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Messages - Bill Binkelman

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61
I have no problem reading a lot about movies before I see them...spoilers be damned, you might say is my motto. Anyway, I have read a LOT of reaction to this film so far, from fans and critics (the fans are in Europe and have seen it already). The results are VERY mixed. It seems, oddly enough, that a lot more critics are impressed with the film while many fans (of Scott's other works) are, well, to be honest, let down/disappointed/pissed off. Apparently, the "themes" of the movie are much "heavier" than Alien (even heavier than Blade Runner, apparently). It strikes me as odd, though, that there is a huge disagreement about the film's flaws. Some find the dialogue cringe-worthy, characterization non-existent (except for Fassbender, according to most), and plot full of holes you could drive the Nostromo through. Others (mostly professional critics) find it one of those "brilliant" failures that reaches for something far beyond the usual and, even if not hitting it, is to be commended for the ambition. Almost everyone praises the visual design and "look" of the film. Soundtrack music gets a pan from almost everyone, though. I know I will see this, but not sure how soon after its release. Rotten Tomatoes is currently polling it at 78% "fresh" but, IMO, having been a fan of that site for many years, I sense that more and more the awarding of a fresh tomato is not always indicative of the review (when one reads the entire review).

I will stand by my comments from months ago. I have seen WAY too many cases of overhype killing a movie, to the point that either expectations are so high that almost no film can meet them OR that the hype wasn't warranted. I have viewed many trailers that LOOKED awesome only to have the film be mediocre. Only time will tell with this one, but I'd rather go in with medium to low expectations and be pleasantly surprised than go in thinking I am going to see something akin to 2001 and instead see something closer in quality to Dark Star.

62
Art and Literature, Movies and TV / Re: Samsara
« on: May 25, 2012, 06:48:37 PM »
I've been waiting for this film for ... man, too long. 5-6 years maybe? I can't wait. Fricke is a genius.

Couldn't agree more. May have to watch Baraka tonight...

63
Art and Literature, Movies and TV / Re: Movie trailers worth a look
« on: April 24, 2012, 10:43:48 PM »
If, like me, you are/were a fan of the Ron Fricke film, Baraka here's the trailer for his new film which he took 5 years to film, all on 70 mm film (so see it on the big screen): Samsara

http://trailers.apple.com/trailers/independent/samsara/

And here's a link to the official site...if you have time, watch a short video on viewer reactions to Samsara from an advance screening.
http://www.barakasamsara.com/

64
I have seen too many trailers that looked equally awesome and the final film didn't deliver. Admittedly, this looks fantastic, but I will wait for opening night...I have had too many expectations dashed on the rocks of reality. A lot of films can be assembled into an amazing trailer and the resulting film is only "okay" so we will see. Also, I hope Scott knows what he is doing screwing around with the Alien mythos. Lucas did that with the prequel and we got "midocholorians."

65
I just watched the latest Japanese market trailer for The Avengers and this film just keeps looking better and better. Between this and The Dark Knight Rises it's gonna be a great summer for popcorn flicks. I can't believe how good the Marvel comic films have gotten. I enjoyed Thor and Captain America both and own copies of both Iron Man movies. I feel like a kid again with all this geek love from Hollywood coming out (I was a HUGE fan of silver age Marvel comics - collected them ravenously when I was in grade school 1964-68 and even the first few years in high school).

66
First Ralph McQuarrie (the conceptual artist who birthed the look of Star Wars) now Moebius, who was the creative genius behind part of the look of the original Alien movie (spacesuits and Nostromo interiors), as well as the original Tron and The Fifth Element, and his famous comic strips which ran in the magazine Heavy Metal, (which he co-founded) has left us. There is a write up at aintitcoolnews.com here:
http://www.aintitcool.com/node/54197

as well as articles at venues like the the Chicago Sun Times:
http://www.suntimes.com/news/obituaries/11228066-418/jean-giraud-known-as-moebius-73-one-of-the-greatest-artists-of-world-comic-art.html

and The Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/french-comic-artist-jean-giraud-alias-moebius-dies-at-73/2012/03/11/gIQATdt15R_story.html


I am really feeling old lately.  :(

67
I still have that original 'The StarWars Portfolio' collection of artwork that McQuarrie created, that literally got Star Wars off the ground back in 1976. I've always admired people like McQuarrie, Ron Cobb, Sam Didier, Syd Mead, H.R. Giger, and others, who could literally create magic from a blank canvas, and made our world a little better for showing us worlds that didn't exist until they opened the box just a bit to let us peek inside.



I limited myself to just one. RIP, Ralph McQuarrie.

Well said, Antdude!

68
He was the conceptual artist for the first Star Wars trilogy. Really visionary, IMO.

http://www.cnn.com/2012/03/04/showbiz/star-wars-death/index.html

Good day for the Grim Reaper...BAD day for us humans.

69
Everything and Nothing / Guitarist Ronnie Montrose dies...
« on: March 04, 2012, 02:55:29 PM »
Wow! I LOVED his first two albums (Montrose, and Paper Money) and played them a LOT as a teen and into my 20s and was just set to order the CD of Paper Money from Amazon. His playing on They Only Come Out at Night was fantastic and MADE that album, IMO. Really sad.
Here is Rolling Stone's article:
http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/guitarist-ronnie-montrose-dead-at-64-20120304

70
Now Playing / Re: Currently listening, part 1
« on: March 02, 2012, 08:55:17 AM »
Working on a mix called "1969" so I've been listening to some music from 1969.

Bowie - Space Oddity
King Crimson - In The Court Of The Crimson King
Miles Davis - In a Silent Way
Pink Floyd - Ummagumma
Terry Riley - a rainbow in curved air

Now, that there is some choice high quality stuff! I love I T C O T C K (boy, that acronym looks strangely disturbing) and UmmaGumma is my fave P Floyd album. Nice!

71
Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: Were did TELOMERE go?
« on: February 28, 2012, 06:26:51 PM »
Chris (MacDonald, who is Telomere) never has been the most prolific artist, although his albums all contain uniformly excellent classic spacemusic. He released CDs in 1998, 2001, and 2007, so he's probably "right on schedule." Hell, Meg Bowles went 10+ years between From the Dark Earth and A Quiet Light. You can always try emailing Chris at telomere@evenfall.com (his label). I suspecthe is just taking his time as always.

72
Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: Under-rated Ambient
« on: February 20, 2012, 06:40:54 PM »
Meg Bowles - her 2011 release, A Quiet Light, is one of the best fusions of space and ambient in years. To release something this excellent after a more than 10 year absence is, IMO, unprecedented.

Richard Bone - I don't think he has ever gotten the level of recognition he deserves. He has had some "average works" but a lot of his stuff is superb and he is a VERSATILE artist.

Michael Allison/Darshan Ambient - If you look at his body of work, whether it be his pastoral ambient CDs like Providence, The Zen Master's Diary, or Autumn Light, or his more recent rhythmic stuff, you can't help but be VERY impressed.

Basically EVERYTHING released on APK's label. Yeah, that covers a lot of ground, but talk about maintaining CONSISTENT quality - sheesh! He's deservedly lauded here at Hypnos but APK (whether what he records himself under various pseudonyms or the other artists he chooses to release) is amazing...also his cover art is frequently beautiful and evocative.

Ben Swire - He's not the most prolific artist but both his Foundry EP, Equilibrium, and his 2010 recording, From Here to There, on Preservation are as good as glitchy yet melodic ambient gets, IMO.

Marconi Union - I haven't heard everything by this enigmatic duo, but Distance and A Lost Connection are moody, urban soundscapes suitable for late night neon-infused cruising by car.

Tristan Feldbauer (and others depending on the album) - I may be the only big fan this guy has but I cannot get enough of his blend of chill/ambient/retro-EM music. His best album, the enigmatically titled Recordings, is one of my all-time favorites. Like Swire's work, it's PERFECT for late night drives down city streets.

73
Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: Overrated Ambient
« on: February 17, 2012, 01:43:38 PM »
Like John, my preference is weigh in on ambient musicians' whose music I like or who I feel should heard by more people (such as Matthew Florianz and Pete Kelly).  If I have critical points to make, I would rather express those thoughts directly to the musicians themselves.  I think that those of us who have stuck it out in our genre for a while should try to be as supportive as we can, as it is too easy on the net to drift into negativity and flame wars.  The net is inherently limited as a medium for communication.  I also prefer not to comment on music from artists who are friends of mine, as it might perceived as shilling if the comments are positive, and poor form if the comments happen to be a little negative.

Forrest

Not meaning to pick on you, Forrest, but this does get at the heart of what I was addressing, in a roundabout way. Ambient, as a community, is small and insular. We all "know" each other well enough that to slag off one person or one album could be perceived as being mean and end up being taken personally. So, in the end, the majority of albums that are dissed on forums are those by artists who would NEVER EVER visit here or any other smallish forum (e.g. ambient@hyperreal) so that's why Eno, FSOL, Aphex, etc. are usually the only ones mentioned.

Someone earlier said something along the lines of "well, this is such a small group anyway that to denigrate anyone weakens us all.." to which I would say "Really? Has it really come to that? Are we so starved for a feeling of positive worth  and value that we aren't willing to be self-critical without feeling like we are under personal attack?" Maybe ambient doesn't have a huge fan base when compared to other genres...but IMO, there is a LOT more slagging off by fans AND OTHER ARTISTS in other genres, including in the press. Is it just because their numbers are vast compared to us or is their thicker skin or do the fans of those genres just not give a shit what someone else says?

If we actually are all involved in a communal love fest, than someone chiming in with "Ya know, I just don't get the popularity of The Magnificent Void." should not be ostracized or held up as a traitor, etc. If we are a "family" (due to our small size and feeling of inclusivity - as opposed to exclusivity - because most people don't "get us,") shouldn't we be MORE open to that kind of comment?

I appreciate all the response to my post. Sincerely. As someone who, through the years, has been criticized a lot for not writing enough overtly negative or critical reviews, it does make me scratch my head, though. But maybe I am comparing apples to oranges.  ???


74
Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: Overrated Ambient
« on: February 16, 2012, 07:52:43 PM »
With 200 views of this topic and yet only 9 replies, I think it's safe to say that ambient fans are, well to be blunt, afraid to cast stones. Maybe there are hardly ANY overrated releases (unlikely, IMO), but over the years, what I have witnessed is that ambient fans, more than fans of other genres (again IMO) are reluctant to criticize almost anything or anyone within the genre. At least in the way this question is worded. Sure, there are isolated critics (*cough* Alan Lockett *cough*) who will blast what they consider a poor ambient recording, but to actually put a name or a title to the descriptor "overrated" may be asking ambient fans, who seem to (once again, IMO) view "their" artists in a sort of paternalistic fashion, might be akin to asking cops to rat out one of their own.

Just my observation and my two cents. Long time readers of my rants know I have called out more than a few overrated albums, but I have gone public with so many over the years it would be a retread to spin them out here yet again.

I am merely commenting on the (what I think is obvious) fact that with 200 views but only a scant few opinions offered, either ambient fans think NO ONE ALBUM is overrated or they think that stating so would be Quisling-esque in its betrayal.

Or maybe it's just my creeping age and resultant cynicism. ;)

75
Everything and Nothing / Re: Automobile batteries
« on: January 31, 2012, 06:46:03 PM »
I spoke too soon.  It started perfectly for two days, now it's back to weak/delayed cranking after sitting out all night.  I think something is draining my battery overnight.  Taking it in for alternator/electrical system test, and if that checks out OK then it must be a "parasitic drain" from somewhere in the car.  Can't afford a new battery every 21 months.

I kinda doubt it's the alternator, but I could be wrong. My money is on something...some kind of accessory...is permanently "on" due to a short or a glitch. If you lived in a cold climate, like Minnesota, that drain at this time of year would drain the entire battery overnight, most likely. In southern/warmer climates, an accessory left on wouldn't drain the battery completely for a while, especially if you are then driving it now and then and recharging it. But maybe the alternator is "kinda" bad...if it is, it has to be under warranty...HAS to be. Unless you have put on more than 50K in two years. A thorough diagnostic check of the entire charging system will reveal if it's at all related to that. OTOH, if the charging system is okay, it has to be something else...something draining the battery, I'd have to think. But, yeah, as Steve just wrote..electrical problems are the worst...they can be almost impossible to diagnose without tearing a car apart and costing a LOT of money in diagnostic fees. My power door locks are fidgety as hell on the driver's side but my mechanic, who I have used for about 15 years, said it would be cost prohibitive to track down the problem (likely a short or loose wire). Sucks, man. I feel for ya...seriously. I've owned about 20 cars in my life and repairs will just frustrate the shit out of anyone.

76
Everything and Nothing / Re: Automobile batteries
« on: January 29, 2012, 03:52:46 PM »
It's possible the factory installs less the good batteries as a cost saving measure. You can try Googling for info. Here is a quick result of a Google search I did about bad batteries in Mazdas

http://forum.mazda6club.com/mazda6-atenza/217537-another-shitty-mazda-battery.html

The only thing that can cause a battery to die that soon, from what I know, are:

(1) Recharged so often due to frequently letting it discharge so battery loses effectiveness over time (unlikely if you don't remember at least 10-20 times the battery died because you left lights on, etc.)
(2) Bad cells in the battery or just a bad battery...cells can go bad before the whole battery dies
(3) Charging system operating at less than normal output (unlikely, IMO....usually the charging system just flat out dies, e.g. the alternator goes out)
(4) Something is draining the battery because the device is still "on" when it shouldn't be, e.g. overhead dome lamp never shuts off, etc.

If you put in a a good aftermarket battery and it happens again in a short amount of time, then it's something in the car itself. I'd be willing to bet it's the battery. Sorry I can't be of more help.

77
Everything and Nothing / Re: Automobile batteries
« on: January 28, 2012, 05:26:04 PM »
I can't offer any advice except to say that I have NEVER heard of factory installed battery failing in so short a time....unless you let it completely discharge numerous times. When a car battery "dies" each recharge brings it up less and less to its "full" strength. Why a dealer would refuse to simply put a new battery in, when the vehicle is under warranty, is a mystery. Dealers are compensated by the manufacturer for warranty repairs. Could they have simply made the mistake and misdiagnosed it? Sure. But I'm more concerned why the battery had zero capacity in so short a time. Out of curiosity, what make and model did you buy? I ask because the service dept. for dealers can vary depending on make as some car companies are more lax in rating their dealerships' service depts.

78
Now Playing / Re: Currently listening, part 1
« on: December 28, 2011, 07:57:35 PM »
My Brother very kindly gave me an iTunes card for christmas, so I downloaded a selection of some of me favourite tunes:

Trampled Under Foot - Led Zep
Pack it up (and Go) - UFO
The Sails of Charon - Scorpions
Unchained - Van Halen
The Royal Scam - Steely Dan
Billion Dollar Babies - Alice Cooper

Lovely stuff !

Oh yeah...now THAT is a song!  :D

79
Computers, Internet and Technology / Re: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
« on: December 28, 2011, 07:54:56 PM »
Do you need a super PC for this game? I only have a modest ASUS laptop that I purchased a few months ago. I suppose to really enjoy a game like this, you need a desktop unit with tons of RAM, a super deluxe sound card and video graphics card, etc etc etc, right?

Are any of the "hot" PC games any good at all on baseline PCs?

I suppose I should hope the answer is "no" so I don't go getting hooked on games again...I can't afford any kind of gamer PC, so if they don't run on my crummy laptop, at least my checkbook is safe.  ;)

80
Thanks, Mike. I appreciate the feedback and suggestions.

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