Archive for the 'dino++' Category

Just because it’s awesome (“all we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us”)

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

I got the opportunity to use a quote in conversation to a colleague about a difficult work situation which a friend and former colleague once said to me at the right time:

Frodo: I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.

Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world Frodo, besides the will of evil. Bilbo was meant to find the Ring. In which case, you were also meant to have it. And that is an encouraging thought.

– Lord of the Rings

IRC, the forgetting of things past, self and others

Sunday, August 24th, 2008

The stream of thought flows on; but most of its segments fall into the bottomless abyss of oblivion. Of some, no memory survives the instant of their passage. Of others, it is confined to a few moments, hours or days. Others, again, leave vestiges which are indestructible, and by means of which they may be recalled as long as life endures.

-William James

I saw the above quote today and I’ve thought many times how strange it is that some memories remain and recur so frequently while others fade to nothing or are only vaguely grasped at the corners.

There are things which reoccur to me semi-frequently for no reason that I can think of: snatches of song, bits of books, movies, memories which echo around in my head. They’re not necessarily about important events or profound or particularly funny. Often they occur to me in my in-between times when I’m not thinking but doing something routine — brushing my teeth, showering, etc. Some memories are, I suspect, distorted or blurred and many old ones gather and drag other new thoughts and associations along like hooks on ropes dangling below a slow boat – sometimes new bits of detritus get attached while others drop away.

I am used to a certain level of lack of a sense of solid ‘self’ even though (or perhaps one might argue, because) I am such an introverted person. In the famous “You can’t step in the same river twice” way I know the me that had the experiences I remember (imprecisely, with distortions, the old being cast into shadows by new thoughts and new knowledges) is not the same me as now.

What William James couldn’t take into account was how technology can in some ways flatten out the abyss. Some things aren’t necessarily lost but merely a few keystrokes away if you want them — provided you have good back-ups (though of course there’s always the option to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind /delete things too).

I’ve noticed when searching IRC logs to confirm a phrase or find an old link that I’m sometimes surprised to read something and realize it was me saying it. It’s not necessarily that I disagree now with the me from then but more a kind of bemusement in realizing it seems alien, like something someone else thought and said. I have those “How am I not myself?” moments often enough already and to read the words of a self from which I am disconnected by time and imprecise memory is a curious feeling.

I just spent an hour or so re-reading weeks and months in the past from my IRC logs. I don’t think that I have a particularly good sense of how I appear to others so it ended up being interesting to read myself as a mostly dispassionate observer. In my every day life I worry I complain a lot, and well, yes, I do complain and I know that I go through periods of sadness or just plain crankiness but I noticed other things too like that I quite often make jokes — though why this should be surprising to me I am not sure.

I often (and I’m kind of embarrassedly aware of this too) ramble or expound on a theory or just natter. I think what I didn’t see as clearly before is how most of my friends more often that not respond in an interested way to most things I yammer about as easily and unconcernedly as I am interested in what they say (of course I’m interested, they’re very interesting people!).

I’m really struck by what wonderful, clever, funny and kind friends I have and how lucky I am. It’s fascinating to re-read old conversations and jokes, to re-live little joys and sorrows, to see some circumstances of our current lives first mentioned or wondered at, to see how old pains or worries or angers have faded away (or how they haven’t) and to see the day-by-day links of our friendships of years. I’ve long know how much these conversations meant to me, how interesting and funny and poignant they were (and every so often exclaimed: “You should blog this!” but that the same time, knew that it was likely no one would because, well, it had been said and understood already, why repeat it elsewhere?) but now I realize that we have been writing a kind of book of our lives minute-by-minute and that it is actually pretty amazing.

Time Traveler’s Wife, Eric Bana

Saturday, June 21st, 2008

Dean mentioned the other day that they’re making a movie of The Time Traveler’s Wife, a wonderful book. It is a moving love story (moving, as one can gather from the title, in time as well as emotion). It is both complex and achingly simple. I was bracing myself to be disappointed when I followed the link to read about the movie. I was shocked, ecstatic, when I saw they’d cast Eric Bana. I thought: “They got it right, for once, absolutely, perfectly, right!”

Eric Bana is one of my favorite actors. He is very masculine yet exudes vulnerability. He is complex yet never pretentious and even when playing violent characters, (as he often seems to do), can project an amazing gentleness. He is always completely believable and more just than being believable, he adds something indescribable, something compelling and he is so subtly arresting that he can seem like the most real thing in the movie, as though other parts fade slightly into the background. It’s hard to take your eyes off him.

The first time I saw him was in the Australian movie Chopper about a notorious criminal, Chopper Read. I remember being floored by his performance.

The killer who feels no remorse is a movie cliché, but Chopper is about a killer whose remorse is as strong as his initial desire to wound, a much more interesting basis for a drama. Every time he hurts someone in the movie, he becomes immediately regretful and worried about their safety. ‘You alright Keith?’ he asks Keithy George (David Field) after stabbing him nine times in the face in H Division, the most notorious wing of Pentridge Prison….

– “Chopper” from Australian Screen

A scene from the movie which still echos with me is in a prison room where Chopper’s friend Jimmy stabs him several times. The look on Bana’s face and his tone when he asks: “What are you doing, mate?” in a genuinely surprised, bemused, even caring way, amazed me.

In another scene, he’s out of prison and with his hooker girlfriend; she is talking about her clients and he plaintively asks her something like: “but I’m the only one you kiss, right?”. Then there’s a scene later when he beats her and yells at her after: “Now look what you’ve done! Your Mum’s upset!” with something like anguish. The crashing together of horrifying acts and a such a likable character is what makes the movie so disorienting and so amazing. I liked this character, it’s hard not to, but I had a hard time reconciling this continued desire to like him as he did such awful things. I think the scene of him hitting his girlfriend (you don’t actually see the blows connect, which in some ways makes it worse, as your mind fills in the action) was the first time in a movie that I’d gotten a glimpse behind the dark part of love mixed with anger and felt the merest twinge of sympathy for the pain which drives the aggressor. It wasn’t a glimpse I wanted to have and my reaction confused and upset me. It’s rare enough to be moved at all by films, let alone be moved to an understanding, to a place I hadn’t wished to see. Bana is a much more likable and sympathetic person than the real Chopper, I’m sure — he was the one who was so likable and he wasn’t really hitting the girl, but I had to consciously think like this, distinguishing the actor from the character. My thought after seeing this movie and the feelings it inspired was that he was an almost dangerously good actor.

The next movie I saw him in was Black Hawk Down. Though this is a big-budget war movie, I felt an unexpected level of empathy for the characters and, as when I watched the movie Master and Commander, I felt I got a brief glimpse into the world of men in war, grasped some of the fortitude it must take to not just to run at people who are shooting at you, but what must be the constant stress and pressure of living up to some notion of honor or masculinity or even just getting through the situation. Probably because my personality type is so exactly opposite this physical, militaristic, masculine type, I find it fascinating, if intensely foreign, to watch it in such a well done movie (with, however, no little gratitude in the end for being as abstract, introspective and female as I am). Bana has a small role but he stands out and shows his amazing skill with accents.

I thought he was one of the most watchable parts of the roundly awful (though wonderfully fun) Troy and I loved his performance in the Hulk.

I think Ang Lee’s Hulk is very under-appreciated and Bana’s performance is the saving grace of the movie for me.

There is something powerful and moving in watching a gentle, thoughtful man who has previously relied on a fierce suppression of emotion, wrestle with childhood demons and hurts, wrestle with his own rage and strength. Bruce says to Betty: “Even now I can feel it, buried somewhere deep inside, watching me, waiting… But you know what scares me the most? When I can’t fight it anymore, when it takes over, when I totally lose control… I like it. ”

One aspect I haven’t seen addressed in the reviews I’ve read is the issue of adoption as part of what makes Bruce the way he is. In the beginning, Bruce doesn’t know where he came from, doesn’t know who is he is; he is deeply different and he uses a supression of emotion as defense against the world, against others, against what lurks underneath in his genes and in his mind.

I think too that there’s a message in the movie about love, about acceptance and understanding; that in some ways, rage is a less powerful force and that it is love that saves. The relationship between Betty and Bruce is important though not very deeply explored. It it she to whom he tries to express himself; it is her presence, wanting to be near her, which allows him to transform from monster to man.

Though I know it is based on a comic-book I was frustrated at the comic-book rules of the movie like that in the end he must leave the woman he loves and isolate himself in a jungle where his remaining strength is not understanding but anger (like how Spider Man leaves Mary Jane at the end of Spider Man 1 and how Batman can have a girlfriend but not a long-term relationship). I would happily cut out almost all parts with Nick Nolte or the CGI monster, too. In fact, now I’m imagining a movie where the green bits happen ‘off stage’ and we see only the man and what moves him. It would be more subtle but, to me at least, more interesting (though I suppose that movie would have to be called “The Bruce!”). The movie is a let-down in many ways but I think that Lee explored things in a very interesting and deeper, if flawed way, and that Bana managed to make a three-dimensional character in a two-dimensional story.

The last movie I saw him in was Munich. The movie opens with the taking and killing of Israeli hostages at the Olympic Games of 1972 and it traces the aftermath and retaliation by a small, undercover group of Israelis, led by Bana’s character Avner.

Again, I found Bana’s performance absolutely mesmerizing. It’s like the other actors almost recede to the background in his presence somehow. It took me forever to recognize Mathieu Kassovitz as Nino from Amelie and Daniel Craig, who I thought was pitch-perfect: masculine, suave and controlled as James Bond, hardly registered. Ciarán Hinds stood out in a wonderful performance as Carl the “cleaner” but Bana was the heart of the movie.

This movie might be one of the most haunting performances of his that I’ve seen. These men do not start out as cold, professional killers. Avner is a loving husband and father and his joy in and longing for the family he must spend so much time away from is affecting. As the story progresses and the assassinations become further and further removed from the sense of rightness, or righteousness they started with, the men begin to question what they’re doing, what matters and to lose themselves. You can see Avner disintegrating from the inside, the wear on his face, in his eyes. It becomes agonizing to watch and the final scenes, when he comes back to his wife and his family damaged and obsessed, are painful and sad.

I’m looking forward to seeing him, one of my favorite actors, as Henry DeTamble, one of my favorite literary characters.

Henry: How does it feel? How does it feel?

Sometimes it feels as though your attention has wandered for just an instant. Then, with a start, you realize that the book you were holding, the red plaid cotton shirt with white buttons, the favorite black jeans and the maroon socks with an almost-hole in one heel, the living room, the about-to-whistle tea kettle in the kitchen: all of these have vanished. You are standing, naked as a jaybird, up to your ankles in ice water in a ditch along an unidentified rural route. You wait a minute to see if maybe you will just snap right back to your book, your apartment, et cetera. After about five minutes of swearing and shivering and hoping to hell you can just disappear, you start walking in any direction, which will eventually yield a farmhouse, where you have the option of stealing or explaining. Stealing will sometimes land you in jail, but explaining is more tedious and time consuming and involves lying anyway, and also sometimes results in being hauled off to jail, so what the hell….

How does it feel?

It feels exactly like one of those dreams in which you suddenly realize that you have to take a test you haven’t studied for and you aren’t wearing any clothes. And you’ve left your wallet at home…

Is there a logic, a rule to all this coming and going, all this dislocation? Is there a way to stay put, to embrace the present with every cell? I don’t know. There are clues; as with any disease there are patterns, possibilities. Exhaustion, loud noises, stress, standing up suddenly, flashing light — any of these can trigger an episode. But: I can be reading the Sunday Times, coffee in hand and Clare dozing beside me on our bed and suddenly I’m in 1976 watching my thirteen-year-old self mow my grandparents’ lawn. Some of these episodes last only moments; it’s like listening to a car radio that’s having trouble holding on to a station. I find myself in crowds, audiences, mobs. Just as often I am alone, in a field, house, car, on a beach, in a grammar school in the middle of the night…

It’s ironic, really. All my pleasures are homey ones: armchair splendor, the sedate excitements of domesticity. All I ask for are humble delights. A mystery novel in bed, the smell of Clare’s long red-gold hair damp from washing, a postcard from a friend on vacation, cream dispersing into coffee, the softness of the skin under Clare’s breasts, the symmetry of grocery bags sitting on the kitchen counter waiting to be unpacked. I love meandering through the stacks at the library after the patrons have gone home, lightly touching the spines of the books. These are the things that can pierce me with longing when I am displaced from them by Time’s whim…

I hate to be where she is not, when she is not. And yet, I am always going, and she cannot follow.

– Audrey Niffenegger
The Time Traveler’s Wife

*Awesome* things I saw today (Muse – Knights of cydonia )

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008

Dean had recommended this Muse song yesterday. I like Muse and have described them as having loads of exclamation marks in their music — they have kind of an epic, modern-opera feel. I’ve liked other videos by them. On a lark I went to find a video for Knights to Twitter that I liked the song and was absolutely blown away.

Simply put, this video is *awesome*!! It’s got space- age karate cowboys! I didn’t even know that this is what I wanted and needed in life but it clearly is and then they went and threw in robots and a unicorn! Just when I thought it couldn’t get more awesome, it did!

I showed Dean the video and he too liked it. He said the only thing that was missing was a vampire. Enjoy!

P.S. At around 3:13, the space-cowboy (Maurice?) picks something out of a box on the bed and I can’t tell for the life of me, what it is. Any ideas?

Things I saw today (Jimmy)

Monday, December 17th, 2007

Take a look at Jimmy by M.I.A., pointed out by dino at another site.

Here is what looks like the inspiration for the video, a Bollywood film Disco Dancer:

M.I.A.’s mentioning both Darfur and Rwanda so I imagine the lyrics are different but both are super-awesome.

New Year’s resolution: watch more Bollywood (and maybe that Tango-lesson I’ve wanted for years)

Things I saw the other day (Gabe & Max)

Monday, December 10th, 2007

Gabe and Max answer Boing Boing readers questionsHistory: The Gabe and Max Internet Thing (found by dino)

See Max Silvestri’s blog (obviously he’s funny but I like his taste in music too)

What I’m listening to lately (Arcade Fire)

Saturday, July 7th, 2007

Dean kept recommending Arcade Fire’s new album Neon Bible. In a kind of lazy contrariness it took me a while to finally buy it and as usual, he’s right, it’s brilliant and I’ve been listening to it constantly.

Here’s an amazing video Dean pointed out of the band playing Neon Bible in an elevator and then Wake Up in a crowd of fans outside.

It’s worth waiting through the intro stuff and, in fact part, of what becomes interesting about it is how the group twice transitions from kind of scattered, chattery individuals to transform into a beautifully synchronous group. The scene with the crowd is great with the mix of the band and the people — think how unusual it is for a band to be standing so close to their fans performing. I especially like how Win Butler’s unique, passionate almost plaintive voice sounds even more heartbroken through the bullhorn.

Tests I took today (personal dna)

Saturday, March 31st, 2007

Dino found this personal dna test. Mouse over the squares to see what the colors are supposed to mean.

Apparently I am feeling trusting and spontaneous today. Low empathy though — see, I’m not as nice as people think I am! Though I am respectful I guess. Upon reflection, I think I’d rather be respectful than nice any day.

Your reserved nature, understanding of the world, and faith in others make you RESPECTFUL.

You trust those around you to do the right thing, so you tend not to get involved in other people’s affairs.

You have fewer friendships than some, but the relationships you do have are very meaningful and important to you.

Your careful and practical observation of your environment has led you to understand that others’ situations can be very complex.

The results are flattering, as these kinds of tests tend to be (my favorite personality test is the color test which I tend to take occasionally and which tends to tell me things which are less flattering but more accurate).

The dna test does sort of go off the rails a bit by saying that I’m calm and centered and it contradicts itself a bit, by venturing:

…you aren’t likely to rush into things—this patience allows you to see many different perspectives and options.

You tend to do things on the spur of the moment, not sticking to a set schedule.


That’s me, spontaneously not rushing into things. Anyway, a fun test (what kind of accuracy does one expect from a online test) and pretty colors. I’d love to see what results others get as well.


Friday, March 9th, 2007

A few years ago Dean, the person who, for as long as I’ve known him, has introduced me most often to new music and most often to what soon becomes my favorite music (and movies, and TV — though, to be fair, it’s Max who has been the one to introduce me to favorite books and Coralie to favorite concerts), introduced us all to KEXP Seattle, 90.3FM. I listen to kexp online for most of my working day via iTunes and what new music I don’t hear via Dean, I find there (currently playing, for eg: is “Safe From Harm” by the awesome Massive Attack). I keep a text document open so I can note down songs to get later.

Lately the list consists of:

Hot Chip: And I Was a Boy from School
The Twilight Singers: Live With Me (Featuring Mark Lanegan)
The Smiths: Ask me
Electric Six: Danger!
Sol Seppy: Loves Boy
Okkervile River: Another Radio Song
Damien Rice: 9 Sins
Gomez: How we operate
Kings of Leon: On Call
The Fratellis: Ole Black ‘N’ Blue Eyes
Built to Spill: Car
Lyriccs Born: Callin’ Out
The Fratellis: Whistle for the Choir
Elvis Perkins: Ash Wednesday
El Perro del Mar: Candy
Eleni Mandell: Perfect Stranger

So in conclusion, if anyone wants to make me a mixed CD of the above (hint hint) or has other music to suggest, I would be ever-so grateful. It’s certainly possible there are ++ to be had and maybe Dean can be challenged as my reigning King of Musical Influence, or perhaps his power is absolute — who knows? All I’m sure of is that if you’re not listening to kexp, you should try it and if you’ve got CDs you want to send me, that’s ok too.

Things I … STOP! Oh-oh oh oh oh-oh-oh, Hammertime! (MC Hammer)

Wednesday, February 21st, 2007

What can I say? Tears of joy are building up behind my eyes at this little animated gif found by Dean at the best 403 page ever. This is yet another in a series of Hammer refs including the always fantastic xkcd (you’ve just got to adore this guy).