Wednesday 30 April 2008

A Plausible Future


The Tipping Point: A Global Death and Rebirth Story: Jim Fournier writes "For anyone who has any grasp of the multiple global trends accelerating toward crisis points, it is not difficult to imagine end-of-the-world scenarios. Indeed, the problem is to imagine a plausible future in which humanity ultimately arrives at a positive outcome."
a sample: "When Google recognized that trade credits were just information and enabled global clearing online, The Google became the standard international unit for mutual credit exchange among individuals and small businesses." :)
Indeed Jim presents quite a grand gauntlet challenge for would-be Futurists everywhere: It is oh so easy to gripe (heh - proof enough of that that right here!) but is it possible to weave the same trends and observations into a plausible positive? Mete enough for a blog if its own, I'd say.

Albert Hofmann Departs


Vale Albert Hofmann 1906 - 2008: inpirator of the 21st century, has passed on, age 102. Not only inspiring the counter-culture of the 1960s, but also breakthroughs and cutting edge creations by scientists, technology pioneers, musicians and artists: DNA researchers Francis Crick and Kary Mullis, Apple pioneer Steve Jobs, the Beatles, Alex Grey ...
the most infamous bicycle ride in history

Monday 28 April 2008

Friday 25 April 2008

A Place To Stand

What do we do? Up there, on a daïs or a bandshell, in step behind the flags. what is our purpose? Yeah, I'm in a philosophical mood, but bear with me just a bit.

We know a concert band provides a soundtrack music to real life. Unlike a bar-band or a dance-band, we're not about people paying us to make their customers spend more on beer, we're out there, nearly invisible, out in among the everyday. We illuminate sermons, we set the flow in VIP visitations and set the frame of the public moment in a parade or to cheer the hometeam in a ballpark or as the orchestra to the ballet of a fireworks display. We deal out sound-emotion, binding waves of co-compassion, and that leads me to a topic of patriotic anthems and iconic tunes like Dolores Claman's "A Place To Stand".

This song was originally commissioned to illuminate a film by the same name shown at the Ontario Pavillion at Expo-67 in Montreal. Everyone here remembers it, not necessarily enough to sing along, but it gets instant recognition. The song is iconic.

And it also is, well, kinda ... quaint; we have band members who cringe when it bubbles up in the playlist and it's for fixing that sentiment that I wanted to post about this tune.

You see, it's simple and plain, but not at all a boring song; it's only kitch or cliché if we play it as such. But we aren't required to kitch it up: If we get inside any tune, when we get inside the head of the composer and discover their intent, when we find the meaning and purpose of the work, the band can re-invent it, and reinvigorate the spirit of the thing. Far from boring, patriotic icons can become a rich vehicle for expression because of the cliché.

Like this tune. On the surface, a government commission, yes, by a jingle-writer true, and for a blatent tourism commercial yes, but ...
  • This was one of the most popular displays at Expo-67, with huge line-ups and many repeat visitors

  • The film was an Academy Award winning short film

  • It's innovative technique of the multi-panel live action montage won the praise of Norman Jewison (who subsequently used the method in the Thomas Crown Affair) and blew the socks off Steve McQueen; there's even homage to this film today in every episode of 24!

That's pretty cool, really. That's something of A Place To Stand in itself: This short tourism flick and the chart-topping jingle were crowning moments that Ontario film-art on The Map! The song and film actually lived their kitchy message!

The song has since been covered by Jim Carey and the Barenaked Ladies yes, that's something of itself, and it must have hit a nerve because was a hit: it sold 50,000 copies and still makes the news.

But here's something else to ponder in our play. Think about the set and setting of this work: This was 1967, a very different and very optimistic time, Lester Pearson and the days of Penny Lane and Happy Together, and here, drawing us a sound portrait of those times, we have the same composer who later writes our National alter-anthem, the ubiquitous theme to Hockey Night In Canada

Rising prices, global warming ... Dolores Claman has left us a flashback time machine to snap us back to those innocent times, and all you and I need do is power it up!

After Our Near Extinction


After Near Extinction, Humans Split Into Isolated Bands: "After nearly going extinct 150,000 years ago, humankind split into small groups???living in isolation for nearly a hundred thousand years before 'reuniting' and migrating out of Africa, a new gene study says.

At one point our species may have been down to as few as 2,000 individuals"

in the depths of our near-extinction, there was only maybe 2000 of us left, isolated by the climate chaos that obliterated Africa. But then Stanley Kubrick sent us a big black rock and we got all better :)

see also

Thursday 24 April 2008

Crude, but Effective

Crude, but Effective: Stephen Gallagher writes "when your resources are meagre then your audience will compensate with their own imagination.

"That, I believe, was the true secret of the show's success. There never was a poorer theatre than the screen fare available to a science fiction fan, back in the days before screen sf was a universal commodity. A cardboard robot, a spaceship on a visible wire... these were the agents of awe. The point of it was that you looked past the flaws in the presentation and responded to the vision behind them."

Tuesday 22 April 2008

The cosmic vineyard


The cosmic vineyard: "Burying cow horns full of manure and hanging stags' bladders stuffed with yarrow from the trees may seem like the actions of a lunatic fringe. But biodynamic practices such as these are being increasingly embraced by some of the most respected names in the wine world and resulting in some seriously good wines."
"When I first encountered biodynamics I thought it was way too out there, ... I didn't approach it from a spiritual perspective, I came to it as an empiricist. I wanted to make the best wine I could and saw it working for others." Mike Weersing, Pyramid Valley

Monday 21 April 2008

Improvisation is Plural

Miles Davis illustrated the collective coherence of improvisation by having the so-called 'backing' players punctuate the soloist lines with ad-hoc phrases, jarring the 'leader' back into the real-time, a push-pull give-take phrase by phrase inter-PLAY described by Ornette as "what if 10 people all 'solo' at once?"; ex-Allman Bros guitarist Warren Haynes says much the same in this clip, he talks about being "one second behind your brain" and being "in the moment" as he's trading musical words in a southern blues dialect with Phish lead Trey Anastasio; there's also a brief guitar lesson over at where Warren talks about Miles, about the spaces between notes and giving others room to be part of the now of the sound.

Amazon: Warren Haynes

Saturday 19 April 2008

Money: A New Beginning

Money: A New Beginning: "Interest is tied into how we see ourselves as separate, competing subjects seeking to gather more and more of the world within the boundaries of 'mine.' Today, however, the human identity is undergoing a profound metamorphosis. Part of this shift in our conception of self and world will be a new system of money consonant with the new human being."
Our goods rot, decay, break, rust, so only if money has equally disagreeable, loss-involving properties can it effect exchange rapidly, securely and cheaply. For such money can never, on any account, be preferred by anyone to goods.

25 ways to kill a piano


Music Thing: 25 ways to kill a piano: "one of the angriest comment threads ever on Music Thing concerned a bunch of students in Aberystwyth who bought a piano on Freecycle, put it on a beach, burned it, and said it was art. Today, YouTube is stuffed with people being mean to pianos."

"A piano is like money: no one appreciates it except the one who has it in their hands." (John Cage)

Thursday 17 April 2008

Astroboy coming to theaters in 2009

Monster Island News: Astroboy coming to theaters in 2009: "Imagi Animation Studios announced that it has optioned rights from Tezuka Productions Company Limited (???Tezuka???) of Japan and is now producing a new CG animated feature length motion picture intended for theatrical release in 2009, based on the renowned anime franchise ???Astro Boy??? originally created by Osamu Tezuka.

Imagi's press release stated, 'Originally known as Tetsuwan Atomu (translating into ???Iron Fisted Atom???) in Japan, the franchise is best known by its American title ???Astro Boy???. Astro Boy first appeared as a manga comic series in 1952, drawn by Osamu Tezuka, who is affectionately known as the 'god of manga'.

The original television series, first broadcast in Japan in 1963-1966, was the first to embody aesthetics that later became known as ???anime???."

Monday 14 April 2008

Sony-made ECO


Sony-made ECO : Return, Recycle, Renew - The goal is to recycle 100% of all Sony products so there is zero residual landfill.
Starting Monday, Owen Sound residents can dispose of unwanted Sony products at the city's recycling depot at 2125 20th Ave. E. There is no disposal fee.
but if the goal is 100% zero-residue Sony-reclaimed, then why Owen Sound only? Why would they not welcome any and all Sony products, regardless of the political jurisdiction of the most recent owner?

Friday 11 April 2008

Action On Additives


Action On Additives: "These sweets may look bright and cheerful, but the vivid colours are often produced using artificial colourings, including those linked to hyperactivity in children.

Few children or adults will stop to examine the tiny ingredients information given on a packet of sweets, or will be aware that some artificial colourings are linked to hyperactivity, can cause allergic reactions and (in some cases) are banned in the USA because they are considered unsafe."

Of over 1000 products listed, most are targetted at children; banning the "E-numbers" alone might cut 'ADHD' cases by 30%.

Tuesday 8 April 2008

Status: Spring


Gary looks into the monolith floating before him. "My God," he says, "It's full of Crocuses!"

Lee Perry at his Black Ark Studio

Lee Perry talks to Jools Holland at his Black Ark Studio

Photographic evidence: The man is an alien being. He possesses superior technology and advanced wisdom. And he is a toaster.
one commenter says Lee can "switch this on or off"and that isn't surprising; as with Sun Ra, when you deal with myth, you can never be sure if the answer to your question is an answer by content, or an answer by example.

Sunday 6 April 2008

Net Neutrality in Canada

Net Neutrality in Canada: Amber Mac, "couldn't ignore the many emails about the net neutrality debate in Canada. In response, shot a two-minute video news update to shed some light on the situation (thx to CD for shooting and editing this!). The little kid in the video is hard to hear, but I can assure you that he is one bitter ISP customer!"
CBC uses Bittorrent to distribute shows? I didn't know that. Of course, my ISP forbids bt, so I couldn't know that but whatever, it seems the whole issue
of net neutrality and traffic shaping has even hit the floor of the House of Commons.
update: and hit it did, and the House? In their 'wisdom' they sided with the Telcos and granted full permission to trim, ban, taper and prefer as per their corporate whims.

We-Think, We Thought

A new book by Charles Leadbeater, 'We Think' explores the potential of the latest developments of the internet.


But I do have to pause to wonder: Does this book really explore this potential? Or does the viral marketing strategy it uses to sell us that tale really tell us more?

Saturday 5 April 2008

The Abstract Truth

Following up the last post On the Edge of Now, I thought I might offer a glimpse of the host of that documentary through this clip of Derek Bailey and dancer Min Tanaka as an illustration of the contextual essence in abstract improvisations like Baileys. I was delighted to hear in that documentary where Derek Bailey himself expresses surprise that his labels were able to peddle his discs at all -- by its very nature, improvisational music is deeply entangled in the live time-space; wrest from that space, there is as little to grasp as when taking a Pollock canvas into a textbook.

The music expresses that space there, and in this space here, it is only artifact and shadow, a document at best. History. His story. Is it any wonder people prefer dance music on CD, music they can spin alive into their personal now? Or at least, they can try.

In this particular video I imagine that 'then' and become transfixed by Min Tanaka's dance; I feel I want to digitally sweep away Derek standing there among the onlookers, divesting the scene of any visual ground to the setting and just leave Min as the focal dynamic, illuminated by Derek's sound the way Toru Takemitsu might have illuminated such a scene for a Kurosawa film, at once totally personal and perfectly ordinary. So too the aleatoric works of John Cage and David Tutor, the dada-bent soundscapes of purposelessness which are post hoc threaded into sense by our compulsions to link the purposely unrelated events.

Only, there is a difference with improvisation: While John Cage would choose his scenarios and materials to fit the event and while Takamitsu would linger on the sets and absorb each scene before scoring it, and while he often would recommend directorial changes, theirs was a passive reaction to the visual; Derek and Min, on the other hand, are entangled, each influencing each other right there, in real time, trading time and choice, a living forging the present tense together.

Amazon: Derek Bailey

Orpheus In The Underworld

Not many concert band pieces have challenged the law, but this is the rebel history of Offenbach's "Orphee aux Enfers", premiered in 1858 as the world's first full-length Operetta in defiance of French laws prohibiting works of this length. Defiant too in the shockingly burlesque Galope Infernal which you and I have come to know as the raunchy raucus Can-Can. It even has the relentless throbbing in-your-face two-chord backgrounds later put to similar use by Neil Young and Johnny Rotten :)

Pure Punk for Then People.

This is opéra bouffe, a great comic romp. Our generation probably knows the whole overture more from the Bugs Bunny cartoons, and that's really not very far from the composer's intent, although perhaps tamed down a little, divesting the work from those numerous bits of contextual digitus impudicus-ness to the operetta. To start with, this is a comic send up of the whole 'noble simplicity' of Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice and the performance is punctuated with jabs at famous performers and politicians alike.

Amazon: Orpheus in the Underworld

Biofuels killing forests, adding to world hunger


'Biofuels killing forests, adding to world hunger' : Energy Environment: "Agrofuels, which rely on large-scale industrial monocultures, are a cause of global warming, not part of a solution. Promoted as a means to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, they are in fact resulting in greater emissions because they promote deforestation and the destruction of other ecosystems which play a vital role in regulating the climate, including peat lands, displace other possible uses of land, and lead to an increase in the use of nitrogen fertilisers.'"
"In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are not."

Dark Matter and the CBR replaced, Alpha Cepheids recallibrated, Asch and Milgram stripped bare, Climate Doomsday debunked ... it's been a bad week for mythguided science policy. Didn't I just see a town bus go by trumpeting the bio-fuel bandwagon?

Thursday 3 April 2008

American Godzilla '94

American Godzilla '94: this site showcases Todd Tennant's efforts to illustrate the rejected Ted Elliott/Terry Rossio 1994 GODZILLA screenplay as a continuing graphic novel
"For those who were disappointed with the 1998 TriStar GODZILLA, I am attempting to give a mere glimpse of what could have been."

Research debunks health value of guzzling water


Research debunks health value of guzzling water: "The notion that guzzling glasses of water to flood yourself with good health is all wet, researchers said on Wednesday.

Dr. Stanley Goldfarb and Dr. Dan Negoianu of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia reviewed the scientific literature on the health effects of drinking lots of water.

People in hot, dry climates and athletes have an increased need for water, and people with certain diseases do better with increased fluid intake, they found. But for average healthy people, more water does not seem to mean better health"

"Our bottom line was that there was no real good science -- or much science at all -- behind these claims, that they represent probably folklore"

Wednesday 2 April 2008

Future Positive : ORTEGRITY


ORTEGRITY -- Discovery in North Carolina: "The purpose of our meeting was two-fold, first to share our research findings about human relationships, behavior, and thinking, and then to design or at least establish criteria for designing a ???conflict-free??? organizational system for humankind. As synergic scientists, we both believed an ideal system would be based on win-win relationships.

As our discussions began, I felt sure the system would be a form of capitalism"

"This is the way we humans were meant to organize. Life's most powerful organizing strategy for us is the organizational tensegrity"
see also Rethinking Municipal Methods

Money: A New Beginning


Money: A New Beginning: "Amidst superabundance, even we in rich countries live in an omnipresent anxiety, craving 'financial security' as we try to keep scarcity at bay. We make choices (even those having nothing to do with money) according to what we can 'afford,' and we commonly associate freedom with wealth. But when we pursue it, we find that the paradise of financial freedom is a mirage, receding as we approach it, and that the chase itself enslaves. The anxiety is always there, the scarcity always just one disaster away. Greed is simply a response to the perception of scarcity. Money, which has turned abundance into scarcity, precedes greed. But not money per se, only the kind of money we use today, the kind of money that is evaporating as we speak, money with a very special characteristic that ensures its eventual demise."
This is the deep reason why we convert forests to timber, songs to intellectual property, and so on. It is why two-thirds of all American meals are now prepared outside the home. It is why herbal folk remedies have given way to pharmaceutical medicines, why child care has become a paid service, why drinking water is now the number one beverage sales growth category.