Sunday, May 25, 2014

National Film Registry 2014 Inductees

Way back in 2011 I listed 25 potential inductees I thought should be included in the National Film Registry. Since that time some of my choices have been added:

Appalachian Spring – documentary, 1959. Why?: Recreates the influential 1944 premier performance choreographed by Martha Graham.” The Registry inducted the early films of Graham, from 1931-44, including the original Appalachian Spring performance. 2012 inductee.

Pulp Fiction – narrative feature, 1994.” 2013 inductee.

The Times of Harvey Milk – documentary, 1984. Why?: Preserves documentary footage of the early gay rights movement in America, and its leader Harvey Milk.” 2013 inductee.

So I’ve recreated my list, with some changes based on an enhanced knowledge over the past four years of America’s cinema. Here are my new 25 desired inductees.

Apollo 11 Moon Landing Footage – documentary, 1969. Why?: Is the first film shot on another celestial body.
Army-McCarthy Hearings – newsreel, 1954. Why?: Documents a critical moment in American politics. 
The Big Lebowski – narrative feature, 1998.
Camille – narrative feature, 1936. 
The Cat Concerto – animated short subject, 1947. Why?: Exemplifies the Tom and Jerry shorts that won seven Academy Awards.
Clerks – narrative feature, 1994. 
Closed Mondays – animated short subject. Why?: Exemplifies Will Vinton’s very influential Claymation style.
Der Fuehrer's Face – animated short subject, 1942. Why?: Exemplifies WWII anti-Nazi propaganda.
F for Fake – documentary/narrative feature, 1973.
Fiddler on the Roof – narrative feature, 1971. 
Hearts and Minds – documentary, 1974. Why?: One of the most influential American documentaries of the 1970s, with extensive footage of the Vietnam War.
I Like America and America Likes Me - experimental film/short subject, 1974. Why?: One of the defining moments of performance art by Joseph Beuys.
Jurassic Park – narrative feature, 1993.
Meat Joy – experimental film/short subject, 1964. Why?: One of the defining moments of performance art by Carol Schneemann.
The Mind’s Eye: A Computer Animation Odyssey – animated short subject, 1990. Why?: Was a pioneer in computer animation technology.
Monterey Pop – documentary, 1968. Why?: Documents the first great American rock festival, before Woodstock.
My Dinner with Andre – narrative feature, 1981.
The Old Mill – animated short subject, 1937. Why?: First use of the multiplane camera.
Paths of Glory – narrative feature, 1957.
President Nixon's Resignation Speech – newsreel, 1974. Why?: Documents a critical moment in American politics.
The Princess Bride – narrative feature, 1987. 
Superman – animated short subject, 1941. Why?: Was the first film adaptation of the comic book icon, heavily influencing future depictions.
Treasure Island – narrative feature, 1950.
The Truman Show – narrative film, 1998.
Twice Upon a Time – animated feature film, 1983. Why?: Only example of a feature-length animation to use lumage.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Ross' Gyoza: A Journey of Epic Failure

Today I decided to make gyoza.

First things first I substituted pork loin for ground pork, due to unavailability of the latter.

I cut the pork into small pieces, as shown. Cut until the consistency of ground pork, or five minutes if your hand gets tired.

Now, I didn’t have quite all of the ingredients necessary for gyoza (cabbage, starch, etc.) so I had to make do with what I had. These included green onions, sugar, pepper, oyster sauce, soy sauce, garlic and ginger.

Throw all of the items together in a bowl except green onions, and mix. Note: don’t bother measuring out the quantities but instead add what 'looks right'. Cover with saran, or barring that, tinfoil, for a nice metallic aftertaste, and put in the fridge for 30 (or 10) minutes (if impatient).

Since I didn’t have gyoza skins, I instead made use of spring roll skins. Note the difference in thickness, as spring roll skins are nearly transparent

While gyoza filling is in the fridge boil some water, and flour a baking sheet. Get a large plate and fill with water.

Add spring roll skins to water, on both sides, and add gyoza filling before placing one side in flour.

Since spring roll skins are much larger than gyoza skins, you will only be able to cook two at a time.

Ignore every red flag and warning in your head.

Add to a pan with some olive oil (instead of the more traditional sesame oil) and add boiling water until half full. Within 5-6 minutes the water should evaporate.

At least ten minutes later reflect upon the choices you’ve made that have brought you to this point in your life, and flip the gyoza in an attempt to render golden brown.



Like pancakes, my series of gyoza looked better as time went on. I used less water, flipped earlier, and cooked for less time. Here, then, are my attempts, from earliest on the left, to latest on the right:

I tried my most ruinous gyoza first. It wasn’t bad, sort of like foil wrapped chicken, but with pork. The spring roll skin was incorrigible, however.

Skipping the in-between steps, I went to the finale, and discovered on it, too, the skin was a problem. What was worse, the pork hadn’t cooked, due to less time on the burner. Indeed, upon inspection this was true of all the remaining ~gyoza. 


So I decided to throw them back into a pan, which I had floured out of spite earlier.

Learn nothing from your past mistakes.

Cover. Why not.

Cook for a while. Give up on the skins. Avoid openly weeping, so as to not over-salt the recipe.

Rationalize your failures. Maybe you’ve discovered a new recipe – "Gyoza Stir Fry Surprise…"

Attempt consumption.

Success! You actually made something edible! Not good - but edible. I think I’ll call it “Gyoza Stir Fry Surprise”. 

Serves two to four people you wish you hadn't invited to a dinner party. Best over rice.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

A Century of LPs

      Recorded music, of course, did not begin with LPs. The following is a list of 100 albums to listen to if you want a nice overview of 20th-ish century western music. Not all music - I leave classical out for the problems that would involve. (Do you include the best performances of work from centuries ago? Only works written in the 20th century?) Likewise, after much debate, I've left off anthologies, compilations, or greatest hits collections. Once we get to the 1950s the number of LPs per decade more or less evens out. I'm pleased by the unintentional symmetry of beginning and ending with jazz.

1.      The Famous 1938 Carnegie Hall Jazz Concert, Benny Goodman, r. 1938
2.      Dust Bowl Ballads, Woody Guthrie, 1940
3.      Songs for John Doe, Almanac Singers, 1941
4.      Stormy Weather, Motion Picture Soundtrack, 1943
5.      Paris 1945, Django Reinhardt, 1945
6.      An American in Paris, Motion Picture Soundtrack, 1951
7.      Black Coffee, Peggy Lee, 1953
8.      Clifford Brown and Max Roach, Clifford Brown and Max Roach, 1955
9.      In the Wee Small Hours, Frank Sinatra, 1955
10.  Sings Ballads and Blues, Odetta, 1956
11.  Elvis Presley, Elvis Presley, 1956
12.  Ella and Louis Again, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, 1957
13.  Here’s Little Richard, Little Richard, 1957
14.  After Midnight, Nat King Cole, 1957
15.  West Side Story; Original Broadway Cast Recording, Bernstein and Sondheim, 1957
16.  My Fair Lady; Original London Cast Recording, Lerner and Lowe, 1958
17.  Kind of Blue, Miles Davis, 1959
18.  Mingus Ah Um, Charlie Mingus, 1959
19.  Jazz in Silhouette, Sun Ra, 1959
20.  The Shape of Jazz to Come, Ornette Coleman, 1959
21.  Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs, Marty Robbins, 1959
22.  At Newport 1960, Muddy Waters, 1960
23.  Two Steps from the Blues, Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland, 1961
24.  Sunday at the Village Vanguard, Bill Evans Trio, 1961
25.  Breakfast at Tiffany’s: Music from the Motion Picture, Henry Mancini, 1962
26.  Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, Ray Charles, 1962
27.  The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, Bob Dylan, 1963
28.  Live at the Apollo, James Brown, 1963
29.  A Love Supreme, John Coltrane, 1964
30.  Pet Sounds, The Beach Boys, 1966
31.  Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Beatles, 1967
32.  The Velvet Underground and Nico, The Velvet Underground, 1967
33.  Astral Weeks, Van Morrison, 1968
34.  There and Now: Live in Vancouver, Phil Ochs, 1968
35.  At Folsom Prison, Johnny Cash, 1968
36.  Five Leaves Left, Nick Drake, 1969
37.  Trout Mask Replica, Captain Beefheart, 1969
38.  Paranoid, Black Sabbath, 1970
39.  Bridge Over Troubled Water, Simon and Garfunkel, 1970
40.  Blue, Joni Mitchell, 1971
41.  Tapestry, Carol King, 1971
42.  What’s Going On, Marvin Gaye, 1971
43.  Led Zeppelin IV, Led Zeppelin 1971
44.  Talking Book, Stevie Wonder, 1972
45.  The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, David Bowie, 1972
46.  Superfly, Curtis Mayfield, 1973
47.  Dark Side of the Moon, Pink Floyd, 1973
48.  Natty Dread, Bob Marley, 1974
49.  The Koln Concert, Keith Jarrett, 1975
50.  Chester and Lester, Chet Atkins and Les Paul, 1976
51.  Exile on Main Street, The Rolling Stones, 1977
52.  The Clash, The Clash, 1977
53.  The Cars, The Cars, 1978
54.  Back in Black, AC/DC, 1980
55.  Shoot Out the Lights, Richard and Linda Thompson, 1982
56.  Avalon, Roxy Music, 1982
57.  Thriller, Michael Jackson, 1982
58.  Stop Making Sense, The Talking Heads, 1984
59.  Born in the USA, Bruce Springsteen, 1984
60.  Purple Rain, Prince, 1984
61.  Paid in Full, Eric B. and Rakim, 1984
62.  The Queen is Dead, The Smiths, 1986
63.  Graceland, Paul Simon, 1986
64.  Master of Puppets, Metallica, 1986
65.  Appetite for Destruction, Guns n Roses, 1987
66.  It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, Public Enemy, 1988
67.  Tracy Chapman, Tracy Chapman, 1988
68.  The Stone Roses, The Stone Roses, 1989
69.  I’ve Got That Old Feeling, Alison Krauss, 1990
70.  The Low-End Theory, A Tribe Called Quest, 1991
71.  Automatic for the People, R.E.M., 1992
72.  Anodyne, Uncle Tupelo, 1993
73.  Illmatic, Nas, 1994
74.  Grace, Jeff Buckley, 1994
75.  The Next Hundred Years, Ted Hawkins, 1994
76.  MTV Unplugged in New York, Nirvana, 1994
77.  Jagged Little Pill, Alanis Morissette, 1995
78.  Emperor Tomato Ketchup, Stereolab, 1996
79.  Endtroducing…. ., DJ Shadow, 1996
80.  DecksAndDrumsAndRockAndRoll, Propellerheads, 1998
81.  Ray of Light, Madonna, 1998
82.  When the Pawn…, Fiona Apple, 1999
83.  Play, Moby, 1999
84.  69 Love Songs, Magnetic Fields, 1999
85.  Stories from the City Stories from the Sea, PJ Harvey, 2000
86.  Kid A, Radiohead, 2000
87.  Is This It?, The Strokes, 2001
88.  Discovery, Daft Punk, 2001
89.  Fan Dance, Sam Phillips, 2001
90.  Sea Change, Beck, 2002
91.  Original Pirate Material, The Streets, 2002
92.  Elephant, The White Stripes, 2003
93.  Madvillainy, Madvillain, 2004
94.  Fox Confessor Brings the Flood, Neko Case, 2006
95.  The Crane Wife, The Decemberists, 2006
96.  Neon Bible, Arcade Fire, 2007
97.  Kala, M.I.A., 2007
98.  My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Kanye West, 2010
99.  Hadestown, Anais Mitchell, 2010
100. Radio Music Society, Esperanza Spalding, 2012

Monday, May 5, 2014

5/9 of the Problem

The Conservative Court, Ladies and Gentlemen!

Note of interest: All five are Catholics. Read into it what you will!

Number One: Anthony Scalia

·         Formerly a member of the neocon American Enterprise think-tank
·         Also member of shady Federalist Society that would later include Alito and Roberts
·         Compared Roe v Wade to Dredd Scott
·         First introduced originalism to the Supreme Court: ‘cause what would Washington say about semi-automatics, anyway?

Number Two: Anthony Kennedy

·         Supported strip-searches for anyone pulled in by the police, regardless of suspicion of contraband
·         Critical supporter of Citizens United saying “the appearance of influence or access will not cause the electorate to lose faith in this democracy” as well writing the majority in McCutcheon
·         Was the swing vote that got Bush elected in 2000
·         Has stated that he does not consider himself a ‘swing’ vote, and voted with Rehnquist 92% of the time

Number Three: Clarence Thomas

·         Sexual harassment of Anita Hill before being appointed Supreme Court Judge
·         Refuses to speak on the bench
·         Didn’t disclose more than half a million in taxes, claimed “inadvertently omitted due to a misunderstanding of the filing instructions”.
·         Clearly has no basic understanding of laws (see previous)

Number Four: John Roberts

·         Took a stance against free speech in schools in 2007
·         Screwed up the Oath of Office in 2008
·         Argued that prison overcrowding did not violate Eighth Amendment in California, which was overcrowded more than 137%
·         Supported the constitutionality of wire-tapping

Number Five: Samuel Alito

·         Voted to restrict abortion rights in Gonzales reversing O’Connor’s previous opinion
·         Concurs with Scalia 86% of the time
·         Argued as an Appeals judge that cops aren’t liable if they strip-search a ten year-old

·         Has the reputation as the rudest of the nine judges on the bench, often breaking the rules of decorum