Archive for the 'Opinions' Category
So, I saw Ex Machina today and it was absolutely stunning. Don’t worry, I don’t write spoilers, ever.
This isn’t a full-review, I just have to say, right now, Ex Machina is totally one of the best films about Artificial Intelligence I’ve ever seen. It’s intimate, intense, sensual, provocative, terrifying.
I’ll do a full review, but just go see it.3 comments
I’ve finally finished Vellum and Ink by Hal Duncan, both books comprise his epic series, The Book of All Hours. I want to take back what I said about Vellum in my pre-review, I totally didn’t see what Duncan was really trying to do, I didn’t see the brilliance. If you think of Vellum and Ink as typical novels, with a plot that goes and then and then and then until a resolution, you’ll miss the point, and you’ll be astonishingly angry from page one on.
The series is very complex, but the basic framework is this: There’s this Book written in the language of creation, the Cant, the language of Gods, Angels, Demons, and any number of Unkin (human beings whose eyes are open a little too wide).
It’s said that the God of Gods asked His Scribe to write a Book that contains the entire story of humanity, The Book of All Hours, not just past to present to future, but rather, countless possible permutations of each. None of it is fiction, everything happens somewhere, somewhen. The Book’s pages are alive, the skin of Angels, the Cant inscribed in Angels’ blood as ink. Yet, otherwise, it looks like any old tome to be carried in some scholar’s satchel. In the Cant, one word equals a thousand written in the languages of humanity. One line, akin to a thousand pages. One page, akin to a thousand books. The Cant is perfection, purity of expression. When the war in Heaven breaks out, the Book, the master edition, is given to humanity by those Angels who take no sides, who don’t want the Book re-written for one side’s gain. The Book is guarded for countless ages, until it vanishes into obscurity. At least, that’s one story of the Book. Remember, time, reality itself, isn’t a straight line.
Vellum is a book of permutations. Duncan tells the story of Inanna, the Goddess of Earth, her descent into the Underworld and ultimate escape by giving her lover, Damuzi, to take her place. He tells the story of Phreedom and her brother, Thomas, two kids, two Unkin, trying to escape being drafted into the War in Heaven. Like Inanna, Phreedom confronts the Queen of Hell, like Damuzi, Thomas doesn’t escape his fate. The stories are different, but not. Duncan writes the Book’s possibles in noir, fantasy, sci-fi, epic poem, dystopian action-adventure erotica, the depth is astonishing.
Ink is a continuation of Vellum, but more focused. Tales of how people tried to change the Book to avoid something awful, only to bring about something worse. Angels trying to finish the war. Those who seek the book, and a way out of reality.
I really don’t want to give anything away, Vellum and Ink are best read fresh. At the end, the connections are there, the overall story exists, but until you get there, it’s best to enjoy each section as its own entity.2 comments
So, I ordered my Apple Watch. I got the Sport version, a 38mm face, Aluminum Space Gray body, black sport band (I’ll upgrade to leather in due time). Now, before people start with the…
“You can only move your face! What do you want with a fancy, high-tech, decadent, WRIST-watch??? Go die in a car fire.”
Well… aside from lots of potential practical future assistive technology applications that are bound to start popping up… I like watches! I’ve carried a pocket-watch everywhere I go for the last fifteen years. I ask to look at the time on occasion, I always see its silver chain sticking out of my bag, it’s aesthetically beautiful. Watches are beautiful, I’ve always loved them. I can’t wait to wear my Apple Watch, to have a precision timepiece AND an iPod right on my wrist. Then, as technology moves the way I think it will, I’ll have quite the Jedi weapon on my side…
Anyway, Jedi use or no, it’s a gorgeous watch. Having things of beauty in your life is a good thing, they give off a little light when darkness comes to call.6 comments
Generally, I go into concerts with low expectations, but certain artists are just guaranteed to put on a spectacular live show, Alanis is one such artist. Honestly, she often sounds better live than what she creates in the studio. I can’t stand her two latest records, not because the songs are badly written, but because they sound awful, her voice run through so many filters, she sounds like a fuckin’ machine. Fortunately, Tuesday, she played unplugged and filter-free. She sounded absolutely gorgeous.
The show wasn’t part of a tour for any particular record, but rather, a celebration of twenty years in music. She sang for her fans, all the songs we love best, mostly from Jagged Little Pill, Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie, a little Under Rug Swept and MTV: Unplugged. The years have only given her voice a certain richness, emotional depth.
It was a fun night.2 comments
So, tonight I see Alanis Morissette, it’ll be the third time I’ve seen her live. The second time I saw her live was actually the first time I’d seen her in concert, she was doing a tour for Jagged Little Pill Acoustic, and that was a great show. Obviously, she mostly sang songs from Jagged Little Pill, but she also did a few songs off of my personal favorite Alanis record, Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie.
However, the very first time I ever saw Alanis Morissette wasn’t in concert, it was during her U.S. tv debut, on The Late Show with David Letterman. Guest-wise, it was a really off-night, it was David Brenner, an astonishingly boring (God rest him)… comedian? intellectual? raconteur? I don’t know. Then, the musical guest, some girl from Canada, Alanis Morissette. I knew who David Brenner was, but Alanis Mori-who? I’d never heard of her. I didn’t care about the guests anyway, I was just really excited to be there, and really nervous. After the show, I was going to meet and photograph Dave. I was so nervous about meeting Dave, I didn’t even notice Alanis setting up, but once she started singing… you HAD to notice. She sang You Oughta Know, full-blast, absolutely raw, intense, totally un-edited for tv. Well, she had me at and are you thinkin’ of me when you fuck her?
Jagged Little Pill was massive from then on, and Alanis joined the lexicon of singer/song writers that truly changed music.5 comments
So, like, seven or eight years ago I picked up this book, Vellum: The Book of All Hours. This was during the infancy of ebooks, back before iBooks, before Kindle, back when Palm was the platform for ebooks. I can’t imagine a worse device for reading books, but they developed a Mac app, and an online ebooks store, and for a very little while, Palm was “it” for digital reading.
Anyway, yes, I bought this book, Vellum, I read, maybe, fifty pages, and I put it down. Then a few years later I bought it in Kindle format and I don’t know if I ever even opened it. Now, today, I’m into Vellum again, and this time, I’m going to finish it or die trying, which feels kind of possible. I think it’s called The Book of All Hours, because it takes all the hours of your life to get through it. I’ve been reading since I nabbed from iBooks three days ago and it feels like three years. I feel like it’s never going to stop, and the constant shifts in time, in perspective, in reality, they don’t help you feel like your moving forward or even backward, or even fucking sideways. It’s like reading words written on the tread of a treadmill. You just keep going ’round and ’round, world without end, Amen.
I’m going to finish, then I’ll write a full review, as opposed to this pre-review rant.3 comments
So, in January I got to go see The Both (my brother’s birthday present to me), a band started by Aimee Mann and Ted Leo as a side-project to their solo work. It’s a good band, their self-titled debut record, The Both, is a great record. It’s a good mix of dark and light, you can hear Aimee and Ted’s individual styles, yet they blend so well. If you’re looking for something new, check out The Both, you won’t be let down.
They played lots of good stuff that cold January evening, but Aimee’s stuff will always be my favorite. Their joint rendition of Goodbye Caroline, off of Aimee’s fifth studio record, The Forgotten Arm, was SPECTACULAR.5 comments
So, TLC is possibly the most intellectually bankrupt network on tv. They have not one but TWO shows about dudes with multiple wives. There’s 19 Kids and Counting, a show about the Dugger family, Michelle & Jim-Bob, raising 19 kids. Aside from being boring to watch, the Duggers regularly use their “fame” to spearhead anti-gay and lesbian campaigns, including a state-wide robo-call against marriage equality in Arkansas. They have a late-night talk show, All About Sex, during which the hostesses seem to go on and on about how they mostly try to avoid sex with their spouses/lovers. Well, except Margaret Cho, she’s down for anything. All these shows have pseudo-intellectual catch phrases, “We just love each other,” “Love should be multiplied, not divided,” “…somehow, we just make things work,” “Dirty, filthy, fucking.” Okay, maybe that last one isn’t so intellectual, pseudo or otherwise, but the others are just things stupid people say to sound smart or profound, or to make their lives sound provocative. These are all pretty spectacular, in an awful sort of way. Dirty, filthy, fucking just might go on my epitaph. However, we might have a new top of the heap from one of TLC’s new reality train-wreck, My Big Fat Beautiful Life, it’s a show about this lady who’s overweight because of a medical condition. but loving life just the same. Now, anybody who puts their life on tv, or on a blog… is open to criticism, medical condition or no. Myself included. THAT SAID… This lady’s, sort of, life motto, just strikes me as totally vacuous, “I only have this one life to live, and it damn sure better count.”
I only have this one life to live, and it damn sure better count, it’s so… motivational speaker-esque. It’s just a bunch of words that add up to nothing. Yes, we only get one shot at life, so far as we know, that’s true enough. It’s the second half of her motivational gold that bothers me. See, every life counts, for good or ill, every life counts, no damn sure betters about it. We leave footprints in the world, it happens without even trying. Whether you’re Steve Jobs, or someone’s crazy cat-lady aunt, you’re remembered, you affect the people around you. Our worry should be that at the end of our everything, we left the world a little brighter than when we entered it, not whether or not we made life “count.”6 comments