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.
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.
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.
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:
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].
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.