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Mike Pirnat

a leaf on the wind

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Rey & Kylo's Greatest Hits, Volume 2

One post wasn't enough to contain all of the Praetorian Guard fight mashups that I made over the weekend, so here's volume 2. As with part one, this post is chock-a-block full of spoilers for The Last Jedi-- you have been warned!


After getting a bit of sleep, I jumped back into mashup action on Sunday, opening with a selection inspired by my college friend and once-upon-a-time radio show buddy Genevieve Mathieson, currently celebrating her 20th year on-air. (Seriously, check out her show, it's awesome!) She opens every installment with this gem:

Here, I really like how the change-ups in the medley fit so nicely with the transitions between the "chapters" of the battle. I can't help but smile.


That got me thinking of my on-air days of yore, and a song that my friend Marie Vibbert introduced me to during the very first episode of my show, and which always delights me when it crops up (as it did in last year's Baby Driver).

There's a nice little guitar note just as Snoke is being cut in half, followed quickly by a great connection with Rey catching the saber. The first saber hits of the battle match up well enough, and then the party really gets started. This almost feels like something in between the "Thunderstruck" and "March of the Pigs" videos to me. Overall the "chapter" shifts do pretty well here too.


I had seen a few requests for Queen's "Princes of the Universe" by this point but without any videos, so I figured I might as well do one.

The lyrics here are kind of... interesting when juxtaposed with the visuals. Clearly they are both "fighting to survive, in a war with the darkest powers" as well as "fighting and free". But a major point of The Last Jedi is that Rey isn't from special lineage, and isn't part of some grand destiny, so the claims of being "born to be kings" and having "blood of kings" run somewhat counter to this premise. I ascribe all the lyrics here to Kylo Ren's perspective, like an internal narration. There's sort of a fun double meaning at play that I really like a lot--just as Freddie Mercury sings "no man can be my equal" we get a zoom-in on Rey, who, like Éowyn in Return of the King, is indeed no man.

Visually, things line up pretty well overall, with especially good chapter divisions, and the "blood" line landing right on the shredder gag.

I'm pretty disappointed that there are so few views of this one--just three at the time of writing, compared to over seven thousand of the Hamilton one, and I think they're all me making sure it uploaded okay.


I really like mid to late 90s industrial music, so Rammstein's "Du Hast" seemed like a pretty good idea.

Lyrically, there's already a double meaning at work: "du hast" functions as both "you hate" and part of a line that translates as "you asked me and I said nothing," lines which tap deeply into the context of the scene. Everyone is dealing with hatreds, and Rey and Kylo had just asked each other to abandon their old allegiances and turn. The lyrics go on to challenge whether they will be faithful until parted by death, answering with a resounding and repeated "no!" that to me encapsulates their turbulent, transient alliance.

Lots of visuals line up well here; I especially like the cuts between Rey and Kylo before the battle starts, and the way the crunchy guitars enter just as the melee begins. As a nice bonus, the sort of angelic backing vocals line up perfectly with moments when Rey is yelling.


"Du Hast" got me into playing with Rey and Kylo Ren's relationship, so what if maybe they were a couple on the verge of a breakup (which they kind of are)?

I imagine this as Kylo Ren trying to convince Rey to stay, offering up banal platitudes like "I guess I was wrong" while they do terrible battle with the forces of darkness and the world burns around them ("and we're falling apart"). I like weird juxtaposition a lot, is what I'm saying.

Visually there's a lot of good timing again here; this one continues to make me happy.


I had seen many suggestions for The Proclaimers, so I stayed with 90s rom-com edits with "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)":

It's overall just silly fun, with some good alignment in places; the "ta la ta" bits are especially well placed to me. I enjoy the juxtaposition of Kylo Ren pledging to "dream about the time when I'm with you" as he murders the hell out of a guard, as if this whole thing is like his idea of a really awesome date.


The delightfully inappropriate juxtaposition of The Proclaimers reminded me of the classic reimagining of The Shining as a romantic comedy, and so I quickly flashed onto Peter Gabriel's "Solsbury Hill" that was featured in the Shining video, wondering if it would work in this context too.

Overall I'd say it's pretty successful, with a lot of the action lining up decently. In particular, Kylo Ren's triple-hit guard kill at the 1:47 mark seems to really connect to the music well.

My favorite coincidence here is getting Peter Gabriel singing "which connections I should cut" with "cut" landing exactly as Snoke is sliced in half.

This one also has tragically few views, so give it a spin and see what you think.


Taking a quick detour from rom-com treatments, I remembered the Michael W. Smith instrumental "Ashton" that I'd been obsessed with in high school, a piece that always got me revved up and made me yearn for the perfect visuals to go with it. I'm reasonably sure that at one point I daydreamed extensively about how it really needed something like a lightsaber fight. Decades later, Rian Johnson has finally delivered. Thanks, Rian!


I wasn't done playing with the Rey/Kylo Ren relationship; inspired by the "Emo Kylo Ren" Twitter account, I started playing with some of my favorite songs by The Cure. I couldn't quite get "Just Like Heaven" to work, and "Lovesong" didn't feel right, but then I got a little more into Ren's head and "Why Can't I Be You" seemed perfect: tapping into a mix of obsession and jealousy that seemed absolutely authentic for Kylo Ren. Secretly--and totally obviously to the audience--he wishes he could be as powerful and amazing as the lovely nobody whose sudden appearance in his life has shaken him to the core.

There's an urgency to the music that pairs really nicely with the scene, I think, and lots of good bits of action that connect well.

At the time of writing, this one is also under-appreciated on views, which is a shame, because I think it explores some interesting territory.


I was on a little bit of a roll with the 80s music/obsessive romance thing, so Depeche Mode seemed like a good next step. I chose a reworked version of "Enjoy the Silence" for the slightly industrial edge to it; I think it pairs better with the battle scene than the original version would.

Things that make me happy here include but are not limited to the lightsaber landing in Rey's hand as we get "here, in my arms", the start of the melee, Rey skewering a guard as the lyrics get to "pain", the guard getting shredded on "harm", "in my arms" as the guard grapples Kylo Ren, and the two syllables of "wanted" as Rey takes down her final opponent.

Moreover, I think this works so well because Rey and Kylo's entire negotiation and agreement before the battle takes place wordlessly. "Words are very unnecessary, they can only do harm."


Still in the 80s, I took things for a silly turn, casting the fight as the ending chase sequence from Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Pretty much no one knows the actual title of the song that plays as Ferris dashes through people's back yards as he tries to beat his parents home, so this has a pitifully small number of views so far.


I had started on this next one during the Saturday night binge, but wasn't quite getting it working due to an audio edit dilemma, so I thought I was just going to scrap it. Fortunately, my daughter came along the next day and encouraged me to finish it, so with her help we got it to a reasonable place.

This is the only video so far where I've messed with the audio at all, making a splice from the opening of the song into a spot near the end so that the transition into the start of the battle would be right.

From a timing standpoint, I love the "D-I-Y" matching up with the first saber strikes. Stay to the end for another fun shredder gag.

This has long been one of my favorite KMFDM songs, and I come back to it often when I need a dose of challenge-smashing self confidence. To me personally, "do or die" is metaphorical--the death of soul or spirit if I let myself succumb to whatever is eating at me--but here in the Star Wars universe it is quite literal. As a bonus, I think Yoda would agree: "do or do not; there is no try."


Finally we come to where I stopped for now, having to get back to life with my family and a return to the work week.

I've really fallen hard for this track over the past year or so, and I get chills from having it paired with this fight scene.

I'll let it speak for itself.


I have some ideas for others, so I might do a few more soon, though the meme seems to have died down over the past day. I've stopped getting new attention on the Hamilton video, which seems like a sign that this might be over for now.

The whole process was a lot of fun, though, scratching a creative and performative itch that has been nagging me off and on since the demise of Turntable.fm, so I'm grateful to have been able to enjoy the ride while it lasted.

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Rey & Kylo's Greatest Hits

Disclaimer: This self-indulgent post mainly serves as a way to collect a bunch of silliness into a single place for convenience, while also offering a platform for extra context--a sort of "director's commentary" if you will. It also contains MAJOR HELLA SPOILERS OF DOOM for The Last Jedi. Proceed with caution!


It started so innocently.

While skimming Twitter on Saturday, I ran across the start of the thread that quickly came to dominate my waking--and should-be-sleeping--hours:

I saw that people had started making their own in response and I couldn't resist. I had to get in on the fun. I skimmed through to see what had already been done, cast about for a few ideas, and then made this:

Fun fact: I almost started working with "Yorktown" instead, but suddenly I realized that after this battle, there are no witnesses to what occurred in Snoke's chamber. Literally NO ONE ELSE WAS IN THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENED!

My first attempts at this mashup had stronger timing for the opening beats as Rey catches the lightsaber, but adjusting things to gee the "click/boom" payoff was worth the sacrifice.


After rendering that out and getting it tweeted, I was flush with excitement and ready to make one that would channel how pumped I was feeling. I was also starting to feel some time pressure since I had social plans to get to. Enter "Thunderstruck":

I was really happy with how the timing worked out here. Besides getting the "thun-der" synced with the opening lightsaber strikes, it also timed perfectly with the cut to the wide shot of Snoke and the twitch of Kylo Ren's fingers that summons the blade, the red light on Kylo's face as he ignites his own saber, and the cut to the wide shot as Rey and Kylo pivot into battle. I also like how the "ahhs" in the opening match up to Rey shots. In general there are some good places where beats line up with saber strikes and sparks, which make me really happy.

Lyrically, I like how "what could I do?" lines up with Rey being caught by the guard just before she skewers him, and the "yeah" as Kylo Ren makes a guard-kabob of his own. I do wish that "tore me apart" was a little closer to the guard being shredded, but one can't have everything, especially when the "you've been... thunderstruck!" connects so perfectly to Rey's saber drop.


I came back from visiting friends and was both sad and happy that no one had made my next idea, which feels like it should have been more obvious: "Battle Without Honor or Humanity," AKA "that song from Kill Bill."

There's some more good timing here: Snoke getting chopped, the cut from Kylo to Rey, and especially the opening saber strikes, as it turns out there's a third hit where Kylo's saber connects with the ground, giving a satisfying payoff to the "bam-BAM-bam!" Lots and lots of the melee hits line up on strong beats; there are some particularly fun moments with Kylo just before and as he's grappled that are really delicious, and we get a pretty decent effect for Rey's saber drop.


I was still feeling the Kill Bill vibe, so my next pick was "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood":

I love this song for a sword battle, but I also love how it plays with the who's-going-to-turn psychology of the scene. It's probably funnier to consider the lyrics as being Kylo Ren's point of view, and I adore how his face lights up red just as the lyrics get us "seem to be bad."

Once more we get good beats on saber strikes and Kylo being grappled, and a good sync with the guard being shredded, but my particular favorite bit is how the music goes with Rey being reeled in by the guard. I also like the "oh, Lord" as Kylo scans the room, the brass riff during Kylo's pirouette around the 1:44 mark, and the strings as Rey throws her saber to Kylo.


Next I wanted to connect with the raw energy and chaos of the opening of the melee, and nothing says that to me quite like "March of the Pigs" off of The Downward Spiral:

I enjoy the synth kicking in just as Rey rises into the frame, and it meshes nicely with the cuts back and forth between Rey and Kylo before the battle, but what makes this for me is the "step right up!" as the guards approach and the guitar kicking in on those first saber hits, and the chaos of the start of the fight.


I love Styx's "Come Sail Away" without a trace of irony, so I had to do it at some point:

I chose this mainly to get the electric guitars to drop in as the melee starts, but there are plenty of good saber hits, Rey's skewer-and-toss with is nicely accompanied, and I like how the gag with the shredder works here. Lyrically, I love Rey and Kylo Ren coming together to "try, best that we can, to carry on!" though Yoda might admonish them about whether or not there is a "try."


Fun fact: "Come Sail Away" was released in 1977, just like Star Wars! Since I had just steeped in the above nostalgia, and since Star Wars is about heroism, it seemed fitting to pick up another classic tune from 1977, David Bowie's "Heroes":

I read the lyrics here as Kylo Ren talking to Rey about their doomed relationship. "You will be queen" as Rey rises up, "nothing will drive them away" as the guards close in... "We can be heroes," opines Kylo Ren, but alas, "just for one day." Nothing can keep them together.


Around the time that I posted "Heroes", I saw that someone had done "Gangnam Style", which popped me out of the nostalgia and straight into internet meme territory, and I simply had to do "The Fox":

Sadly the video clip isn't long enough to accommodate the full first verse, but that's made up for by "frog goes croak" as Kylo cuts Snoke in half (because "ha ha, double meanings LOL"). Also Snoke's torso hits the deck right on "toot," which makes me giggle. I mainly timed this around getting "fox say" to match the first saber strikes, and I'm very amused by how each of the fox noise segments line up with different parts of the fight. The shredder gag makes a decent showing ("your fur is red, so beautiful"). I do wish that the last "what does the fox say" had lined up better with Rey's saber drop move--ideally I'd have "fox" on the knee swing and "say" on the headshot.


It's gotten way too late, so I'll have to follow this up with a second installment to cover the rest. Until then... May the Force be with you!

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Since You've Been Gone

All Gone

To everyone who now has Kelly Clarkson stuck in your head, you're welcome. (I know what it is you see, for it is in my mind also.)

Thanks largely to last year's 365 project, I posted a record 382 entries here on the old blog in 2012. So it feels strange that this is only my third post for 2013--and I missed February entirely!

What the heck happened to me? Life!

  • The first half of January was dominated by CodeMash and the eight-hour Django tutorial that I helped put on.
  • Mid-January through mid-March were consumed by preparations for the half-day web app security tutorial that I presented at PyCon.
  • I've also been crazy-busy preparing for and running our company's annual Hack Day event. We did a whole secret agent theme, going so far as to produce some extremely low-budget but nonetheless epic video segments in the style of the Bond films. Our audio team even made us a theme song, which I'm not ashamed to admit I enjoyed playing on a loop on my phone while I walked around the office in a tuxedo during the event.
  • I've been building lots of Legos with my daughter! She rocks the Lego Friends sets on her own, and helps me with my Star Wars and Lord of the Rings sets.
  • Speaking of Lego Lord of the Rings, I kind of got hooked playing the Xbox version. So good...
  • I got a RaspberryPi at PyCon! So the kiddo and I have built a case for it out of her spare Legos, and I've shown her a little bit of Python and Scratch. Now we need to find a project, because she's really excited about building something with it. (Thanks, PyCon!)
  • I made a little URL shortener for my pirn.at domain before I realized that bit.ly does it all for free and then some. That's okay. It gave me a chance to learn about Flask. I'll probably write a little bit more about it at some point later.
  • I made a little RSS-to-Twitter gizmo to automatically tweet links to my blog, using my pirn.at shortener for links. I'll probably write a little bit about it too.
  • I got all excited at PyCon and made PythonIpsum, a lorem ipsum generator with a Python-flavored vocabulary. Patches welcome!
  • I've been bitten by the site refresh bug and have started tinkering on a responsive-ish layout so that this place won't look so daft on a phone.
  • I've got a photography backlog from CodeMash and PyCon that I hope to address shortly. And then I want to get back to shooting regularly (though I've got a case of gear fever, so right now I'm mostly obsessing about which lens I'd like to pick up).
  • The kiddo and I have been watching Clone Wars and Dr. Who together. She's been really enjoying watching them with me, and I've really enjoyed helping to counter the influence of the Princess Industrial Complex.

In short--death by bullet points! Hopefully with the big conference season behind me, I'll get back into the swing of things shortly and won't be quite so much of a stranger here.

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135/365: A Sith in Time

135/365: A Sith in Time

Strapped for inspiration at the literal last minute, I return to the subject of time pressure, this time as an actual villain in the form of my daughter's Lego Darth Vader alarm clock.

The hasty setup meant that I decided to shoot hand-held without a flash; thank goodness for image stabilized lenses and lying flat on the ground! The hardest part was getting a stable shot with the time illuminated--you have to push on his head to get a few precious seconds of the red light, which is easier said than done; getting him in focus meant being just beyond arm's length from his head, so pushing the button, getting back in place, composing, focusing, and getting a few shots off was quite a challenge!

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