Monday, January 22, 2018

Some perspective

A man is sitting at the bar, deep in drink. He hears something that so disturbs him he turns around to see who said it. He sees two astrophysicists from a nearby university. Staggering to their booth he says, "What were you guys just talking about?"

One of the physicists replies, "We were just discussing stellar evolution. My colleague believes that within 5 billion years, the sun will run out of fuel and become a red giant. The Earth and everything on it would be incinerated, of course."

The drunk stands down, more at ease now. "God, that's a relief," he says, "I thought you said 5 million."

(I didn't make up that joke. In some form it might actually be older than me. I gave it a little touch-up to make it more cinematic, though.)

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Question from the curious

Here's a sincere question: How do you surprise people you meet? I mean pleasant surprise. Not, say, jumping out from behind a tree and shrieking. It's easy to become perfunctory in your dealings with others. I think most of us do to some extent. But sometimes you see people breaking out of that.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

It came from 1966

As it happens, most people wouldn't know who Warren Zevon was until the latter half of the seventies. (And beyond; I'm sure David Letterman's sincere adoration of the man helped.) But as it also happens, he was active well before that. He was half of the duo Lyme & Cybelle - guessing he was Lyme. This early bit of psychedelia from them is different from what you think of as a Zevon recording but he was always versatile.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

...good things

Will definitely miss The Awl. It was a good looking site, in a quiet and non-flashy way. It had smart, funny people writing for it. Perhaps most importantly as a matter of culture it saw the pitfalls of social media and the Internet itself - technological triumphalism, excessive branding, the turning away from everything that can't fit on a tiny screen - and tried to combat it.

The Awl was partly developed by people who had also worked at Gawker. Gawker, of course, went belly-up because a horrid zillionaire had a grudge against it. As far as I know there was nothing so melodramatic as that in The Awl's ending. It turns out it's just really hard to keep a journalistic outlet going in an automated and memory-free world.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Closing statement

When I used to get rides it would be in older cars. Well, maybe they weren't much older then, but they'd be a lot older now. And that meant that they were built differently. You could be more forceful closing the door, and sometimes you had to be.

More recently, people who've given me rides have been quietly dismayed when I slam, or at least "slam" the door getting out. And I get that. I've worked on it. Now I pretty much just give it a little push.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Tape on film

I just watched a movie tonight.Nightcrawler, from 2014. In it, Jake Gyllenhaal plays Lou Bloom, a petty thief who changes careers and starts providing stinger video footage of violent crime to an LA newscast. Not to give too much away, but it goes pretty well for him.

Gyllenhaal is good at slowly revealing himself to be detestable. And this is a revelation. Other characters react badly to him from the beginning, but most of them are jerks. He couldn't be any worse, could he? Well...

Los Angeles looks very pretty in this movie. In a desolate way, at least. It sometimes feels like the photos in a Gregory Crewdson exhibit have come to life. There's a large scale creepy saturation to it.

I'm not sure I see a lot of social significance in the movie, as some critics have claimed for it. It might lean too heavily on "one bad apple" explanations for what's wrong in the world. Still, it doesn't feel focus-grouped. The movie does what it set out to do with a remarkable concentration, which makes a kind of statement in itself.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Teeming Eyes

I have to say, the animator (Joanna Priestley) has found an interesting balance between the weird, the comical, and the causing of inexplicable physical discomfort. This looks a little fifties-ish, but distinctly eerie and new.