Arson at 3279 West 17th Street [up­dated]

Thursday, 26 February 2009

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

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

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

Sunday, 22 February 2009

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

Saturday, 14 February 2009

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

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

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

Sunday, 8 February 2009

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

Friday, 6 February 2009

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.