jwgh: (Default)
I'm making this a public post, because I want to share it with some folks who aren't (as far as I know) on Dreamwidth, which I mention so that you know that any comments will likewise be public. Also, be aware that there are spoilers for both the book and the movie below.

'A Wrinkle In Time' was an important book to me as a kid, and me and my cohost discussed it on our podcast 'Love YA Like Crazy'. Meg is a great protagonist in children's literature, and I found her very relatable -- and I enjoyed the sheer strangeness of the other worlds, and the little tidbits of mathematical and scientific concepts the book contained. I went to see the movie last week, and I wondered how it would compare.

This movie reinforced a lesson I first learned in 'Hidden Figures': If you ever want to make me cry when I'm watching your movie, just start with a scene where someone is teaching a little kid math. This scene also makes use of a common (because it's really nifty and very easy and cheap to make) childhood toy in the Haller household: the hexaflexagon, which is what that little 'hidden heart' toy featured in the movie is called. (Seriously, the movie really only scratched the surface of how awesome hexaflexagons are!)

A friend who hadn't seen the movie expressed some concern that it might be overly Disney-fied. I don't think that's the case -- there's a lot of the original book in the movie, including some of the weirder stuff, so I feel like it was pretty much the director's vision. The plot has been simplified a little here and there — Meg only goes to Kamazotz once, instead of the two trips that happen in the book — but those simplifications were done well and make sense. (Though I think it's too bad that we don't get to meet Miss Beast -- but I can also see that getting to know a bunch of eyeless creatures, on a planet covered in impenetrable fog, might not be the easiest thing to realize well on film.)

The cast was generally great, even the small parts. Zach Galifianakis plays the Happy Medium and I think that his scenes are one place where I liked the movie version better than the book. The scenes on Kamazotz I also thought were really good and convincingly creepy. With that said, I feel that the book has a preoccupation with the dangers of conformity that the movie doesn't entirely have -- though the movie definitely is concerned with peer pressure.
The three Mrses were played by Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, and Oprah. My personal taste would have been to crank the extravagance of their wardrobes down a notch or two, and in Oprah's costume's case maybe three or four, particularly at the beginning when the kids first meet them, when the Mrses are at least theoretically trying to blend in. (My take on what they should look like is 'aliens who are trying to fit in, but don't really know how, and also aren't trying that hard'.) 

I also wonder if Oprah had a rider in her contract saying, "The first time I appear on screen, I must be three times taller than anyone else, and twenty times as fabulous." 😉 The movie Mrs Which's glittery eyebrows are kind of at the opposite end of the scale to the book Mrs Which's invisibility…

But I think the intent is to contrast the vibrance of these characters with the humdrum daily life on Earth, and with the creepy darkness of Kamazotz, and I kind of buy the over-the-top super-saturated verdancy of the first planet they tesser to. (On the Slate Cultural Gabfest, one of the hosts said, of this portion of the film, "At one point, Reese Witherspoon turns into a kale salad, and, you know, I'm down with that.") I just wish that the outfits they had on Earth, were a little toned down.
I've been trying to think about how the themes of the movie differ from those of the book. The movie's big lesson, I think, is basically 'love conquers all', and that's definitely also present in the book. The theme I find more interesting in the book is 'our faults can also be our strengths, and our strengths can turn into weaknesses if we're not careful', and I think only the first half of that is really present in the movie. (The book makes it clearer that Charles Wallace is vulnerable to the It precisely because he is so smart and self-confident.) I like the book version better, but I wonder, had I seen the movie first, when I was in 5th grade or whatever, whether I might feel differently.
Another complaint: I think the movie could have wrapped up a lot more quickly — there are a bunch of lines that seem to be there basically to drive the moral home, and I could have done without them. As with the costumes, I would have liked more subtlety. There's also some technobabble here and there, which I thought could have been handled better.

I think that the decision to make Meg and her mom black worked well, and is integrated into the story in small but important ways. For instance, there's a recurring thing where Calvin compliments Meg's hair, and she refuses to accept that it looks good — and there's a part where the It tempts Meg by saying that he can give her her ideal beautiful body (which, natch, has straightened hair).

Overall, I thought it was pretty good, and I'm curious as to how kids and young teens are enjoying it. I think it's a little hard for me to evaluate it on first viewing, partly because of my attachment to the original book, but also because it's been hyped and discussed so much (though maybe I only think that because I spend too much time on twitter) — but I think in five or ten years, when that all has died down, it'll be clearer whether this is a new childhood classic that is widely loved, or just another kid's movie. Hopefully it's the former!
jwgh: (accordion santa)
Is the attached file “normal” for what you expect to see in the \listserv\main folder?
The attachment contains a list of around 4,000 files. My response:
I don’t see anything obviously out of place, though, since I wasn’t looking for anything specific, and the folder contains a large number of files, it’s hard to be certain. Are you encountering a specific problem, or do you have a particular concern about its contents?
jwgh: (Mr. Nip)

Hey, a public post! I figured I'd post this here, so if someone else runs into some of the same problems I did they would be able to google it and find this information.

(Oh, and also, my podcast has been launched, though I am holding off on making the big push to tell people about it until it is accepted into the iTunes music store, which might take a couple of weeks. Information on how to subscribe to it is behind this link.)

  • Creating the files

    If you use GarageBand's podcast functionality, you have the option of exporting either mp3 or m4a files. If you use m4a then you have the option of including things like chapter markers, while mp3 is more bare bones.

    In theory mp3 would be more widely supported, but as far as I can tell in practice pretty much every podcast reader can handle both, so I decided to use m4a in the podcast, but also have mp3s available in case anyone couldn't use the m4a version. This ended up complicating things slightly.

  • Hosting the files

    I used Amazon S3 to host the audio files. There were a few tricky things about this.

    1. It took me a while to figure out where it was. To save you some time, here's a direct link:


    2. S3 doesn't automatically detect the MIME type for m4a files correctly, so if you use this type of file, after uploading it you will have to select it, click on 'Properties', click on 'Metadata', and change the 'Content-Type' key's value to 'audio/mp4'.
    3. To give public access to a file, you select it and go under 'Actions' to 'Make Public'.
    4. If you select a file, it will show you the URL to get to it, for instance:


      However, if you actually use this URL, then feedburner won't be able to see it, because feedburner doesn't like https links for some reason. Fortunately, you can just change this to an http link and it still works fine:


  • Making blog posts

    I used tumblr for this, but you can use any blogging platform that will provide an rss feed.

    Each blog post should contain a link to the audio. Things to know here:

    1. The blog's title should be the name of the podcast. I originally named my blog 'Tell Me About Your Song episodes', and feedburner later decided that that was what I wanted the podcast's title to be, and my attempts to override this completely failed to work until I just renamed the blog to 'Tell Me About Your Song'.
    2. As noted previously, it should be an http link, not an https link, or else feedburner will choke on it.
    3. If you have multiple links in a blog post and you want to make sure that feedburner will know which one is pointing to the podcast audio, then add 'rel="enclosure"' to that link, e.g.

      <a href="http://s3.amazonaws.com/TellMeAboutYourSong/Tracie+Potochnik+-+Tell+Me+About+Your+Song.m4a" rel="enclosure">Download This Episode</a>

    4. I ended up decided to create two separate blogs, one that would be the basis for the podcast feed, and the other of which would contain the show notes. I think that will work well for my podcast, but if you use the 'rel=enclosure' trick cited above then you can probably make do with just one.
    5. On tumblr, the rss feed for a given blog is http://theblogname.tumblr.com/rss (e.g. http://yoursongpodcasteps.tumblr.com/rss/ for my podcast's blog) - this is what you'll need when you're setting up the podcast feed.
  • Setting up the podcast feed

    I used feedburner for this. It can be accessed here: http://feedburner.google.com/ This will use the same login as your gmail account.

    Getting the podcast to work in feedburner was super frustrating, but hopefully if you've followed the guidelines above (setting the content-type of the file correctly, changing the URL from https to http, using 'rel=enclosure' if you have multiple links in your blog post, setting the name of the blog to the name of the podcast) then it will be pretty straightforward:

    1. You paste in the URL of your blog's rss feed (http://yoursongpodcasteps.tumblr.com/rss/ in my case) and select the 'I am a podcaster!' option.
    2. It asks you for the feed title (though I don't know why, since it will just use your blog's title even if you specify something different here) and will ask you what to use in the feedburner URL (I specified TellMeAboutYourSong, so my feedburner URL is http://feeds.feedburner.com/TellMeAboutYourSong).
    3. You then have the option of specifying additional information -- the location of an image that will serve as your podcasts icon, what category of podcast it is, whether it's got adult content, etc. -- which will be useful if you want to submit the podcast to iTunes; I believe Apple will accept podcasts that don't have, say, a high-resolution icon, but they generally won't consider featuring podcasts on the iTunes home page if they don't have these things. (I am also told that the icon must be a jpeg with the extension '.jpg'; '.jpeg' won't cut it, according to this information, for mystical reasons known only to Apple.)

      Actually it may be useful at this stage to link to Apple's podcasting specs.

    4. Once all that is set up, you should be able to go to http://feedburner.google.com/ and see your podcast listed. Click on it and check the following things to make sure that all is well:
      • On the 'Troubleshootize' tab, click on 'PodMedic' and make sure that it finds your blog post ('Content Item') and that it found the podcast link within that post (it should say 'Yay! Media enclosure created for: [the filename of the episode's mp3 or m4a file]').
      • On the 'Optimize' tab, click on 'Your Feed' and verify that the title is correct and everything basically looks fine. Note that if there are any double quotes or other characters that feedburner had to translate so they would work in its feed then you'll see the encoded version; that's normal and nothing to worry about.
      • If you are particularly detail-orented, you can click on 'XML Source', also on the 'Optimize' tab, and see the actual RSS for the feed. The main thing that you want to make sure is there is the '<enclosure url="...' tag for each episode, which should point to the media file. (But if PodMedic found the media enclosure then this should not be a problem.)
      • If you find some things are not quite what they should be, and you have to go back and edit the blog post, feedburner will not immediately reflect the changes. You can try to get it to speed up the process by going to the 'Troubleshootize' tab and clicking on the 'pinging FeedBurner' link. Give it the link to your blog and it should rescan it. This mostly worked, but there was also a period of a half hour or so where it didn't seem to, and where even deleting and recreating the feed didn't make a difference; I'm not sure if this was a problem on feedburner's end or if tumblr was serving up cached information for some reason. Anyway, pinging feedburner is worth a try.
    5. At this point you can try plugging the feed's URL into iTunes ('File'->'Subscribe to Podcast') and see if it works. Hopefully, it will!
  • Submitting to iTunes

    If you go to https://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZFinance.woa/wa/publishPodcast, Apple will ask you to sign in with your Apple ID, and you'll then be able to submit the Feedburner URL of your podcast. You should then get an email telling you they've received your submission and you'll hear from them once it's approved (or disapproved).

    Searching around indicates that it can take a couple of weeks for new podcasts to get approved, though some people report shorter times. In retrospect, submitting it on a Saturday night during a three-day weekend might not have been my smartest strategy.

    After a podcast is approved, I gather it takes about a day for it to become indexed; so initially you'll be able to share the link to subscribe to it in iTunes, but searching for the podcast in iTunes won't find it.

jwgh: (Default)
Spoilers ahoy!

The first series of the new Doctor Who had an arc to it which, in my opinion, has not really been duplicated in the series since. That is not to say that every individual was great -- I would say three single-episode stories and two two-parters are quite noteworthy, with the rest being either somewhat forgettable or seriously flawed -- but the overall sweep of the season, combined with the fact that this was a fresh approach to the series, made it add up to greater than the sum of its parts.
Cut for spoilers and for length )
jwgh: (Default)
Pentametron is a script that creates sonnets using recently-posted iambic tweets. Usually the sonnets don't make a whole lot of sense, but this one is pretty good, partly because of the 'I have a very short attention span' excuse.
RT @jjongcum
about 20 minutes ago
i bought a pencil case and pencils yay
RT @ashLEE_____
about 20 minutes ago
i took a 20 minute nap today "/
RT @Cyanide_doll92
about 46 minutes ago
My girlfriends mother is a lunatic
about 46 minutes ago
this has become annoying very quick
RT @MyVoiceWetPants
about 1 hour ago
I wanna be a singing porno star
RT @Hold_meh_TIGHT
about 1 hour ago
Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar
about 2 hours ago
I have a very short attention span !
RT @nicoo_suaveee
about 2 hours ago
John Mayer will forever be the man.
RT @superapplejuice
about 2 hours ago
This morning seems a little cooler no?
RT @khiness
about 2 hours ago
i need a texting buddy... ready? go.
RT @ellienovack
about 3 hours ago
So late and haven't even showered yet
RT @isighalot
about 3 hours ago
I am a product of the Internet
about 4 hours ago
Her kisses sweeter than a cherry PIE .
RT @benroperrr
about 9 hours ago
Looks like another boring night in #sigh
jwgh: (Default)
[Poll #1811269]
I'm using radio buttons instead of checkboxes because I want people to take a stand.
jwgh: (accordion santa)
I decided to cancel my myspace account today and decided to take notes on the procedure in case any of my friends wanted to know how to do it. Here are my notes:

1. Log into Myspace. Click on 'Profile' on the top.

2. Under your name, click on 'Customize Profile'.

3. On the left, under 'Account Settings & Privacy', the last item (just above the 'Messaging Settings' section) is 'Cancel Account'. Click on that.

4. Myspace will ask you: "Want to cancel your Myspace account?' Click 'Cancel account'.

5. It will ask you why you're canceling your account. Pick whatever reason you want.

6. Myspace will explain why that's a dumb reason to cancel your account and will give you the option to reconsider. Steel your heart against its entreaties and click on 'Cancel Account'.

7. This will return you to the 'Want to cancel your Myspace account?' page. Do not be fooled! Click 'Cancel account' again.

8. It will warn you of the dire consequences of canceling your account and will give you another chance to reconsider, and will also allow you to enter an explanation of your actions if you want. Fill in the text box if you feel like it, then click on 'Cancel Account'.

9. You will be taken to a screen that says:
Your request to cancel your Myspace account has been sent. You will receive an email shortly with instructions for confirming that you wish to cancel.

You must follow the instructions in that email to complete cancellation of your account. Thank you.

10. Myspace will then email you a plea to reconsider that begins:
You're… leaving us?

Sure you're ready to let go of your friends, music, and that profile design you spent so much time creating? Canceling your account means your profile and all your content will be removed from Myspace and you can't get it back!

Scroll down until you find this section:
If you're sure you want to let go, confirm the cancelation of your account by clicking the link below. Once clicked, we will schedule your account deletion, which may take up to 48 hours.

and click on the link that follows.

11. This will take you to a page that says:
Cancelling your Myspace account will permanently remove all of your profile information from Myspace, including your photos, comments, blog entries, videos, and your personal network of friends. This information cannot be restored.

You may re-register your current email address after cancelling, but you will need to rebuild your personal network from scratch.

Confirm email address:

Type in the email address that the notification was sent to, making sure not to make any typos, and click on 'Cancel account'. It will then tell you that cancellation of your account has been scheduled.

And that's it! It's as simple as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11!

(I am assuming that they will actually cancel my account.)
jwgh: (Default)
Starting one week from today, me and my friend Chris Monti will be on tour. Full details (and music examples, etc.) can be found at http://killdevils.com/2011tour/.

Here's the rundown:

Date Time Location
Thu 17 Mar 7-9:30 pm Link to facebook event Jitters Cafe
1273 Queen Street (Route 10), Southington, CT 06489
Jake & Chris's East Coast Tour kicks off at Jitters!
Tips accepted.
Fri 18 Mar 6-8 pm Link to facebook event Black Cat Cafe
45 Main Street, Irvington, NY 10533
No cover, tips welcomed.
Sat 19 Mar 6-8 pm Link to facebook event The Sycamore Bar & Flowershop
1118 Cortelyou Road, Brooklyn, NY
We will be sharing the bill with other acts TBA.
$10 cover.
Sun 20 Mar 5-8 pm Link to facebook event House Concert
Washington, DC
Email for details.
Mon 21 Mar 9 pm Link to facebook event The Triple
3306 West Broad Street, Richmond, VA
Scott Billings and friends will also perform.
$5 cover
Tue 22 Mar 9 pm The Fire
412 W Girard Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19123
Other acts TBA.
$7 cover
Wed 23 Mar 10-11 pm Link to facebook event Banjo Jim's
9th Street and Avenue C, Manhattan, NY
There will be musicians performing starting at 7 pm. We will go on around 10 pm and do a 45 minute set.
No cover, 1 drink/set minimum, tips welcomed.
jwgh: (Default)
Two things are going on that resulted in this post. One is that MaximumFun.org (home of The Sound of Young America and other podcasts) is having its annual fund drive, and the other is that I'm about to go on a tour (aka road trip) with my friend Chris Monti and I need to burn stuff to CDs that we'll want to listen to on the trip.

So I've been re-downloading some old TSoYA episodes that I think Chris will find enjoyable and I thought I would list them here too.

Swamp Dogg. Soul writer and singer Swamp Dogg's general philosophy towards musical projects seems to be that if someone asks him to do something he'll give it a try, a philosophy that I identify with. (This might explain Swamp Dogg's country album, for instance.) It's great hearing an interview with an interesting person when both he and the interviewer are clearly just having a great time, and I bought one of Swamp Dogg's greatest hits collections on the strength of this interview, a move I have not regretted.

Nellie McKay. I gather that this interview with singer/songwriter Nellie McKay is a bit controversial, with some TSoYA regular listeners finding her wry attitude incredibly annoying, but I found the interview and the live performances (she sings and plays the ukulele) both really enjoyable. Hearing her talk about playing on Garrison Keillor's show was particularly interesting to me.

Bill Withers. Bill Withers was a great soul writer and singer who got sick of the music industry and has been mostly retired and reclusive since the 80s, but Jesse Thorn (host of TSoYA) managed to catch him while he was promoting the documentary 'Soul Power', and it's a really interesting interview. (Jesse reports that this interview was extremely terrifying for him, particularly as Withers didn't hesitate to let him know if Jesse said something Withers disagreed with.)

The vocoder. Dave Tompkins talks about his book 'How To Wreck A Nice Beach' [the title is a mangled version of the phrase 'How To Recognize Speech'] which describes the history of the vocoder, which had its roots in technology designed to protect phone conversations from codebreakers during WWII.

Mavis Staples. Mavis Staples is a really friendly and engaging speaker, and this might be the best interview I've heard with her. The bit about Randy Newman at the end of the podcast is a particular highlight for me.

I should note that Jesse doesn't just interview musicians -- I was just thinking along those lines because of the tours. He also interviews authors, actors, comedians, and other interesting people. I could keep listing episodes but maybe it's simpler to link to one of Jesse's posts where he lists some audience favorites.
jwgh: (Default)
might be the best yet. I think that's probably mostly because I've let it mellow a few days. (It is important to occasionally let out some of the CO2 to prevent explosions!) But anyway here are the main changes from the recipe that I tried this time:

(1) 1/4 cup white sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup honey.
(2) 3-4 tablespoons of ginger.
(3) 1 dried chili pepper.
(4) 1/4 tsp cinnamon.
(5) 1 tsp vanilla.

Very gingery. A little bite but not too much. Not too sweet. I may stick with this variant the next time I make ginger ale.
jwgh: (Default)
This morning the bottle of root beer was hard so I put it in the fridge for a few hours and then, after a lengthy period of bleeding off excess carbon dioxide, gave it a try. I think it turned out quite well!

No video this time but some photos are behind the cut )
jwgh: (Default)
I was at the grocery store today and noticed they sold root beer extract, so ... here's the recipe.

Changes made from that recipe:

I used 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup white sugar, and 1/4 cup honey. In retrospect I should have added the honey after step 9 ("Half fill the bottle with fresh cool tap water") because it appears to have trapped some of the yeast against the bottom of the bottle. I'm hoping it will dissolve as the mixture warms up. Edit: Actually just jostling the bottle around for 10-15 minutes seem to have done the trick -- though there is still a chunk of undissolved brown sugar at the moment.

In addition to the ingredients listed, I added 1/8 tsp cinnamon, 1/16 tsp nutmeg, a splash of vanilla, and a little lemon zest. Any or all of these might be mistakes but I gotta be me.

I tried using a little less water than I did with the ginger beer but I'm not sure if I succeeded or not -- if so it is probably not enough of a difference to matter. Oh well.

The claim is that this will take 3-4 days to be done, which I am a bit doubtful about after the ginger ale was done about three times as fast as it was supposed to be. We'll see how it goes.

Since last time I tried making soda I have invested in a funnel and a sieve, which should help to facilitate further experiments along these lines.
jwgh: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] secritcrush posted a link to this ginger ale recipe by an Ohio biology professor (which includes links to the chemical reactions involved in making ginger ale) recently and yesterday I decided to give it a whirl. I made some modifications based on [livejournal.com profile] secritcrush's experiences and also based on personal whims, etc.

She said when she made it it was a bit sweeter than she'd like so I decided to use 3/4 cup sugar instead of half a cup. I also probably used more ginger than the recipe called for, though I didn't really measure it. Finally, I added 1/8 tsp cinnamon, with the idea that it would make it spicier, although as I dumped it in I found myself thinking, "this is probably a mistake." (But at least I didn't throw any pepper flakes in, which I was also considering doing. I probably shouldn't improvise on recipes when it's midnight and I'm low on sleep.)

The recipe says that it should take a day or two for things to ferment sufficiently, but after eight hours the bottle was hard as a rock. This freaked me out a little and I started worrying about explosions (which the recipe also warns about). I put the bottle in a garbage bag (because garbage bags are proof against explosions) and stuck it in the fridge. Around midday today, assuming no mishaps, I'll open the bottle and report back.

I'm not sure why it fermented so quickly. Maybe the yeast I used was particularly active? I used less sugar than called for so I would have expected it to ferment more slowly if anything. But I think [livejournal.com profile] secritcrush's batch also fermented more quickly than expected so perhaps yeast technology has changed since 2006.

Some premature thinking about future soda making:

Owning a funnel would have made some things easier and I may invest in one.

I was given a 5-pound jug of honey recently so I may try using some of that next time. Brown sugar also seems like it would be worth trying. Maybe add some vanilla?

Speaking of vanilla, the same gentleman who wrote the ginger ale recipe has a recipe for root beer with modifications for making cream soda, so I might try that as well sometime.

Edit: The ginger ale has been opened. Here, have a video:

jwgh: (accordion santa)

Occasionally when you're knitting you'll run into a situation where you have to graft two ends of, say, a cabled or ribbed band together to make a loop.

Unfortunately most of the tutorials on the web only discuss the situation where you're grafting stockinette to stockinette, so if you have to graft two ribbed edges together and you need the ridges to match up you may be in a bit of a fix.

Fortunately, making the leap from grafting stockinette to grafting ribs isn't that difficult. (The hard part is wrapping your head around kitchener stitch at all.) Here's how to do it. )

The quick reference version. )
jwgh: (LOST)
[livejournal.com profile] cpr94 sent me this link: http://bit.ly/cG6L7W which discusses the series finale of LOST and I wrote a lengthy response which I'll post here. (Craig hasn't actually seen most of LOST so I tried to keep that in mind when writing my response. Nonetheless: big spoilers ahead.)

big spoilers )
jwgh: (Default)

Tonight I played:

Stale Tequila
I'm A Guy
Adorable Kittens

Posted via LiveJournal.app.

jwgh: (Default)

Jon: "So what do you have planned for tonight?"

Me, slightly confused: "After this, nothing."

Jon, amused: "Woah, slow down, big guy!"

(He meant what songs was I planning to sing.)

Posted via LiveJournal.app.

jwgh: (yarn)
Some of you may remember that I came up with a knitted stegosaurus pattern a couple of years ago and published it in my livejournal.

People generally have reported that it's a quick project and not difficult to knit (which is to say, not as complicated as it looks), but in case there are folks out there who want to own a stegosaurus without having to knit one themselves I thought I'd note that someone recently wrote to me asking if she could make some to sell and I told her she could, so she may be willing to make one for you! More information can be found at http://rizny.livejournal.com/105661.html .


jwgh: (Default)
Jacob Haller

March 2018



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