[Musings] Blogspam

Well blogspam is not cool, nor is the fact those ass-clowns have harvested the emails for members from the profiles to send spam to them.

Despite this, I have resumed anonymous postings. I hated the limitations that the anti-spam measures imposed. I wanted this blog to be a sort of free-for-all for its members.

I will continue to delete the blogspam comments, unless I find them funny, from now on. But I will not re-enable the verification systems unless it becomes a problem.


[Musings] Oncallapus

Oncallapus (n) - 1. A greater demon from the depths of hell. Noted for its perverse pleasure to alter the daily life of mortals. Works through minor minions known as Bleepelots, vile small rectangular shaped entities known for the constant attention needs, annoying siren call, and tickling vibrations.


[TechZen] How to recover from serial split brain...

From http://seer.support.veritas.com/docs/269233.htm

At this stage, you need to gain confidence prior to running the recommended command...


[Film] The Stars are Right!

I just picked up a copy of the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society's silent film adaptation of "The Call of Cthulhu" on DVD. Based on the best known short story by Howard Phillips Lovecraft, this has long been regarded as unfilmable. It has multiple locations, a cast of dozens, and requires a deft touch. Most Lovecraft film adaptations have been, well, lets face it, pretty terrible (with occasional okay standouts like 'Dagon'). So it seems a real gamble to do a faithful low budget black and white silent film version of a story that is supposed to take place in the 1920's (thus befitting said treatment).

Boy did it pay off.

Wow. It was even better than I expected. It would be difficult to imagine any authentic looking twenties style silent film being done at all anymore, much less one as pitch perfect as this one. From the old style effects and rendering tricks (scale, fx), a noir atmosphere, background music, even to such details as the scratching of the negative, the typefaces on the placards (in 24 languages to boot!), almost every detail was painstakenly done to look authentic. This project was clearly in the hands of folks who "get" Lovecraft, and wanted to do something that didn't betray the imagery and story. It comes off as part twenties silent film, part noir, part suspense film, part low-budget indie, Brechtian play, Wiene-esque Expressionistic nightmare, and part Ray Harryhausen inspired madness. All of it comes off as a labor of love, and a hell of a lot more than I ever would have expected given their budget and the less than stellar past Lovecraftian adaptations to rise from the depths of R'lyeh. The effects are seriously old school, consistent with what you might have seen in a real 1920's silent film (and the more modern effects are pretty seamless, and the acting is better than in the 20's!). It is also amazing what you can get away with in black and white. Some of the scenes are just surreal. The film runs 47 taut minutes.

If you are a Lovecraft fan you will absolutely shiver when you see Cthulhu emerge.

DVD was ordered direct. $20, and shipping was $1.31 A great value. Even my receipt came on paper that looks like a Lovecraftian inspired 1920's telegram. The details are everything. This film was done by a lot of dedicated folks not making a lot of money over the space of two years. Lovecraft fans should support projects like this. Here is the trailer.

If you like Lovecraft, reread "The Call of Cthulhu", then pop this movie in and enjoy.


[Special] Happy 6th Wedding Anniversary Nerdwife!

Thank you for six wonderful years, the good, the bad, my gas...

Here's to many many more.


[Musings] On difficult reading and pasta; including some digressions. With regards to Ben Marcus.

I recently read Ben Marcus' excellent folio in this month's Harper's magazine, entitled "Why experimental fiction threatens to destroy publishing. Jonathan Franzen, and life as we know it." I was so taken with this article that I am considering sending it to everyone I know and irritating them with persistent emails and an excess of lengthy voicemail messages until it has been read by all. In fact, reader, the only way to stave off this threat may be go find Harper's now. But first, a laudatory comment or two.

This outstanding discourse reflects on the damage perpetuated by outspoken advocates of popularized, popcorn-worthy fiction (namely, Jonathan Franzen, but he is far from alone in this enterprise). Should you be unfamiliar with this debate, I will attempt to summarize nearly two decades' worth of interviews, articles, blogs and commentary in two sentences. The argument essentially states that the role of fiction is to entertain as many people as possible by utilizing straightforward narratives, character complexities easily derived from their childhoods, and predictable plot twists and resolutions all neatly packaged in a setting as familiar as my mother's favorite stoneware. Fiction which strays from this well-worn path is dangerous, generally worthless and needlessly difficult (in Marcus' words, "disturbingly masturbatory").

Marcus' 2002-ish novel Notable American Women is an example of the difficult fiction decried by Franzen. This is a book so delectable that I am, even now, pleasurably lolling in memories of favorite phrases and passages. This is also a book that I have never recommended to anyone. It is a celebration of, and trial in, uses of language. The characters are at (most) times inscrutable; the plot is meant to be inferred by the reader; the narrator, unreliable... in short, this is not a book destined to be read by, say, my mother.

This should not detract from this book's value, both as art and as entertainment. By discouraging readership of esoteric, experimental, or otherwise narrow-audience fiction, Franzen threatens to deprive the literature world of significant works. Homogeneity is comforting but makes for a life of poor reading, in my estimation. Admittedly, I am a difficult and often contrary person (as confirmed by my poor husband), and often inclined to embrace ill-advised enterprises (cf my present thesis work). But does this make my tastes less valid than those of anyone else?

Consider dining with my mother. Mom is a bona fide culinary genius- she can make anything tasty. Our tastes in pasta diverge significantly, however. What is an al dente masterpiece to me is merely chewy to her. My mother also enjoys romance novels, so much so that she hasn't read anything else for most of my life. Indeed, I have been known to partake in the Harlequin goodness. Some days, I just need reassurance that although fate separated them at the alter, Drew finds Spencer as damnably desirable as ever, and will make her his on their quest for rare antiquities.... But I also need the toothsome enjoyment of (allegedly) difficult fiction. And spaghetti alla pepperocino. Often at the same time.

I propose an exchange. I will eat Mom's pasta (and like it), and continue to read nearly everything that crosses my path; I will also endorse "difficult" works, even to lovers of straightforward fiction. In return, readers, please support rare fiction enterprises by reading them, recommending them, and not listening to the grinding uniformity endorsed by some in the literary enterprise. Preserve the beauty of literature by reading something different!

Sláinte- to your reading health.

[Music] Arcade Fire

Went to the Arcade Fire concert at 1st Ave last Thursday. Amazing, simply awesome, actually the best concert I have been to in a long time.

It recharged my sould.

Also, the men's bathroom at 1st Ave is very interesting, you can urinate while watch traffic outside.