Wednesday, October 31, 2007

From my old files

A hack dreams of Klimtian Viggo / Viggoesque Klimt.

Beholder II

See here, that odd congregation of flags,
those black dogs vanishing in a haze,
a leaf on a chilled forest floor,
curled trunk, stained tusk, white camisole,
cluttered graffiti on the walls.
These random abstractions,
recent forgeries of the ways of things,
they are what I revere,
the elusive, the fleeting, the evanescent ---
the moment that passes over once, and fades.
You say I take far too many,
that I seem to be in constant vigil
of scenes at the periphery.
Is it some coincidence of memory
that compels, some urge to mark
the ebb and flow of days,
lest they go stale, lay mundane?
And I say, what does it cost to remark on
the lines of this silhouette,
the graceful fall of fabric beside decorated skin,
the eloquence of ghosts dancing, or
an ineffable fleck of pale wings undulating in green?
What is there to remember: a tail, a hand, an ear,
a baby’s foot, dead fish, or calf, pig, or bird,
passing through the desolation of Tamdacht,
disappearing into Chetwood’s otherworldliness,
the bright chaos at Odense, the prospect
of a snowstorm at Te Anau,
even the daily grind in Venice.
It’s all I know to take, how can I disengage?
These are my points of focus, uncertain
exposures now merging in a blur.
See, underneath this assemblage
of traces, evocations, ephemera ---
Wanyánkin ye yo. Look at it:
Miyelo. It is I.
Kholá, it is you.

19 October, 2003

Note. The digital collage was an entry I submitted for a creativity contest at a couple of years ago. For the collage, I drew the lizard, took the swirly light photos, and used a poem I had written the year before for the background text. Beholder II above is that same poem. I won a Viggo Mortensen CD for the collage (or was it a book, I forget). I can't remember if I entered the poem simultaneously for the poetry category. I think I won something for that, too.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Ebben! (Or perhaps I shouldn't have looked it up)

Since my friend Yuan gave me a copy of Cafe del Mar Aria 2, I've loved this aria. I'm not sure how opera lovers would react to this modernized version (composed, conducted and produced by Paul Schwartz, performed by Isobel Griffiths) -- they might very well retch and gag and swear. So I looked up the opera from which it came.

La Wally by Alfredo Catalani, it turns out, is about Wally, a young woman from the mountain village of Tyrol, who is forced by her father into a marriage she does not want. Instead of favoring Gellner, her betrothed, she falls in love with the minstrel Hagenbach. In the last Act she sings Ebben? Ne andro lontana as she leaves her home in the mountains forever. The track above has always struck me as joyous and euphoric - whenever I listen to it I feel like singing along (but of course I can't) and I sort of imagine myself in a cheesy "The hills are alive with the sound of music" sort of scenery - so imagine my surprise when I read that in the opera, Wally later on throws herself into a passing avalanche. Yikes. Remind me never to attempt to sing along to this when I'm up in the mountains. Brrr, knee-weakening imagery, that. (Read more about the plot here - it's much more complicated than I described. At some point Wally actually asks Gellner to kill Hagenbach, Gellner pushes the latter into a ravine, Hagenbach survives, Wally goes and rescues him because no one else in the village would, and so on and so forth.)

Check out this page for the lyrics and English translation of the aria. Below is a more classical version sung by Sarah Jenkins.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Tenacious Player

To test if this thing will work, let's bring in the funny. Hee hee. You have to admit, the guy can sing. I believe Let's Get It On is the song he sang in the John Cusack movie High Fidelity.

Haaah it works! Seems to be loading a tad too slowly though, is it me, my connection, or my file host? Hmm.

Monday, October 22, 2007

TV at its finest: Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Inner Light

The Inner Light is one of the most well-loved episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation (ST:TNG), and for good reason. It won the 1993 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation given at the World Science Fiction Convention in San Francisco. It was the first television program to be so honored since the original series Star Trek episode The City on the Edge of Forever in 1968.

Here's a quick rundown of the story: The U.S.S. Enterprise encounters an alien probe which emits a beam that renders Captain Picard unconscious. He wakes to find himself in a unfamiliar planet with a woman who claims to be his wife of 3 years. She says he is Kamin, a simple iron weaver. The planet is Kataan. He notices that she is wearing a pendant that closely resembles the alien probe they had encountered on the ship.

On board the Enterprise, the doctor is unable to revive the Captain. She advises against the destruction of the probe for it seems that any disruption of the beam puts the Captain's life in danger. Meanwhile, in Kataan, five years have passed and Picard has settled into his life. A drought is destroying the planet, and he suggests solutions but the administrator laughs at his outlandish ideas. Later, on the ship, Geordi and Data trace the origins of the probe to a planet that has long been dead, destroyed in a supernova explosion a thousand years ago.

As minutes pass aboard the Enterprise, years pass for Picard - as Kamin he has a son with whom he later discusses life choices, and a daughter who eventually realizes that Kataan is doomed. His wife Eline and good friend Batai pass away. His first grandchild is born. Kamin is 85 years old, and the drought has almost completely destroyed the planet.

Kamin's children and grandchildren insist on bringing him to a missile launching. He doesn't understand why everyone is excited, knowing that it will not save the planet or its people. As the missile takes off, his family, together with Batai's and Eline's spirit, explain that they are launching a probe so that someone in the future may find it and come to know of Kataan and its people, so that they may in some sense, live on and be remembered. Picard realizes that he is that someone, and the probe is the one that sent him to this planet some 30 years ago. He wakes up aboard the Enterprise where a mere 25 minutes have passed as he lived a lifetime.

Later, Riker brings Picard a box that is found inside the probe - it is Kamin's flute, the same one he played at his son's naming ceremony.

I have a lump in my throat just writing this and remembering the episode. This is why I love TNG, stories like this that speak so much about what it is to be human.

This episode was also very well-written and well-acted, one of the most moving Trek stories ever. Patrick Stewart should have won an Emmy for this. (But we know how award-giving bodies have always been stingy with sci-fi and fantasy shows, so it's no surprise that the only nomination this got was for make-up - which was quite outstanding too, btw.) One other thing that makes this story memorable is the music. I also get a lump in my throat whenever I hear the theme of this episode. Which, thanks to youtube, I can now share with you.

Below is a fan-made music video which features scenes from the episode (thanks to funfastonelover), and said theme composed especially for The Inner Light by Jay Chattaway. Now excuse me while I get some Kleenex.

(If the video above doesn't work for you, try this one.)

Friday, October 19, 2007

Here's to fancy flash players

I've been knocking my head on the wall for the past few nights trying to figure out what I was doing wrong. I've had good advice, a nice space to play around in (that is to say, yaminion webspace thanks to Laclos), and oh, hooray to shareware and open source codes! And of course I couldn't have gotten a complete I'm The Man mp3 without the help of my friend Berg (who did the splicing) and Anj (who provided the missing first few lines) (ey, fellas!). These took quite a few steps - audio extraction (from videos), audio editing, file conversion (with correct sampling rates, the debil!), code writing (more like code lifting, but with good guessing added), and uploading. And nope I'm certainly not a techie, I just went by what little I knew and understood. Everything else I did intuitively. (Until I hit dead ends, that's when I did research and consulted my personal gurus Laclos and Incidior of RoyalMisfits.)

Here's the result of my labors. Well, this is only a picture of the result of my labors, you have to click it to actually get to the flash player and use it. Check it out, it's nifty! ;-) Here's hoping I can post players here directly soon (might take another couple of nights of head banging, heh).

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Best Opening Credits Ever

At the time, I had thought Star Trek: Deep Space 9 had one of the most beautiful opening credits ever aired on television:

But right now, this one tops my list:

I'd write some more why BSG is also THE best sci-fi show right now, but I can't wait to get back to watching my season 2 dvds. ;-)