Sunday, October 31, 2010

It always had to go this way.

I was asleep in a hammock
I was dreaming that I was a web
I was a dream-catcher hanging in the window of a minivan
parked along the water's edge.

Finally got around to listening to Wolf Parade's album Expo 86 and of course, am left absolutely infatuated. I know it's trite to say shit like "they've really matured as a band over the years and it's been a privilege to tag along for the ride" but there, I said it. Not because Expo is better than Apologies (blasphemy!) or Mt Zoomer (not-quite-as-blasphemous!), just that it demonstrates progression, exploring and conquering new territories of sound. There's something mesmerizing about their particular brand of synthpop -- the songs feel optimistic despite intense melancholy overtones and electric harmonies that pierce your soul.

Case in point: In the Direction of the Moon.

Also see:  What Did My Lover Say (It Always Had to Go This Way)

Maybe I'm too vulnerable to cover-art influence, but listening to the album straight up overwhelms me with nostalgia. The kind that gnaws at you until you stop whatever you're doing to go roll around in the grass or build a couch-cushion fort.

Well, that or channel the flood o' feelings into a Wikipedia binge...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Science is art, art science

—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know

I'm going through another one of those phases where I obsess over the people I want to be when I grow up instead of working on the steps to become them (like tracking down their address and social security information). Actually that's not quite fair, I have been trying to work on a fun side-project animation for about a month now but keep getting distracted by my job, responsibilities to my future, and fantastic animators who blow my mind open with their science-art.

First up: Candaş Şişman dives into the artistic side of math with F L U X.
Dedicated to the sculptor İlhan Koman, this animation explores new perspectives on his works "Pi, 3D Moebius, Whirlpool and To Infinity" with hypontic audio-visual textures. Remember Peripetics? Similar animation style, but overall F L U X is more fluid and less... strange.

Next: David Bolinksy's 2007 TED talk, The Inner Life of a Cell. He chats about truth, beauty and the exciting field of medical animation. You can can check out more of his studio's work on their website. Seriously Jeremiah, your dad is a bamf.

Now, I know I've been saying this a lot lately but how has someone not made a live action remake of the Magic School Bus series yet?! WE HAVE THE TECHNOLOGY. I'm looking at you, Spike Jonze, for apparently not having any qualms rewriting our generation's collective childhood memories anyway. Wait, I take that back. The only person I would completely trust with my favorite book series is Michel Gondry. So you guys should to work on it together. Mmkay, good talk.

Last but not certainly not least, I present to you one of my all-time favorite animations: Procrastination, an unassuming masterpiece that perfectly captures how it feels to resist productivity at all costs. This is Johnny Kelly's graduation film from the Royal College of Art in 2007 and while it might not have anything to do with the science-of-art or art-of-science, I trust in your abilities to figure out how it's relevant.

Aaaaaand that's my cue.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Ozzy Osbourne Gets His Genetic Code Sequenced

"I was curious. Given the swimming pools of booze I've guzzled over the years—not to mention all of the cocaine, morphine, sleeping pills, cough syrup, LSD, Rohypnol…you name it—there's really no plausible medical reason why I should still be alive. Maybe my DNA could say why."

Looks like pretty flawless logic to me.
Thank you Ozzy, for your dedicated contributions to science and mankind.

You can read the full article on Scientific American where they interview one of the co-founders of the company in charge of genetic analysis. They talk dopamine, metabolism and the presence of "rare genetic variants." The interviewee actually does a pretty solid job of answering questions clearly intended for the CSI generation. FYI kids: Analyzing genetics is friggin' hard-- you can't just dump someone's DNA into a machine and have it spit out all predispositions for illnesses, character traits and the "secrets" to their existence. YAKAWOW!

Friday, October 15, 2010


Observation number one: It is surprisingly easy to get from Oakland airport to the Haight-Ashbury district. Yes, I went from bus to train to another bus and walked a total of about 2 miles but it was ridiculously easy to do so. I didn't realize public transportation could be so available, useful, and tourist-friendly. Weird.

Observation number two (brought to you by Mr. Timothy Faust, Master Fusion Food Finder): You can shove literally anything into a flour tortilla and call it a burrito. Don't think I'm complaining about these flexible semantics though, I'm devouring them. We started with a spicy Korean bbq kimchi&pork burrito and ended the night with a Curry Up Now Green Monster delight. MulticultralWIN.

Observation number three: This has absolutely nothing to do with San Francisco and everything to do with what goes through my head when I'm alone for too long. So let's just say, studying for the GRESubject psych test has left a fair amount of buzzwords swirling around my working memory. I first noticed this when I brought up Kandel's experiments on the sea-slug aplysia in the middle of a conversation because I genuinely thought it was relevant. It wasn't. But anyhow, as I sit here sippin' my second cafe au lait of the day, I'm imagining what a coffeeshop conversation with John B. Watson would be like were he around. He'd probably point out that drinking coffee is part of a multi-reinforcement model with both primary positive (the energy, euphoria and overall warm tastiness) and primary negative (the headaches, ohtheheadaches!) reinforcement. Add in the common traits of free wifi and a chill place to sit around and you've even got some variable-schedule secondary positive reinforcements. Word. And now you know! (and knowing is half the battle)

Observation number four: Wandering around alone outside is officially my most favorite pastime ever. But who am I kidding, we all already knew this. There's just something so awesomely meaningful about journeys powered solely by your rhythmic footfalls- uphills, downhills, aroundabaout hills, through parks, under trees. Suddenly everything becomes a great purposeful metaphor for life in general and as Mr. Tom Wolfe would say "it's phony goddamnit it... but mysto..."

Observation number five: It is fucking GORGEOUS outside. And that's all I've got, folks.

Now back to working on my grad school apps. Spoiler alert: Berkeley's statement of purpose begins: "I would like to be a part of your program so that please don't make me ever leave here ever"

Thursday, October 14, 2010

It's phony goddamnit...but mysto...

"They mean it. Everything in everybody's life is...significant. And everybody is alert, watching for meanings. And the vibrations. There is no end of vibrations. But anyway, this talk just flows. Everyone is picking up on the most minute incident as if they are metaphors for life itself. Everybody's life becomes more fabulous, every minute, than the most fabulous book. It's phony goddamn it...but mysto...and after awhile it starts to infect you, like an itch, roseola.

There is also a lot about games. The straight world outside, it seems, is made up of millions of people involved, trapped in games they aren't even aware of."

"...Now I'm doing it again, ah, that amiable itch, I just extracted a metaphor, a piece of transcendental bullshit from this freaking toothbrush case."

-Tom Wolfe
Electric Koolaid Acid Test

I think I'm going to start posting awesome quotes here as a way to keep them all in one spot without *heaven forbid* overloading my Facebook info.