Archive for August, 2011

August 23, 2011

David Foster Wallace

dfw by andrew barr

David Foster Wallace (1962 – 2008) was an American author of novels, essays, and short stories, and a professor at Pomona College in Claremont, California. He was widely known for his 1996 novel ‘Infinite Jest.’ In 1997, Wallace received a MacArthur Fellowship. He was born in Ithaca, New York. His father teaches philosophy at the University of Illinois and his mother teaches English at a community college in Champaign. In fourth grade, he moved to Urbana, Illinois. As an adolescent, he was a regionally ranked junior tennis player.

He attended his father’s alma mater, Amherst College, and majored in English and philosophy, with a focus on modal logic and mathematics. His philosophy senior thesis on modal logic, titled ‘Richard Taylor’s ‘Fatalism’ and the Semantics of Physical Modality’ was awarded the Gail Kennedy Memorial Prize by Amherst. His other senior thesis, in English, would later become his first novel, ‘The Broom of the System,’ which centers on an emotionally challenged, 24-year-old telephone switchboard operator who has issues about whether or not she’s real.

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August 23, 2011

Infinite Jest

onan

Infinite Jest is a 1996 novel by David Foster Wallace that presents a dystopian vision of North America in the near future. The intricate narrative treats elements as diverse as junior tennis, substance abuse and recovery programs, depression, child abuse, family relationships, advertising and popular entertainment, film theory, and Quebec separatism. The novel includes copious endnotes which explain or expound upon points in the story.

In an interview with Charlie Rose, Wallace characterized their use as a method of disrupting the linearity of the text while maintaining some sense of narrative cohesion. The novel’s title is from ‘Hamlet,’ who holds the skull of the court jester, Yorick, and says ‘Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio: a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy: he hath borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is!’

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August 22, 2011

Georges Méliès

a trip to the moon

Georges Méliès [mey-lyes] (1861 – 1938) was a French filmmaker famous for leading many technical and narrative developments in the earliest cinema. He was very innovative in the use of special effects. He accidentally discovered the ‘stop trick,’ or substitution, in 1896, and was one of the first filmmakers to use multiple exposures, time-lapse photography, dissolves, and hand-painted color in his films. Because of his ability to seemingly manipulate and transform reality through cinematography, Méliès is sometimes referred to as the First ‘Cinemagician,’ and before making films, he was a stage magician at the Theatre Robert-Houdin.

His most famous film is ‘A Trip to the Moon’ (‘Le voyage dans la Lune’) made in 1902, which includes the celebrated scene in which a spaceship hits the eye of the man in the moon.

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August 22, 2011

Compositing

matte

Compositing [kuhm-poz-it-ing] is the combining of visual elements from separate sources into single images, often to create the illusion that all those elements are parts of the same scene. Live-action shooting for compositing is variously called ‘blue screen,’ ‘green screen,’ ‘chroma key,’ and other names. Today, most, though not all, compositing is achieved through digital image manipulation. Pre-digital compositing techniques, however, go back as far as the trick films of Georges Méliès in the late 19th century; and some are still in use.

All compositing involves the replacement of selected parts of an image with other material, usually, but not always, from another image. In the digital method of compositing, software commands designate a narrowly defined color as the part of an image to be replaced. Then every pixel within the designated color range is replaced by the software with a pixel from another image, aligned to appear as part of the original. For example, a TV weather person is recorded in front of a plain blue or green screen, while compositing software replaces only the designated blue or green color with weather maps.

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August 22, 2011

Cinemagraph

malibu

Cinemagraphs are still photographs in which a minor and repeated movement action occurs. They are produced by taking a series of photographs or a video recording, and, using image editing software, compositing the photographs or the video frames into an animated GIF file in such a manner that motion in part of the subject between exposures (for example, a person’s dangling leg) is perceived as a repeating or continued motion.

The term was coined by U.S. photographers Kevin Burg and Jamie Beck, who used the technique to animate their fashion and news photographs beginning in early 2011.

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August 18, 2011

Michael Nyman

Michael Nyman by Nicola Jennings

Michael Nyman (b. 1944) is an English composer of minimalist music, pianist, and musicologist, known for the many film scores he wrote during his lengthy collaboration with the filmmaker Peter Greenaway, and his soundtrack album to Jane Campion’s ‘The Piano.’ He has composed operas, concertos, string quartets, and many other chamber works, many for his Michael Nyman Band, with and without whom he tours as a performing pianist. Nyman has stated his preference for writing opera to other sorts of music.

In 1969, he provided the libretto for Harrison Birtwistle’s opera, ‘Down by the Greenwood Side’ and directed the short film ‘Love Love Love’ (based on, and identical length to, The Beatles’ ‘All You Need Is Love’) before settling into music criticism, where he is generally acknowledged to have been the first to apply the term ‘minimalism’ to music (in a 1968 article in The Spectator magazine about the English composer Cornelius Cardew).

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August 18, 2011

Alan Smithee

burn hollywood burn

Alan Smithee was an official pseudonym used by film directors who wish to disown a project, coined in 1968. Until its use was formally discontinued in 2000, it was the sole pseudonym used by members of the Directors Guild of America (DGA) when a director dissatisfied with the final product proved to the satisfaction of a guild panel that he or she had not been able to exercise creative control over a film. The director was also required by guild rules not to discuss the circumstances leading to the move or even to acknowledge being the actual director.

Prior to 1968, DGA rules did not permit directors to be credited under a pseudonym. This was intended to prevent producers from forcing them upon directors, which would inhibit the development of their résumés. The guild also required that the director be credited, in support of the DGA philosophy that the director was the primary creative force behind a film.

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August 18, 2011

Adidas Samba

samba

The Adidas Samba is an indoor soccer training shoe. It has been among Adidas’ most popular, best selling shoes in recent times, the second best sold Adidas shoe ever with over 35 million sold pairs worldwide, behind the legendary Adidas Stan Smith. It is produced in a variety of color schemes, yet the classic black with three white stripes is the most popular. The shoe features a tan gumsole that distinguishes it from other Adidas shoes.

The shoe was first produced in 1950 to enable association football players to train on icy hard ground (hence the suction cups on the gumsole). Its original design featured the classic three stripes, as well as the gold trefoil on the foldable tongue. As years progressed, the Samba evolved into the Samba Millennium (which was made without the extended tongue) and the Samba ’85. Classic models of the shoe are still in production, under the name Classic M. the original model is sometimes used for training, street play, and futsal (a variant of indoor soccer).

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August 18, 2011

Adidas Stan Smith

stan smith

Adidas Stan Smith is a tennis shoe made by Adidas. Stan Smith was an American tennis star of the 1960s and ’70s. Adidas approached him in 1971 to endorse the Haillet shoe (designed for French tennis pro Jean-Louis Haillet). The shoe, usually made with a leather upper, has a simple design and unlike most of the Adidas range has no external stripes.

Instead there are three rows of perforations in the same pattern. There is a sketched picture of the tennis player on the tongue of the shoe. The brand is the biggest-selling tennis shoe ever.

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August 17, 2011

Juggalo

icp

psychopathic records

Juggalo or Juggalette (the latter being feminine) is a name given to fans of Insane Clown Posse or any other Psychopathic Records hip hop group. Juggalos have developed their own idioms, slang, and characteristics. The term originated during a 1994 live performance by Insane Clown Posse. During the song ‘The Juggla,’ Joseph Bruce addressed the audience as Juggalos, and the positive response resulted in him and Joseph Utsler using the word thereafter to refer to themselves and their friends, family, and fans, including other Psychopathic Records artists.

Juggalos have compared themselves to a family. Common characteristics include drinking the inexpensive soft drink Faygo, wearing face paint and an interest in professional wrestling. They view the lyrics of Psychopathic Records artists (which are often violent in nature) as a catharsis for aggression.

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August 17, 2011

Alice and Bob

alice and bob by John Richardson

The names Alice and Bob are commonly used placeholder names for archetypal characters in fields such as cryptography and physics. The names are used for convenience; for example, ‘Alice sends a message to Bob encrypted with his public key’ is easier to follow than ‘Party A sends a message to Party B encrypted by Party B’s public key.’ Following the alphabet, the specific names have evolved into common parlance within these fields—helping technical topics to be explained in a more understandable fashion.

In cryptography and computer security, there are a number of widely used names for the participants in discussions and presentations about various protocols. The names are conventional, somewhat self-suggestive, sometimes humorous, and effectively act as metasyntactic variables. In typical implementations of these protocols, it is understood that the actions attributed to characters such as Alice or Bob need not always be carried out by human parties directly, but also by a trusted automated agent (such as a computer program) on their behalf. Despite the advantage of Alice and Bob’s distinct genders in reducing ambiguity, there has been little tendency to introduce inanimate parties so they could be referred by neuter pronouns.

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August 17, 2011

Ansible

An ansible [an-si-bull] is a hypothetical machine capable of instantaneous or superluminal (faster-than-light) communication. They are used as science fiction plot devices and in thought experiments of theoretical physics. The word was coined by American author Ursula K. Le Guin in her 1966 novel, ‘Rocannon’s World.’

She derived the name from ‘answerable,’ as the device would allow its users to receive answers to their messages in a reasonable amount of time, even over interstellar distances. The name of the device has since been borrowed by authors such as Orson Scott Card and Vernor Vinge; similar devices are present in the works of numerous others, such as Frank Herbert. One ansible-like device which predates Le Guin’s is the ‘Dirac communicator’ in James Blish’s 1954 short story ‘Beep.’ The device received the sum of all transmitted messages in universal space-time, in a single pulse, so that demultiplexing yielded information about the past, present, and future.

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