Monday, July 29, 2013

The Great Gatsby (movie review)

"I was the same man inside and outside" is one of the refrains.

So is he betraying erstwhile friends in spilling these beans, or do we know from the get go it's a fantasy?

Gatsby is a self made man, in the estimation of our morbidly alcoholic in patient.

We think our Old Sport gets out, by telling his story, restoring perspective and sobriety.

At least he's learned some self discipline, thanks to a kind doctor who wants to nudge him along.

Like, if you study literature at Yale, what makes you think you're cut out to sell bonds?  No, you need to fall in love with your characters.

He's sailed around the world, went to Oxford, a war hero, and now he's at the top of the heap, all for love.  He's the hero of his own life, defined by his quest.

Anyway, whatever the critics say, I'm fine with this blending of imaginative, faux reality, with everyday movie-making competence.  We saw some of that in J. Edgar, even The Aviator.

The Coal World (a Machine World -- a Matrix) with the all-seeing billboard is clearly the occult unconscious, that feared-yet-attractive place, black and bleak, a place on which the rich project their darkest fantasies.

Our storyteller is initiated into this underground through his mentor's "game world", through a gas station, which for me echoed with eXistenZ and the gas station there.  Be a player.  Hop in.

What sustains the Gatsby's hope is his dream has come so far.  The dream-like quality of the scenery continues to feel like "in someone's head".

The storyteller is in a sanitarium we remember, with a case of writer's block.  We're living his dream, of perfection.  An alter ego.

Gatsby pushes too hard but who can blame him when he's so close.  He kind of blows it, there's a train wreck (metaphorically) and we, the omniscient voyeurs, see the waves of fear coming in.

"The best she could come up with was..." another refrain.  We fall short.  Tragic.

Operatic, that's the word.  The sets seem "fake" only in the sense that all fiction is "fake" -- a forgivable (indeed encouraged) playing with our truths.  An exploratorium, this skulletarium.

The grand estate-based aristocratic lifestyle with many servants, a choreographed affair, added to the sense of "a musical" with an all-dancers cast.

The panorama of the parties is very cabaret, like Moulin Rouge. "Very Fellini" said mom, astutely, thinking of Satyricon.

The city is very Gotham.  There's even a bat mobile of sorts.

Underwater again... love seems to end this way for DiCaprio.

Slinky Debicki was the perfect glamor girl.

Iron Man 3 (movie review)

Hah hah, I went to Laurelhurst Theater's web site and clicked on trailer for Iron Man 3, and got a notice the trailer was blocked by one or more of the content owners.  Blocking their own trailers are they?  Well, never mind about the film then.  I've heard from enough people that this is a miserable / terrible film to just leave it at that.  Fine with me if the "owners" lose money and reputation on this one.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Car Show in Forest Grove

Carol and I went to this after Annual Session.  Our red wrist bands got us in.  Matt Ryan was there, a car enthusiast.  The weather was perfect:  bright sunlight with lots of glinting.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Of Mind and Body

I got in a long talk with David Koski after dinner last night.  Annual Session is still going strong (I made it to both Open Mic and most of Community Night -- in time to see the Friend in Residence juggle (he's professional grade, can do five balls etc.)).  Great to meet someone who reads my blog at dinner, a novelist (I think of my blog as "like a Russian novel" sometimes -- so many characters).

A night or two before, I'd been watching this interview of Mike Judge by Alex Jones, the guy behind Idiocracy (the movie) as well as King of the Hill and Beavis and Butthead (animations).

I found talking to Koski to be the ultimate contrast.  He's still fired up, in a comic book kind of way, (flashing on Crumb) but it's about such cerebral material: vZome and Zome Tool, the upcoming Bridges, dissections of the enneacontahedron and the five rhombic dodecahedrons within (was it five?).

He's also enthralled with that Archimidean set of Eureka! ratios:  the sphere and cone in the cylinder, with volumes 4, 1, 6 respectively (cylinder = two "tuna cans" marked by the sphere's equator, each of volume 3).  I imagine the animation, veering off into colorful geometry as David holds forth, passionate, weaving together stories with heroes and villains, holding our attention.

David had just finished reading Me & Lee, after I turned him on to Mary's Mosaic (thanks to Lanahan).

In my science fiction (fantasies about some future), there's more walking between centers, hikes through the woods, more like that Girl Scout Camp but even more spread out.  This helps with staying in shape and burning calories (as well as not concentrating too much power in any one "lodge" or "HQS").

Here at Pacific University, I have but yards between vast quantities of food, and my dorm room.  It's almost as bad as at home, where I can waddle back and forth from mentoring to kitchen.  I think of ways to change the environment, such that I keep burning those joules at a higher rate.  Sharing the gym membership helps a little.  Having the second bike stolen added delays.  Food Not Bombs is healthy living.

Speaking of which, Lindsey got a workout pulling those two trailers (I've done that, but only one or two times and for less distance), helping to widen our radius.  This neighborhood had probably never heard of FNB.  Tomorrow the world (no wait, we've already got that covered -- only thinly).

OK, time for breakfast.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Layers / Anthropology

Those who stare at GIS displays a lot (not me these days) know that data comes in layers.  Check out Google Earth or one of those: you can turn the layers on and off.  Turn the roads on and off. Check out the I-net. Highlight different features.

I think that meditation was in part kicked off by Applewhite's saying "tomographic" with respect to Synergetics (in The Futurist), a word found in PET, positron emission tomography. Positrons don't last very long but they're integral primitive objects with their key roles.  Solar fusion is positronic along one path.  CERN is really into positron channeling, not just hadrons.

ESRI's ArcView and related products, give you layers from datasets.  Superimpose this and that, learn from the patterns.  Like when slime molds define a transportation system, do the math.

Some tribes speak of the ancestors stacked up on one's shoulders, like a totem pole I suppose.  Some journal-keepers might have branded that "superstitious" denying them their metaphors for what we in the computer programming business take for granted:  the objects have their lineage, their parents.

When a community is stressed, you will see the alchemy at work, as personalities differentiate and assume a foreground.  Winston Churchill was the war time leader for Britain, a product of those times. Or does it go the other way?  Historians debate these chicken and egg matters.  How does one explain Hitler or Napoleon?

Let me point to the TV remote as one of the great equalizers we didn't have back then.  We're freer to register "ratings", a level of approval / disapproval.  Some people say Hitler would have been that many more times a monster if Nazis had today's TV.  But would his series have taken off?  Things have to check out to some degree, and with television comes a new level of scrutiny -- or not if the newsies get lazy.

Omni-triangulating and integrity go together.  We have a lot of well-placed faith in not coming across utter contradictions.  How well placed is that faith?  I'd turn that around and ask what else there is to have faith in?  Utter capriciousness?  How does one "surrender" to that?  We'd rather surrender to "eternal laws" I'd usually think, though we do respect freedom and heroic postures.

Anyway, back to layers, we see them in people.  Shades come to the foreground, as a new persona takes over, slowly solidifies.  We all create / cast each other.  Projection is that powerful.  It takes a village to have a self, or at least a self of the kind we think social, in shape to interact.  We get new levels with greater aggregates or "piles".

The hermit gets tired of social interaction and retreats to a life away from the rat race.  We sometimes call that retirement in this country.  In India, they see "holiness" in that, but then "holiness" is a chief form of entertainment in the land of Ganesh.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Melancholia (movie review)

The special features focus on the two sisters, Justine and Claire, not so much on the other characters, and casts one as the wannabe nurse for the clinically depressed other, the bride, Justine, at the end of the day not truly happy at her wedding, the happiest day of her life in some romance novels.

It doesn't seem that happy to us either though, to our wandering know-nothing camera, "we" the voyeurs.  The guy is someone dug up by the boss.  The boss is hounding the bride to make him rich, as he squanders money seeking influence, power and control over those around him, eager to corner her talents.

Of course Justine blows a fuse after awhile, fights back, and ends up losing the guy, who was an appendage anyway.  She's figuring out the puzzle and not liking what she's finding, and fighting back.  Not melancholia and not romantic either.  She's just doing the math.

She's ending up a stupid trophy wife and it's not going to be fun.  He's got it all figured out and springs it on her ("I wasn't going to tell you until later but...").  Was she consulted in any way?  How d'ya like them apples?  She doesn't.

As the voyeur audience we're trying to figure it out with her. Who are "these people" we've suddenly intersected with?  We do the math too.

For sure these people have all coped in various ways, which makes them appear insane to the know-nothing camera.  The stupid dad plays a dumb "trick" with the spoons, putting them in his pocket and bugging the waiter for more.  He's an idiot for entertainment and in real life as well.

His wife hates being married to him and is bitterly watching her daughter enter a similar arrangement.  She's as comforting as nails, a prototype melancholic.  Both parents are present, yet unavailable.

The fighter girl bounces around looking for comfort but ends up proving the stronger one who then gets to comfort the others.

The others have tried to be strong in their various ways.

The men stand for science and some kind of authority.  The women look to them for reassurance but then have their intuitions and just know, like the horses.  Yes that sounds formulaic but then this film plays with well-known patterns, stitching them together in novel ways.

With the end of the world looming, are we able to trust them to really tell us?

Wouldn't that just mean panic?  Why not lie to us instead?  Like we do about other stuff?

I'm half remembering science fiction along those lines: a few scientists know but elect not to tell us.  Maybe it's some other finding, like a spreading disease with no cure.  They'd tell us then, eventually, as it would be obvious soon anyway.  But in The Walking Dead, the CDC guy had his secrets, even post Apocalypse.

That brings me to where I was focused at first: seeing this as science fiction and wondering how close this would match a real end of the world catastrophe.

Until the special features set me right, I had the planets reversed and during the overture (tricked into listening to Wagner, tsk) I was seeing Earth as Melancholia, thinking a smaller planet, more moon size, was hitting ours, not ours crashing into something much bigger, more gaseous.

Either way, it would have been a huge calamity.

Something much smaller could do us all in. A moon-sized object hitting the Earth would be "game changing" as they say, plus so much depends on velocity.  Cosmic speeds.  We sit around a table at what we call the Linus Pauling House (he lived there as a boy for a short while) and consider these scenarios, given so many of us are astronomy buffs of one kind or another.

I'm thinking gravity would have worked rather differently and the weather would have gone much crazier, not just the horses like before an earthquake.

The movie worked hard to create an atmosphere and reached into our psyches more than it tried to lecture us about science.  The suspense builds, even though we've peaked at the ending.

Another focus was the living standard these folks were enjoying.  Early 21st Century pre cell phone, with palatial estate living complete with butlers, stables, no apparent limit on luxury.  Yet there was weirdly no TV, no flat screen telling us about Melancholia.

Claire sneaks on the Internet furtively checking to see if her husband might be concealing something from her.   That's more the feeling that they're withholding a diagnosis because you're not considered capable of facing the truth.

What do we hide from ourselves?

Having a giant planet in your face, looming, is like the elephant in the room, a loud reminder of personal mortality in microcosm, a ticking clock no matter how privileged your access to palatial gardens with sundials.

Are we having fun yet?

Suffering from a hatred of life when it's so precious leaves us feeling disloyal, or is it just that we're immortal and are loathe to face up to it, plus we're still mortal enough to have to die and die again, and who knows how many times get married, if not to a person to a company maybe?  To a lifestyle?

People posit "Heaven" as "happily ever after" just so they don't have to think about it, Hell the same way.  Mark Twain poked at those conventions, poking fun.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013