A Bite of Stars, A Slug of Time, and Thou

newworlds_1958-04.jpgFreaky Trigger is podcasting ResonanceFM’s A Bite of Stars, A Slug of Time, and Thou, an astoundingly great show on pulp and avant-garde science fiction short stories from 1935 to 1975. Recommended for anyone who’s annoyed at how SF is equated these days with only television and movies.

The second season is already in progress and ends in November, but the entire run of shows is available and worth grabbing.

If you need one show to sample, start with episode #10 on J. G. Ballard’s “Track 12.” An early 1958 short story of his from New Worlds that’s one part Poe and one part sonic weaponry. The followup discussion touches on electroacoustic music, Iannis Xenakis, microsonics, and Ballard of course.

ResonanceFM desperately needs to archive/podcast more of its shows.


The Freesound Project

There’s one thing on my old Nokia phone that I needed to find a iPhone equivalent for and it’s one of those inconsquentials you don’t believe is important unless you realize that you miss it. A lot.

For over a year now, my alarm clock was the stock Nokia “Airport Terminal” ringtone. Nothing more than some well-recorded airport ambience (indistinct background conversations, a distant announcement bell followed by a vaguely European announcer, sounds of people walking) it was the perfect thing to wake up to in the morning. Nothing shrill, but insistent enough to actually do the job of waking me up. Since switching to the iPhone, I needed some airport ambience – the cute robot voice, although cute, wasn’t going to cut it.

I figured that some airport field recordings had to be somewhere on the net and some judicial searching led me to The Freesound Project and mind-croggling huge repository of tens of thousands of different sounds from everywhere. Pretty much anything you can think of is there – follow the geotags, metatags, or choose one at random. Searching on “airport” brought up a good selection of sounds and after a short GarageBand conversion, I’m now waking up to the sounds of a departing flight to Milan from the Dubai airport.

Rat Attack

Kitchen RecordingLast month I posted this photo of Fredo the Rat sitting on top of one of my amps when we were recording. Fredo’s been sitting on top of one amp or another since finding him at Ikea last year and so, yeah, he’s a cute stuffed rat.

I knew Fredo had some relatives out there in the world, but no clue that Fredo’s Russian brethern were so dang numerous. Ummm… Eeek?

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The Wit Of The Staircase

Every so often I go on a spring cleaning rampage in my RSS reader, deleting out blogs that I may have read once but have since failed the “why the heck am I reading this?” test. Two-thirds of what I have loaded in NetNewsWire are picture, mp3, pop culture archeology, or otherwise meta blogs that I just scan without actually reading in depth. Of the third left over, a couple belong to friends, a couple more are coding/Apple related but there’s also a group of blogs written by complete strangers that so just so well-written that I’m compelled to just keep reading. Someone, somewhere out there linked to a post, I toss the feed into NetNewsWire and presto, I’m another anonymous follower.

Case in point… Theresa Duncan’s blog “The Wit Of The Staircase.” Couple years back I ran across her Chelsea Hotel post, read some more (“LA and Detroit” is another good place to start) and quickly concluded “hey, this is some terrific writing.” Since then I’ve been reading her writings about perfume and various lateral epiphanies about architecture, music, Los Angeles, and random esoterica – most of which punctuated by photographs of Kate Moss. It’s all good stuff.

Of course reading what someone posts on a blog isn’t equivalent to, well, knowing someone personally. However once you’ve consumed enough words, music, and generalized creativity you may not know the person, but you think (or at least you like to think) that you understand their P.O.V. Which makes this all the more unexplainable:

Writer, filmmaker and perfume aficionado Theresa Duncan has not posted at her Venice-based blog, The Wit of the Staircase, since July 10. She gave no indication of taking a break, and now an Internet discussion forum has posted an unconfirmed report that Duncan killed herself last week in New York City, where she was making a film. From the same report, her partner of many years, artist Jeremy Blake, is missing off New York’s Rockaway Beach, where a man was seen going into the ocean Tuesday night. The news comes from Anya McCoy, a Florida perfumer who says she spoke with an ex-girlfriend of Blake. I can find no recent news reports tonight on Duncan in New York or her hometown of Detroit, so I’ll stress again that none of this is confirmed.

7 am Update: Art critic Tyler Green blogs at Modern Art Notes that Duncan committed suicide last week and that the NYPD confirmed Blake is missing.

9:30 am: I’m told there is a funeral for Theresa Duncan tomorrow in the Detroit area. And Kate Coe, who knew her, talks about Duncan at Fishbowl LA.

The Wit of the Staircase marked its second anniversary on July 4. A personal favorite of mine, Duncan’s blog interests ran to literary allusions, Kate Moss, perfume and possibly apocryphal moonlit debaucheries of the Los Angeles Lunar Society. In her 20s she created the video games “Chop Suey,” “Smarty” and “Zero Zero.” With Blake she produced The History of Glamour, an animated mockumentary about an art scene similar to Andy Warhol’s Factory. I have never met Duncan, but always figured I would someday. Blake’s paintings and video art have been shown all over the place, and he created the abstract hallucination scenes in Punch Drunk Love.

When confronted with something like that you can’t help but wonder at how things could go so terribly awry. There’s no clues in the blog, only a small community of other shocked readers. I wonder if there’s any irony in her blog’s title…

From the French phrase ‘esprit d’escalier,’ literally, it means ‘the wit of the staircase’, and usually refers to the perfect witty response you think up after the conversation or argument is ended. “Esprit d’escalier,” she replied. “Esprit d’escalier. The answer you cannot make, the pattern you cannot complete till aterwards it suddenly comes to you when it is too late.”

R.I.P.

Grand Theft Auto: Hill Valley

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Copy/pasting from the description page:

Back to the Future: Hill Valley is a full conversion Mod, being made for Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. BTTF: Hill Valley will allow the player to re-experience all the great moments from the films. It’s the modders goal to not stray too far from the original story line; while still adding in new content to the game that enhances the game experience. You can relive one of the best movies of all time, in the outstanding game play of the Sandbox hit, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. This mod is sure to bring countless hours of fun to anybody who enjoyed the movies.

Some of the Features that will be in BTTF: Hill Valley are:

  • 5 different eras of Hill Valley: 1885, 1955, 1985, Alternative 1985, and 2015.
  • Played in Real Time
  • New Vehicles to correspond to the times.
  • New Pedestrians to correspond to the times
  • Instant and Realistic Speed Based Time Travel
  • New Effects and Graphics
  • Flying Hover mode for the Cars and Trains of the future.
  • Refueling feature for the plutonium chamber/Mr. Fusion unit on the Deloreans
  • Gas Stations
  • Custom Radio Stations
  • Reenactments of scenes, from the films
  • Remote Controlled Deloreans
  • Build-a-time-machine garage
  • Working calendar

The mod is only at Version 0.2b, but crimony the release of this could be the one thing that pushes me over the edge to pick up a console or whatever could play it.