packbat: Leaning on a chain-link fence, looking to my left (your right) with a neutral expression. (spectator)
(This is yesterday's entry - I guess I'm falling further behind with each...)

Back in Austin, and the first place to start - as they say in all the old encyclopedias - is a good breakfast. So Grandma and I left Dad at the house and went to Randall's, which is reputed to have very good bagels ... and did, in fact. And some donuts as well. A pleasant breakfast, in all.

After that, Dad got a call from an old friend of his, Dr. S, and arranged to meet her at the Texas State History Museum that noon. Dad & I went, leaving Grandma behind, and found a great parking space just around the corner from the entrance. Sadly for my ambitious shutter finger, photography at the museum is restricted to the lobby and outside, so I was only able to take about 75 photos there. It was good, though - Dr. S shared some wonderful info with us, e.g. talking about the condition and shape of the different saddles and what they meant in terms of purpose.

After wrapping that up, we noted that we had just enough time to walk a couple blocks to the Capitol Visitor's Center and pick up a new tourist guide and map for Grandma. (We didn't, quite, although we received no ticket.) We once again got to going the wrong way at the capitol, though - in this case, by going inside at all, as the visitor's center was in a separate building. We took care of it, though, and walked by the Governor's Mansion as well. There had been a traveling exhibit at the history museum mentioning that the building had been set on fire by a (presumably unknown) arsonist - something which a tour guide driving past the museum had joked about earlier - and so it was covered in scaffolding that obscured our view. It was also surrounded by trees, which obscured our view far more.

On the way back, we went up Guadalupe ("The Drag") to check out the buildings on the segment near the university.

That was our midday, so we ate a late lunch on our return and Dad went out on a trail run while I played Mega Man 2 and printed some baseball scorecards. (Dad's journal includes many running reports, and will include that, if that's your thing.) Then Dad and I went out again, this time to the Round Rock Express ballgame.

It was an interesting game, and a fun one to keep score at. The scorecards I'd gotten (the Enhanced Vertical from worked well, except where we spilled soda on them, and there were plenty of events, thanks mostly to the spectacular failure of the bottom-ranked Round Rock team. Let me put it this way: in the bottom of the fourth, the Express got a run and a grand slam ... to tie it up. And then gave away five more runs to lose 10-5 to the New Orleans Zephyrs.

But hey - there's no such thing as a bad ballgame, in my book.

And, apropos of nothing, and as thanks for either reading or just scrolling past these big entries, a picture.

A photograph of an amusingly-shaped toothbrush holder.
packbat: Coming into the finish line after a mile race - the announcer can be seen behind me. (running)
Screenshot )

Yes, I just spent hours of my life 'painting' a virtual car with a virtual skyline and a Maryland flag. But that's not the ridiculous part.

No, the ridiculous part is that I didn't plan on putting that Maryland flag on my hood. I was only making it so that I could put it on the license plate.

Second screenshot )

P.S. Many thanks to, for Maryland flag information.
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
In the comments on my artist-QOTD post, [ profile] jfs gave a good definition of art: art occurs whenever a person creates something whilst trying to evoke an emotional reaction. I was just thinking about the specifics of that - why "emotional" reaction, what kinds of reactions can/does art make, what kind of moral value should we ascribe to the methods and contexts of these reactions ... I don't know if this will be coherent, but it might be interesting interest.

I guess I'll start with Dan Brown and Myst. No - I'll start with Agatha Christie and Myst; it's wrong to snipe at works you haven't perused.

Wait - no, the point doesn't really work with Agatha Christie. I'd better just start somewhere, and let the chips fall as they may.

One purported property of Dan Brown's writing is that it makes the reader feel clever. Specifically, The Da Vinci Code is accused of making its readers feel clever by showing them stupid puzzles. Assuming "feeling clever" is an emotional reaction (not much of a stretch, I think), I point out the following:

  • Assuming it was on purpose, The Da Vinci Code is art.

  • In addition, The Da Vinci Code is successful art in the evocative1 sense, not merely in the financial sense.

  • It is being criticized for the way it evokes these feelings - its critics say it should not make the reader feel clever in this way, presumably because the reader does not earn feeling clever.

"Hey," my brain said. "What about Myst? It does take a little cleverness to solve those puzzles - isn't feeling clever justified there?"

I'm not going to divert to the obvious moral, here. (I was tempted, mind - any excuse to plug Indigo Prophecy/Fahrenheit is welcome.) Instead, I think we should consider where this idea of justification of art, in this earned-emotion sense, leads. Is the emotional climax of Terminator 2 justified? What about the excitement and satisfaction of a good game of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City? Or of a good performance of Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 in C minor? Or, on a more abstract note: are we justified in evaluating these works and the reactions they evoke? Or, higher still: are we justified in rejecting such evaluations as unworthy, or unnecessary, or inappropriate?

Comments are open.

1. "Evocative of emotional reactions". Hey, I wanted something short and snappy. ^


Apr. 28th, 2007 10:45 am
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
I've always wanted to be the sort who wears a hat all over the place. I've mooned over the stolid fedora, grinned at the whimsical fez, longed for the bohemian beret, extolled the honest bowler. However, I never had a really good hat for my own. (I mean, I had that communist-China army cap, but it was too small and uncomfortable.)

Then, yesterday, through an unusual series of events*, I found myself with not one, but two new hats.
Pictures! Click for captions. )

* (1) A planned trip with my roommates to TGI Fridays, (2) one roommate's desire for a new pair of sunglasses, (3) a "$10 off on purchases of $20 or more" coupon handed out at the entrance to Value City, and (4) an announcement over the intercom about a shoe sale, causing me to turn and head to the rear of the store, past the hats.
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Half-Face)
So, first color version of a possible cover:

I have chosen the title as well – "The Device", no relation to the album or the band – and a masthead:

As for what the contents will be ... I have no idea*. Suggest something?

* Not strictly true. The first installment of Jeffrey 'Channing' Wells's "Chicken And Stars" might well be featured prominently.


Jul. 10th, 2006 08:43 pm
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (butterfly)
Still idling this summer, not much going on... hmm, probably ought to do something about that.

Anyway. I haven't mentioned it here (much), but my mom has been working on a lot of things to try and fix house, preparatory to refinancing, preparatory to adding an extension. The ongoing work this past week is the rebuilding of the bathroom (can you say "sponge baths in the basement"?), but the biggest event will be the removal of our oak tree.

We live in a very nice neighborhood. One thing I most appreciate is all the trees, big trees, some as old as the houses. Oak, pine ... there used to be a big walnut ... it honestly feels a few degrees colder in the summer just entering our neighborhood.

Our oak is taller than our house, maybe twice as tall, but the seventeen-year cicadas and the lighting and it's going down Wednesday. Two days. We hope they'll be able to use it for lumber – it's good wood, it's just that the tree's dying the slow one.

The oak (JPEG Image, 612x462 pixels, 109.61kB) )

Our neighbor across the street joked that everyone was going to chain themselves to the tree, to save it. ('Yeah, we've got Greenpeace coming ... oh yes, the Audobon Society's in, Audobon himself is coming, yeah....')

[ profile] fadethecat wrote a beautiful post about trees some time back, about how strange and interesting the trees in Austin were. Well, this oak's no stranger to me; it's been dropping pollen in my hair for as long as I've been, a constant presence all my life. "You turn right on the first street after the bridge, and our house is on the left, with the big oak in front."

Goodbye, oak.


packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)

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