Showing posts from May, 2017

Weekly Watch: How To Cake It

I'm not normally one of those people obsessed with the cooking channel, but this lady is somehow fascinating. She's less of a baker and more of a sculptor of food. I have absolutely no idea why I can watch hours upon hours of her making cakes look like a bowl of nachos, or a cup of coffee, or a giant emoji, but it's great.

I do warn you that you'll come out of it starving, and also feeling deeply inadequate about your own cooking skills. Caveat spectator.
Working with a load of lifetime artists over the past few years has been enlightening. I didn't have much chance to swim around in a community like this in Arizona; I'm sure it existed, and my endless writing and play-by-post RPing might have even qualified me to be a part of it, but I never really found them. I probably would have been too apprehensive to talk to them in any case. Other people don't generally scare me, but I do go to some lengths not to scare them.

One of the flamencas was talking to me at the desk the other day, about the passion of Persian mythology and what I thought of the flamenco showcase I worked a few weeks ago. It was interesting to hear the parallels she drew between her own native culture and the Spanish dance she'd learned. Persian poetry, it turns out, tends to be incomprehensible to Westerners because it draws heavily on the persistent wanting of eros without necessarily being what we think of as erotic. Love is less sweet without an ele…

Weekly Album: David Bowie - Diamond Dogs


Weekly Watch: Flamenco

I recently worked the bar for a flamenco event, and I got to see the dancers who take their lessons at the studio show off what they've learned. Though the senior instructors are all from Madrid, the students are from all over the world -- one of them got a free drink, in fact, because she's about to move back home to Japan. ExpertVillage has annoyingly disabled embedding, but they do have a playlist of basic flamenco lessons you can check out if you'd like to try it yourself.

One of the star students taught me a bit about it, and I'd have to say the strangest part is learning the 12-count claps. The spacing between the accents has absolutely no internal consistency, which means the pattern has to be learned as all twelve counts in their entirety. It's a longer string than humans can typically cram into memory all in one go -- seven is the typical ceiling, which is why we break phone numbers up into strings of three or four -- so it's awkward at first.
I spend a great deal of time pretending I'm not paying as much attention to people as I actually am.

People love that they can come ask me questions, and I can tell them where everyone else is and what they're up to. They hate thinking this through to its logical conclusion, which is that in order to do this, I have to be keeping tabs on pretty much everyone I recognize, pretty much all the time. I do it because:

I like having a working mental model of my environment, which doesn't go so well if I don't track most of the moving parts;I find it fascinating and in some ways very elegant to watch people wandering up to and into and past one another all the time, like the chaotic Brownian pattern of pollen grains on water;I can't turn it off without busting out the really good drugs.
These thoughts are apparently weird, and most people get very squirmy if I share them. They get uncomfortable when they realize that not only do I know what they are doing, I also remember …

Weekly Album: Elton John - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (40th Anniversary Celebration)


Weekly Watch: Unsolved Mysteries

You all may remember the company FilmRise from such previous Weekly Watches as 'every single episode of Forensic Files ever'. They have come back to fulfill at least 50% of your weird mystery binge watching needs. While the original Robert Stack incarnation of Unsolved Mysteries is slowly going up on Amazon Prime, the later series hosted by Dennis Farina belongs to FilmRise now and consequently is on YouTube in its entirety. I'd be nice and turn off the ad blocker while you run nine hours of this stuff in the background, but that's just me; free is free, and I'm not going to stop you from filling your head with unsolved murders and cheesy ghost stories.

Weekly Album: Gackt - YouTube Top Tracks


Weekly Watch: Lathe + plastic + madness = FUN!

When I was a kid, I used to watch stuff like This Old House and The New Yankee Workshop. I had, and in fact have, no actual ambitions in the area of home repair or furniture assembly. I was just easily entertained by watching things go from 'parts' to 'usable object'.

I am a grown-up now. I am still easily entertained by this.

Peter Brown is an unrepentant geek who apparently has a lot of garage space and a very tolerant wife.  ('Very tolerant' may be an understatement. She's appeared in a few videos. She's usually holding the blowtorch.) He likes to pour epoxy over things and then stick them in a lathe to see what he can make out of this. Sometimes things other than epoxy are involved. He does actual woodworking stuff too, but it's way more fun to watch him make a bud vase out of crayons.

Weekly Album: Adam Lambert - For Your Entertainment


Weekly Watch: Le Sacré du Printemps

Igor Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring", choreographed as a ballet by Vaslav Nijinsky, was first performed in Paris in 1913. It sparked a riot. This is not at all what audiences in 1913 thought of as ballet, and the audience made their displeasure known by shouting at the dancers so loudly that the orchestra couldn't be heard. Nijinsky had to stand backstage and stamp out the beats so the dancers could continue their work.

This performance is a 1987 reconstruction by the Joffrey Ballet. Why a reconstruction, you ask? Well, nobody took any movies of it in 1913, although the technology existed. Also, it turns out Nijinsky was rubbish at documenting his choreography. There were quite a number of contemporary reviews -- all of them bad, some of them angry -- and one artist at the premiere who happened to make a few sketches from up in the first balcony.

Other than that, well... The New York Times, among other places, published an article about how you reconstruct choreog…