"the deadliest bullshit is odorless and transparent" - William Gibson

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

it would take a whole pool full of syrup to turn me into a physicist

A recent article published in Nature documents the findings of a pair of curious scientists (Cussler and Gettlefinger) at the University of Minnesota who dared to answer the age-old physics question "do humans swim slower in syrup or water?" Apparently, this question has been a cocktail party sticking point for scientists going all the way back to Newton and Huygens. No computer models or theory papers for the audacious Cussler and Gettlefinger, no, they jumped through 22 seperate hoops of bureaucratic approval and filled a 25 meter swimming pool full of syrup and had motherfuckers race each other. Brilliance. Resplendant briliance, "a diamond bullet right through my forehead...Perfect, genuine, complete, crystalline, pure."

So, what happened? Of course, you swim the same speed in syrup or water. it's counterintuitive, but here's the science:

"The reason, explains Cussler, is that while you experience more 'viscous drag' (basically friction from your movement through the fluid) as the water gets thicker, you generate more forwards force from every stroke. The two effects cancel each other out.

That's not always the case. Below a certain threshold of speed and size, viscous drag becomes the dominant force, making gloopy fluids are more difficult to swim through. Had Cussler done his experiment on swimming bacteria instead of humans, he would have recorded much slower times in syrup than in water.

I can only imagine the feeling that they must have had when they finally looked out across that pool full of syrup on a early Minnesota morning. Gettlefinger is a world class swimmer and missed going to the olympics by a hair. The olympics have got to be a unbelievable thrill and honor and accomplishment and all that, but I don't know if I were in his place that I would trade the syrup for a trip to Athens. Just to think about the story makes me want to shoot off some fireworks and run in the streets.

And to top it off, the natural world cooperated with the art of the whole thing. What a perfect metaphor and statement. You can swim through syrup or shit or whatever just as fast as through water. It just feels harder.

I've been reading a bunch of Walter Benjamin lately and this statement pops up in a few places, "According to a legend from the Talmud, even the angels are created-new ones at every moment and in countless hosts - simply to sing their hymns before God, then cease to be and disappear into nothingness."

That's what this 300 kilograms of syrup endeavor is, "a hymn sung before God", nothing less. Bravo. Bravo.

Monday, September 27, 2004

dirty improv, dirty chops - if only every weekend was like this

wow. an amazing weekend. got to be a part of the 24 LIVE improv fundraiser, saw some amazing new works from the most exciting post-human modern dance company in the lower 48, Alban Elved and then capped it off by stumbling into a carrboro music day show by dirty chops eric sommer of Little feat, etc.

It felt good to pull a fun all-nighter. used to do it all the time, makes me feel better. it was an interesting psych experiment to see what sleep deprivation does to people this weekend. people get lost and wind up at some interesting places. reminded me somehow of the i eat the inconceivable footage from the powder pioneers that jump out of helicopters with a snowboard and an avalanche transponder and a death wish.

I'm not sure how to keep the substance/fun level at such a high dial number, but i'm gonna try. reality is already encroaching in ugly ways, but hopefully i can play this handle, perhaps even with a bit of speed. uncharted territory is always more fun, right?

Thursday, September 23, 2004

why'd have to be the hippies?

Wired news points out that the leftist filmmakers responsible for the "documentary" critiquing Rupert Murdoch's Fox News are offering up their raw footage for the public to download and remix.
remix outfoxed

Ah. I have mixed feelings about this. Make no mistake this is the future, I've been saying it for years (and i'm sure i'm not the only one). Sooner or later a Jarmusch or tractor remix of a film will carry the same weight (if not more) than a Dust Brothers or whoever remix of a hot dance song. So, yes, it's about time a major movie had the balls to open up their catalog using creative commons or something similar to the public. But why did it have to be such a asterisk'ed film. The partisan politics of Outfoxed will cloud the importance of what they have done. I guess it makes sense that a "documantery" film, who'se message is given bilblical importance would be the first to open their media up.

I'd like to download the material and do something with it, but i just don't know if i can get beyond the foul taste of political message disguised as a documentary. For me, film should never have a message, especially if it's aimed squarely at the choir.
But who knows, maybe i could do someting fun and apolitical with the material. Either way, kudos to them for doing it, i just wish it'd had been someone else.

on an unrealted note, I just ate a cat treat and it tasted horrible. But my teeth should be plaque free until my next feeding.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Old Weblog

In lieu of being slack about posting of late, here is a link to the archieves of my old blog at my old company, going all the way back to august 2002.
Banzai Entertainment! - Weblog

Friday, September 17, 2004

Socially Illegal since 1995

Adult Diaper Cowboy and Toilet Paper Mummy hereby request your prescence and unbridled participation in the 2004 IRON SCAV!

Mark your calendars, assemble your legal team, and notify your loved ones - the gathering draws near.

2004 Iron Scav Fall Classic - November 13th 4:00pm
place TBA

Last year, we had over 50 contestants in the event and the best top to bottom field ever. This year, we will of course be taking this phantasmagoric photo hunt to new heights with new categories, more audience participation, and new artistic carnage. ADC and TPM encourage you to recruit others for this event. New blood is always welcome.

As in years before, teams will consist of up to 5 people. Each team will need a digital camera. There will be a $5 entry fee per competitor. This will cover booze, poultry, trophy augmentation, and supplies.
Contestants will have approximately 6 hours to complete their photo hunt missions. Viewings, trophy presentation, and adrenal revelry will be held at a local watering hole and last well into the night.

Start assembling your team now. All-girl TeamNYC (tied for 3rd in 2003) has already booked their flights down to NC to take a shot at bringing the trophy back to Gotham. Who do you want in the trenches with you?

As always, please understand that at our current rate of contest escalation, death, injury, or capture could prove 2004 to be the last year of Iron Scav.

to sign up your team, ask questions, or suggest missions please email e at t hyphen me dot org.

See you November 13th.

Yours in Mayhem,

Adult Diaper Cowboy and Toilet Paper Mummy

p.s. If you have never experienced Iron Scav, check out these fine resources on the world wide web:

Iron Scav 2003, "One Shining Moment" video recap
1998 Summer Classic

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

scientific testing with cats

Wow. god bless nerds.

These guys have decided to test some pretty advanced image recognition algorithms by installing what's got to be the world's most high tech cat door. Flo Control, named after Flo P. Cat, will test whether the animal at the door is A a kitty, and if so, B if kitty is holding something dead in his mouth. The software will only allow the door to open for a kitty without a dead animal in its mouth.

Of course you can monitor cat door activity in real time.

When I had a cat, I used to step in to the shower in the morning and discover that my kitty, Marley or Bootzilla, had left me an offering, usually a small mammal, sometimes a reptile. Also, they often didn't actually kill these animals, they just maimed them, so that i could have the pleasure of finishing them off. I've read that this is what momma tigers will do for their young to teach them the Hunt.

I screamed and tried to get the crippled, bleeding, and now wet critter into the toilet or bag or whatever was around. More often than not i managed to drop it somewhere along the way, where it then ran bleeding into some unreachable corner of a closet to bleed and squeal and die and rot. The kitties must have thought i was hopeless.

But i can live with that. So, bravo! Quantum Picture geeks, but no kitty face recognition software for me. I know that they are only doing it because they love me, and want me to be able to eventually fend for myself in the big world out there. Maybe someday.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

it's zombies and they're masturbating, ewwww!

Waiting for my pizza to be warmed up at lunch yesterday, i spied a NY Times film section and was snared by this paragrpah describing the release of Dawn of the Dead:Ultimate Edition: "With his 1968 'Night of the Living Dead,' the Pittsburgh-based independent filmmaker George A. Romero began a mythic cycle that has proved to be as resonant and wide-ranging as such classic horror archetypes as Frankenstein and Dracula. Mr. Romero's lumbering zombies - dead bodies brought back to life for reasons that remain tantalizingly vague - have found cultural echoes from Italy to Hong Kong, and have inspired variations and remakes that continue through today ..."

"tantalizingly vague"! yes! i love this description. genre, myth and imagination all in one undead package.

Also of note in this "new to DVD wrap-up" is a well-deserved flogging of the brothers Coen:

"Joel and Ethan Coen stumbled badly with this facetious remake of Alexander Mackendrick's classic of British black comedy, "The Ladykillers" (1955), which finds even Tom Hanks defeated by the broad, heavy strokes of the brothers' direction."

"Facetious", another great choice of words by David Kerr (and one of the only words in english to feature all the vowels in alphabetical order). I've been hating on them and their caricature-driven carpet- bagging fan boy dribble since Lebowski. Good to see that others are joining in the chant of, O-ver-rated, CLAP, CLAP, CLAP CLAP CLAP!

Next up for the Coen bros is, of course, Paris, je t-aime, which they are producing and directing 1/10th of. "Paris, je t'aime is about the plurality of cinema in one mythic location: Paris, the City of Love. Twenty filmmakers will bring their own personal touch, underlining the wide variety of styles, genres, encounters and the various atmospheres and lifestyles that prevail in the neighborhoods of Paris...It will be a unique collective feature film that will constitute a two-hour cinematographic spectacle whose original structure will make for a dramatically different experience for its global audience." I don't even have to say it, but it will win many awards, esp. overseas, and it will be self-indulgant man-goo.

Surreal Grover

Perhaps its my own sleep deprivation and indigestion talking, but this interview with Grover about his upcoming DVD is well, a bit weird. I should unpack that a bit, but i'll just leave it at weird.

USATODAY.com - Grover parlays 'Street' cred into DVD gig


I'm in love with stories. When I really think about what my obsession is, what I want to do, what I need to do, what makes me happpy, what makes me scared... I keep coming back to stories.

I was reminded of their power and scope a few times today:

First during Doc Searls's talk at UNC today, where he revisited the tenant of the Cluetrain Manifesto that "Markets Are Conversations" and retold the principal as "Markets are Stories." Whether it's Steve Jobs telling himself the story that Microsoft has no taste, or Gates's empire telling itself the story of how smart they are, we are indeed the stories we tell ourselves (thanks), and in blogging terms, we are the stories we blog.

Then, at home, I was reading Jeff Jarvis and found that he had written about the upcoming 9/11 anniversary in story terms. He's written the this aware and fragmented revisiting spoke to me as particularly honest and powerful in ways that only a story can be. Rhetoric and pundit talking and all that jsut doesn't connect across time and space the way a story can:

"I have to go back to remember so I can begin to forget, so I can snap out of this and end the paralysis and accomplish something real and decent again: So I can stop the fall."

The way Jeff tells his story and his comments on the myth of time healing, "Time heals, no? No. Time hides. Just look at the scabs of Vietnam: Scrape them today and they ooze and hurt,"
brings me back to tim O'Brien and his stories:

"Forty-three years old, and the war occurred half a lifetime ago, and yet the remembering makes it now. And sometimes remembering will lead to a story, which makes it forever. That's what stories are for. Stories are for joining the past to the future. Stories are for those late hours in the night when you can't remember how you got from where you were to where you are. Stories are for eternity, when memory is erased, when there is nothing to remember except the story." from Spin

"You can tell a true war story by the questions you ask. Somebody tells a story, let's say, and afterward you ask, "Is it true?" and if the answer matters, you've got your answer.

For example, we've all heard this one. Four guys go down a trail. A grenade sails out. One guy jumps on it and takes the blast and saves his three buddies.

Is it true?

The answer matters.

You'd feel cheated if it never happened. Without the grounding reality, it's just a trite bit of puffery, pure Hollywood, untrue in the way all such stories are untrue. Yet even if it did happen - and maybe it did, anything's possible even then you know it can't be true, because a true war story does not depend upon that kind of truth. Absolute occurrence is irrelevant. A thing may happen and be a total lie; another thing may not happen and be truer than the truth. For example: Four guys go down a trail. A grenade sails out. One guy jumps on it and takes the blast, but it's a killer grenade and everybody dies anyway. Before they die, though, one of the dead guys says, "The fuck you do that for?" and the jumper says, "Story of my life, man," and the other guy starts to smile but he's dead.

That's a true story that never happened"
-from How to Tell a True War Story

In telling stories whether they are in the marketplace or in the aftermath of tragedy we are attempting to stop time, even though we know we will fail, we know that we will never freeze the moment in words or celluloid or song. We try again and again to get it right, and we forget and glaze over and develop blind spots just the same.

A good story will never be true, just like a good product/service will never be perfect. "Truth" and "perfection" and "agreement" are signs that you aren't trying hard enough.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

glacier knocks

I finally finished up a dance film I shot earlier this year with alban elved dance company and Joshua.

The 8 min film can be seen online HERE.

The title, Glacier Knocks, comes from a W.H. Auden poem i have always liked called As I walked out one evening:

'The glacier knocks in the cupboard,
The desert sighs in the bed,
And the crack in the tea-cup opens
A lane to the land of the dead.

any feedback on the film good, bad, or ugly would be appreciated.

burn baby, burn

When I was in 9th grade civics class, we used to pour rubber cement on the floor and light it on fire. You could light a whole mess of it ablaze without the teacher noticing because of the near-invisible blue flame.

I just finshed listening to
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Presents America (The Book) : A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction
in the mp3 format. It made me want to go back to civics class and play school-supply pyrotechnician. It also made me want to teach high school civics and assign this book and the classroom activites to the the little brats.

I was almost scared to read this book, on the off chance that it tasted a bit too much like liberal shrieking/bush-bashing and forever ruined my intrepid opinion of the great Daily Show and its host, but don't worry, the satire is pure and unadulterated and whine-free.

For an optimal readin experience i suggest a six pack of O'Douls and a perch high above your local collegetown/hippie-neighborhood. The fires and riots come Nov. 3rd will make an excellent back drop and light source by which to read this great book.

God Bless America!

Monday, September 06, 2004

thank you, mr cranky

I know there are some do-gooders out there who think that pessimism and cynicism are inherently bad, but those of us with the right perverse set of eyes know that often there is nothing as exquisitely beautiful , nothing with the power to warm our dark hearts as much as a good black rant about something which most people wold consider as innnocent as puppy breath.

I hate hollywood most times, but if hell froze over and they ever pulled their heads out of their asses, the world of the dark hearted would be deprived of the genius of mr. cranky.

Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2 : Mr. Cranky Rates the Movies : Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2

"This film is just pure proof that there is no God and that Jesus Christ just doesn't care about humanity; he fucking hates us."

Tues afternoon with Doc

Tuesday, September 7, 2004: ibiblio Presents Doc Searls at UNC-Chapel Hill. Doc will be talking about "The independence Revolution: How Self-Forming Markets are Changing Business, Technology, and Everything Else."

"To some degree the talk will be a progress report on Cluetrain ..."

I can't wait.