Weekly Recap

Well yesterday was, um, hmm, not depressing, what would a good word be, I’ll go with demoralizing.  Fortunately today was pretty groovy so this blog will end happily.

Let’s get the recappy stuff out of the way…

The highlight of the week was Dave’s birthday.  I got hot wings all over my winter coat.  The salt and pepper wings were the best.  We mixed things up and went out to a bar.  Not for long just an hour or so.  It was more expensive and louder than a normal night, but what are you going to do?

Then there were normal games.  We found a new rule in Caylus.  I got my butt whooped.  Whoop-ped.  Then there was some Dominion.  Therein my butt was only thrashed.

Saturday was disappointing.  I went down Whyte avenue.  I took the scooter out on the mean streets.  But Whyte isn’t like the mall.  The books at Chapters are on the second floor.  The movie at the Princess was in the basement.  The fantasy and sci-fi section of the Wee Book Inn is on the second floor.  And the new location for Greenwoods has a step going in.  Then I decided on a taco, but there was a step into the Mexican Place too.

I did have bubble tea.  Tim recommended a place.  The place was cool, but I don’t get bubble tea.  Maybe it was just the flavour I tried.  It was too sweet.

Good ole Wizard Comics saved the trip.  Stopped in for a little chat with Brandon and got the Hellboy trade I wanted.  It made for some nice Haloween reading.

Earlier in the week I was a little sick.  Missed some work and fell behind.  Went back to work but felt a little icky for most of the rest of the week.  Returning to work to find a gong show didn’t help – not that my peeps had not worked their butts off, but we were still showing a lack of progress.  I finally managed to circle the wagons by Friday.

Today I actually manged to regain the ground I lost last week.  I haven’t got the project back fully on track yet, but that isn’t a one man show.

Darn it.  Now I’ve covered today.  If I talk bout yesterday now, I’ll end on a low note after all.

Instead we’ll end like this.  Tomorrow November starts and I’ll pick up my neglected NaNoWriMo book again.  See if I can get that done.  Yay!

Happy birthday to Troy!

The post reserved

I had a plan for a Halloween post in this space.  Did some research – just a little.

But I don’t feel like writing it anymore.  My new plan is to go to bed early.  I didn’t get a chance to sleep in this weekend because I had appointments both mornings.  That is my excuse anyway.

Hmm, instead I retell this John Pinette joke I heard the other day… (paraphrased)

“I went to my personal trainer and she asked me to lie down and do some push ups.  Ups, I said.  I don’t do ups.  Nay nay.  Downs.  Downs I can do.  Sit downs.  Lie downs.  Even boogie downs.  But not ups.”

Happy Halloween tomorrow.

Auteur

There is a scene in the movie The Crow where Eric Draven, played by Brandon Lee, says “I thought I’d use your front door.”  There is something about that line, which lies flat on the page, that kills me whenever I hear it.  It is a response to Draven’s one friend saying, “Are you gonna vanish into thin air again?”  When Draven answers he seems so hurt and childlike.  You want to give him an ice cream cone and tell him everything will be alright.

A funny thing about movies, to me, is the “A Film by” credit.  Before the titles, before the actors above the line, there is a credit to the director.  The director also gets the Directed by credit at the very end of the titles too.

The A Film by credit for The Crow goes to Alex Proyas.  The script was written by David Schow and John Shirley and based on a comic book by James O’Barr.  Brandon Lee and Ernie Hudson were the actors in the scene.  And IMDB lists a raft of cinematographers, editors, costumers, producers and the rest of the crew who made that scene come to life.

I can watch the movie.  When I do I regret it was Lee’s final film role.  I remind myself that I want to catch everything that Proyas directs.  There are many weak moments in the show, but none when Lee is onscreen and it remains in my top 5 superhero movies of all time.

It was made by hundreds of people, but one single person gets the credit saying that it was a Film by.  A person who never even appears on screen.  This is weird because more than any other medium film is collaborative.  No movie is made in isolation.  In literature it is an artist alone with the blank page, in art the blank canvas.  They work with others to bring their art to the public but it is created alone.  Comics are often collaborative, but can also be the result of a singular vision.  But not film…

It might be possible for an extremely experimental film to have one person write, direct, act in and shoot the same show, but that isn’t really film as we know it.  So how does one person get the credit for it?

There are three ways to approach it.  The first is simple.  The film by credit is an extra credit negotiated by directors in their contract for the movie.  It has less to do with art and more with money.  The second is that it is a possessory credit showing the director’s overall ownership of the final product.

The third is the reason for the first two (or a reason that goes beyond vanity and money).  The director is involved in it all.  They provide notes to the actors and decide when a take is enough.  They collaborate with the cinematograpers on lighting and camera shots.  They help compose the scene.  They approve the script.  The costumes.  The makeup.

And so much of a film is made in post-production.  Editing, sound and music cues for effects and the score.  Visual effects.  The director provides direction and has the say for when each unit gets it right.  All of it is invisible to the viewer… But if you watch two movies by the same good director you begin to see the impact they have.

This is called Auteur theory and is both widely accepted and highly controversial.  That a film is hugely collaborative but is ultimately the result of a singular guiding hand.

Other films by Proyas include: Dark City, I, Robot and Knowing.  None of those movie work for me nearly as well as The Crow, but I can see the guiding hand in each of them.

That all being said, I believe that The Crow was Brandon Lee’s movie.  I first saw him in a film called Rapid Fire and I thought he had great potential as a star.  I thought I saw that realized in The Crow, but I knew even as I was watching it for the first time that he had been accidentally killed during filming.    Really the film is a schlocky revenge fantasy that is elevated by Lee’s presence.  In my opinion at least.

But I’ll still continue to check out any additional movies Proyas directs…

Best Year in Music

Tim and I were talking yesterday about the best year in music.  He was telling an anecdote about 1991 and it started with a list of the albums that came out in that year.  It is a pretty dramatic year with the emergence of grunge, but there was a host of other good music that came out too.

Obviously your best year would vary by whatever music you prefer.  Here are some years that make my short list:

1991:

  1. Ten, by Pearl Jam (Nirvana and Soundgarden also had big releases)
  2. Blood Sugar Sex Magik, by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers
  3. Out of Time, R.E.M.
  4. black album, Metallica
  5. Road Apples, The Tragically Hip

1984:

  1. Reckless, By Bryan Adams
  2. Born in the USA, by Bruce Springsteen
  3. 1984, by Van Halen
  4. Akimbo Alogo, by Kim Mitchell

1966:

  1. Revolver, by The Beatles
  2. Pet Sounds, by The Beach Boys
  3. Fresh Cream, by Cream
  4. Blonde on Blonde, by Bob Dylan

1971:

  1. Led Zepplin IV, by Led Zepplin
  2. Who’s Next, by The Who
  3. Tea for the Tillerman, by Cat Stevens
  4. Sticky Fingers, by The Rolling Stones

I want to list 1989 and 1992 to have the Hip Fully Completely and Up to Here on the list, but those weren’t great music years…

Any year that leaps out at you?  Back it up with some albums…

Encyclopedia Brown

Want to make me feel uncomfortable?  Tell me I’m the smartest person in the room.

I’m pretty fortunate that this happens to me from time to time, but it is a strange sort of social torture at the same time.  My instinct is denial.  But it comes across as a sort of false modesty which in itself is vaguely arrogant.  I suppose the correct answer would just be “Thank You.”

Why do I deny?  I can think of three reasons.

The first is that “the smartest” is vague.  Is it the person that knows the most stuff?  Does that mean useful stuff or trivia?  Is tht the person who gets good scores on IQ tests?  Or who is able to apply their knowledge?  Or someone who can learn easily and quickly?  The person who uses the most large words in an effort to obfuscate their social awkwardness?

Maybe it is that set of skills, gifts and knowledge that makes a person do well in a school setting.

What about common sense?

I’m pretty good at some of those things.  Certainly not the smartest person I know.  But without a set of test scores in hand, how could I possibly know if I am the smartest in a room?  Maybe there are five other smart people who just don’t happen to also be loud mouth schnooks.  Maybe others just don’t test well.

The second point point is just that: measurement.  I wasn’t raised to evaluate myself in relation to others.  Who is the smartest?  Who is the kindest?  Who is best looking?  Can we rank everyone according to their D&D attributes?  Or maybe by their boob or penis size.  I dunno. I’m always far more concerned with whether another person will like me than how we would measure on a series of intangible charts.

Once you do create such a ranking what benefit does it garner?  A sense of superiority or inferiority?  I can’t see how either of those things is actually going to help you relate to another person.

The third point is value.  If we agree on a definition of smart and we agree that I am indeed the smartest person in the room, what good is that?  Does that make me a better person than someone else?  What if they are more athletic than I?  What if they are are harder worker or more goal oriented?  What if they are kinder, more charitable or more pious?

This is the biggest point for me.  If I accept the compliment I don’t want to give the perception that being smart makes more more valuable than someone else.  Certainly being smart gives me advantages in certain situations.  But it won’t necessarily lead to success.  Or happiness.  Or love.  Heck or even money.  Choose one thing that people really want in their lives.

So that is what runs through my head when someone gives me the “You are smart” compliment.

Fortunately I hang out in a lot of rooms where it never comes up.

Weekly Recap

Wow – last week was so long ago I can’t even remember it.

Instead I have no choice but to make up the stuff that I did.

Monday – Alphabetized the constellations visible in the southern hemisphere.

Tuesday – Worked on a solution for intergalactic peace.  While watching the sky I noticed at least four planetary conflicts and one clash consuming a whole quadrant.  Ultimately I was unsuccessful.

Wednesday – I read a book and stayed late at work.

Thursday – I read comics books.  While sleeping the solution to peace came to me in a dream.  When I awoke I was in such a hurry to visit the washroom that I didn’t get time to write it down.

Friday – The guys came over to game.  This coming Friday is happy birthday day.

Saturday – After my labours I rested.  I admit they weren’t godly labours.  But I was only going for Herculean.  So I only missed by one or two dirty stables.

Sunday – I bought cupcakes.

Occupy Wall Street

I can’t get behind Occupy.

I’d like to.  I support most of what they stand for.

1% of the population in developed countries controls most of the wealth.  Occupy says this is bad.

The structure is such that as time progresses more of the wealth is consolidated in fewer and fewer people.  The gap between the richest and the poorest grows.  Occupy says this is bad.

The nature of wealth and power in western countries is such that the consolidation of wealth also equates to a consolidation of power.  Occupy says this is bad.

The result is that we’ve moved away from a democracy to a meritocracy of the wealthy.  Occupy says this is bad.

Finally, this meritocracy also controls the media – left or right.  The voice of the 99% is not reflected in entertainment.  In news.  Occupy says this is bad.

I can quibble with the logic in a few of those statements, but except for the final one I agree with Occupy.

The answer to this, says Occupy is a revolution.  The answer is to return democracy to the masses and wrest control from the wealthy.  They can follow the example started this spring and summer in the middle east.  Equal voices can be heard on the Internet.  Social Media can be used to organized.  It can be used to achieve consensus.

It starts small.  It starts online and then moves into peaceful protest.  People of like mind can express themselves and gather.  The movement can grow.

Here is my problem.  Protest and growth is in itself not a goal.  It is just a vacuum waiting for a leader and a cause.  I also don’t trust the Internet to bring about democracy.  It would be nice if it would.  But instead I see the Internet providing an easy forum to find people that agree with you and ignore those who don’t.  Instead of consensus you find opinion from the one who talks the most and talks the longest.  A dissenting voice in a like minded forum is drowned out, called a troll and forced out.

My mother told me long ago that you don’t complain until you can propose a solution.  Occupy is waiting for someone to come with that solution.  Until that shows up, until I can evaluate the solution, I can’t support a revolution.

Maybe I just don’t get it.  I might be to old and out of touch with the newest generation.  Seeing them engaged and active is certainly exciting to me.  I like that.  Maybe consensus and democracy can be achieved using the power of social media.  Talk is powerful.  Peaceful protest is powerful.  Maybe I’m too close to being part of the problem to be part of the solution.

I’ve seen the people like me pointing out the follies of Occupy.  They don’t speak with a cohesive voice.  There are no demands.  My own issues with it are similar, but that misses the point.  Democracy doesn’t have a cohesive voice.  It speaks as a multitude.  It speaks of hope and that if it grows big enough and loud enough a clear voice will emerge that isn’t one, but is composed of the best of all.  The optimism in that is inpiring.

People say that folks taking part in the protest are themselves part of the problem.  Actors and writers and politicians that speak in support of Occupy are themselves part of the 1% that is being protested against.  That the protesters themselves live on the benefits of the very society and wealth and power they are protesting.  Of course that is true.  But it isn’t hypocrisy.  Why can’t the 1% see the problem as clearly as the 99%?  Many of the 1% grew out of the 99%, they earned their own success and money, but that doesn’t mean that they didn’t experience the injustices of disparity as they did so.  We are in a developed country.  We can’t help but be part of the system and be a member of society.  We could check out of society, but then there is no opportunity to effect change on it.

Maybe it is my own cynicism that prevents me from getting behind Occupy.  Essentially I’m asking them to prove themselves successful before I will support them.  A little bit cowardly… I’ll watch them with hope though.  If a voice with a plan emerges.  If that plan has merit.

That would be awesome.