g r o t t o 1 1

Peeve Farm
Breeding peeves for show, not just to keep as pets
Brian Tiemann
Silicon ValleyNew York-based purveyor of a confusing mixture of Apple punditry, political bile, and sports car rentals.

btman at grotto11 dot com

Read These Too:

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James Lileks
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As the Apple Turns
Entropicana
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Capitalist Lion
Red Letter Day
Eric S. Raymond
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Aziz Poonawalla
Corsair the Rational Pirate
.clue
Ravishing Light
Rosenblog
Cartago Delenda Est



Cars without compromise.





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 3/28/2005 -   4/3/2005
 3/21/2005 -  3/27/2005
 3/14/2005 -  3/20/2005
  3/7/2005 -  3/13/2005
 2/28/2005 -   3/6/2005
 2/21/2005 -  2/27/2005
 2/14/2005 -  2/20/2005
  2/7/2005 -  2/13/2005
 1/31/2005 -   2/6/2005
 1/24/2005 -  1/30/2005
 1/17/2005 -  1/23/2005
 1/10/2005 -  1/16/2005
  1/3/2005 -   1/9/2005
12/27/2004 -   1/2/2004
12/20/2004 - 12/26/2004
12/13/2004 - 12/19/2004
 12/6/2004 - 12/12/2004
11/29/2004 -  12/5/2004
11/22/2004 - 11/28/2004
11/15/2004 - 11/21/2004
 11/8/2004 - 11/14/2004
 11/1/2004 -  11/7/2004
10/25/2004 - 10/31/2004
10/18/2004 - 10/24/2004
10/11/2004 - 10/17/2004
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 9/13/2004 -  9/19/2004
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12/29/2003 -   1/4/2004
12/22/2003 - 12/28/2003
12/15/2003 - 12/21/2003
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11/24/2003 - 11/30/2003
11/17/2003 - 11/23/2003
11/10/2003 - 11/16/2003
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10/27/2003 -  11/2/2003
10/20/2003 - 10/26/2003
10/13/2003 - 10/19/2003
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  2/3/2003 -   2/9/2003
 1/27/2003 -   2/2/2003
 1/20/2003 -  1/26/2003
 1/13/2003 -  1/19/2003
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12/30/2002 -   1/5/2003
12/23/2002 - 12/29/2002
12/16/2002 - 12/22/2002
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11/25/2002 -  12/1/2002
11/18/2002 - 11/24/2002
11/11/2002 - 11/17/2002
 11/4/2002 - 11/10/2002
10/28/2002 -  11/3/2002
10/21/2002 - 10/27/2002
10/14/2002 - 10/20/2002
 10/7/2002 - 10/13/2002
 9/30/2002 -  10/6/2002
 9/23/2002 -  9/29/2002
 9/16/2002 -  9/22/2002
  9/9/2002 -  9/15/2002
  9/2/2002 -   9/8/2002
 8/26/2002 -   9/1/2002
 8/19/2002 -  8/25/2002
 8/12/2002 -  8/18/2002
  8/5/2002 -  8/11/2002
 7/29/2002 -   8/4/2002
 7/22/2002 -  7/28/2002
 7/15/2002 -  7/21/2002
  7/8/2002 -  7/14/2002
  7/1/2002 -   7/7/2002
 6/24/2002 -  6/30/2002
 6/17/2002 -  6/23/2002
 6/10/2002 -  6/16/2002
  6/3/2002 -   6/9/2002
 5/27/2002 -   6/2/2002
 5/20/2002 -  5/26/2002
 5/13/2002 -  5/19/2002
  5/6/2002 -  5/12/2002
 4/29/2002 -   5/5/2002
 4/22/2002 -  4/28/2002
 4/15/2002 -  4/21/2002
  4/8/2002 -  4/14/2002
  4/1/2002 -   4/7/2002
 3/25/2002 -  3/31/2002
 3/18/2002 -  3/24/2002
 3/11/2002 -  3/17/2002
  3/4/2002 -  3/10/2002
 2/25/2002 -   3/3/2002
 2/18/2002 -  2/24/2002
 2/11/2002 -  2/17/2002
  2/4/2002 -  2/10/2002
 1/28/2002 -   2/3/2002
 1/21/2002 -  1/27/2002
 1/14/2002 -  1/20/2002
  1/7/2002 -  1/13/2002
12/31/2001 -   1/6/2002
12/24/2001 - 12/30/2001
12/17/2001 - 12/23/2001
Sunday, February 27, 2005
00:18 - Rolling back the curtain of night

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We rolled into South Lake Tahoe late on Friday night, and on an impulse—ignoring the others' obvious need for a restroom break—I pulled off the road at the first turnout on the cliff face as US 50 dives down to the lake level from Echo Summit, and sat the 10D on top of the car to use it in lieu of a tripod for some long-exposure shots.



Given that this was my first attempt at any night photography, I can't really claim that these shots are any good—to properly get the backgrounds in focus I would have had to stop the lens down a lot more and take a much longer shot. But on the LCD after taking these, I was immediately dumbstruck by the range of colors available. You're telling me these were taken after 10:00 PM? (The backlighting against Chris there comes from cars passing by us on the winding and slushy road down to the valley floor.)

So after we'd checked in at our hotel on the lake, I went down to the shore where the snowbanks had helpfully risen to the level where the steel fence surrounding the beach came up just to waist height, and I could rest the camera on it and take some nice long exposures.



Again, not the sharpest things in the world—but the colors that it recorded nearly made my feet fly out from under me and land me in an icy snowbank staring at the stars as they described arcs through my field of vision all night long.

Looking at the pictures zoomed in all the way on the LCD in the room that night, I realized that they weren't especially sharp; in the morning I was out at the same location taking equivalent shots in daylight, stopping down the aperture to f/13 and f/22, which brought the mountain into much sharper focus. While I was doing that, a guy named Eki with an accent I couldn't identify stepped up behind me with his film Nikon ("NEE-kon") and began to hold forth on various camera-related subjects, giving me various tips on composition and lenses and telling me without a whole lot of vaunted European diplomacy that his opinion of the 10D (and digital cameras in general) was less than stellar. But though the pictures he took of me in the scene came out looking pretty foul (he forgot to do any fill-flash, so I'm all in shadow and the mountains are bright white), I did share a few minutes of geekery with someone who recognized me as a peer of sorts. Wheee!

So anyway, on Saturday night I wandered down to the beach again. The clouds had rolled in during the day, and the full moon that had illuminated the Tahoe mountains so nicely the previous night was nowhere to be seen. But though the mountains themselves were totally in shadow, I noticed a weird red wisp behind them off to the northwest. I figured this must be a fire somewhere in the mountains west of the lake, with its glow reflecting dimly off the clouds above. So I set up a 30-second exposure on ISO 800, which let me crank my 50mm prime lens down to f/4.5; and this is what came out:



Still not amazingly sharp—if I'd brought my tripod and remote shutter release, I'd have done longer stopped-down exposures than the camera's maximum automatic 30 seconds—but check out those colors, why don't you?

Now I think I'm starting to see what makes people like this guy do what they do. So much for my evenings...

Thursday, February 24, 2005
01:10 - Are we having fun yet?

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Why, yes. Yes I am.



I've been waiting to get this shot for months. Full telephoto at 300mm (effective 480mm) on the rise on Blossom Hill where you can see the whole straight length out across the skirt of the Almaden valley. The street narrows to two lanes as it goes up the hill, and it narrows to one side rather than down the middle, so I'm actually standing on the shoulder, though it looks like I'm right in the middle of the street. There's like a quarter mile between me and the nearest part of what shows up in frame.

I like telephoto.



20-second exposure on tripod, taken from my room, pointing out at the end of our cul-de-sac under the orange sodium lights. Taken through the window screen, which makes for some interesting flaring effects around the light sources.

Yes, I realize telephoto is a privilege, not a right. But still.


00:09 - Scratching my head
http://www.blogoutsidethebox.net/archives/2005/02/whats_wrong_wit.htm

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What is it with these Kopyright Liberation Front warriors who all seem to be convinced that the iPod is doomed, dooomed, because it doesn't permit easy piracy and doesn't support the runaway hit Ogg Vorbis format?

It must really honk them off when the buying public obstinately seems more interested in a user interface that works coupled with an iconic profile and logo, fed by a legal music-downloading system that serves their needs reasonably and effectively, while at the same time being attractive enough that the labels will buy into it.

Stupid plebs!

UPDATE: Yow! Lileks is back in the pink and gives this guy a righteous fisking.

ADDENDUM: I wrote this in response to Kenny B.'s e-mail about how legitimate copyright-reformers are suffering the same fate that the Democrats have:

It's sort of funny how much argument these days can be boiled down to "wanting to get something for free"; just as thoughtful Democrats with a realistic plan for national health and growth find it hard to differentiate themselves from the throngs of sign-waving angry youth who essentially base all their politics on wanting the government to condone and sponsor them getting more sex and drugs and not having to have jobs, the people who want some reasonable copyright reform to reflect how pop culture has changed in the last couple of centuries are hard to hear over the din of those who want nothing more noble than to be able to keep collecting MP3s without having to worry about getting sued.

    The argument over copyright w.r.t. content that can be freely copied and distributed inevitably goes down any of several roads. The "free beer" types all talk about how if they copy an MP3, nobody's lost anything; yeah, they got something for nothing, but nobody has lost access to what they took, so what's the problem? Shouldn't we all be celebrating this triumph over the Second Law of Thermodynamics? Whereas the counterargument is that what's lost is exclusivity, which is the actual product; they've diluted the value of the good by copying it, and breached not a law against theft of material objects, but an unspoken agreement that only certain people should have access to certain kinds of information, gated by a fee paid to some keymaster, even though in the real world such a process is an entirely voluntary matter. And that gives libertarians hives, even if it is the coldly consistent view of things.

    I don't know what would be a good way to resolve the matter in the courts, in a way that's consistent with libertarian values and yet doesn't totally wreck the market. The law has to come down either on the side of the content consumers, or the content producers; they can make file-sharing legal like in Canada (and pay artists out of blanket taxation), protecting consumers and incentivizing them to consume more for free—or they can keep trying to prosecute file-sharing and thus defend the producers, by making production the activity that people are incentivized to do. Like taxing sales versus taxing income. What do you want to be the more attractive thing for people to do?

    I tend to come down on the side of defending the producers, because I like the idea of incentivizing production rather than consumption (it's the only way wealth is created, the thing that labor-theory-of-value types always ignore). But that's what we've been doing, and it's none too easy to put into practice as technology keeps changing—and it's harder every day to sell the idea to kids who are growing up never having known a world without KaZaA.


17:41 - 1000 words, but you only need seven

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"That'd be the short bus," says the caption as forwarded by a friend.


13:32 - All in one convenient location
http://coldfury.com/?p=5332

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Mike at Cold Fury once again renews his claim to said blog title with an outstanding essay on "supporting the troops":

But tell me, does the arrogance of that approach sound at all familiar? It should by now; we’ve heard plenty of it over the years, and the latest incarnation (besides Will’s, I mean) surfaced just after the ‘04 election, with the phrase “they (meaning red-state Americans) voted against their own best interests.”

Well, thanks a lot for coming down from the mountaintop to render that enlightened judgment, fellas. And I’se sho’ the soldiers would want to thanks you too for not laughing right out loud at they po’ ign’ant selfs, Marse Will. I take that tone advisedly; liberal condescension reminds me of nothing so much as the old slave-owner’s rationalization that the Negro actually needed slavery because without it, he was too darn stupid to be counted on to come in out of the rain. The difference between that attitude and the one these Lefties are taking with soldiers—and anybody notice how often they refer to these mostly in-their-20s men and women as “kids” or “children,” by the way?—is one only of degree.

But the real fun to be had is in the comments—where exactly the same people Mike criticizes drop in to leave some of the most inane, frothingly mad, patently ridiculous posts I've seen, and all of them striking a "Yoo idi0tt!!!1 I AM genious and U are STOOPID evil Nazi facist!!!1" tone that would be cute if there weren't so darned many of these guys. Hell, all they have to have is an editor, and they're qualified to run a radio or TV talk show or make Oscar-winning documentaries.

They're they only ones capable of leaving such a thread thinking the same things they did going in, and as such I think I have to agree with Mike: they're beyond help. Trying only leads to heartbreak.

Hey, I didn't say stop.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005
21:20 - I can change, I can change

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Reading this piece in Der Spiegel, why is it that I'm reminded inexorably of the end of Rocky IV—the one from 1985 where after beating Dolph Lundgren, the Soviet superman boxer dude, to a bloody pulp, Sylvester Stallone slurs out drunkenly that "I guess what I'm trynna say is.... if I can change.... and you can change... everybody can change"? And after sitting there looking stunned for a moment, the Gorbachev stand-in and all his bemedaled retinue slooowly stand... and slooowly begin clapping... and the Soviet Union sloooowly begins to crumble?

As I think back on it, that must have been one of the most insulting movies ever, if you were a Russian democrat. The idea that all that had to happen to get communism to fall was for some drooly palooka to stumble off the edge of a boxing ring and blurt out some puddle-deep crap about how it's conceivable to do something else with your economic and political system. I mean, imagine you're some political dissident or expatriate, a victim of Khrushchev's or Brezhnev's KGB, with family that had been "disappeared" and five name changes and as many fake passports covering your trail. What goes through your mind: "Wow, you mean we can change? That's all we had to say?"

And yet, somehow, it ended up being on the right side of history—and a better prognosticator of future events than, say, White Nights. Perhaps "stupid but optimistic" simply carries a more lasting and infectious message than "glumly realistic" to the most important audience of all, the body politic.

But anyway, I'm glad to see some people in high places starting to talk like this, even if just because they know this kind of headline is so shocking that it's bound to sell newspapers. The argument this guy makes is pretty simple: no conspiracies, no dire evil. It's just sense. It's self-critical, but it has the ring of reality. Or so it seems to me.

All things considered, I think this would be a better world if more people were to listen to such a perspective with an open mind, and do what the mindset it creates says needs to be done to and for this planet. Maybe believing in stupid fantasies isn't such a bad thing after all.

UPDATE: Sure looks like it's working for Lebanon.


18:06 - Begin camerablog mode

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Well, here goes, then.

I acquired a friend's old Canon EOS 10D body the other day, choosing it for the price he was willing to let me have it for as much as for the specific advantages it provides over and above the Digital Rebel/300D (better focussing and metering control), the 20D (price), and the new Digital Rebel XT/350D (price, and I'd have to wait). This means I've been sitting in my room dully taking lens-less pictures of big colorful blurs in the evenings while I wait for some lenses to arrive from B&H.

Said lenses, considering I'm just a beginner with SLRs, are an entry-level 50mm prime, and the 75-300 image-stabilized zoom telephoto that everybody seems to have. These make for a barely $450 package all told, not bad for a beginning lens loadout. I'm well aware that the 75-300 isn't the most awesome lens in the entire world, but I've been obsessively reading review pages of just about every lens in my ranges of interest, and studying pages like this one explaining what f/stops are all about, preparing myself for the inevitable forking out in the future of large wads of cash for better lenses once I convince myself that my inability to take interesting pictures with either of these two starter lenses has more to do with my dearth of expensive equipment than with my inability to spot good photo locations or apply sound techniques.

Sooner or later I'll be getting a good super-wide lens, for example, something that maxes out at between 10 and 16mm; but I held off on picking one up right away because there appears to have been a large number of new super-wide lenses released or announced just in the last few months. See, apparently now that digital SLRs (with their sensor size smaller than a 35mm frame by a factor of 1.6, by which you must multiply the focal length of any lens you attach to get its film equivalent length) have reached the magic $1000 price point, suddenly all the lens manufacturers are starting to realize that they'd better start bringing out lenses to track the market shift in progress. That doesn't mean new telephotos; digital SLRs have no problem with telephoto. That 300mm zoom I'm getting will be an effective 480mm, so no worries there (and since on digitals you can select the ISO with a flip of a wheel rather than loading in a new film cartridge and discarding the old one, aperture size isn't as big a worry either). The problem is wide-angle.

Super-wide lenses that Canon, Sigma, Tamron, and Tokina have had on the market for some time now tend to be designed more for film than for digital, which means a 17mm lens gets oohs and aahs from reviewers bowled over by how cool it is to do really wide shots, especially for things like big sweeping landscapes and architecture (both of which I imagine I'll be doing a lot of). I have to remind myself, though, that these reviewers are often basing their impressions on the lenses' film performance, not digital; and as a digital shooter, I'd have to go to a 11mm lens to get the same effects. The problem is that most of the lenses in that class currently available, with the exception of the über-expensive Canons—the Sigma 12-24, the Sigma 15-30, the Sigma 17-35, and the Tamron 17-35—all seem to have difficulty coming to terms with what kind of animal they are. The Sigmas all seem to have big problems with blurriness and distortion at the edges at full wideness; but the complaints, it must be remembered, come primarily from film shooters who actually see those extreme corners of the frame (on the digital sensors, those extra few millimeters that you pay so much for get cut off, so you have to buy shorter and shorter lenses to get the same effect). So a digital shooter like me probably wouldn't notice the difference—but that's still sort of a crap shoot, and not really a solution, as it would only be acceptable by accidental technicalities. And the Tamron 11-18 which was announced last year (but still isn't available) and the also-upcoming Tokina 12-24 both appear to be designed specifically for digital cameras, in that the optics are smaller and produce an image only big enough for the digital sensor, not for a full 35mm film frame—so if you used such a lens on a film SLR, the corners would be blackened off like you shot it from inside a tunnel. Similarly, Canon is starting to bring out lenses in the EF-S series, like this mediocre but cheap 18-55 that's packaged as a kit with all their new DSLRs, and this markedly better (especially for the price) 10-22, which are designed not even to fit on any cameras other than their newer digitals, namely the 300D, 20D, and (presumably) 350D. Not, notably, the 10D, which I have. (Sigh.)

Sigma is apparently only just now bringing out a new series of DSLR lenses designed to fit what appear to be my needs, helpfully stepped down from "standard" sizes by that 1.6 multiplier: a 30mm prime (instead of the usual 50mm), a 10-20, and an 18-200. Clearly intended to replace their earlier line of blurry-cornered lenses that are acceptable on DSLRs only because they've got blinders on, these lenses might be what I need to wait for. Canon doesn't appear to be interested in making a version of that $799 10-22 that will fit on the 10D, otherwise I'd go for it and get what are universally regarded as the superior optics in the industry; so it's the 10-20 Sigma (the company has its fierce adherents), or possibly the Tokina 12-24 or Tamron 11-18 when any of the three is finally available and people have had a chance to start posting reviews of them.

The weird thing that I've discovered about all this is that photo geeks, far unlike computer geeks (and especially car geeks), are an overwhelmingly positive bunch. People are much more likely to rate their gear higher than I'd have expected, even when it has clear shortcomings, and to develop elaborate and emotional defenses of particular lenses (usually taking the form of pointing to great photos they've taken with a lens that others have argued is a poor entrant) befitting hard-core Mac nerds... but there is nary an unkind word to be hurled across brand lines. People say lots of nice things about Canon lenses, but they're curiously unwilling to brand Sigmas as universally inferior, or even to launch partisan Canon-vs-Nikon battles (this post by SKBubba makes no value judgments, just evaluates the issues on a pure "numbers" basis: They're all fine cameras). I guess a lot of it has to do with people having spent hundreds of dollars per lens, often as rank beginners, and then being unwilling to come out in public and say they'd made a mistake; few, evidently, in this high-stakes game are prepared to return bad lenses and then write scathing reviews of them (though such people do exist, just not in the numbers I'd have expected)—I think a lot of people are unwilling to accept that a blurry or even a chromatic-aberration-laden photo is the lens's fault and not somehow their own. So I'm pretty sure that if I'm about to start camerablogging, and posting all these links and musings about various lenses, the feedback I'm bound to receive will be of the "helpful and anecdotal" variety, rather than the "bitter and vitriolic and derisive" variety (not that I've ever received much of the latter, for which I'm endlessly thankful).

The bottom line is that I don't think I'll be buying a super-wide lens until after I've mastered the camera with its basic prime and its image-stabilized telephoto, and until the Alaska trip looms imminent on the horizon and takes up the whole viewfinder. The lens manufacturers appear to have only just begun to bring out the digital-tuned wide-angles they've been working on for months in response to the sudden leap in demand for optics that serve small frame sizes (e.g. sub-$1K DSLRs) the same way they've been expected to serve 35mm film. My 50mm prime and 75-300 telephoto arrived today, according to the UPS online tracking system, as did the book I ordered, so I can start learning now. And there's six months between now and the time I'll really need something into which to try to cram all of Alaska's vistas; so I believe I'll wait and see what pans out.

But that doesn't mean I won't be appreciative of any suggestions or recommendations, of course.


14:19 - Here Comes the Metric System
http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=1540&u=/afp/usweathercalifornia&printer=1

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In this AFP story on the Los Angeles flooding, via CapLion:

The winter season is the fourth wettest to hit usually-parched Los Angeles in 115 years, with more than 10.16 centimeters (33.87 inches) falling so far, compared to an annual average of around 4.5 (15 inches).

The wettest winter ever recorded was that of 1883-1884 season, when 38.18 inches fell, meteorologists said.

Uh... come again?

I haven't checked the exchange rates recently, but last I saw, 1 inch = 2.54 cm. Right? So even reversing the units doesn't make sense. What the devil's going on here?

I guess even the weather is too subjective for these guys to get the facts right, anymore.


08:56 - Based on a true story

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I wonder if anyone in Hollywood has the will to make a movie that goes as follows:

It's about the Iraq war and the campaign against the insurgency. It follows a unit of Marine Infantry through some of the more redoubtable towns as they try to take out the resistance while upholding the insane level of untouchability our military these days applies to certain "noncombatant" structures like hospitals, schools, and mosques and to differentiate between armed enemies and the civilians they were so often disguised as. A segment of the movie, about half an hour long, follows the unit through some particularly tough neighborhood in, say, Fallujah; Black Hawk Down-style, it observes as the men go house to house, breaking down doors, taking sniper fire from rooftops, chasing RPG-bearing insurgents down alleyways, and losing men in the process, not least because of the extreme precautions taken not to engage mosques and schools, even though those buildings are being audaciously used by the insurgents as weapons depots and sniper nests and gathering and staging locations. No matter, they're untouchable.

Finally, at the end of the day, the area is cleaned out and secure, and through superhuman effort (and the sacrifice of a dozen or more soldiers), the local mosques survived with only a few chips in the mortar.

Back at the forward base, the unit tiredly congratulates itself for a job well done, and yet the mood is somber because of the losses they took, the men they lost because they took risks they wouldn't otherwise have taken in order to minimize the impact on the civilian infrastructure which they'd committed to protecting even though the Geneva Conventions no longer applied. But it was worth it, surely.

Then they get a CARE package from home, a shipment of letters from grade school students. Oh good! The mood lightens. The perfect end to a wearying but rewarding day, right?

Pfc. Rob Jacobs of New Jersey said he was initially ecstatic to get a package of letters from sixth-graders at JHS 51 in Park Slope last month at his base 10 miles from the North Korea border.

That changed when he opened the envelope and found missives strewn with politically charged rhetoric, vicious accusations and demoralizing predictions that only a handful of soldiers would leave the Iraq war alive.

“It’s hard enough for soldiers to deal with being away from their families, they don’t need to be getting letters like this,” Jacobs, 20, said in a phone interview from his base at Camp Casey. “If they don’t have anything nice to say, they might as well not say anything at all.”

One Muslim boy wrote: “Even thoe [sic] you are risking your life for our country, have you seen how many civilians you or some other soldier killed?”

His letter, which was stamped with a smiley face, went on: “I know your [sic] trying to save our country and kill the terrorists but you are also destroying holy places like Mosques.”

Makes it all worthwhile, doesn't it?

Oh, how I would love to see that scene on the big screen. Any big-time producers in the audience?

UPDATE: Especially if it has this scene in it.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005
21:21 - Do the chickens have large talons?

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At the urging of my brother, this weekend I rented Napoleon Dynamite... and now I know what all the strange little expressions and quotable phrases creeping into people's speech patterns are about. Man, what a weird, weird movie. And thoroughly original. I enjoyed it a ton.

It defies all the usual conventions of filmmaking, in the sense that it's so cinema verité, in a way, that you find yourself startled to realize just how formulaic most movies are these days. It's like the anti-Austin Powers, sort of. In both movies, the main character is defined largely by a bunch of signature expressions and behavioral quirks; but Austin Powers, it turns out, and though we don't even realize it at the time, follows some very strict and ingrained norms of storytelling whereby at certain points in the narrative Austin Powers just has to say "Yeah, baby!" or another of his trademark phrases. But in Napoleon Dynamite, it's more like the cameraman just followed this guy around all day and recorded him dancing to some mysterious music playing inside his head, following a script only he can read. The end effect is intoxicating: you never can anticipate quite where it's going to turn next. Nothing happens the way you're trained to expect. Just when a situation arises where you think Napoleon is perfectly poised to emit some phrase you'd heard him say forty-five minutes ago, thus to turn it into a cliché the way you'd expect from a movie like Austin Powers, instead he ducks his head and bulldozes his way right out of the template you thought you'd trapped him in, making up a new quotable word or turn of phrase, or slapping someone unexpectedly in the face and running away..

Plus it's got Jon Gries, a.k.a. Lazlo Hollyfeld.

Incidentally, the movie's IMDB page had a hilarious forum thread (as of three days ago, but it seems to have been deleted) about how the movie is all a big Mormon propaganda vehicle. Evidently because the hero's direst oath is "Gosh!" or how it takes place in Idaho or something. I wish the thread still existed, because I'd have loved to link to it and show everybody some really amazingly silly theories, like about how Uncle Rico (whose door-to-door flannel-tie tupperware-selling business is meant to represent LDS proselytizing) leaving his wife because she didn't understand his infatuation with 1982 is a clear illustration of the fruits of polygamy. I can't help but wonder—if these supposed consequences of Mormonism are presented as vaguely negative and stupid in the movie, how is it a Mormon propaganda piece again?

I guess it goes to show that if the filmmakers of any given movie are a given persuasion, the movie—no matter how determinedly meaningless and silly it is—is automatically "propaganda" for that persuasion. Ah well—since the thread has apparently been closed, Google searches on "napoleon dynamite mormon propaganda" now turn up hits on white-power sites, so I guess it's not much of a mainstream theory anyway.

"I wish you'd go eat a decroded piece of crap!"

Aaagh! Get it out of my brain!

UPDATE: Just last night I found myself telling someone that FedEx's online tracking system was, "like, infinity better than UPS". This stuff is toxic...

Monday, February 21, 2005
16:32 - Please be a prank
http://www.aintitcool.com/downloads/LoonaticsPreview.mov

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What could possibly be more horrifying than the Loonatics character designs and premise?

A whole trailer in which they're animated.

Take heart, then, for this trailer doesn't really have them animated, per se—just sort of sprite-zoomed like in a Ken Burns effect. But if you don't curl up and start shaking at the new "What's up, Doc?" line, I sure hope it's only because you've burst out in derisive laughter instead.

Makes me think even this (sent by Steven Den Beste) would be better.

There's talk that this whole thing is just an elaborate hoax or prank or publicity stunt or something... advanced, perhaps, as an embodiment of the purest, most tragic hope.


16:18 - Do not eat Cooper Mini
http://counterfeitmini.org/

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Who says the Brits get all the best tongue-in-cheek advertising campaigns?

True, they have this IKEA series, which is just outstanding. But hey: we've got Counterfeit Minis, with its own website to support the TV campaign.

It's really a hoot. Check out the whole site—it even has an area where you can upload your own "fakes"...

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© Brian Tiemann