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It is once again time to go through my web browser's hundred or so open tabs and share the best of them with my friends.


For those who've always wondered: What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?

Estimating the Airspeed Velocity of an Unladen Swallow:
Hashing out the classic question with Strouhal numbers and simplified flight waveforms.


After spending some time last month trying to develop alternate graphic presentations for kinematic ratios in winged flight, I decided to try to answer one of the timeless questions of science....


Read the full article.


Got this one from [livejournal.com profile] siderea: Dancing Bach on the FAO Schwartz Keyboard:


This in turn led me down two fruitful (or at any rate, entertaining) tangents. First, the title, "Girls Rock" (which I thought might be the name of this duo) found me the trailer for a movie of that title — a documentary about a rock camp for adolescent girls. Which probably makes it sound like "yeah, whatever." But the trailer brought tears to my eyes, and I am going to find this movie and watch it.



More about Girls Rock: The Movie..

On a lighter and note, Googling to make sure I was correctly identifying the piece the two young women were dancing on the giant keyboard (I was; it's the Toccata and Fugue in D minor) led me to this wonderfully geeky animation of that same piece:

xela: (Obama)
Check it out:¹

www.change.gov

Worthy of note: they have a suggestion box.

An a-capella tribute to John Williams and Star Wars.² (Note: One guy is clearly not doing all those voices: the youtube sidebar points out that the vocal performance is by Moosebutter. You can buy an mp3 at their site.)



Stop-motion clay animation chess game.³ Which totally fails to describe it adequately. Just watch it:


My new userpic, created by [livejournal.com profile] deguspice for [livejournal.com profile] noire and snarfed with permission, is based on some fantastic stickers being given away by moveon.org. To quote the message they suggest I pass on to all my friends:
Hey,

Want a free Obama sticker to celebrate our victory? It's designed by Shepard Fairey, the artist who created the iconic HOPE poster. And MoveOn's giving them away totally free--even the shipping's free.

I just got mine. Click this link to get your free Obama sticker:

http://pol.moveon.org/shepstickers/?id=-14484474-tVxNg6x

Thanks!



¹ Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] nakor
² Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] remcat
³ Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] motodraconis
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[livejournal.com profile] gardenfey posted a link to Corvus Corax, a band ... unlike any other band you've ever seen. Labels floating in my head looking for a way to be hyphenated include goth, industrial, and medieval. Which explains nothing. You have to hear them — and see them.

For a gentle introduction, start with this mini-documentary of a performance of Carmina Burana, in which they work with a conventional orchestra.

Next, for sheer exhilaration, watch Shou Shou Cheng. That was [livejournal.com profile] gardenfey's first link, which when it started rather reminded me of my father's approach to teaching me to swim: Throw me in and see if I sink.

Go ahead and watch it. I'll still be here when you're done.


Heart racing? Breathing a little heavy? Now imagine jumping up and down and all over the stage for seven minutes while all of your breath is being spent blowing into a fucking bagpipe. There's much to love about this band, but all that aside, it's the most amazing display of sheer musical athleticism I've ever seen — including the tapdancing bass saxaphonist I saw in Harvard Square one night.

How about a little dance number, familiar to generations of SCA-folk — saltarello ductia, perhaps?

Oh. My. God.

For something a more soothing, with production values that will definitely appeal to my SCA friends, I suggest Hymnua Cantica. (Yeah, knitted "chainmail". But if that lance shattering was CGI, George Lucas should hire their effects people. And a stadium full of people in Medieval drag doing the wave — how much more anachronistic can you get?)


Corvus Corax turns out to be part of a cluster of bands with shared personnel and similar æsthetics. How about a little bagpipe metal with Tanzwut? Or Ardor vom Venushügels cover of White Wedding — to which I had much the same reaction as the first time I saw Rocky Horror many years ago. (Let's say "erotic in unexpected ways", rather than the more colorful words of the Rocky Horror veteran who took the wide-eyed and innocent eighteen-year-old me to see it — largely, I suspect, to see if I'd break.)

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I had somehow never heard Leonard Cohen until I saw Pump Up the Volume six or seven years ago. I immediately ran out to buy the soundtrack, only to be seriously annoyed to find a different performance on the CD of my favorite song in the movie, "Everybody Knows". Which in the long run I suppose I should be grateful for, because I might never have bought a Leonard Cohen CD if the song I wanted had been on the soundtrack CD.

I'm not sure I want to analyze it too much, but there is something about Cohen's cynical world-weariness that makes me feel very young and glad to be alive.

Happy birthday, Leonard — and many more!


Well my friends are gone
and my hair is grey
I ache in the places where I used to play
And I'm crazy for love
but I'm not coming on

I'm just paying my rent every day
in the Tower of Song

I said to Hank Williams: how lonely does it get?
Hank Williams hasn't answered yet
But I hear him coughing
all night long

Oh, a hundred floors above me
In the Tower of Song

I was born like this,
I had no choice
I was born with the gift of a golden voice
And twenty-seven angels
from the Great Beyond

They tied me to this table right here
In the Tower of Song....
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At the risk of repeating myself, whatever expectations are invoked in you by the words Pachelbel's Canon in D are about to be violated. (Like the earlier violation, this one comes to us from Korea.)

This time I got the link not from an LJ friend, but from NPR: it was the subject of a story on "All Things Considered" tonight. (Which at the moment appears to have brought youtube to its knees. So you might want to hold off trying to actually watch it.)

Being NPR, they of course found their own unique way to present the story, including telling us about this even more virtuoso yet completely different guitar video.

xela: Photo of me (Default)

When it's good, television can floor you

Voice of narrator, as stills from the 20s of the AEolian Hall fill the screen: first an exterior, then interior... a full house....

The historic concert took place on February 12, 1924 at the AEolian Hall in New York. In the audience was a formidable array of social and artistic figures. Among them: Jascha Heifetz, Fritz Kreisler, Rachmaninoff, Leopold Stokowski, Stravinsky.

Here the picture of the crowded hall starts to crossfade with a newspaper ad, as the camera pans down it....

Called "An Experiment in Modern Music", the program was to present Jazz in all its various facets.

The ad gives way to the program, and the camera pans down it as the narrator resumes....

As the long program progressed, there were signs of restlessness — even boredom. After twenty-three numbers, almost at the end of the program, Gershwin strolled up to the piano, and sat down.

With the first opening wail of the clarinet solo, the audience sat up.....

Cue the scene of Paul Whiteman conducting Rhapsody in Blue from the 1945 Warner movie of the same name.... And.... I'm there. My spine straightens.... My breath catches... And I'm hearing that ... longing ... clarinet for the first time. Ever.


American Masters: George Gershwin Remembered. Coming soon to a PBS station near you. Watch it.

Walk Tall

Dec. 6th, 2004 11:31 am
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I happened to have VH1 Classic on this morning. I wasn't really paying attention until I looked up and saw a bunch of guys — white and black — beating up a midget. I was then completely sucked in for the remainder of the video, and when it was over, rewound and watched it over from the start. This is a brilliant piece of work: a miniature movie about bigotry that does a better job of making bigotry look stupid than anything I could imagine. I doubt a lot of Red State rednecks are going to look at it and substitute homosexuals for little people in their minds and have it all suddenly go click. But I can hope. You should watch the video.
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(I finished this and was ready to post it when I realized I'd forgotten the actual point: Anyone in the area have this week's episode of West Wing on tape and willing to lend it to me?)

My ReplayTV and my cable box were having a spat for a few days earlier this week: I'd tell the Replay to tell the Cable Box "Turn to channel 5", and the cable box would petulantly flash some numbers across its screen and tune to some arbitrary channel — or, often as not, stay on the same channel. I was only able to put in an hour or so trying to get them to see reason — It's been a busy week. I was planning to try some more this weekend.* But when I got home, I noticed the channel had changed itself, and that a program a little earlier on that same channel that was scheduled to be recorded had been. Tried the Replay's remote and found that I could once again use it to change channels, as I always had been before. Watched the Replay change channels and start to record another scheduled program. And breathed a big sigh of relief.**

Then I went to watch this week's episode of West Wing, knowing it might have been caught in the middle. IT was: Instead I had an hour of VH1 Classic. I was about to nuke it when the first video started: Chris Deburgh's "Lady in Red". Which was one of my favorite songs in the late 80s, and I'd never seen the video before. Not a great video, but hey, I got to hear the song. So then I stuck with it, skipping more than half the videos, and seeing a few more that were new to me — John Lennon's "Valotte"; Bruce Springsteen's "Glory Days" (which plays counterpoint to the song, go some extent — the former high school baseball player is shown as a man around 30 playing ball with his son, which contrasts pretty strongly to the "growing up sucks" attitude I'd always gotten from the song); Billy Joel's "A Matter of Trust (a fun video — I'm not sure I've ever seen Billy Joel play guitar before — in the 'famous band performs spontaneously live in public" genre, but clearly staged and not on a rooftop). An old favorite — Joan Jett's "I Love Rock & Roll"

And then, a great video that I've only seen two or three times before in my life (and never saw when it was new), and always watch with my jaw half open in ... I don't know what: Weird Al Yancovic's "Like a Surgeon". Sheer comic brilliance. I haven't seen the Madonna video in better than fifteen years — if I had, I bet the Weird Al would have had me rolling on the floor. The guy's a genius. I've watched it (well, half watched it) three more times while writing this.


* I was planning to systematically debug it, to the extent that a blackbox system can be debugged, this weekend.
** I now suspect the Replay took a buggy update Tuesday or Wednesday and got a bugfix today.

112 covers

Jan. 24th, 2004 01:26 am
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I was shopping in the iTunes Music Store, buying some Stevie Wonder because I don't have any on digital and heard something on the radio the other day that reminded me how good he can be, when the title of one of his songs reminded me of a song I used to just adore in the mid-1980s when it was being played fairly regularly on my favorite Seattle radio station, KEZX FM. I don't even know what KEZX's format at the time was called, it was just the station everybody I knew listened to. I suppose "Contemporary Folk" would be as good a label as any. They sponsored summer concerts at the zoo featuring local and national artists. They gave airplay to a lot of WIndham Hill artists, but also to a lot of local bands. I suspect Uncle Bonsai got their first airplay there. They were, of course, a locally owned independent station --- this was before telecommunications "reform" sucked all the life out of radio.

Anyway, I remembered the title of this (I thought) obscure little song that used to break my heart by reminding me of a beautiful girl I cared as much for as I had in me at the time to care, who sent more than a year sending me mixed signals, and then sent me a wedding announcement. Sigh. But, as I was saying before I wandered down that side alley off memory lane:

Anyway. I didn't remember the artist. So I typed the title into the search box: eight performances of a song by that title, some by artists whose names I recognized. Wow, who'd have thought that many people would have covered it.

So I listened to the samples. None of them were quite what I remembered, though a one was pretty close --- male voice in the right register, roughly the same arrangement. But not what I remembered.

So on to google, where I entered the names of two or three of the artists who covered it, and the title, and got a page at the Covers Project for the artist, whose name I immediately recognized, Chris de Burgh. And a list of 112 covers of Lady in Red. Covers by Panpipes of the Andes and Tony Curtis and a hundred other bands from the London Symphony Orchestra.to the Logyrithms.

I guess my fondly remembered obscure little song's been doing a nice job helping Chris de Burgh pay his rent.

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I have no idea how I got to this URL. I was cycling through my Safari windows and there it was, in a window with no history. I don't know how long it had been there, I don't remember reading anywhere about a cool chamber music review and copying the URL, nada, nichts. But it's a sweet piece of writing and I'm going to go buy a CD.

It's not even really a review, more a riff on theme about musicianship --- playing from memory --- by a musician who's done it.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/arts/features/story/0,11710,1043487,00.html

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Went to see Jim's Big Ego at the Lizard Lounge with [livejournal.com profile] kareila and [livejournal.com profile] shoebox_bird. Jen asked me around five this afternoon if I'd like to join them & not having anything better to do I said "sure". I'd seen the band once before --- at the Somerville Theater, at something Moxy Fruvous was also playing at, and remembered I liked them.

I had a really good time. The opening act were ok. (Actually, they were probably pretty good, if you like rap: I don't like rap, but enjoyed them anyway.) But Jim's Big Ego was a blast. The band's energetic, the lyrics clever, and they give a great show. I also liked the venue --- the Lizard Lounge is small and reasonably well ventilated as bars go --- I noticed cigarette smoke, but it was a minor bother, not a major annoyance. (When's Cambridge going to get around to banning smoking in clubs, anyway?)

Anyway, I had a good time and got a useful reminder that I need to get out more.

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