Hurricane (and then Tropical Storm) Irene came and went, and with it my power as did the power for almost 722,000 other customers in Connecticut. Here in West Hartford, the storm didn’t seem that bad: steady rain and moderate winds with a few gusts. But apparently a tree and several utility poles along my street couldn’t handle Irene.
So yeah, I imagine I’ll be without power for a little while. Good thing I prepared.
Perry – the gun-slinging, Bush wannabe, has just made Romney’s pursuit to the top a little more stressful. Similar to Bachmann, he has the persona/Jesus ratio just about right but comes a bit short on the crazy scale, but not by much. His strength lies in his ability to appeal to all factions of a Republican party – from Religious Right zealots to establishment type Reaganites. It’s a potent mix in a Republican primary but less so when trying to appeal to independents still shaken from eight hellish years of Bush.
Henrik Eneroth reimagines the web browser in the era of widescreen monitors and fullscreen apps:
Of course, screen sizes do still matter when browsing the web. Since many web sites will be longer than your screen is tall, the less user interface we put vertically, the better. But most screens today are widescreens, so why are we not putting the left- and right-hand sides of the screen to better use, instead of forcing everything into a bar on the top of the window?
(Via Cameron Moll)
Drew Westen writing at the New York Times:
Stories were the primary way our ancestors transmitted knowledge and values. Today we seek movies, novels and “news stories” that put the events of the day in a form that our brains evolved to find compelling and memorable. Children crave bedtime stories; the holy books of the three great monotheistic religions are written in parables; and as research in cognitive science has shown, lawyers whose closing arguments tell a story win jury trials against their legal adversaries who just lay out “the facts of the case.” […]
In that context, Americans needed their president to tell them a story that made sense of what they had just been through, what caused it, and how it was going to end. They needed to hear that he understood what they were feeling, that he would track down those responsible for their pain and suffering, and that he would restore order and safety. […]
But there was no story and there has been none since.
Great read. The president sits in a terrible position. Those seated on the right never supported him and never will. Those seated on the left are becoming increasingly disillusioned with him. What is he to do? Perhaps he needs to stand. For something. We’re all listening, Mr. President. Tell us a story.
…or why you should hide your phone from yourself when you plan on drinking.
There’s some light conversation over what to call this American Adventure™ in Libya. Is it a war? Is it a skirmish? But I think more importantly, we should ask if eventually we’ll call this a quagmire. Scratch that. Another quagmire.
The debate now seems to be whether or not the U.S. arms the Libyan opposition forces and thus champions regime change. In a third country. While the other two adventures continue.
So the quick thought: What would Candidate Obama think of President Obama? You know, the one who called the Iraq war a “dumb war.”
For those of us who voted for him, donated to him, and volunteered for him, this question is worth pondering.
I knew going into last night I would be disappointed about the outcome of the Best Original Score award. Last night’s outcome is added to the long list of the Academy awarding a lesser-deserving score.
Can you hum the theme from Midnight Express? No? But what about Superman?
Certain scores, like certain films that went undeservedly unrecognized, are now more appreciated as time has passed. That they weren’t Oscar-winning scores now seems like a mistake. Here are a few:
1978: Midnight Express over Superman
1979: A Little Romance over Star Trek: The Motion Picture
1980: Fame over The Empire Strikes Back
1981: Chariots of Fire over Raiders of the Lost Ark
1986: ‘Round Midnight over Aliens, Hoosiers, and The Mission
1995: Il Postino over Apollo 13 and Braveheart
1998: Life is Beautiful over Saving Private Ryan and The Thin Red Line
1999: The Red Violin over American Beauty, Angela’s Ashes, and The Cider House Rules
2000: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon over Gladiator
2005: Brokeback Mountain over Memoirs of a Geisha
2006: Babel (a mind-boggling back-to-back win for composer Gustavo Santoalalla) over everything else
2010: The Social Network over How to Train Your Dragon and Inception
Five film scores are up for the Academy Award for Best Original Score. One is a safe-and-nice-yet-ultimately-throw-away score, one is a solid-effort-but-there’s-no-way-it’s-going-to-win score, one is a very-smart-and-not-a-surprise-it-was-nominated score, one is a slightly-more-useful-than-a-hangnail-on-a-hobo score, and one is a delightful surprise.
Let’s start with The King’s Speech, composed by Alexandre Desplat.
This is exactly the type of score that gets nominated every year by the Academy. The music is safe, undemanding, from a dramatic film, and driven by piano performances. The best thing I can say about this score it that it’s nice. Is that a compliment? Maybe. Is that a back-handed compliment? Probably. Desplat can write good music. This is okay music, but the Academy had to fill its piano-music quota with something.
Really, though, this score probably shouldn’t be nominated. Or even eligible. The last two tracks encompassing pivotal scenes in the film are scored not by Desplat but instead by Beethoven. It’s always my fear that Academy voters get swayed by nice-sounding classical music. “Hey! Classical music! I will vote for this score! I will feel sophisticated!” Lame.
I imagine if The King’s Speech is sweeping all its other categories, Desplat will be going home with an Oscar, too—as in, Oscar voters won’t be voting for the music but instead for the movie. Also lame.
Moving on to A.R. Rahman’s 127 Hours.
Thus far known only for his Oscar-winning score and songs to Slumdog Millionaire, Rahman is still something of a newcomer to the Hollywood composing scene but no stranger to Bollywood. I suppose that makes him somewhat “exotic” to Academy voters something else they like. “Hey! Diversity! I will feel sophisticated!”
Rahman’s score brings a fresh voice to Hollywood film scores. This particular score is decent, sometimes difficult to listen to, but has some solid moments.
A solid effort, but Rahman won’t be taking his third statue home.
But Hans Zimmer could walk away with his second. In a no-brainer move, the Academy nominated Zimmer’s Inception score. Absolutely deserving.
Zimmer created a smart, driving, sometimes bombastic score with its roots firmly planted in the style he has been developing over the last several years with his scores from The Da Vinci Code, The Dark Knight, and others. Did the 2010 Zimmer go back in time and plant an idea in the mind of the 2007 Zimmer? BWAAAAARRRGH.
I’m not saying his Inception score uses material from his other scores, but he’s been developing a particular style, and in this score, his style coalesced into something unreached in his previous efforts.
Zimmer’s Inception score is smart and definitely worthy of a nomination.
Neither of which are true for Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’s The Social Network score.
I cannot for the life of me understand why this score is even for a fleeting moment considered one of the best scores of 2010. Impossible. Ridiculous. Inconceivable. This score is the film-music equivalent of Sarah Palin: An undeserved, controversial hack mucking up the landscape while mind-blowingly winning attention and a following of supporters that makes me say “what the fuck.”
This score, and I use that term very lightly here, is nothing more than ambient electronica. I have no doubt this music has a place somewhere. In a film is questionable. Nominated for best score is dumbfounding. This is nine-inch nails on a chalkboard. It’s the music you might hear in your head after you are mugged, beat over the head, dragged behind a car, dropped from a bridge, and left for dead as buzzards are picking your eyes out.
A musical theme is nothing more than a collection of notes strung together in a coherent musical fashion. The theme from The Social Network really is nothing more than a collection of notes strung together.
I can’t imagine this music was composed specifically for scenes in the film. There’s just no way. More plausible is that Reznor watched the film, started composing some ideas afterward, and that music was then edited into scenes in the film.
I don’t think I would have as much hate for this score if it hadn’t been nominated for Best Original Score by the Academy just after winning the Golden Globe for Best Original Score. As with The King’s Speech, if The Social Network sweeps the Oscars, Reznor and Ross will be Oscar-winners—undeservedly so.
Perhaps I’m being too harsh. Music, after all, is highly subjective. But my point is this: the Oscar for Best Original Score should in fact be decided amongst the best original scores. This score is nowhere near the best and nowhere near original when tracks from the score are reworkings of previous Reznor material. If this music wins Best Original Score, I will set my hair on fire.
The good thing, though, is that I wouldn’t need to actually light my hair on fire. I’ll be so angry from John Powell’s How to Train Your Dragon score losing that I’ll likely combust automagically.
I’ll combust from rage because Powell’s score is so good, so original, and so deserving.
John Powell has a knack for composing scores for animated films. He crafts music that is as frenetic as it is heartwarming, as serious as it is jovial. Because of the layered complexities and frenzied nature of his compositions, I often wonder if he has a touch of ADHD. Unlike most everyone else who graduated from the Hans Zimmer school of composing, he has been able to branch out on his own and forge his own style. And with How to Train Your Dragon, he brought all this together to construct a masterpiece of a film score. The score’s opening:
Powell created a musical world with a rich thematic integrity throughout. While certainly not short on heroic music, the score also includes some lighter fare.
But it’s the big, bold bombast that makes this score. Not only is Powell’s How to Train Your Dragon my favorite film score of the year, it contains my favorite track of the year.
You can listen to the whole track here.
How to Train Your Dragon is easily the best score of John Powell’s career, and surely one of the best animated scores in some time. Given its originality, its thematic cohesiveness, and its likeability—no, lovability—this is easily the best film score of 2010.
Will John Powell go home with his first Oscar? I won’t hold my breath, but I’ll be sure to keep a bucket of water handy to extinguish my hair. But when I douse my head, I guess I will have to hold my breath.
There are a few composers that won’t be holding their breath either on Oscar night. Because their names aren’t in an envelope. Because their scores weren’t nominated. But they could have been. No, should have been.
It’s a shame that the movie was so awful that it tainted the score’s chances at a nomination. This is a score that doesn’t get written much these days, and it evokes fantasy scores of the past.
Then there’s James Horner’s surprise score for The Karate Kid. He was a replacement composer, but he created a masterful work. I wrote more about the score last year.
But one score deserves to be on the list if only because of how well it worked within its film: Daft Punk’s Tron: Legacy score. The film really should have been billed as “Tron: Legacy, starring Digital Domain and Daft Punk (and also starring everyone else).” Daft Punk’s score was an additional character in the forefront of the film driving the narrative.
Just like Trent Reznor, Daft Punk are novices in the film-score world. But unlike Trent Reznor, Daft Punk competently scored their film and brought a fresh yet somehow retro sound to their film.
Any of these three scores could have replaced one or more of the nominated five. But they didn’t. And life will go on.
I just hope life for John Powell goes on with a shiny, golden statue. Perhaps then he can say, “Hey! An Oscar! I feel sophisticated!”
This week, the ESPN Creative Services department held a development day giving employees opportunities to share, learn, and develop new skills, techniques, or ideas. One of the sessions was an all-day creative development session called “Layer Tennis.”
Layer Tennis mashes-up the excitement of organized competition with the skill and precision of graphic design. Participants volleyed with an opponent throughout the day using Photoshop and wit as their equipment. If you haven’t seen the real Layer Tennis, check out Coudal Partners http://layertennis.com/.
The ESPN Creative Services Layer Tennis proved equally creative, funny, witty, and full of smack-talk.
Check out all four matches: http://outsidethecage.org/.
(Image by Justin Linde in Match 1)
From my spam box:
Hello honey!! I am for a good mature man.
As for myself, I am a pretty Ukrainian lady.
Are you fond of Ukrainian ladies??
We are not just pretty and clever, but very tolerant as well..
Ukrainian ladies? esteem family and tend to be with their beloved ones a great deal of right time..
It’s right time to meet each other!
I’ll be waiting for you on international marriage site. Bye dear!!
Hmm, she could be my dream girl… if only she knew ellipses had three periods and not two.
President Obama this week gave a speech in Schenectady NY. And apparently he also opened the Stargate?
This Washington Post article discusses some of the unbalanced behavior of Jared Loughner. In the article, a classmate of Loughner “said her only previous contact with someone like [Loughner] came at time when she was working in a psychiatric hospital.”
I wish the article discussed whether or not school officials, while undergoing disciplinary proceedings against Loughner, sought mental help for him.
I’m certainly no mental-health expert, but clearly Loughner’s behavior described in the article is very not normal. I would hope someone at his school would have recognized this and helped him get the assistance he needed.
But judging from yesterday’s events, that needed help either never came or wasn’t enough.
UPDATE: I received a check in the mail from Esquire Cleaners.
I dropped off my suit for dry cleaning at Esquire Cleaners in West Hartford two months ago. They lost my jacket and haven’t replaced it. After trying to contact Esquire Cleaners owner Jeff Ellenberg since early November, I’ve now contacted the CT Better Business Bureau. I thought I would share my letter I sent to Esquire Cleaners and to the CT Better Business Bureau.
On Thursday 28 October, I dropped off a men’s two-piece black Stafford suit (jacket and pants) for dry cleaning at the Esquire Cleaners West Hartford Center store. When I returned on Saturday 30 October, the pants were ready, but the jacket was missing.
After making numerous phone calls and stop-ins at the West Hartford Bishops Corner store since early November, I am still without a suit jacket or adequate reimbursement, and I am without an apology or an explanation.
I understand mistakes happen and occasionally items will be lost. What I do not understand is the atrocious lack of customer service exhibited by Esquire Cleaners.
First, my lost jacket was not reported to managers when clerks at the West Hartford Center store and the Bishops Corner store could not locate my jacket. Until I called the next week inquiring about an update, the manager of the West Hartford Center store was unaware of my lost jacket and was dismayed when learning of its loss.
Second, I have been calling the Bishops Corner store since the end of November to speak with Esquire Cleaners owner Jeff Ellenberg, and I have left several messages for him. Either the messages never reach Jeff or he choses to ignore the needs of a customer and the failings of his staff.
Because I continue to be disregarded, I have submitted a complaint with the Better Business Bureau of Connecticut. The actions, or rather inactions, of Jeff Ellenberg and the staff of Esquire Cleaners are inexcusable.
Below is a timeline of events.
I dropped suit off at the West Hartford Center store for a Saturday pickup; I was told the suit would be ready the next day.
Picked up pants; jacket was missing, but I was told it was not lost. Until I mentioned I needed the suit for a wedding that day, the West Hartford Center clerk was comfortable not investigating the lost jacket. After clerk called other stores, I drove to Bishops Corner store and waited some time while a clerk there searched for my jacket.
After not hearing any news, I called the West Hartford Center store. The manager was surprised and noticeably angry at hearing of the lost jacket for the first time. She said she would call me back that day; she did not.
Again called the West Hartford Center store (after again hearing no news). The manager I spoke to previously said I would have to talk to the owner the following week as he was on vacation at the time.
I called the Bishops Corner store seeking owner Jeff. He was out of the office, but the clerk on the phone took a message. I was told Jeff would get the message either later that day or on Friday, and he would return my call. No call followed.
Again called for Jeff, but again he was out of the office. I left another message.
I called again. No Jeff. Left another message.
I drove to the Bishops Corner store and asked for Jeff. Again he was out. Again left a message for him.
Called again, left another message. Clerk, after telling me the spelling of my last name was “weird,” said Jeff would call back Monday afternoon.
Called again, left another message. Clerk asked me if I would settle for store credit. I said no because it would not replace my lost jacket.
Called again; was told Jeff was in a business meeting and would be available later in the day.
Submitted this text to the Esquire Cleaners online contact form. Submitted complaint with Connecticut Better Business Bureau
My original men’s two-piece black Stafford suit cost me $130. I am seeking from Esquire Cleaners monetary compensation for a new suit (simply replacing the jacket may not be adequate as the new jacket may not match my existing pants).
Everynone’s original video:
…and their follow-up using only clips from YouTube:
While driving through Verona, NY (between Syracuse and Utica), I noticed this campaign sign for Mike Hennessy, a “fiscally conservative Democrat” running for the New York State Senate:
Here’s a better rendition of his logo:
Patriotic, no doubt. The problem is, this logo was used once already. By a Republican. Running for president:
Even the same color scheme. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any more information about the logo or any mention of it being a rehash (theft?) in any news article. Seems strange, though, that Mike Hennessy, a Democrat, is using Mitt Romney’s logo from his failed 2008 presidential campaign. But that’s politics, I guess.
Sarah Biermann, Torsten Strer, Felix Meyer, and Pascal Monaco simplify 35 movies into their most basic visual representation and pack them into a slick, two-minute motion graphics piece. Brilliant:
How many did you recognize?
Republican Representative Mike Pence of Indiana was for defense spending cuts before he was against them while still remaining a “fiscal conservative.”
From a Politico article in June:
If we are going to put our fiscal house in order, everything has to be on the table. We have to be willing to look at domestic spending, we have to be able to look at entitlements, and we have to look at defense.
But in an interview last week, Pence said this:
HUNT: Everybody seems to be for most people say they’re for fiscal discipline, but it gets hard when it’s in your district. Let me give you one example for you. You went to the House floor to defend money for a second engine for the Joint Strike Fighter … [which would have] a factory in your district. The Pentagon says it doesn’t want it. The other day a Tea Party group this is a Tea Party group said of this project, it’s an example of “opportunistic parasite feeding on the expansion of government.” Tough stuff.
PENCE: Well, sure. And everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, but and not entitled to their own facts. The reality is, and the Heritage Foundation produced a very important study on this, is that it is believed that when you were talking about a military defense contract that will span decades of time, it is in the interest of taxpayers in the long run to have more than one source, more than one manufacturer of that engine.
The fact that one of those two engines in part is manufactured in Indiana, we certainly welcome. We’re proud of those jobs. But at the end of the day, I really do believe that it was in the interest of our national defense.
Dissenting opinions are healthy and necessary for debate. Hypocritical dissenting opinions, however, aren’t healthy for anything except to get yourself off. If you want to be a fiscal conservative, then BE a fiscal conservative. Don’t be some narcissistic, bloviating, self-rightous, insensitive, pompous, truth-be-damned, hypocritical jackass.
Cuts in defense spending shouldn’t be off the table when asserting the federal budget needs slashing even when cuts mean sacrifices at home and making tough decisions. This is the same as if the person I know who complains that Apple celebrates and fosters consumerism and materialism would go buy an iPhone 4 because her friend works there.
A hypocrite is a hypocrite whatever way you try to spin it. Mike Pence is a hypocrite.