Saturday, September 30, 2006


Jet Li as Huo Yuanjia in Fearless In 1972, Bruce Lee created a masterpiece of Hong Kong cinema with Fist of Fury. In the film he plays a Chen Zhen, a disciple of Jing Wu Athletic Association. Sadly, Bruce Lee died the next year.

In 1994, Jet Li paid homage to Bruce Lee with Fist of Legend, an extension of the Fist of Fury story. Like the original, Fist of Legend is one of the best films of its type, and it helped propel Li and its fight director Yuen Woo Ping (Matrix, Crouching Tiger, Kill Bill, Kung Fu Hustle) to international fame.

Now, Li and Yuen have reunited to create, Fearless (in Mandarin with English subtitles). Fearless traces the life master Huo Yuanjia and the creation of the Jing Wu Athletic Association, a movement to unify the schools of wushu. Loosely based on Huo’s biography, the film features an epic story reminiscent of Crouching Tiger and Li’s own Hero.

Li (official site) has announced that this will be his final wushu film. At 42, perhaps he feels that he can no longer showcase the discipline at the highest levels. If this is the case, Li is certainly retiring on top. The fight sequences are spectacular and beautifully filmed. Li is both graceful and powerful, and he displays his mastery of both weapons and fists. It is not surprising that he won many gold medals as a competing as a teenager, and the aura he projects as Huo Yuanjia is Fearless.

Fearless (official site) opened last weekend and I saw it tonight. Even if you don’t consider yourself a martial arts fan, don’t miss this great movie while it is on the big screen.

View the Fearless trailer

Friday, September 29, 2006

going down down down

A few months ago I posted about Gabriel and Dresden, San Francisco based djs and producers that have gained international fame. One of the bonus links was for a contest to remix their monster single “Tracking Treasure Down.” This evening it occurred to me that I never found out who had won the contest and, as it turns out, the answer is quite interesting.

Two years ago, Chris VanderKolk graduated high school, enrolled at Eastern Michigan University and went to his first club – Blue in Detriot. The djs playing that night were Gabriel and Dresden. Inspired, he dedicated himself to remixing and creating electronic music. Fast forward to this spring and it is clear that Chris’s work has been paying off. Not only did he select a cool performance name (Retrobyte), but he won G&D’s remix contest. Released on G&D’s own label Organized Nature as ON 005 you can buy the Retrobyte Vocal and Retrobyte dub mixes of Tracking Treasure Down from Beatport.

More exciting for Chris, he created a track (Going Down) that has been getting massive support from the likes of Sander Kleinenberg and Markus Schulz. Özgür Can developed a deliciously twisted dub to accompany the original mix, and G&D signed the track and are releasing it on Organized Nature. The official release is in October, but you can buy it early from either Beatport or iTunes. It is very large, and it is destined be one of the top club songs of the year.

Retrobyte - Going Down (iTunes Prerelease) (Beatport)

Chris is hosting two dj sets on his server, and I recommend downloading them. They are very well programmed and mixed, and they are the only source for some of his new remix work like the storming Here With You from Robbie Russell.

Retrobyte - TheBounceFM (05-10-06)
00) Way Out West - Don't Forget Me (Intro) [Distinctive]

01) Noir - My MTV (Chris Lake Remix) [Toolroom Records]
02) Serge Devant and Filo & Peri - Electric Funk (Lys & Gigi Remix) [Baroque Ltd.]
03) Noel Sanger - Falling Through (Original Mix) [Baroque Ltd.]
04) Motorcycle - Around You (Nynex & Trent Cantrelle Mix) [CD-R]
05) Retrobyte - Going Down (Club Mix)
06) Above & Beyond - Alone Tonight (Matthew Dekay Remix) [Anjunabeats]
07) Retrobyte - Hot Damn (Guitar Mix) [Undermine Records]

Retrobyte - June 2006 Promo
01) Lindstrom - I Feel Space (Original Mix)
02) Micha Moor - Slip & Slide
03) Filthy Rich - It's Like That (Funkagenda's Bombay Badder Remix)
04) Gabriel & Dresden - Tracking Treasure Down (Retrobyte's 'Breakfast Special' Remix)
05) Silicone Soul - Under a Werewolf Moon (Martinez Full-Moon Madness Mix)
06) Jody Wisternoff - Cold Drink, Hot Girl (Original Mix)
07) Dr. Kucho & Gregor Salto - Can't Stop Playing (Klaas & Micha Moor Remix)
08) Steve Angello - Straight (Original Mix)
09) Noir - My MTV (D. Ramirez 'Evil Business' Edit)
10) Robbie Russell - Here With You (Retrobyte Vocal Mix)

Chris still works at Trader Joe’s but I am suspecting that that will change. He is a rising star in electronic music and it seems like he is a really nice kid. Listen to more of his music and read his blog on myspace. If you enjoy it, drop him an IM (Retrobyte on AIM). I certainly wish him the best of luck and I look forward to his future releases.

Thursday, September 28, 2006


Admittedly, I’m not the first to mention this. There have already been more than 9 million views on YouTube, and the New York Times has run a story on the mystery guitarist. It turns out that he is Lim Jeong-hyun, a 23-year-old student and self-taught guitarist from Korea. He is covering this arrangement of Canon Rock from Taiwanese guitarist JerryC.

My thanks to Ken for sending me the link to Jeong-hyun’s video today. The quality of the playing is amazing, and it is reminiscent of Steve Vai’s work in Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey. For those unfamiliar with Bill and Ted, it is certainly Keanu Reeves finest performance.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

nucleation sites

Last Thursday I watched four straight Bellagio fountain shows. They reminded my of the fabulous Diet Coke and Mentos performance choreographed in the video above. Visit EepyBird to learn more their genius and other experiments, and check back in soon to see what Fritz and Stephen are going to do with the thousands of mints Mentos just sent to them.

Bonus link: a detailed explanation of the science behind the Diet Coke geysers

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

cleaning up mp3 tags

Mp3s are great – managing mp3 tags is not so great. For albums you rip with software like iTunes or Exact Audio Copy, the process is straightforward. Insert CD, have your program lookup the disc using the commercial Gracenote or the open freedb and rip away. However, for mp3s acquired by other means (podcasts, music blogs, bands’ websites, etc.) the process of adding or cleaning ID 3 tags is more complicated. In these cases I have found two tools for the PC to be indespensible: MotoTag and Mp3/Tag Studio.

MotoTag is a simple and free program for making sure your albums have correct tags and consistent file names. A nice feature is that it is automated but it allows for manual adjustments as well.

To use MotoTag, navigate to a directory containing an album you would like to review and hit the Find Disc button. It looks up the album in the large Gracenote database, offers you a choice if there are multiple results and then matches your songs with the official information for that release. If the match is perfect, one click gets you updated tags and a second renames the files to your specifications. I like Artist – Track – Song for artist albums. If the match is not perfect (or if no match is found), MotoTag lets you edit song tags individually or in groups. download

Mp3/Tag Studio is the Swiss Army knife of tag editors. It has too many features to list, but the ones I use on a regular basis are:

Case fix tags – you can specify all lower, all upper and any combination in between
Case fix file names – as above, with lots of special case handling
Mass set tags – applies a tag or tags to all files in a directory. This is useful for adding year or genre
Mass clean-up tags – strips files in a directory of the selected tags. I use artist, album, track, genre and year and am not interested in other fields, so this is a great way to clear them
Rename from tags – if your tags are correct why not beautify your file names too
Tag from file name – perhaps you have files where the ID 3 fields are empty but the name has the correct artist and song information. This is the fastest way to add tags

With Mp3/Tag Studio you can also browse tags to edit them by hand. All operations have a preview option and an undo button, two very valuable options. Additionally, all of the directory level operations can act recursively over sub-directories.

Mp3/Tag Studio is lightning fast (bulk actions complete on thousands of files in the time it takes iTunes to work on tens) and the price is right. It is free for a version with a small banner ad and $19 for a perpetual license. I have used it for years and am a big fan. download

Monday, September 25, 2006

the very model of a modern network tv show

Tonight I watched the first and second episodes of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. The former is available on NBC's website and the latter just aired in the show’s regular timeslot, Monday 10p on NBC. Created by Aaron Sorkin (West Wing), Studio 60 chronicles the politics, pressure and romance behind the production of Studio 60, the NBS television network’s live Friday night sketch comedy show. Like the best shows about television (It’s Gary Shandling’s Show, Sports Night), it’s funny, edgy and captivating.

Studio 60 has great sets, sharp writing and a very deep cast. The stars are West Wing veteran Bradley Whitford as Danny Tripp, executive producer of Studio 60, and Friends' Matthew Perry as Matt Albie, head writer. Whitford is always entertaining, and Perry's great lines make him not annoying as I feared he would be.

Supporting them are the attractive Amanda Peet as the super smart, risk-averse President of NBS, Timothy Busfield (another West Wing alum) as the live show’s director and Sarah Paulson and D.L. Hughley as cast members. Ed Asner, Judd Hirsh and Felicity Huffman (of Sports Night fame, among other shows) appear in the pilot and co-executive producer Thomas Schlamme directs the first two episodes. Schlamme was intimately involved with both West Wing and Sports Night.

Stream the first show or download all 588MB for later viewing.

Bonus humor: play the Studio 60 drinking game

Sunday, September 24, 2006

chocolate tasting

top row: Tamarina de São Tomé, Maralumi de Papouasie-Nouvelle Guinée, Concepcion de Venezuela. bottom row: Los Anconès de Santa Domingue, Managro Lait de Madagascar, 3 bars from the horizontal tastingThere is a lot that sucks about getting older. You gain weight easier, you start forgetting little things and your body doesn’t bounce back from abuse the way it once did. A nice thing about advancing age, though, is that your friends have better birthday celebrations. Take Oliver’s party last night as an example. They hosted and Daphne prepared fantastic butternut squash ravioli with sage butter sauce and served this with cocoa and cinnamon rubbed pork tenderloin that was fabulous. And, to start the night off, they conducted a chocolate tasting.

The chocolate tasting had two parts: a vertical of single plantation chocolates from the French maker Michel Cluizel and a horizontal of bars with widely varying cacao content from different manufactures. With these notes to guide us on the vocabulary of chocolate review we began with the Cluizel.

In order, I preferred:

Tamarina de São Tomé, 70% cacao
Maralumi de Papouasie-Nouvelle Guinée, 64% cacao
Concepcion de Venezuela, 66% cacao
Los Anconès de Saint Domingue, 67% cacao
Mangaro Lait de Madagascar, 50% cacao

but I love dark chocolate and enjoy milk chocolates much less. The group of 20 was evenly divided on which of the 5 chocolates was most delicious, and we all had fun trying to taste the subtle differences between the Maralumi, Concepcion and Los Anconès. I’m not sure that anyone was spellbound, but there weren’t many squares leftover.

After some champagne to refresh the palette, we moved to the other makers. Oliver and Daphne had selected:

Venchi, an extra bitter 85% cacao from Italy
Blanxart Ecologico Negro, a bittersweet 72% cacao from Spain
El Rey Mijao, a 61% dark chocolate made in Venezuela
Scharffen Berger, a 60% dark from Berkeley
Côte d’Or, a Belgian 56% (the brand is now owned by Kraft)
Cafe-Tasse Lait, a milk chocolate from Brussels

Again, opionions varied widely. Most found the Venchi to be too bitter, almost inedible. It was my second favorite. Many liked the Mijao and the 60% Scharffen Berger. I found them much too sweet, almost artificial in flavor. And, almost everyone was impressed by the Cafe-Tasse but, again, I’m not a fan of milk chocolate. My favorite was the Blanxart.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

the raytheon hawker 400XP

left: our plane at the San Jose Jet Center, center: the approach into Vegas, right: on the ground at the Signature Terminal on Las Vegas BlvdSometimes (at least) one cool thing highlights the free or low cost; sometimes I discuss the extravagant. Today’s topic takes things to the completely unaffordable courtesy of “The Man with the 20s,” an old friend and college roommate who always rolls in style. He was headed to Vegas for business and, as you might have guessed from the previous two posts, I was happy to tag along.

Not that this is hard to believe but flying on a private jet is a great experience. All of the hassles associated with commercial travel are removed. There are no parking problems, no security lines, no need for early arrival at the terminal and no delays in departure. Furthermore, you fly faster (our ground speed topped 600 mph on the flight out, true air speed peaked at 530 mph), are more comfortably (I want a swivel chair for home), eat better food and walk straight off the plane to your ground transportation on arrival. No baggage claim, no taxi lines.

The timesavings are dramatic when you are traveling between busy locations like the Bay Area and Las Vegas. On Thursday I left my house at 11:15a and was unpacking at my room at the Venetian before 1:30p. I think that I have spent more time just waiting for a cab at McCarran. And, the convenience is increased when you are flying to a more remote location not served directly by commercial carriers.

As one would expect, this luxury has substantial cost. It used to be that the only options for private air travel were charters for specific flights or jet ownership. NetJets popularized fractional ownership, and Marquis Jet has introduced a more flexible way to fly with the Marquis Jet Card. Purchased in 25 hour blocks, the card lets you reserve a plane on as little as 6 hours notice. You account is debited only for airtime (wheels up to wheels down) and there are no other hidden charges. Like many of life’s great things, if you have to ask how much it costs… However, it is much more economical than leasing or fractional ownership, and if you can pack the plane (it seats 7) with business colleagues or family members, the price is much easier to rationalize. Unfortunately for The Man with the 20s, freeloading friends do little change the financial equation.

For detailed specs on the Raytheon Hawker 400XP that transported us in style to and from Las Vegas, check out this and this.

left: the Strip after takeoff, center: the cockpit during flight, right: Mono Lake is visible in the distance

Friday, September 22, 2006

hoover dam

hoover damLisette and I visited Hoover Dam this afternoon. It is 30 miles southeast of Las Vegas in the Black Canyon and a perfect day-trip. We spent a little more than 2 hours there as we walked across the top of the dam and took the tour. The tour includes a short movie on the history of the dam, a descent 550 feet to the Nevada-side turbines and ascent back up to an observation deck. Hoover Dam is a must-see attraction and the tour is well worth its price ($10 for adults with this dollar off coupon).

a view of Hoover Dam from the Nevada side looking to the Arizona sideHoover Dam truly is an awesome sight. It is 726.4 feet from foundation rock to the roadway on the crest of the dam, and it is 1,244 feet across at the top, 660 feet thick at the base and 45 feet thick at the top. It weighs more than 6,600,000 tons, and it contains 4,360,000 cubic yards of concrete in the dam and supporting structures. As our guide explained, that’s enough concrete to pave a standard highway 16 feet wide from San Francisco to New York City.

the Arizona-side intake towers and Lake MeadOn the north side of the dam is Lake Mead. Lake Mead has a maximum depth 590 feet and is 115 miles across. Up to 9.2 trillion gallons of the Colorado River can be stored in Lake Mead, and it took six years to fill after the dam was constructed.

The 8 turbines on the Nevada side of the power plant.  A visit is the highlight of the guided tourTwo intake towers on the Nevada side and two intake towers on the Arizona side feed the 17 generators at Hoover Dam. Together these produce more than 2,000 megawatts of electricity. 56% of this power goes to California.

the exit side of Hoover Dam.  The water below has been fed through the turbines to generate electricityThe first concrete for the dam was placed on June 6, 1933, and the last concrete was placed in the dam on May 29, 1935, 2 years ahead of schedule. The demand for concrete during construction of the dam was between 7,500 to 10,800 barrels a day. The concrete was cooled by embedding 582 miles of 1-inch steel pipe in the concrete and circulating cold water through it.

a tribute to the high scalers who removed rock from the canyon walls.  High scalers were paid 70 cents an hour for this very dangerous workA total of 21,000 men worked on the Dam with an average of 3,500 daily. The men earned between $0.50 and $0.75 an hour and worked in 3 shifts, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 363 days a year.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

snapshots from vegas

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


When Wikipedia was launched, I was skeptical. Remembering the early Usenet days, I knew that there were groups of experts who were exceedingly generous with their time and, as a wiki user, I was a big fan of the technology. However, I was doubtful that a project as ambitious as an open source encyclopedia could succeed.

My skepticism has proven wrong. The advantages of the approach (the army of ants, hyperlinks, constant updates, varied perspectives) have triumphed over flame wars, vandalism and mediocrity. True, not every topic is perfect, but 4 million articles later I am ready to proclaim Wikipedia a phenomenal achievement.

I use and reference Wikipedia on a daily basis, and now that it is a Top 20 website in traffic rank with more than 10,000 pages served per second at peak hours, I would guess that my readers use it often as well. Its articles are a great starting point for topics as diverse technology, popular culture and history, and with their Google PageRank, they are easy to find.

Browse the best of Wikipedia like this article on 35mm film or this one on San Francisco or this one on cryptography. And, for the truly addicted, take Wikipedia with you when you are offline with a web pack from webaroo.

Bonus link: Check out Colbert on “wikiality”and bringing democracy to knowledge from the Colbert Report

Bonus news: A Wikipedia founder
splits to form Citizendium, an “expert” edited Wikipedia

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

more upcoming events

It is a busy week for birthdays (Warren today, Connie Thursday, Trish and Oliver on Friday) and it is a busy time for festivals. Here is a partial list of the many diverse events happenings over the weekend:

September 22, 23 and 24 – SF Blues Festival

The 34th annual Blues Festival kicks off with a Friday noon concert at the Ferry Building and continues Saturday and Sunday at the Great Meadow at Fort Mason. Saturday features the sounds of New Orleans and Sunday highlights rock and blues. (

September 23 and 24 – Pacific Coast Fog Fest

The 21st annual Fog Fest is 2-day art and music celebration in Pacifica. Ironically, this is the time of year when the weather is least foggy, making the areas residents all the more festive. The fun starts Saturday at 10a and continues through Sunday late afternoon. I’m betting that the sand sculpture contest will be a popular attraction. (

September 23 and 24 – Autumn Moon Festival and Street Fair

The fifteen day of the eighth moon is approaching, and that means it is time for mooncakes and the
Mid-Autumn Festival. The action is on Grant Ave in Chinatown Saturday and Sunday 11a – 6p. (event info)

September 23 – SF LoveFest and After Party

The 3rd annual LoveFest (new name, same party) begins with a parade down Market starting at noon and winding its way to the LoveFest Grounds at City Hall. (
route) The revelry continues all day with DJs like Above and Beyond, Grandmaster Flash, Lee Combs and Rennie Pilgrem spinning on sponsored floats. (dj list) There are many pre and after parties, but the official Spundae one seems the best.

September 24 – Folsom St Fair

Don’t forget to say hi to your favorite
Sister of Perpetual Indulgence if you are among one of the 400,000 people expected to attend this uniquely San Francisco event. The merriment commences at 11a and Bob Mould (of Hüsker Dü and Sugar fame) performs with his new band at 5p. (website)

Bonus events: if the LoveFest leaves you wanting more dj sounds, the
Summer Music Conference is Spetember 27 - 30. Highlights include a performance by master turntablist Q-Bert and parties with Miguel Migs (deep house, Thursday the 28th at Temple), Seb Fontiane (progressive, Friday the 29th at Roe) and Ferry Corsten (trance, Saturday the 30th at Ruby Skye).

Monday, September 18, 2006

the rosicrucian egyptian museum

Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum in San JosePaul's note: In a great treat, Bill shares a report on his visit to one of the Bay Area's lesser known attractions. This is his second contribution to (at least) one cool thing. Bill writes:

I visited the The Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum in San Jose as a kid and had vague memories of massive Egyptian columns and shriveled mummies. I'm not sure why it took me so long to visit again, but I'm glad we took the 4 kids there last weekend. The Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum has been in San Jose since the 1930's. The current museum building was completed in 1966 and is a replica of the Temple of Amun at Karnak. The museum is just one of several ancient Egyptian style buildings located in Rosicrucian Park, set (rather unexpectedly) in the middle of a residential neighborhood on Naglee Ave in San Jose.

While the museum and its collection are impressive, we enjoyed the surrounding park even more. To get from the parking lot to the main museum, we had to wander through shady paths past papyrus reeds, monumental Egyptian statuary, (including a fake obelisk), a peaceful lily pond, and several small Egyptian temples. I was even able to convince the kids (well, at least my 3 year old) that one of the exotic looking trees in the park is the type that occasionally eats people.

The main entrance to the museum is on Park Ave, behind a pool with a blue statue of the Egyptian hippo goddess, Taweret. (I'll admit, I had to look up her name). The best part of the museum was the full scale copy of a real underground tomb in Egypt, complete with accurate paintings on the walls and ceilings and a replica of the stone sarcophagus that had been broken into by tomb robbers. It's a bit dark and scary at first for little kids, but after assuring them that there were no real mummies inside, a nice volunteer gave us a guided tour with a flashlight.

Emerging from the tomb unscathed, we wandered through the rooms of the multi-level museum. (Note that the building is not wheelchair accessible). The museum has a surprisingly rich collection of artifacts from ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, including authentic mummies, cuneiform clay tablets, and a rare statue of the legendary Cleopatra VII, Macedonian descendent of Alexander the Great's general Ptolemy and mother of Julius Caesar's son. They also have several good replicas, including the famous bust of the beautiful Queen Nefertiti and excellent copies of original Assyrian sculptures now housed in the British Museum. For a break, we sat down and watched a video of scientists exploring the inside of some of the mummies.

While the kids and I particularly enjoyed the small-scale models of pyramids, tombs and palaces, my wife gravitated towards the museum store. They have an excellent selection of books, videos, statuettes and jewelry. We bought a wooden version of the ancient Egyptian game, Senet. The museum has a 3,500 year old, cedar wood Senet game on display, and there is a large concrete Senet board with oversized playing pieces on the park grounds outside.

We noticed that some of the staff were wearing ancient Egyptian-style amulets. The museum is run by the Rosicrucian Order AMORC, which, according to their website, is a "philosophic and initiatic tradition that studies natural laws in order to live in harmony with them." Interests seem to range from meditation to alchemy. Don't let this put you off. The staff is very professional and friendly. The ones with the mystical necklaces seem like the harmless folks you run into at a Dungeons & Dragons convention, (although I'm not admitting to having attended one of those). ;-)

The one thing we didn't check out was the on site Planetarium, currently running a show about the ancient mystery religion of Mithraism. It's too early to say if we picked up any mummy's curses from our tomb exploration, but overall we had a great time and definitely plan on returning.

Bonus link: more museum photos on flick

Sunday, September 17, 2006

the crane wife

The Crane Wife (Tsuru no Ongaeshi) is an old and popular Japanese folk tale. There are many variants, but the basics of the story revolve around a poor man who finds a wounded crane in the woods. He nurses the crane back to health and eventually the crane flies away.

A few days later a woman appears at the man’s door. They fall in love and they marry. They are poor, but the man’s wife says that she can weave a cloth that will sell for a handsome price – the only condition is that the man can never enter the workroom while she is weaving.

The woman creates a cloth of unmatched quality and the man is able to sell it for a large sum of gold. For a time they are wealthy and happy but then the money runs out. The husband asks his wife to weave again and she agrees. However, before she can complete the cloth he opens the door to see that his wife is the crane and she is weaving the cloth from her own plucked feathers. The crane then flies away.

Different versions emphasize greed and curiosity as the motivation for the husband’s action and a broken promise or the discovery of her secret as the reason the crane flies away, but in all its forms it offers powerful lessons.

The Crane Wife is also the title of the newest album from The Decemberists (pre-order from Amazon) and the inspiration for two of its tracks. In “The Crane Wife 1 and 2” and concluding with “The Crane Wife 3,” Colin Meloy and band mates retell Tsuru no Ongaeshi with beauty and sadness.

You can find The Crane Wife 1 and 2 here and lyrics follow. Before hearing “The Crane Wife 3” tonight on Soundcheck I was only vaguely aware of The Decemberists. I suspect that soon I will be one of their biggest fans. The Crane Wife will be available on October 3.

The Crane Wife 1, 2 and 3 – The Decemberists

1: It was a cold night / And the snow lay low
I pulled my coat tight / Against it falling down
And the sun was all / And the sun was all down

I am a poor man /I haven't wealth nor fame
I have my two hands / And a house to my name
And the winter's so / And the winter's so long
And all the stars were crashing 'round / As I laid eyes on what I'd found

It was a white crane / It was a helpless thing
Upon a red stain / With and arrow in its wing
And it called and cried / And it called and cried so

And all the stars were crashing 'round / As I laid eyes on what I'd found
My crane wife, my crane wife / My crane wife, my crane wife

Now I helped her / And now I dressed her wounds
And how I held her / Beneath the rising moon
And she stood to fly / And she stood to fly away

2: My crane wife / Arrived at my door in the moonlight
All starbright and tongue-tied / I took her in

We were married / And bells rang sweet for our wedding
And our bedding was ready / We fell in

Sound the keening bell / And see it's painted red
Soft as fontanelle / The feathers in the thread
And all I ever meant / To do was to keep you
My crane wife, my crane wife / My crane wife

We were poorly / Our fortunes fading hourly
And how she loved me / She could bring it back

But I was greedy / I was vain and I forced her to weaving
On a cold loom in a closed room / Down hall

Sound the keening bell / And see it's painted red
Soft as fontanelle / The feathers in the thread
And all I ever meant / To do was to keep you
My crane wife, my crane wife / My crane wife

There's a bend in the wind / And it rakes at my heart
There is blood in the thread / And it rakes at my heart

3: And under the boughs unbound / All clothed in a snowy shroud
She had no heart so hardened / All under the boughs unbound

Each feather it fell from skin / 'Til threadbare, she grew thin
How were my eyes so blinded? / Each feather it fell from skin

A grey sky, a bitter sting / A raincloud, a crane on wing
All out beyond horizon, oh / A grey sky, a bitter sting

And I will hang my head, hang my head low
And I will hang my head, hang my head low

Bonus link: an illustrated, web-version of
Tsuru no Ongaeshi

Saturday, September 16, 2006

dr bob's ice cream

On Wednesday a new Whole Foods store opened in my neighborhood, and tonight I took a walk down to check it out. The 55,000 sq ft grocery is much as I expected: gorgeous produce, extremely fresh seafood (including whole king salmon), phenomenal meat case and a very nice cheese counter. But, there were some surprises too.

The large vitamin section is joined by organic cosmetics and sustainably-made clothing and baby products. And, the prepared food section features not only the salad bar, rotisserie, sushi station, deli cases and bakery found at other high-end grocery stores but it also includes an olive bar, a tandoori oven, udon, Korean BBQ, 3 separate soup depots, a crepe section, a burrito station, gelato and warm desserts.

The folks at Whole Foods have clearly done their market research and designed a destination for folks who have much more money than time. Even the piped in music is suited to the demographic: upbeat 1980s tunes from folks like David Bowie, the Alarm, the Police, Modern English and the Simple Minds.

In the center of the store are row after row of very high-end frozen food for both man and dog. I was drawn to frozen dairy section and was confronted with many brands of ice cream that were unfamiliar to me. I wanted to try them all but settled on Dr. Bob’s ice cream out of Pomona.

Dr. Bob is a Cal Poly professor who has a passion for ice cream. For the past seven years he has operated a small ice cream factory and developed a cult following in So Cal. He uses ultra-premium ingredients and doesn’t shy away from fat, but he focuses on basic flavors instead of the exotic. I selected Scharffen Berger Chocolate Chip and found the ice cream to be smooth, fresh, almost wholesome in flavor despite its decadence. I can’t wait to try the other flavors.

Bonus list: some other purchases you may want to make when you visit
* Organic heirloom tomatoes $2.99 a pound
* Parmigiano-Reggiano $11.99 a pound
* Wood-fired oven pizza by the slice $1.99 ea
* Groth Sauvignon Blanc $12.99
* Crab and Corn Chowder $8.49 large container

Friday, September 15, 2006

iTunes 7

On Tuesday, Steve Jobs announced a series of new Apple products. He unveiled the “remastered” nano, an “enhanced” 5G iPod and a super-mini shuffle. He also teased the crowd with a preview of a set-top box shipping Q1 2007, inaugurated the movie section of the iTunes store and demonstrated iTunes 7.

iTunes 7 (download) is a major release. There are a number of enhancements like improved sync management with iPod, easier file backup to CDR or DVDR and CD Text support that are reason enough to upgrade, and there are 3 substantial new features.

Gapless playback – A number of CDs are designed to play without break or skip. Examples are live recordings and mix CDs. Most programs that rip music to a compressed format (mp3 for example) handled these CDs poorly, and even when they were ripped correctly, few programs were able to play the compressed files properly without interruption.

iTunes 7 solves this problem not only for files purchased from the iTunes store and ripped by iTunes itself but also for those previously ripped by compliant programs like
LAME. After install, iTunes scans your collection to determine the actual length of each track, and once this scan is complete, gapless albums play perfectly. One tip: if you had enabled cross-fading in the Preference control panel, disable it.

Automatic cover art retrieval – Cover art has been a pain to manage. iTunes tracks have it embedded in the file tag, Windows Media Center requires that it be placed in a special directory, and most rippers ignore this nice addition to the playback experience. As a result, all my iTunes purchased music has album art and few of my other songs do. Luckily, iTunes 7 is there to help. After install and the scan for gapless music, iTunes can search the iTunes store and add all of the covers it can find to your music library. iTunes doesn’t have every album, but the process is fast and works well for what it can find.

Cover flow – a new way to flip through your music and video (pictured above). Less useful than cool, the motion of the reflections as you browse is an especially nice touch.

I purchase music from the iTunes store and have had the software installed since version 2, but I have only imported a small section of my music into my iTunes library. I preferred other separate programs for ripping, burning, search and playback. Although I will continue to use EAC for ripping, now that I have installed iTunes 7 and have tested it for a few days, I am ready to let it manage all of the other aspects of my music library. It is not perfect (compilations could be handled better and it doesn’t always display time correctly for VBR files), but nice job Apple!

Bonus link: an introduction to all of the new features in iTunes 7

Thursday, September 14, 2006


Klystrons (left) and the Large Detector (right) at SLAC, the Stanford Linear AcceleratorThe trusted peers took a tour of SLAC, the Stanford Linear Accelerator. With a bit of luck, some unusual events and his French charm, Emmanuel arranged for Neil Calder, a Scot from Islay and the current Director of Communications, to show us around. Neil’s passion for science is infectious and his gift for explaining the complex in simple terms had us all ready to go back to school to study physics.

This was my first visit to SLAC, a great irony given the number of years I have spent in close proximity to the Stanford / Department of Energy facility. I’m fascinated by particle physics and I was aware of the ground-breaking research conducted at the linac, but I thought that there wouldn’t be much to see. It turns out I was wrong.

The tour began with a drive to the Klystron gallery. Klystrons (top left) are machines that pump energy into the electrons and positrons as they travel down the accelerator. The Klystrons are above ground in a 2 mile long building (the world’s straightest and longest) that spans much of the 430 acre SLAC campus. The particles they energize travel in the beamline 30 feet below ground.

the 430 acre SLAC campusFrom the Klystron gallery we drove by end stations A and B, the site of the discovery of the Charm Quark and the tau lepton. Then we visited the Stanford Large Detector (top right), a six-story tall collision point for positrons and electrons that travel down the main beamline.

Neil was justifiablely proud of the particle research that has been conducted at Stanford. Work at SLAC led to Nobel prizes in 1976, 1990 and 1995. And, SLAC’s B-factory is playing a critical role in the BaBar project to try to determine what happened to all of the anti-particles created by the Big Bang.

However, what was most impressive about our tour guide was his enthusiasm for the groundbreaking work yet to come. Although new particle discovery now requires more powerful accelerators than can be built at Stanford, SLAC physicists remain at the forefront of their field in design of next generation accelerators (specifically the ILC), in the creation of new devices for particle astrophysics research, and in developing new applications for existing facilities.

To illustrate the last point, Neil took us to the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory (SSRL) and showed off SPEAR3 (photos bottom). For particle physics work, synchrotrons have the undesirable quality that they leak energy in the form of x-rays. For solid-state physics, material science, structural biology and chemistry, it turns out this is very good as the bright, intense light enables scientists to see structures at the atomic and nano scales.

To give us a greater sense for the future of SLAC, Neil described the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS). SLAC scientists have devised a way to create a beam of 1 trillion tightly focused x-rays that will pulse at femtosecond intervals. When the $380 million project is completed in 2009, the result will be revolutionary technology to capture atoms and biological processes in real-time.

When we finished our tour, we couldn’t stop commenting how much fun our visit had been. Our thanks to Neil for his very valuable time and to his department for their efforts at comunity outreach. If you haven't been to SLAC, register for a tour. It is not only my cool thing of the day; it was one of the coolest things of the year.

Bonus link: more pictures from our visit
photos of SPEAR3 at the SLAC SSRL.  Left: an experiment in progress.  Our guide is in the foreground, visiting scientists in the background of the beamline station.  Center and right: components of the storage ring

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

charles brown

84 years ago today, Charles Brown was born in Texas City, Texas. His mother passed away when he was 6 months old, and he was raised by his grandmother who instilled in him an appreciation of education and of the piano. He attended college at Prairie View A&M (colleges, like almost everything else at the time, were segregated), and he obtained a BS Chemistry with minors in Math and Education.

In 1943, he came to Berkeley for a government job but later that year he moved to Los Angeles to pursue his passion. He joined the Three Blazers as pianist and vocalist and had a string of hits that would later earn him the label “the black Bing Crosby.”

Over the next decade, Charles Brown helped create the refined, sophisticated, late-night sound of the West Coast blues. Mr. Brown was a pioneer and major influence on artists as diverse as Ray Charles, B.B. King, Sam Cooke and Randy Newman. His piano was intimate and inspired, and his vocal stylings were elegant and soulful. But, popular tastes changed and by the late-1950s the singing career of the former #1 artist was largely over. For the next 30 years Charles Brown rarely performed and held jobs as an elevator operator, a janitor and as a teacher.

With age, Charles Brown’s playing and signing became even more powerful. His voice was huskier, his fingers lighter, and in the mid-1980s (thanks to efforts of a few jazz lovers) he began a comeback. Throughout the early and mid-1990s he performed frequently in San Francisco at venues like Café Du Nord and Bruno’s and around the country.

I was fortunate to see Mr. Brown and his band play on many occasions, and the joy and energy he brought to his performances always amazed me. His love for his craft and his audience was palpable. Sadly, he passed away in January of 1999 at the age of 76, 3 months before his induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but thanks to his second career he left behind a wonderful legacy of recordings. I have 8 Charles Brown CD’s - here are a few of the many highlights to give you a sample of his talents as a writter and musician.

Driftin’ Blues: The Best of Charles Brown – This is the most widely available compilation from Charles’ years recording with Aladdin (1945 – 1952). Included are his compositions: Driftin’ Blues, Homesick Blues, Trouble Blues, My Baby’s Gone, I’ve Been Saving My Love for You, and Please Don’t Drive Me Away along with the hits In the Evening When the Sun Goes Down, Black Night, and Seven Long Days. Listening to these songs, it is easy to see his influence on the next generation.

One More for the Road – After a series of successful club dates in New York, Charles Brown returned to the studio after a 20 year absence. Virtually unnoticed when it was released in 1986, One for the Road was re-issued in 1989 and it helped spark his comeback. Every track is a gem on this special album.

These Blues – Perfectly recorded in San Francisco in January of 1994 with Ruth Davies on bass, Clifford Solomon on sax, Gaylord Birch on drums and Danny Cannon on guitar, These Blues was released by Verve. Charles plays his own material and covers classics like I Got It Bad and A Sunday Kind Of Love. This was my first Charles Brown CD.

Just a Lucky So and So – Back in the studio with his band again in 1994, the title track sums up Charles’ approach to life and performance. Although this is not his best album, don’t miss the update of his hit Black Night and the poignant So Long.

Cool Christmas Blues – Without question the coolest Christmas album ever recorded, it features a swinging Merry Christmas Baby and 5 original compositions. I’ve linked to his hit Please Come Home For Christmas which he penned in 1960.

Honey Dripper – Charles and his band swing a little harder on this 1996 record. His skills on the piano amaze, as does his energy when playing. As with each of the above recordings, picking a cut is hard. His compositions News All Over Town and I Cried Last Night are fantastic, as are his versions of Everyday I Have the Blues and Precious Lord. He is joined by Etta Jones for If I Had You and Irene Reid for They All Say I Am the Biggest Fool. Below is the final track from this, my favorite of his albums. Thank you, Charles Brown.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

arrested development

Paul’s note: Scott has been a prolific guest contributor to (at least) one cool thing, and tonight he returns with an excellent article on the comedy Arrested Development. He tipped me to the show after its first season, and although Scott does have an “off-axis” sense of humor, he is spot-on with his characterization of its brilliance. Take Scott’s advice and add it to your queue.

Twenty-nine years ago this month, a watershed comedy show hit the networks, one that broke down barriers in many dimensions, though it only lasted four years. The show was Soap (amazon), the story of two eccentric families, the Tates and the Campbells. It was genius, edgy, racy, and very controversial.

It included such topics as murder, adultery, alien possession, kidnapping, and (horrors) homosexuality. It was also my favorite show at that time. In retrospect, I'm not sure if that was my weak attempt at pre-teen rebelliousness (for certainly its topics were not welcome in the Household), or just an early indication of my slightly off-axis sense of comedy.

Twenty-five years later, another outstanding comedy hit the airwaves, this time on Fox. Like its predecessor, it was controversial, had bizarre topics and plot twists, and dealt with eccentric family members (though this time all rolled into one big wealthy messed up family, the Bluths). Unlike its predecessor, it had some absolutely brilliant acting, incredible writing, and an impressive parade of cameos. It never reached the level of controversy of its predecessor; perhaps this is a sign of the times, or perhaps this is due to the fact that the narrator is none other than Mister Clean himself, Ron Howard. This show is Arrested Development (amazon).

Arrested Development (fansite) has several things going for it: its relentless pace; its amazing cast of characters (and actors), the dysfunctions and eccentricities of which are perfectly crafted and maintained, providing fertile ground for the genius stable of writers; its high-brow quick-wit script that is often too fast to follow (hence some bad ratings in this reality-TV world); and, the aforementioned parade of cameos.

Highlights of the show are clever plays on words (example: cross-dressing Tobias' newly coined term for his role as an analyst-therapist, rendering his business cards useless, if not illegal); great character names (i.e. the geniusly-named Bob Loblaw, played by Scott Baio); any scene with Will Arnett and his magician character Gob; nearly any scene with Buster, the Oedipal claw-armed man-child played by Tony Hale; and the brilliant weaving in of current cultural trends and mores in very subtle but hilarious ways (i.e. the vote to switch it to the "Church and State Fair", or Gob's comment "I hear the jury is still out on science" in reference to a recent DNA paternity test).

Honorable mentions go to leading man Jason Bateman (he gets most of the press, but his reserved character never gets the best lines); the aforementioned character Tobias, whose in-joke (that everyone is in on except himself) is his tendency to say lines that betray his obvious tendencies (i.e. "I can taste those leading man parts in my mouth" in anticipation of his next acting gig); !Steve Holt!; and many of the guests (Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Henry Winkler, Liza Minnelli, Carl Weathers, Martin Short, Ed Begley Jr...).

It is too bad the show only lasted three years, but they are now all available on Netflix. I highly recommend all three, and if you don't enjoy them, perhaps I should point you to "Everybody Loves Raymond" (amazon)

12/4 Update: Arrested Development DVDs are on sale at Amazon. Buy all the set of all three seasons of this extremely witty show for $33.78 with free shipping.

Monday, September 11, 2006

crab at thanh long

tamarind crab at Thanh LongTo celebrate Joy’s birthday we had dinner at Thanh Long. Open since 1971, Thanh Long is famous for its whole cracked crab and garlic noodles. They have a full menu, but despite eating at Thanh Long many times, Brad has only ever ordered these dishes. Not ones to buck a trend, we focused on (you guessed it) crab and garlic noodles.

The large, whole cracked crab is offered three ways: drunken, garlic roasted and tamarind. We selected one of each and added an extra tamarind crab for good measure. Similarly, the garlic noodles come two ways: with tiger prawns and without. We tried both and added two more plates of regular garlic noodles to go with the abundant amount of crab.

Everyone has their own style of eating crab and their favorite sauce. There is no wrong way to enjoy the delicious food at Thanh Long but I will share my technique. Shell a section of crab (a few legs will do) to produce a nice mound of meat. Then, add noodles and tamarind sauce for a perfect dish. Repeat until you are out of food or full.

Crab season in Northern California traditional starts in mid-November. While this should be an ideal time to visit Thanh Long, they have great crab year-round and I’m not sure I can wait that long to return.

Thanh Long: 4101 Judah St, San Francisco, CA (415) 665-1146

Sunday, September 10, 2006

pizzeria picco

pizzeria picco in larkspur Neapolitan pizza is hot these days, and Pizzeria Picco is one the restaurants fanning the flames. Named as one of the top 10 new restaurants in 2005 by Michael Bauer, other review sites have heaped praise on Pizzeria Picco as well. At Lisette’s suggestion, we ventured up to Larkspur to see what all of the fuss is about.

Pizzeria Picco is a great casual spot for lunch or dinner. They have bar seating inside and tables outside, fast service and a fun wine list. Their pizzas are thin-crust, cooked in a wood-fired oven and topped with fresh, local ingredients.

cannondale pizza at pizzeria piccoWe tried the Cannondale (right): house made sausage, torpedo onion, cherry tomatoes, basil and fresh-pulled mozzarella. The crust was slightly chewier than I expected but the toppings were fantastic. As a baseline for comparison with other favorite spots, we also ordered the Margherita: tomato sauce, basil, mozzarella and parmesan. This was just as I expected – great sauce and perfect crust.

soft-serve chocolate and vanilla ice cream with olive oil and sea salt at pizzeria piccoTwo pizzas were more than enough food for two people, but it was a nice afternoon and we had to try their signature dessert: soft-serve ice cream (right). Their ice cream is homemade from Straus Dairy milk and cream and we opted for a swirl of vanilla and Scharffen Berger chocolate topped with Da Vero olive oil and sea salt. This alone is worth the drive.

Pizzeria Picco: 320 Magnolia Ave, Larkspur, CA (415) 924-0300

Saturday, September 09, 2006

uss pampanito

the USS Pampanito at Pier 45 in San FranciscoThe USS Pampanito was commissioned in November of 1943 and served in the Pacific Fleet during World War II. A Balao class submarine, she is 311 feet long, 27 feet wide and carried a crew of 80 sailors. Before being decommissioned in December 1945, the Pampanito completed six patrols, sank 7 ships and earned six battle stars. Most memorable may be her third patrol during which she rescued 73 British and Australian POW survivors from the wreck of the Rakuyo Maro, a Japanese transport ship.

left: aft torpedo tubes, center: mark 14 torpedos, right: forward torpedo tubesThe Pampanito was saved from the scrap heap and turned into a national museum in 1982. Restoration efforts since then have transformed her into one of the best preserved and most accurate of all the WW II fleet. She is docked at Pier 45 in San Francisco, and open daily for tours.

the control room.  left: dive plane controls, center: a map of the pampanito's missions, right: the hull opening indicator panelTours are $9 for adults, $3 for kids and free for little ones under 6. They are self-guided and move from the aft torpedo room forward all the way through to the forward torpedo room. The cost of admission includes rental of a iPod Nano with a 12 chapter, 30 minute, section-by-section narrative that explains the ship’s operations and history. Many of the stories and descriptions are provided by crewmembers from the Pampanito.

The tour is highly recommended. Kids should think it is the coolest thing ever and, for adults, it is remarkable to think about what life must have been like during the war. 80 men, 3 bathrooms, showers no more than once-a-week, hot-swapped bunks (there were more men than beds) and extreme terror when the hull was being pinged. Spending time below deck is a powerful reminder of the sacrifices made by the “Silent Service.”

left: the forward engine room, center: a view from the forward torpedo room into the forward battery compartment, right: the aft engine roomI also suggest you explore the Pampanito’s website. It features an on-line tour with a high-resolution, 360-degree view of each compartment along with detailed descriptions of the functions of all of the subsystems. It is amazing. In addition, the website goes in-depth on key technology like the Electronic Cipher Machine, the Torpedo Data Computer and the ship’s radio and radar.

More impressive yet, the website hosts the now declassified Fleet Type Submarine training manual and 11 more multi-hundred page reference documents for every aspect of Baloa-class submarine operations including propulsion, air systems, sonar and torpedo tubes. Incredible!

Bonus link: more photos of my visit on flickr

details from the papanito.  left: tube propulsion controls, center: air supple indicators from the engine room, right: battery indicators from the manuevering room

Friday, September 08, 2006

green apple white tea snapple

Flavored teas are big business, and Snapple is the brand leader for this class of beverage. Looking to expand both the market and their share, they have introduced 2 new lines of tea: flavored green teas and white teas. Both types feature less sugar then the original Snapples and have more naturally occurring anti-oxidants.

Over the past few weeks I have been trying the 6 new teas and I prefer the white teas to the green. The green have a taste that is good, but it doesn’t mix well with fruit. In contrast, the flavor of the white tea is subtle (“shhh, the baby tea is sleeping”).

Most subtle of all is the nectarine white tea. It is somewhat like watered-down version of momo oolong. The flavor of the Raspberry White Tea is more pronounced than that nectarine; however, it is less strong than its black tea equivalent and less sweet at 60 calories per serving. But, it is the Green Apple White Tea that is the winner. The tea and the apple are well-balanced, and it reminds me of the green apple from a pearl tea shop.

Thursday, September 07, 2006


Joy sent me a link to a very funny website: 419 Eater. 419 is the section of the Nigerian Penal Code that prohibits fraud, and it has become synonymous with advance fee scams. We have all received emails with too-good-to-be-true offers from doctors, businessmen and deposed royalty in Nigeria promising us untold riches if we assist with a little advance money. Now, some devious folks are fighting back by running scams on the scammers.

There are several sites like 419Fun that chronicle the scam-baiting cons on the con men, but 419 Eater is the most comprehensive. It offers tips, an active advice forum and even a Mentor Programme (it's British) so that you too can become an expert scam-baiter. Better still is the archive where the best reverse scams are immortalized.

The goal of the scam-baiter is to extract revenge by consuming the time, money and hopes of the victimizer, and the best scam-baiters have elevated their sport to an art as this exchange illustrates. It is long, but it is the funniest thing I have read in a while. In fact, it accomplished the impossible by making me feel sorry for the Nigerian scammer target. Enjoy, and don’t forget to wish Joy a happy birthday tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


I track basic web statistics using Google Analytics. For me, the most interesting page is the list of referrers, sites that link to mine. Historically, digg is my top referrer (thanks to Warren), but the past few days I have been noticing links from StumbleUpon. Being curious, I decided to see what StumbleUpon was all about.

Stumbleupon's goal is simple: discover great website. In concept, it isn’t that different from digg or as they use ratings provided by the community to determine greatness. What is unique about StumbleUpon is the randomness and the ease with which you can browse sites.

To use the service you install a browser toolbar that has 3 simple buttons. Stumble! brings you to a new site, the thumbs up expresses your approval and the thumbs down registers a negative vote. With the toolbar you can stumble through one of more user-selected categories, and that is just what I did tonight.

Each site that came up was interesting at some level, and several turned into bookmarks. Here is a sample of what I have stumbled upon so far:

an innovative photoblog (check out the use of flash here and here)
design a
virtual kaleidoscope
web jukebox with a fairly large library
create your own
wake-up calls
build a high-quality headphone amplifier
an article about strange ice cream flavors in Japan

and, the spacializer. I’m not sure what it does, but it looks good doing it. I’ve been enjoying stubleupon and I think that you might too.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

photoshop tutorials

I use Photoshop often to resample photographs and perform minor edits, but I am confident I have never tapped more than 5% of its potential. However, I recently discovered several tutorials that may change that equation.

The most useful is Airbrush Tutorial I, a guide to the techniques used to touch up portraits. Not that the model above needs help, but the results are dramatic and not too artificial.

I also recommend Create Depth of Field and Professional Retouching. Each of the three tutorials offers clear, step-by-step instructions (complete with pictures) to guide you to the desired result.

Monday, September 04, 2006

12-inch singles from grad school

At the beginning of the summer I wrote about 7-inch records from my childhood. In college I began acquiring 12-inch singles to support a dj hobby, and my collection grew throughout grad school. I was obsessed with finding the most unusual versions of songs from my favorite artists, and I subscribed to several promotional services like Razormaid, Art of Mix and the innovative DMC.

To give you an idea of the type of music I programmed back in the day I climbed into the studio and put together a mix for you. It features the artists I always I had in high rotation (Depeche Mode, New Order, Erasure, OMD, Pet Shop Boys) as well as a few house classics (Ralph Rosario, Mike “Hitman” Wilson). And, it highlights some of DMC’s early genius with their rework of the Jackson 5, the Bee-Gees and Yazoo.

one cool mix #1
eurythmics - love is a stranger (coldcut mix)
jackson 5 - shake your body (dmc remix)
deee-lite - groove is in the heart (remix)
bee gees - tragedy (dmc remix)
yazoo - situation (dmc remix)
dead or alive - baby don't say goodbye (sir arthur remix)
omd - call my name (rollcall mix)
erasure - stop (art of mix remix)
new order - bizarre love triangle (discotech remix)
anything box - living in oblivion (light of day remix)
kon kan - liberty (hot track remix)
ralph rosario - you used to hold me
mike “hitman” wilson - another sleepless night (bassman mix)
depeche mode - behind the wheel (eighteen mix)
pet shop boys - where the streets have no name (hot tracks remix)
(67minutes, 18 seconds; 93MB)

primary download link
(downloads available for a limited time)

Since the tracks are mixed it is presented as a large, continuous mp3 file. Let me know how you like it. For my next project I can dig deeper into the vinyl collection or shift forward in time.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

my animated day

Jelle Van Dun spent 6 months filming My Animated Day using stop-motion video techniques. The attention to detail is incredible, especially in the breakfast sequence and the shadows of the night scene. Everyone who played Tetris will delight at his homage, and gamers in general will relate to the film’s conclusion. The excellent soundtrack is Chinois by DJ Aphrodite from the album Aftershock.

Alternate link in case there are problems with the above video

Bonus link: Each day for 3 years, Ahree Lee took a photograph of her face. She combined the photos with an excellent score from Nathan Melsted to produce Me. Watch Me at Atom Films

Saturday, September 02, 2006

stanford university golf course

satellite view of stanford golf course from goole earthBrad’s father likes to golf. In fact, he loves playing the game almost as much as he loves talking about the game. We hadn’t played together in a number of years, though, and quite of bit of trash talk had been exchanged since our last match. Brad, of course, has fueled the rivalry, adding Don King-like hype to our showdown.

Our last epic battle was in Michigan so today we played on my home course. The Stanford University Golf Course was designed in 1929 by George Thomas and William Bell. Bell and Thomas built some of California’s best tracks in the 1920’s and 30’s including PGA stops Torrey Pines and Riviera Country Club, the ultra-exclusive Los Angeles and Bel-Air Country Clubs and the delightful layout at the Ojai Valley Inn.

Stanford’s layout is natural and beautiful. The holes wander past majestic oaks and back around San Francisquito Creek. Elevated tee boxes provide an intimidating view on the first hole and amazing vistas of the Bay Area throughout much of the hilly back 9. On a clear day, you can see San Francisco and Oakland from 18 tee.

Stanford is not long by modern standards (6727 from the tips), but it is challenging (70 par, 73.0 rating, 137 slope). The 3’s and 5’s are manageable in length, and there are several short par 4s (9, 11 and 15). However, the remaining 4’s demand long tee shots at 483, 447, 429, 444, 473, 424 and 457 yards each, and the course is kept soft to defend against modern technology.

I could continue to gush about my favorite course and its interesting history for pages. I’ve played it hundreds of times and I still marvel at the purity of its design, but back to the match…

I was a bit nervous on the first tee box. Warm-up at the range hadn’t gone well, and Brad’s dad was already in my head with his patented psychological warfare. Fortunately, par was good enough to win the first hole, and with a 1 up advantage I relaxed and started to golf. My driving was outstanding (10 of 13 fairways), and having to follow those bombs must have put a lot of pressure on my opponent.

the 9th green where I went 3 upThe Buzzard was a gamer, though. He played the par 3’s well and pulled even after the 4th hole. He was battling a bad back, yet after going 3 down on 9 he didn’t quit. His precision from inside 140, his chipping (he almost holed out 3 times) and my putter (36 putts) allowed him to claw back to 1 down after 13. Unfortunately for him, my perfectly struck 185 yard 5-iron on 14 closed the door on his chances. Pars on 15 extended the match, but I was hitting too well not to dominate on 16. Match over: 3 and 2.

My thanks to the Allen for a great afternoon and to Penny and Allen for a marvelous evening. Enjoy the rest of your trip and I look forward to your next visit.

Friday, September 01, 2006

shaking the can only makes the Dew angry

I saw the "Shaking the can only makes the Dew angry" billboard today and, I don't know why, but I think that it is the greatest advertising slogan ever.

Visit Mountain Dew