortable, but I wonder if that too will sound dated to me in 10 years.

maybe I'll remember this post when we get there...
acroyear: (literacy)
War on Christmas? Sign This Minister Up. -:
Today, Christianity is the dominant culture. So, instead of story of a olive skinned middle-eastern, unwed, pregnant mother, who was seen as little more than property, giving birth to what the world would surely see as an illegitimate child who was wrapped in what rags they could find and placed in a smelly, flea infested feeding trough in the midst of a dark musky smelling animal stall… instead of that story, we end up with a clean, white skinned European woman giving birth to a glowing baby wrapped in impossibly white swaddling clothes and laid to rest in a manger that looks more like a crib than a trough in the midst of a barn that is more kept and clean than many of our houses.

So, “War on Christmas?,” sure sign me up. I'm pretty sure I'd prefer the elimination of what our modern “celebration” has become to the increasingly white-washed version we hear every year.
acroyear: (coyote1)
J Edgar Hoover warned Richard Nixon not to attend the premiere of Bernstein's Mass (at the Kennedy Center), implying that it wouldn't look good for the President to be seen hearing an anti-war statement in a Latin* text...

...specifically he was referring to the phrase Dona Nobis Pachem.

* (Latin being the "language" of the Catholics, who were still being seen as non-American and mostly Democratic Party voters at the time, my how things change...)
acroyear: (don't go there)
The Upside of Avatar | Parkeology:
The reality is that Avatar is a stronger marketing hook than Beastly Kingdomme, even if it's not as pure an idea for Animal Kingdom. It comes with some built in expectations: jaw-dropping visual feasts, exotic adventure, and a strong naturalist theme (John Muir would be proud).
Really? He'd be proud of ripping up how many acres of natural pine and Cyprus forest for the sake of a giant plastic electricty-sucking monument to a half-rate film that itself was rendered off of the electricity partly drawn from the Hetch-Hetchy dam project he so detested?

This is the same John Muir who questioned the building of even a tiny chapel in what he believes was the greatest natural cathedral in the world.  Somehow, I disagree with that assessment.

This is not to say that I don't believe Disney's sincerity regarding Animal Kingdom, only that Muir probably would.
acroyear: (don't let the)
Nym Wars | jwz:
When the rebuttal to your argument is The Federalist Papers, generally that means that you've lost the argument.
-- JWZ on Google's insistence on forcing everybody to use real names.
acroyear: (don't go there)
So there's this piece of the WTC framework that "looks like a cross", and it is right now part of the government-paid memorial as part of the site, intentionally because it looks like a cross and thus has God's Blessings over the site.  An atheist group has filed suit claiming establishment.  I think they have a case, only because (just like creationists on school boards) the words of those who put it there show that it clearly was put up BECAUSE it was a cross, with all the religious implications.

In a comment on FB, I didn't explicitly support the atheists but at least defended James Madison and tried to get the pro-cross type to reconsider why she felt it was necessary for government (or "majority") endorsement of Christianity.  That, of course, got ignored.

What she said that pissed me off?

"this is about putting a part of the building that remained standing back in its original location and it happens to be in the shape of a cross. If that does not tell you that God was looking over them, then what would?"

My answer that I didn't write, but was fucking obvious to me:

"The towers still standing."
acroyear: (timing)
No Event Too Small: Disney World Opening Day Crowd Control (Disney Dispatch):
Then we hit upon another scheme.

Our laborers had been working 12-hour shifts, without much time off, and that ran us afoul of labor laws. So we decided to pick a weekend and have the laborers come into the park not to work but to enjoy the day with their families.

Dads proudly showed their kids around the park, explaining that they were the ones building it, but at that time there were only 3-4 rides running, and so the kids would say: "well, hurry up and finish."

(Great motivation! The next day, when work resumed, it seemed to go a lot faster.)
acroyear: (bernstein teaches)
Abstract? - Sandow:
Often people say that classical music -- instrumental music -- is abstract, and therefore not easy to understand. Thus, as one commenter said a few days ago, it can't be compared to baseball and movies, which aren't abstract, and therefore are things that people can readily understand. To understand classical music, by contrast, takes education. And preparation.

But I don't think this is true.
And I generally agreed, posting the following:

I certainly wouldn't have talked about "abstraction" as being a differentiation between Music and Baseball. I merely commented that in Baseball, all the players are playing the same basic game. In classical music, orchestras don't necessarily play the same stuff, so comparisons between orchestras can be more apples-oranges than comparisons between sports teams. It doesn't matter what any particular piece is, it is the fact that if one orchestra plays Takemitsu and the other doesn't, than one can't necessarily rate them against each other when it comes to Takemitsu.

The abstraction comment is a bit off, and you're right on the Wagner-Brahms, but it goes a bit earlier than that to Berlioz as the one who most developed the early "Tone Poem". Beethoven hinted at it in the Pastoral, but insisted these notes in the score were mere suggestions and it isn't necessary to envision brooks and picnics and a storm and a sunset (or centaurs and bacchus and zeus in the Disney version) to hear the Symphony 6 as Beethoven intended. By contrast, Berlioz's work demands that the listener understand the plot he is presenting in the score. Bernstein once commented that there's really only one piece of Berlioz's in the rep that *doesn't* have some literary attachment to it.

In spite of Schumann, Brahms and Bruckner (the latter two did produce a Mass or two) and their history of non-program music, the 19th century was far more associated with literary arts than not. And not just in Opera, as many instrumental works of Berlioz and Mendelssohn through to Debussy, Sibelius, and Strauss can attest. Work after work that follows a plot (Night Ride and Sunrise, Alpine Symphony, Sorcerer's Apprentice, all the way to Schoenberg's Transfigured Night) or paints a vivid picture (Oceanides).

For all of his abstractions, for all of his aesthetic claims that "music can express nothing", even Stravinsky wrote far more music with a non-musical and plot-driven association (be it ballet, theater, or religious) than he did "abstract" pieces like Concerto for Piano or Symphony in Three Movements.

I often refer to a Mahler symphony as "film music for which I don't have the emotional baggage of having actually seen the damn film". If one can't glean a plot of some type out of the Tragic Symphony, one isn't trying (or one is explicitly trying not to, which is also an acceptable way to listen to Mahler).

QotD

Jun. 30th, 2011 09:24 am
acroyear: (don't let the)
“Weird Al” Yankovic | Music | Set List | The A.V. Club:
I wrote this song before 9/11 just because I felt a lot of that selfishness in our culture, and immediately after 9/11 it felt like our national attitude had changed, and everyone was pitching in and being helpful, and being supporting and loving, which lasted about a week. -- Weird Al, on 'Why Does This Always Happen To Me' (Poodle Hat, 2003)

On Orff

Jun. 27th, 2011 12:39 pm
acroyear: (allegro people)
Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise: World War II Music:
[Strauss and Orff's] surrender to Nazi overtures is an ineradicable stain on the biography of each; but the music itself commits no sins simply by being and remaining popular. That “Carmina Burana” has appeared in hundreds of films and television commercials is proof that it contains no diabolical message, indeed that it contains no message whatsoever.
acroyear: (oh that's clever)
Jackdaws love my big sphinx of quartz - Stuff:
So Doctor Who is not a complete loss. But then there are some shows that go completely beyond the pale of enjoyability, until they become nothing more than overwritten collections of tropes impossible to watch without groaning.

I think the worst offender here is the History Channel and all their programs on the so-called "World War II".
keep reading, this is hilarious...
acroyear: (disney toad)
Meanwhile, At Disney World, In The 70s… | Progress City, U.S.A. I ranted the following in a comment:
The more I’ve been watching old 70s Disney parks promotional materials (lots are on youtube these days), the more I think their entire marketing team at the time should have been shot.

Any time you watch 50s or 60s footage of the parks (well, Disneyland), there’s an excitement mixed with an eloquence to it. For some reason, all of the early WDW promotional materials are just slow and sluggish, and totally uninspiring. It starts with the dull-as-hell Glen Campbell song at the premiere and pretty much goes all the way through to the opening of EPCOT (Danny Kaye was ok, but again the rest of the special was otherwise 2 hours of doldrums). Worst offense through those years is the background music that sounded like a contemporary breakfast commercial for shredded wheat, and is heartbreaking when one compares it to the wonderful materials that Buddy Baker and George Bruns were producing the decade before.

Eisner & Wells were a sorely needed shot in the arm, not just for helping to improve the movies (though I do have nostalgia for some of the 70s live-action works like Hot Lead Cold Feet, Apple Dumpling Gang, and Candleshoe), but improving how the parks were perceived even by those who never went, restoring the anticipation that one should get when looking at promotional videos of the parks rather than the laid-back impression that WDW was solely for relaxing in to the point of falling asleep watching them.
acroyear: (weirdos...)
Michele Bachmann, on a speech in New Hampshire:
You're the state where the shot was heard around the world in Lexington and Concord.
oh, and then she decided to directly insult my ancestors::
You've done it very well for almost 20 generations from the time the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, and I'm sure the very first one came up to New Hampshire and said, ‘This is where I want to be.'
Uh, no. New Hampshire was independently founded as a fisherman's wharf village, and the Puritans generally stayed out (as did other, even more restrictive sects). As things progressed, the British authorities would attempt to unite the two colonies (given that Maine was already part of Massachusetts so administration of the region was difficult) several times in the 17th century, and the religious differences between the states made unification government almost impossible.  New Hampshire was particularly unimpressed by late-century Massachusetts religious laws* that actually illegalized (to the point of the death penalty) being a member of certain sects (like Quakers).

So no, pilgrims and puritans did not go up the coastline to settle in New Hampshire - they would have found themselves very unwelcome up there.

Update:"Michele Bachmann will appeal to those who like Sarah Palin but wish she would be a little less intellectual." - Charles Walcott, Prof @ VA Tech

* this would be a point actually in New Hampshire's favor, but not something Bachmann would want to emphasize after being so vehemently against the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque".
acroyear: (fof earplug)
In reply to my FB post about watching the BBC Prom 2010 of Rattle conducting 3 works by Schoenberg, Webern, and Berg from their atonal period (1911-1920), and asking rhetorically again why I love that music, someone replied,
There really are some good (albeit mostly neoclassical) composers in the 20th century - Vaughn-Williams, Thompson, Copeland, Gershwin (that's about one every twenty-five years on average, but none of them worked much after 1950). the fact of the matter is that much 20th century music was "experimental" and like most experiments, it failed. I particularly remember one experimental piece that had breaking glass as the solo "instrument."
Needless to say, this got me started... )

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