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[Video Link]. I'm recovering from yesterday's chemo infusion (my fifth!), and feeling kind of lousy. Jonathan Mann asked me this morning if he could write a song for me as his daily song project, and if so, if I had any theme requests. I was like, duh! Kittens, and space. And like a beautiful internet miracle, bam! Just hours later, he created the wonderful video above: "Kittens in Space."
Craig Davis Pinson, a composer who is a Boston Conservatory student, writes in the liner notes for the video embedded above:
This is a set of variations written on the melody heard in the Youtube video Nyan Cat. It is an experiment, in which I tried to find the limits of how far I could transform the melody before it begins losing its identity. The theme is known as Nyanyanyanyanyanyanya!, originally posted by username daniwellP on the Japanese video sharing website, Nico Nico Douga. The Nyan Cat phenomenom has become ingrained in popular culture, and amazes me both in its sheer absurdity and its freakishly colossal popularity. However, fascinating as they are to me, the origins of the theme are not played upon in this composition. Instead, I treated Nyanyanyanyanyanyanya! as pure musical material from which to generate music. The motivation to use this theme came from my repeated viewings of the video, and slowly realizing that it is a strangely alluring melody. Therefore, this is my tribute to Nyan Cat. Credit goes to daniwell-p for creating this theme, prguitarman for creating the gif animation, and saraj00n for joining them. Theme used for non-commercial purposes as per daniwell-P's request.
On a large scale, the work is structured along a simple alternation pattern. The theme and its variations alternate, similarly to rondo form. However, the theme is progressively dissolved, meaning that each time it returns it contains less percentage of the source material. This chipping-away continues until there's nothing recognizable left. In the variation episodes, more tools are employed to change the essence of the theme, especially, pronounced changes of duration, texture, harmonic character, and of the intervallic makeup of the melody. Each of the variations has its own defined character, and they contrast sharply with one another in mood and technique. Despite of the contrast of its sections, the piece exploits a long-scale narrative arc, playing on the contrast between the theme's duration - which remains essentially consistent at each iteration - and the durations of the variation episodes, which seem to grow out of control as their proportions become subverted.
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U xpect adorabulness. U gets it. But kittehs also gives u edukashun n' sientific nuance.
That's all the LOLcat speak I can muster in one go. Seriously, watch this video from Big Cat Rescue. It's fascinating. And, you should know, at the end, they link you to a slightly less educational feature about ocelots and lynx chasing laser pointers. Just sayin'.
Thanks, Andrew Balfour!
GirlieMac, aka Tomomi Imura (Twitter) just won the internet with her deftly conceived and Photoshopped series of HTTP status message "motivational poster" images, featuring cats. A bunch of them are featured above and below. The full set is here at Flickr. She's taking suggestions for more, if you can think of any she missed. (thanks, Bonnie Burton)
PBS NewsHour's Jenny Marder wrote a really interesting feature about the abandoned pets inside the Fukushima evacuation zone in Japan. I encountered some of them when I traveled to the area with Safecast and PBS NewsHour science correspondent Miles O'Brien (our resulting PBS NewsHour report video is here).
Jenny digs into what happened with the volunteer effort to rescue and adopt the abandoned pets, and talks to scientists about the effect of fallout on animals (including intergenerational and genetic changes, like what the world saw within bird and wild animal populations after Chernobyl). Snip:
At the tail end of Miles O'Brien's latest NewsHour report on radiation in Japan, a golden dog with a thick red collar trots into the street of the abandoned town, Katsurao, and weaves along the center divider.
Miles asks, off camera: "Do we have anything to feed him?"
The piece, which airs tonight, reports on the group Safecast, which has measured, mapped and crowdsourced data on radiation levels in locations throughout Japan, particularly in the hot spots near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
The dog was one of several scrawny, undernourished dogs and cats they encountered, most likely abandoned by their owners during rapid evacuation.
Read more: What's the Fallout for Dogs Near Fukushima? (The Rundown News Blog | PBS NewsHour)