“Mindless Deadrun” take BB

I have invested quite some time on this arrangement and I’m fairly satisfied with the results. The limitations of the intertwined piano 4-hands format I chose mean that this arrangement is lobotomized. There’s no way I (me “up” and me “down” depending on where I was perched on the bench) could hope to match the colors of a full orchestra. Just listen to me fumbling the sixteenths when a string section would breeze effortlessly through.

A few notes –

  • I’m fairly proud of my synchronization, but I have no idea if that will suffer when I work my way up to the proper tempo.
  • That weird trill is supposed to be a snare drum. Limitations of the medium.
  • I left out the repeat and the huge bass drum strike at the end of the piece. But I know that the simulated bass drum sounds cool!
  • I got completely bum-lost in the middle and that made me very sad, but at least I came back in the end.
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Dvorak and your home row

It occurs to me that I learned all the important keybindings in my life on Dvorak.

This means that hjkl in vim are 75% not in my home row. J and K are within reach of the left hand (and conveniently next to each other, thank goodness). While H lies right under my right index finger at rest, L is a slight stretch to the top with my right ring finger (P on standard QWERTY). Life with vim and other vim-like tools is a daily awkward keyboard etude.

It’s occurred to me several times before that I could rebind these keys (and relearn them all) so that I wouldn’t have to think so hard when I drive other people’s machines and have to type like a blundering idiot. The main reason why I don’t do so is that I prize being able to meaningfully echo my own inputs back to myself in my mind. Deleting a line sounds like “deedee.” “Good game” takes me to the top of the file; “GEE” drops me to the bottom. “Control – deedeedeedeedee” takes me on a leisurely stroll down the text. This sense of control allows me to constantly remind myself how to use vim rather than rely solely on muscle memory. Then I invert ordering of mental sounding to keyboard input: I say to myself “jay jay” and use that to override my hands to tap “J” with my right index finger. “Deedee” is done with my left middle finger (when usually it looks like “hh” by my outstretched right index finger).

Re-derivation in the moment is a moderately useful skill that I like to cultivate even for useless things like this.

J39M

Shooting a whale in a teacup

Before Rogue One came out, I remember reading some excited comments on Reddit amounting to a score wishlist from Giacchino. Most of that wishlist came true: first and foremost, Darth Vader’s theme got a good showing (Krennic’s Aspirations and Hope). This is like shooting a whale in a teacup; Giacchino could have stuck in an Imperial quote played by a Peruvian pan flute and made the crowd go wild.

The finer points of the A New Hope score that the aforementioned comment hoped for were the insidious minor-third motif (which I hadn’t really taken notice of before) and the over-the-top Death Star flourish.

To my delight, Krennic’s Aspirations fulfilled the former almost gleefully. Giacchino really did his homework, I imagine. However, the Death Star motif didn’t get any showing that I can remember. In fact, the Death Star doesn’t seem to have any particular musical motif for itself in Rogue One since it is rarely the focal point in this movie.

A shower thought came over me tonight: the 2 firings of the Death Star provide a musical foil to each other from film to film. The cue Destruction of Alderaan is chock-full of dramatic tension, whirling up and down the heartstrings before culminating in a shocking and angry resolution in which Leia’s home is destroyed. The big ending to The Battle of Yavin evokes Holst (a bit like the opening Tantive IV chase) with no less bombast, going for the wholesale brass fortissimo to keep the audience engaged.

Compare these 2 examples against how things played out in Rogue One. In Star-dust, the quiet, almost nonchalant destruction of Jedha is just background noise while Jyn tearfully reconnects virtually with her father. One of the quickest genocides in galactic history plays out over quiet piano chords with minimal orchestral work. The cue and scene are serene, because the emotional crux of the scene lies between Jyn and the unreachable Galen. In Your Father Would Have Been Proud, the rate of mickey-mousing drops below zero as a choir layers a slow-paced cue over the abrupt destruction of the upper Citadel tower (and the death of Orson Krennic). Again, the action need not be frenzied because the outcome is inescapable. Jyn and Cassian have no way out; all they can do is collapse on the beach and wait for their time to come, soaring away on a heroic refrain of Jyn’s theme. The Death Star is mostly irrelevant in the scheme of things, having failed to interrupt the rebel transmission.

Compare the cues against each other and you see that we lose nothing by the omission of the quasi-motif of the New Hope Death Star. Rather, the musical blindness to the Death Star prevents the audience from being distracted by what is the largest on-screen object, enhancing the flow of the story.

Mistake of the day: pyinotify

I’m rewriting an old application. The next-gen evolution here is that instead of a time-based loop, I’m rewiring the flow of execution to take cues via pyinotify. (I was terribly proud of calculating the average song length in my library and using that to decide the loop timing.)

I followed the example code and read the documentation. I found that the key takeaways were

  1. I was to use WatchManager.add_watch to monitor my file. In this case, that’s ~/.quodlibet/current. The documentation clearly states that files and directories both are watchable – though the tutorials only seemed to cover directories.
  2. I watched for the event pyinotify.IN_MODIFY – because I would be waiting for a file modification.

When I tried a dummy run just to see things in action, the event process was triggered as expected. However, processing had fallen through to the “default” event – not IN_MODIFY as I wanted. To make matters worse, no further events were ever seen again (even when they should have happened). I was only getting the one event – and the wrong event, at that.

There’s no head-scratching here. When I added some more verbosity, my gross mistake became very clear. The process of changing ~/.quodlibet/current is to write the new one out to a tempfile and then swap it into the “real” current file. This is two(-ish) events in ~/.quodlibet, and neither of them is a modify to ~/.quodlibet/current.

EDIT: I think the once-off happens because your watch is invalidated. When the tempfile clobbers ~/.quodlibet/current, the underlying file is no more – so you’re watching a ghost whose name was already usurped on the filesystem.

The correct approach is to watch ~/.quodlibet and match on the exact file being reported in the event fire.

J39M

I appreciate blunt friends

I have as of late been moaning and whining incessantly at 2 very blunt friends of mine. The moaning and whining arises from a personal crisis that requires honesty and pragmatism to quell (and possibly address). Some friends I confided in erred on the side of consideration and immediate kindness. I appreciate that – but the wounds within continue festering.

The bluntness is like a sudden splash of cold water, like the shock you get when you drop off the boat thinking that Hawaiian water is warm. In ordinary conversation, it might seem like “well, not really what I was looking for,” but it is a necessary thing that I ultimately look fondly back at.

Bruce rattled the fence as he clambered up. He lithely made his way down, turning right at the corner peach tree, continuing to the grimy bathroom window, and hanging a final left into the homeward stretch.

Bruce stopped. Home was supposed to be here, just off the fence. This was not home.

He paused. He turned in place (an impressive feat even with his feline grace) and retraced his steps – right, past a spotless bathroom window, and left at the apricot tree. Bruce’s nose perked up. He had passed here only moments before, but none of his scent lingered. It was as though he had never been here.

Unnerved, he turned again, one paw slipping audibly on the usually steady fence. Right at the lemon tree, past the blank wall, and left to the home fence. Nothing. A nondescript backyard, not very tidily swept – definitely not Bruce’s home.

Bruce did not turn around again. He continued down the fence. If he was lost, he could always find his way home from the neighborhood streets he knew best. He passed the four-way at the juncture of houses and continued on, eager to hop off the fence.

But the street was not ahead. He came instead to another four-way fence meet-up. Bruce turned left. He must have been accidentally running parallel to the street.

Five fence intersections later, Bruce was still lost and increasingly unsure why all the houses here formed a perfect grid with no egress to the street. Stranger still was the unnatural calm. There were far fewer crickets than August usually provided. Every single house was dark, even though it was scarcely an hour after sundown. Bruce hadn’t run into another living thing – not even a pesky dog to taunt.

Bruce bent and made to drop off the fence.

He froze immediately and couldn’t move. Waves of foreboding crashed over him. The yard, sparsely planted and somewhat unkempt, leered malevolently at him. Bruce knew that he absolutely could not stray from the safety of the fence.

Bruce slowly straightened up.

Meow. A plaintive and confused sound escaped him.

Meow. Bruce just wanted to get home.

Meow. Bruce was scared.

Meow. Bruce was lost.

Meow.

The unending grid of cold houses stretched unimaginably far in all directions.

“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.