Sunday, September 29, 2013

The First Movie

World's Oldest Motion Picture (1865) and Oldest Sound Recording (1857)

First of all, the entire premise of this thing is bullshit. This is NEVER the oldest motion picture ever made. The real oldest motion picture ever made is a few frames from some garden in England somewhere.  I'll try to find it, but I know I have seen it. Who knows who this is, but he looks like some guy from the Civil War spinning around and around, which I guarantee you they did NOT do during the Civil War. 

And the recording, that's bogus too, though it's a pretty old one, made before Edison came along. It was recorded by Thomas Lambert in 1878 on a lead cylinder and has some barely intelligible human speech on it, somebody counting and missing a few numbers. That's why Lambert never became an Edison, see. 

The REAL "oldest sound recording" is a phonoautogram, which is a tracing of lines on sooty paper that somebody folded up and used as a bookmark. The name of the guy is too long to pronounce, but he was French, like all these innovative guys. He yelled into a horn and a little stylus etched sound wave patterns into the paper as it revolved around and around on a drum. Then he put it away, experiment over.

For you see, this guy, de Martinville or whoever he was, did not even intend to play the sounds back! He wanted to see what sound waves might look like if they were traced. I don't think it even occurred to him that sound reproduction might be possible.

Today we can feed that creased-up black paper into a computer and light beams read the bumps and scratches and turn them back into music. So you can hear this wobbly, wavery singing of the first two bars of Au Clair de la Lune recorded in 1857 Hey, it ain't exactly the Pilgrim's Chorus from Tannhauser, but it's a start.

World's Most Primitive Record Player

Things of beauty come in many forms, and are usually the works of a mind that can leap over conventional beliefs, such as, "Youcan'tdothatyousonofabitchitain'tpossibleitcan'tbedone". 

Somebody decided to make a record player out of a chopstick, a plastic cup and a pin. The result sounds a bit freaky, but what can you expect when the recording is the sound of canaries singing? 

This is technology pared down so far that it barely exists any more. We should pay attention. It could come back, once the power grid shuts down forever when the whole earth melts down and comes apart because WE HUMANS are so evil and have put so much plastic into the water. When that happens, you won't just have anarchists with tattoos and rags around their heads like in Revolution. It will also be a resurgence of all the geeks who could never get anywhere while the computers were still running. 

I guess I'd better go to bed. . . I don't know, I shouldn't write when I'm in this state. But I just love these things, have waited all my life to have a blog so I can celebrate them. I'll never be that clever.

Jumpin' Jesus: I think I've figured it out!

Just when I think I've seen it all. 





ANOTHER photo of Harold Lloyd that unsettles me, both thrills and makes me a little bit uneasy, because in that gaze, that gaze I've tried so hard to capture in my novel The Glass Character, there is that slightly unmoored quality, the compelling, disconcerting eyebeam/high-beam of a genius.

And other things. Lloyd telegraphed superbly with his eyes. Hurt. Seduction. Goddamn ferocious intelligence. And in this one, it, yes, I confirmed something I've denied for a very long time, something I've seen and seen in his lovely gorgeous movies, something I cannot deny now and which undoubtedly added to his cockeyed charm:

He's cross-eyed.

Well, only a little. Half a bubble off plumb, he might call it, with his wonderful earthy Midwestern way of expressing himself. Just a tinch, but enough to give him that quality. Can't even describe it. That, and the hair, are what make him so devastating. The hair, well, I don't mean when the hair stood up, magnetized by some sort of electric charge (imagine electrocuting your lead actor just for a gag!) -  it's the uncontrollable bushyness of it, the forest. In many of the early ones he's slicked it back with half a pound of pomade, as men did then, but when there's a chase scene or a rough scene or even a love scene of any note, his hair springs out into wild black waves, and we then see the other side of him.

The side I wrote about the other day, that fierce erotic clinch with Jobyna Ralston, that - who knows what to call it! When lions make love, which they do for days on end, the male lion grasps the female by the back of the neck and holds her there. Not that she tries to get away, but if she tried, she probably couldn't. It's no doubt like the grasp a mother lion would use on her cubs to carry them around - not meant to draw blood, but still, firm enough that they can't escape.

So what's the point of all this? God if I know, but I do know I am captured, perhaps for good.

The perks of working at CTV

Multiple Webster Award-winning CTV News reporter (and daughter) Shannon Paterson has a taste of the high life, all week long! This is the week she got to ride in a chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce Ghost and a private Lear jet (the perks of buying a condo in the not-yet-built Trump Tower). . . and then, in another story, drive a Lamborghini! As Coleen Christie remarked after the piece aired, "I don't think I've ever seen Shannon smile quite so broadly." Oh yeah.

(Note. These videos may or may not play. They ARE live links, I know this, because sometimes they DO play. Other times you get a black screen. Other times you get an ad, but no video! Keep trying, maybe something will work.)