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day permlink Monday, 20 January 2003

permlink Al Hirschfeld, 1903-2003

No more NINAs: Al Hirschfeld, 1903-2003.
A Sampling of Hirschfeld's Art Works [Footlights Gallery]
Al permlink  

permlink The Two Towers

We saw The Two Towers yesterday. Not much to add to the many reviews I've already seen, except to note that:
  • David Wenham as Faramir looked convincingly like he was related to Boromir; nice casting.
  • Brad Dourif was wonderfully creepy as Gríma Wormtongue (I think I remember him best from The X Files, less so from Babylon 5)
  • The effects only failed for me a couple of times, but with effects in pretty much every frame, that's saying something.
  • The dwarf-tossing jokes seemed out of place to me too, but that's minor.
  • I wanted to see more of the end of the battle; it all seemed to happen off-screen. Maybe on the DVD.
All in all, that was one excellent movie. 10 out of 10. permlink     5 comment(s)  
I still haven't read this trilogy (a serious deficiency, I know, if i want to retain my geek cred), but it's clear from the movies that there's an incredible richness to the story that so much has drawn on. (One of those days I'll force myself to suffer through Tolkien's prose to get the story firsthand.) I found myself flashing to B5, to Orson Scott Card (talking trees), to Buffy, to any number of fantasy stories or sf epics. The other thing I like is the universality of the tale -- yes, it's easy to say that the ring equals atomic power, or that it's anti-technology, or whatever, but I think those kinds of readings are oversimplifications.

Cultural and literary theorizing aside, Legolas rules!! I'm not usually drawn to the pretty boy type, but I like this character much more now.
      ...posted by Medley (aka Mrs. NowThis) on January 20, 2003 11:21 PM
I agree that the movie was great. However, they committed character assassination on Faramir - his motives and actions were inconsistent with the book in fundamental ways that will create promblems in RotK. That cost at least one of the ten points in my book.
      ...posted by Eric on January 21, 2003 10:24 AM
they're 2/2 with dwarf-tossing references; are we to think that Tolkein made the joke (and/or originated the concept) or that the writers are inserting their own tasteless deal here? very perplexed... (in The Fellowship, the comment was made while escaping from the mines).
      ...posted by acm on January 21, 2003 11:11 AM
Eric: One of the advantages of not having read the books in many years is that I really didn't notice inconsistencies. I'll take your word for it. :)

acm: I'm sure there were no tossing jokes in the books. It's just the most jarring of the modern affectations (there were others) that will probably seem odder and odder as time passes.
      ...posted by SteveB on January 21, 2003 1:29 PM
Glad you liked it. I disagree with the fan-nation's upbraiding of PJ for changing Faramir. There's still plenty of time for Faramir to complete his narrative arc, and the Wizard's pupil of the books is a bit dry (Nor does it make much narrative sense given what's come before, much like Sam and "hobbit-sense" in ROTK, but I'll say no more of that until film 3 arrives.)
      ...posted by Kevin on January 24, 2003 12:54 PM
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permlink No Segways in SF

Segways outlawed in San Francisco.

Segway hits bump in S.F. [San Francisco Examiner]
In hilly San Francisco, where pedestrians must navigate not only rough pavement, news racks and homeless people, officials feared the battery-powered Segways would cause more problems than they would solve, particularly for the disabled and senior citizens.

...Segway's campaign rubbed officials the wrong way: "Segway didn't help themselves by hiring very expensive lobbyists," he said. "I think that backfired on them, too."
That's fine for now; if it succeeds without trouble in other cities, SF can always change its rules. permlink  

permlink Dash on diamonds

Long, scathing Anil Dash on diamond marketing: diamonds are for never
Did your husband decide to increase your consumer debt in order to buy you a pair of earrings that were mined at gunpoint by children in Africa? Reward him with grudging sex and a temporary cessation of your relentless nagging!

...I'm sure I'll get a lot of grief from people who've given or received diamonds, arguing that the ads are cleverly playing on classic archetypes and that I have a stick up my ass, etc. But the reality is, this is a broken industry with a product whose very existence is absurd.

...if the moral issues aren't compelling enough, perhaps their contempt for your emotional maturity, your partner's character, and the solidity of your relationship would be enough to dissuade you.
The diamond ads I see in Metro stations around town really are contemptible. permlink     1 comment(s)  
That was a great piece Anil wrote and I am so glad that all the diamonds in my family are antiques (most by way of grandmothers). My brother found out about DeBeers and went and bought his fiancee an antique just to avoid the raquet.
      ...posted by Joni on January 21, 2003 6:12 AM
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permlink Blog the Blog, got to...

Blog the Blog: One new-to-me weblog that's made it into my most-frequently-checked RSS feed group in NetNewsWire (translation: I think it's really good) is What Do I Know by Todd Dominey. A couple of interesting posts shall I pluck quotes from:

OS X Software: Jefferson [What Do I Know]
[Jefferson] provides an Aqua front-end for THOMAS - an online database of legislation maintained by the Library of Congress. But instead of paging through ungodly amounts of data, Jefferson allows you to search by bill number, by subject matter (i.e. "Estate Tax"), or by a bill's sponsors (last names of Senators, Representatives). You can also pick from the 108th Congress all the way down to the 101st in your search requests. Even for those who don't need the data, Jefferson is an interesting application to monkey with, especially for political junkies like myself...
(Caution, though; I downloaded Jefferson 1.0a1 and it won't run at all on my machine, it just crashes [10.2.3]. Still, it's a great idea for an app.)

Intuit's Criminal Customers [What Do I Know]
...when you install TurboTax, the product secretly installs a spyware application that runs in the background - all the time - even while you're not using TurboTax, watching your every move. Keep in mind we're talking about a software package most, if not all, buyers use for a handful of days to file their returns.

As you'd naturally expect, their customer response has been swift and damagingly negative. Drop by the product page and you'll see the carnage. After 195 reviews, the once high-flying product (I've used it every year) is barely hanging on to a one star rating.
Exploration, synthesis, very nice design... pretty much what I wish my own site were better at. Check him out. permlink  

permlink You own my ideas, so...

Cryptographer Daniel Bernstein, an associate professor at University of Illinois-Chicago, is following the university's apparent patent policy to the letter by disclosing all ideas he comes up with this year, no matter how minor, to the university (and to the Web):

Dear Ms. Tarzian... [via Boing Boing]

Here's the list so far. Read the first few for his side of the conversation with the university; apparently they are being quite vague with their answers to him regarding what he must share with them.

My favorite, I think, is the unkillable alarm clock, though for maximum mass benefit I'd have to pick the multiple TV Guide channels. permlink  

permlink Slatkin shaping the NSO

I found this story of organizational change interesting: Leonard Slatkin's shaping the National Symphony Orchestra through steady but humane personnel replacement:

A Hire Duty for Slatkin: Slowly but Surely, Music Director Puts His Pieces in Place [Washington Post]
When the late George Szell took over the music directorship of the Cleveland Orchestra in 1946 ... he began his tenure by replacing the concertmaster, the first cellist, the first oboist, the first clarinetist and the principal horn... In all, there were a flabbergasting 84 personnel changes in the orchestra during Szell's first five years. When one longtime player confided that he was thinking of buying a big house in Shaker Heights, a prestigious Cleveland suburb, the conductor looked at him scornfully. "I wouldn't," he snapped.

Leonard Slatkin, the National Symphony Orchestra's music director since 1996, has effected no such purge; indeed, it is hard to imagine that any present-day orchestra committee would stand for this sort of wholesale bloodletting. And yet the NSO is now a vastly different group than it was when he took the helm...

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