“How glad I am!”

Peter was excited to visit someplace new. He milled around more excitedly than usual, bumping up against all his classmates. Down the ramp he galloped, taking in all the fresh smells and sounds. The road to the unfamiliar building was narrow and fenced closely. Peter squinted and saw someone sitting in the grass beyond the path, outside the enclosed confines in which he was walking.

“Hello!” said Peter.

“Hello,” came the distant reply.

“My name is Peter,” said Peter, “who are you?”

“I am Paul.”

“Paul, what are you doing there? Why are you outside the boundaries that we trust and know to be safe?”

“Because it’s not my lot to be there, Peter.”

“What rubbish, Paul. It’s safe in here. You get fed, you won’t get sick, and you won’t be exposed to the elements. How glad I am not to be you, Paul!”

Paul made no reply, watching as Peter rambled his way into the building. Through a grimy window, he glimpsed the path transitioning into a conveyor, feeding an enormous machine.

“Paul, you will someday grow old, grow sick, or grow weak – and then you will die in any number of ways before your time! How glad I am not to be you, Paul!” Peter trotted to the end of the path and stopped walking as the conveyor took up his motion.

The machine belched black smoke out its top and gushed red waves out the bottom, moaning and groaning like a vengeful spirit. Peter did not notice his that his classmates were one by one entering the machine but not obviously emerging from it.

“Paul, life is good like this! How glad I am not to be you, Paul!” Shadow fell over Peter as he was swept whole into the machine.

“How glad I am not to be you, Paul!” and Peter said no more.

Paul made no reply, bowing his head.

Google Fantasy Maps

Google stands at the crux of having another exciting content platform. All they would have to do is marry their AR / VR offerings with Google Maps.

Today, you have satellite, traffic, and other overlays on Google Maps. These are all functional features that are dead useful. I propose that Google add useless overlays to make Maps an entertainment platform.

To an extent, this already happened with their promotion for Fantastic Beasts. Take it a step further – imagine a creepypasta overlay. Reported Slender Man sightings (complete with subtly photoshopped portions of StreetView), SCP reports from around the globe, and Mowgli’s Palace in North Carolina. Imagine a sci-fi overlay where you can walk ’round Iowa and see the USS Enterprise being constructed. Augment this whole system further with “contributed” videos to complement StreetView.

I know I would sink a lot of leisure time on Google Maps if I could explore Hogwarts Castle or see some of the city-bending of Doctor Strange play out live.

159 – A word about uncredited orchestras

One of my biggest pet peeves is thumbing the liner notes and flipping the jewel case back to front and failing to find a credit for the orchestra. Oh, great, John produced this album, too. Oh, great, John also conduced these cues. Fantastic. How about you tell me who was actually responsible for making these beautiful sounds?

This is most prominent in my Harry Potter selection. I used to have Sorceror’s tagged as John Williams / LSO purely by (mistaken) assumption. I went back, looked, and realized that this was wrong. To this day, Sorceror’s and Prisoner both live with John Williams as the sole credited artist on all tracks. Goblet and Order, thankfully, have the LSO and the Chamber Orchestra of London unambiguously penciled in.

This imbalance has long bothered me, because the purpose of my sticking as close to possible to the urtext of the liner notes has been to faithfully document who was who in the album. It’s not really fair to me (and to my scrobbles) to treat John Williams like a ubiquitous monolith.

Starting with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I tried something new. I labeled it as Williams (Dudamel) with a ‘”Highly Regarded” Freelance Orchestra.’ The name is taken from a press release describing work on the TFA score. It’s outlandish and unprofessional enough to not be mistaken for something actually given verbatim in the liner notes but satisfactorily descriptive to scratch my documentation itch.

I continued with my three selections from the Nichijou scores. I have volumes 1, 4, and 8 in my collection. The album title is one of those unnecessarily lengthy ones that blow out my player UI when loaded, and it explicitly gives Hungary as their recording location (wow!). Watching the special features on the Blu-rays (that came with my purchase of 1, 4, and 8) corroborated this, but unfortunately I couldn’t discern the name of the orchestra they worked with. At time of writing, Wikipedia retains records of 9 Hungarian orchestras. I found a larger list of 21. Therefore, the final tags are for Yuji Nomi leading “1 of 21 Possible Hungarian Orchestras.” I would be ecstatic to find out which one exactly.

The trend has most recently spilled to Rogue One, tagged as Michael Giacchino (Tim Simonec) with “Enormously Varied Contract Orchestra.” I forget if they were explicitly described as contracted (but I believe they were). The “enormously varied” label comes from the fact that the liner notes actually included a 169-strong roster of the musicians who took part in the score. I gleefully typed them up and saved them as plaintext, but was happy to summarize them as the EVCO (instead of going for the artist gore that I use for operas and Mahler’s 8th).

J39M

158

We the people jointly accept a death tax of 30.000 people per year on the road (NHTSA 2015). That means that by the time you tear your eyes away from the device reading this, someone will have died in a traffic accident somewhere in the US. We don’t have the means to fix this right now, so we live with it and don’t think about it.

What happens when we throw flying cars into the mix? The motions of driving are regulated by virtue of roads being essentially one-dimensional. If we give the controls to anyone who can wave a license at you, what then? If such a disturbing percentage of our population has trouble staying on a road, how can we expect them to safely operate something that can traverse (and fail) in all 3 dimensions? (Failure will mostly involve a downward trajectory. You do not come to a stop in the air like you stop on the road if your vehicle fails. You fall, and woe betide anything in the way of your landing.)

My worry is that we will shrug and accept it. Suppose just 20 people per year get guillotined, crushed, or crashed by flying car incidents. Do we shrug and consign the report to the bottom corner of the paper? Do we accept that death has just become that much more random?

Suppose some hotshot startup creates a true transporter (I.E. one that doesn’t have the swampman problem) and makes it viable for private use. Everyone can operate one from the comfort of their home. The catch is that seriously improper misoperation will lead to an explosion that can take out two city blocks (not unreasonable for a transporter, I think). You don’t want your gin-bottle neighbor to have something like that, do you?

No death is acceptable. If we believe that willfully opening up new avenues to unexpected termination is a substantially different evil from ignoring the deaths that currently plague us (and yes, we need to work on those too), then we should oppose the freeform development of flying cars until the state and federal governments can work together to strongly regulate this dangerous and negatively disruptive industry.

157

DAD: Any new and fun side projects?

ME: Yeah, a script that keeps track of digests for a bunch of files. Mostly my pictures.

DAD: Why?

ME: You know, so I can run it every half-year or so to make sure I’ve not got any bit rot.

DAD: And how likely is that?

ME: Not at all. Probably more likely to die in a car crash tomorrow.

DAD: So again, why?

ME: Just in case.

 

So really, I should be turning my efforts to something more productive. I keep telling myself I’ll sit down and slurp in the code base for some project in need, but I never get to it. The candidates are Quodlibet, sway, and dbus.

It’s a testament to the fundamental (though probably exaggerated) faith I have in my hard disk that I gave that hyperbolic example; I’m not even planning to leave the house tomorrow.

J39M

156

Background

I collect the film scores of the Star Wars cinematic universe. Like other things I enjoy, I am unhappy if I discover them incomplete (it happens). There are 3 categories that I reckon with between which incompleteness can happen:

The true film score

This features in the soundtrack of the film itself. It includes splices like the inclusion of the cello-driven “Force” theme (Burning Homestead) in The Ways of the Force.

The album release

This will be on sale at Target, at Walmart, etc. and may be “edited for content and clarity” – not that the packaging is honest enough to tell you so.

The “for your consideration” copy

I took notice of these starting with TFA – MP3 copies of allegedly the true score appear on the Walt Disney Studios Awards site presumably for the convenience of the Academy. I don’t know why this is, though, because physical copies should exist which are mailed to voters. I’ve seen a purported eBay listing for a TFA FYC physical press going for over 400 USD.

I say “allegedly the true score” because the folks at JWfan are quoted as saying that these should follow the exact presentation of the music in the film, and especially no concert arrangements. This can’t be true, though, because the Burning Homestead bit appears exactly nowhere and for some reason the end credits suite is missing a lot of material. Huge extended portions of Rey’s theme, what sounds like a spliced version of The Bombing Run, and I think slightly longer March of the Resistance all feature in the true film score and not in the FYC. (March of the Resistance is already slightly extended for the FYC, but I think the true film score gives it even more. I should check.)

The matter at hand

I finally got around to rigging PulseAudio for loopback capture (it’s ridiculously easy with pavucontrol). I pulled up my digital copy of TFA on YouTube (came with my Blu-ray purchase and I haven’t even touched the surface of Blu-ray decrypting, let alone extraction) and relived my childhood of hooking a 3.5mm male-to-male cable from line out to line in. I mixed in the album copy of The Jedi Steps and voila! The true film version of The Jedi Steps and Finale can now be added to my collection.

This is hardly ideal – god knows what quality playback I achieve with the YouTube copy and how much a hit it takes when I capture it from my output – but it’s certainly a huge step forward. It’s also a very acceptable stopgap until I can procure the necessary hardware (and learn the software) for Blu-ray extraction.

J39M

“Hi,” he said, shaking my hand. “I’m Pablo Hidalgo.”

I grinned. “And I’m John Williams.”

He didn’t react. He stared blankly at me, still vacantly pumping our hands up and down.

“No, really,” I said, “no joking, who are you?”

“Pablo” sighed and motioned for me to sit. I did, still studying the old man behind the desk. This wasn’t Pablo – a few short years ago, Pablo had been so alive, zipping around the Twitterverse in an unending quest to straighten the Star Wars canon. Here I beheld a tired, thinly stretched, and graying old man who could have passed for a Jedi in exile.

“Did you orchestrate this?” Would-be Pablo held up the printed cue faintly.

“Yes.” I was more confused than peeved. Scoring was hard work, and this was the first time I had been referred to the story department on matters of music. It shaped up like a pointless dent in my schedule for wholly unmusical reasons. “Is something the matter?”

“You indicate that this cue,” said Pablo weakly, “incorporates a men’s choir.”

“Yes.”

Pablo sighed. “I’m sorry to tell you this, but you’ll have to rethink this. If you’ve built anything in particular around the sound of a men’s choir, that’s also out.”

I wasn’t shocked, but my annoyance now overtook my confusion. “Just a minute, please. What about a men’s choir is so objectionable that the story group has to step in to interfere with the scoring process?”

Pablo didn’t answer. He lay his forearms on the table, wrapping both hands wearily around a bright green mug.

“I’d really like an answer, ‘Pablo,’ because that is a lot to ask.”

I suddenly noticed the veins in Pablo’s forearms. They stood out vividly as though they had been stenciled in with magic marker. He was straining – and he was gripping his fluorescent mug pretty hard.

“Is this about that silly Sno – ”

CRASH. I flinched. The mug had shattered from between Pablo’s hands. A gash in his palm pulsed heavily, and blood began to dribble out.

“You’re bleeding, my god, you’re bleeding. Are you okay? Where’s your first aid kit?”

“Stop.” Pablo hadn’t moved.

“You’re bleeding!”

“Just.” Pablo was still sitting ramrod-straight. “Just. Please.” He didn’t sound hurt, just wearier than ever. Maybe that was shock. “Please redo this cue.” He looked me in the eye. “And please don’t try using a men’s choir again.” The cut in his hand was slowly pooling blood among the ceramic shards of his former mug.

I bolted out the door. I had passed a first-aid kit next to the hand sanitizer on my way in.