Saturday, March 31, 2007

Peaceful Warrior

When I heard last year that Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman was being made into a movie, I didn't know whether to be apprehensive or excited. Unfortunately, it had a limited release and completely flopped -- because apparently nobody who reviewed it actually grokked it -- so I didn't get to find out. An interesting thing is going on now, though. They've decided to try re-releasing it, and they're also giving away free tickets for opening weekend (this weekend) as a different kind of marketing tactic, hoping it will then spread by word of mouth. (Story here, free tickets here.) So this is me doing my part for my free ticket.

Go see this movie if you enjoy: Buddhism, personal development, conscious living, "new-age" metaphysics, men's gymnastics, UC Berkeley, or, heck, gas stations. If you want to know more about it than that, go read about the book on or something, 'cause I'm bad at movie reviews. However, I will say that I ended up being quite pleased by the movie overall. It is by no means the equal of the book, but I think it's really about the best adaptation one could expect of it. While a lot was left out, they also added some scenes, most which surprised me by how good and "in character" they were.

Mom went to see it with me, and she was a bit worried because of what happened the last time I took her to a movie. The previews weren't helping, either. Apparently the theater had no idea who their audience was (or didn't have anything to fit us). Three in a row of the many previews were for The Condemned, Shrek 3, and Spiderman 3. Bit of a mix, that. Once the movie started, though, she realized it was safe and started trusting me again.

I recommend the book more than anything, of course (and as usual). But do go see the movie, too. There aren't enough movies like this around, so filmmakers need all the encouragement we can give them.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Rocky Road to Dublin

I get to go on my first business trip ever next month: I'll be spending the latter half of April in Ireland! I'll be working at our office in Dublin for two weeks, but then I'm giving myself a few extra days of vacation time afterwards. So I've switched modes a bit from thinking about Sweden and Finland, but I'll get back to that when I return.

Needless to say, I'll be taking an instrument (probably my mandolin) and scouting for music wherever I can. I welcome all suggestions.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Out of Sync

I got a new video iPod yesterday. Tripling the types of media I can keep on there is pretty cool, but I'm not sure I quite like the management options for it all. Or perhaps I just haven't yet figured out how to make it do what I want it to do.

I added all my photos to the iPod but then found out that I had a new, 4GB+ folder of iPod cached images or something like that on my hard drive. That's not the kind of space I want it taking up. Heck, I've got more free space on my iPod right now that my computer; it should put all it's cached files there or something. Anyway, I deleted that and also unchecked the "sync photos" option for the iPod. It seems to be okay with leaving the existing photos on the iPod in spite of that, which is what I want. I'll just have to go through the whole conversion/caching process again the next time I want to sync up my photos. So that's kind of annoying, but I not too bad. (And now that I think of it, I should have just copied that cache folder to the iPod disk space, and copied it back for the next sync, rather than just deleting it. Oh well.)

Syncing movies seems more problematic. I keep most of my music on my computer, and most of my movies on my external hard drive. I want music to sync automatically, because there's so much of it that I don't want to keep track of what's new and needs adding. But I want to sync the movies manually, so I can just add new ones without it deleting old ones (because I've removed them from my iTunes library and put them back on my external HD). But iTunes makes both music and movies follow the same manual/automatic setting and I can't separate them. I've played around with the different syncing options (like only sync selected movies) but that doesn't seem to do the trick.

Has anyone figured out a good way to set this up? The only workaround I can think of is keeping a separate folder on one of my drives just for iPod movies, then copying them in to iTunes each time before I sync up, then removing them again. Kind of a pain. Otherwise it's a matter of having more stuff on my computer's HD than I want, or less stuff on my iPod.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Coastline Session

I went down to Santa Cruz last night to have dinner with Jim and then go to the Irish session at the Coastline Brewery. There were a lot of Santa Cruz folks I haven't seen for a very long time and it really kind of threw me back to high-school era memories. George's surprise when he saw me was particularly fun. It made me really happy to play with people like him and Laurie and Lars and Jim again. It was also good for me just to get to a different session. I do enjoy Patrick's sessions up here (when I manage to go) but it's also easy to get stuck in a musical rut when you always play at the same place. Hearing different people and different tunes is a good change. I need to try to make over-the-hill efforts to get down to the Santa Cruz session more often.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Open Letter to Brave Combo

Congress of Vienna Dear Brave Combo,

I had the inimitable pleasure of dancing to your music when you were out here at Stanford a couple of years ago. I've also gotten considerable enjoyment (and dancing!) out of all of your recordings. In short: I'm a fan. With that as my meager excuse, I would like to be presumptuous for a moment and ask a favor of you.

There is a dance that is very popular out here in the Bay Area dance community, called The Congress of Vienna. A fine little choreography to a lovely piece of music. However, by "popular" I mean that at certain dance events playing it twice per evening is a mandate. This has been going on for at least seven years, since that was about when I first learned the choreography. At this point, the poor dance desperately needs revitalizing. Various people around here, myself included, have considered re-choreographing it, but I think what it really needs is new music to shake things up a bit.

This is where you (I hope) come in. I've fantasized for a long time about what a Brave Combo version of The Congress of Vienna would be like. Your Box of Ghosts album especially inspires this, since I love how you take Mozart and Chopin and others, turn them on their heads, and make fun dance music out of them. That's what we need here, and if you were to record this, I would be eternally grateful. I've transcribed the basic melody and chords for you, and from there I'll just say: go nuts with it. Find something new in it that I can't find on my own after seven years of dancing to it. And imagine yourselves giving a shot of new energy to an entire dance community.

What's in this for you? Well, I hoping you'll just plain old enjoy the tune and have fun playing with it, but I should really make a better offer than that. So I'll say that if you record this tune, I will personally buy ten of your CDs and distribute them to people who have never heard your music before. And you will, of course, get full credit wherever I can get the recording played for dances.

So what do you think?



I've said it before and I'll say it again: It would be the height of awesomeness to have an alternate recording of The Congress of Vienna by Brave Combo. So I'm finally getting around to writing this up and sending it to them. Anyone want to second me on this? And/or help create an alternate choreography? Leave a comment!

Sunday, March 04, 2007

A Grandson Clock

Cogsworth I got my very own "Pa clock" yesterday. Around Christmas time Pa let me choose from a number of different clocks he had recently gotten at an auction, and I chose Cogsworth here. Pa just finished fixing and restoring it and delivered it yesterday. It's about a hundred years old, and German. A lovely little clock, and I like the color of the wood and the design. But my favorite thing about it is the chime on the hours. It's very mellow, and sort of comforting.

Pa's Clock Room All my life, clocks have been associated with Pa, and he's always had a "clock room" full of them in various stages of (dis)repair. Always fun to listen to that room around the changing of the hours. This picture, with Pa and Lacey in the clock room, is one of my favorites.