american sniper, the sitcom

Dialogue from the "American Sniper" film, as used in the pilot for the TV comedy of the same name:

Scene: The Kyle family dining room table

Father: (speaking to his two sons, in a Texas twang): There are three types of people in this world: sheep, wolves and sheepdogs. Some people prefer to believe evil doesn’t exist in the world. And if it ever darkened their doorstep they wouldn’t know how to protect themselves. Those are the sheep.


Father: And then you got predators.

The camera cuts to a schoolyard bully beating a smaller boy.

[groans, some laughter]

Father: They use violence to prey on people. They’re the wolves. Then there are those blessed with the gift of aggression and an overpowering need to protect the flock. They are a rare breed who live to confront the wolf. They are the sheepdog. (waits a beat) We’re not raising any sheep in this family.

[burst of laughter]

The father lashes his belt against the dining room table, accompanied by a loud, cartoonish whipcrack.


Father: I will whup your ass if you turn into a wolf. We protect our own. If someone tries to fight you, tries to bully your little brother, you have my permission to finish it.

[final burst of laughter]

Cut, to commercial.

liberally adapted from Chris Hedges' American Sniper review, check it out for more comedy gold

three movies that were better as books

All of these are well-done, or reasonably well-done films that streamlined a source novel:

Under the Skin. The ScarJo version is creepy and nicely-filmed but has only rudimentary connections to Michel Faber's novel. A woman driving around Scotland picks up men and terrible things happen to them. In the book we clearly see, and understand, the terrible things and the politics behind them. The film's actress is a beautiful blank on whom the camera lingers for most of the run-time; Faber's "Isserley" isn't much to look at but has a rich inner life.

The Man in the High Castle. This "Amazon pilot" excels at visually conjuring Philip K. Dick's parallel world where the Germans and Japanese won World War II but dumbs it down thematically. Dick's small business and lower functionary "little people" working out their fates within the context of a larger, mostly unseen political struggle become, in the Amazon version, players in a Mel Gibsonized "French Underground" story, with calculated plot twists and Nazis beating resistors to a bloody pulp.

The Prestige. Christopher Nolan also adds Hollywood "story arc" to Christopher Priest's superb Gothic novel. The book does not hinge on an absurd murder trial, or a prisoner separated from his daughter. The steampunk element in the form of a miraculous "Tesla device" figures in both both stories, but Priest handles the revelations about its powers much more effectively.

Discreet Mutations -- LP liner notes


Am pleased to announce a new Bandcamp release for the new year, titled Discreet Mutations.

Some LP notes:

These tracks feature many presets from Steinberg (Cubase) and Native Instruments (Kontakt, FM8, Battery), particularly arpeggiators that play the provided synth patches.
I don't hear enough other music using these tools to know how successfully I've personalized the patches, or if that matters. The music also incorporates field recordings and riffs played "live" in the studio using Eurorack modular gear and, in a few songs, a '90s-vintage filter called the Mutator. To my ear these change the meaning of the presets, setting up a conversation between the canned and the spontaneous, 1s-and-0s vs voltages, clean vs dirty, etc. There is questioning going on here, and emotional content (mostly anger and humor, not much sadness). Please check out the first track, "Suspicious Activity," if your time is limited -- I think it's kind of funny, especially if you are a rider of a certain NYC metro area subway system.
Compared to earlier work, the tunes are shorter but also more full. The Cubase DAW makes it possible to timestretch and stack riffs: at the most I can handle four or five interacting simultaneously, but it's like working a puzzle to fit them all together. The shortness is due to boredom -- if anything sounds too repetitious, I cut it out.

A cassette version of this recording is available! Same price as the digital, plus postage.

Note: These tunes use the full audio spectrum (i.e., aren't written with tinny laptop speakers in mind)! In some cases, notably the track "Discreet Mutations," crucial segments are laptop-inaudible because they are bass notes. A halfway decent pair of speakers are recommended, if those can be obtained.