Saturday, March 25, 2006
If you're old enough, you should definitely see the new movie V for Vendetta. It's based on a graphic novel by Alan Moore and David Lloyd, and -- as always -- the book is better than the film. But the movie is really excellent. The story is upheld very well from the original (even though no character on screen so much as says the word "anarchy"), and the visceral connection to the characters is more intense on the big screen.
It was whilst watching the movie on the enormous IMAX screen this week that I realized the soundtrack contained a glaring omission -- "Everything's Cool" by Pop Will Eat Itself is perfect for that flick.
Thus, in lieu of a SynCast this weekend, I have prepared a custom V for Vendetta mashup trailer video. It is available in two sizes (I recommend the big one, but I know some people can't handle a 37MB download):
How long can you stand to watch Mario Twins?
Today I'm listening to: PWEI!
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
The Madness of Multitasking and the Magic of Mindfulness
Buddha told a parable in a sutra:
A man traveling across a field encountered a tiger. He fled, the tiger after him. Coming to a precipice, he caught hold of the root of a wild vine and swung himself down over the edge. The tiger sniffed at him from above. Trembling, the man looked down to where, far below, another tiger was waiting to eat him. Only the vine sustained him.Ours is a world aflood with temporal psychosis. We're plugged in, switched on, and linked up to the point where nothing is itself any longer. All things are necessarily tiny bits of other things, reassembled as befit the breakneck whim of the myriad users.
Our hallways are filled with students lost in iPods. DVD players come standard in new cars. I am consumed with infinite notions at every turn, distracted by my own amusements. The more I can do, the more I must do -- all at once, if possible. I play a video game while listening to WORT's A Public Affair; the game is "real-time strategy," which means I must track ten different types of activity at once.
A deep breath cannot be simple inspiration; I look around at my desk and the myriad creatures assail me: make-up quizzes (late slips); promises to students (V for Vendetta); lease renewal (lease renewal form); the impending end of the term (grade charts). Even with my eyes closed, I feel my belly rise and fall, and I think of how my metabolism has changed (and how unfit I feel).
This is not simple curio; free time becomes so precious that I grow frantic at its passing. For each spare minute available, I feel the need to satisfy multiple criteria at once:
So I must stop.
Do what I am doing.
Wash my face.
You may have heard about the recent elections in the Piotrowski homeland of Belarus, and the surrounding charges of fraud and repression from the president. What I only saw this morning, however -- buried deep (and by itself) in the list of Google articles -- was this article in The Guardian about how it's partly Lukashenko's unwillingness to abandon socialism which is causing Europe and the US to lambast him.
Belarus has an evolving market economy. But the market is orientated towards serving the needs of the bulk of the population, not a tiny class of nouveaux riches and their western advisers and money launderers. Unlike in Georgia or Ukraine, officials are not getting richer as ordinary folk get poorer. The absence of endemic corruption among civil servants and police is one reason why the wave of so-called "coloured revolutions" stopped before Minsk.This reminds me of Chavez in Venezuela somewhat; I can't dismiss the charges of unjust governance, but I don't for a second believe that the US (noted supporter of past repressive regimes in Haiti and Indonesia) really cares so much about such matters.
And yet, I want to say: "Isn't there a way to Serve The People but also allow total freedom of speech and other liberties laid out in the UDHR?"
Speaking of Zen, check out this cartoon version of a superb Bankei tale.
Have you seen Chaucer's blog?
Did you hear the one about the alleged slaughter of Iraqi civilians caught on videotape?
The Lego Suicides is amusing.
The Invisible Quest is stupid and annoying. Enjoy!
Today I'm listening to: Thievery Corporation!
Sunday, March 19, 2006
I Hate Video Game Dorks!
I am so bloody sick of Video Game Dorks that I could vomit all night. Argh! May you all choke on your own epiglotti.
Who are the Video Game Dorks?
Allow me to define my terms. I myself am a video game addict. (This, you know.) I have no beef with people who play video games. A Video Game Dork is a person who does nothing but play video games, and they are ruining video games. I include in this category:
Take The Punisher, the game which ignited this rant. Halfway through the game you fight (for the second time, what fun) a character cleverly named The Russian. You have an AK-47, but it won't hurt him. Really. So he lifts these huge barrels of whatever, lights them on fire, and throws them at you. You have to shoot the barrels after he lights them, but before he throws them. Oh, and he's up two stories above you on a catwalk. Also, there are other people shooting at you.
But that's not the annoying part! I managed to shoot enough of these stupid flaming barrels to defeat him, but then he leaps down to the floor and starts running at me. Shooting at him does nothing. Also, he's on fire. Really. Yes, really. I couldn't imagine what to do, so I just kept shooting at him, and I died and cursed and went online to find out what I have to do.
Turns out you have to shoot at these brown barrels to light them on fire, lure the flaming guy over to the barrel, and then shoot it again while he's standing near it. Are these people on drugs or something? What kind of degenerate reprobate considers this fun? (This, incidentally, is the same type of battle in the last scene of the otherwise-brilliant game Gun, so beware.)
And They're Screwing Up RPGs, Too
The Video Game Dorks are screwing up role-playing games, too! It's not enough to simply use SPELL POINTS and HIT POINTS like in a normal RPG. Now every game's got some stupid and impossibly convoluted arcana system, where you have to junction your summoning crystals to the path of destiny specific for your characters' weapon upgrades. It's [expletive] bookkeeping masquerading as "something new".
This is a value judgment coming up here, so prepare yourself for an uncharacteristically dogmatic comment: Video games are a way to relax and have fun. If you play them to make money, or feel better about yourself, or meet people online, then you are playing them for the wrong reason! You are no longer allowed to play video games. Go play competitive sudoku or join a bowling team.
Stupid dorks got me so mad.. grumble grumble.. missed the new Simpsons.. Using all caps and italics like an idiot.. stupid dorks..
I did a SynCast earlier. A little something for everyone. Except the Video Game Dorks. There's nothing for them.
You are beautiful. Click the picture to see the next one.
Today I'm listening to: REM!
Sunday, March 12, 2006
I had a real post ready, but my system crashed. So anyway, enjoy this week's SynCast. It's all Autechre. Now go away.
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
Wal-Mart: Always Doofuses. Always.
So apparently Wal-Mart has been reaching out to bloggers sympathetic to the plight of the world's largest corporation. According to the New York Times, he sent emails saying: "I'd like to drop you the occasional update ... and an occasional nugget that you won't hear about in the M.S.M." (Note to n00bZ: mainstream media, yo! Wal-Mart PR firmz is off the hizzy.)
As a world-famous blogger1 who is well-known for being wildly supportive of corporations2, I feel sad and left out by this news. After all, I've got a diverse readership and -- as the counter over to the left will attest, I've had over 100,000 hits in just over two years3. True, maybe half of those hits were me admiring my work and checking for new comments, but that doesn't diminish the fact that many people look to me as a sensible guide through the heady maze of post-20th century American culture.
Since I'm sure the PR execs are looking in by now: Listen up, Wal-Martians! I'm prepared to make you a special offer. Back in October 2004 I laid out a plan for youth-oriented companies to profit from both a prophetic marketing trend-to-be and my own indelible street cred. In case you don't have time to go back and read it, here's a brief recap (PR dudes are mad busy):
[T]his WILL be the next step -- a commercial which uses reverse psychology to get people to buy the product.... [W]here the company claims its product is horrible and no one should buy it....As a token of my friendship and goodwill (TPCQ: "Using a key to gouge expletives on another's vehicle.."), I am extending this offer to Wal-Mart. Take the leap into the brave new world of post-anti-non-post-consumerist marketing! Show the kids that you really speak their language! I've already taken the time to prepare a sample promo spot -- we're ready to roll! Just give the word.
And just in case anyone thinks I'm simply pretending to dislike Wal-Mart as a cheap ploy to extort money, here are some reasons why you should never go to Wal-Mart:
2Especially the huge multinational kind
This glaucoma song is glorious! I totally want to get me some glaucoma now. Via MoFi.
Today I'm listening to: Groove Salad!
Sunday, March 05, 2006
The Mighty Mos Def
This week's SynCast is dedicated to hip hop emcee extraordinaire Mos Def. He blends old school sensibilities with superb production and lyrics that rival all the grandmasters. Enjoy.
I'm watching the Academy Awards for the first time in many years tonight, for a number of reasons: Jon Stewart, mostly -- but also for the first time in a while, I've actually seen most of the movies nominated. I'm supremely delighted that Wallace & Gromit won for best animated feature, but Frances McDormand totally deserved Best Supporting Actress.
When I was in Gainesville, I used to go over to Megan and Kik's house every Oscar Night and we'd all watch it together; I miss that. Still, it's interesting to see things unfold now that I know what to cheer for. Oh yeah -- Best Documentary for the penguins? Bite me! Enron, baby!
All I know is: Munich better not win for Best Picture. Spielberg has plenty of statues already. Ang needs to get his. (He shoulda won it for CTHD -- Gladiate this!)
Many many many many many many many many many many many thanks to Josh for linking us to the live action Simpsons intro movie. Woo! Rumaki!
Today I'm listening to: The Mighty Mos Def!
Friday, March 03, 2006
My Amazing Weekend
Today's assignment in Creative Writing is to write a fictionalized version of what happened during our long 4-day weekend this past week. (Or tell a highly-dramatized version of the truth.) So here's mine.
Mr. Piotrowski and the Woebegotten Waffle Hunt
I bounded out of bed early on Friday, full of energy, ready for the day ahead. I strode briskly into the kitchen and began to make coffee. But when I opened the freezer, every bone in my body fused together and my lungs went dead.
I sank to my knees and raised my head to the heavens. "Why??" I wailed, tears streaming down my face. "Why didn't I buy more frozen waffles yesterday?" I slumped forward and pounded the avacado-green refrigerator door. "It's not fair!" I cried. "It's just! Not! Fair!"
Dazed, numb, I stumbled outside onto the frozen sidewalk and the cruel world that lay beyond our neighborhood. The corner store was closed. Two blocks away, the Kwik-E-Mart carried no waffles. As I dragged myself toward the eastside supermarket, I reflected on how stupid I was to leave the house without shoes or a jacket. But it didn't matter; nothing mattered.
My toes began to shrivel and my arms lost all feeling by the time I reached the semiautomatic doors of the supermarket. I somehow found my way to the breakfast freezer, and stood there in the aisle, surveying the goods. A pack of employees had gathered to peer at me, but I didn't care. My jaw slack, my eyes half-shut, I gawked at the cooler and realized I was too exhausted to weep: They were out of waffles.
I roamed around the city for three days, lost in a cloud of self-pity and loathing. Eventually, I collapsed under a banyan tree near Fish Lake, where I froze to death. Fortunately, though, a biogenetic engineer from UW-Madison took a sample of my DNA, cloned me, placed the new life form in a temporal accelerator, and implanted a cache of memories.
On Monday evening, the door to the cryogenic chamber slid open and I stepped through the billowing haze. "Mr. Piotrowski-beta," the scientist said, "how do you feel?"
I blinked several times, trying to get my bearings. "I could really go for some waffles," I said.
Go look around at HomeStarRunner. There's some funny stuff on there.
Today I'm listening to: People typing!
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
Earlier this week, Deviant Synapse received its 100,000th visit. Woo! I had a bookmark with the SiteTracker info, but apparently it's not a hard-link, so I can't find exactly who it was. But I remember the person had found us by searching for Jordy, that French tyke who just keeps on giving. Zut alors!
3D Go has always been by biggest draw, but I suppose this thing of mine is grabbing a few eyes too. Of course I'd like to thank all of you who stop by on a somewhat regular basis; I must be doing something right to make it into the land of six digits.
It must be my trenchant, erudite musings about HalliBush Wars, Inc. -- about which I haven't written for months.
HalliBush Wars, Inc.
Imagine this: You and I are driving in a car. I start to talk about how my car won't hurt the old woman on the sidewalk if I drive into her. "The salesman told me I'll just bounce off," I say. You try to convince me this is lunacy. I drive the car into an old woman, breaking her legs.
After the medics have rushed her to the hospital, I try to explain very patiently how I'm not to blame because I truly believed that I wouldn't hurt the woman if I drove over her. Besides, I go on to say, if anyone is to blame, it's the car salesman who convinced me that I could drive over old women without hurting them.
This is about how much I care about whether or not Bush and Rumsfeld really believed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. It doesn't matter what they thought! They were wrong, and those of us who were pleading for sanity were ignored! Arrest the morons who drove over the old woman!
I also think it's ridiculous for Bush and his brethren to swagger around proclaiming how certain they are that their illegal wiretapping was legal. Gee, does that mean I can rob a liquor store, and then -- by sheer force of confidence -- will my actions into legality?
Idiots Reporting on Idiots
Speaking of stupid people: You may have seen the story about how stupid Americans are when it comes to the First Amendment vis a vis The Simpsons:
Half of 1,000 Americans randomly surveyed by the McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum could name at least two of the five members of Fox Television's Simpson family, the stars of the network's long-running show.Obviously, I am deeply saddened by this news and, frankly, ashamed to be an American when I hear it. Only half of all Americans can name two Simpsons!? And only twenty-eight percent of us can name all five? What's wrong with you people!? Are you on drugs or something??
But here's the funny part. Look at how Reuters put it:
Some participants displayed comical ignorance such as the 38 percent who believed the right to self-incrimination -- "taking the 5th" in lawyer lingo -- was granted by the First Amendment rather than the Fifth.Uhh. Please, please, please correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't the Fifth Amendment provide us with the right to abstain from self-incrimination? Who's comically ignorant now, punk?
Pic swiped from the archive of newspapers and magazines maintained by the good people at Simpson Crazy.
It's All About the Words
In the past month or so I've become supremely fascinated by the phrase "I'm just sayin'." It's meant to be some instant remedy for any discomfort or outrage shown by the person to whom you are speaking: "I think all feminists are lesbians." (look of horror on face of other person) "I'm just sayin'!"
As if pointing out that one's words are only words (and not what, actions?) miraculously ameliorates the hideous ignorance / stupidity / prejudice / whatever contained within. Indeed, Adolf Hitler could have saved himself a lot of stress and scrutiny had he simply ended his book this way:
May the adherents of our movement never forget this if ever the magnitude of the sacrifices should beguile them to an anxious comparison with the possible results.It's like "just kidding". People say the most outlandish, offensive, hideously revolting garbage imaginable, and then make it all better by throwing on "just kidding". And then you can't get mad! They're only joking. Now if they remained stern and said "I'm completely serious," then you'd be justified in expressing outrage. But so long as they're "just kidding," then you are the jerkwad for finding their asinine commentary unpalatable. (Note to Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney: Just tell the parole board you guys were "just kidding". They'll be required by law to show leniency.)
I'm just sayin'.
Sandman, bring me a dream. I didn't even watch it. I just need something here. Flying spatulas -- great.
Today I'm listening to: New World Groove 01!
You'll Buy a Widescreen Monitor and You'll Like It...
MadWomen for Peace (incl. Diane)
Die Puny Humans (Warren Ellis)
Random Pictures (Photoblog)
Satan's Laundromat (Photoblog)
This Modern World (Tom Tomorrow)