Don’t worry about those two unsightly unfinished articles under this one–I’ll be getting to those in time. I just wanted to get this out now, as well as another article I wanted to write today, both of which are going to be short and to the point. Speaking of to the point, enough faffing about. The warrant-less, trial-less takedown of Megaupload–a file-sharing site noted primarily for its ease of use, clean interface, large storage sizes for free users and rampant, unpoliced piracy by its users–was taken down yesterday, less than twelve hours after the Wikipedia blackout ended. It was unconstitutional. It was standard operating procedure for the police state the United States are becoming. And frankly, it scares me as much as the police violence against demonstrators at various #occupy protests.
The takedown of Megaupload only came about due to money from the entertainment industry. If you have the dollars to pay the United States government, they will attack and destroy anything you want them to. Which, in these days, makes them paid attack goons for the American entertainment industry, as well as the food and military industries. Private contractors can pay the United States to do anything they want, and the US will agree. If you are a private entity with enough money, you can pay the United States to ignore “innocent until proven guilty” and tear down an entire company just because their users engage in illegal behaviour and it’s easier to tear down a service with legitimate uses than police its users. You disgust me.
The truth is, I’d love to get ranting and raving on this, I would. But the entire issue depresses me so heavily that it gets impossible to see how any statement anywhere can make it any better at all ever. We’re occupying, we’re protesting, we’re blacking out popular sites, but the internet will continue to be shut down and closed off by a government that has just started to realize its full, stupid power. Its absolute stupid, dumb power. If great responsibility comes with great power, the United States will ignore that responsibility until the end of western civilisation, signing into legislation more and more faith-based, well-funded idiocy with the intent of making every person on Earth a criminal so that they can decide who the people they want to punish are and decide how long they want to punish them for. We’re seeing arbitrary arrests. We’re seeing massive overreaches of power. And some people are still convinced of an external threat, come to kill us all.
This is what weighs on my mind after the death of Megaupload. This is what I see. Not “oh, if you knock one down, five more will take its place”. I see the greatest nation on Earth falling to theocratic fascism, and my last option is going to be to move to Sweden. I’m tired, I’m sad. An innocent company has been destroyed simply because someone paid a hitman to take it out. Thanks, America. For falling to theocratic fascism under the man who was supposed to make it better and instead wound up selling the American people to wealthy bankers with enough money for nothing already. You disgust me.
So, today, I watched Mission: Impossible for the first time in a long time. Since I was about nine years old, actually, and I was surprised by how not-complex the plot was. I wasn’t watching it to review it; I mostly had it on in the background while I trolled the net for a torrent of Eksie Ou, the new Jack Parow album. Which is fantastic, by the way. Gotta get a credit card so I can have copies of his albums shipped to me. Really, this is another one of those days in the life of an amateur critic (read: person with opinions on the internet) where nothing really major happens in their artistic diet. I’ve seen Mission: Impossible before, and I’m pretty sure having memorized the plot through repeated viewings at the age of nine really made it hard to evaluate as though it was the first time seeing it.
Though, I will say this: Brian de Palma loves diopter lenses, but he especially loves his diopter lenses for dutch angles. Starting about ten minutes into this movie, nearly every shot of some intense stuff going down is at a degree sharper than 45 off kilter with something in sharp focus in the background and sharp focus in the foreground. I swear to god, it’s like the arrow in the FedEx logo–once I saw it, I couldn’t unsee it for the rest of the movie. All I could think was “jeez, Brian–maybe you don’t need that one guy in the background in focus while these two pairs of lips are hogging the frame to the right. Maybe they could all get a turn on screen in their own shots.”
Other than that, it was a tight, surprisingly grim/gritty/dark/edgy spy thriller. With the direction the franchise took in the latest two installments toward spy-movie fluff, it’s easy to forget these movies started out by killing everyone on screen after revealing the only original cast member left from the TV series to have sold out the entire nation. It’s a weird case of anti-Batman syndrome, where these movies have only gained artistic credence the lighter and fluffier they got. Read more…
Think back, in your mind, to the last chair you sat on. I’m going somewhere with this analogy, I promise you, but for now, just think of the last chair you sat on. Perhaps you’re sitting in one right now. (Little computer joke.) I believe in the Zuckerberg Character philosophy that “a guy who builds a nice chair doesn’t owe money to everyone who has ever built a chair”. Chairs are sort of basic, mechanical objects, aren’t they. Enough legs to make balance a certainty; a back if you want your sitter to rest their back on the back of your chair. A seat, preferably, or you have legs jammed up your goolies. And it’s never good to have chairlegs jammed up your goolies no matter how restful your back is on your chair back. But the last chair you sat on is sort of a basic, mechanical thing, right? You can break it down to legs, seat and back. That’s all you need in a chair for it to be called a chair. And you evaluate its quality as a chair by how long it lasts as a chair and how comfortable you are in that chair.
So why do we let manufacturers tell us that other basic mechanical things are so much more complex and difficult just because they’re newer? With a number of things, there’s only really one metric of quality: it works or it doesn’t. Binary. Does it do the job it’s supposed to? I’m not talking about things like guitars with varying sounds or monitors with varying contrast ratios or engines with varying strengths and stuff. I’m talking about things like chairs. Tables. Music stands. Canvas bags. Knives of varying purposes. Do these things do the things they’re supposed to do? And thus, you can judge them. And you’ll notice these are all old things–things we’ve had around for years. But what if I was to tell you there was another thing, a new thing, that’s come along in the last twenty years that has a pretty much binary quality but you’ve been convinced is a matter of highly differing qualities and standards?
It’s cables. Read more…
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 16,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
I’mma be honest: I have no idea what I wrote last year. Not an idea in my head at all about what I wrote last year at this time, and while I know I could look it up just a few inches and a few mouse clicks away, I’m not going to at the moment. It’s Christmas Eve at my girlfriend’s house and I’ve taken a few minutes to come upstairs, check my twitter and write this blog entry mostly to have an introvert moment. A couple hours ago for my introvert moment, I was reading 11/22/63 and playing Pilotwings Resort and if the stores were open tomorrow, I’d be spending my paycheque on Mario Kart 7. The booze has worn off, I’ve lost my headphones and I really just wanted to wish you all a merry christmas. So I thought I’d share cs188’s holiday special, A Michael Rosen Christmas!
There’s an interesting thing that happens when you take a hiatus from writing. Your posts keep generating their own traffic independent of your promotion of them, and you get to see which posts are the ones that generate traffic merely by existing. Back in January, it seemed like “Rap and the persona.” was that post. It got one to two views a day, steadily, for over four months. However, when I stopped writing and stopped looking at the stats on my dashboard, another post took off like a rocket. It was a piece of ranty filler posted over a year and a week ago called “Why Hans Zimmer can blow me.”, in which I spoke at length about how I disliked Hans Zimmer’s music. That was really my only thesis in that essay, yet it’s the most-commented article on my blog, with the comments full of people who love Zimmer and think I’m an imbecile for not loving him like they do and others who simply don’t like his music and don’t get the hype.
I made a mistake in writing that post: I didn’t define my terms properly. Most of the comments I’ve received on it, positive or negative, seem to confuse film scores and film soundtracks. The difference is one of those things I’m gonna put in my glossary when I get around to uploading it. The way I’ve defined it is as follows: a film score is written to picture. It is the work of a composer who has sat down with the finished movie and written the music to it. That is it–it does not define what instruments are used to play the music or how it’s recorded or if it even exists at all. A soundtrack is music that is written outside of the picture that is then put to picture after being written. It can either be an original soundtrack written for the picture specifically by any number of composers or it can be just a collection of songs–pop or classical–selected by the director or someone else on the crew for the movie.
All of these approaches to music in a motion picture can be used to make great movies with great music. Not a one of them is inherently wrong. And here’s where a lot of people got confused. Let’s walk through a number of examples of movies with music that I’ve seen and you’ll see what I mean when I say I wish Hans Zimmer would try writing music to picture. Read more…
Don’t worry about the title. Titles are just arbitrary designations we give to works to classify them. Sometimes the titles are apt; 11/22/63 or Atlas Shrugged being good examples. Sometimes, they’re intentionally misaligned with the work in question; The Social Network, for instance, has nothing to do with Facebook. It would be like calling Citizen Kane “The Newspaper”. And the reason for the title up there is because that’s where the slug autosaved when I was typing “the reason for the season” and got nearly to the end before realizing that was a hilariously inapt title for what I’m writing now. I knew when I came back that I’d want to write about why I was gone and not writing for so long. Somehow, I thought there would be people here and reading to care, but I don’t know if there are. And yet, that same doublethink of knowing how many subscribers I have and not acknowledging their existence for its tininess is both why I stopped writing here on May 23rd and why I’m back now. I don’t know if I’m back permanently. I’m not going to make any statements about the future. I’m just gonna keep writing, if that’s okay with y’all.
Anyway, the reason I stopped writing this May was because, frankly, it never felt like there was anybody reading. And I’m not saying nobody’s reading now or then or whatever–I know you’re all out there, but that’s what I’m getting to, here. It feels like the only people who read my blog are the kind of people to comment on other peoples’ blogs in order to get them to comment on their own. Which just feels a lot more than fake, I’ve found. And I never want to be that kind of fake. And maybe it’s not fake, maybe it’s just a strategy to get more readers, I don’t know. But what I mean is, out of all of my friends that I know in person (thanks online subscribers, for sticking with this), only a couple are subscribed in any way. It’s kinda demoralizing to feel like nobody you know likes what you’re writing. Or reads it enough to know whether or not they like it. Occasionally, people would read stuff I wrote and talk to me about it, but because of some personal issues I’m betting you could guess at, I never noticed. Read more…