Monday, June 24, 2013

Music Monday: Movie Edition

Today, one of my favorite contemporary writers passed away.

Richard Matheson is best known for his novel I Am Legend, which later became both of The Omega Man movies and, more recently, I Am Legend. However, he was active in writing and Hollywood for years and left behind a pretty large corpus of work.

Far and away my favorite, not only of his but of anything, is the Vincent Price/Peter Lorre/Boris Karloff black comedy The Comedy of Terrors (with special guest appearances by Basil Rathbone and Joe E. Brown). Unlike novels, poems, or paintings, movies are a weird, collaborative beast. Everyone contributes to make a movie what it is (or isn't), and I won't deny that the masterful hands of the "triumvirate of horror" helped shape this gem, but Matheson gave them some excellent material to work with.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Music Monday: Mozart

The first movement of a sonata I learned in high school. Dusting it off again because why not?

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Science Saturday: Molecule Pictures

I know I've posted about this before, but it blows my mind that science can now capture a photograph of something so small.

Images of molecules before and after reactions.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Breaking Story on ABC World News: Double Standards in Parenting

I wish I had caught the name of the reporter on this story, but I always clue out. I hadn't known the woman covering this story was going to be so unprofessional and judgmental (though I should have guessed from the "leader" or whatever the technical term is for the preview of a story they give you before the commercial break). Edited: It was Elizabeth Vargas who reported on this story. Tweet her (@EVargasABC) to let you know what you thought of her feature on June 14's episode of ABC World News.

A couple divorces. Partner A decides to move away and leave the kids with Partner B. The kids, for all intents and purposes, seem okay with it. Partner A builds a new life but keeps in regular touch with the children.

What would you say if A was a man? What if A was a woman?

It's the twenty-first century. It shouldn't matter. Yet it does. At least, it matters to judge-y busybodies like Vargas, who decided to ask a woman point blank, on national television: "Do you love your kids? ....More than yourself?"

This idea that mothers are anything less than perfect if they don't sacrifice themselves on the altar of motherhood is ridiculous. It's the result of a bullshit evopsych notion that women are always and inherently more nurturing (or whatever) than men. It's okay for men to leave the marriage and build a career far away — we don't expect it, no, but when it happens everyone sighs and accepts it. But for a woman to do that? She must be some kind of monster!

Lawyer Mom chose to have a career after my little brother and I were born. No, she didn't divorce my dad or move across the country, but she found daytime care for us (a family my brother and I still love like our own) and went back to work at AT&T as soon as she could. This was back in the 80s, a dark time of neon windbreakers, Reagenomics, and teased hair.

And gremlins taking over your kitchen.

It was an at least unusual move then, and just as unusual as this Skyping and texting mom is now. I bet there were plenty of people who would have been happy to shout down my mom for her choices. There might well have been; I've never asked.

 If I were to ever find an interview with my mom on national fucking television about her parenting style and career choices, the interviewer dripping with disdain and asking pointed questions like, "Do you love your kids? ...More than yourself?" I would be seething with rage. Seething. Who are you, busybody, to treat my mom like that? Do you know her? Do you know her family?

Lawyer Mom — and the long-distance divorcĂ©e mom in the story — made decisions they felt were right for their career, their family and most importantly, themselves. Lawyer Mom remained active and present in my life, just as the woman in the story is doing — just in a different way. They both love their kids. Love.

The woman featured in this story deserves an apology, and Vargas apparently needs a briefing on professionalism and sexism. For shame.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Pinterest Post: Wire Wrapping Success!

This post on Pinterest caught my eye the minute I saw it. I tucked it away on my "Crafty Inspiration" board for a rainy day.

Well, today wasn't quite rainy, but I had the day off from work and I felt gross (my allergies tend to explode into proper illness if I don't drug myself up enough), so I gave it a shot. It looked simple enough, after all.

Here's what I came up with:

Easy enough. This was my second try; the first I had greatly overestimated how much wire I'd need and the prongs practically met in the center.

The steps are generally pretty clear, though when you're doing structural stuff towards the end the photos could have benefited from a bit of a Photoshop touch and the writing from a bit of clarity. Both would have been ideal. Eventually, I ended up kind of faking it. I'll spend another afternoon going over that part in detail so I can get a better grasp on it.

This is perfect for all of my over-sized foreign currency. I have some smaller coins that are destined to  meet a Dremel and become charms or links, but I like the idea of making larger ones a focal piece all on their own.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

What I'm Reading: A Death in the Family

A Death in the Family James Agee cover
This is the other novel on the TIME Top 100 list that has "Death" in the title. Needless to say, I'm not as immediately enthralled by this one as I was by Death Comes For the Archbishop. Part of the problem is that the author, James Agee, died of a heart attack before A Death in the Family had been properly finished.

On principle, I don't enjoy posthumous works. The genius in writing comes largely from the revision process, and anything released into the world without its author's full treatment, to me, cannot be trusted. I have so many awful drafts sitting on my hard drive that, were they to be suddenly published in their current state, I would have no other choice but to loudly and publicly disown them before changing my name and moving out of the country to languish in embarrassed early retirement. This is why I refuse to read The Pale King or the novel portion of Salmon of Doubt  I'd like to think that David Foster Wallace and Douglas Adams felt pretty much the same way.

 However, I didn't realize the posthumous nature of A Death in the Family until I had already checked it out of the library. Lacking anything else to read, I decided to put my rule about posthumous works aside. The good news was that since I had no prior experience with Agee as a writer, it was no great loss should I discover him to be, on early drafts, not so good.

The other thing is that, when reading a posthumous novel, I am constantly distracted interminable "what ifs". Would he have insisted on this run-on sentence, or changed it? Would he have punched up this long wall of text with a couple of paragraph changes? Would he have narrowed the focus?

The novel isn't without merit. Sometimes there are moments of sad, piercing insight that hit you right in the gut:

"And looking at himself now, [Ralph] neither despised himself nor felt pity for himself, nor blamed others for whatever they might feel about him. He knew that they probably didn't think the incredibly mean, contemptuous things of him that he was apt to imagine they did. He knew that he couldn't ever really know what they thought, that his extreme quickness to think that he knew was just another of his dreams. He was sure, though, that whatever they might think, it couldn't be very good, because there wasn't any very good thing to think of. But he felt that whatever they thought, they were just, as he was almost never just. He knew he was wrong about his mother. He had no doubt whatever, just now, that she really did love him, had never stopped loving him, and never would. He knew even that she was especially gentle to him, that she loved him in a way that she loved nobody else. And he knew why he so often felt that she did not really love him. It was because she was so sorry for him, and because she had never had and never possibly could have, any respect for him. And it was respect he needed, infinitely more than love. Just not to have to worry about whether people respect you. Not ever to have to feel that people are being nice to you because they are sorry for you, or afraid of you... 
And here tonight it comes like a test, like a trial, one of the times in a man's life when he is needed, and can be some good, just by being a man. But I'm not a man. I'm a baby. Ralph is the baby. Ralph is the baby."

Monday, June 3, 2013

Music Monday: Gershwin

I've been digging through my old piano books recently, just for kicks. One of those books is Gershwin at the Keyboard, a collection of songs by the Gershwin brothers arranged for the piano by brother George. In high school I attempted "Strike Up the Band" but ultimately gave it up, I think, though I can't recall why.

This isn't the piano arrangement in question (I couldn't find it), but it's an exceptional symphonic and choral arrangement and an outstanding solo performance by Caroline O'Connor:

Sunday, June 2, 2013

101 in 1001

Happy June! I totally forgot it switched over to my birthday month yesterday.


I found a couple replacements for my brown palazzo pants. I haven't gotten around to ordering them, but at least I've found them. (2 - 10)

In Progress:

I just realized that a couple of weeks ago I donated some money to fund a study on bats. I forgot to count that towards my microloan goal! It's not technically a loan (I won't get the money back) but it's in the spirit of charity so I think it should count. (12 - 3)

I also watched a Cuban zombie movie, Juan of the Dead. (9 - 5) It was really well done, I recommend it!

While not technically a microloan, I did donate money to fund a study about bat communication. Since it's in the spirit of charity, I'm counting it towards my microloan goal (12 - 3).



Rest of the list after the jump.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Pinterest Post: No Don't Pin That

First of all, I have found a new blog I like: NoDon'tPinThat. I am hooked on Pinterest, and while it's great for finding recipes, drink ideas, and funny pictures, it's not always so great for life advice or DIY tips involving chemicals or science. ("Science.") I've never been one to pin too many items from that last category anyway, since they're usually beauty tips and here are all the craps I give about beauty:

But I do give craps about jewelry and metals and science, and NoDon'tPinThat reminded me of this gem which I had always kind of known but never really remembered that I know. I don't have cherished antique silverware or heirloom jewelry (one gold ring, thus no tarnishing), but maybe you do. Here's how to get rid of the tarnish on your silver with aluminum foil, baking soda, hot water, and science.

And why not some of my favorite, recent pins? Why not indeed: