atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#2880: Let's try to have some fun today

So I'm going to start with Wonderduck.

Generally speaking I'm not a fan of "video link posts" where the author embeds a crapton of YouTube videos, just because 99% of the time it's to stuff I don't give a rat's ass about. I don't surf the Internet to watch videos; I want to read.

But! In this particular post, everyone's favorite duck embeds The Alan Parsons' Project's "(The System of) Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether". It's from Tales of Mystery and Imagination, the Project's first album. (ToMaI. I'm not writing all that twice.)

Longtime readers of the Fungus know that I'm a dedicated Projectologist, and have been since the early 1980s. The Project's music was progressive rock, and had been long before "grunge" and "alternative" took the name away. The Project was a studio band--they didn't tour--and all their albums were concept albums.

ToMaI was their first, in 1976, and there are two versions of this album. The first was the 1976 release; the second was a 1987 remix which was the first time I ever saw it on CD.

The remix is inferior to the original. Quoth the Wiki:
The original version of the album was available for several years on vinyl and cassette, but was not immediately available on CD. This was due in part to Parsons' desire to rework some tracks. In 1987, Parsons completely remixed the album, including additional guitar passages and narration (by Orson Welles) as well as updating the production style to include heavy reverb and the gated reverb snare drum sound, which was popular in the 1980s.
The reverb and gated reverb were odd choices, because no other Parsons album sounded like that--not even Stereotomy, which had been released a year earlier--and in fact (IMHO) they ruined the sound and feel of the material.

(And thanks to the Wikipedia entry, I now know that I need to buy a copy of the "deluxe" version, which has the original mix on CD as well as the new version--see below.)

I didn't realize any of this until I tested a record player with the vinyl version of the album, in 2004, and found myself listening to the entire thing solely because it sounded so good. Then I belatedly realized that I had never been very happy with the overall sound of the remix, even though it was damn good to have, finally, the entire Parsons ouerve (this was 1987, remember) on CD.

The additions (the Welles readings, for example) were awesome, but the reverb--shit. As I concluded my comment at Wonderduck's post: "...So on the one hand you have the awesome introductions by Orson Welles, but you also have startlingly bad engineering from one of the best audio engineers in the business. Argh etc."

* * *

And thanks to this I've learned that Eric Woolfson died in 2009. *sigh*

* * *

I have never been very happy with The Day The Earth Stood Still--the original version, I mean, not the crapped-up extrusion with Keanu Reeves, which I haven't bothered to watch--and WEERD has explained in simple words exactly why that is.

The fundamental problem is what Klaatu says. I can encapsulate it: "We are not violent people and have no weapons. If you don't stop with the nukes, we're going to destroy you all."

The film's theme was that Man is violent, and we had nuclear weapons and were on the verge of going out into space; and the aliens had a nice peaceful society which they didn't want Man to muck up. Fair enough.

What Klaatu should have said was something like, "All right, you jokers. You may think you're serious badasses because you've got nuclear weapons. Well, we're more advanced than you are, and we've got weapons which make your bombs look like firecrackers. You're going to stop with the nukes right now or we're going to have to make you stop." And when he's ignored?

Blow up the moon.

I don't mean just nuke the moon; I mean blast it into gravel. Turn it into a nice sparkly ring around the Earth. That would get our attention.

But of course that wouldn't have been progressive, you know. So what we get instead is the totalitarian claim of peacefulness, a velvet glove lined with a studded plate steel gauntlet. "Be nice, and do what we tell you...or we'll kill you." And when he's ignored, he shuts down the power to the entire planet for a day.

The implication is obvious: "We can do this. We're peaceful so our demonstration was peaceful...but imagine what else we could do to you if you refuse to obey our commands."

You ain't peaceful if you're going around making threats. "Do what I tell you, or I'll kill you," is at the basis of every petty mugging as well as the biggest wars in history. It's not peaceful at all; it's a promise of violence. Even if your demonstration of your capabilities harms no one, it's still a threat.

The Keanu Reeves version was even worse. At least in the original, Klaatu said that the galactic civilization didn't care what humans did to themselves or their world, that they were primarily worried about Man leaving Earth and wreaking havoc elsewhere in the universe. The Keanu "Whoa!" Reeves version is even more totalitarian.

Earth doesn't belong to us, in that version; oh no. See, planets that can sustain life are "rare" in the universe, so we have to toe the line drawn by the Galactic Overlord and live in grass huts and not pollute or have industry or anything.

Someone said there was an exchange in that version where someone said something about aliens "coming to our planet" and Reeves asks, "Your planet?"

So the new version is even worse than the original.

* * *

Instapundit quotes Robert Heinlein.

Heinlein was a Democrat, but he got better.

* * *

These are really neat. I don't bike enough for such a thing to be worth whatever it costs (unless it's not much at all) but the concept is neat.

I suspect that we're going to find all kinds of uses for LEDs that would shock and surprise (pleasantly) the inventors of the things, especially now that we've got white ones. Right now we're scratching the surface.

Which reminds me: I finally got around to labeling the Black Eyed Morons:

The Electric Indian's costume is pretty hard to manage without LEDs.

I don't know their names (except for Fergie) so I guessed their names based on what they were wearing. (I seem to recall that The Electric Indian claims at least partial indian blood--maybe South American indian or something--but whatev. Close enough.)

Speaking of LEDs, last night during the after-block-party cleanup I saw something winking in the grass, so I bent to pick it up; and it turned out to be part of some cheap toy: two yellow LEDs in a tube-shaped piece of plastic, which alternately flash about 6-8 times a second. This is how cheap LEDs are now; if the toy that contained them cost as much a fifty cents to make it wasn't cost-effective to manufacture. I'd wager it was probably less (a lot less) to make it.

Two button cell batteries, two LEDs, some wiring, a simple flasher circuit--all surrounded by some simple injection-molded plastic bits to contain it all. All I found was the part with the LEDs, and I wouldn't have found it if it hadn't been flashing in the dark.

Disposable. So cheap to manufacture, they're disposable. How the hell do you like that?

* * *

My junior high school didn't have an actual study hall.

If you had "study hall", you were stuck in the back of some other classroom where actual subjects were being taught.

My study hall, during one semester, was in some 7th grade science class, and there was a period of at least a week (probably two) where they were watching movies every single day.

Me, I liked to read, and the movies were boring educational ones (that I'd already seen, to boot). Problem was, it was dark in the classroom while the movies were running, because this was 1981 and VCRs cost about a thousand dollars; our school might have had one but it remained in the media room in the library. So all the movies were 16mm films, run through a projector; which meant it had to be dark in the classroom so the students could see it.

...and I couldn't read in the dark, not even by the light of the movie screen.

I rummaged through my box of junk. In it--among other things--were some assored LEDs; a double-pole-double-throw knife switch; some 9v battery terminals; and a few other odds and ends I didn't have any real use for. I selected a red, a green, and a yellow LED, and wired them in parallel to one end of the switch; then I wired the 9v battery terminal across the center terimals of the switch. When I turned it on, presto! The LEDs all lit, nice and bright (but not so bright as to disturb the other students' ability to see the movie) and--with a little adjustment--focused into a reasonably small area. It was almost white light, too.

I strapped the battery to the switch with rubber bands. The whole package fit into a pocket; so when I got to study hall and the lights went down, I pulled out my book light and continued reading, neat as you please. It would run for hours on one battery, of course, and it didn't even need to be a fresh one to begin with. An hour per day was nothing; and I kept the thing in my coat pocket until spring.

I was 14. Pity I didn't have a patent lawyer and a brain, because I could have patented the "Itty Bitty Book Light" about a decade before it actually came on the market....

* * *

"What good did it do you in your coat?" You ask. They kept most of the school at about 65° at most in winter; it saved on heating costs and the school district never had enough money for anything. So the students were allowed to wear their coats; and I had this coat with a shitton of pockets so I could carry all kinds of crap around with me if I so desired. The book light took up one little breast pocket, so it never really got banged around.

* * *

I love this BakaBT header:

Sawako and Kazehaya from Kimi ni Todoke doing the "Carameldansen" schtick. It's awesome.

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