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Losing September

Concerts attended this month:

  • Flute player R.K. Srinivasan. One of my favorite parts was a long segment with the two percussionists (Rohan Krishnamurthy on Mrdangam and Samar Saha on Tablas) trading back and forth at progressively shorter intervals. The room was packed, as it was for the Debashish Bhattacharya concert I saw last year, and for good reason.
  • The University Symphony Orchestra playing Brahm's Academic Festival Overture, Rachmaninoff's third piano concerto, and Pictures at an Exhibition. The Rachmaninoff is a real marathon, and full of technical fireworks. I think it might have been a little much for the non-piano-nerds with me (Sara, Paul, and Dave), but they seemed to enjoy the concert overall. We had some pizza at Silvio's beforehand, and Paul gave us a lift home afterwards.

Movies watched this month:

  • A Nous La Liberté: if you see this on DVD, don't miss the interview with director René Clair's widow Bronja Clair. Not a silent film, but it feels like it could be. It's short on dialog (but includes some fun songs). I couldn't follow much of the French, mostly relying on the subtitles.
  • Sky High: sort of fascinating to me just for its absolute adherence to the teen high-school drama template: the hero's introduction to a new environment, discovery of new friends, coming into his powers, betrayal of his friends, disobedience of parents, lesson learned summarized in a speech which for some reason I think is obliged to include the words "I guess what I'm trying to say is...", suspenseful climax taking place at the prom (oops, sorry, homecoming). I almost wanted to go rewatch it and take notes, but I didn't like it that much.
  • La Jetée, twice, for the umpteenth and umpteenth plus first (but not the last) time.
  • High Society: Somehow I only noticed at the very end that this is a remake of "The Philadelphia Story". For some reason I expected to be embarrassed by the presence of Louis Armstrong, but except for an overly corny opening (with the band pretending to play while on the bus to Newport), I actually thought he was the best part of the movie, both for his music and his role as a one-man Greek chorus.
  • Kung-Fu Hustle: over-the-top and immensely fun, and also made great use of music. If you had to see just one I'd pick the similarly silly Shaolin Soccer first, but this one was worth it too. Skip the Stephen Chow interview in the DVD extras; the interviewer is bizarre.
  • South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut: I don't entirely get the crudeness-for-crudeness'-sake thing, but there's a joke a second, and the musical numbers are amazing. I enjoyed spotting the Les Misérables and Olkahoma references.

Books read:

  • Truffaut's "Le Plaisir Des Yeux": I've been reading this off and on for a while, and finally got through the end last week. The end is a bit of a shock: after lots of warm sympathetic articles about films and film people he's known, the last section collects some of the essays he wrote as a young critic, including the famous "Une Certain Tendance du cinéma français". They're interesting, intelligent, full of nice supporting details, and quite scathing. As a collection of essays the book as a whole can repeat itself a little, and has some parts that didn't interest me, but I really enjoyed most of it.
  • Kelly Link's "Magic for Beginners": contrary to earlier claims that all I care about in a book is a lot of interesting little jokes and details, here's a short story collection full of that sort of thing, and my complaint is that it often seemed like an arbitrary hodge-podge. Still, I might give it another try some day. I particularly enjoyed the title story.

Continuing stuff:

  • I've been going to my Wednesday evening French conversation group most weeks and enjoying it.
  • Work keeps being interesting. I always get less done than I wanted to, but in retrospect it's always a lot more work than I expected. I set up a bunch of new test machines last week (taken over from a departing grad student's research) and have some plans for them. Some side projects (like git documentation) are also chugging along well.
  • Thanks to Ajit I have a mild continuing addiction to "Rayman Raving Rabbids". Fortunately I only have the chance to indulge it every other weekend or so.

Stuff I didn't do:

  • I still haven't had much time to work with my OpenMoko phone. Maybe this weekend....
  • Cooking: somehow I'm eating out a lot. Though often for good reasons. Yesterday Ben was in town and I had a good time with him and some other friends that evening at the ABC.