Monday, October 31, 2011

Across Rooftops

"The traffic lights are changing
The black and white horizon
I leave the quiet redstone
And walk across the rooftops..."

Paul Buchanan
A Walk Across the Rooftops (acoustic)

Originally from his band's excellent 1983 release: The Blue Nile - A Walk Across the Rooftops.

Saturday, October 29, 2011


The Style Council
Shout To The Top

Friday, October 28, 2011

Three Waltzes

Aimee Mann

Elliott Smith
Waltz #2

Yann Tiersen
La Valse d'Amelie

Thursday, October 27, 2011

National Avenue

don't be surprised, it's only me
i've come to see just how you are
you look very good
must be since you left that factory
how's paul,
is he working?
no, who works these days?

but you used to have a job
in the caravan in the street
even that's gone these days
i remember when you used to want to
buy the used car of your dreams...

Red Guitars
National Avenue (Sunday Afternoon)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Moving, harmonious, dissonant, comforted, troubled, spontaneous, determined...

Nitin Sawhney

Living Photos

Video demonstrating excellent work rendering 3D objects into 2D scenes...

Rendering Synthetic Objects into Legacy Photographs

Kevin Karsch, Varsha Hedau, David Forsyth, Derek Holem
Univesity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Break Out

"When explanations make no sense
When every answer's wrong
You're fighting with lost confidence
All expectations come..."

A favorite video from 1986. Musically: delightful, mirthful pop. Visually: it's stood the test of time, thanks to lead singer Corinne Drewery's wonderful sense of style, the clothes, and the vibrant colors intermixed with selective desaturation.

Swing Out Sister
Break Out

The Trapeze Swinger

"Please remember me, happily
By the rosebush laughing
With bruises on my chin, the time when
We counted every black car passing..."

Iron & Wine
The Trapeze Swinger


Filed under Today I Learned...

The Roman Lucretius's scientific poem "On the Nature of Things" (c. 60 BC) has a remarkable description of Brownian motion of dust particles. He uses this as a proof of the existence of atoms:

"Observe what happens when sunbeams are admitted into a building and shed light on its shadowy places. You will see a multitude of tiny particles mingling in a multitude of ways... their dancing is an actual indication of underlying movements of matter that are hidden from our sight... It originates with the atoms which move of themselves [i.e., spontaneously]. Then those small compound bodies that are least removed from the impetus of the atoms are set in motion by the impact of their invisible blows and in turn cannon against slightly larger bodies. So the movement mounts up from the atoms and gradually emerges to the level of our senses, so that those bodies are in motion that we see in sunbeams, moved by blows that remain invisible."

(Although the mingling motion of dust particles is caused largely by air currents, the glittering, tumbling motion of small dust particles is, indeed, caused chiefly by true Brownian dynamics.

Monday, October 24, 2011

I Don't Know

"I don't know what you smoke
Or what countries you've been to...
If you speak any other languages
Other than your own, I'd like to meet you."

I first heard Lisa Hannigan singing on Damien Rice's "Volcano." The video above was filmed at Dick Mac's Pub in Dingle, Ireland. I'm willing to bet the passion and joy of these musicians will fill you with warm fuzzies and put a smile on your face.

Lisa Hannigan
I Don't Know

Take Shelter

"Take Shelter powerfully lays bare our national anxiety disorder - a pervasive dread that Curtis can define only as 'something that's not right.'" -- Melissa Anderson, Village Voice


"This song is for the rats
Who hurled themselves into the ocean
When they saw the explosives in the cargo hold
Were just about to blow..."

John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats
"Cotton" live solo
date unknown

Sunday, October 23, 2011


"Lost Madonna of the Wasps,
I wonder where we crossed
I wonder where she lost me.
Lost Madonna of the Wasps,
She's dying in the frost.
I wonder what she cost me."

Robyn Hitchcock
Madonna of the Wasps (live)

Easter Parade

"...In the bureau, typewriter's quiet
Confetti falls from every window
Throwing hats up in the air
A city perfect in every detail
Easter parade..."

A song or a poem following a few piano keys? In any case, it well demonstrates the striking impressionism of this group.

The Blue Nile
Easter Parade (Live)

She Saw

"...Letters and numbers surround you
And out on the corner
A policeman is sending flowers
It feels like a movie..."

An acoustic version of a track found on The Blue Nile's 2004 release, "High".

Paul Buchanan
She saw the world
date unknown

Saturday, October 22, 2011


A theme continues...

The Kane Gang

YouTube comment: "A searing indictment of the delusion that the loss of manufacturing in the 1980's was acceptable. They 'work for pennies in Motortown', a deunionised low wage economy left people to the mercy of the unregulated market. From that you get inequality and social breakdown. The Kane Gang were ahead of their time in nailing the folly of laying to waste whole communities in the north east and elsewhere. A good pop tune with a lesson even more urgent in 2009."

Requiem for Detroit

BBC Documentary: Requiem For Detroit from Logan Siegel on Vimeo.

May as well make doom and gloom a theme today.
Recommended: The BBC Documentary "Requiem for Detroit"

California and Bust

"The smart money says the U.S. economy will splinter, with some states thriving, some states not, and all eyes are on California as the nightmare scenario. After a hair-raising visit with former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who explains why the Golden State has cratered, Michael Lewis goes where the buck literally stops—the local level, where the likes of San Jose mayor Chuck Reed and Vallejo fire chief Paige Meyer are trying to avert even worse catastrophes and rethink what it means to be a society."

Vanity Fair article

David & David
Welcome to the Boomtown

Downtown Train

Tom Waits
Downtown Train

Hazards of Confidence

Daniel Kahneman, emeritus professor of psychology and of public affairs at Princeton University and a winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics, writes in the NYT on the hazards of confidence:

"The confidence we experience as we make a judgment is not a reasoned evaluation of the probability that it is right. Confidence is a feeling, one determined mostly by the coherence of the story and by the ease with which it comes to mind, even when the evidence for the story is sparse and unreliable. The bias toward coherence favors overconfidence. An individual who expresses high confidence probably has a good story, which may or may not be true."


Internet Trends 2011

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Harvest Moon

Elliott Smith's cover of Neil Young's Harvest Moon.

Saturday, October 15, 2011


La Roux


"In all, this is a movie that is partial to youth as a state of being. The grownups seem finished, as frozen in their lifetime roles as creatures out of myth or the Bible. But Oliver and Jordana have the freedom to go anywhere, do anything, become anything. Submarine is an exhilarating surprise." - David Denby, The New Yorker (review link)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Hitchens and the Girl

via Why Evolution Is True:

"When Christopher Hitchens got the Dawkins Award in Houston, I posted the following report from

Though [Hitchens] was asked a variety of questions from the audience, none appeared to elicit more interest than the one asked by eight-year-old Mason Crumpacker, who wanted to know what books she should read. In response, Hitchens first asked where her mother was and the girl indicated that she was siting beside her. He then asked to see them once the presentation was over so that he could give her a list.

As the event drew to a close, Mason and her mom, Anne Crumpacker of Dallas, followed him out. Surrounded by attendees wanting a glance of the famed author, Hitchens sat on a table just outside of the ballroom and spent about 15 minutes recommending books to Mason."


Hitchens’ list of books and authors:

Dawkins’ Magic of Reality, Greek and Roman myths, particularly those compiled by Robert Graves, anything satirical, all of Shakespeare, Geoffrey Chaucer, Ayaan Hirsi Ali (author of Infidel and Nomad: From Islam to America: A Personal Journey Through the Clash of Civilizations), PG Wodehouse (“for fun”), David Hume, and Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities.

Feynman :: Rules of Chess

The late great genius explains the process of rational inquiry via chess analogy.

"One way that's kind of a fun analogy to try to get some idea of what we're doing here to try to understand nature is to imagine that the gods are playing some great game like chess. Let's say a chess game. And you don't know the rules of the game, but you're allowed to look at the board from time to time, in a little corner, perhaps. And from these observations, you try to figure out what the rules are of the game, what [are] the rules of the pieces moving.

You might discover after a bit, for example, that when there's only one bishop around on the board, that the bishop maintains its color. Later on you might discover the law for the bishop is that it moves on a diagonal, which would explain the law that you understood before, that it maintains its color. And that would be analogous we discover one law and later find a deeper understanding of it.

Ah, then things can happen--everything's going good, you've got all the laws, it looks very good--and then all of a sudden some strange phenomenon occurs in some corner, so you begin to investigate that, to look for it. It's castling--something you didn't expect.

We're always, by the way, in a fundamental physics, always trying to investigate those things in which we don't understand the conclusions. We're not trying to all the time check our conclusions; after we've checked them enough, they're okay. The thing that doesn't fit is the thing that's most interesting--the part that doesn't go according to what you'd expect.

Also we can have revolutions in physics. After you've noticed that the bishops maintain their color and that they go along on the diagonals and so on, for such a long time, and everybody knows that that's true; then you suddenly discover one day in some chess game that the bishop doesn't maintain its color, it changes its color. Only later do you discover the new possibility that the bishop is captured and that a pawn went all the way down to the queen's end to produce a new bishop. That could happen, but you didn't know it.

And so it's very analogous to the way our laws are. They sometimes look positive, they keep on working, and all of a sudden, some little gimmick shows that they're wrong--and then we have to investigate the conditions under which this bishop changed color... happened... and so on... And gradually we learn the new rule that explains it more deeply.

Unlike the chess game, though... In the case of the chess game, the rules become more complicated as you go along, but in the physics when you discover new things, it becomes more simple. It appears on the whole to be more complicated, because we learn about a greater experience; that is, we learn about more particles and new things, and so the laws look complicated again. But if you realize that all of the time, what's kind of wonderful is that as we expand our experience into wilder and wilder regions of experience, every once in a while we have these integration in which everything is pulled together in a unification, which it turns out to be simpler than it looked before."


Elvis Costello
Accidents Will Happen

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Prefab Sprout

Le Herisson (the Hedgehog)

"At times The Hedgehog suggests a Gallic 'Harold and Maude,' with an intellectual gloss as it celebrates the life force passed from an older generation to a younger. But its concept of vitality isn't the popular cliché of kicking up your heels, breathing deeply and gorging on ice cream. It is an aesthete's ideal of pursuing moments of ecstatic perfection in art and companionship."
-- Stephen Holden, NYT
full review

Friday, October 07, 2011

Kid Charlemagne

Kid Charlemagne
Steely Dan


Thursday, October 06, 2011

Johnny Come Home

Fine Young Cannibals
Johnny Come Home

3 Stories

Steve Jobs Stanford Commencement Speech 2005

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Steve Jobs

Thank you for showing us how to dream... R.I.P.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Newport 1958

Anita O'Day (10/18/1919–11/23/2006) performs at the 1958 Jazz Festival in Newport, Rhode Island.

My Ever Changing Moods

Volvo P 1800

At Least

Another fine poem, much enjoyed.

"At Least" by Raymond Carver from Where Water Comes Together With Other Water (1985)

Writer's Almanac link

Monday, October 03, 2011

The Old Oaken Bucket

How dear to this heart are the scenes of my childhood,
When fond recollection presents them to view!
The orchard, the meadow, the deep-tangled wild-wood,
And every loved spot which my infancy knew!
The wide-spreading pond, and the mill that stood by it,
The bridge, and the rock where the cataract fell,
The cot of my father, the dairy-house nigh it,
And e'en the rude bucket that hung in the well-
The old oaken bucket, the iron-bound bucket,
The moss-covered bucket which hung in the well.

That moss-covered vessel I hailed as a treasure,
For often at noon, when returned from the field,
I found it the source of an exquisite pleasure,
The purest and sweetest that nature can yield.
How ardent I seized it, with hands that were glowing,
And quick to the white-pebbled bottom it fell;
Then soon, with the emblem of truth overflowing,
And dripping with coolness, it rose from the well
The old oaken bucket, the iron-bound bucket,
The moss-covered bucket arose from the well.

How sweet from the green mossy brim to receive it,
As poised on the curb it inclined to my lips!
Not a full blushing goblet could tempt me to leave it,
The brightest that beauty or revelry sips.
And now, far removed from the loved habitation,
The tear of regret will intrusively swell,
As fancy reverts to my father's plantation,
And sighs for the bucket that hangs in the well
The old oaken bucket, the iron-bound bucket,
The moss-covered bucket that hangs in the well!

Samuel Woodworth, 1813

Thanks to Garrison Keillor for bringing this to light. Perhaps you can find the mp3 for The Writer's Almanac, October 3, 2001.