One of these fine gorgeous spring days I decided to make my body wake up from its slumber of lethargy and charge full speed ahead through the green fields. Yes, it was the day where endless seating and slow walking would be replaced by energetic, heart-palpitating running. Great idea, unfortunately that casing that is my body didn't seem to like it. The sidewalk crackles as my feet sprint upon it. Alas, to my dismay my body orders me to stop two minutes later. It also signals in no uncertain terms that it won't let me start up again. Panting, out of breath, I am hyperventilating and wondering when my breath and pulse will come down to their regular rate.

What I have learned since has enabled me to run without feeling completely exhausted and deadly worn-out afterwards. Keeping myself from getting out of breath, I have made sure that I steadily and consistently draw breath as I run. That has required a certain sacrifice. I do not run at maximum speed all the time. I often run slowly to draw in my breath so that when I later pick up speed I have enough to keep me going without getting breathless.

Running for me has become a process of building up energy. Going fast and managing to breathe comes from first going slow. I would guess that this is because it is more comfortable for the body to gradually pick up in speed and increase its breathing than to switch from very slow breathing to very fast breathing immediately. The more important role that slow running serves is as an interval of recovery. After having run fast for a minute or more, the body needs to slow down its pulse and breathing speed. The slower breathing and pulse during an interval of slow running makes me feel rested and ready to subject myself to running and breathing fast again.

The process of running has revealed itself to be one of drawing breath and energy, releasing these depleted resources, only to build them up again for yet another release. This whole process is incredibly fascinating because it transcends the realm of running. The build up of tension and its release is something that we see everywhere though we don't recognize it as such. In sports events, boxers often grit their teeth and have a strained look on their face before getting down to the fight. If you have ever watched a detective film, the murderer often plans methodically and walks carefully, slowly, and observes everything around him with incredible concentration before committing the gruesome deed. In fact, the viewer is often shocked by the transition from a cautious, nervous guy into a man of mad and violent action.

A stage of cautious, tense, and slow build-up followed by a violent release is also expressed in the rhythms of nature. Think of waves. They start as small ripples that slowly climb up and gather at the top into a crescendo that later violently crashes. This process of waves building and crashing is often communicated to us via music and choreographed dancing. A stunning example of such choreographed music is American figure skater Sasha Cohen's short program performed at the 2001 US National Championships and the 2002 Olympics.(Note: Sasha Cohen won the silver medal at the 2006 Olympics.) The music that she performs to, the Sentimental Waltz composed by Moldovan Evgeniy Doga for the Russian film Sweet and Tender Beast, alternates between two melodies - a slow descending sequence of notes that marks the buildup of tension and a fast and bouncy rising line melody that represents exuberant release.

Sasha Cohen's movements perfectly mirror the two motifs. She accompanies the slow tense melody with tense body motion. Her hands are stiffly stretched out in a straight horizontal line or semi-vertically. Her legs also reflect stiffness when she holds them out horizontally to do her spiral sequences. As it moves along, the music deemphasizes and almost silences the slow tense melody and gives most of its time and focus to the rising energetic melody. Sasha's skating reflects the movement from tension to release. The body loses its stiffness as angular horizontal positions that are held in place give way to "flowing arms" that swoosh up and down. The release of energy is also mirrored by the twisty and twirly turns performed by her feet that replace the earlier straight movement along the edges of the rink.

In this case, the sum is greater than the whole of the parts. The choreography of this program manages to make the point because the transition from tension to release is very gradual both in music and the skater's movement. The rising melody line gradually gains in power and drowns out the slow lethargic tension-filled melody. The skater's body that starts out as stiff and tense gives way to relaxation as the feet and arms loosen up from their torpor into fluid dancing motion.

Let's not blow up this choreographed piece of music into some miraculous revelation. After all, buiding up tension and releasing it is rather ordinary because it's there in the ocean and in the human body. But just because this process is so normal, it doesn't mean that we actually think about it. Somehow when the ordinary rhythms of life are set to music and dance, they become more lucid and impress themselves upon us more vividly.

P.S: By the way, Sasha Cohen's skating performance to the music of Sentimental Waltz from the film My Sweet and Tender Beast is available on youtube, in case you may want to give it a look. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ILBPvon2Zto. Given the ever-changing nature of youtube, this link is due to expire sometime but hopefully not soon.

Update:

What makes e2 amazing is that the insights about running that I obtained from my recent experience have already been written-up by another noder. It's as if he took the words out of my mouth about the importance of alternating fast running with slow running to catch your breath. I highly recommend futurebird's node How to Run Faster because I can assure you that my own experience has born out his advice.

Two other nodes that also deal with the same point are interval training and fartlek.

So, okay, here's the story.

A couple of months ago, our friend Lisa came by the house with some CDs she just bought. She pulled out an album by an artist I'd never heard of, Zoe Keating, and said, "You guys should hear this."

And we did. And it was really, really good -- if you like cello music, you should check Keating's music out. Anyhow, Braunbeck wanted to find out more about her, so he Googled Keating's name. Up popped a site called Stranger Things which shows short movies made by a guy named Earl Newton and his merry band of filmmakers. They mainly distribute over iTunes, and Zoe Keating wrote/performed the main theme song for all their podcasts. So Gary started watching the movies, and he was impressed with their Twilight Zone flavor.

On a whim, Braunbeck emailed Earl to ask him if they ever adapted short stories for their films. Why yes, replied Earl. So Braunbeck sent him a story entitled "Rami Temporales" that originally appeared in Borderlands 5 a couple of years back. He didn't expect to hear anything back for weeks or months, but a mere three days later Earl emails him to tell him he loved the story, and to ask if he could make a film based on it.

Hells yes!

So Braunbeck's story was adapted into a script called "One of Those Faces", and Earl started filming. Real Life promptly got in the way of making a straight dramatization of the story. The film crew discovered they couldn't get permission to shoot in a park that they wanted to shoot in, so the location of the climax of the story had to be moved. And then the actor who was cast to play the main character Joel had to drop out of the production the day shooting was supposed to begin. The part was quickly recast with an actress who was originally just going to play a small role, and Joel became JoAnna. She was more than happy to take over the lead at the last minute. (As if any actor or actress is going to say, "No, I don't want to be onscreen from first shot to last; I'd prefer to not star." Yeah, right.) Braunbeck didn't balk at the lead character being changed from a male to a female, because storywise, the sex of the lead character doesn't really matter.

The Florida production got delayed more because of heavy thunderstorms that prevented filming some exteriors and required the shutting-down of computers during editing.

But they're on track to have the film done in early August, and we're terribly excited. "One of Those Faces" is the most ambitious film they've done to date. Last night they posted a song they commissioned for the movie.

Excuse me while I geek. Braunbeck has a theme song! Well, his story does, anyhow.

Can't wait for August. I wanna see the movie.

Images?

Audio?

VIDEO?!

/me drops monocle

I don't mean to come across as a Luddite. I like a lot of the cool new toys which have been wheeled out lately. Maybe this will actually require only a very minor code change to implement and everything will come up roses. In which case, I'll shut up. But I voted against this.

  1. Frankly, I lack artistic skill. I hesitate to generalise, but I believe many other noders would be able to say the same - our unifying attribute is our interest in and enthusiasm for writing (and each other); everything else about us is infinitely variable. Sure, some of us could improve a few of our factuals with nice photographs or video clips, but as for the rest of us, the change would not affect us because we wouldn't be able to take advantage of it.
  2. Whatever happened, words would remain the killer app of E2, and an image or video on its own would never be permitted to stand alone as a node.
  3. It seems to me that the current solution - providing a URL leading to the media file in question, which is hosted elsewhere - already suffices.
  4. If we're talking about hosting, not just embedding/hotlinking, then, from a bandwidth point of view, a relatively small picture is worth several thousand words, and audio and video are much worse still. Won't there be bandwidth issues?
  5. Newcomers. Well... I worry that they'll get the wrong end of the stick. I worry that they may start to arrive in greater numbers, not just because images and videos are suddenly allowed, but solely for the images and videos. Possibly not the sort of newcomers we want.

So, overall, I guess my general point is that there are other improvements to E2 which I would much rather see take priority. How about fixing the homenode image uploading system? Or a vote button in that poll I just linked to? And it would be nice if we could replace the majority of the firmlinks with proper instant redirects. I'd also rather like to have a writeup footer template to complement the writeup header template, so that I can put my vote buttons (and other writeup info) at the bottom of a writeup, where I'll see them after I've finished reading the node. Making many of these cool-and-extremely-useful new JavaScript toys standard for new and guest users would be awesome too. And so on...

In March, I was mainlining Dwarf Fortress alternately with Warcraft III - sometimes in the same day - which led to this dream of Dwarf Fortress with Blizzard 3D graphics.

Raise the alarm! My thriving dwarf city is suddenly beset by behemoths!

Tawny ochre-stone-coloured monsters like WCIII's faceless Elementals were arising from the river, golems twenty feet high, stomping the first wave of axe-wielding dwarf defenders flat into cartoon corpses. Pandemonium. As they proceeded northwards into the city, then westwards to the plaza, I kept hitting the spacebar to pause - which worked, but then the game would start again on its own, and I swear I even saw "click to pause" taunt me and fade again - giving me no time to think or cope with the threat. It was my darkest moment as a leader.

Then heavy .50 cal machine gun fire thudded across the plaza. The corner towers chimed in with the chainsaw-ripping sound of the .30 cals. Much to my relief, some of the marksdwarves in the gatehouse had gotten a clear line of fire when the crowd parted in panic. Streams of hot lead and tracers ensnared three earth elementals crossing the plaza, who staggered under the onslaught, and fell.

Triumphant, I looked for the remaining behemoths but they were already gone. Most dwarves had made it to the safety of buildings or narrow mining tunnels.

"Thank goodness I bought those machine guns from the elves," I said.

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