December 2007

2007 12 31
2007 post


Posted by in: Odds and ends

Just snuck it in there.


Howls of outrage (5)

2007 12 30
Bad Behavior


Posted by in: WordPress Plug-ins

If you run your own wordpress installation, I highly recommend the bad behavior plug-in. In combination with Akismet, it’s almost completely eliminated comment spam on this blog, knock on wood.


Howls of outrage (6)

2007 12 30
Recently watched


Posted by in: Documentaries, Movies

The Golden Compass

I don’t see why the critics were falling all over themselves to pan this movie. I think Steve was much closer to the mark. It was fun! I’ve read the books, but I don’t think it was right to complain (as I saw some complain) that the movie compressed the book to the point of incomprehensibility.

Murderball

A documentary about wheelchair rugby, as it is also known. The film follows the rivalry between the Canadian and American wheelchair rugby teams, pausing from time to time to explore the personalities and circumstances of some of the players, as well as the coach of the Canadian team. Well done.

Who the #$&% Is Jackson Pollock?

A documentary about a woman living in a trailer who buys a painting for a few dollars at a yard sale. She becomes convinced the painting is a Jackson Pollack, and then becomes increasingly irritated with the snooty art snobs who think it isn’t. The film is a funny look at the characters involved in this little drama, the class tension between them, and the scientific and artistic dispute about the authenticity of the painting. Not bad at all.

The Man With the Movie Camera

An experimental 1929 silent film by Russian director Dziga Vertov. I watched this twice, the second time with the commentary on, and was astounded at how much I had missed the first time. I don’t know much about film, especially early avant garde Russian film, so I’ll just say that as far as I could tell Vertov was sort of saying, “Hey, look at this new medium! It does things that no other medium could. Could you do this with any other medium? Of course not! Could you do this? No, no, no.”

The Namesake

The Namesake, based on a novel by Jhumpa Lahiri, follows a Bengali family from India to New York City, and in particular the son in the family, Gogol. It’s a beautiful film. My second home growing up was my best friend’s English-Bengali-Gujarati household. So by the authority invested in me by all that experience I say: This movie nails it. It utterly nails the subtleties and ambiguities and difficulties of assimilation and intergenerational conflict in the Indo-North American experience. Slow paced, and perhaps dragging a bit towards the end, but with a gentle sense of humour, real affection and emotion. Recommended.

Trailer Park Boys (All Seven Seasons)

Fucking awesome low budget Canadian tv mocumentary about a couple of guys hanging out in a trailer park in Nova Scotia. Watch it. Watch it now and join the cult of TPBs. You have to give it a chance – the first season is a bit rough. But once you’re hooked, you’re hooked hard. Many thanks to Alif Sikkin for inducting me into the cult. The first five seasons are available on Netflix, but sadly I have no idea how one might go about watching the last two seasons.

The Lives of Others

Very moving story set in East Germany towards the end of the Cold War. If you haven’t seen it I really don’t know what you’re waiting for.

Shortbus

I was very excited to see this film after all the hype it got when it first came out. Not only was it said to have lots and lots of lovin’, but the acting was supposed to be great – how could you go wrong with that? I ordered it from Netflix, and then cooked an elaborate meal for Yoon, hoping for a little after-movie romance. Shortbus was wretched. The actors all seemed to speak with that sort of micro-pause that stupid people and bad actors use in between the wrong words when they’re trying to express themselves. The plot, such as it was, was idiotic. Every character deserved to die. The first scene in particular made me squirm for embarrassment on the part of everyone involved. About 30 minutes into the movie I suffered a wrenching attack of diarrhea – so much for my elaborate meal – and I spent the rest of the movie shuttling back and forth between the living room and the can. As I sat on the can, miserable and shuddering, goosebumps covering my legs, I reflected that at least I wasn’t watching Shortbus. Now you’re probably thinking, “Oh Chris, you saw it in unfavourable conditions, and so you’re surely being unfair to Shortbus.” But the sad truth is that I’m probably being hard on the diarrhea since I associate it with Shortbus. We did finish it, just to confirm that it was awful all the way through. But I would rather spend an evening slamming my cock in a heavy door than sit through that movie again. Not recommended.

How to Draw a Bunny

Documentary about Ray Johnson, an American artist. Wonderful. Music is by Max Roach – the last project he worked on before his death. If you’re at all interested in contemporary art you should see this film.

Knowing Me, Knowing You

Steve Coogan’s 1994 chat show parody. Uneven, but a few really good laughs in there.


Howls of outrage (15)

2007 12 18
Coltrane Choi, R.I.P. (March 1993 – December 2007)


Handsome boy

On Saturday afternoon, Coltrane suddenly looked pretty rough. We took him to the vet right away, and learned that he had fairly advanced cancer of the spleen. He declined very rapidly over the weekend, but we were set to operate on Monday, until we learned that the cancer had spread to his liver and that there was nothing we could do. Coltrane died the way I hope I go eventually: full of years; after a sudden, sharp decline that left just enough time to say good-bye, but not enough time to suffer; and surrounded by the people who loved him most.

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Howls of outrage (19)

2007 12 16
Gig Thursday


Posted by in: Music

If you miss this one, you’ll surely regret it for years, if you have any sense, which you probably don’t, if you miss this one. You know, I’m not sure I’m cut out for advertising. Anyway:

If you are free, please come to my show at Cornelia Street Cafe this Thursday at 8:30pm. The first set will be a set of duos and the 10pm set will be the E-String Band. I do hope that you can share the evening with me. It’s my last gig for the year and I would love to see you all!

Thank you and Happy Holidays!
Yoon Sun Choi

Thursday, December 20

8:30pm
Duets with:
Miranda Sielaff – viola
Vinnie Sperrazza – drums
Mike MicGinnis – woodwinds
Khabu Doug Young – ukulele
Judith Berkson – voice
and a few other surprises I hope

10:00pm
The E-String Band
Jacob Sacks – melodica
Thomas Morgan – guitar
Khabu Doug Young – ukulele
Vinnie Sperrazza – percussion

Cornelia Street Cafe
29 Cornelia Street
(F/V/B/D/A/C/E train to West 4th)

$10


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2007 12 12
Doing things the hard way


Posted by in: Anecdotal

It’s only at the tail end of what is probably the last semester of my teaching career that I figure out that, hey, it might be useful to use a spreadsheet to calculate the final grades.


Howls of outrage (10)

2007 12 07
Just me, complaining.


Posted by in: Consumer complaints

We have an IBM thinkpad that started getting Blue Screens of Death whenever I tried to enable the wireless card. IBM/Lenovo tech support has been a total nightmare. I’ve spoken with several techies there, and they’ve all given me different advice or instructions. However, this is not on the basis of having reviewed what the others have instructed and in light of what has already been tried and found to fail. No. Rather, they hear what’s wrong, and then they all bark out instructions as if they think to themselves, “Oh, this is easy! It’s just his flux capacitor” or whatever. One woman had me open the damn thing and reseat this and that, and then before I was done told me that her supervisor told her I was taking too much of her time and that she had to go. The next guy said, “OK. I know what’s wrong. Let’s do this.” And then he proceeded to walk me through the process for reformatting the hard drive—-without telling me first that this would be the result. Of course, I knew better, but what about the person who’s content to follow the experts’ advice and then finds that he’s deleted everything?

I finally sent the thing back. They “fixed” it. Only, two minutes after it was out of the box, “fixed”, I got the blue screen again, simply by attempting to enable the wireless card.

So another call ensued. It went a little something like this:

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Howls of outrage (10)

2007 12 06
The People’s Symphony


Posted by in: Music

Have you heard of the People’s Symphony? If not, that may be because they don’t advertise. They’re a NYC nonprofit founded in 1900 to bring music to “students, teachers, workers, and others unable to pay normal ticket prices.” Yoon and I have subscriptions this year, and so far we’ve seen the Guarnari Quartet, the St. Lawrence String Quartet, and Emmanuel Ax – in other words, world class shows, except that with a subscription they work out to a little less than $6 a pop. Non-subscription tickets run $9 a show.

This is very reasonable, I think. It’s not your typical concert experience to be sure. The shows are in a high school auditorium, with very uncomfortable seats. And although I don’t have a great deal of experience with crowds at classical concerts, I suspect that the audience at these events is slightly more likely to let a cell phone go off, to shush disturbances more loudly than the disturbances themselves, and to do other things that make me hold my head in my hands. But all in all we’ve found it a great deal, and if you live in NYC, you’re seriously broke, and you enjoy good music, then you should really give it a try. See you there.


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