Uncanny Silicon Valley

This record is weird and you’ll probably like it. Before I say anything else, I’ll give you the opportunity to trust my words and just go download it. I’ve long been an advocate of knowing nearly nothing about a song or album before listening to it so as not to sully the innate purity of one’s judgment. It saves you the trouble of being seduced by the idea of some kind of music only to later realize that, hey, this Brent Spiner album really sucks. But — since if I’m going to bother sharing some music I really ought to explain why — I’ll go ahead and give an idea of what “Silicon Valley,” by Raven Kane and Klaus Netzle, is like.

“Video Invasion” by Raven Kane & Klause Netzle

There’s no way you could find a record quite like this. It isn’t much like anything I’ve heard, although one can easily place it in the 1980s epoch. For me, the best thing about it has got to be the earnest, catchy, often absurd lyrics — with topics such as office equipment, video technology, and artificial intelligence. It’s very firmly in Neo-Luddite on all these issues. You will, in the course of listening, encounter a joyful cognitive dissonance if you ponder how many electronic instruments are used (although, to be fair, the album’s subject is enhanced by all those clicks and boops). Even though the electronics are a campy marvel of the 80s aesthetic, the lyrics are incredible. As an example, I’ve transcribed the lyrics of one of my favorites:

“The Robot” by Raven Kane & Klause Netzle

(lyrics to “The Robot”)

I Am Rusty Ceiling RobotTHE ROBOT
radical reclamation
impersonal declaration
march of the intellect
invading the realm of man
(invading the realm of man)
THE ROBOT
THE ROBOT

Guard, defend, preserve humanity!
Guard, defend, preserve humanity!
Take caution at the hint
of a world where robots may replace
the entire human race
(replace the entire human race…)
THE ROBOT
THE ROBOT

How can the passions of man be replaced by steel and artificial minds?
The spirit, fire and farts(?) of man cannot be replaced,
shall not be replaced.
Will they be replaced?
(will they be replaced?)
By the ROBOT.

L'il Ol Me? Who says I'm incapable of emotion.THE ROBOT
cold, dull & passive
indifferent to the world around it
capable of inhuman tasks
incapable of human emotions
(incapable of human emotions)
THE ROBOT
THE ROBOT
frigid, hard, and cast of steel
modeled to move the impossible
impossible to stop the modeled robot

watch it move, watch it move
how does he think?
what does he think?
how does he think?
what does he think?

THE ROBOT
radical reclamation
impersonal declaration
march of the intellect
invading the realm of man
(invading the realm of man)
THE ROBOT
THE ROBOT
Guard, defend, preserve humanity!
Guard, defend, preserve humanity!
THE ROBOT
THE ROBOT

watch it move, watch it move
how does he think?
what does he think?
THE ROBOT
THE ROBOT
THE ROBOT
THE ROBOT

Man, it is fun to sing. I hope this doesn’t spoil it. I was actually hoping to do more research on this album before publishing, but guess what? There isn’t that much actual information on this record. I can’t find out why these two collaborated, what they were trying to accomplish, or what the reception was. I know that I’m  happy to have found it. I know that it’s good to keep it alive. And I’m happy to help others find it, too. With no further ado, click these two techno-prophets for a Sharebee link:

Zeitgeist in a Nutshell

Zeitgeist the Movie. Ok, I just finished watching it. First reactions: a little depressing. A little tricked into watching it cause I followed a blind link on advice from a friend that it was “definitely worth seeing.” Not disappointed, no. Not at all. Not entirely. Maybe a little. Yeah, it kinda sucked… I mean, you really had me in the beginning because you must know how much I enjoy unraveling complexity, but did you really mean all that stuff about Jesus and Horus? And then you present all these brain-tingling conspiracies about September 11th and move into… international finance and then… RFID chips? The trans-American highway? What is this? Well, I did like watching it while I watched it, at least. I think I would perhaps possibly say with a little tentative conviction that it is worth seeing. Before doing so, bear in mind four things:

  1. This movie is nearly 2 hours long and you may be compelled (like I) to watch all of it
  2. If you are religious many “theories” may “bother you” or simply make you “pfft”
  3. if you find conspiracy theories annoying you will find this move annoying
  4. millions of people have seen it already (supposedly the most popular video ever hosted by Google Video)

I was originally gonna post the video within this post but decided that, actually, on reflection, I don’t really care enough about this movie or if people see it so instead I’ll just put a link here again.

Also, it’s worth noting that you may need a much smarter analysis than mine.

photo by • Sandra • on Flickr

Surprise Ending

Every once in awhile, I see a piece of film, and I experience something that I dearly feel must be addressed.

Such is the case for the 1992 adaptation of the Virginia Woolf novel “Orlando.” I just watched it. After scouring the internet for some sort of explanation or even acknowledgment, I have come to the conclusion that I am the only person to have watched this film and pondered much about the ending. For those who find this post having seen this particular film and came looking for solidarity, or for those who wonder why I’ve made it, let me say outright—after an hour or more traveling through history from the eyes of an ageless British gender-transcender, who has now finally found some peace in the world having a child and losing his/her/their mystical monarch-bequeathed aristocratic lands, and as the film is finally rounding out, with her sitting at the selfsame tree as when we first met him, and to have the last scene suddenly transform into a gay angel singing a gay house anthem in the sky, shot in shaky-cam mode… is a little… unexpected. Perplexing. Baffling. Really, really weird. Makes me a little cross-eyed; forces my eyebrows to do all sorts of weird shapes. Kinda makes you wonder if they ever really had a point, and/or if just ran outta time and adaptational[1] stamina, and said:

“Hey, you know what? We’ve got this gay pop star who says he likes the book. What are the chances we can get him up on crane later singing something about unity? Or harmony? Or unity and harmony? Oh, well do you have any better ideas for how to finish the movie?”

No, I do not. But for those of you who also don’t, and just really wish the filmmakers did, let me say: you are not alone.

A Review of the Marin Headlands

Sure, they’re in Marin. That’s kind of a strike against them from the perspective of a cool young San Franciscan irked by Bridge-and-Tunnel infiltration into my own neighborhood, like Medjool. But what the hell, if they’re invading I might as well invade them back. No hard feelings.

It’s not so far a drive. You go through a little gorge and then a littler tunnel, a ONE WAY tunnel which has a 5-minute wait (or so the sign says… more like three, so hold your horns). Then you emerge into the oddest micro-community this this side of the Golden Gate. Well, the oddest I can dredge from recent memory anyways. Deers rest on front lawns, children’s swings hang from ancient branches, and all the houses are identical military-issue shape, size, and color. Past that you will of course miss your turnoff down McCollough Road to do the scenic route and end up at the Visitor’s Center. Nice place, but not sure I’d wanna live there. It was here I realized they’d converted an old Army church; I’d been here before, in this exact same building. But when I was in it before it was on old Fort Ord, and it was totally abandoned. Can’t say which I liked more. Like the idea, though.

Then we got on with the part we came for… back down McCollough Road and onward to some awesome views and more old things. Views were good. Old things coulda been better. Open ’em up, people! They’re not as dangerous as the building inspectors tell you they are. It’s just a little rust. And a little shrapnel. Unexploded ordinance? Is there unexploded ordinance? You might wanna take care of that. I hear there’s a couple leftover nuclear missile silos somewhere around here, and that’s acceptable. Just chuck all the bad stuff in there and light the whole thing. Or, at the very least, let grownups like me sign a waiver or something saying “I promise not to sue the National Park Service if I can’t find my left arm after exploring your park, etc. etc.” I can deal with that. It’s an annoyance having everything… well, most everything locked up. Didja know that the trail to Point Bonita lighthouse is closed a lotta the time? Yup. Big sign saying “Trail Closed” and a wide open trail just beyond it. Doesn’t matter. There’s more stuff to see.

Like the Marin Headlands hostel! Woo! I didn’t really see it; I just drove by. It looks lovely though. There’s lots of deer, of which there are lots. No, seriously—they outnumber you. Do not anger them, for they are legion. Hanging around bends and cliffs in some places are a couple lovely picnic areas overlooking a cornucopia of San Francisco skyline. However, the beach was calling. Moreso, sunset was calling since we didn’t actually drive in until after 1:00pm. Nice beach, not crowded but well-endowed with beachgoers, plenty of parking and plenty clean. Can’t really say as we didn’t go out as far as Bird Island. Did you know that birds poop there? Well they do. And I suppose they’d make for some pretty good pictures, but I was too busy taking pictures of someone trying to do cartwheels in the fine sand:


The Best Worst Cartwheel Ever from Orin Zebest on Vimeo.

Then I made a zen garden:

Zen Garden on Flickr

It was a nice day. A nice anniversi-day. Yes, today marks one year that I’ve known Ms. Lynae Straw, lady-friend of mine. Maybe talk about that later.

14,000 and Counting

Saw a good movie yesterday, three days after its world premiere: The Man from Earth (imdb entry here). Imagine if you will… the movie’s premise: “What if a man from the Upper Paleolithic had survived until the present day?” Take six professors plus one lecher’d coed following that to the bottom of the rabbit hole, you’ve got the whole movie. It’s a simple, elegant concept, and the execution was good. Acting was excellent. Music coulda been better. The popcorn was awful, but I won’t blame the director for that.

Like any good movie… like any good intellectual movie, it makes you consider ideas presented long after the presentation’s over. Like what you’d do with 14,000 years of life. Education. Religion. Travel. Love. It’s the same forever-change-yer-life choices we all meet, but on a scale that opens them up for just about anything. Who would you meet? How would you affect history? It’s refreshing to reconsider all of them, and see the story play around unexpectedly with each. Not to mention the big, obvious, elephant-in-room question: would you want to live that long, given the choice? Never dying, unless by intentional means? I’m not gonna answer that. Certainly not here.

See the movie and have a good conversation afterwards. If you have to see if in an art theater, bring your own popcorn. The things you eat now will stay with you for the rest of your life.

Cordless! ess-five-ten Logitech

I am so happy that my new keyboard works as intended. This is, like, the most awesome thing that has happened to me all hour. The keys pronounce a pleasant clicking sound with each nimble tap on their scissor-switched little square black forms. And while they are not as sensate-savvy as the infamous Model-M‘s, the relative mechanical feedback is quite satisfactory. Plus, I can appreciate the wrist-rest for what it is—a boon from heaven. Plus, plus, the weight’s a plus. All in all: A+.

 

Consu-totha-mating

Yo! Traffic spike. You gotta know, I seen a lotta people be comin’ here lately from old Consumating.com. Who’s gonna say why. I mean, I could. I could tell all y’all. I could if I wanted fosho.

And why don’t I? Mystery and subtlety aren’t my obsessions lately. I’ve better things to figure out. Makeouts. Masculine identity. Communal living. City living. Financial deterrents. Financial dependence. Desire. Purpose. Choice. Path. Consumating.

One of these things is not like the other…

Consumating.com is a website. The same as MySpace, but tucked away and with a better crowd. No hustlers or 15 year-olds trying to get in. These people don’t dig the scene but they love the music. They’re internet locals. They live there and they know the place. They’ll flirt with you at two o’clock in the morning same as they would at two in the afternoon. The games are good, and the kissing’s great. Conversation’s even better. It’s the bar I never had growing up.

But then again I never been to a bar with a point system. Up front, strait up, above the table, not by the way, point system. Here’s how it works (like you don’t know): two points each thumbs up, one less every thumb down. Gladiatorial life and death has never been so simple. Your profile is there for all to look at (and it looks like everyone’s—no HTML soup to serve your friends). It’s got pictures, it’s got space for a witty l’il quote. So far it’s MySpace without the ugly. But instead of general movies music television schools businesses boring boring you go ahead and outright LABEL yourself with some web2.0y tags. Me, I’m tagged memetics, dinosaurs, pixel_fonts, and abandoned_buildings. I like ’em, and that’s who I am. And the “About Me” section? Who you’d really like to meet? All bullcrap anyway. He who gets his whole personality across when asked those questions doesn’t deserve to be met. An ingenious solution: don’t ask dumb questions; try interesting ones. More opportunities to be clever than you can shake on a pogo stick… That a pogo stick bounces at… That you can bounce a pogo stick to shake… Well, it doesn’t come if you force it.

The point is points. You get ’em when people like you’re answers, when they like your photos, when they like you. You collect points and get ranked against everybody else. Life or death. Being clever is fun. Taking jiveass pictures is fun. Flirting, notepasssing, and rating strangers is fun. Getting more popular is a job—an addictive job.

I wanna be cool like all the other cool people. I don’t wanna play SEO and figure what attitudes provide the most ROI. I wanna kill time, not waste it. I wanna attend Secret Santa consu-meetings and meet worthy people from another world, give worthwhile presents and get worthwhile kisses. But you know what else? I wanna break the triple digits. In the past month I’ve doubled my points. I wanna break 1000th place.

So why couldn’t I just say that up front? I linked to my own page from Consumating. And I did it because it’d be fun, sure. But I did it for points too.
Read more…

Subtlety can be good. You don’t just walk up and ask a fella for a beer, you say hi and give an interesting perspective and make friends, then you ask for a beer. If it’s a good bar, you might be lucky enough to get that far.