Monday, November 27, 2006

Amateur - Lasse Gjertsen

I posted a couple of months ago about Jimmy Page's editing on Led Zeppelin videos, how according to one dedicated fan, Eddie Edwards, Page took the best parts of several shows and edited them into a perfect idealized Led Zeppelin concert. Gjertsen's video is that concept taken to the extreme. (Yes, I thought it was already at its extreme too. Apparently not.)

I found this mentioned on Mick Farren's blog. The video shows what happens if you can't play drums or piano, but you are technically fabulous enough to take a video of you playing every beat and note and then edit the single clips into a coherent musical piece. It's funny, clever and very musical. I'm now a fan.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Free at Last

No, not another Free review.

Today I became an American citizen.

I took the oath this afternoon. They gave me a certificate and a little flag.

I registered as a voter on the way out of the ceremony, too.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Again with the legs of granite.

After a quick poll I decided most people don't associate the "despair" with the broken statue. If you want to get emotional over broken granite legs, here's the poem for you: - Horace Smith's sonnet (inspired by the same news article that inspired Shelley)

"On a Stupendous Leg of Granite":

In Egypt's sandy silence, all alone,
Stands a gigantic Leg, which far off throws
The only shadow that the Desart knows:--
"I am great OZYMANDIAS," saith the stone,
"The King of Kings; this mighty City shows
"The wonders of my hand." -- The City's gone, --
Nought but the Leg remaining to disclose
The site of this forgotten Babylon.
We wonder,-- and some Hunter may express
Wonder like ours, when thro' the wilderness --
Where London stood, holding the Wolf in chase,
He meets some fragment huge, and stops to guess
What powerful but unrecorded race
Once dwelt in that annihilated place.

I like the reference to a vanished London.

Then again it's easy to see why people quote the Shelley poem more often than Smith's one.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Ozymandias vs. New York

Here is an evocative article about the New York State Pavilion of the 1964 World's Fair.

"Once there were elevators gliding up the sides of the towers to reveal a city unfolding; now they are rusted in mid-rise. Once there were stairwells winding within those towers; now they are rotted through. The call for a better tomorrow, for “Peace Through Understanding,” is answered by the flutter and coo of its hidden inhabitants."

Apparently the 1960s future is rusting as fast as the Gernsback Continuum did before it. I've visited plenty of space-age ruins in my time, but not this one. I've put it on the list.

Having said that, it has literally never occurred to me that a traveler would look upon Ozymandias' colossal wreck and despair because it was broken. At least, I assume that's what the writer means here when he says: "But the more years that go by, the more the structure becomes New York’s own “colossal wreck,” begging, as Shelley wrote in “Ozymandias,” that we look upon it and despair."

Here's the sonnet to which he is referring:

I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert...Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear:'
My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
— Percy Bysshe Shelley, 1817

I've always thought that the power generated by the poem comes from the fact that time, the great leveler, has freed us from any need to despair. Ozymandias, with his frown, and wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command, and his granite stand-in of same have together gone the way of all flesh, and apparently of all stone too. Hooray, good riddance, happy days are here again, etc.

But others are apparently despairing at the decay, at the hand of time itself. I feel as though I've been caught out in a blatant lack of imagination. Call myself a writer? I clearly don't understand how other people think at all. And I've even been to the Ramesseum, looked on the colossal wrecks, and, if not actually despaired, at least felt a little tinge of regret and a whimper of existential angst that such strong statues were broken and scattered over the ground.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Birthday fun

As part of my endless search for great teeth, I was sent back to the X-Ray people again today. They made me fill out a card with my name, date of birth, address, whether I'm allergic to dentists and all that sort of stuff.

I handed it in to the receptionist and she brought it back a little later saying she couldn't read the month of my birthdate. Was it a four or a six? I said it was a four, and "You should have that in your records - I've been here before."

She said, "Yes, but I need this information as of today."

I told her my birthday hadn't changed since the last time I visited.

I think she thought I was a sarcastic meanie.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Put Some Prose On It!

NaNoWriMo doesn't suit me. Large numbers of words are failing to fall like spangles from my cursor as I type.

Only a few mouse clicks over is YouTube, which is getting some slack-jawed attention, and of course I fall into the "research" trap of getting forty links deep into something and waking out of my reverie with a startlement. It turns out that hypertext is exactly like the kids' game of "Telephone". The first person whispers something meaningful to the next person, who passes on what they hear to the third person and so forth. By the time the sixth person shouts out loud what they have heard, it bears no resemblance to the phrase the first person coined. Similarly, if you "research" using hypertext you can be absolutely sure that the result of the initial Google (ptui!) search is on topic, but the link you click inside that first reference is only tangentially related, and the link you follow in that second document is something of overriding interest that is no relation whatsoever to your search. By the time you've found yourself compelled to read something via a link in the third document, you are simply cat vacuuming. On the upside, you become well read very quickly.

As for NaNoWriMo itself, I find that when I'm forced to write at a certain time without any inspiration, I tend to write something plodding:
I did this. Then I did that. Then I did another thing.
Even more often, I have to clean up the sentences for the school-kid English abuse that gets in when the Inner Editor is off having a coffee. (The first premise of NaNoWriMo is that Inner Ed gets sent out of the house while you're writing. This speeds things up but is not always conducive to writing well.) The sentences often start out like this:
I did this, actually. Really the other would have been better. Although I eventually finished the third thing. Though I couldn't do that at first really.
Once I subtract all the uses of "though", "although", "really", "but" and "actually" my daily word-count goes down by about fifty per cent.

The plodding prose isn't necessarily worthless. It needs zip, pizzazz and vigor. Until I buy a copy of Writer's Zip, Pizzazz and Vigor Master (Only $299.99 and comes with a FREE shareware program of a 1988 Frogger clone), I have to do it myself, by standing above the first draft text and manually shaking spangles on to it from a great height. It works quite well, but is annoying, like having to edit your secretary's work because she keeps using run on sentences in business letters or something. (I have to do that during the day and I don't want to become my own secretary AND my own editor, unless I get paid more.)

Larding the goose with the appropriate clever bits reminds me of Free. (Almost everything does.) The books on the band say that after the basic track was laid down, the band members would ask Kossoff to "put some guitar on it". He hated that, apparently thinking that there was more to playing guitar than being told to go in after everybody else and "put some on it". Then again, there's probably no quicker way to absolute ridicule than letting three male British teenagers know that you think of yourself as an artist, so maybe he should just have shut up.

And maybe I should too. For the record, I wrote this in one pass, didn't "put any spangles on it" and I haven't removed a single instance of "although", "though", "really", "but" or "actually". That only seems to happen during NaNoWriMo. Yes, I am going to add this to my daily word count even though it isn't part of the 'novel' I'm supposedly writing.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Free - All Right Now

I've mentioned about five times now why everyone needs to buy this Free DVD, so I don't feel guilty about putting a link to one of the performances here. This is All Right Now from the Isle of Wight movie. I'm linking to it as it was mentioned in a comment to my review of John Martyn's Live at Leeds.

This edit has a lot less of Kossoff and his famous facial expressions than the classic edit (available on the DVD), but whenever the classic edit gets on to YouTube, it gets taken down again. I dunno why. If you search YouTube regularly you might find it. It usually has the letter "S" in the top right corner.

Meanwhile, you'll just have to make do with this low-Kossoff version. Or buy the Free DVD as previously hinted. The bit to watch of course, is the guitar solo. Ignore the hairy with the mikestand. At least for today.


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