Friday, August 19, 2011

Movies, Keyboards And Skirt Police

Hey, look, it’s a woman in a short skirt riding a bicycle!

Well, that photo is from a different blog, and I’ll get back to that in a second. But first some Other Things.


Mother gave me Barrie’s “Sentimental Tommy” when I was older, because she loved the Scottish dialect, and because of a particular chapter where Tommy shows how he feels about words. He is a poor boy who aspires to be a writer, and competes with another boy for a university scholarship. The teachers and examining board outside the village classroom where the essay competition is being held hear two pens scratching briskly at the start and then, after a while, only one. Who has quit writing? And why? When the time is up Tommy is still in a reverie, searching his mind for the exact word to describe how full the church—the kirk—was. The exam has been forgotten. He loses the scholarship (“The time went by in a winking!”) but for the moment he doesn’t care: the pursuit of the word is still uppermost. It wasn’t “puckle” or “manzy” or “flow” or “curran”—what was it? And at least one examiner marks down in his mind that anyone who has that much respect for words is the superior candidate.

from Turn Not Pale, Beloved Snail
by Jacqueline Jackson

That’s a quote from a cool writer about a quote from another cool writer. (I’ve quoted Jacqueline Jackson before, in Devouring Memory.)

I offer up that business because I feel bad about not having done anything with Little Plastic Doll and Rubber Lizard for a long time. I meant to have something last week, and then this week, but I haven’t done anything.

The only excuse I have is that I’m trying to wait for a good idea.

I’ve had some little allergy issues and I’ve been a little sad over some random things and I’ve been a little distracted by some random things, and though I’ve given it a lot of thought I just haven’t had any ideas that I really liked.

I really enjoy doing those little movies, and their music, but I don’t want to do them just for the sake of doing them. I like to have a real idea—even if it is just a little idea, or even if it is just an idea that matters to me—before I buckle down to do the arrangements and work.

So I’m still thinking. It is a priority for me and I’ll get to it. It just takes some time. (It’s good to think things through: Losing Cool)


On a completely different topic:

Today I had a chance to play a little bit on a Korg Kronos synthesizer workstation. It was both very impressive—the machine, I mean, not my playing!—and a little disconcerting at the same time.

First of all, the keyboard had an extraordinary feel. It wasn’t as solid as a piano, but it was the most solid feel of any workstation I’ve ever played. Very cool.

Secondly, the Kronos has almost endless control surfaces. From left to right there are paddles and sliders and knobs and buttons. This gives you the option of controlling everything right at your fingertips. It seems a little daunting to have so much control, but I’m guessing after you’ve played the machine for a while everything becomes second nature.

Thirdly, I didn’t hear the fan at all. I certainly don’t like the idea of a musical instrument containing a built-in fan, but in a normal room setting the Kronos fan was so quiet that I didn’t hear it.

Fourthly, the fan business brings me to the big screen business. The Kronos comes with a big computer screen—a touch-screen!—right above the keyboard, right in the middle of all the real paddles and sliders and knobs and buttons. The Kronos needs a big screen because it actually runs Linux and is, itself, a dedicated computer workstation. It has to boot up, just like a computer. (I didn’t restart the Kronos today, so I don’t know if the horror stories of it taking two minutes or more to restart are true.) This is the disconcerting part. I used the touch-screen to select voices and play different parts and such. All very cool. The sound—through an amplifier—was okay. I don’t have very educated ears, but the voices sounded okay. These days, almost everything is so sophisticated the sound seems great to me.

But I found all the computer stuff a little distracting. There was a chart of the frequency response of the piano voice on screen as I was playing. To my mind, that kind of shifts the emphasis of the experience from music to technicalities. I’m guessing you have control over the screen display and can simplify the set-up, but the default screens were kind of “busy” for my tastes.

So that is a quick Kronos update. The machine looks and feels great. It definitely seems to give you three grand worth of stuff to play with. However, I’m pretty sure it’s not the kind of stuff I want. But it sure looked beautiful and felt beautiful to play.

La Seule Chose Que Je Peux Faire

Beethoven, Britney Spears And A Ghost

Waterfall In My Kitchen

On Not Playing A Synth Workstation #1

On Not Playing A Synth Workstation #2


Okay. Back to this girl in a skirt on a bicycle thing.

I had to get gas today.

I stopped at a big gas station. As I was pumping gas, a middle-age woman in a skirt riding a bicycle [?] rode up to the air pump on the other side of the gas station. She put a couple of quarters in the air machine, then fussed with the air hose a bit. Finally she walked over to the nearest gas pump and talked to a man pumping gas. He walked back to the air machine with her, straightened out the air hose, and put air into both her tires for her. Then he returned to his car. The woman got on her bike and rode away.

Now I was too far away to hear anything the woman and man said to each other. So all I have is this behaviorist report. I saw what they did, their actions, but I can only guess at their thinking.

And I’m wondering what I saw.

I mean, was the woman so stupid that she couldn’t figure out how to pump air into her bicycle tires herself?

Or was the woman pretending to be stupid as a strategy for meeting guys to have sex with?

It’s the 21st century, so I guess it could be either or both. Or something else, but the situation seemed kind of clear cut.

Whatever it was, I really wish—for some reason—that I hadn’t seen it.

If the woman was so stupid that she couldn’t figure out how to pump air into her tires herself then I don’t want to know about it. If the woman was hunting for sex on her bike then I don’t want to know about that, either.

What the hell is going on in the world?

So I was talking about this and someone told me it is really a kind of active topic among some people on the internet—this business of women riding bicycles in skirts. [!]

And that seems to be true. I looked around the internet. There are women who make fashion statements out of it. And there is a whole subset of women out there in skirts on bicycles with stories of being stopped by police—for some reason—which they seem to typically believe involves either power trips on the part of the police, or something like sexual harassment on the part of the police.

Check out the post, and all the comments, at the Lovely Bicycle blog post on the topic: Lovely Bicycle: Skirt Police

What the hell is going on in the world?

This is why God made the Volkswagen Beetle—so pretty girls can drive around in a car dressed anyway they like without turning the whole world into a potential Town Without Pity remake.

Just another reason why I want to be sitting in the cabin of a pilothouse sailboat anchored somewhere off the Torngat mountains, just sitting in my boat reading a book a thousand miles from everybody else in the 21st century. I’m working on it.

Princess From Atlantis Without A Band-Aid

A Place To Read Books I’ve Never Read

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