Previous Posts: Uncategorized / General: September 2012

Silver Screen Has No Silver Lining Dept.

Why mainstream moviemaking has become a race to the bottom: everything but the blockbuster has been blotted out.

David Denby has written one of the very best pieces I have read in a long time about what has happened to mainstream filmmaking. It's not that it's become a business (when has it ever not been one?), it's that the business is now one entirely of grabbing an audience by the throat and upending it and shaking it about until the money falls out of its pockets.

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Tags: movies

Roughing It Dept.

We just upgraded to the new version of Movable Type, so things might be a little bumpy for a bit. Comments in particular are acting a tot strange. Bear with us. Update 9/27/2012 10:35: Looks like the comments problems are...

We just upgraded to the new version of Movable Type, so things might be a little bumpy for a bit. Comments in particular are acting a tot strange. Bear with us.

Update 9/27/2012 10:35: Looks like the comments problems are mostly fixed.

Tags: excuse our dust

Operation Lunchmeat Dept.

Spam. Burp.

I'm getting word a ton of spam emails are being blasted out from my site, possibly courtesy of an infected script somewhere. I'm aware of the problem and am working on it. The joys of running your own domain ...

Tags: excuse our dust technology

Distrust That Particular Favorite Dept.

The difference between "best" and "favorite" is often unconsciously blurred.

Snobbism time. I've learned not to trust the tastes of people who describe, say, a book as "the best book I've ever read", or a movie using the same sloppy language.

I don't trust such pronouncements because all too often they tell me nothing about why the book, movie, etc. in question is any good. Anyone can say something is the best ever, when what they really mean is that it's a favorite, and for reasons that are entirely personal.

But ... I don't hold this against people for the most part. Most folks are not critics and do not train themselves to be critics, and I'm not surprised that most people don't want that crap job in the first place. You express opinions which few, if any, people agree with in the first place, attempt to introduce worthy work to largely indifferent audiences, and in the end don't even get paid for it. (The number of people I know who do get paid for such work, apart from being paid in copies, I could count on one hand with enough fingers left over to flash a peace sign. I am the index finger.)

End result, most of what people say about "best" and "worst" are essentially well-meaning prejudices, not attempts at genuine criticism. The problem is they are too easily misinterpreted by others as forms of criticism. Me included, by the way: I've done this more times than I can count, and I've only recently started to school myself out of it.

There are a few things I know I like which are not defensible or explicable. I couldn't tell you why a movie like I Love Maria leaves me in stitches — it's some weird personal alchemy at work, for lack of a better way to put it. I know it isn't explicable, and so any talk of aesthetics on my part requires that I leave out mention of that outlier and many others in the same vein. And in the same vein, I could not tell you why other things just plain rub me the wrong way. (I "know" Heinlein is a valuable and important SF author, but something about most of his books just makes me not want to read them, and I have never figured out why.)

The business of separating your tastes from your powers of analysis is  not something you can accomplish in a season, and there's good reason to believe it can only be done so far over the course of a lifetime. We all want to find reasons why our favorites are also the best, or why the things we call best are also our favorites. There may be no reason more complex than the fact that we make that connection on our own in the first place.

Tags: art criticism literature

Hard Wear Dept.

Back to the build-it-yourself PC, after years away.

After much price-matching and sifting through parts lists, I've come to the conclusion I'm better off building a new machine for my particular price point than I am buying a pre-built system from the likes of D*ll or H*wl*tt-P*ck*rd. I wouldn't normally feel weird about this if I hadn't dug myself a hole some years back when building my own system.

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Tags: technology

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This page is an archive of entries in the Uncategorized / General category from September 2012.

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