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Chuck Klosterman Who?

For whatever reason... I was reading on Wikipedia about the Northeast Blackout of 2003 (I can't remember, but can't you just waste oodles of time reading on Wikipedia?), and I see this reference:

A passage in Chuck Klosterman's 2005 non-fiction book Killing Yourself to Live: 85% of a True Story recounts the author's experience of being in Montana, a state not affected by the blackout, and listening to Fox News anchor Sean Hannity report on the power outage over the radio. Klosterman writes:

"Mr. Hannity is taking calls from listeners in Manhattan. All the callers are describing the scene like it's Mardi Gras; people seem to be wildly enjoying this blackout. Hannity says everyone should buy bottled water and open their apartment windows. He congratulates the people of New York for remaining calm during this period of hardship, and he salutes them for not looting the stores and initiating a race riot. Christ. We have low standards in this country."

One of the things I like about Wikipedia --you can jump from one obscure factoid to the next in hyperspeed.

I start reading different stuff on the web about Klosterman. Next thing you know I've made up my mind that I must have all his books. He's funny and writing about stuff I find interesting (diverting maybe) and I need something for a change. I call Half-Price Books as I'm wheeling over there, thinking "shit, I bet if they have any of his books they're in who knows what section". When the clerk at Half-Price comes back on the line after fielding my request she says she's sorry but they don't have any of this books and then starts to tell me how if they did they would be all over the store and sorry it took so long...

I call Barnes and Nobles. I figure screw it, at least I can buy them new. The clerk there starts rattling off the titles of all four books. I stop him. I know what the titles are, can you please check if you have any of them? He's got them all and I ask him: "You sound like you're familiar with him, are you?", "I've read them all", he says.

Stuff and nonsense! Everybody has heard of this guy except me.

I got "Chuck Klosterman IV" from the library, and an audio cd where he's reading his essay about being on the road with a Guns n' Roses tribute band. Hilarious. Insightful. My kind of stuff. I was laughing all the way back from the library.

His essays and stories are fun but they remind me of Chinese food. A few days later I've forgotten most of what I read. But in this case it just makes for a good reason to own the books. One thing has stuck with me:

He pointed out that an opinion is just an opinion --it can change.

Sometimes I wonder about this. Like when I say to myself: "my favorite movie is L'avventura". What do I know about what my favorite movie is? I mean yea it's pretty good but it's been years since I seen it and I'm really just a collection of ideas/desires/fragments swirling around in a thing called mind. I guess the best I can say is it's somebody's favorite. Somebody I know fairly well.

I'm trying to notice these edicts as they float to the surface. I want to retest them...

For example, the other day my buddy wuehlmaus says what a great song "Stairway to Heaven" is. And I respond knee-jerk: "I hate Stairway to Heaven". Thinking about it I realized it's truly been years since I've actually listened to it. I take myself too seriously when I talk about my opinion. As if it were the word of God or so (though I guess in a buddhist sense it is.)

I was telling another buddy about Klosterman. He sounded pretty interested until I mentioned how Klosterman likes Billy Joel. My friend scoffed. As if liking Billy Joel eliminates someone from having a serious opinion about anything. Heh. I can relate to that viewpoint. It's funny how invested I am with my opinions.

I've got "Stairway to Heaven" and some Billy Joel on my portable. Let's see if I can breakdown and listen to them...

Esquire: Chuck Klosterman Has an Opinion, But Does It Matter?


Musepack Vs. Ogg Vorbis Vs. Nero AAC

Some random comment in #mplayer sent me chasing my tail today. I guess that's how it is with computers --they're dangerous. You never know what you're going to be doing a few minutes after you sit down in front of one. AT least, that's the way it works for me.

I digress...

Jul 29 11:11:44 <patrakov> ...nero offers windows and linux binaries for their encoder in the same zip file

Jul 29 11:13:17 <patrakov> http://www.nero.com/eng/nero-aac-codec.html

Snap, crackle, Pop! A freeware linux encoder for AAC!

Several years ago my brother gave me and ipod shuffle for my birthday. Always being obsessed with trying to get the best sounding music by any means necessary (an audiophile nutjob), I started to try and figure out various encoding schemes for it. It was a 500 meg device (which is plenty good esp on a device without a display) so I was more concerned about file size than I am with the portables I use now.

Never could get that faac encoder working without the occasional clicking sound. And I had heard good things about the Nero encoder. It's just that it's been years since I have used Windows. I kind of want to keep it that way.

Anyway, one thing led to another and for a couple years now I've been using Musepack instead. Sniffing around trying to find some good command lines for Nero AAC encoding I found a weblog post where a guy is talking about some japanese guys who have been optimizing the Ogg Vorbis encoder for speed or for quality (take your pick, I'll almost always go for the quality.)

One thing I found out experimenting with this hi-fi Ogg Vorbis encoder is that I can encode 96khz files. Just happen to have some of those laying around... And I was worried about converting them to 48khz because that's as high as Musepack will go. I like to kid myself that I can hear the difference. And I bet I'm the first kid on my block listening to 96khz files on his portable. How sweet it is...

Compiling aoTuV

Recommended Ogg Vorbis Encoders and Settings

rockbox replacement firmware so I can play exotic formats on my portable...


Mystery Of K-duk Kim

Seen a couple really good movies by Ki-duk Kim lately. "Bad Guy", "Samaria" and 3 Iron". 3 Iron was particulary good I thought and this got me curious to look into the other films by this director. One that looks like it might be interesting is "The Isle". Curious about it I went and read/skimmed a couple of reviews. I like this bit that Roger Ebert had to say [regarding challenging movies]:

"Why would you want to see this film? Most people would not. I was recently at a health resort where a movie was shown every night, and one of the selections was Pedro Almodovar's 'All About My Mother,' which involves transgendered characters. 'Why,' a woman asked me, 'would they show a movie with things I do not want to see?' She is not unusual. Most people choose movies that provide exactly what they expect, and tell them things they already know. Others are more curious. We are put on this planet only once, and to limit ourselves to the familiar is a crime against our minds."


More To Dick Than Meets The Eye

I'm reading through some more short stories by Philip K. Dick --the one's accompanying a paperback version of "minority report", a novella that I had read long before it crossed Spielberg's desk.

I'm finding that the thing that annoyed me about Dick's writing when I first started reading him is the thing I now find most interesting --he paints himself into a corner. His stories just don't make any sense. The world he creates is not consistent in a way that allows me to suspend my disbelief. At first I put this down to sloppy writing, and it was easy to take this view as his stories are kinda pulpy/trashy/non-literature type stuff. A guilty pleasure akin to reading comic books or pornography...

But now... it's like I finally get it. He does it on purpose.

From Stanislaw Lem's "Philip K. Dick: A Visionary Among Charlatans" (alternate translation...):

"He invented a method to express, with the aid of trash, that which transcends all trash."

Philip K. Dick Psychological Bio



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