Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Free books!

Free books available for everybody next week at the World eBook Fair. If you can't wait, get a free CD from the nice folks at Project Gutenberg. Then print them all up at work.


Verrrry Eeeenterezting

Via Crooks and Liars comes this bit of fun about What Dubya finds interesting. I wouldn't mind him saying that so much if he made a reference to Arte Johnson's Nazi soldier character from Laugh In.


Friday, June 23, 2006

Word to ya Janusz

Saw last year's War of the Worlds recently and was struck by how many of Spielberg's recent films have had a washed-out color scheme with super-bright whites. Seriously, I think the last time I saw a real shade of red in one of his films was Schindler's List. Maybe in a few years Steven will figure out that his cinematographer, Janusz Kaminski, is color blind. Then again, he was the cinematographer on Cool As Ice, so he can't be that bad...

Anakin & Obi-Wan Are Dead

Saw a local production of Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead a few weeks back that was so poorly performed I could barely tell there was a great play underneath it all. I went to read more about the author, Tom Stoppard, and it seems that he also did some script work on Revenge of the Sith. Quite the resume: one of the biggest grossing films of all time and one of the landmarks of surreal theater.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Shape of Sound

Yodelling LLama posted something a while back about mathematical proofs being turned into music. This is BS, of course, but I'll deal with that later. While looking thru the stuff I saw some images that show an 'analysis' of the music using The Shape of Song. That's even more BS, judging from the method page on that site. Allow me to explain.

It purports to 'illustrate the deep structure of the composition' while it makes pretty translucent arches that connect exact pitch repetitions in the music. That disregards two important points: 1) there's much more to musical structure than the repetition of exact pitches and 2) even when pitches are repeated, that doesn't mean structure. To illustrate, let me put my Music Theorist hat on and point out the problems with their 'analysis' of Mary Had a Little Lamb.

One good part of the illustration shows how both the antecedent and consequent phrases (1st 4 measures and 2nd 4 measures, respectively, for most of you) start with the same seven notes. But that isn't a major revelation and is described by music analysts by a form that takes up less space than a big blue arch: AA'.

The first problem with the 'analysis' comes with measure 3, the 3 repeated Ds. The Shape of Sound fails to make the connection with measure 2s 3 repeated Es, a connection that is obvious to the listener.

Next problem comes at the end, where the final 3 notes (E - D - C) are connected with the same pitches that occur at the beginning of each 4-measure phrase. This is making a connection where there is none, musically speaking. The E - D - C - D phrase that is in measures 1 and 5 is part of a tonic harmony (a C-major chord should be played in the background) while measure 7 has a dominant harmony (G major). And because of the position of the notes in each measure, the E - D - C in measures 7-8 will have a different set of accents than that in measure 1 and 5, giving it a different sound.

The main problem is that it doesn't diagnose the real connection to the end of the tune. There’s a connection between the end of the antecedent and consequent phrases that gives it a nice feeling of completion at the end. In measure 4, an E is followed by 2 Gs, making a musical interval known as an ascending 3rd. In measures 7-8, the notes E – D – C outline a similar interval, a descending 3rd that lands on the tonic (which could be described as the main note in the set of notes that make up this tune, known as its key).

There are some nice diagrams there but don’t mistake them for analysis. They might tell the novice something about some music (such as Baroque masterpieces like Bach’s Goldberg Variations) but will be quite useless with much other music, like the first movement of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony: all those repeated 4-note phrases (3 shorts and 1 long) won’t register on The Shape of Sound because they’re not exact pitch duplications. But anyone who can hear can tell they’re connected, which is one of the reasons that work’s a masterpiece.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Goat Report, 6/20/06

Man 0, Goat 1: it's a good thing I know how to handle goats, or this would scare me.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Baby names, pt. 2

Finally some time to do a followup to my previous post on baby names of 2005 listed at the Social Security site. First let me point out that Ms. Goat has informed me that naming a child 'baby' is done when the baby isn't properly named, like 'unknown' (which makes me wonder why an unnamed child would get a social security card). Anyway, on to the top 1000 girls names:

- biggest surprise for me in the top 10 is Ava at #9. I can only think that some underground resugence of popularity of Ava Gardner has taken me by surprise

- over 5000 parents want their daughters to be named after a character in The Matrix?

- the female version of Aiden/Aidan is apparently Kaitlyn/Katelyn/Caitlyn/Katelynn/Kaitlin/Kaitlynn/Katelin, which is in the top 20 when you combine those spellings' totals

- or maybe it's Brianna/Breanna/Briana/Breana, which is in the top 10 when you combine their totals

- I'm a little bothered when Kaylee is #41 and Kayleigh is #266. It's a nice name whose rise in popularity seems to be due to the great song of the same name. At least the Brits know how to spell it... crap, Kailey is #251!

- given these weird spellings I'm glad to see no variants of Jocelyn at #87 (like Josslin, Jawzln, or worse). Correction, Joselyn is #409

- why don't 2000 hosers know that Mckenzie is a last name?

- 'Calm down, Serenity!' (#170)

- 1302 little girls are just like Heaven

- 825 girls named Lola are going to pray that The Kinks don't get popular again

- 'plain Jane' no more: it's #466

- I hope the 637 girls named Miracle get to see History of the World, part I

- at #738, Princess; I'm only OK with it if her dad was named Rex

- "Why so sentimental, Journey (#773)? Don't stop belivin'!"

- I love that 260 girls were named Unique (#937)

Movie connections

Recently, me and Ms. Goat watched a couple of similar movies on consecutive Sundays: A History of Violence and True Lies, the latter of which I'd seen several times before. Both movies about seemingly normal husbands who are hiding something. But it later occured to me that these are related in another way: David Cronenberg, who directed the former, was once attached to direct the movie that became Total Recall, which starred Arnold (who also starred in True Lies) as another seemingly normal husband who may not be all he seems. Of course, Cronenberg's Total Recall would have been very different (probably more like the Philip K. Dick story We Can Remember It For You Wholesale, upon which it is based), which puts it near the top of my 'coulda been great' list of movies never made.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Be nice to me

I'm pregnant, too! At last, I can blame my issues on hormones!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Down with foreign fruit!

I look forward to the day when American anti-racist groups are as clever as the German Apple Front. Don't riot, use satire! via forktine.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Free music: Cheikha Rimitti

Cheikha Rimitti was a singer in the Algerian pop style known as rai who died almost a month ago. Her official site has lots of free streaming music available under the 'discotheque' tab, check it out. The album named 'Sidi Mansour' is one I've been shopping for for ages, as it includes contributions from two of my favorite musicians, Flea and Robert Fripp.

pdf 995

I recently got around to using pdf 995 to make some free pdf files and I give it my highest recommendation. I'd read about it in Randy Cassingham's Bonzer Sites several months ago and wanted to use it to make a pdf of my dissertation but only had time for that recently. I wanted to put it in some sort of standard format for a while because I know that while just about anybody has Word, not many people would be able to read the music portion w/out Finale. Now I have pdf files of each section and they even have an app that will combine pdfs nicely. It's all free but you get an ad on your screen when making the pdfs, but that's not a big deal to me.

Thursday, June 08, 2006


I'm not a fan of rollercoasters. I've been on them, but prefer not to ride them. This annoys Ms. Goat as she grew up not far from one of the world's premier rollercoaster parks. I attribute my dislike to two things:

1) when I'm going around hairpin turns at 60+ mph, I prefer to be driving

2) when I was young I saw a movie called Rollercoaster that featured lots of sabotaged coasters flying off the tracks with fatal results

It amuses me, then, when I see rollercoasters used as a metaphor for something that is leading to doom, such as skyrocketing mortgage payments.

Somebody up there likes me

Without a doubt, the greatest cross-promotion ever was when M&M made dark chocolate M&Ms (under their cute M-pire label) around the time of Revenge of the Sith's theatrical and DVD releases. These were probably my favorite candies ever, at least among mass-marketed candies not only available in Europe. Sadly, the M-pire candies were a limited release and they're no longer available at drug stores or the dead-candy aisle of the amazing 99-Cent Only Store; they may still be at the M&M store in Las Vegas, but I haven't checked. I wrote to M&M about this dire matter and got this response:

In response to your email regarding M&M'S DARK CHOCOLATE CANDIES.

Thank you for your email.

Great news! M&M'S DARK CHOCOLATE CANDIES will be available starting
July 2006 as a permanent item. Stay tuned to our website,,
for updates. We hope you will watch for them!

Have a great day!

Your Friends at Masterfoods USA
A Division of Mars, Incorporated

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

What the hey?

I guess dress-codes have relaxed a bit. I just saw a student (female,
couldn't have been older than 17) with a tight t-shirt that said
"F*CK" on it. But the * was replaced by a Playboy Bunny symbol. Nah,
that's not suggestive.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Goat report, 6/1/06

Chase (and kiss) a goat for charity!


If you can read this blog, you are reading at a 5th grade reading level, according to juicy studio. Yeah, that's not exactly college-level, but it could be worse.