Arson at 3279 West 17th Street [updated]

I smelled smoke just a bit ago yes­ter­day and saw quite a bit blow­ing past my win­dow. Turns out a fire had just start­ed in an almost emp­ty house a block south of me. The down­stairs res­i­dents had vacat­ed a week ear­li­er, and the upstairs fel­low got out before the fire start­ed. The address is 3279 West 17th Street, just north of Metro Hos­pi­tal. I called it in to 911 and it had already been report­ed. Fire trucks from Sta­tions 20, 24 and 4 were on the scene right away. The near­by Fire Sta­tion 21, which has been closed, wasn’t on the scene. I grabbed my cam­era, took some video, and after I saw that some stringers from WKYC showed up, decid­ed to see if I could get the video online before them. This ain’t gonna hap­pen since com­press­ing and export­ing from Final Cut took frig­gin’ for­ev­er and upload­ing an 800MB file to YouTube ain’t no speed-along nei­ther [been upload­ing for 5 hours, now going to bed]. Nar­rat­ed using my best smarmy weblog­ger voice.

Update: the fire was arson:

Arson at 3279 West 17th Street

The Twenty-Three

The best RTA route in Cleve­land is the 23. This is my third year rid­ing it, and I could set my watch by the morn­ing bus; if I wore a watch. The dri­vers are friend­ly, deft and will put on the brakes if they see some­one hoof­ing it after them, and the bus doesn’t stop every two feet like the 81 [that isn’t a knock on the 81].

For the most part no one talks on the bus. This is the unspo­ken rule on every pub­lic tran­sit sys­tem I’ve been on [NYC, Chica­go], when per­son­al space is con­strict­ed, eye con­tact and speech become inva­sions. Lots of peo­ple rid­ing the bus I’ve been see­ing for three years but hard­ly know them. I’m going to run an exper­i­ment. Instead of being civ­il and unob­stru­sive, I’m going to start being reserved­ly friend­ly to the famil­iar faces. If this goes well, I will increase my friend­li­ness incre­men­tal­ly until the bus is full of joy­ous singing, improp­er danc­ing and sundry gal­li­vant­i­ng. Yeah right. It might end up mak­ing Cleve­land a lit­tle less crab­by though. Worth a shot.

Music Nazi

This may come as a sur­prise, but I’m a bit of a pole-in-the-ass orga­niz­ing nazi. I’ve spent over the last year slow­ly tag­ging my music col­lec­tion. Way back in the day I used RealJuke­box as my media play­er of choice, it was basi­cal­ly iTunes before iTunes exist­ed. The thing I liked best about RealJuke­box was the abil­i­ty to give rat­ings to the songs you liked and build playlists that paid atten­tion to those rank­ings.

Yes­ter­day I man­aged to fin­ish rat­ing every song in my library and can just let my smart playlists deter­mine what gets shunt­ed over onto my shuf­fle. I still need to get the release year for many of the songs, and the lyrics for all of them added, but thank­ful­ly I have a pro­gram that will do most of that for me.

My dig­i­tal music col­lec­tion is in tip-top shape, I end­ed up delet­ing much of my Bowie col­lec­tion, I still have the discs, but the only stuff I ever lis­ten to is Zig­gy Stardust/Diamond Dogs era. Now all I need to do is track down a good record play­er and get some decent speak­ers for my phys­i­cal music col­lec­tion. Too bad Play it Again Sam closed down.

Recorded Live by Adam 2007–2008

I used MPEG Stream­clip to snag the audio from the bands I’ve record­ed over the last two years. The hard part was putting all of the meta­da­ta on the result­ing MP3s [Many of the songs have ‘Unknown’ as the title. If you know what the title is, please let me know]. I’ve zipped them up and now you can down­load them, if you wish. If you’re going to link this around, please link to this post, not the ZIP file. Every­thing was record­ed in Cleve­land, with the excep­tion of a cou­ple of songs from Pitch­fork 2007. Not all the bands are Cleve­land bands, but most of them are. These are field record­ings, so expect to hear drunk peo­ple [includ­ing me] as well as the music. Includ­ed:

Rock on. \m/

The Twitter Nefarious

I’ve decid­ed to use Twit­ter for my own nefar­i­ous pur­pos­es. I’ve nev­er real­ly liked the looks of the thing, and it seems incred­i­bly bor­ing viewed from the most com­mon uses in which I’ve seen it imple­ment­ed. It has also result­ed in peo­ple refer­ring to oth­er peo­ple in com­ments using the @ sym­bol, which is mind-bog­gling­ly annoy­ing. How­ev­er, like all things Inter­net, it con­tains the pos­si­bil­i­ty to be gamed, and though I don’t pos­sess the req­ui­site malev­o­lence to tru­ly attempt to game it, I’m just gonna do my own thing [which I’m sure isn’t even orig­i­nal, though I haven’t even checked that]. Blind­ers are nice. I just wish I had less than 140 char­ac­ters to work with.

At this point, I don’t believe that I’m going to fol­low any­one on Twit­ter. I’m just going to post one line a day using my dash­board wid­get and oth­er­wise pre­tend that I’m not using Twit­ter at all. Instead, I’ll see the results of my exper­i­ment in the foot­er of my weblog. [The plu­g­in of which appears to not quite be work­ing exact­ly well].

The Hidden Fortress

Hidden Fortress Screenshot 1

A part of this view­ing list: Cri­te­ri­on Col­lec­tion Spine #116: Aki­ra Kurosawa’s The Hid­den Fortress.

Well it has been 9 months since I last reviewed a Cri­te­ri­on Col­lec­tion film. I sup­pose hav­ing a 7-month old will do that to you. I had a chance to sit down last night and watch The Hid­den Fortress. I might be a bit rusty, but this film didn’t seem as high-qual­i­ty as most of Kurosawa’s out­put. The only char­ac­ter who exhibits any devel­op­ment is Princess Yuki, and although she’s the focus of all of the action, as a char­ac­ter she’s pret­ty sec­ondary. The two peas­ants, Tahei and Matak­ishi, are in the fore through­out the film, and their slap­stick kept the film from delv­ing into the deep­er conun­drums that bound around in the wings.

Hidden Fortress Screenshot 2

Every­body is try­ing to find or save Princess Yuki, the last sur­viv­ing mem­ber of the Akizu­ki clan. Our two boors buf­fet about due to the tides of war and their own avarice, seek­ing either the Akizu­ki gold or Yuki Akizu­ki, as their whims dic­tate. Toshi­ro Mifu­ne [play­ing Toshi­ro Mifu­ne as Rotoku­ra Mak­abe] ropes them into haul­ing the gold and the princess through, across, around [and var­i­ous oth­er prepo­si­tions] ene­my lines. Every plan Tahei and Matak­ishi ‘devise’ fails imme­di­ate­ly, and they try to run off with the gold almost as much as they fight each oth­er. There is one 10 minute Toshi­ro spear-fight show­case show­down in which Mr. Mifune’s whit­tled fore­arms are the main scene, but the rest of the film pret­ty much con­sists of folks bitch­ing up and down [and var­i­ous oth­er prepo­si­tions] myr­i­ad roads.

Hidden Fortress Screenshot 3

This is not to say that the film is with­out val­ue. Kurosawa’s eye for the right fram­ing and sub­tle phras­ing is as on the mark as it ever is; stop­ping at an inn for the evening we find out that with 5 pieces of sil­ver you can either buy a good horse or a pros­ti­tute [per­ma­nent­ly]. The ham-fist­ed peas­ants live in sty-squalor and are herd­ed about by porcine pet­ty lords and their pig-head­ed vas­sals. The objec­tive eye indi­cates that all par­ties are a bit absurd in their human­i­ty. Every­one is hap­py with sta­tus quo except Princess Yuki, who gets her first taste of how the oth­er 99.9% lives and gains the right­eous indig­na­tion on the behalf of her infe­ri­ors that hard-time-fall­en nobil­i­ty always seem to exhib­it in fic­tion. She does have nice legs, how­ev­er.

Hidden Fortress Screenshot 4

I guess what sank the movie for me was the way the con­stant breaks for a bit of lev­i­ty under­cut the dra­ma at the same time that Mifune’s fur­rowed dis­ap­proval killjoyed the clown­ing slap­stick [which I’m not real­ly a fan of any­way]. Toss in a plot that isn’t all that com­pelling or orig­i­nal and 2D char­ac­ters with unchang­ing moti­va­tions and the result is that I might have enjoyed this movie if I had seen it before Star Wars [Lucas claims The Hid­den Fortress as an inspi­ra­tion for that uni­verse, but there are only very basic and tan­gen­tial rela­tions between the two]. The sto­ry prob­a­bly won’t keep you going, but the hope for the next excep­tion­al shot will.

8-bit NES versus HDTV

A few months ago I shelled out for a flat-screen LCD. It is more ener­gy effi­cient than my old CRT and much nicer for watch­ing movies, which is almost all that we use it for. We also use it to play games on my orig­i­nal NES. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, as I just recent­ly dis­cov­ered, I can’t use the light gun with this TV. Hogan’s Alley and Duck Hunt don’t work, because the LCD screen isn’t made of glass, and there­fore won’t reflect the light back into the gun in such a way that my NES can fig­ure out if I shot the duck or not. Alas.