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Monthly Archives: December 2016

The Great American Melting Pot

After searching for the Schoolhouse Rock episode on base-12 mentioned in the previous post, I was reminded of this other episode that still resonates today.

Music & lyrics by Lynn Ahrens. Vocals by Lori Lieberman. ABC-TV, 1977

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Posted by on December 28, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Hey Little 12 Toes

12-numberI was recently reminded of a schoolhouse rock episode about a base 12 numbering system. It wasn’t an episode that caught on, but it made a mark on me throughout my school years. Specifically with respect to how arbitrary any base numbering system was. Of course, this doesn’t mean that our use of base 10 is arbitrary – but that our having five fingers and five toes on each limb is arbitrary. And if we had more or less, that our numbering system would reflect it.

What made me think of schoolhouse rock was a short discussion of base-12 numbering (a dozenal, or duodecimal system) by James Grimes. (I apologize for including a video with such restless camerawork that you may need a Dramamine to watch. However, Dr. Grimes does an excellent job explaining what can be a confusing topic.)

The video from my childhood that this reminded me of is ‘Little 12 Toes.’

The music accompanying this video holds up extraordinarily well and adds something trippy to the lesson.

Another appeal for a base 12 system comes from ParchitaFM, who apparently is mostly into music – and base 12…? That’s interesting.

Lastly, check out the Dozenal Society of America to see more from people who would like to adopt this system universally. I would remind the DSA that people have been trying to promote adoption of the metric system in the USA for at least 40 years. A change to the metric system faces far fewer barriers to acceptance than a base 12 system would, yet we remain (along with what, Somalia and Burma?), as one of the last countries clinging to the unwieldy imperial system.

No – I just looked it up. Somalia is metric – Liberia is not. Burma, I was right about.

 
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Posted by on December 28, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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“Many Bothans died” – no wait, this is Death Star I …

How to discuss this without giving anything away?

The family and I saw Rogue One tonight at 7 pm. It’s a small victory of mine that I’ve managed to get my wife to accept that this is something that I really can’t let pass without seeing the first available time of premier night. So that’s a good start right there.

This evening went without the fanfare that would have come had we gone to a larger theater or seen it on IMAX in 3D while drinking a film-based beverage and wearing our galaxy premier sweatshirts. (That was The Force Awakens at Cinetopia last year) Instead, we were in the small theater right down the road from our house and only one person was wearing anything approaching cosplay. I admit that I wish we had done the big theater thing again, but I was a day late getting tickets and we had to go where we could to get a 7 pm showtime.

78c208f13001c91231299bd2eb476c19What was important? … The fact that I still got goosebumps when the lights went down. And for a moment, I was in the aisle seat in the back of one of the Chestnut Hill twin theaters with my grandmother in 1977.

Did it last? Not entirely. There wasn’t a screen crawl (something that had gotten to be painfully de rigueur for Star Wars films), the music was noticably different, and I was thrown a bit off by the quick changes from one planet to another as the various pieces were laid out chaotically like a myopic view of a skein of multicolored yarn. I was tempted to despair.

Luckily, this was short-lived. As the film progressed, some ancillary characters and cities were culled revealing how the many parts came together into a meaningful story arc. And despite the pace picking up, some character development brought you into the protagonist’s lives enough to care about them.

The droid we learn to love this time is K-2SO, a reprogrammed imperial unit with a drollness that reminded me (but only slightly) of the original C3PO  – as opposed to the buffoon he / its become. K2 was the show stealer whose personality was possibly the most fleshed out of all the characters onscreen.

tarkinThere were also familiar faces. Odd familiar faces. Grand Moff Tarkin, for instance, who looked as if Peter Cushing might have spent time with Joan Rivers’ plastic surgeon who did one hell of a job making him not only young again, but much less dead. On the one hand, the CGI that made this possible was pretty amazing. On the other, we were still caught in the upward slope of the uncanny valley.

The same can be said for Leia, who we (thankfully) only see for a very short time, but in such a well lit close up that they are daring you to look – and you do.

Red and Gold Leaders are also brought back for a space fight over an imperial base. But rather than recreate them on top of other actors, they were simply cut into their  scenes – rather effectively, I have to admit.

Lastly, Cornelius Evazan and Ponda Baba (who both have way too much backstory on Wookipedia), the toughs from the cantina on Tatooine, get a quick cameo appearance in a  street shot. These guys just can’t stand not being in a fight, but manage to rein themselves in a little quicker this time.

Overall, I think I may like this even more than I liked The Force Awakens, which was the film that gave us all a new hope after Lucas was bought out. The Force Awakens was a lot of fun and took the theater’s breath away when the Millenium Falcon revealed herself. Rogue One, on the other hand, took a small piece from the original Star Wars and delivered a beautifully tragic exegesis. Clear, well-defined, and raw.

I’m looking forward to another viewing soon. Thumbs up.

 

 

 
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Posted by on December 16, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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