Back at work after a relaxing weekend at my home2 in
Varkaus. Caught some intriguing stuff on the telly while there: an
episode of Lovejoy that took place in Queens' College, Cambridge :)
Also saw yet another reality-level movie Thirteenth Floor, which
turned out quite good. Having seen a number of films of the kind, a
central twist of levels was easy to guess near the beginning, but
further surprises maintained the interest. Compared to something like
The Matrix, this was somehow cleaner and more to the point, as it did
away with most of the superfluous Hollywood violence. Somehow it
managed a pinch of a Clarkish sense of SF wonder too :)
It was a weird day at school today, beginning with the mere fact of
having school on Saturday. Someone had decided that we'll take the
Maundy Thursday free, and compensate it with a working Saturday. With
my classes, there were mostly parents of students -- meaning the
respective students could stay at home. Well, I guess it was a pretty
descriptive tour of a typical school day, but I didn't see the
compensation aspect working.
I've recently tuned my guitar with Drop D, as I've been learning two pieces by CMX: Ehdotus ensimmäisen mainoskatkon paikaksi and Pyörivät sähkökoneet. Power chords feel very natural with these pieces, and besides these two, I'm becoming quite fond of them. Who needs a nuance between minor and major chords anyway ;) But seriously, as only the lowest string is altered, you can still play solos as usual. It's odd that it took so long to really appreciate Drop D, even if I've been aware of it for quite some time.
The last film I saw was Team America, and it was hilarous. More so, in fact, than I expected from the Trey and Parker of South Park fame. They've done the whole puppetry thing well, using its weaknesses for some fun effects. Parody of Hollywood films and other popular items is also used extensively. The story is quite interesting as it doesn't really resolve either party (The U.S. vs the others) as good or bad. I imagine that many americans will take it as a glorification of their country as the world police, whereas the rest of us can just laugh it off.
Moon Fog Prophet last Friday
in Lutakko had a warm-up artist named, modestly enough, Risto. They
played something like geek punk, as the pieces were short, jagged and
energetic, and the lead singer/keyboardist was being somehow
undescribably nerdy, at least with his in-between announcements.
Kuusumu's main gig was not as majestic as the earlier one, the first I'd witnessed, back in Jyrock last May. Lutakko is more like a shoddy, smoky corner club than a flashy stage. Sound was also not so good as before, with one of the guitarists (both different from last time) constantly retreating to tune his guitar and related devices. None of these ruined Rättö's unique singing though, so the overall experience was rather enjoyble.
I got to meet a few friends of Rigorist as well. One of them was from Lyseo, and from what I just heard, she still hasn't recovered from the shock of seeing my Σ tattoo :)
The Order of the Phoenix is the last of Harry Potter books, and the
best so far IMHO. It's best compared to Goblet of Fire, as they are
similar in size and scope. The story of the Order is more coherent and
fluent overall, though some of the 'children's book annoyances' of
earlier books remain.
Apparently, a fairy tale must have its quirky supporting characters who don't partake in the main storyline, nor do they experience much of character development. One such character in the HP books is Hagrid, whose adventures got particularly annoying by this fifth volume.
Such features are in striking contrast with the dark and evil themes the story revolves around. These are no books for children in my opinion. I'm a little bothered by a certain kind of afterlife presented in the HP books: even though dead people are really dead, they often live on as kinds of ghost with limited personalities and abilities. For example famous characters in their portraits. It might just be an allegory for what remains of the deceased, what impressions they have left on the world. But it also gives the rather gloomy idea that those people are stuck somehow halfway between life and death, never allowed to rest in peace.
Whoa, it's been, like, a week and a half, since the last entry. I've
managed to see three movies and read a book in the meantime. Also gone
through the rather painful experience of the first working week after
holidays. This period I'm genuinely pissed off with the two courses of
maths I have to "teach" at the same time. I feel like it's more work
than two proper, separate courses. I have to prepare more material
since I cannot actually teach in the usual way. And of course I'm
being paid for one course only. Fuck fuck fuck.
Then on to the movies. While I don't feel like I absolutely have to node every piece of film I've seen, these three do have some fun points worth a mention. None of them is particularly good, in fact.
the Beginning was the Command Line, according to cyberpunk author
Neal Stephenson. I got to reading it after a Slashdot submission of
version. The comments are supposed to bring the story up to date,
but they end up messing it up a lot more than necessary, and I
recommend the original even if it's somewhat outdated.
In the past few days, I've come up with a rather concise idea of what
constitutes good art.
You might even use it as a kind of definition of what's art. It is
simply that good art should be inspiring.
What exactly is meant by inspiring is left open, but I've thought of a number of different examples that would all qualify. For instance, a piece of art could inspire a person to devote more of themselves in their current work. Or it could inspire completely new ways of working and living. In any case, inspiration is a positive and constructive force.
I started to think about this on Sunday, as I had watched Cross of Iron with a friend. I have a general dislike for war films, but it looked quite different and I thought it might be interesting.
It was certainly a different kind of war movie, compared to the usual Hollywood crud (or, in fact, lack of it). But in the end, it didn't give me any new thoughts, hope or happiness, or anything like that. It simply reinforced my opinions on warfare in general: how thoroughly dumb it is. On the other hand, it was not a bad movie, and I've been trying to explain to myself what was wrong with it.
Later on Sunday I watched Quills with Rigorist, as he had mentioned it some time ago. Somehow it was very inspiring, though I can't quite explain why. As the E2 link explains, there's not much to tell without spoiling the fun. The main plot is rather simple, with not so many interesting turns, but it's quite a fest of period costume and other detail which somehow underlines the tone of Sade's writing.