Here’s a beautiful image from Nasa released today. Now here’s the science: it shows the tip of the ‘wing’ of the Small Magellanic Cloud galaxy in this new view from Nasa’s Great Observatories. The SMC is a small galaxy about 200,000 light years away that orbits our own Milky Way spiral galaxy. The spiral galaxy seen in the lower corner is actually behind this nebula. The colours represent wavelengths of light across a broad spectrum. Other distant galaxies located hundreds of millions of light years or more away can be seen sprinkled around the edge of the image.The SMC is one of the Milky Way’s closest galactic neighbours. Photograph: NASA/AFP/Getty Images
It’s nice to remember that we exist as small specks in the middle of this kind of thing every now and again, isn’t it? “All we are/Are stars…”
Being a massive Beatles fan, it’s no surprise that “The Sound of Science” is my favorite Beastie Boys track. I can actually still remember hearing it for the first time, one night in 1994 on Chris Morris’ short-lived Radio 1 show, and thinking “Wait, is that sampling The Beatles?” in surprise. The smartness of the samples – from “When I’m Sixty-Four,” “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” (both versions, unless I’m mishearing) and “The End,” respectively – is one of the reasons that I love the song so much, the way that the first three sound at once familiar and unusual, with the looped drums from “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)” giving the song more impetus and immediacy than the final version arguably has.
The sampled guitar from “The End” sounds great, too, but what I love most about the song is the placement of that guitar. There’s something just perfect to me about the juxtaposition of Mike D’s “Do whatcha like, huh?” at 1:57 with the guitar that immediately follows – It gives the guitar more attitude, somehow, and yet feels utterly appropriate for the track it’s lifted from (“The End” being a series of improvised guitar solos traded between John, George and Paul, literally them doing what they like, even as the song’s lyrics suggest that we be a little more conscientious in our actions) and the Beatles in general.
Accidentally or otherwise, that verbal shrug is something that I always attribute not to the Beasties, but to the Beatles now; somehow, it switched tracks in my brain and belongs with them. I like to think that the Beatles that were, back when, would’ve heard this track and wished they’d made it themselves.
I’m sure that I’ve written before about my frustration and dislike for waiting for phone calls that I know are coming. Now, it turns out, it might just be waiting for communications of any sort; I submitted my first piece of work for a new-to-me (print) outlet via email yesterday, and have spent the past couple of days just avidly watching my email inbox for some kind of confirmation of receipt, and – in my fantasy world – a “It’s great!” or “it needs these minor edits” (Basically, anything that isn’t “We’re killing it outright, here’s our kill fee”).
I am finding myself supernaturally distracted by the waiting, and the lack of email. Despite the fact that I was surprisingly productive today even when I shouldn’t have been, I’m thinking less about the work and more about the email that just hasn’t arrived yet.
And I want to send a second email to say “I know I’m being paranoid, but did you get it? Because I sent it, and I’d even be okay with you saying that you hated it instead of thinking that I didn’t send it and screwed the deadline,” but I also don’t want to send that email, because then I’m crazy paranoid guy who can’t wait three days for Busy Editor for A National (International, jeez) Publication to check his email, have a chance to read the story and then write back to me.
So, instead, I write this as some kind of message out to the ether and the potential coincidence and magic therein. May whatever potential coincidences may be at play out there lead that email to have been received, to be opened and appreciated and responded to. Pretty, pretty please with sugar on top.
Three Colors Red – and Three Colors Blue, as well, although Three Colors White left me somewhat cold – rewrote my brain when I first saw it as a teenager in the U.K. There was such precision in the filmmaking, such humanity and affection and empathy in the writing, but also such ambiguity and uncertainty. It’s not just that the characters were flawed, or whatever would be the traditional way to describe them in American movie terms, but that they were also clearly lost and confused and didn’t have all (or, at times, any) of the answers. Blue and Red hit me like a brick to the head when I most needed it, and changed what I thought movies, and mainstream pop narratives in general, could do.
A 130mm artillery round is fired during a live fire drill at a military base in Kampong Speu province, about 40 miles west of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Photograph: Xinhua/Sipa USA/Rex Features
Yesterday, I started off the day with the attitude “It’s a new month! Okay! I’m going to kick April’s ass!” purely because, well, for whatever reason, March kicked my ass and good. By the end of the day, though, I felt mired in the sludge of my brain, entirely unenthusiastic on what I was working on and frustrated by a million things that I had no name for. So, today, I’m using this particular image as a visual key: April. I am coming for you.