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Uncertain Principles

Physics, Politics, Pop Culture

Monday, May 16, 2005

Something Completely Different

It's been a while since I posted any disgustingly cute dog pictures, so here's something to make up for that: doggy video!

Some time back, I noted Emmy's tendency to roll in my basketball stuff, which is just about the silliest thing you'd ever want to see. Well, here's nine seconds of video to prove just how silly she can be: 3MB AVI file. This is only a small clip from the middle of about five minutes of ecstatic flopping and rolling in the clothes I wore to play hoops at lunchtime today.

(This'll give people something to look at while I'm gone. The whole time I'm gone, for those who choose to download it, as it might take all week. If anybody knows an easy (and free) way to shrink video files down, post a comment and Kate can make it smaller.)

I'm off to the reddest of red states in the morning, and will be back Saturday night. Don't throw any wild parties while I'm gone.

Posted at 9:33 PM | link | follow-ups | 4 comments

Look and Feel the Force

Via Matt McIrvin, the Washington Post has a special Star Wars page up, collecting all their writing about the various movies over the years. It's sort of interesting to look at the old reviews, and Style section features, particularly regarding the original movies, where there's a clear tone of bewilderment in the articles.

The "Special Edition" DVD review reminded me of a conversation we had the other night, where I was talking about the real problem I have with the new trilogy. Other than, you know, the crappy acting and the way Lucas gave in to all his worst instincts at every turn.

The biggest problem with the new films is just an outgrowth of the problem with the "Special Edition" re-releases: Lucas just can't stop fiddling with things. He wasn't entirely happy with the originals, so he went back and "fixed" them with new technology, and when he set out to make new movies, he "fixed" those, too.

The problem is, this gives the new movies a much different look and feel than the old ones. Just look at the shiny CGI spaceship the Jedi cruise around in in Episode I, and compare it to the cheesey little models that were the state of the art back in the 80's. Or the new CGI droids, which have moved beyond "We need to get a midget inside" as the chief design principle. Or the lightsaber battles, with all the "I wish I was Yuen Wo-Ping" martial-arts choreography, compared to the Alec Guiness two-hand hack of the originals.

If the new films were sequels, this wouldn't bug me-- the march of progress, and all that-- but they're prequels. And things look a million times cooler in the past.

Yeah, fine, the old society has decayed under Imperial rule, the Rebels are a rag-tag bunch, it's the middle of an intergalactic civil war ("Gentrification!"). Still, the new movies have a different feel to them, and it's distracting.

Had Lucas decided to make a new set of movies that look more like what he wanted Star Wars to be, I think they'd be better received. They'd still be badly acted and sloppy, but they wouldn't be attempting to play off the old movies, and getting it all wrong.

Posted at 9:16 AM | link | follow-ups | 3 comments

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Since the Last Progress Report, I've Been Working on This Progress Report

I submitted a small paper on Friday, which is good, and I'm leaving for the annual meeting of the Division of Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics (Woo! Nebraska!) of the American Physical Society on Tuesday, which is also good, as I really enjoy going to conferences.

Of course, looking at my schedule for the next couple of months, I seem to be nearing the point where I'm spending so much time going to conferences that I'll start having trouble generating things to talk about at conferences. I've got DAMOP next week, then I'm scheduled to talk at a CLEAN collaboration meeting in New Haven in early June, and then I'll be going the Atomic Physics Gordon Conference in New Hampshire at the end of June.

All of these are going to require some prep time. I spent today putting together a progress report poster to present at DAMOP, I'll have to slightly re-work my LRT2004 talk for the CLEAN meeting, and I think I'm supposed to be presenting a poster at the Gordon Conference, which will require some re-working of last year's DAMOP poster. Plus, I think I can squeeze another paper out of some old results, and then I've got a progress report to write for my Research Corp. grant, which means I really need to figure out how much money is left in that account, and I've got to order some parts for this year's summer student projects, plus the bookstore is bugging me about textbooks for next year, and...

And somewhere in there, I need to generate some new results.

Anyway, don't expect anything exciting here in the next week or so, as I'll be out in Big XII country hanging out with geeks.

Posted at 5:02 PM | link | follow-ups | 1 comment

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