Year: 2007

Rubies” Illustration

Destroyer - "Rubies"

Okay so the first one could be “Quiet, Ruby, someone’s coming…oh it’s just your precious American underground,” though a subway is kind of a goofy way of depicting that. The second one is probably the “cheap dancers.” Third is “Blessed doctor, cut me open.” Then there’s “Proud Mary said as she lit the fuse,” though I’m not sure what a fire hydrant has to do with anything. And finally of course “Priest says, ‘…I can’t bear her raven tresses caught up in a breeze like that.'”

Via Streethawk LiveJournal Community.

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Ten Jars

Last Supper OrbIn a position to invent my own responsibilities, and to realign them on whims, I don’t get very far. Even if I remain productive, it’s a fractured, diffuse, directionless kind of productivity, composed of many tiny islands, sealed in vacuums, free of context or import. Meanwhile, everything that I’m not doing screams with an urgency that what I am doing can never match. Being fucked with by the sparkly allure of things in my periphery, even the most worthwhile sparkly things, undermines all the effort.

Of course there’s always something arbitrary to how you choose to spend your time. Which is probably what a lot of people mean when they say they work well under pressure — it’s not the threat of a deadline that fosters productivity, it’s the conviction with which you act, knowing fully that this is exactly the correct investment of your time and energy. For the moment, you’re free of that responsibility, of choosing what to do, left only with the busy-work of doing it. And that’s a huge relief.

And the problem with having goals as ill-defined as mine is that there are no looming deadlines, only a vague understanding that this is going somewhere, eventually, assuming out of necessity that none of it is in vain. And worse, the gratification, the payoff, is not just delayed; that would make things a lot easier. It’s more than delayed, it’s practically invisible, the result of infinitesimal accumulations that never accelerate or burst with finality, but just collect like sediment, like that big jar of sub-quarter coins. And nobody would ever dream of working for that jar, much less ten jars. When you’re emptying your pockets at the end of the day, which jar do you choose?

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Ugly Books

The Order of Things: Ugly EditionI read 14 pages of this book wondering what in the hell he was talking about, when finally it said “NOTES [I] See frontispiece,” referring me back to before the copyright page, where the painting he’d been describing the whole time was hidden. It was a real trial in imagination and a ringing testament that mine sucks.

This was last summer, and I didn’t get much further before other books interrupted me. I’m back into it this week, but have decided to put it down temporarily because that cover is just such a giant fucking tragedy. Ordinarily I don’t let things like that bother me, but I mean look at that. I had to make an exception.

The Order of Things: Vintage EditionWhen I was entering it into LibraryThing, I noticed all the other editions, including the “User-Provided Covers” at the bottom of the sidebar. Two of those were this green and blue thing, which puts the painting on the cover, and doesn’t look like shit — in fact it has this nice, vintage, first-edition quality. On faith, I took it to be the 1973 Vintage edition, searched the ISBN on BookFinder, and ordered it used from Amazon (speaking of ugly) for $8, surprised that Amazon devotes pages to multiple editions of books so that you know which edition you’re buying used.

I signed up for LibraryThing forever ago, but never used it ’cause there’s something vain about manually cataloging all the books you own for people to admire. It’s kind of hard to stop once you get started, but I did stop, somewhere between all the books I love and all the books I’ve touched in the last year, which amounts to very little. Anyway, it can make recommendations for you, which I suppose would be helpful if you have about 200 items in your “library,” and somehow still haven’t heard of the books that are similar enough to those that even a computer knows you should read them. There are also a few very basic RSS feeds, and even though the system allows you to tell it when you begin and finish each book you own, there isn’t the stupidly obvious feed of “Current Reading.”

Another failure of the site is that, even though you can enter your edition’s specific ISBN, it seemingly doesn’t match user-uploaded covers with that user’s edition’s ISBN, so finding the edition with the cover you want is just a lot of Googling and guesswork.

Interesting note: the illustrations on the ugly Foucault cover are by Gene Greif, an artist “whose witty collage and montage album-cover illustrations for CBS Records,” according to The New York Times, “helped popularize retro style of graphic design in 1980’s [sic],” and who, incidentally, illustrates those little squares at the top of the iconic Vonnegut cover design. But, the illustrations themselves not being that bad, the blame should more accurately rest with Carin Goldberg, the designer of the cover, and probably the one responsible for the stark, pastel, two-tone background.

Also, I need to do something about the blog section of this site. I don’t know if it’s the font, or the borders on the pictures or what, but it really rubs me the wrong way. In fact the whole thing is starting to get to me.

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Elusive YouTube Feeds

Despite being one of the poster-children for the 2.0nd and most recent wave of hyperbolized internet enthusiasm, YouTube does a shitty job of making feeds available. “We offer a bunch of different RSS feeds,” they say, “covering tags, users, popular videos, and even the YouTube Blog.” No shit! That list of feeds is, believe it or not, totally comprehensive of all that they provide easy access to. This is probably an artifact of their pre-Google days, when they were losing millions of dollars and couldn’t afford too many feed requests.

But I did some digging and found that you can easily get a developer key, which gives you access to YouTube’s API. This sounds a lot trickier than it is. Just go to your developer profile page, tell them why you want a key, and you’ve got it. With this key, you can access a number of different XML feeds. Visit the developer introduction and documentation to generate the url for the feed you’re after. For instance, I want a feed of the videos I’ve marked as favorites, so I use this:

http://www.youtube.com/api2_rest?method=youtube.users.list_favorite_videos&dev_id=MyY0utu8eD3v1D&user=echosmyron

That’s not my real Dev ID — YouTube is obviously protective of these things so I don’t want to piss them off. But what you get is an XML file that is structured like this:

<ut_response status="ok">
 <video_list>
  <video>
   <author>limpty</author>
   <id>npvSMfhjt4A</id>
   <title>Joanna Newsom "sadie" live</title>
   <length_seconds>356</length_seconds>
   <rating_avg>2.65</rating_avg>
   <rating_count>79</rating_count>
   <description>
    at easy street seattle. i filmed it brah. i have photos of joanna at smokyshots.com
   </description>
   <view_count>15869</view_count>
   <upload_time>1149446513</upload_time>
   <comment_count>21</comment_count>
   <tags>joanna newsom folk harp drag city</tags>
   <url>http://www.youtube.com/?v=npvSMfhjt4A</url>
   <thumbnail_url>
    http://sjl-static13.sjl.youtube.com/vi/npvSMfhjt4A/2.jpg
   </thumbnail_url>
  </video>

Pretty awesome! The <id> value of npvSMfhjt4A can just be thrown into the watch url (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npvSMfhjt4A), and there it is! Now it’s just a matter of re-writing lastRSS a bit to strip out the <id> field and tossing that into YouTube’s embed code. Which I then intend to implement as a single dynamic video in the sidebar.I fucking nailed it.

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