Category Archives: Random Thoughts

Free Stuff, and really, who doesn’t like that?

I just came across a really cool website called Noise Trade. This is one I think you’re going to enjoy and hopefully spread the word about. It’s a music site where artists can post their albums. All the music is available for download. You have to payment choices: 1) Pay whatever you feel appropriate (in Radiohead sort of way) or 2) Tell three friends about the album. Also, all the music is DRM free. Pretty cool set up, if you ask me.

Most of the music is folk rock or acoustic, but there is definitely something for everyone. The whole thing is sponsored by Paste Magazine, which instantly gives it a bit of credibility as the quality of music hosted. (If you haven’t read Paste, you need to. Think of it as Rolling stone, but actually worth reading. More music, more intelligent. It’ currently my favorite magazine. But that’s a whole other post for another time.) Continue reading

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When you’re right, you’re right. This is not one of those times.

I just read an article over at Lutonaut about going to the movies. Here’s a little tidbit:

i haven’t been inside a movie theater in a while so i don’t know the prices. let’s just say that it costs $8 dollars to see a movie. $8 dollars. $8 f*****g dollars to see one movie once. what are paying for that $8 dollars, aside from the socializing?

* to see it on a big screen.
* to see it when it comes out.

I completely disagree. What are you paying for? You are paying to see a work of art in the way the artist designed it to be seen. It’s the difference between seeing seeing The Last Supper in person versus seeing a photograph of the mural in a book. Can you enjoy both? Yes certainly. Is it the same looking at the actual painting and the book? No in the least.

Are all films great works of art? No, that’s definitely not what I’m saying. Not all movies are worth the price of a ticket, but that’s why we have reviews and film critics. I actually see very few movies in the theater.
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How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

Today is the day of The Bomb. That’s right, sixty-three years ago, outside of Alamogordo, New Mexico, the first atomic bomb was detonated. It was a day that drastically shaped the course of modern history. It was a day that proved just how much man could do. It was a day that gave birth to the end of World War II and to the beginning of the Cold War. It was a truly original event.

I didn’t realize today’s significance until I read a post over at Boing Boing. After witnessing the blast, Robert Oppenheimer, the Father of the Atomic Bomb, quoted the Bhagavad Gita: “If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst at once into the sky, that would be like the splendor of the mighty one. Now I am become Death, destroyer of worlds.” I’ve been thinking about that for the last few hours.

I’m not trying to make a statement as to the morality or correctness of atomic warfare. I simply think it’s worth taking a moment to consider the ramifications of the event that happened sixty-three years ago.

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And we were angry and poor and happy, And proud of seeing our names in print.

So it’s a little late in coming, but I should probably explain why this blog is named The Eighth Art. The name comes from an essay written by Sergei Eisenstein in 1922 in which he argues that Cinema is a new art worthy of its own muse. In the essay, he draws up the image of a ‘Council of Muses’ with Charlie Chaplin, representing the new art of film, entering and sitting in one of the appointed seats.

For those not up on their early twentieth century Soviet film history, Eisenstein was the premier filmmaker in Russia, and is considered the father of film montage. He wrote two massively influential books on film theory, Film Form and The Film Sense. His most famous films are Potemkin and Ivan the Terrible I & II.
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Maybe this world is another planet’s Hell.

So if you’d like to know something strange about me here you go:

I commute to work on the train. I prefer it to driving as it gives me a bit of a walk in the mornings, to and from the station, but more so because I get to spend an extra hour a day reading. This is not the strange part.

I work in Burbank, but live in Santa Clarita, meaning that part of my daily ride takes me through a mile and a half long tunnel. There are no lights in the tunnel, and at the speed the train usually travels on that length of track, it takes over two minutes to come out the other end.

It is daylight when the train enters the tunnel and suddenly everything is pitch black outside the windows. If you look hard enough, you can just barely see the tunnel walls less than a foot from the windows. Because the walls are so close, a heavy, but somewhat muted rushing noise can be heard.

After a few seconds in the tunnel, I begin to feel strange. It’s hard to explain, but I get the feeling that all of us on that train are never going to get off, that we’re going to be riding in that car forever through the dark. It’s a heavy, but not overwhelming sadness; it’s a dull ache, not a stabbing pain.

No one talks, no music is playing, and everyone looks pale and tired under the blue fluorescent lights. I can’t read when I’m in the tunnel. I try, but I keep re-reading the same page over and over with nothing sticking in my mind.

The car rocks slightly as it moves, and every once in a while someone will look around. No one smiles. Somehow I can’t get it out of my head; the tunnel will never end. I’m not claustrophobic, and I’m not afraid. The feeling is one of sadness, of resignation, as if we’ve already been there too long to be afraid anymore. It’s a very odd sensation: knowing that you’ve accepted this fate. It’s more than just a daydream, at least at the time.

Then the train breaks out into the light again, and I’m back. The sun is usually setting at this point, broadcasting golden light that makes everything in the car seem instantly transformed.

I didn’t fully realize all of this until just last night, but I know my mind has been working on this a while. I just thought I’d share.

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It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.

One of the cool things that happens when you buy used books is that you occasionally find something really interesting stuck somewhere in the pages. In the last batch I brought home, one of the books, The Temper of Our Time by Eric Hoffer, had a snippet from another of the author’s works. Here’s what it said:

There are many who find a good alibi far more attractive than an achievement. For an achievement does not settle anything permanently. We still have to prove our worth anew each day: we have to prove that we are as good today as we were yesterday. But when we have a valid alibi for not achieving anything we are fixed, so to speak, for life. Moreover, when we have an alibi for not writing a book, painting a picture, and so on, we have an alibi for not writing the greatest book and not painting the greatest picture. Small wonder that the effort expended and the punishment endured in obtaining a good alibi often exceed the effort and grief requisite for the attainment of a most marked achievement.

I read that and I really started thinking. How many of the things do I cop out on, citing “insurmountable obstacles” that don’t really exist? I don’t want to be that person.

If the book is as good as the scrap stuck in it, it will be incredible.

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Just so you know . . .

I’ve changed my About page from a few lines to something a bit more informative. Check it out.