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: Jokes And The Unconscience: Misunderstanding number one:

"You're it. You're me. You're what I've got. Like in that song."
"I don't know that song."
"What I've Got. I think that's the name of the song. Something about a microphone."
"That's 'Where It's At'."

And another misunderstanding, less because someone takes a particular type of joke badly than because I make that joke rather badly.

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(2) : The Other James Bond: Casino Royale is on Hulu to watch for free. Not the 21st century one, the Peter Sellers/Orson Welles/Woody Allen/Ursula Andress/David Niven/Joseph Heller/Billy Wilder/&c. 1967 version. Leonard & I are about two-thirds through and this is the strangest film I've seen this year. Also, bespectacled 1967 Peter Sellers is hott and resembles Joe W.

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(3) : Silliness: While talking with Anne & Jane last night about that Buffy/Edward slash (sort of) video, we agreed: when you see a vampire, you stake him! Don't they teach that in health class anymore? Oh, no, the Bush Administration was all, "just don't invite them in, it must be your fault" and "we'll give you a cross necklace and a silver ring to wear, you'll be fine." Free stakes in schools, I say!

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: First: I'm in Boston for a couple of days, co-working with my colleague Andres Salomon, a.k.a. dilinger. He's been hacking on oFono on Collabora's dime, and last night's 0.4 release included work by Andres to add support for HTC G1 (the Dream) modem devices.

The oFono project is trying to be a well-designed interface to all the cell phone goodies -- texting, making cell phone calls, etc. Developers will be able to integrate their applications with the oFono architecture. With Andres's work, oFono now has its first working full-featured (voice calls + SMS) driver on a handset.

In case this interests you: Andres has uploaded a Debian package for oFono -- you should see it wend its way to the public soon. The future will also include a Telepathy Connection Manager for oFono; stay tuned.

Update: package accepted.

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: *collapse in a heap*: Back from Boston/Somerville/Cambridge. Thanks to Kirk, Andres, Mika and Mako, Randall and Derek, Jed, Julia and Moss for your socializing and hospitality!

If I move to The Other Cambridge, I won't be able to go to Boston as often, nor to say, "hey, I guess I'll stay in Boston an extra six hours and take a later bus home." Then again, if I move, maybe that'll force me to allocate extra Boston-will-be-unexpectedly-fun time up front and set up trips of the proper duration.


(1) : Not Too Much Food After All: Yesterday we had one of two 30th birthday parties for Leonard, months late. Thanks to all who came!

I am sort of out of practice at nine-hour parties. I used to think that every gathering of geeks eventually looked at YouTube. Now I think it's Cake Wrecks.

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: Three Great Marketing Moves:

  1. Leonard and I attended a preview screening of the Coen Brothers' film The Man Who Wasn't There and got a promotional comb. We still have and use it, several moves later.
  2. I was chary of jumping into Battlestar Galactica without seeing the miniseries and all the episodes in order. Then one day, at the cash register at Midtown Comics, I saw a stack of free DVDs. Battlestar Galactica: The Story So Far. The iTunes store gave it away for free, too. I watched the clip montage summary and got sucked in, and from then on watched each new episode
  3. My colleague Thomas Thurman is blogging a tutorial on developing applications for the Nokia N900 smartphone.
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(6) : Travel: Tonight Leonard and I leave for two weeks in England. We'll be staying in a flat in Cambridge to see whether we enjoy living there, and I'll be working alongside my colleagues at Collabora headquarters. I'm too tired to be nervous yet.


: Arrived: We're in London on a gorgeous day. I now consistently sleep through plane takeoffs and landings. I need to do the SIM dance so I have a working cell phone here. The new Collabora website is up including tons of text I wrote. Off to eat.


(1) : Wintour Guide: I watched and enjoyed The September Issue with Elisa (who pseudoblogs as The Mad Fashionista and with whom I watch Project Runway). Some brief thoughts:

The September Issue is an office comedy ("comedy" in the sense that no one dies and the issue successfully comes out). And it's a portrait of a power couple. Editor-in-chief Anna Wintour and creative director Grace Coddington have worked together for decades, each admiring the other's talents but fairly relentless in the battle to pursue her own artistic vision. The creative tension between forward-looking Wintour and history-mining Coddington drives Vogue and the film. This film passes the Bechdel Test by leaps and bounds. It's lovely to watch unapologetically powerful women and learn how they use their power.

Coddington is marvelously resourceful in using any leverage or opportunities she finds. She gives lots of forthright-seeming interviews to the documentarians, so she gets to appear quite a lot in the film (contrast Wintour, whose famous reserve only goes away when she's at home with her daughter). Coddington asks Wintour for a larger budget for a project in front of the camera crew, and later grins that Wintour is more lenient on funds when she's on camera. And, most mischieviously, she gets the cameraman to appear in an inventive photo shoot for Vogue, and explicitly tells us that capturing and using him on film is a bit of revenge. Subverting their gaze and getting a witty, pretty spread is a nice twofer.

The film chronicles the development of the 2007 September issue of Vogue, which explains why everyone in the film is acting like the economy's fine. But even two years ago, was Vogue setting trends and making waves? Coddington credits Wintour with integrating celebrity culture into fashion culture faster than other mags did, but seventy years ago film stars' fashion choices got copycatted all over. Current events in fashion don't get discussed much, either; The September Issue doesn't mention blogs, or Project Runway, or Lucky, or counterfeit goods.

But there is a historical subtext in the film, a subtext that comes closest to the surface when Coddington stands motionless before elaborate Versailles gardens. The gardens are expensive and elaborate and required not just a wealthy patron but an entire edifice to support them (Si Newhouse is to Wintour as Wintour is to Coddington). Each photo shoot that Coddington orchestrates is as beautiful as a blossom. But any individual fashion that Coddington captures in her Vogue spreads is as ephemeral as a blossom. The gardens are still there, and still magnificent, and what are you doing that will last centuries?

Sherwood Anderson writes in Winesburg, Ohio of thoughts of mortality: "He knows that in spite of all the stout talk of his fellows he must live and die in uncertainty, a thing blown by the winds, a thing destined like corn to wilt in the sun." I reread bits of Winesburg the other day, and remembered that the really scary thing about that last image is the sun's betrayal.

Coddington calls herself a romantic. She loves old gardens and 1920s styles. And she remembers what got shot for a previous issue but didn't run, and notices when Wintour cuts a few spreads from the coming issue that represent USD$50,000 worth of work. She must know that she works for an enormous, ridiculous edifice. She must know that it's unsustainable, that her art form requires resources that only monarchies and this historically anomalous corporate media system can bring to bear. Anna and Coddington and Condé Nast are in a symbiosis to perpetuate a grand, dying art.

"High fashion" is a niche, like opera, regimented gardens, country dancing, &c., and getting niche-ier. Wintour says fashion is about what's next; does she know? The September Issue doesn't say.

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: Momentum Is A Kind Of Stability: Changed the timezone I'm blogging from, finally. I should make very quick summaries of some travel days before I completely lose track...

Friday: arrived in Cambridge, massive lunch with coworkers, worked some, started settling into our rented flat. Saturday: discovered Waitrose (pronounced "Way-Trose"), England's answer to Whole Foods; coworkers took us punting on a gorgeous late summer afternoon; coworkers then led us to CB2, where I ate perfectly nice pasta and later discovered that taking leftovers to go really is new to Britain (tomatoey oil oozed out of the makeshift foil envelope and into my shoulderbag). Sunday: worked a bit, rented ("hired") a bike, and rode said bike to some coworkers' houses for socializing & Aronofsky's The Fountain, then home. First time I've biked in years, I think. My steering is shaky still, but Cambridge is very bike-friendly and I'm not worried.

Smaller observations go into my identi.ca stream (syndicated on Twitter).


: Still Alive: I'm in Cambridge, busy, a little tired. Will post substantively once I feel caught up on work.


(2) : Blinglish: My last full day of work here in Cambridge, UK. I wish Leonard hadn't fallen ill. About a week after plane flights he tends to get an annoying sinus thing for a few days. Maybe we should just plan for that and not bother making plans for those spots on the calendar. He's mostly better now...just in time to come back this week.

Yesterday I felt stupid and slow all day...until I borrowed some headphones and listened to a remix of Will Smith singing "Wild Wild West", whereupon I cheered up immediately and could work.

We're staying in a studio apartment, and it will be great to go back to a 1-bedroom. I need music, sunlight, food, drink when I get up and want to work, and it drives me nuts to tiptoe around a sleeping Leonard.

(And zippy net access at home; that will be such the relief after this mobile broadband dongle nonsense.)

I realize this sounds like complain complain complain. Honestly it's a nice flat and my stay in Cambridge has been pretty good. I'm just wrung out because I've been angry/wistful/resentful/harried/depressed for a fair portion of the trip, and this surfaces in the guise of petty complaints.


: In-Flight Edutainment: Back in New York.

There is (she said, after the third or fifth viewing of Mamma Mia!, all onboard aircraft) some If They Would Just behavior in Mamma Mia!. I think when I'm on land I have the proper critical distance or uncritical adoration of genre conventions in movie musicals, but when I'm above the Atlantic I actually think, if only they would just talk to each other about their secret worries. Newsflash, Sumana.

Easy Virtue went the opposite direction: these people are all speaking their subtexts, I thought, then saw in the end credits that it's based on a play by Noel Coward. Also viewed an ep of the American The Office, which sort of triangulates on obviousness & subtlety in a way I'm too fuzzy-headed to articulate at the moment.

American Airlines's in-flight entertainment offerings do not include The Big Bang Theory, contrary to custom.


(1) : We Already Know The Title Of His Management Tips Book: I used to watch Project Runway identifying with the contestants. Now I watch and think, "Tim Gunn is really good at phrasing criticism in a way that's likely to get across to the designer. I want to be that kind of manager."

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(1) : Adventure!: Exciting international family news: Susie, John, Maggie, and Dalton will spend the second half of 2010 in Bangalore! I hope they get to hang out with my other family there enough that we grow our family in-joke supply substantially.


(3) : Random TMBG Appreciation: While I was in Cambridge, my colleague Travis reminded me that They Might Be Giants' new album Here Comes Science was out (Booga Booga's glowing review had already jazzed me up for it), and he recommended the DVD. I watched a few of its music videos on YouTube ("I Am A Paleontologist", "Meet The Elements", "Science Is Real") and suggested strongly to Leonard that we get the CD/DVD set.

"It might not be premature to say that 'I Am A Paleontologist' is the best song, ever, of any length, genre, or planetary origin," I said, even after he'd ordered. But it's probably premature.

It arrived yesterday, and I'm glad it did. Because I woke up far too early (jet lag), did nearly a full day's work by 1pm, took a nap, and woke up siiiiiiiiick. Chamomile tea, fizzy lemon drink, and the Here Comes Science DVD (followed by a repeat viewing of most of Gigantic: A Tale of Two Johns, the TMBG documentary, plus its bonus music videos) were just what I needed. I enjoyed Here Comes Science thoroughly, but that's kind of obvious, so some further thoughts on Gigantic:

Gigantic has no mention of the Animaniacs videos for "Particle Man" and "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)." I wonder what proportion of their current cohort of fans first heard them via those videos; I know I did. Gigantic does however feature some lovely self-mockery by Linnell & Flansburgh, including a comment by Linnell on what happens when you've been around so long that your first fans are now in positions where they can commission work from you: I guess we're reaching that sort of Mark Twain late period, when he was the plaything of the rich. Also Linnell mentions Trotsky twice (and I haven't even checked the commentary track yet).

Oh, and raanve, your user icon finally clicked for me!


: Intertainment: John Joseph Adams at Tor.com led me to Slaughter of the Bluegrass, which completely made my day when I needed it. "Punish My Heaven" is also available as MP3. Slaughter of the Bluegrass is a bluegrass cover band that does metal music, which fits my cheering-up music criteria perfectly. What is it about Swedes?

The Hayseed Dixie cover of Green Day's "Holiday" is fun, too. And people who like Slaughter of the Bluegrass might also like Margot Leverett and the Klezmer Mountain Boys.

If you are like me and wish there were cross-genre covers of all your favorite songs, but Microsoft Songsmith seems a blunt instrument, Wii Music has options to arrange *any* of its songs in several different styles, like Hawaiian, Jazz, Electronic, &c.

Still sick. Rereading Y: The Last Man. Watched Danny Boyle's tearjerker Millions, will probably watch Airplane! this afternoon for the first time (John Stange gave it to me when he found out I'd never seen it).


: Buy In Bulk And Save: "I think my case of the Mondays arrived a day late." "Well, your first step should be to stop ordering Mondays by the case. Most of us just take one dose a week."

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: Rubbernecking: One reason for Mondayness: reading other people's family memoirs.


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