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zune mixview

This is a bit premature, I suppose ... I've played fewer than 700 tracks on the Zune player so far ... but based on those plays, and what's in my music library, they've come up with the following "Mixview":

Capture

Here's what it all means. In the middle is ... me! I've totaled 687 plays. The picture underneath my name shows a few recent tracks ... yes, that's the Coke bottle and giant mitt at China Basin in the background, I did that. The other pictures tell you some of my favorite artists (Otis Redding, Pink), my "top" artist (Elvis), some of my favorite albums (Missundaztood, Dirty Mind, Good to Me), recently-played albums (Chaka Khan) and artists (Madness), and my very first Zune Friend, who I selected because they showed up as one of the biggest Bruce fans in the Zune world.


what i watched last week

Things are hectic enough around here that I didn't post this, which I know worries all of my fans. Since the new TV is now on the way, I find myself unwilling to watch any movies ... I want to put it off until I've got something better to watch them on. Still, I got the following in:

Goal! It's easy to see why these movies keep getting made. Generic sports films always have exciting endings, and even the worst of them can drag the emotions out of the viewer with that built-in audience pleaser. Goal! is not the worst of them. It doesn't often rise above the norm, though, with a checklist of cliches. Still, the scenes of life for Mexican immigrants in L.A. are nicely done, and since the movie is approved by FIFA, there are a gazillion cameos by big-name stars, and you get to see the real teams playing in the real stadiums. 6/10.

Mamma Roma. Magnani is wonderful, in an Anna Magnani way. The rest of the movie is an odd melange, which I suppose is its charm for many. 7/10.


alternative

I'm not implying that all "alternative medicine" is bunk; only that it should be tested with the same rigor as more traditional medicine. If a technique is shown to be useful, it should be a part of medicine -- there is no need for the "alternative" distinction. Either something works, and it's medicine, or it doesn't, and it's nonsense.

-- Thomas Kida, in Don't Believe Everything You Think


12 i've missed

OK, there's a meme going around ... and I'm a loner and a rebel, no one ever tags me, so I have to just do the suckers on my own ... this meme varies, but essentially it's "twelve movies you haven't seen that you should have seen and are embarrassed to admit you have missed." I had no idea how to approach this, so I decided to go to the invaluable web site They Shoot Pictures, Don't They? Among other things, this site is the home of the 1000 Greatest Films list ("as voted by 1,604 critics, filmmakers, reviewers, scholars and other likely film types"). I opted for taking their list, starting at the top, and working my way down until I had 12 movies I hadn't seen. So here goes, with the TSPDT ranking:

9) Tokyo Story. I'm really lacking in my Ozu watching, as in, I'm not sure I've ever seen one of his movies. OK, I suck, but that's kinda the point of this list, isn't it?

10) Sunrise. If it wasn't for Nosferatu, I'd draw a Murnau blank, as well.

14) L'Atalante. Vigo didn't make it to his 30th birthday, and so only directed a few films, of which I've seen one. Which doesn't sound as bad as missing out on Ozu.

25) Children of Paradise. I wonder why I refer to some foreign movies by their original titles, and others by their English version? I actually started watching this once and got distracted, which is a commentary on me, not the movie.

32) Persona. I've seen a lot of Bergman movies. I love Performance, which was accused of being a Persona rip-off. So why have I never seen Persona?

37) Ordet. I've always found Dreyer to be a "good for you" director rather than one I looked forward to, which may be why I missed this. Because of Jeanne d'Arc, I forgive him everything.

45) Contempt. I'm a big fan of Godard's first decade or so, but this never sounded interesting to me. I didn't see Alphaville, either.

48) Andrei Rublev. When I was a film major back in the early/mid-70s, I got a hardcore traditionalist education in the classics. I often describe that period by noting that at one point, we watched six weeks of silent Russian movies (Ukrainian is probably more accurate). I've mostly avoided Russian cinema ever since, like a fan of ice cream who ate one too many sundaes.

54) La Strada. I'm not a big fan of Fellini.

57) Pather Panchali. For my experience with Ray, see Ozu or Murnau above. I'm embarrassed at how few I've seen.

60) Au hasard Balthazar. See Ray, Ozu, Murnau, add Bresson to the list.

63) The Mirror. See #48.

I suppose I could pat myself on the back for having seen 51 of the top 63 movies of all time (actually 57 of 69 if I keep moving down the list). But I feel I should do better. And there's the most obvious thing about the above list: there isn't an American film on it. So, to finish, here are the 12 best American movies I haven't seen:

Letter from an Unknown Woman, Sherlock Jr., To Be or Not to Be, A Woman Under the Influence, The Crowd, Once Upon a Time in America, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, Schindler's List, A Star Is Born, Meshes of the Afternoon, The Kid, The Wind.

Feel free to make fun of me in the comments ... why else would I post this? But here's a rule if you like to follow them: for every one of the above movies that inspires your derision, you must list one of your own. And if you want to consider this a case of me tagging you, go play with this meme on your blog, as well!


no pix, but a cat story nonetheless

Actually, I could probably dig up a picture I've already posted, but I won't bother. This is a story about Six, which figures, since she's the one of our cats who is the star of almost every story we tell. She has this thing she does ... it's not unheard of, but it's pretty rare, I think, and it seems odd to us, since we've never had a cat who did this ... she brings us presents. You'll hear this ominous, guttural growl from another room, and soon enough, Six comes walking into the room with something in her mouth, as if she'd caught a mouse and was showing it off. Only it's never a mouse. Usually it's a sock ... sometimes it's a ball of yarn ... once or twice she brought underwear. But usually it's a sock, and she does this often enough that over time, Robin has just "given" her half-knitted socks to play with. If we leave the house for awhile, when we come back, we'll find a sock or two on the kitchen floor ... if we're reading in bed, she might show up and drop one on the covers ... and when I'm home alone, she'll bring me a present once or twice a day. This hasn't stopped with my move upstairs ... now, it takes her a bit longer to get to me, but she still growls her way up the stairs to the attic, where she drops a sock or whatever at my feet and waits for me to pet her with gratitude.

Funny thing is, I always thank her and make a big deal of picking up the sock as if it was indeed a treasure ... dogs might go for that stuff, but I doubt cats do, so I feel pretty stupid, but I do it, anyway ... if she goes to the trouble of bringing me a present, I should be thankful.

Well, today I noticed something even weirder than usual. She brings me socks, I thank her, and then I put them on top of the computer, just to get them out of the way. Our setup now has one of those saddle-like things on the side of the desk that holds the computer just off of the ground. Today I thought that I should gather up the sox that had piled up on the computer, maybe take them downstairs so she could start over.

And that's when I realized, the pile never gets bigger. In fact, when I went to grab the socks, there were none to grab.

Apparently, when I'm not paying attention, she comes up here, gets the socks off of the computer, and takes them somewhere else, so that she can bring them to me again another day.

I think this is kinda odd.


1968: september 22

A new #1 on the American charts. I had an English teacher in high school ... don't remember which one it was, one of the younger ones ... one day in class, he/she did a close reading of "Hey Jude," explaining that "Jude" was British slang for penis ... listening to the song with that information in your head leads to a v.different interpretation than I'd previously considered. I'm pretty sure my teacher was fulla shit, though.


say goodbye to rhapsody once again

Today I canceled my Rhapsody subscription, making my move to Zune official. It's an odd move, given that I don't own a Zune. But I use my portable MP3 player much less often than I used to, while I listen to music on the computer for hours every day. So what really matters to me is the software and services for the computer. Microsoft just updated their software to 3.0, and they have something called a Zune Pass that allows me to listen to any song in their huge catalog as long as I pay my monthly fee ... and longtime readers know I am a big fan of subscription services. We all have our preferences ... I know people who like Pandora, and people who like to own CDs, and people who don't listen to music unless they're in their car. Me, I prefer to be able to hear any song ever recorded whenever and wherever I want ... and we haven't reached that point, and never will, but I go with whatever comes closest. If I ever decided to get a Zune, I can even use wi-fi to download/listen on the spot from any wi-fi enabled area, which would be nice if I had a Zune.

The Zune catalog seems comparable to Rhapsody's ... people claim that this or that service has a better catalog, but my experience has been that they all have everything except the Beatles, plus a few other acts like Led Zep, Metallica, or the Eagles where you can only get the music if you pay for specific downloads. Suffice to say that so far, I feel like I'm hearing just as many songs on Zune as I did on Rhapsody as I did on Urge as I did on MusicMatch (yes, I go through subscription services with some regularity).

The software is what matters. Zune software, like most software of this kind, has lots of things I consider bells and whistles, that other people might find essential. It has a few quirky additions, which are fine with me. But the essential thing is that the software keeps track of my music, lets me access the catalog as if it were my own, and plays without crashing. Is it perfect? Far from it. But it's my choice right now as the best of the subscription services.

Rhapsody ... I keep going back to them, I keep leaving them, that should tell you something. They have the right ideas for the most part, when everything is working right it's a pleasure ... but it's rare that everything works right, the software is clunky and buggy, and when they "fix" the software, or even come out with new versions, they go sideways at best and backwards at worst. One of the more recent updates added the ability to look at pictures from your hard drive, which is nice except I don't need that function from my music-playing software, the software already feels bloated, and there were existing problems that needed fixing. As I have ranted to customer support until they are sick of me, their software does not allow you to sort playlists, so if you create a playlist of 2000 songs (I know, what kind of playlist is that, but believe me, I have them), the only way to reorder them without resorting to kludgy workarounds is to move songs around the list by hand. Want to know if you've added that ZZ Top song to the list? Get your reading glasses, because you can't sort by artist, you can't sort by song, you can't sort by album title, you can only scroll through the list until you find the track you are looking for (or, if it's not there ... well, you'll do a lot of scrolling to find that out). I am not a programmer, but even I know that sort capabilities are among the most basic of functions for any software that utilizes database information. Not for Rhapsody, though.

And so, I'm a Zuner. I have no emotional attachment to Zune, nor did I to any of the other services I've tried and abandoned ... well, to be honest, they abandoned me, going out of business, allowing me to return to Rhapsody for another try. MusicMatch? Gone. Urge? Gone. Rhapsody? Still there, still plugging away, still committed to the concept of subscription music ... and still aggravating enough that I'm jumping ship yet again.


yankee stadium

Everyone else is reminiscing about Yankee Stadium ... I might as well add my two cents.

I attended a game there on July 18, 1982, and thanks to Retrosheet, I can relive the game while considering my actual memories. The one story I always tell about that game is about the moment when I looked at Robin and she was reading a book. I realized then that if the House That Ruth Built wasn't going to excite her, she probably didn't care much for baseball. And, with rare exception, I haven't made her go with me since.

I also remember taking the subway to the game, and marveling at the fact that there was an actual subway station named "Yankee Stadium," and when you emerged from underground, the ballpark was right there. I'd never experienced anything like it (Candlestick was far away from BART, the Coliseum has a BART station but requires a long walk across train tracks and parking lots to get to the park, and while I had yet to experience the China Basin extravaganza, it's a 30-minute walk from BART as well). I also remember that no one left the game early, but as soon as the final out occurred, everyone got up in unison and walked together back to the subway ... clearly, they didn't want to walk around the South Bronx alone.

We sat out in left field on the first deck, in the shade. Beforehand, I thought the seats would suck, not just because of the distance from home plate (which did indeed suck) but also because I thought we'd freeze to death in the shade. You see, I was raised on Candlestick Park. In fact, the shade seats were the most desirable, this being a day game with a game-time temperature of 93 degrees. (In fact, one of my clearest memories of that trip to New York, which was our first, was that it was so hot and humid that I would take three showers a day.)

On to the game. The visiting team was the Oakland Athletics, so I got to root for the "wrong" team, which wasn't exactly the right move at Yankee Stadium. Luckily for me, the Yankee fans mostly complained about Red Sox fans (even though the Red Sox weren't even in town), so I got out without too much abuse. The A's and Yanks had met in the playoffs the year before, but in '82 they were going through tougher times ... New York was playing .500 ball for the season while Oakland was an awful 38-53. Billy Martin was managing the A's at the time ... the Yankees burned through three different skippers in '82, and of course Martin, who had managed the Yanks before moving to Oakland, returned as Yankee manager in 1983. I saw one Hall-of-Famer (Dave Winfield) and one future Hall-of-Famer (Rickey Henderson, then with Oakland). Ron Guidry started for New York, Brian Kingman for the A's.

In the bottom of the 2nd, the Yankees took the lead. With one out and a man on first, Graig Nettles doubled and Roy Smalley singled to put the home team on the board. In the top of the 3rd, with the score now 2-0 Yanks, the A's put two men on with two out for slugging DH Cliff Johnson. Guidry got Johnson to ground out to Willie Randolph at second, ending the rally. In the bottom of the inning, Winfield tripled home Jerry Mumphrey to make it 3-0, in the bottom of the 4th Rick Cerone homered for 4-0, and New York coasted to a 7-3 win. That last out, after which everyone scampered to the exits, was a fly ball hit by Davey Lopes to Winfield in left.

Both teams ended the season with losing records. The highlight of the year for the teams was Rickey Henderson, who set the modern single-season record for stolen bases with 130. Rickey didn't steal any bases that day ... in fact, he never reached base. Randolph had the only SB on the afternoon.

Finally, I've posted this before, but it's appropriate to repost it here. This is a picture of me with the people who hosted our visit to New York in that summer of 1982. I'm pretty sure I dressed differently for the baseball game:

miami vice