Linux, musical road-dogging, and daily life by Paul W. Frields
“I wish I could be more specific but… people are listening.”

“I wish I could be more specific but… people are listening.”

The day with the kids was actually quite wonderful. They got along great, I played a game of Quiddler with my daughter Evie (it’s her current obsession, along with sudoku), and I took them out for dinner, which is a rather parentally responsible way of saying I chickened out from cooking. As if I needed yet another reminder that you know J5, you’ve worked with J5, and me, I’m no J5. I have resolved one day, nevertheless, to learn how my wife whips up such an awesome homemade tomato and meat sauce for pasta.

Other randomness follows:


Been enjoyng new songs by Laura Tsaggaris, the singer/songwriter with whom I’m now working. We’re putting on a nice debut show in August, it seems, and I honestly can’t wait for the next rehearsal. Her new tune “Roads,” for example, is pure genius. Hopefully I’ll be able to post an excerpt at some point soon.


So I’ve now tried all the MuraMura varieties, and although I found the “Canyon” exceedingly reminiscent of paint thinner, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the “River,” which is a bit off-dry yet crisp, but my favorite remains the “Mountain” (unfiltered). If you are neither a purist nor particularly driven to try a rice wine that features actual floating bits of rice detritus (heaven forfend), you might like the “Pear Orchard,” which is an infused brew with a sweetness that is somewhat restrained compared to “Mountain,” and a slighter finish.

Now… where am I going to find more varieties? Am I going to become one of those folks who scours the Internet for saké best buys at online retailers? And more importantly, do said retailers ship to Virginia?


Some recent recommendations:

Surely everyone else has seen it or at least heard of it by now, but Children of Men is simply astounding. I’m embarrassed to say I got a little carried away watching this for reasons I can’t yet fathom — perhaps being a parent has something to do with heightening the melancholy and sense of a world laid waste by an epidemic of infertility. The film was exciting in the sense of dread — imagine for a moment a world that hasn’t heard the laughter of a child in almost two decades — and filled with the best fashion in which science fiction illuminates the human condition. It also included some truly harrowing “chase” sequences, great acting performances, and amazing long-take sequences that I’m sure presented significant technical challenges for the cast and crew. The film was directed by Alfonso Cuarón, who made the brilliant road drama Y tu mamá también — oh yeah, and the third Harry Potter film, which was the first one actually worth seeing — and I call it very highly recommended.

I had really been looking forward to Dreamgirls, but I have to say in the end I was underwhelmed. A choppy script that leaned too much on filling in established film idioms to make up for lack of clever dialog really killed my enjoyment. But I have to say, Jennifer Hudson really was great in this film, especially — and I’d bet you’ll see this in nine of any ten other reviews — her gut-wrenching delivery of “You’re Gonna Love Me” toward the climax of the second act (in which the best laid plans of mice and men fall apart, and yadda yadda). Recommended with reservations unless you’re truly allergic to musicals.

Tonight, probably in a desire to stick with the former flick’s level of quality, I’m spinning in the background Steven Soderbergh’s remake of Solaris, a taut and brisk, yet emotionally connected take on Tarkovsky’s 1972 classic, both from a classic Lem novel. The Tarkovsky version is stately and remarkable, and I highly recommend it to any film buff, but I have a soft spot for this American reworking. Much like Children of Men, it’s a great example of the use of science fiction to talk about human relationships and emotion rather than boring hardware porn.

Think back to 2001: A Space Odyssey for a moment — each segment of that film is captivating not just because of visual effects or the enticing promise of contact with alien life, but because of betrayal. (Chew on that and regurgitate a comment once in a while, will ya?) Now flash forward to the scene in Soderbergh’s Solaris where Kelvin is forced to explain to the visiting Rhea how he “sent her away” — and note the visual changes in the backdrop of the living world Solaris. Who is betraying whom here?


I gave up trying to work today in favor of just enjoying being with the kids without a lot of other distractions. Will try to make up for it tomorrow with a few solid hours of hacking on the Documentation Guide and hopefully some task layouts for future work.