The Big Think

December 22, 2003

Fossilized Food

Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 12:50 pm

Jay Leno will eat a 125 year old fruitcake. The baker died in 79…. 1879.


Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 12:02 am

Ten years, ten years, I’ve been waiting for that A on the cellos!
Alexis Emmanuel Chabrier, bursting into tears at the thrill of hearing the prelude to Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde.

December 21, 2003

Dark Days

Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 2:59 pm

Today is the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of our year. What’s the solstice? Well, if you pay attention to where the sun sets every night, you’ll notice that it changes positions each sunset, slowly drifting along the horizon as the year goes on. I was especially aware of this when I had a nightly piano gig for seven years. Since the restaurant was on the top floor of a 7 story building (the second highest in town), I had an unobstructed view of the sunset each night, and would watch it change position through the seasons. I pay particular attention to this phenomenon now as the window in our shower faces west. During the summer, if I take a shower in the late afternoon, I have the blazing summer sun blinding me as it cooks me through the window. In the wintertime, when it would be nice to have some extra heat, the sun is much farther to the south and doesn’t get in my eyes.
The Winter Solstice is that day of the year (usually around December 22) when the sun describes its southern-most arc in the sky and sets at its most southerly position. Because the sun describes its shortest line across the sky-it’s above the horizon for the shortest period of time- the winter solstice is also the shortest day of the year. For us, that is. While this day marks the official beginning of winter for those of us in the northern hemisphere, folks in the southern hemisphere are marking the summer solstice and basking in the balmy rays of the longest day of their year- and the first day of their summer. Yup, in Australia, Christmas is t-shirt weather and students go snow skiing during “summer break”.
Pay attention to where the sun sets tonight. For the next 6 months, the sun will set slightly farther to the right each night, gradually getting in my eyes more and more as I take an afternoon shower. Sunset will also take place about 4 minutes later each night because it has to take a slightly longer trip across our sky.
Cool, no?
Interestingly, much of our holiday festivities have a history bound to the solsti. The Christian holiday (holy-day) of Christmas is celebrated very close to the winter solstice not because that’s the exact date of Christ’s birth (we don’t have a clue when that day was), but because early Christians wanted to repurpose some of the pagan holidays of their times. Indeed, the idea of the Christmas tree was taken from the pagan practice of decorating a sturdy evergreen tree with berries, rosebuds, and cinnamon sticks. The tree represented survival in the dark days of winter and hope that summer would come again. It’s very interesting to me how once-pagan practices have become thoroughly Christianized and absorbed into our culture.
And meanwhile, the sun marches on.

December 20, 2003

Reading List

Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 12:56 pm

Woodshop Dust Control by Sandor Nagyszalanczy and The World at the End of Time by Frederick Pohl
*Note* I really needed the dust control book today. I spent a blissful 5 hours in the shop working on a project. Unfortunately, 3 hours was spent sanding, sanding, sanding. I had the vac set up to catch the dust, and had my snazzy breathing filter on, but the dust just gets everywhere. I had to take two showers to feel clean, and when I wet my hair at the beginning of the shower, it quick-set with the consistency of lumpy drop-biscuit dough, except the mix was sawdust. blech. Still, it was a wonderful afternoon.

December 19, 2003


Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 5:59 pm

Countless, unseen details are often the only difference between mediocre and magnificent..

Return of the Return of the King

Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 1:25 am

Going back to see the movie again today. This time Giles and I will probably spend more time looking at FX and watching for cameos and other filmmaker-type shots. This is the “instructive” viewing as opposed to the “let it wash over me” viewing. Should be fun.
*Update after the film* Giles and Jenn couldn’t make it, but I had a great time with Mark and Allison and Mark’s mom (and a great lunch afterwards!). The movie was fantastic – possibly even better the second time. This time I could focus on music cues, editing, and general storytelling as well as little things like costumes and makeup and overall continuity (anybody who’s been in any kind of production work soon comes to appreciate these small details). All of these items (as well as a long list of others) are essentially flawless. I can’t imagine a more perfect example of technical filmmaking, nor of good storytelling. Glad to put my $13.50 toward the opening weekend gross of this magnificent epic.
Gee, now that I’ve seen it twice, can anyone recommend a good 1000 page novel to keep me busy?
I just remembered, and I’ll go ahead and mention it here. When we got through watching the film on opening night last Wednesday, and after the obligatory silence at the end, Giles leaned over and said “It’s a good thing Lucasfilm has a 2 year head-start. They’re probably going back to the drawing board.” Well said.
Oh, and a minor soapbox: why do so many people leave before the credits are over? What does that say about audiences that they’re so willing to leave before the movie fully ends? Is it just conditioning? Or is it that most people want to live with the thought that what they’ve just seen really took place and didn’t require a gaffer, electrician, or armorer? Interestingly, when I saw Schindler’s List a few years ago in the theater, the movie ended, the lights came up, the credits rolled and…. nobody moved. So I think there’s something to this, I’m just not sure what.
But what does it say about people who are “credit-watchers”? I think people with behind-the-scenes production experience have a greater understanding of the insane amounts of work that go into a big project like this, so we’re more willing to stick around for 10 more minutes to read the names of the people responsible; a totally inadequate way to pay our respects, granted, but it’s what we can do (besides seeing the movie again). It’s funny, but after a while you start to recognize many names (JoAnne Kane music comes to mind). It’s also a good time to allow your emotions to come back into level after a particularly wrenching film, or to let your body acclimate to the fact that what you’ve been watching is, in fact, fiction. The real world is always there outside the cinema’s doors, but I always like to sit and feel the fiction for a few more minutes. Besides, if you leave before the end of some films, you miss some great stuff (Toy Story/Bugs Life, Pirates of the Caribbean, heck, even Chain Reaction had a funny tag). ROTK had the most beautiful credits I’ve ever seen, and tied the story up in a wonderfully artistic way (with the final image being the ring). From the beginning of the credits, each of the actors name was accompanied by a beautiful hand-drawn sketch of the actor in costume. It strikes me that this is the way to wrap up 10 hours of handmade medieval magnificence: with hand drawings on parchment. Perfect.
Another complaint I have with many films is that they usually support the credits with music that’s totally inappropriate for the film. In an effort to try and cross-brand the movie with a soon-to-be popular song, and thus make money on the music side of the spreadsheet, many producers dilute what could be a wonderful moment. I think I’m just particular about this because I’m a musician and hate to see the wonderful work of composers like Howard Shore be subjugated to the pop-song-of-the-month mentality. Thankfully, ROTK doesn’t commit this sin too badly. The first time I saw the film, I was slightly disappointed that we didn’t end with the Hobbit theme (I thought, “what could be more perfect”?), but with a song sung by some popular artist (can’t remember who). Watching it this time, though, I appreciated the song that they had chosen. Granted, it’s the same crossmarketing behavior that so many other films are saddled with, but this time it didn’t seem so out of place. I can still hear that beautiful song in my head, and I guess I can understand why the composer chose not to end with the Hobbit theme. By the end of film 3, the fight has become about all of Middle-Earth. The Hobbit’s still represent a main structural post to the storytelling, but others have come to share the load and responsibility as well. And the words of the song (“white gulls are calling”) speaks to endings and elves and the sea.
Can’t wait until the Extended Edition of film three comes out next year. Hope I get the extended version of FOTR:TT for Christmas. I’d also love it if these films occasionally got re-released on the big screen. This isn’t one for your mere 48″ HD screen folks. See it on the big muslin before it’s too late.

December 18, 2003

Remember Me

Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 11:39 pm

We will soon have drugs that can selectively erase memory. Or maybe we’ve had them for a long time…

Top of 2003

Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 11:37 pm

The top 10, 50, whatever, of 2003 in dozens of categories (film, books, dvds, games, music, etc). Cool stuff.

What a Crappy Present

Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 11:16 pm

What not to get the kid who has everything.


Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 12:49 am

One of many I’ve been reading at MetaCritic:

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is so replete with imagistic and literary treasures that it repays re-viewing. After seeing it, I felt as I did after seeing E.T. – that unless the distributor wants to pull it back, there’s no reason for it ever to stop running.

Saw It

Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 12:19 am

Yes! Christmas has come early, folks. We just got back from the 7pm showing of ROTK (yes, it’s a looong movie). I’ll post a long review once I’ve had some time to digest it. Suffice it to say it was a fantastic end to a fantastic trilogy. Peter Jackson (the whole massive team, really) needs to win an award that puts the Academy to shame. Top grossing film of all time maybe. Nah, that doesn’t do it justice.
Just spectacular. If you haven’t seen it yet, get thee to a multiplex with a big screen and a good sound system. Get there early if you have to so you can get a good seat. We got there 2 1/2 hours early and sat in line, but got the center seats mid-screen.

December 17, 2003


Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 2:34 pm

Nowadays if you see an event movie after the first couple of weeks, you’re not really a participant but an observer, a sociologist trying to discover what it was that everyone was so excited about. If you want to be part of the cultural conversation – and we live in
a society in which you are more likely to be embarrassed for not knowing who Kirsten Dunst is than for not being able to name your Senators – you can’t wait around until there are no more lines at the

Travis Lavan

Return of the King

Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 2:30 pm

“Absolutely brilliant”

“It was much better than the other two”

“It lived up to all the hype”

“The truth of the matter is, it’s a terrific film”

“[one of] The American Film’s Institute’s (AFI) top 10 films of the year”

“It was fantastic,”

“It was definitely the best of the three”

“It’s the best film of the year.”

“And so it ends, the greatest film trilogy ever mounted, with some of the most amazing action sequences committed to celluloid. The Return of the King is everything a Ring fan could possibly wish for, and much more.”

“The Lord of the Rings is undeniably a landmark in cinema history, a creation of demented, kamikaze passion that all logic suggested should never work and yet somehow did.”

“I left exhilarated and saddened. What will Christmas next year be like without a fresh instalment of the Ring to look forward to?”

“The Return of the King is the great coming together of Tolkien’s myth, where journeys end in vast battles, and where incident is piled upon incident, climax upon climax. And director Peter Jackson has more than done justice to his material.”

“Will Jackson at last win an Oscar for this towering achievement? No ifs. No buts. The answer is unequivocally yes. And about time too.”

Finale for OS X

Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 11:32 am

I use this program on an almost daily basis (music notation) and it’s a shame that MakeMusic still doesn’t have an OS X version…. even 2 years after OS X has been on the market. They assure users here that Finale 2004 for OS X will be out in January. Fingers crossed.

The Wright Stuff

Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 1:00 am

100 years ago today the Wright Brothers changed history with the first manned, powered flight.
Thanks, guys.
If you’re an aviation buff, be sure to catch all the specials that will be sure to air today.

Eat My Dust

Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 12:58 am

If you need me in the next few days, I’ll be camping out on the curb waiting for my new (used) Dust Collector to arrive. Sweeping will (mostly) be a thing of the past.

December 16, 2003

On the Second Gig of Christmas….

Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 3:41 pm

Got another one tonight. The only downside is that it’s about 20 miles away and I have to go THROUGH downtown at 5:00 to get there.


Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 11:32 am

Just breathe Jason, only 24 hours to go. Today’s Foxtrot.

Basra Control Tower

Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 1:09 am

I really like this picture.

The Two Towers

Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 1:05 am

Had a great time tonight at Giles’ and Jenn’s tonight watching the extended edition of the Two Towers. Thanks to them and wishes of safety as they leave for Virginia on a sudden trip tomorrow. Prayers are with you guys.

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