Friday, February 22, 2008

Dylan Ropes a Wild Turkey

No, that's not some kind of advanced yoga move; it's a scene from the coolest movie I've seen recently, Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid. It came out when I was 2 and James Coburn was hot and Kris Kristofferson had chubby little baby cheeks, believe it or not. Sam Peckinpah directed it, so death pervades, of course, as well as rivers of blood in a color I like to call Raimi red. Bob Dylan did the soundtrack, and he plays a shifty, knife-wielding outlaw pup who calls himself Alias.

It's a story about getting old and going straight, selling out to the Man and feeling crappy about it but doing it anyway because the world is moving on and you're too worn out to keep fighting. Salty old gunslinger Pat Garrett takes a job as sheriff, and the first thing he has to do -- the thing they hired him for -- is to bring down his pal Billy the Kid. The whole movie's a vast, gorgeous, gritty, epic love poem to the crumbling myths and disappearing rawness of the west; if you don't believe me try watching Slim Pickens' slow, gutshot walk to die at creekside without getting choked up.

It also has one of the best mini-odes to a willing dame ever grunted by a greasy barkeep:
"She got a ass on her ... like a forty dollar cow ... and a tit ... I'd like to see that thing filled with tequila."

Like I said. Poetry.

Moving on...

Pet peeves for today:

I hate it when people say things like "one of our finest novelists," or "among our best young actors," as if they are part of some mysterious corporation that owns the talent and creativity of artistic types. Annoying.

John Graham hates it when, every time someone looks through binoculars in the movies or on TV, the edges of the screen are blacked in to form the shape of two conjoined circles, like the eyeholes in a pair of binoculars. Think about it. When you look through binoculars, do you see the view in two conjoined circles? No, you don't. Through the magic of technology, you see it just as you would without the binocs, only closer. Amazing! (I'm watching the Oscars right now and a goofy little montage just reminded me of that.)

Also, straight from the supermarket checkout-line tabloids: I hereby ban the suddenly ubiquitous and totally barfy use of the term "bump" for preggy bellies. So disgusting.

Speaking of checkout-line tabloids, another outrage:
Here's the cover of the Feb 21 issue of Rolling Stone. Headline: "Britney Spears: Inside an American Tragedy." Hmm. Is Britney tragic, really?

And then, in tiny print over to the side, stuck between SHERYL CROW and ZEP TOUR UPDATE: "Heath Ledger." Yes...ever so much less tragic a loss than Britney's pop starlet career. (I mean, I know it's a music magazine, but still.)

Well, getting back to the realm of the indisputable: A very smart fellow recently gave me a list of Dylan songs I need to get in order to further my enlightenment. Now I know this may sound crazy, but I'm told you can "download" songs of music from the World Wide Web these days. Can this be true? I've had no luck with it so far. If any of you clever young people out there can tell me how to do it, I'd be much obliged.


  1. I concur!

    The word "bump" should *only* be used as a noun meaning "an itty-bitty hit of cocaine required to get you through the workday morning without either sleeping or slaughtering." It's also known as a "Dr. Gonzo" in some circles. ;-)

    As for downloading schtuff online, you need to learn how to use BitTorrents. That's a protocol that uses specific applications to scour the Net for users who are currently offering the data you seek; unlike with previous protocols, however, BitTorrent allows you to grab little bits of the data from all over the Web, including from multiple users at any one time, and then it combines all the bits into one coherent whole on your computer. In theory it should be a lot faster than simple peer-to-single-peer file trading. The downside is that the torrent file you're using to find the data needs to be relatively new, or else you'll have a hard time getting in touch with current "seeders" (i.e., the people offering the data for you to take) online.

    Anyway, there are a number of different places to find torrents. One of the best is actually from Sweden: (Gotta love how they use that non-profit URL extension!) Just go there and search around the site for a while; when you find something that seems good, check to see how many "seeders" there currently are versus the number of "leechers" (people downloading data but not uploading data). Any torrent with a high ratio of seeders-to-leechers is considered healthy. Once found, download the torrent file — which is just a program to find users online, not the data itself — to your computer. Then open the torrent using any of a number of free torrent applications, like Tomato, Transmission, etc. They're pretty easy to find.

    After that, it's simply a matter of waiting for your computer to get in touch with other users and grab the data, piece by piece. You can stop and start the torrent any number of times without having to go back to the beginning — the BitTorrent protocol knows which pieces you've already gotten and which parts you still need. Sometimes if your download is slow or stalled, it helps to pause and restart the torrent in order to (hopefully) find new seeders who have a faster transmission rate.



    PS: Finding old Dylan stuff might be kind of hard. That may be one situation where the "old-fashioned" peer-to-peer trade may be more successful than torrent files, which rely on a certain popularity of the file you want.

  2. Anonymous9:11 AM

    I can't believe that John wrote this post, and then the "Holy nerd alert" post just moments later. Does anyone else find that funny?

    And I know that John knows there is no chance in hell Blecky understood a bit of that stuff... Not that I don't have faith in her, of course...