Monthly Archives: August 2007

much less than six degrees

i am continually astonished by the connectedness of human beings. the notion of six degrees of separation is well-documented and popularized, and an explosion of work on the theory of networks has shed more light on the phenomenon. so, it’s not so much that’s i’m surprised we are all so connected. rather, i find it interesting the connections that exist in my little social world.

just yesterday, i was writing about the new album by Harold Budd and Robin Guthrie. i like to include links in my posts to other interesting reviews or tidbits, and i happened to find robin guthrie’s blog. oddly enough, it was hosted on the domain run by my wedding photographer. i contacted him to ask what was going on, and he confirmed that he’s good friends with guthrie, having built his first web site back in the day.

so, my wedding photographer is good friends with a famous musician whom i happen to like very much, and i never would have known it, were it not for the internet. you can argue (somewhat ineffectively) about whether or not the internet creates connections, but at the very least, it provides a way to expose the ones already there.
me and robin guthrie: one degree of separation. very odd, indeed. anybody else got any interesting "six degrees" stories related to the internet?

harold budd and robin guthrie

harold budd and robin guthrie
the new pair of albums by harold budd and robin guthrie are called before the day breaks and after the night falls. they are precisely what you would expect from this duo, given their past work, and that’s a good thing, for the most part.

i will admit to being a 4AD and shoegazer fanboy. i have been entranced ever since the first albums by slowdive and lush, ever since i first listened to the dreaminess of the cocteau twins and was spellbound by clan of xymox. i’ve been an easy mark when it comes to the kind of thing created by budd and guthrie.

two of robin guthrie’s solo releases (imperial and continental) have both been on my heavy rotation list for awhile. they both satisfy as ambient guitar soundscapes, although my preference is for continental (which he titled based on his extensive travels in the US and Europe).

this new work with budd is a perfect fusion of guthrie’s solo work and albums like Budd’s lovely thunder. in my mind, these albums are a great manifestation of brian eno’s definition of ambient music: that which can be "actively listened to with attention or as easily ignored, depending on the choice of the listener." in this case, ignoring or listening both produce the same pleasurable result.

docrpm on flickr

it’s been a long time coming, but i have finally moved all of my photos to flickr. my rationale for not doing it before is a little murky, i admit…maybe i just felt like it was going to be a lot of work (it was and continues to be) and that my web site was good enough (it wasn’t – flickr is way better).

so, visit docrpm at flickr…enjoy the past like you’ve never seen it before! get the latest and greatest as photos go up in real time, as opposed to months after something happens! now bookmarkable and easily browseable! and, if you act now, you might win a free pony!

where the sun doesn’t shine

that’s where the AMC Loews Sony Metreon 452-screen-megaplex-built-like-a-bad-midwest-airport-oh-and-
did-i-mention-with-an-IMAX-theater can stick it, as far as i’m concerned.

last night we went to see Sunshine, the latest effort by Danny Boyle (of Trainspotting and 28 Days Later fame). i managed to corral a group of interested friends, and we headed over to the Metreon (which, incidentally, was the only theater in San Francisco showing this film). we stopped for a nice dinner at Out the Door in the Westfield center, then made our way to the theater, our hearts all atwitter at the thought of a big sci-fi epic.

our first disappointment was that it was not on the IMAX screen (which i resolutely claim was due more to bad information design on Fandango that to my inability to read). this meant nowhere to sit, and since i had anticipated a huge throng of anxious viewers, i figured we’d be camping out for awhile. not so. with an hour to kill and nowhere to hang out, we browsed the Chronicle book section on the ground floor, then headed back upstairs when it was time.

the tiny theater was totally empty; apparently, the film isn’t a big money-maker, as the Metreon has shunted it off into one of the untouchable theaters with screens about the size of my HDTV (which is big, i grant you, but seriously, folks). about 10 minutes before the movie, a few people started filing in, and by screening time, it was a about half full. the lights dimmed, and the previews began, which leads to our second disappointment: crappy previews.

on the third preview for a child fantasy film, we began to get a little suspicious. the theater/marketers seemed to be just a wee bit off in terms of their target demographic. i had expected to be seeing sci-fi horror flick teasers, but i was willing to go with it. after about 15 trailers (okay, it was only 7 or 8), the lights dimmed fully and hearts began to race. the warner brothers logo began to fill the screen (???),  smoke swirling around it in a very kid’s-fantasy-film way (???), the music swelled (“hey wait a second…this sounds familiar”), and then the main title expanded to fill the screen…Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix!!!!

a collective murmur went through the crowd, one that followed a very pregnant pause during which we all reflected on whether or not we were stupid enough to walk into the wrong theater with a film starting at exactly the same time as our desired entertainment. everyone realized that we were right and the theater projectionist was wrong. a number got up and left to find those responsible, and the rest of us waited. after about 5 minutes or so, someone from the theater came and said they had loaded the wrong film, were rethreading the projector, and we’d get started in about 5 minutes, with no more previews.

after what seemed like 20 minutes (but was probably only 10), the film started. the vertical alignment was off, and it was out of focus, but they rectified that quickly enough. a tiny spot filled the screen and grew into our sun, and a voice-over by cillian murphy started. phew…they got the film right. after about 3 minutes, and right at a critical moment in the first scene, the speaker in the upper right of the theater erupted in a wash of high-frequency noise, which at first blush seemed like a sound effect. after the noise began to drown out the dialogue in the next scene, we realized it was a bug, not a feature, and again, people got up to complain. after a good 10 minutes of this noise, the sound was returned to normal, but only after we had missed at least two big scenes in the introduction. another employee from the theater came in and explained to flustered viewers that they would not be restarting the film from the beginning, and if we wanted our money back, we could go to guest services.

at this point i was reminded of the scene in Annie Hall when woody allen and diane keaton go to see a film, and they are 5 minutes late. the film had already started and allen refused to go in, saying it just wasn’t the same. in that instant last night, i empathized with him. we had only missed 10 minutes, but it wouldn’t be the same, so we got up and stomped out of the theater to guest services. they gave us three free passes and refunded our money, which made the books square, as it were, but still left a debt of anger.

in retrospect, i have to say that this episode makes no sense. if they had just restarted the film, they probably wouldn’t have had to refund our money (or at least, not everyone’s money). by giving us free passes, it’s true that they lure us back to the theater for more sales at the concession stand, but at what cost? how many of the people in that theater are going to continue patronizing the Metreon after they cash in their free passes? after so many screw-ups they had a chance to make it right, but they didn’t. so i probably won’t be going back after i cash out, even if it’s the theater of last resort for a film i have to see on the big screen. i’ll bite the cinephile bullet and wait to watch it at home before i give those jerks any more of my money.


facial hair math

i was out to dinner with one of my work clients last night, and realized after awhile that his handlebar mustache bore some interesting relationship to mine. more precisely, if you took a circle beard (aka a van dyke) and removed the mustache, you’d get the form of beard i have (which is apparently the sum of a goatee and a soul patch). so, in other words:

   goatee + handlebar mustache + soul patch = van dyke

men play with this mathematics on their faces a lot, or at least i do. i’m constantly trimming here, reconfiguring there, trying out new formulas to see what works. call it a hobby. a weird one, probably, but still a hobby.

anyway. um. yeah. this information probably falls into the category of "interesting little tidbits you wish you didn’t know about Ryan, but that explain a lot."

trapped in the car by NPR

i get trapped in the car by NPR occasionally. i’ll be driving home, and a particularly compelling piece will come on just as i’m pulling into the driveway. the thought of missing even 30 seconds of the 4-minute piece is excruciating, so i’ll invariably pull into my garage, close the door, and sit there until it’s done, relishing every word.

a few days ago, it was an interview with seth green and matthew sennreich about robot chicken. before that, i think it was david sedaris doing a reading of something on halloween. this american life has gotten me a few times as well.

i can’t think of anything else on the radio that has spawned the same inability to leave the car. i’m not sure what statement that makes about NPR (good programs seems too obvious; it’s more than that) and/or me (obsessive?), but i’ve laughed at myself every time i did it.