RIP Merce Cunningham
The great modern/avant-garde dance choreographer Merce Cunningham passed away today at the age of 90. Considered one of the most influential choreographers of the 20th century, he was also one of the great dancers as well. He was a soloist with the Martha Graham Dance Company for six years before forming his own troupe.
In my prior life as a lighting designer, I did mostly plays and musicals. Whenever I was asked to design for a modern dance concert, though, I always lept at the chance. The apparent lack of structure to a modern dance piece let me play with techniques I wouldn't ever try during a play, simply because I was being graded on my "formal" designs.
I put "apparent" in italics up there because in many ways, modern dance is all about structure. Just like ballet, it is never, ever improved, though it is often hard to tell. There's a common symbolic language for modern dance that allows a choreographer to put a piece on paper, just like a score for an orchestra. Nowadays, it's done via computer programs, of course.
But that structure was less confining than the traditional ballet style, letting a choreographer pull off some amazing things. Because of that, I LOVED designing for dance. It was really the only time that I, as a designer, felt like I was one of the performers.
Usually in a stage production (with some rare exceptions), the best lighting designs are the ones you never notice... kinda like a baseball umpire. It may take hundreds or thousands of hours to accomplish, but the lights are there to make the actors look good, not to make themselves look good.
With modern dance, however, lighting is there to accompany the dancers on-stage, sometimes literally. I remember one senior dance project I worked on when I was in grad school where the choreographer wanted a duet on stage: one physical dancer, and the lights were the other 'dancer'. She came to me before she started anything and asked for my opinions and input... and I was thrilled. It was a bear to pull off with limited resources, but we made it work.
Modern dance allows you to do things like that. While Cunningham's style was much closer to ballet than, say, Twyla Tharp's, and not for everyone's tastes, he was still one of the great innovators of a style of art that I love.
DuckFest 2009 Is Today!
The 7th annual meeting for rubber duckie collectors, DuckFest 2009, is taking place in New York City today.
...and I'm not there.
I am sad.
The owner and operator of The Duck Show, Digicolleen, is the host of this year's convention, and I'm sure there will be tons of pictures posted over the coming days. She's also where I ganked the above photo, but I know she won't mind.
Have fun, everybody... next year, I'll finally meet you!
Anything below the fold NSFW.
The comic book series "Howard the Duck", not the movie
The US Navy's jet powered seaplane.
Humorous names for ships. (It was a space ship but I always liked "Frankly I blame the parents."
Ah. Then for "What if's" this post may inspire you.
I guess I would phrase it this way: In what at least semi-plausible scenario could the ME-262 actually have substantially affected the outcome of WWII?
(My own opinion is "there are none" but others may not agree with that. So suppose we discount the general answer that "If the war in Europe were still going on in August of 1945, the first A-bomb would have been dropped on Berlin" and go from there.)
If Hitler had been convinced that the Sturmvogel variant was a dog & stopped meddling, and if GÃ¶ring hadn't choked off jet research early on, and if they had concentrated on just a few types instead of the myriad Wunderwaffen, there might have been enough ME-262s to knock back the daylight bombers.
Posted by: JP Gibb at July 19, 2009 07:55 AM (en+Q1)
What if the characters of Hidamari Sketch and Gurren Lagann traded places?
What if Go Nagai had directed Neon Genesis Evangelion?
What if Satoshi Kon had directed Lucky Star?
What if Haruhi Suzumiya had been made a decade earlier, and Megumi Hayashibara had been cast in the lead role?
Would anyone survive?
Posted by: Pixy Misa at July 19, 2009 08:11 AM (PiXy!)
9If Hitler had been convinced...(snip)...there might have been enough ME-262s to knock back the daylight bombers.
Well, so much for that post.
Posted by: Wonderduck at July 19, 2009 10:31 AM (ZpwKm)
As penance: If Japan had a heavy bomber comparable to the B-29, could we have won the Pacific theater?
Posted by: JP Gibb at July 19, 2009 11:08 AM (en+Q1)
The thing that probably hurt Japanese air power the most was the lack of engine design and development and the ability to mass produce the complex multi bank air cooled and high horse power liquid cooled engines. If they could have built the equivalent of a B-29 they also could have built the equivalent of Hellcats, Corsairs,P-38s, and P-47s. To get the strategic use out of a B-29 would require a base at a range equivalent to what what we achieved. The capacity to build a B-29 would have had more effect on the war than the actual building of one in my guess.
Posted by: The Brickmuppet at July 19, 2009 07:35 PM (Vn+9Y)
What would the Japanese have done with heavy bombers?
They turned out to be mos' unsuitable for attacking vessels at sea, despite pre-war claims to the contrary. And as far as supporting attack operations, there simply weren't any Pacific island targets that Japan failed to take because of on-land defenses (if we discount New Guinea, and that was just jungle attrition.)
The nastiest use of them would have been against US beachheads or airfields (not that Henderson Field would have been an easy target, but you wouldn't have to hit it a whole lot...)
If anything, the diversion of scarce pilots and manufacturing resources into heavy bombers probably would have weakened Japanese air assets overall, and the fuel situation in mid-1944 to the end of the war pretty much precluded large-scale bomber operations anyway.
Without the ability to get air bases within range of US centers of production (many of which were inconveniently located thousands of miles EAST of the West Coast), there's not really any suitable strategic bombing targets for Japan to hit.
Mentioning the fuel situation brings up a good "what if", I think. We know that the Japanese had next to no antisubmarine warfare units, despite having what were arguably the finest destroyers in the world. How much difference would it have made if the Japanese had pulled some of those destroyers back for convoy duty? (Could they have done it, though? The morale effect on the companies of those destroyers would have been disastrous - even if the Naval Staff had appreciated the need, the crews would not have taken it well...)
If Go Nagai had directed Evangelion, it would have been made of win and God, with an extra side helping of holy crap!
Posted by: Avatar at July 20, 2009 02:28 AM (vGfoR)
The Remains Of The Day
As I mentioned back on Wednesday, the Duck U. Bookstore received its Fall shipment of used textbooks, totaling 130 boxes and nearly two tons of weight. None of these boxes were particularly well-filled, so there was a lot of shredded cardboard used as packing material. How much?
Mt Trashmore, scaled by duckie
By the time we had all the boxes opened, the pile was about four feet tall and about seven feet across at the base. Now, I'm just a duck with an uncanny ability to pack boxes well (called "box origami" or "pack-fu" in the store), but you'd think that you could just fill the boxes with, y'know, textbooksand ship fewer boxes. But what do I know?
I DO know that all that packing material ended up in the dumpster, which took five trips. Bloody waste, that's all that is. I knew I shouldn't've worn black...
Of course, I'm cheating because I know the billing schedule. It's by weight, so 4000 lbs in 80 boxes is charged the same amount as 4000 lbs in 130 boxes. In fact, all that packing material just makes the shipping costs HIGHER, because it weighs a non-trivial amount.
Posted by: Wonderduck at July 17, 2009 05:27 PM (ZpwKm)
We're crazy-go-nuts at the Duck U. Bookstore right now. We just got our Big McLargeHuge shipment of used textbooks for the Fall Semester (one month away, dear heavens!). Unfortunately, Mr Trucker-Delivery-Person decided that, since the loading dock was a couple of inches shorter than the back of his semi-trailer, he couldn't use his palletjack to bring the three pallets worth of boxes into the store... but he could stack the boxes on the loading dock just fine, and not one step closer to the Bookstore.
Gee, THANKS, Mr Trucker-Delivery-Person! It's nice to know that we get the value we pay for with your company!
130-some-odd boxes. Nearly two tons worth of books. I'm an achy little duckie tonight. Of course, tomorrow we get to open all these boxes, check in all the books, and put them on the shelves. Whee...
Blogging will resume Friday, after I stop being so whiney and complainy.
The loading dock at the Duck U. Bookstore doesn't have a dock plate?
Jeeze-louise, at work I load pallets onto a truck that's a full footshorter than the height of the floor of Receiving all the dang time.
Posted by: Ed Hering at July 16, 2009 12:32 AM (tsLOQ)
There IS a dock plate! Unfortunately, it's not really long enough, so it was sitting at about a 45-degree angle when positioned on the back of the truck... couldn't manuever the palletjack onto it without having it highcenter.
Posted by: Wonderduck at July 16, 2009 07:52 AM (NSDDW)
Once Again, A Virus... I Think
So Monday night, I'm visiting Instapundit's place, and my antivirus suite starts screaming at me. While I believe it thought it caught everything, and nothing showed up as bad on Malwarebyte's Anti-Malware, I just wasn't sure.
It seemed too easy.
So, remembering the nightmare I had last time, I just decided to skip all the headaches and jumped right to a full reformat. I began right when the first pitch of tonight's Major League Baseball All-Star Game was thrown, and after all the updating, installing, UNinstalling, pushing, shoving and weeping was through, it was just about four hours later.
The OCotP: An Update
I must admit to thinking that I wasn't going to see the Official Car of the Pond, a '96 Camry, in drivable condition ever again when it rolled away on the back of the tow truck this morning. The horrid sounds coming from the engine were just too horrid for me to think any other way.
Within an hour of it getting into Tom the Miracle Worker's hands, however, he gave me hope. The timing belt and its associated gizmos had gone south, he said. He continued by saying that they're rated for around 90K miles, and the OCotP has 97K and change on its odometer. So I had gotten good life out of it, but it needed to be replaced. Fortunately, there's a kit for that that's actually cheaper than parting it out, so that's good.
The horrid noise I had been hearing was the water pump, tearing itself to pieces. Tom said that he hadn't seen one fail quite this spectacularly in a while. Seems that the pump is driven off the timing assembly in my specific type of Camry, and when the timing belt slipped its gear and wound up being off-setting by about 10o, the water pump began to shed chunks of itself. That also caused the big puddle, as it began squirting radiator fluid hither and yon.
Repairs (well, replacing) both devices would be pretty straightforward, though not particularly easy considering the layout of the Camry's 4-cylinder engine in the compartment. It's pretty well packed in there, with no real elbow room to work. Still, The Miracle Worker said that he didn't expect any problems doing it... and I believed him. The family has been going to his shop for 20-some-odd years; if he's talking about cars and he says something is so, it is so.
The bad news was that he couldn't actually run the OCotP's motor long enough to tell if the disintegration of the water pump and the terrible timing had caused serious damage to the internals, like driveshaft bearings and the like. "Best not to think about it right now," he said, sending a shiver of fear up my feathers. "It's at least a 50-50 chance you'll be fine, probably a lot better than that. If the OCotP was my car, I'd go ahead and do the repairs."
Okay. About seven hours later, he calls me at work. "Want some good news? There's no damage to the engine, she's purrin' like a catgirl." (note: he didn't actually say "catgirl")
In fact, the car was almost ready to be picked up. It would have been, except as they were refilling the radiator, they discovered that there was a crack in the plastic overflow reservoir, and they had applied a good squirt of industrial strength epoxy to it. It'll be like new, except it'll take overnight for it to dry.
What with towing and taxes and such, it'll come to just over $1000, but that's a damsite better than what I had been fearing... and I get my car back! My wonderful, happy, comfortable car... the OCotP is coming home!
Sounds like you got off without *too* much suffering, glad to hear it.
Semi off-topic, I had a much longer response commiserating about timing belts that I tried to post this afternoon, but there was all kind of weirdness with your blog reverting to 2007 posts and format most of the day. Any idea what that was about?
Posted by: David at July 11, 2009 12:48 AM (n/RK7)
Exactly four years ago today, Wonderduck's Pond opened for business on MuNu!
Partytime at The Pond
Pulled from the ghetto that was Bl**ger by Big Poppa Pixy himself back when he was out hunting talent (as opposed to now, when talent begs to be let in), a lot has happened since then. Since that simple first post ("Honey, I'm home!"), there have been 1222 other posts (this is number 1224), 3176 comments, and a whole lot of lame attempts at humor.
One personal highlight was the creation and release of my AMV, "...Angel". The youtube version still gets comments every now and again, and has been watched over 12000 times and has an "awesome!" rating to boot. One of these days, I've got to do a DVD quality version...
Posted by: Pixy Misa at July 08, 2009 08:22 PM (PiXy!)
Congrats on four years (which is like an eternity in the blogging world)! It's always a pleasure to pop in here and participate in the discussions. You've fostered a great little community! Keep up the good work.
Posted by: madmike at July 08, 2009 09:18 PM (CujKS)
I Get It, I Get It, ENOUGH ALREADY!!!
It's been a bad day.
I woke up this morning with blood coming from a place that blood shouldn't ever be coming from. I managed to get a doctor's appointment on short notice, and drove there this afternoon... about 40 minutes away at highway speeds from the Duck U. Bookstore.
After being poked and prodded and peered into ("Moooooooooon Riiiiiverrrrr..."), I was given more-or-less good news, though with one caveat: don't lift anything heavy for a while.
Oh. With our big shipment of used books coming next week. Oh dear.
After that, I drove to the Old Home Pond, to have dinner with Momzerduck and Ph.Duck.
On the way home after that, I was almost back to Pond Central when my engine suddenly started sounding like someone had put a can full of gravel into it. I parked, went in, and called Ph.Duck, he of the high level of car knowledge... he said he'd be over as soon as he could.
Then Ph.Duck pulled in and, when I joined him in the parking lot, said "well, that trail of fluid isn't a good sign... and neither is that puddle of fluid under the front of the car."
So I have to call Ricotta's tomorrow and figure out how to get the Official Car of the Pond towed there, without me having to be present, as I have to work... and then brace myself for the possibility that I'm going to have to get another car, as the OCotP is 13 years old and may not be worth repairing, depending on the diagnosis.
Enough already, I give up.
UPDATE: Yes, I know I'm whining. Yes, I know it's not good fodder for a post. I don't care, I needed to do it.
Oh, hellfire. My lousy day was mild by comparison...
Posted by: GreyDuck at July 07, 2009 11:15 PM (o5Lvb)
Look at it this way: If you're a guy, and you wake up in the morning with blood coming out of... well, coming out of pretty much anywhere other than a known stab wound - and the doctor just tells you to lay off the heavy lifting for a while, a broken down car is not a big deal.
I prescribe two boxes of strawberry Pocky and the widescreen version of K-On!
Having said that, hope you and the OCotP are both feeling better soon.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at July 08, 2009 05:19 AM (PiXy!)
Well I thought one of the reasons for having a blog was to vent, whine, rant, and complain. After all nothing makes me feel better than to see someone having an even worse time. Get some ads for medical products going. Knew one poor guy who had to slam a tampax up his bum to keep going. I think car cost have driven more people to madness and bankruptcy than anything.
Posted by: toad at July 08, 2009 08:36 AM (/ymBE)
YIKES....July 8th....that means it's screw with Wonderduck week and I nearly missed it.
OK here, goes: Lucky Star>Azumanga
Posted by: Some Sock Puppet at July 08, 2009 10:51 PM (1PS4p)
In The Works
Haven't posted anything recently, but mostly that's because I'm working on what might turn out to be a really nice "What If...?" post. It also needs a lot more research than the earlier ones, though, so that's ongoing.
I'm also trying to catch up on my anime. While I'm up-to-date on Saki and K-On!, I'm four or five episodes behind on Hatsukoi Limited. Then there's the second season of Haruhi and the Clannad After Story special, which I'm expecting to see over on TT when I get home from work. But, surprisingly, SpoonSubs finally got around to subbing the Hidamari Sketch x365 DVD Special! FINALLY! That'll be fun to watch.
So while there's a lot of silence at The Pond, there's stuff in the works.