Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Blood All Over My Kitchen!

Okay, today isn’t going to be much of a post, but I have a medical excuse.

Earlier tonight I accidentally broke a glass. Then, when I was cleaning up the broken glass, even more accidentally one of the jagged shards of glass put a big gash in my right thumb.

So I’m trying to be a man about it. I’m trying to be Captain Kirk about it. But when there’s blood all over my kitchen I kind of freak out.

Now, it wasn’t so bad that I had to go to an emergency room and get stitches. But unlike my last encounter with blood—Princess From Atlantis Without A Band-Aid—this time I did take the time to wash off the gash, rub Neosporin around the wound, and apply a big bandage.

So my thinking is a little discombobulated and my typing isn’t really up to speed. At least the right thumb only works the space bar.

Anyway, so my post today is kind of haphazard. I’m just going to do three little topics. I don’t have anything elaborate today on any of these topics, but I may come back to them.

Comet Elenin

There has been almost endless crazy talk about Comet Elenin on the internet. And it was all nonsensical. Comet Elenin was just a normal, average kind of comet. And, among comet fans—comet hunters are an established and passionate subset of astronomers, both pro and amateur—there was speculation that Comet Elenin may turn out to be smaller than average, or dimmer, or may even break up.

And Comet Elenin appears to have broken up. Among comet hunters, it wasn’t even a spectacular breakup. Just more or less average.

So, among all the real things there are to worry about, people can stop worrying about that little comet. It was never anything to worry about in the first place, but now it has gone to pieces.

Here’s a link to a story about Comet Elenin breaking up:

Whenever astronomers discover a comet headed inbound toward a close encounter the Sun, there's always buzz among observers about how bright it might get. That was certainly the case last December, when Comet Elenin (C/2010 X1) made its debut. Many hoped it would become easily visible to the unaided eye as it rounded perihelion nine months later.

By April, that initial enthusiasm had waned a bit, as it became clear that Comet Elenin was small and intrinsically faint.

... One veteran comet-watcher who's not surprised is John Bortle. Four months ago, based on Elenin's performance to that point, he cautioned, "The comet may be intrinsically a bit too faint to even survive perihelion passage." And his words have proved prescient, as the fading continues (estimates are near 9th magnitude) and there's speculation that this object or its remnants might not be around much longer.

Comet Elenin Self-Destructs
from Sky and Telescope’s website

SpaceWeather also has a story on the breakup, along with a picture. Click on the picture to link to their story:

Organ Beaters

Since I’ve been learning to play keyboards, I’ve been interested in the history of the keyboard as a musical device.

It appears to go back in time to two separate threads.

The first historical appearance of keys, apparently the oldest use of keys—or buttons and levers vaguely resembling keys—was to control pipe organs of various kinds.

The second appearance of keys was to automate the plucking action on lutes, creating harpsichord-like instruments.

Here is a quote and a link to a short history of keyboards from a website:

The German word "Klavier," which can refer to any keyboard instrument, possibly derives from the Greek word "celava" which means club (because most of the early organ keys were hit not played); but it is more likely that it came from the Latin word "clavis," meaning key, as this is where the English word key derived from. On early organs, the keys were marked with the pitch. These were translated into letters which were called "clavis."

The Roman water organ had a row of little levers. Evidence for this can be found on mosaics and carvings dating from before the collapse of Imperial Rome. During the tenth century there was an organ at Winchester Cathedral with 40 stops and two manuals, probably consisting of lever type keys, all naturals with no accidentals, taking, it is said, three men to play it. The organ was the first instrument with a keyboard, and the weight of its keys, like that of many other instruments, varied. So much so, that it took the strength of a man's fist to push down one of the crude levers, which to us would hardly be recognisable as a key. It was not unknown for players to be called "organ beaters." Organ players began complaining of uneven touch on the organs. A contract between an organ builder and Rouen Cathedral in 1382 refers to the repair of the keyboard with the purpose of making it more uniform and lighter in touch. However, parts of an organ dated 226 AD and found near Budapest had keys no heavier than those of a modern piano. Throughout the ages, touch has been one of the gripes of the performer. Even the great Silberman, who trained most of the great piano makers of the 1700s, was criticised by J. S. Bach, who said that Silberman pianos were too hard to play. This was around 1733.

Marlena from “Cloverfield”

Okay, this is silly, but I want to do it anyway.

I mentioned a while ago that when I watch the low-budget killer-snake movie “Vipers” I pretty much ignore the main characters and treat the movie as a story about one of the side characters, the disgruntled teenager, Maggie—Maggie And The Fish Head. (And a little clip of Maggie appears at the start of “Hold Me Forever: A Doll Philosophy”.)

I do something similar with the film Cloverfield.”

I don’t much like that movie. I don’t really like the main characters and I think the writing of the movie itself is ridiculous—a giant monster is rampaging through New York and the main character freaks out because his phone battery runs down and he can’t talk to his on-again-off-again girlfriend.

However, there is a side character named “Marlena” who doesn’t even know the main character and for one reason or another she tags along with the dimwits on their adventures.

Marlena is pretty and has more personality than all the other characters in the movie put together.

When I watch “Cloverfield”—when I’m in the mood for a New York monster movie—I usually put in the DVD and jump ahead right to the 7:00 mark. That’s when Marlena appears over Lily’s shoulder at the party. Then I watch the movie up until the 52:00 mark when Marlena explodes at the Army outpost.

The giant monster and Marlena are the only interesting characters in the movie and after Marlena explodes even the giant monster, by itself, isn’t enough to counter-balance the remaining dumb characters and make the movie interesting. I usually just switch it off after she’s gone.

So—of all things—the movie “Cloverfield” has its own wikia [?] and on the page for the character Marlena one of the background facts is that the actress who portrays her—Lizzy Caplan—took the role without knowing anything about the character or anything about the script. She took the role because J. J. Abrams was producing the movie and he had created the TV show “Lost” which Caplan had been a fan of.

After making “Cloverfield,” the actress said she would never do that again, that in the future she would find out what a film is about before she would take a part.

Ha, ha, ha. Lizzy Caplan the actress who plays the character Marlena in “Cloverfield” has more personality than all the other characters in the movie put together, too!

Okay, that’s about all I have for today. Time to go.

It’s good to know when it’s time to go. Marlena knows:


hard code said...

wow...i thought i was the only who found marlena attractive

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