Friday, June 30, 2006

the dream of the square contact lenses

It was a slightly frustrating dream. The contact lenses were square, and I was somehow supposed to peel them off a plastic sheet. My mind was grappling with everything that was wrong with this picture while an unfamiliar man with curly, black, shoulder length hair was trying to get me to try them.

In the typically characteristic way that the subconscious seems to illustrate familiar figures of speech, I realized that the square contacts are a clever play on "putting a square peg into a round hole".

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Jamaican Hans Blix

As I spend most of my day driving, I also spend most of my day listening to the radio. For reasons unknown to me, there is a private preparatory school in Pebble Beach that broadcasts BBC news round the clock. Sometimes it makes for good listening.

There is a broadcaster on BBC World Briefing named Neil Nunes. He has a very distinct manner of speech that I find strangely entertaining. I was convinced he was transplanted either from Scandinavia -- he has that deep, Hans Blix nasality -- or some corner of Continental Europe -- maybe Belgium or Luxembourg? For some reason his specific brand of proper Queen's English made me think of Tin Tin comics. Then there was the name - Nunes, pronounced like the Spanish Nunez, that didn't quite fit.

Anyway, it turns out the guy is from Jamaica, and that his distinct accent has created a controversy in the UK. Half of BBC listeners don't like it, find it irritatingly "grating" or "American", which from my perspective makes no sense. The guy sounds as American as Hans Blix. The other half of the UK really likes it, finds it pleasantly exotic. I'm with these folks. He doesn't sound Jamaican to me, but I love Jamaica. So I am pro-Nunes.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth

Today we saw "An Inconvenient Truth" at the Osio in Monterey. A fine film. Not so much cinema, as an important message using that medium. I read "Earth in the Balance" about a decade ago, and clearly this film is a continuation of Gore's life work, which is more than mere politics. He was using politics then just as he is using the media now: to launch a national debate on global warning. He's a true American hero, someone who brings hope and dignity to a nation that for six years now has been dragged through Neoconservative sludge.

Bush may be the "Decider", but in the real world that most Americans live in, Gore is a true leader.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Knife in the Water

Since we are going to Poland, I thought it might behoove us to watch "Knife in the Water", Roman Polanski's first feature film, shot in black & white in 1962. I'd seen it many years ago. It has all of those things that I like in films of that era: the profound mellowness, simplicity, and attention to detail which reminds me of Bergman's early films. Sure some of the acting is bad, but that only adds to its charm. Plus we were learning Polish. So I was a little nonplussed when Lisa flailed her arms in disapproval, declared that the film sucked, and stormed out. I thought it was a delightful piece of cinema.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


Who among us has not been going a little crazy trying to identify the REM song on those pesky Progressive Insurance commercials?

Well thanks to Google I have learned that it's the song "Drive" from a 2003 release of the same name... Not a full-blown album but one of those things we used to call an "EP" back in the days of vinyl. Something between an LP and a Single. So what do they call those now?

And why the shameless sellout by REM? Don't they have enough money? But it's probably the other way around -- the insurance industry needs REM more than REM needs their stinking money.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Grizzly Man

Sometimes Wernher Herzog himself is more entertaining than his films. Whatever the results, he's man with a vision.

Just watched "Grizzly Man" which is good, but also has some of the heavy-handed awkwardness that was the problem with "Little Dieter Learns to Fly".

On the dvd the is an extra feature of WH in a recording studio, coaching a collection of musicians as they score the film with beautiful Popul Vuh-esque music. Richard Thompson is an adept guitarist, whose picking goes well with cello and WH's role, which seems to be to direct the spirit of the music.

The feature is nice but it is long.

Monday, June 05, 2006

the Krakow-Kyoto analogy

I didn't plan this coincidence, it just happened:

Both Krakow and Kyoto are considered the cultural hearts of their repective countries.

Both Krakow and Kyoto are former capitol cities, embodying earlier eras of their counties' histories.

Both Krakow and Kyoto were spared destruction during World War Two.

Both Krakow and Kyoto are smaller than, and south of, the current capitols of Warsaw and Tokyo.

Both Krakow and Kyoto begin with a "k".

Thursday, June 01, 2006

living next to a freeway

I don't know the statistics, but it's probably safe to say that in the US, a large percentage of the population lives within a mile of a major freeway. I grew up next to the Long Island Expressway. Now I live a stone's throw from the 101.

It occurred to me recently that, unlike the arrangement in Old Westbury, NY, where the murmur of the expressway was a nearly round-the-clock ambient accompaniment, I don't generally notice the sound of the 101. Could it be that the river somehow "absorbs" the noise?

Stranger still... No sooner did I start pondering why I wasn't hearing the freeway, than I suddenly did start hearing it. Of course, that was during a long holiday weekend, and there was almost certainly more traffic.

Since then, I notice the sound of traffic some of the time.