What I learned this week, August 19, 2017

Solar eclipse of April 8, 2024

I really, really wanted to drive north next week and see the solar eclipse. Unfortunately, I can’t get off of work, so won’t witness the totality. I was bummed. But now, I feel better, because I discovered there will be another one in seven years and the path of totality will pass right over Dallas. Now I only have to survive seven more years.

Something else to live for.


Chemists Say You Should Add A Little Water To Your Whiskey. Here’s Why


12 Authors Share What it Takes to Make it as a Writer in Dallas


The front desk entrance to the Art Deco Belmont Hotel, with Smoke in the background.

10 Best Spots to Snap an Instagram in Dallas

Travelling Man – sculpture east of Downtown Dallas

People from the Seersucker Ride at Klyde Warren Park, Dallas, Texas


7 World-Famous Landmarks That Are Hiding Something From The Public



7 Wonders of the Horror Movie World


This week’s short film:

What I learned this week, August 12, 2017

 

The Brutal Saga of One Extremely Evil Railroad Crossing


 

That’s part of what motivated Cherry and company to conduct what they call the nation’s first “empirical analysis of rail-grade crossings and single-bicycle crashes.” To them, the problem wasn’t with the cyclists. It was with the roadway design and the fact nobody knows, scientifically speaking, the best way to bike over railroad tracks.

This footage is amazing and very, very hard to watch. It is beyond my imagination that a city could put in a dedicated bike lane that includes a railroad crossing at an angle of less than 30 degrees, and then take so long to try and correct it. Imagine someone building a road that wrecks a good percentage of the cars that drove on it. It would be on the national news.

Nobody gives a damn.


 

Restaurant Workers Reveal Their Personal Food Hacks And Tips


 


 

Brian Eno Explains the Loss of Humanity in Modern Music


 

In music, as in film, we have reached a point where every element of every composition can be fully produced and automated by computers. This is a breakthrough that allows producers with little or no musical training the ability to rapidly turn out hits. It also allows talented musicians without access to expensive equipment to record their music with little more than their laptops. But the ease of digital recording technology has encouraged producers, musicians, and engineers at all levels to smooth out every rough edge and correct every mistake, even in recordings of real humans playing old-fashioned analogue instruments. After all, if you could make the drummer play in perfect time every measure, the singer hit every note on key, or the guitarist play every note perfectly, why wouldn’t you?

One answer comes in a succinct quotation from Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies, which Ted Mills referenced in a recent post here on Miles Davis: “Honor Your Mistakes as a Hidden Intention.” (The advice is similar to that Davis gave to Herbie Hancock, “There are no mistakes, just chances to improvise.”) In the short clip at the top, Eno elaborates in the context of digital production, saying “the temptation of the technology is to smooth everything out.”

The man is a genius.


To avoid traffic, this guy swims to work

Munich, Germany resident Benjamin David hated sitting in traffic on his way to his job at a beer garden. So instead of hopping in a car or on a bike, he now puts on a wetsuit and jumps into the River Isar for his daily commute.

This guy is my new hero – I whine so much about riding my bike to work… and this guy swims.

Not only that, but he works in a Munich beer garden.


 

Dining in a time machine: Couple tours Dallas eateries that have made it for four decades


 

I moved to Dallas in 1981 – the restaurants I fondly remember from that time that are still open include Campisi’s, The Grape, Spaghetti Warehouse, and, especially, Snuffer’s.


 

I Ride KC


 

In this blog, the author sets out to ride every street in Kansas City. What an interesting quest. I don’t think it would be possible to ride every street in Dallas, but it would be fairly straightforward to ride all the residential streets in Richardson. Something to think about.


Paying the price for breakdown of the country’s bourgeois culture

Returning to the American cultural values of the 1950s — thrift, gratitude, temperance, continence, among others — would “significantly reduce society’s pathologies,” says Penn Law School professor Amy Wax in an op-ed published Thursday on Philly.com and co-written with Larry Alexander of the University of San Diego School of Law.

 

Not all cultures are created equal’ says Penn Law professor in op-ed


 

This very interesting and needed op-ed will either create a shit-storm of argument… or, more likely, be completely ignored.

Penn Prof Faces Backlash for Saying “Not All Cultures Are Created Equal


This week’s short film….

What I learned this week, June 1, 2012




I have been wandering around this Wiki site looking for plot ideas. It isn’t just TV.  There is some interesting and useful stuffins here:

TV Tropes



This looks like fun:

Announcing Food Tours in Dallas!



Dallas was voted the worst city for Bicycling in the country. Still, this ride looks like fun:

Group Ride: On the Trail of Lee Harvey Oswald, June 16th History Tour



10 Reasons You Should Skip Traditional Publishers and Self-Publish Ebooks Instead



This cartoon wrote a sweary word on your toilet wall.



A&P

One of my favorite short stories of all time is John Updike’s A&P. If I could do anything – I wish I could write like this:

Text of A&P

Go ahead – read it now. It’s not very long – it won’t take up much time.

I read this story in college. For a chemist, I took a lot of literature classes. Most of them were honors level courses – and looking back, I didn’t get much out of them. They were very intellectual and were interested in ferreting out symbolism and deconstructing the text… and now, decades later, I realize they completely missed the point of what we were reading. My fiction writing classes were worse than useless; they set my writing ability back so far I’m only now, in my fifties, beginning to unlearn the false dreck violently stuffed into my young head.

After having exhausted my allotted supply of honors courses, I tacked on an ordinary English class – The Art of the Short Story. Basically, we cranked through a textbook that contained one hundred classic stories and wrote three papers or so a week. Our instructor was intimidated by the classroom setting so we met in a bar, talking about literature while we drank cheap yellow 3.2 beer from schooners, listening to each other’s conversation, and watching rivulets of condensation run down the thick glass.

This was a revelation. There was none of the vicious oneupmanship of the honors classes or the viscous boredom of the scholarship. It was true, lively banter where everyone was able to bring a different point of view along with some fresh ideas.

I’m sure I wrote an essay on A&P, but don’t remember what my angle was. I was working at a gas station over break back then and I remember really liking the paragraph where Updike writes about the sounds an old-fashioned cash register makes. He had it exactly right.

I go through the punches, 4, 9, GROC, TOT — it’s more complicated than you think, and after you do it often enough, it begins to make a lttle song, that you hear words to, in my case “Hello (bing) there, you (gung) hap-py pee-pul (splat)”-the splat being the drawer flying out.

The other day, after all these years, I discovered a short film version of the story. You should be able to watch it at this link – courtesy of SPIKE TV of all things:

A & P

I’m a little ashamed to admit that I stumbled across  this short looking up information on the new Three Stooges Movie. The guy in the short will play Larry in the Stooges movie, and, of course, you remember the actress that plays the girl, Queenie, from Road Trip.

I’m glad that they made this short. I am very glad I saw it. However, like any time a visual representation is made about a piece of literature that was important to you, I’m disappointed at some of the changes they made in the presentation.

The video doesn’t really fit my impression of the story… I think it’s the cutsie music. Or maybe the Ipswich accents.

The short story is edgier than the video suggests.

I didn’t like the scene where he imagines meeting Queenie at the party (though I suppose they had to pad it out somehow). It makes the story more of a romance fantasy, or a poor boy/rich girl story… which it is not. It is a much more fundamental conflict at work here – an elemental question of values.

And worst of all, all though the short has no qualms about presenting the protagonist’s internal dialog in voice over, it leaves out the last, most powerful bit. I’m talking about the last half of the last sentence of the story. The internal dialog that contains the horror of the story. The voice over says his stomach fell, but it doesn’t say why.

The story does.

I look around for my girls, but they’re gone, of course. There wasn’t anybody but some young married screaming with her children about some candy they didn’t get by the door of a powder-blue Falcon station wagon. Looking back in the big windows, over the bags of peat moss and aluminum lawn furniture stacked on the pavement, I could see Lengel in my place in the slot, checking the sheep through. His face was dark gray and his back stiff, as if he’djust had an injection of iron, and my stomach kind of fell as I felt how hard the world was going to be to me hereafter.

how hard the world was going to be to me hereafter.” I still remember reading these words in college and the fear that they struck in me.