A Machine of Illusions

Posted in Moving pictures on September 29th, 2006 by bill

“Dazzled by so many and such marvelous inventions, the people of Macondo did not know where their amazement began. They stayed up all night looking at the pale electric bulbs fed by the plant that Aureliano Triste had brought back when the train had made its second trip, and it took time and effort for them to grow accustomed to its obsessive toom-toom. They became indignant over the living images that the prosperous merchant Bruno Crespi projected in the theater with the lion-head ticket windows, for a character who had died and was buried in one film and for whose misfortune tears of affliction had been shed would reappear alive and transformed into an Arab in the next one. The audience, who paid two cents apiece to share the difficulties of the actors, would not tolerate the outlandish fraud and they broke up the seats. The mayor, at the urging of Bruno Crespi, explained in a proclamation that the cinema was a machine of illusions that did not merit the emotional outbursts of the audience. With that discouraging explanation many felt that they had been the victims of some new and showy gypsy business and they decided not to return to the movies, considering that they already had too many troubles of their own to weep over the acted-out misfortunes of imaginary beings.”

—Gabriel Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

What I Want

Posted in Dancing about architecture on September 24th, 2006 by bill

So here’s what I want, what I really really want: a computer program that will let you feed in the name of a song and the name of an artist, process for a few seconds, then spit out a believable cover version. For instance, I would like to hear Tom Waits doing “Joy to the World” (the Three Dog Night song, not the Christmas carol—can’t you just hear him croaking out “Jeremiah was a bullfrog”?), or Frank Sinatra singing the Velvet Underground’s “Sunday Morning.” I would pay real money to hear the Sisters of Mercy covering “You’re So Vain” or the Pixies’ version of “I’m So Tired.” In fact, I would probably have the Pixies do the whole White Album, just to hear what it sounded like.

Can somebody out there in cyberspace make this happen, please?

Autumn Comes to Oakland

Posted in Whatever Else on September 23rd, 2006 by bill

Fall arrived in the Bay Area right on schedule, at about 4 o’clock. I looked up and that slanting autumnal sunlight was streaming in through my western-facing window, soon followed by a cool, soothing autumnal breeze. (I really like the word “autumnal”…does it show?)

People say that we don’t have seasons here, but we do—it’s just that they’re subtle and you have to be paying attention to notice them. In Minnesota or Alaska, summer and winter are like black and white; here they’re more like different shades of blue. I like all of our seasons, but fall might be my favorite. As my friend Jim likes to point out, there’s something very special about October in the Bay Area. It’s hard to put your finger on what it is exactly…that light is part of it…the air…big piles of tomatoes everywhere.

Well, this is turning into bad poetry now, so I’d better put a stop to it. All I’m trying to say is, it’s too bad about summer, but there ain’t nothing wrong with fall.

Keeping My Eye on the Ball

Posted in Whatever Else on September 18th, 2006 by bill

Although new posts have been few and far between of late, I recently started extending this blog into the past by posting older writings. In particular I wanted to archive the “Eye on the Ball” sports columns I wrote for the now-defunct Urbanview a few years back. If you care to read them, just click on the category “The Sporting Life” at the right and scroll down a bit. Here are direct links to a few favorites:

Springtime State of Mind
Cricket, Baseball, Gin, and Beer
World Cup Dos and Don’ts

So now you know

Posted in Whatever Else on September 15th, 2006 by bill

“A graphic that accompanied a story on Monday about northern fur seals misstated the number of hairs on the animal per square centimeter. There are 46,500 hairs per square centimeter.”

–Correction on page 2 of today’s Chronicle

I would’ve sworn I dreamed this…

Posted in Picture du jour on September 10th, 2006 by bill

…but there it was on my memory card: a giant, faceless rabbit keeping watch over a lonely nighttime storefront.



Posted in Whatever Else on September 5th, 2006 by bill

What does it mean that when I saw this picture on the front page of today’s Chronicle, I was pretty sure the T-shirt said “We Ate America”?


Was it some kind of twisted, deep-seated xenophobia, or just random morning grogginess? Your opinion please.