January 26th, 2014

krazy koati

Move yourself; you always live your life

Friday started with looking out at the snowy world beyond. It wasn't that bad a snowstorm as these go, the sort of thing that's good for sleeping in late if you have to wake up in the morning and waiting for the snowplows to come around. The homeowners association for my parents' then-house sends people around to dig people out, so, the worst of the snow was nothing we really had to deal with. We hung around my parents' a while and looked out to see whether the snow was really so bad that we couldn't go off anywhere. The problem is that moving is always a stressful affair, and the move when my father really doesn't want to move --- at least not to South Carolina --- has produced a long string of low-level, and sometimes not so low-level, fights, and while my parents were trying to keep a good face while company was over the tension was still present and unmistakable.

So we found, mercifully, that the malls were opening up around noon, and that the movie --- Frozen --- that we'd wanted to see would be showing, at a reasonable hour. We went out, pausing to sweep snow off the cars, my parents' included, and went to the mall, where we could return the satellite navigator power cord that didn't work and get something to eat.

The theater was not packed, reinforcing our interpretation of the mob the Sunday before; and we found the place had been renovated to be a little more attractive except in terms of service. The snacks counter, particularly, didn't have anybody but a cashier standing by. It had its bags of popcorn sitting under heat lamps, to be picked up, cafeteria-style, and paid for. In this way they've managed to give their snack bar that faint yet present sense of the food having sat around and grown stale before you get your grubby mitts on it.

Frozen, as many had said, proved to be a better film than we expected from the commercials, not least because the creepy snowman really is much less a part of the film than it promised. We appreciated how the film did so much without a clear antagonist, at least, except for a disappointing third-act change of character that hardly seemed necessary even for the way they wanted the plot to go. It's also a really beautiful movie, especially in an ending sequence where after spending an hour of the land trapped in winter events make the place get even colder --- this by freezing snowflakes in midair, giving an impression not just of an eternal winter but a winter so severe that it freezes even time itself. Of many beautiful things in the film, this was one of the most striking and gorgeous moments.

Since we had time we went to Music Comics, a used record and comic book shop which has some proper name too. It turned out they were very close to closing for the night, so we didn't have the chance to wander through the stacks looking for oddball Sparks albums or other things of interest. Naturally, my eye fell upon the cover of ``Stars On Long Play'' where, in three columns of densely written text, appeared the title ``Video Killed The Radio Star''. Yes, I had found yet another oddball cover of The Buggles. ``Stars On Long Play'' turns out to be a longer version of ``Stars On 45'', a project that did covers of Beatles and then other tunes, in a medley, set to the same tempo and given a heavy beat that would make them more danceable. This was popular for a couple of weeks in 1981 or so, for whatever reason, and somehow my talent for finding freak albums was still functioning. (The album is ... less interesting than it ought to be. Their covers of the Beatles are eerily on-point, apart from the underlaid disco beat, but with several unsettling transitions. The other side, with the Buggles and a more diverse selection of stuff, flows more smoothly.)

We went to a diner for supper, returning to one of the diners that we'd visited on bunny_hugger's first visit east and that I don't think we'd been to since, as our original diner is still closed after the fire last year and we're trying not to accept the obvious conclusion from that. And besides being filling, it also let us spend a bit more time away from the direct line of parental tension.

I forgot to mention that on Thursday, while we were waiting around, we watched the Rose Bowl on Tivo. bunny_hugger had accidentally spoiled herself on the winner (though not how they won), but didn't tell me, although from her reaction I had a feeling that Michigan State had likely won. My parents were good about not saying anything too suggestive, so we were able to watch and be reasonably surprised by a pretty major sports event despite it being 2014.

Trivia: The IBM 704 used by Project Vanguard to study track satellite orbits would provide its initial calculations ten to twelve minutes after liftoff, when the rocket's third stage was still burning itself out. Final orbit computations would require seven to nine hours. Source: Project Vanguard: The NASA History, Constance McLaughlin Green, Milton Lomask. NASA SP-4202.

Currently Reading: Ingenious Pursuits: Building The Scientific Revolution, Lisa Jardine.