Archive for May, 2005

Photobooth

The Mad Art Gallery, home to delights past, is hosting the 7th International Photobooth Convention put on by the good people of Photobooth.net. A screening of Amelie, at least as enjoyable this second time as the first, followed a lecture on photobooths in the movies by Brian Meacham of the Harvard Film Archive. It was a small crowd, but a good time. There was an unexpected convergence of people I have met other places around STL. The ones I asked had read the article in The Riverfront Times. I think I read about it on a local blog and then forgot about it. I would credit the blog if I could remember it. Then a friend emailed me about it, and I decided that it was time to make up my mind and go. Four photobooths are available at the convention. I hope to post my pictures after scanning them. The convention will continue on the 31st, and I highly recommend it. I enjoyed meeting a few of the people behind it. They are a funny, smart, creative crew. Tim Garrett‘s digital refurbishing of an old photobooth impressed me technically and artistically. If I had not made plans for Tuesday night before learning about it, I would go to the second day, too.

Update May 31: Thomas Crone, STL writer, journalist, teacher and blogger, also had a good time. I look forward to his Post-Dispatch article. I heard last night that local television station KSDK is covering the event, too, but I cannot find anything on the web site.

Update June 2: There was a post on Boing Boing about the convention. I attended an event that made Boing Boing! I could not go Tuesday for the second day. A couple of friends who did make it said that it was good.

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Michael M. on May 30th 2005 in General, Movies

Shakespeare and STL summertime

The Tempest is playing in Forest Park. It is this year’s Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis production. I saw Saturday’s performance. I recommend it. I missed the first season in 2001 because I did not live here yet, but I have attended every year since. I will continue going if I can.

The performance was good and lively. I am no talented drama critic, but the actors were solid. The production intersperses good humor throughout the play. The gags were delightful and cut across boundaries. As usual for the festival, some of the action happened off the stage out with the audience, and I enjoy the choice to involve the audience by proximity.

There were a few problems, nearly all mine. I never read this play, and I did not prepare myself adequately. On top of the my usual difficulties, I had a headache, an ailment rare for me, and I had trouble maintaining attention. Too much of my time watching was spent lost and trying to figure out basic elements of the drama. I recommend going, but preparing a little more than I did.

It reminds me of how many fun outdoor activities Saint Louis offers every summer. I went to Rib America twice this weekend. I had pulled pork from North Carolina BBQ and ribs from Cowboy’s BBQ. Cowboy’s had a longer line both times. Both had some kick, though, and were better than the pulled pork I ate last year at the festival. I forgot where I ate then. The whole event employs a dirty system of paying for everything with tickets, which I dislike. I do like the food.

I saw Cowboy Mouth there Sunday evening. Having not liked “Jenny Says” that much, I was not excited about seeing them. A friend invited me their last concert here, and I declined. Judgment functions better with pertinent evidence. I learned the error of my ways. Their show had typical rock band cajoling of the audience to jump and scream while talking up Saint Louis. This approach is not yet irretrievably outmoded to me. The band was energetic and fun.

Several other good STL summer activities are on the way. The Muny, the series of outdoor musicals, will begin in three weeks. I enjoy showing up way too early to sit in the free seats with people who do not behave. The Whitaker Music Festival at the Missouri Botanical Garden will begin its series of Wednesday concerts this week. I expect to take in several lovely evenings on blankets there. Usually, the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra performs at the Saint Louis Science Center about this time of year, but I cannot find any information about a concert this year. Please add more if you know other good ones.

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Michael M. on May 30th 2005 in General, Live, Music

Anatomy revealed

The Visible Human Project allows one to see slices through a cadaver. It is impressive. Thanks go to Waxy Links.

I took gross anatomy. It was a great privilege and a terrific experience. One of my dissection team members alerted me to Body Worlds. The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago currently has the exhibition. It will be there until early September. I want to go. I need to make time this summer for a little Chicago trip.

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Michael M. on May 28th 2005 in General

Stunt City

I sometimes feel a little bad for promoting commericials, but I have done it before. The people who make them do so for money, but I am getting nothing. I often do not like the products. Nevertheless, this commercial for deodorant is cool. Thanks to this post for bringing my attention to it.

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Michael M. on May 28th 2005 in General

Creationist museum

This post on Boing Boing about a new creationist museum caught my attention. With all the recent attention for intelligent design, a movement led by bad thinkers in scientists’ clothing who are good enough to trick people, it is different to see people who cannot even get the clothing right. The problem is that the man behind it still managed to garner $25 million and plenty of attention.

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Michael M. on May 28th 2005 in General

Star Wars Episode III DVDs

I came across this post that includes a video clip from an NBC report on downloads and DVDs of Episode III. Xeni Jardin, famous person, posted about it on Boing Boing.

My father mentioned bootlegs with surprise last time we talked. The speed with which the they appeared impressed him. I had the opposite reaction. Of course bootlegs appeared immediately. People, especially nerds who are good with computers, love Star Wars. People share, steal and borrow everything that is worth anything. Is it evidence of a generation gap?

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Michael M. on May 28th 2005 in General, Movies

In the Year 2000

Conan O’Brien opined on “The Future of Television” for Newsweek. O’Brien’s augury is well documented.

MythTV has changed my television watching. After a childhood of massive television, my relationship with the joybox became intermittent in my middle teens. The Simpsons is the only prime time network show I watch with any regularity. I rarely watch television during its transmission. Instead, I have a queue of my favorite shows that I watch as I please. Unlike TiVo, I can copy my shows and archive them to DVD as I see fit without the restrictions that TiVoToGo imposes. There is no subscription. The software is free. I can do nearly everything over the web. Watching away from home is inconvenient because upload speeds are so slow, but managing schedules and recordings is easy. I can record two channels simultaneously now, and I might add another card. MythTV is excellent. My compliments go to the developers.

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Michael M. on May 24th 2005 in General

DBT

I saw Drive-By Truckers at the Pageant last Tuesday. It was my third DBT concert. They teach me that my enjoyment of Southern rock is far from over. In a strange pairing, KSHE sponsored the show. I doubt that KSHE plays DBT. Some woman talked to the crowd after the show. She sounded like a DJ. The crowd seemed uninterested in her. Everybody probably was too rocked out to pay attention.

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Michael M. on May 24th 2005 in General, Live, Music

Upcoming Stephen Colbert show

‘Daily Show’ Personality Gets His Own Platform” covers the upcoming Stephen Colbert show, The Colbert Report. His segments on The Daily Show are among the most hilarious. This preview looks good.

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Michael M. on May 22nd 2005 in General

Recreating music

Self-Similar Guns N’ Roses, found via Waxy Links, is a cool idea with mixed results. The original songs are sped up many times to provide samples for MIDI. In some stretches, it sounds good. I wonder exactly what contributes most to the resulting pitch of the sped up sample. If the multiplier is high enough, the drum line ought to dominate, making the pitch of the sample a multiple of the original tempo.

Thanks to this post at Downhill Battle, I am listening to Hippocamp Ruins Pet Sounds. I do not know what to think yet. Some parts sound good; others are boring remix noise.

DownThemAll! is a great tool for these pages.

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Michael M. on May 22nd 2005 in General, Music, Recorded

Womanomynous

I thought of a new word, “womanonymous.” I have two ideas for meanings.

The word could refer to the assumption many people make in anonymous online discussions. Frequently, one reply contains the assumption that another person is a man. In reality, that person is womanonymous. “Do not assume that everyone on /. is a man. There are womanonymous nerds, too.”

The other possibility is when men pretend to be women online. “He likes to be womanonymous in chats.” Upon further thought, maybe “transcriptite,” in the spirit of “transvestite,” would be a better word for this category.

I feel that I accomplished something.

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Michael M. on May 21st 2005 in General

Star Wars

I saw the midnight showing of Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. It is a great movie.

I will expand this entry later.

Update May 21-22

I greatly enjoyed the movie. It suffers from flaws similar to the past ones, jerky characters, wooden acting and clumsy dialogue. The audience laughed during a scene with Anakin and Padme. The flaws do not bother me. The rest is excellent. The space battles and the light saber fights look dazzling. The action is involving. Even though the movie is long, I found myself enjoying it the whole way through. I loved Star Wars as a child. I had some of the toys. When VCRs became common, we watched Episode IV many times. I still love Star Wars. It is the theatrical landmark of my generation. This movie brings one tiny section of my life to its close, and it does so wonderfully.

The midnight show was one of the last events of my medical school class. They graduated Friday. Many of us saw the midnight showing of Episode II at the Esquire. It was fun to repeat the act and finish in fine style.

My favorites were Yoda and R2-D2. The animation of Yoda is terrific, especially the saber fights. He is one of the more sympathetic characters. R2-D2 is funny the same way he has been in the other episodes. C-3PO has only a minor role.

Yoda is the intersection of two entertainment landmarks of my childhood, Star Wars and Sesame Street. Frank Oz still voices Yoda even though he is now computer animated instead of puppeted. Yoda is a backward talking Grover who is green like Kermit. After all the programming as a child, it is no wonder that I like him so much.

Two friends pointed out a major reason that the recent movies have not been better. There was no Han Solo or Harrison Ford. I first heard this idea before seeing the movie when discussing Morning Edition that day. Then another friend brought up the same idea on the drive home after the show. In the galaxy far, far away, most characters are either earnestly good or terribly bad. Han Solo had a shady past, but he joined the good side in tough times. He got the girl. He delivered snappy commentary. He improved some of Lucas’ bad lines. Harrison Ford made the Indiana Jones movies, too.

I want to see it again. There are two local venues that would be great places. It is showing at the Moolah Theatre and the Skyview Drive In. I have been to the Skyview a few times, and it is always fun. Making fun of the movie while eating some good food under the stars with some friends is a recipe for a fun night. I have not been to the Moolah Theatre yet, but I cannot think of a better way to visit it for the first time.

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Michael M. on May 19th 2005 in General, Movies

Hometown auteur

My family has reunited for my sister’s graduation. Congratulations to her on her imminent completion of graduate school! She has gone fast and impressed her colleagues very favorably.

My mother saves me and my sister clippings from the local paper at home, the Enterprise-Journal, and the Clarion-Ledger, Mississippi‘s newspaper of record. For the collection she brought for us this weekend, she clipped this one about a Star Wars parody. Todd Bullock’s A Lost Hope is worth a gander. Sequential Pictures is his site. He has some other funny ones. I knew Todd’s older brother who contributed to quite a few of them. Many of them were shot around McComb. I enjoy seeing places I recognize. I reckon that it is good to big up the locals even though my publicity is worth very little.

I have a ticket to the midnight showing of Revenge of the Sith. The trailer makes it look so good! Burn me again, George Lucas.

Update: A. O. Scott wrote a rave for Episode III.

Update May 22-23: I watched the trailer again. I realized that I know a couple of the actors. Palpatine is played by Scott Bullock, Todd’s brother who was a year ahead of me in school. Jeromy Spiers, who plays Obi-Wan, was also in that class. This interview with Todd jogged my memory. Scott and Jeromy both are musical. Jeromy owns a music store, and Scott is a good singer. I strongly suspect that the Sarah Rials credited is related to Miss Mattie.

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Michael M. on May 15th 2005 in General, Movies

Daily Show on blogging

This post on On Lisa Rein’s Radar includes this clip on bloggers (mirror) from The Daily Show. Stewart pilloried several of the cable news channels for their coverage of blogs. One of the sites of one of the segments within the segment, skippy the bush kangaroo, now features the quote from Jon Stewart. Michelle Malkin, some conservative, was also mentioned. Thanks to this post on Boing Boing for the pointer. I make this post in the name of tangled references.

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Michael M. on May 15th 2005 in General

Saint Louis praise

Where Barry Commoner is a star” is a fine little essay on Saint Louis by Michael Bérubé. I never had been here until my interview. It can be a fun town. This post on thomascrone.com directed me to it.

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Michael M. on May 10th 2005 in General

Missouri evolution

Thanks to this post at the Arch City Chronicle, I found this story on STLtoday.com about HB35, a terrible bill proposing new regulations for biology textbooks introduced to the Missouri House of Representatives by Cynthia Davis. I sent her email.

I read about your bill HB35 in the Post-Dispatch. It will interfere with the teaching of biology. Will we repeat the missteps of our neighbors in Kansas?

What do you think is a testable theory? What is a philosophical claim? Evolution fits well as an example of the first. Intelligent Design, along with some of the other ideas proposed as alternatives, falls, at best, into the second category. More likely, it is a combination of bumbling misunderstanding and intentional deception. The calculations put forth by its advocates neglect to include many incredibly important factors, leading to the conclusion that the advocates either do not know better or choose deceptively to exclude them. What credible alternative theories are there to evolution? Lamarckian inheritance, once considered a possible explanation, failed long ago. Is there anything else?

If you would like to learn more about biology, I would be happy to answer the questions I can and to direct you to some helpful resources. For understanding the scientific process of biology and its differences compared to physics or chemistry, This Is Biology by Ernst Mayr was helpful to me. Most rhetoric about testable hypotheses reveals confusion about the mission and methods of biology. Mayr’s book addresses them very well. Jonathan Weiner’s The Beak of the Finch is an enjoyable read, too. This fight over evolution is often spun as a culture war, but it is not. A little learning in how genes work and how they are inherited goes a long way toward resolving this conflict. I encourage you to learn more, and I am happy to help.

On a pragmatic level, you are wasting my money by sponsoring this legislation. It never will succeed in the long run. I do not like this effort because it simultaneously pushes the state backwards financially and educationally. If by some accident your HB35 were to pass, the state would be sued immediately, wasting even more resources, only to lose eventually. Government should eliminate inefficiency when possible, and your bill is one clear case. I dislike your ideological political grandstanding with taxpayer money. Please withdraw HB35 immediately.

Sincerely,

I hope I was direct and critical without being unfair to her. I will see whether she replies. I encourage others who feel strongly to write her using the contact information on her web page.

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Michael M. on May 4th 2005 in General

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States.