the further adventures of

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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Failing Tests? FFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUU...

On Friday I ran across this modest proposal to make the output of Python's unittest2 more closely resemble the emotional state of the tester when there are a lot of failing unit tests. Once my coworkers were done asking if I was all right, or if they should be worried about the cackling and giggles coming from my cube, I resolved to make this dream a reality.

My workplace has settled on the nose testing framework. Like other frameworks, nose offers a plugin architecture to allow all kinds of additional customization and tweaks, and since I had never written one before, it seemed like this might be a good opportunity to give it a try. I found the plugin development docs to be a little too terse and not terribly n00b-friendly, but over the course of a couple of hours I was able to cobble something together. (I mostly ended up cheating off of Kumar McMillan's nose-nicedots, which got me over the hurdle of realizing I needed my own flavor of TestResult to make sure I got the usual stack trace output while still emitting the F's and U's correctly.)

It basically goes like this:

$ nosetests --with-f7u12

.......FFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU..U..U..U..U..U..U.
======================================================================
FAIL: test_f7u12.TestGeneratesLotsOfFailures.test_generates_failures(7,)
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Traceback (most recent call last):
File
"/Users/mpirnat/Documents/code/python/nose-f7u12/lib/python2.7/site-packages/nose-1.1.2-py2.7.egg/nose/case.py",
line 197, in runTest
    self.test(*self.arg)
File
"/Users/mpirnat/Documents/code/python/nose-f7u12/src/examples/test_f7u12.py",
line 15, in _make_a_test
    assert False
AssertionError


< lots more test failure output; use your imagination... >


Ran 50 tests in 0.021s

FAILED (errors=30)

After some wrangling with PyPI (which could also be a lot friendlier to a packaging n00b--big thanks to Michael Foord for helping set me straight), it should be easy_install-able, or you can grab the source from Github (patches welcome!). And if you prefer pytest over nose, it looks like they've got a plugin too.

It's a tremendously silly thing, but it brought me some joy; I hope it can brighten your day too, or at least bring some comfort and commiseration to your test failure rage.

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Freeform Night at Clepy and the Ghost of Gary Bernhardt

April's Clepy meeting saw a much smaller than usual crowd, and a much more casual program--everyone who'd been lined up to give talks had had to bail at the last minute. So instead of covering anything formally, we spent a relaxing two hours enjoying beer, pizza, and various freeform, impromptu lightning talks. You couldn't even really call them lightning talks since we had no time limit, just an unspoken gentlemen's agreement to yield the projector cable when the time was appropriate.

Steve Dee showed off his CWRU senior project, jsPrettify, a bit of Javascript tomfoolery to automatically turn ASCII sequences into appropriate (and arguably prettier) Unicode equivalents. We also had a nice chat about the Closure Javascript tools that Steve had been introduced to while interning at Google. (Some aspects, like the provide/require system, remind me a lot of Dojo, and while it seems intriguing, reading some other opinions has me back in the skeptical category.)

Mike Crute showed us his not-yet-ready-to-release tool for automating provisioning and deployment of VPS nodes and the apps they serve, which seems like a really slick way to react to traffic needs (consolidate apps onto fewer boxes during low traffic periods, rearrange on the fly if someone's site is spiking). He also showed off something else that I mostly missed, so the Python code we glimpsed (featuring a lone "Oh, my..." comment to apologize for the 100-line method that was about to commence) didn't really mean a lot to me.

We had a brief glimpse of Mike's desktop wallpaper (a demotivational poster featuring a stern-looking John McCarthy) which inspired me to create this little gem (sorry in advance, Gary!):

image: Gary Bernhardt (as John McCarthy): 'Programming: You're Doing It Wrong'

Nick Barendt gave a quick introduction to Buildbot while I VPNed into work to prep my own demo of Das Blinkenlights, my little AIR app for monitoring the current build status of our various build slaves at work. The Python code to emit the JSON feed that Das Blinkenlights consumes hasn't yet been released to the public, but I have permission from the Powers That Be to do so, so I should get around to it before too long. (Beware my extremely unfinished and gross Javascript code in Blinkenlights--it's still in very rough shape at this point).

We had a new member tonight who was interested in applying Python for developing web apps, so we may try to pull together a "web framework shootout" for next month, which I envision as four or five different presenters simultaneously live coding the same basic web app (probably a wiki, blog, or to-do list) using different toolkits. We'll need to see about some cabling and KVMs, I think, so that we can rapidly switch back and forth between presenters. More details to follow, I'm sure...

If you're in Northeast Ohio and want to hang out with smart, friendly people who like Python, come on down! Meetings are held on the second Monday of the month aboard LeanDog's awesome boat, and we have an official pizza and beer fund going to supply us with tasty treats. It's a good time that I highly recommend.

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The Upside of Influenza

I spent the better part of a week in bed with a nasty case of influenza--chills, aches, sweats, nausea, digestive "issues", 102.9 degree fever--the works. And once again, everyone in my family had the great taste to all get sick at the exact same time, so you can imagine the fun that Liz and I had trying to comfort and care for Claire while we were clobbered by the bug.

But! Surprise, surprise! It turns out that even influenza can have a silver lining or two.

First, I lost six pounds, which is nice in the wake of holiday indulgence and a baby-driven complete lack of regular exercise routine.

More importantly, I now know what's happening to my sock drawer.

About once a week, I find my sock drawer in disarray, half-open and mixed-up, with two or three pairs on the floor in front of the dresser. I'd been wondering why and how for a while. Luckily, when one spends a week in bed with said dresser in direct view, one gets a chance to observe the cause and culprit first-hand--namely, Valentine the cat. She's figured out how to open the drawer, then jumps up onto the dresser and starts digging in the socks until she's satisfied with the disaster she's caused. I watched her steal four pairs of socks before she finally got bored and dashed off to chase her sister. I just about died laughing.

I know I sound like a broken record--but I'd really love to have a couple weeks or even a month of 2008 in which I'm not being devastated by the illness of the week.

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Early Adopter


IMG_2384.JPG
Originally uploaded by mikepirnat.

My mother-in-law dropped off this "calming vibrations" baby chair in anticipation of our eventual new arrival, but Julia seems to have already staked her own claim to it.

(And there are more cute cat photos if you need them.)

...

Oh, and my computer is still alive--turns out I'd blown a DIMM somehow. The nice Apple Store folks swapped in two fresh sticks and all's well again (and just in time for my speakers to dramatically short out at four AM this morning, but that's another story).

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