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Rarely has reality needed so much to be imagined. --Chris Marker
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Saturday, November 23, 2002

Rick McCallum, producer of Star Wars, claimed recently that stopping file-sharing is as important as the war on terrorism [from the latest CNET "Mp3 Insider" report]

See, this is what happens. This is just plain astonishing and wrong on so many levels that I'm struck speechless by the very outrageousness that inspires me to rant on. I need to learn to write notes in my initially feverish state, muster my wits, and conserve the energy to compose when I can calm down.

If you know astrology, the fact that I have a Saturn/Mars conjunction in Scorpio in the 1st house should now come as no surprise.

4:13 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

James Wood's smartyface review of Middlesex

It's pretty good anyway. This book seems to be a love-or-hate thing.

This was in a Powell's email from Oct 3, I'm way behind on these Review-A Day things.

Here's more that look good:

Ron Charles on Daniel Philippe Mason's apparent homage to Heart of Darkness The Piano Tuner

A convoluted but fascinating reprint of an old Atlantic Monthly review of The Scarlet Letter. I loved this book and Hawthorne's stories when I was younger. It's odd how I feel an excitement just reading this review, the prose is so rich and tumultuous in a way I might not be able to stand in a present day writer, but invigorating all the same. Yet I read little "literature" now, life being quite full as it is these days. And being older and unable to absent myself from my life so completely, as when I was younger. Also a lot fussier about what I take the time to read, time being a factor now, and I'm not trying on styles of awareness to see if they fit like I used to.

Laura Miller's take on Jose Carlos Somoza's The Athenian Murders, a twisted, psychotropic stroll through Ancient Greece (that I imagine the character Henry from The Secret History devouring greedily as he sniffs at its inauthenticities -- not that there are any).

I might give Chuck Palahniuk's Lullaby a try, since according to Chris Bolton it delves into "the heretofore neglected realms of his characters' emotional lives." I couldn't get into the couple books of his I picked up at the library. Loved the movie of Fight Club, though.

Tourmaline by Joanna Scott might be good.

And David Thomson is bewitching as usual reviewing Anthony Lane's Nobody's Perfect collection of reviews. He makes a convincing argument for Lane's writing being at least some raison d'etre for the wretched movies he must review, laments the effect that that automatic distancing and Lane's English superiority-complex has had on his writing, and smoothly shreds the state of movies since 1980.
There is something else to add. Lane takes Hitchcock for granted as a master. Everyone does so now -- but taking art for granted never helps much. There was a time, at Hitchcock's peak, when films such as Rear Window and Vertigo were passed over or condemned. It was in France and even in England that a few spectators saw those pictures and recognized that some strange beauty had occupied the screen. In our day a critic can note the same thing with, say, Mulholland Drive or Paul Schrader's forthcoming Auto Focus. Lane has not yet proved himself in that way, and he may ask himself how far his caution comes out of the habit of making such good fun of the movies. We have the reviewing strategies and styles of an age despairing of magic, wit, and feeling. Will something happen to restore the busy years that Kael enjoyed? I hope so, though Kael herself was very shrewd on the commercial practices that make such a restoration unlikely -- and those systems have set in with a vengeance since she retired. Is Lane meant to pass the next thirty years getting off with increasingly artificial jokes at the expense of movies that we love to hate? He is far too good for that. I hope that, very soon, he will pass on to novels, to plays, or to some large work on Anglo-America. God save him from the most likely and soul-destroying fate: screenplays. Though a season in that hell might make him wounded and angry, and at the moment he rather suffers from being unscarred.
That's what I like I guess: "Some strange beauty."

3:52 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Friday, November 22, 2002

Fear of Beauty

The debacle of the Miss World pageant in Nigeria spotlights the fear of female beauty and power in fundamentalist groups Muslim and otherwise

"Down with beauty," indeed. What about beauty in general? When was the last time something of human origin struck you as beautiful in all aspects? Why is there so much ugliness? Why is the Maginot Line fort the model for so much of American commercial architecture?

1:16 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

Another great idea like MIT putting its curriculum online: the International Children's Digital Library

It's only available for broadband users (with at least 700MhZ PIIIs and 256 RAM) til next summer, when they promise any computer will have access.

It'll have 10,000 titles eventually.
A group of children played an important role in developing the Web site, telling researchers what designs and icons appealed to them most. When some of the youngsters said they wanted to search for books based on how the stories make them feel, the designers responded, creating special indexes for funny or scary stories.

The site has colorful icons that allow even the youngest children to navigate without knowing what all the words mean. With the click of a mouse, kids can see the thumbnail-sized pages of a book unwind in a spiral or unfold like the panels of a comic book.

Seven-year-old Ben Hammer of Silver Spring, Md., one of the children who demonstrated the site Wednesday at the Library of Congress, said he likes to look at the pictures of books even if he can't read all the text yet.

"It's more fun because you get to zoom through the books," he said. "And I like doing stuff on the computer."
Why are ideas like this the exception? Why isn't email (for instance) a public non-commercial right just like using the mail?

2:19 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Thursday, November 21, 2002

Between 15 and 30 and into SF? The European Space Agency wants your vision of "the technologies of space travel, exploration or settlement" [Schism Matrix]

No bucks, but maybe your story will get published.

Why doesn't this happen here?

10:31 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

The Leonids were a bust for me, unlike this fellow a couple hundred miles west

Got up at 2.15MT and couldn't see a damn thing. The sky was crystal, but the Moon was sooo bloody bright, it was lighting up the eastern horizon, reflecting off the desert like mild snowcover.

Last year was much more spectacular, and not just for me, apparently.

That's OK -- seeing the comets (Hale-Bopp and Hyakutake) over the last few years out here was more than enough compensation.

12:05 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

Dean Kamen's 2-wheel-balancing stair-climbing wheelchair which led to the invention of the Segway is on its way to FDA approval finally

Neat. $29,000 is a lot of dough though.

11:42 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Well, you can still send comments about why bypassing certain copyright protection schemes in the DMCA should be allowed [link]

This won't affect software makers, just consumers, and seems kind of quixotic to me. Though if enough people raised enough (articulate) hell, maybe it would have an effect.

I imagine the EFF has good advice on all this. I haven't had the energy to read their newsletters even lately.


1:36 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Wednesday, November 20, 2002

Haven't read any Saramago (the Portuguese Nobel prize winner), but The Cave -- a critique of our WalMart World -- might be a good place to start

Apparently a review of Plato's cave allegory is in order first.

Though the amazon consumer reviewers seem to favor earlier books like The Names and Blindness as better places to begin.

2:21 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Atom Egoyan on his new film Ararat about the Ottoman/Turks massacre of 1.5 million Armenians in 1915
"I am concerned about the impact of denial," he says, "denial of the truth, whether it's history or your own personal story." Without the truth, he says, connections between people and nations become corrupt. History books don't tell the story of the Armenian genocide. More significantly for a film director, the events took place long before today's media age in which pictures have forced people to believe the unbelievable.

"If it isn't on film or tape, did it really happen?" says Egoyan, referring to an attitude that he says has allowed both private citizens and politicians to sweep difficult historical events aside. Adolf Hitler was said to have told his aides that his plans would succeed because history confirmed that events that are not documented are forgotten. "Who remembers the Armenians?" Hitler asked.
Ironic and sadly quaint, since now that you can't believe images either, history and fiction will be impossible to separate. Though at the same time, technology decentralizes information and anyone can throw something up on the Net.

The queston is what people believe -- and whether they have the strength to face the truth.

1:42 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

More on Michael Caine's campaign to get The Quiet American released [u]

Previous posts on this here and here.

10:37 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

CNET review of Opera 7.0 beta

I'll wait for the next iteration myself.

3:08 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

Bottom-up approach to total broadband connectivity succeeding in...North Carolina
The RIAA has until the end of 2003 to meet the state legislature's deadline of providing the entire state with access to broadband, Leutze said. Jane Smith Patterson, executive director, said RIAA wants to provide two-way connections of at least 384 kilobits per second, about seven times faster than Internet access over regular phone lines. Almost all of the agency's budget is covered by $30 million in funds from MCNC, a non-profit organization in Research Triangle Park, N.C., he said.

The key to achieving widespread connectivity, however, has been 2,800 volunteers and public-private projects statewide that inform the public and demonstrate broadband's possibilities, Leutze said. The agency's Web site, e-nc.org, helps state residents locate the nearest Internet providers, he said, as well as collect requests for high-speed service to help providers map rollout efforts.

2:44 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

Student artwork from famous daughter Irial Eno, who's also protested the imminent Iraq War

Check out the ominous logo of that art school eh? Only for girls too, and pricey, of course. And you have to wear a uniform!

Interestingly, the last word of the school slogan "Francha Leale Toge" is the last name of the main character in daddy Brian's old teacher Tom Phillips' "painted novel" A Humument, which is very cool. The cover of Another Green World is a detail of his "After Raphael" -- an artist Phillips relates to in a singular way.

Here's an appreciation of Phillips' work by patron Marvin Sackner.

The last name "Toge" was supposedly researched to be unused and unique, yet here it is in Eno's daughter's school's slogan. I smell a conspiracy. . .

5:30 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

"It's a great solution to the aggression problem. . ."

R.I.P. Dr Sydney Schaefer

The link is to the "Ain't It Cool, News" obit, the only one I found that didn't suck. It takes a while to load, but it's fan's notes, what matters.

My favorite Coburn role was in The President's Analyst too, one of my favorite satires in general, and 20 times as relevant in its depiction of how we all become spies in a world of total surveillance than it was in '68. Dated in some ways, it still works well. I only wish the uncut version was available somewhere -- I saw a more complete one on Philly TV (in the early 80s I think), but the VHS is the more common one without the scene where he meets Joan Delaney's character at a porno/art theatre, because they're the only ones who are laughing. There may have been other scenes in the longer version I saw that once that I don't remember.

He made a lot of films, many of which weren't great. But the recent Affliction (the Oscar winner for him) is essential, the early spy satire Our Man Flint has dated but it's still a defining role, and one I haven't seen, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid is a cult favorite, some think it's one of Peckinpah's best too. I also remember getting a kick out of Duck, You Sucker back in '71, though I can't say whether I would now (great use of that killer grin).

He also had a couple in the can that might be good, The Man from Elysian Fields and American Gun. I'd like to check out The Last of Sheila and Harry in Your Pocket.

Here's a fan site, from Germany apparently.

4:40 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Monday, November 18, 2002

"That's what they should call CNN -- 'You Know What I Heard?'"

Jon Stewart on the road to the Daily Show, fame and cable news as his personal "bank"
He has become successful, but says there was no single event that marked his arrival. "There is no 'making it,'" he said. He attributes his success to the "gradual process of the roller coaster," and says his feelings of accomplishment came from inside, rather than any external marker. "You learn to develop an internal barometer, and that was the turning point for me -- more than anything else, more than any show -- that deemed me to be a comedian or said I was worthy to be on the air. It was learning, intuitively, when I was good and when I was bad."

Stewart retains a grounded humility -- spiced, of course, with a matchless wit at once sardonic and sincere. The roller coaster, he says, "doesn't end because somebody outside deems you worthy.... You have to learn that, yeah, maybe you're not going to be Woody Allen; but at least you're not going to be as godawful as you were that one night in the Village when it was raining and they booed you off stage."

4:42 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Sunday, November 17, 2002

Boondocks got real about rap and violence this week (from this date through Saturday)

10:59 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

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