Tom Waits’ speaking voice is even weirder than his singing voice… (Found out by listening to NPR All Songs Considered Live Podcast.)
Archive for February, 2009
I’ve realised that my ratings are basically arbitrary. But I guess its more the content of the review that matters rather than the numerical value. On to that content.
This movie was in 3D. Which, as it was computer-generated, must have been relatively easy to do, since all the “distances” are already in the computer, you would, I assume, just have to put it into some rendering program and *poof* 3D. The ease of this process is why, I imagine, this movie didn’t gain much by being 3D. There were a very few scenes that had a large depth of field and looked pretty cool, but for most of it, you almost didn’t notice. I think Disney used a theory of “why not?” rather than “why” when making that decision. Still, 3D in general makes everything cooler, so it certainly didn’t detract from the movie, it just didn’t add much.
On to less concrete parts of the film. Well, not quite. The art was very good. i really liked the way this movie looked, and things like the fur (a central part of a movie about a dog) were, dare I say, realistic, despite the movie being cartoony. I liked the cartoony aspects of the movie—they didn’t try with humans, which is always a good thing to do (the awkward ones in Toy Story, remember, and the uncanny valley of Final Fantasy). Some characters (the hamster) were more cartoony than others, but so were their personalities, so it worked out well.
Plotwise, this was rather typical. There was the one gimmick of the dog thinking he had super powers, but, essentially, it turned into Homeward Bound. A dog, a cat, and a hamster travel across the country to find their (well, Bolt’s) owner. Despite this, it was very entertaining. It was funny enough, and Rhino the hamster was basically hilarious any time he was on screen. It’s made better by the fact that he is voiced not by an actor like everyone else in the movie, but by an animator who did the test voice. They liked it so much, they put him in the movie. Regardless of the simple, cliché, plot, and perhaps because of it, this was very fun and pleasant to watch.
And, since it’s a Disney movie, we once again have the question of morals. Which are almost exactly the same as in Ratatouille. Which, of course, makes me like this movie immensely. Despite finding out that he doesn’t actually have super powers, Bolt manages to do (with the help of his friends, aw) exactly what he set out to do. So, as in Ratatouille, you can do anything you put your mind to, essentially. Always a feel-good message.
My final thought: you don’t see it, but Bolt bleeds in this movie (it’s talked about, but not shown). How often do Disney characters bleed? It stood out to me at the time, and it still does now…
Anyway, go see this movie. Not necessarily in 3D, though (it’s released in both formats). Unless you like the COOL glasses.
This is the second of what I think will be a trio of semi-related articles (culminating in my review of the book Free Culture, of which I already have 515 words of notes on…) In class today, a guest professor was discussing the relations between ancient Egypt and the other kingdoms in the area. Now, in theory, this would not be at all related to something like buying free music online, and downloading versus stealing music. But, it brought up an interesting subject.
Apparently, the kings of the various regions would send gifts to each other. However, rather than actually being gifts, they were more like items of trade. The king of Babylon, say, would send five teams of horses and three pounds of lapis lazuli to the pharaoh, as a gift. But he would also send a messenger later, asking for a gift of a bunch of gold. And, he was perfectly within his rights back then to ask for more gold, if he needed more and the pharaoh gave only a little as a gift (and he did so, according to letters exchanged between the two kings). Now, today, this is unheard of. One would never receive a gift, and then ask for more. Rather, you would be grateful for what you were given, even if you gave the other person something of higher value.
But perhaps equating these kingly gifts to birthday presents and so on today is not the comparison that should be made. (Can you see where I’m going here?) I think that rather than actually being gifts, these transactions were just a different kind of trade than what we are used to. I’m going to give things names here, that may be actually used for something else, so let me know if they are. I’m going to term two types of trade “push trade” and “pull trade,” taking names from IMAP vs. POP (not important if you don’t know what this is)
Now, what we have today, for the most part, is what I’m calling a “pull trade.” We take what we want, and we give back the monetary value of the item. That is, we “pull” the item from the seller, and then give back money, or barter, or whatever we are using to pay. What the kings were doing, though, is participating in “push trade.” They gave an item, and then expected payment (in kind, in gold, or whatever) to come from the buyer. (Alternately, they gave a payment, and expected an item from the seller, which is another way to think about it). They “push” the item to the buyer, and payment is expected, but not necessarily required.
A push economy seems to me to give certain privileges to everyone involved. The seller gets the privilege to ask for a higher price than they received on an item, as well as giving the seller a moral obligation to pay (which is sometimes a stronger force than an economic or legal obligation, at least for people today). The buyer, in return, gets the choice of his own price, or even not to pay at all (although this is dependant on his morals). Now, does this system seem familiar at all? To me, the kings of the ancient world are using essentially the exact same system as bands like Girl Talk and Radiohead are using today to sell their albums. They push out their albums, and we are morally bound (but not legally bound) to give them money. The king of Babylon pushed out his lapis lazuli, and the pharaoh of Egypt was morally bound (but not legally bound) to give him more gold. Of course, this system was clearly not in use everywhere in the ancient world, and probably only for the very rich, but as a spark for an economic idea, it seems interesting.
Does the change towards free culture require a change in economic theory as well as economic behavior? Do companies have to learn to push rather than pull? Thoughts?
Why is PC in Battlestar Galactica? That is, the guy who plays PC in the Apple commercials is a random doctor in the latest BSG… Strange.
Granted, it’s because I started following the account, and I think it’s an automatic response. But still.
I just bought Girl Talk’s album. (I would say his new album, but I know it’s not; it’s just new to me.) As you will see by clicking on that link, it’s marketed in essentially the same way as Radiohead’s In Rainbows was—name your price. It can be as low as 0.00, or as high as you want. I went to the link, put in zero dollars and started to download the album. Before I did, it asked me why I wasn’t paying anything; options ranged from “I can’t afford it” to “I don’t believe in paying for music.” Honestly, to me the second seems more valid than the first. Anyway, I picked “I might donate later,” and continued on with my life, waiting for it to finish downloading.
For roughly two minutes. It could have been guilt, it could have been the realization that this person wasn’t getting money for what he did (as opposed to his concert at Harvard, where he got paid and then didn’t do much…), I don’t know. But I went back, and paid five dollars. So, I was paying money for something that I could have gotten completely legally for free. Which seems to be a trend in my life. In Rainbows excepted (I didn’t pay for that), I tend to pay for things that people offer free, whereas when I do have to pay money to see or hear something, I usually obtain it through other (unspecified) means. This occurred with Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog, too. It’s offered for free in high quality online, but I paid for it on iTunes. These are only two examples that I can think of right now, but I’m sure there are more, and given my mindset, I would probably do it again.
So, why is this? Do people offer their works for free purely to guilt people into paying for them? Or do I just happen to really like people who are part of the Creative Commons-ish culture? I think for me, rather than being guilt, it’s more an appreciation of what they are doing. These people know that if someone wanted to get their stuff for free, they could easily do it illegally, through torrents, websites, whatever. And so, they know there’s nothing they can do about that. As a result, they offer their stuff for free, legally. Culture isn’t about the transaction of money anymore; it can’t be anymore. There are too many ways to get around restrictions, regulations, and so on. So, because I appreciate what they are doing—both the art itself as well as the gesture towards making criminals less criminal—I give them money. Maybe that’s it. I think one of the big ideas behind this trend is really making what people do anyway no longer illegal. So, Joss Whedon, Gregg Gillis, and so on—they’re actually helping us, the common, music-downloading, dvd-ripping people to become upstanding citizens rather than felons in the eyes of the RIAA.
And that’s worth $5 in my book.
How about you? Do you always pay for things? Do you download them for free? Illegally? Legally? I’d like to start a kind of debate, since I only know what a few people think about this topic. Comment!
I’m sure this has been posted in many other places by now, but I just wanted to make you guys aware of this hilariousness.
It seems Google Maps hasn’t fully mastered the art of taking out weird scenes while driving by. I remember there was a spate of them right when it first came out, but then they sort of died away and were replaced. Sad.