I make films. I'm also a nerd.

Archive for 2013:

Modern Superheroes Strangle Our Dreams

Isn’t the whole fucking point of superhero fiction to provide an escape from the horrors of being aware? Aren’t we meant to imagine that if we–peons that we are–were imbued with superhuman abilities, we’d feel compelled to help out those less able? Isn’t the superhero premise sort of neutered if the world is worse off at the end of the story than it was at the beginning? Isn’t the very notion of narrative heroism inextricably tied to mostly-unqualified victory?

Christopher Nolan (in particular) seems to revel in destroying dreams: he fucks them brutally and leaves them for dead. He replaces them with paranoia, dread, and fear, mistakenly and hatefully arguing that those sentiments are all we have left.

Another Rich Asshole Begging Poor People For $$$

Sara Morrison for The Wrap :

James Franco is the latest celebrity to ask fans to fund his projects. Following in the footsteps of Rob Thomas, Zach Braff, and Zosia Mamet, Franco will try to raise $500,000 to film three feature films based on his 2011 book Palo Alto through Indiegogo. He says he wants to raise the money independently so he’ll be able to maintain “artistic integrity.”

Want to preserve your integrity, fuckwit? Fund it yourself.

Unmotivated Gimmickry Is Stupid

There seems to be a vogue for shooting (or at least releasing) a film in black and white, whether it makes any sense contextually or not: Baumbach’s Frances Ha and Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing each appear to consist of desaturated images for no real reason whatsoever, which strikes me as incredibly wrongheaded. Why are these films in black and white? What purpose does it serve?

In the clip below, from The Dick Cavett Show, Peter Bogdanovich explains why he decided not to shoot The Last Picture Show in color: it more or less boils down to the fact that he felt color would ruin the mood he was looking for in his setting. Mel Brooks–also a guest on that same episode–comments that black and white is nothing more than a silly “arty” gimmick unless it’s motivated by something within the story, setting, etc. The same could be said of any technique which is only technique. Thinking something “looks cool” isn’t enough.

No, Seriously, We Don’t Know Nothin’ About PRISM

Apple is the latest tech company to issue a broad denial of any participation in PRISM–or in any other governmental snooping–apart from responding to the usual sorts of law-enforcement requests:

Two weeks ago, when technology companies were accused of indiscriminately sharing customer data with government agencies, Apple issued a clear response: We first heard of the government’s “Prism” program when news organizations asked us about it on June 6. We do not provide any government agency with direct access to our servers, and any government agency requesting customer content must get a court order.

Everything we’ve seen in the news in recent weeks would suggest that denials like this one are utter bullshit–whether they’re issued by Apple, Google, Microsoft, or Yahoo1. Anyone–like Jim Dalrymple–who is so blinded by his appreciation of Apple that he accepts this non-denial as the complete truth is making an idiot of himself.

  1. I still refuse to type that ridiculous exclamation point. 

James Lipton: Straight Up Pimp

James Lipton, in perhaps the funniest interview that Parade Magazine (or anyone else, for that matter) has ever run, confirms that he was once a pimp in Paris:

Young women desperately needed money for various reasons. They were beautiful and young and extraordinary. There was no opprobrium because it was completely regulated. Every week they had to be inspected medically. The great bordellos were still flourishing in those days before the sheriff of Paris, a woman, closed them down. It was a different time.

This may or may not be true, but in the end who really cares? Also: I’m having a hard time thinking of anything other than Warden Gentles’ play in Season Three of Arrested Development.

On a Digital Ocean

I switched the site to a VPS hosted at Digital Ocean yesterday1, and I’m really happy with the result. Pages are loading with blazing speed, thanks to their stellar bandwidth and the fact that all of their plans come standard with SSD drives. I can’t recommend them enough to anyone willing to build a server from scratch (it’s unmanaged hosting, which I personally consider to be a plus, since everything can be configured exactly as one pleases); so far, I think it’s fair to say that this is the best hosting I’ve ever tried. Their documentation is thorough and easy to follow, and it covers pretty much every major use case I can imagine. Give them a spin if you’re in the market for a VPS.

Did I mention that plans start at $5 a month, and that you only pay for what you actually use? You can even spin up a server and use it for an hour or two and pay only an hourly rate. Pretty good stuff.

  1. That’s an affiliate link, FYI 

Robots In The Headines

Robot Wish Granted

Just another day in The Future.

PRISM Data Totally Nothing To Worry About

Carl Franzen, The Verge:

The director of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Robert Mueller, told lawmakers in a hearing today that the data collected through its and the NSA’s mass surveillance of all Verizon customers, and other US phone carriers, can only be used in FBI investigations into terror plots, not for separate domestic criminal investigations.

Oh, good. I feel much better now. Yup, I believe him completely.

No, the Next iPhone Won’t Have a 3D Display

Jeff Rock has a theory:

Based on the resolution rumor along with the newly revealed pillars of iOS 7, I think the next frontier that Apple might be venturing into with iOS hardware is fully realized 3D Retina Displays.

Umm, no. I wouldn’t buy this idea with someone else’s dollar. 3D is stupid–it’s stupid in a movie, and it’s stupid on a phone. But let’s set aside my opinion for a minute, just for the sake of argument: there’s no evidence anywhere which would support Jeff Rock’s theory, other than a bunch of rumors which seem to misapprehend what “doubling resolution” means.

Quickly Launch Oft-Used Web Sites With Alfred 2

This is just a quick tip for those users of Alfred 2 who might not have thought of it yet: I put together a couple of dead-simple workflows which allow me to open the Web sites I use most with a keyboard shortcut. For example, I can open this site–from anywhere in OS X–with ⌘-J. I open my webcomic’s site with ^-⌘-R.

Here’s how to accomplish this:

  1. Create a new workflow in Alfred’s preferences, and name it whatever you like.
  2. Hit the + sign and add a hotkey trigger.
  3. Then just add an open URL action and include the URL you want to reach.

It’s a simple enough thing, but it saves me tons of aggravation on a daily basis.