Back from black

Simplest solution when an electrical device fails you? Unplug it, then plug it back in. Duh. All the same lights on my cable modem are still on, but now it works.
Quick recap of some random events in my life. Last Saturday morning, I woke up at around 7:00am (correction, my roommate woke me up) and I went out with thousands of crazy people to wait in line for the Mariners game which wasn't scheduled to start until 1:05pm. Why, you might ask, would you do something like that on a Saturday morning?
Green, baby. Do a search on for "Ichiro bobblehead" and see what comes up. Not too shabby for a silly ceramic doll. Actually, I think I will hang on to mine, as the whole Ichiro story is a pretty amazing one. Someone, though, has to do a case study and try and trace when these things became hot. Maybe Malcolm Gladwell can do a tipping study on this. Completely wacky, in the tradition of cabbage patch kids, beanie babies, Tickle Me Elmo. If you own one and the prices on these hit $200 or something, sell immediately. They'll be worth the price of a memory in a few years. That's either a lot or very little depending on what you're in it for.
BTW, I finally saw Ichiro get a hit (3, to be exact) and the Mariners win a game.
While in line, I read from The Bit and the Pendulum. Remember in an earlier blog when I wrote that it's harder to forget than to remember. Turns out it's true! There's a physical explanation for why that's so! Let me see if I can summarize the physics from the book's explanation: Rolf Landauer, an IBM computer physicist, did a study of the idealized limits of computing efficiency. At the time, it was thought that you could build a computer that required no energy to compute, that you could slow down calculations more and more until no friction would be generated and the computer could compute on infinitely. Multiply two numbers, and you don't need to remember the original two numbers, you just need to remember the answer.
What Landauer realized was that the mere act of forgetting the original two numbers requires energy. Any act of forgetting requires energy. Landauer computed that the energy to forget a single bit requires an energy loss roughly equal to the energy possessed by a bouncing molecule.
See, that's why it is so hard to forget certain things, like the girl who got away, the death of your first pet, the loss in your high school sports championship...these are big memories, that cost so much to let go.
Okay, I'm probably butchering the math, but I read about Landauer's principle and it had a beautiful elegance as an explanation. Those points, where math and memory, science and emotion intersect? A beautiful thing.
Saturday afternoon, with my newfound freedom from cycling training, I reconnected with friends. Betina ("Bean") and I went over to check out 24 Hour Fitness, a new health club which had just opened up (I should note, not before I set her to sleep yet again so that she left me sitting on the curb for half an hour--gotta figure out how to be more interesting to her). We ended up signing up as domestic partners to get a family discount. That club reminds me somewhat of Bally's, with their aggressive sales people, but you can't beat the hours. I tend to work out at late hours of the night. Just don the headphones and pump the metal under the fluorescent lamps, viewable by all from the street, through the large windows. Edward Hopper painting Nighthawks today would depict me as such, on the bench press, Bean on the elliptical cycle. Quietly sweating.
I haven't lifted weights in months. Just been cycling like a hamster. Lifted the last two days, and I can't move my arms.
The web presents opportunities for new forms of entertainment. Like the graphic novel Broken Saints. Interesting stuff. True, Flash websites requires plug-ins that not all users have or know how to download, but there are also people who don't have checking accounts and keep all their money in jars under their beds. No reason you have to service them.
You know how people always say "Bom chicka bom bom!" as a linguistic cue to denote:
a) porn film music
b) hanky panky
c) general sexual naughtiness
Well, imagine no longer. Now there's Fluffertrax. Oh yeah.
When's the last time you visited the memepool? Go. You already got your 15 minutes in the gene pool, there's nothing you can do about that now.
Thanks to the fine folks at, you can now figure out where that music comes from the next time you hear a familiar ditty from a movie trailer. For example, I watched the trailer for The Musketeer, then e-mailed Dan Goldwasser of, and about five minutes later he had streamed the trailer and informed me that the music in that trailer was from Plunkett & Macleane. So then I browse over to, listen to the sound clips on RealPlayer, verify the tracks are correct, put the CD in my shopping cart, put the DVD on my Netflix rental list, and an impulse which started when I caught a familiar tune in a trailer in a movie theater (and was later reinforced when Eric told me over a dinner at Cedars that he had seen the trailer and loved the music) turned into potentially a transaction and eventual much listening pleasure in the comforts of my bedroom. Isn't life in the 21st century great?!? Just a few years ago, the identity of that musical melody from the trailer would have haunted me for weeks, fading from my memory eventually, but not before leaving me with a sense of longing and frustration.
I'm all over the place today. For example, this from IMDb studio briefs:
"David Hasselhoff is planning to return to his role as the Knight Rider in what he is calling an "absolutely big feature film," according to the British entertainment website Popcorn. "We made the deal on Friday," said Hasselhoff, who leaped from his TV success with a talking car 15 years ago to even greater success with the syndicated babes-and-brawn series Baywatch. Popcorn, an Internet publication produced by Britain's Carlton Communications, indicated that Hasselhoff is planning to add digital special effects to the Knight Rider movie. "We're talking about doing it a little bit like The Matrix," he said. And the late Edward Mulhare, who played Hasselhoff's boss in the TV series, will be brought back from the dead "as a hologram," the actor said."
Huh? A bit like The Matrix?!? I'm not sure what's scarier, that or the thought of Edward Mulhare as a hologram.
And this, from the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly, the best entertainment magazine out there:
"People don't want to see me having sex... I'm the queen of kiss, foreplay, dissolve.' And then the 'Whoo! Good morning, tiger.'"
--Julia Roberts on the dearth of sex scenes in her movies, on
Entertainment Tonight Online.
Very true.
Also, more than one person has noted that it has been a pretty disappointing summer for movies. Lots of high profile films, but very few good ones. Lots of people ask why there aren't more great movies put out. Two important things to note:
1) It is very difficult to separate art from commerce. Even films deemed to be arthouse films that make it into theaters only do so because someone somewhere thinks it will make money. The fact that any movie gets made, considering many cost well over $100 million, could only happy if an economic question was asked and answered before or soon after the artistic question was broached. Why so many sequels? Risk mitigation. No need to spend lots of money re-branding Jurassic Park or explaining the concept to folks. They know what they're getting. Rush Hour 2? More Chris Tucker wisecracking, Jackie Chan buttkicking. Matrix 2. And 3. American Pie 2. Men in Black 2. Stuart Little 2. Nutty Professor II.
Sure, you can laugh at the success of N Sync, Britney Spears, Who Wants to be a Millionaire, Survivor. Scoff at the lowbrow entertainment. But economically? Makes a ton of sense. Mass entertainment, to appeal to a wide range of people, needs to be simple, viral, annoyingly catchy. The economic model is high volume, low margin (low quality?).
Of course, if you're a lover of fine art--original paintings, black and white silent films, for example--be prepared to pay a premium to find it, experience it, own it. But don't complain. If you truly think it's superior to mass entertainment, it should be worth the cost to you, n'est pas?
How many artists would work for free, really? I've learned one thing in life. Being rich is no guarantee of happiness, but extreme poverty usually leads to suffering of one sort or another.
2) Acting is much better today than in the past. Seriously, watch some really old films. Overacting was part of the art back then. "Why I oughta knock you silly!" is the kind of dialogue common in films back then. Sure, Keanu Reeves is no Laurence Olivier, but he had his equivalents, and then some, back in the day.
Like mind benders, math puzzles? Me too. Take on some smart folks from IBM on these brain twisters.