Monday, February 28, 2011
"No te metas a mi Facebook," por Esteman (Colombia) is that great combination of catchy and annoying that makes a summer hit:
"Que te borro del feisbuh" (viral hit in Spain)
Love song, SMS style by David Guapo, "Amor actualizado"
Not a song, but and ad for a book about Facebook (called FaceBOOM) in Argentina:
Another video where the online is made literal IRL is an episode about Facebook from a series that started out online and then got picked up by TV in Spain "Que vida más triste" (QVMT). Great for learning colloquial Spanish!
Sunday, February 27, 2011
So here is my catch-up list:
#6 Red Riding: In the Year of Our Lord 1980 (dir: James Marsh)
#7 Red Riding: In the Year of Our Lord 1983 (dir: Anand Tucker)
I finished up the Red Riding trilogy of films on Netflix. Each films had a different director and a different film stock, but the sum of the parts was riveting. I went out and looked for the books by David Peace the films were inspired by, and found that he has written all his novels while living in Japan for the last thirteen years; his latest books are set in Tokyo during the Occupation after WWII. I've now read two of them.
#8 Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work (dirs. Ricki Stern, Anne Sundberg)
This documentary about a year in the life of then 70-year old comedianne may not make you like her any more, but it certainly is engrossing for its portrait of a woman who broke into a men's field, paving the way for others, and who works incredibly hard. I ended up with some respect for her, even as I still dislike the style of comedy she practices (it's too much like some the boys' for my taste). The film itself, as a documentary portrait, is quite good, but was overlooked by the Oscars, of course.
#9 Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control (dir. Errol Morris)
I want to see all of Errol Morris's films eventually, so I started with this one. I can't recommend it enough. Here's a review by A.O. Scott from the New York Times:
#10 Another Year (dir. Mike Leigh)
This one we saw in the cinema, and it was one of the best films of the year, in my mind. This absolutely lovely review is a great way to understand the qualities of the film:
#11 Ondine (dir. Neal Jordan)
While not one of Neal Jordan's best films, this is still a gorgeously filmed, enjoyable movie (see Colin Covert's review) not least for the sea and land that is Ireland's coast. I must go back!
#12 Rashomon (dir. Akira Kurosawa)
I'd seen this in the movie theater when I was a teenager, and was creeped out by the scenes where a medium channels the murdered samurai to tell his own story, but I wanted to see it again because I was reading David Peace's Tokyo: Occupied City, which uses some of the structure of Rashomon to bring in various voices recounting a crime.
#13 Even the Rain (También la lluvia, dir. Iciar Bollain)
While this film may seem overly didactic to some, I loved it. With a screenplay by Paul Laverty, whose work with Ken Loach has always been politically challenging (Carla's Song, Bread and Roses, The Wind that Shakes the Barley), it is an absolutely tremendous meditation on colonialism, then and now, and a brilliant portrayal of the "guerra del agua" or water wars in Cochabamba, Bolivia in 2000. The scenes of popular mobilization, of crowds occupying the city and blockading the roads, of police repression, of seeking a family member victim of violence during the crackdown, are all doubly significant in light of what has been going on in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Libya in these past weeks: "people power" is an incredible force, and the courage it takes to put your body on the line when faced with well-armed troops is incredible.
The overlay of contemporary neo-liberal colonialism on the stories of Columbus, Fray Bartolomé de las Casas, and Fray Antón de Montesinos, and the recreation of scenes of the Spaniards' horrific treatment of the Taínos, work extremely well. One of the best scenes is most powerful for what it does not portray; when the film's director Sebastian tries to get the women extras to enact drowning their children to escape the Spaniards' huge dogs (with the help of dolls), the women simply refuse. It helps that the cast is uniformly brilliant. Gael García Bernal will be more well-known to American audiences, but Luis Tosar (who was so convincing in Bollaín's Te doy mis ojos) is the core of the film, in tandem with Juan Carlos Aduviri who plays Daniel/Hatuey, a local man who is cast as as the Taíno hero Hatuey and who is also a leader in the struggle over water rights. Their scenes together are incredibly powerful.
Here's an interview with Paul Laverty that I love for his accent alone!
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Lately, we have been watching a six-part series called Wild China, filmed for the BBC's Science and Nature series. It was filmed in HD, and combines classic wild-life nature documentary with glimpses into a region's history and customs.
This video clip compiles some of the time-lapse photography, including an amazing sequence of bamboo growing. It looks like an alien creature when it comes out of the ground!
Sunday, February 20, 2011
Saturday, February 19, 2011
Thinking of the Hapsburges makes me immediately start humming arias from the Verdi opera "Don Carlo" which I had not remembered for years! I used to live with B. who was a lyric baritone, pursuing a career in performing art song and opera (when we ended our relationship, many many years ago, I gave him all my opera records...). Over the years, B. performed in a number of regional productions, sometimes taking the bass parts because there aren't that many true bass voices out there. Some time in the mid-eighties, he sang in the chorus of a San Jose production of Verdi's opera Don Carlo, starring one of his favorite singers, the "basso" Cesare Siepi. I just learned that Siepi died last year at the age of 87. I'm so glad I had the opportunity to see him perform, in an opera that gave him the opportunity to show the amazing qualities of his voice and technique of "basso cantante."
As is often the case in operas, the plot has little to do with actual history. Here, the Emperor Don Carlo sings a melancholy song about how his young wife never really loved him: "Ella giamai m'amó" (she never loved me). This performance by Cesare Siepi from 1970, reveals the lovely qualities of his voice, echoed by the cello.
This recording, made 15 years later in 1985 (when Siepi was 72!), which was about the time I heard him sing, highlights the beauty of the strings (sadly,the sound is out of sync with the image). His interpretation is poignant and dignified.
Another favorite part of the opera is the famous "friendship duet" between tenor and baritone voices, with its introductory dialogue, here sung by Sherrill Milnes and Plácido Domingo.
For comparison, here is anolder recording with tenor Jon Vickers and the fabulous Tito Gobbi.
And in other roles, here we have Siepi on stage as Don Giovanni, singing one of Mozart's most lovely songs "Deh, vieni alla finestra."
And in "Le Nozze di Figaro" as Figaro, singing the recitative and aria "Aprite un po gli occhi."
Opera fans seem to like to argue: Who was the best? here is a "cage match" pitting some of the most famous bass/baritone voices against each other in Don Giovanni's "Champagne" aria:
Nine great Don Giovannis sing the famous Champagne aria. Only one will emerge victorious...
In chronological order:
1. Ezio Pinza, cond. Bruno Walter 1942 (live)
2. Tito Gobbi, cond. Wilhelm Furtwängler, 1950 (live)
3. Cesare Siepi, cond. Wilhelm Furtwängler, 1954
4. Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, cond. Ferenc Fricsay, 1959
5. Nicolai Ghiaurov, cond. Carlo Maria Giulini, 1970 (live)
6. Samuel Ramey, cond. Herbert von Karajan, 1987 (live)
7. Thomas Hampson, cond. Nikolaus Harnoncourt, 1989
8. Håkan Hagegård, cond. Arnold Östman, 1990
9. Bo Skovhus, cond. Michael Halasz, 2000
Monday, February 14, 2011
"Wake Up" (with their fan, David Bowie)
"Month of May":
And from their earlier album Funeral:
"Neon Bible" in an elevator in Paris, with paper-ripping:
Thursday, February 10, 2011
"Farm boy" invents high-tech toolsHere is a longer article that explains more about the biochemistry that Adam's work will help us understand, and about how the microscope actually works.
Posted: Friday, Feb 4th, 2011
South Dakota State University assistant professor Adam Hoppe has won a National Science Foundation career award to help him continue his work building a high-tech microscope to offer unprecedented resolution for observing the biochemical machinery at work in living cells.
SDSU scientist-researcher at work on new type of microscope
A young man who grew up tinkering on backyard inventions with his father and grandfather has moved on to bigger challenges.
Minnesota farm boy Adam Hoppe is now at work in Brookings, building a better microscope for studying proteins in living cells.
A major grant from the National Science Foundation is funding the South Dakota State University researcher's work building a high-tech microscope that will allow scientists to make movies of unprecedented resolution to show the biochemical machinery at work inside living cells.
Now an assistant professor Adam in South Dakota State's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Hoppe has won an NSF CAREER award, awarded to new or young investigators through a competitive application process.
Researchers are allowed three attempts to get one of these grants. Hoppe, who grew up on a farm near Crookston, Minn., landed it on his first try for his ongoing efforts to develop new instrumentation to study protein-to-protein interactions inside the living cell.
Hoppe's $785,000 grant not only does cutting-edge science, it also grooms the next generation of scientists. In addition to building the new instrument according to his own design -- actually refining and enlarging the instrument he's already designed -- Hoppe will carry out a three-part educational plan. That includes training graduate students and also bringing high school teachers in to get real-life laboratory experience that can help them to the classroom. The third part of that educational component is to use the Internet to disseminate information about the research and explain to a lay audience why it's important.
An excerpt helps us understand the key insight that made this work possible:
Professor Joel Swanson, who supervised Hoppe’s Ph.D. work at the University of Michigan and later kept him on as a postdoctoral researcher and then as a faculty researcher, said Hoppe made a key contribution by realizing that scientists were discarding a potential source of information.
“He is an extraordinary scientist. The methods he invented when he was in Michigan transformed our research program. Prior to his work, labs could see where protein-protein interactions were happening inside cells, but they could not measure the magnitudes of those interactions,” Swanson said. “Adam's chief initial insight was that the fluorescence others were removing as background noise contained information about the number of interacting molecules inside the cell. With that realization, he devised mathematical processing methods for calibrating microscopes and quantifying the chemistries inside the cells.”
Wednesday, February 09, 2011
Things start to move at a faster clip. Can I maintain the serenity of these two corgis on their treadmill?
Or will I slip off while someone snickers, as is the case with these kitties?
Collaboration on my treadmill can be fun!
I would love to learn this routine.
Monday, February 07, 2011
Mona tells how she was contacted by a young man Wael Ghonem, before Jan 25, and how she and many others tried to find out what happened to him after he was kidnapped by the police and held for 12 days, blindfolded. The police denied that they had him. Today, he was released, and came straight to the studio to tell everyone what had happened, so that they could see that he is alive.
His interview on Dream TV in Egypt, is now circulating with with English subtitles. After he was released He was kidnapped by the security forces, two days after Jan 25 uprising began, and has spent the last 12 days blindfolded, while nobody knew for sure where he was. Here, thanks to the volunteer translators of Alive in Egypt, using Universal Subtitles, we can understand the words behind his urgent voice, his tears for those who have been killed in the last two weeks. Wael Ghonem is a young Google excective, who was the administrator of the Facebook page that served as the gathering place and call to action for those who turned out on Jan 25.
You can see all three parts of the interview, with closed-caption translations, on YouTube now. Part 1 , Part 2: and Part 3:
Sunday, February 06, 2011
Wednesday, February 02, 2011
For those of us who have never worked in a lab, "Western Blot" refers to a lab technique for mapping proteins in a tissue sample (I think!).
Translations of the Chinese characters on the tubes (from the YouTube comments):
The lab fashions are priceless!