February 23-27, 2015

Monday night was Neko Case’s hosting of a screening of Repo Man, with special guest Michael Nesmith. After I got home I looked her up & discovered that Neko is literally 1 day older than I am. I don’t know if that resulted in any increased sense of affinity, but near-coincidences are nice.

Obnoxious host dude mostly sat back and let Neko interview Nesmith, which was vastly superior to him opening his endlessly annoying mouth. N + N had apparently had a 3-hour lunch already & thus it was kind of like catching new friends mid-conversation, which was neat. Neko had originally schemed to get Nesmith there because she (perhaps logically) assumed that he’d had a hand in putting together the soundtrack, but he quickly established that his only involvement in the project at all was as moneyman.

Which frequently took the form of telling Alex Cox that he couldn’t have any more money & was going to have to make do, which, among other things, resulted in the awesome low-budget glowing-car effect at the end, which was literally achieved via reflective highway paint on the entire car, and a bright green light. That tidbit alone == price of admission.

This time around I came away thinking that Dick Rude was definitely the weak link in the whole thing – everybody loves his lines, but his reactions & timing always seem off. 

Anyway. Only real disappointment was that the conversation didn’t/couldn’t go as deep into the soundtrack as I would have liked – Nesmith just kept saying “that was the music that was playing in the production office all the time, really loud.” Fair enough.

The rest of the week traded off ice and snow. I should have had time to write more frequent posts because of that, but the opposite seems to have happened.

I finished the third, and final (and least satisfying) Takeshi Kovacs novel, started the Kim Gordon memoir (which inevitably is going to wind up filed in my head right next to the Viv Albertine memoir), and [apparently] came down with the flu. I can’t remember the last time I had the flu, but the symptoms (fever, all-over body ache, fatigue) seem to fit. I have a good mental model for the trajectory of a cold, but I have no idea what this thing is going to do & how long it’s going to take to do it.

Due to the combination of snow & sickness, I did a lot of comic-book reading. I wish Comixology had a Netflix/Amazon-style recommendation system, because it’s a jungle out there. This is where the nice old-fashioned people jump in & tell me that’s what comic book stores are for. And I’m sure they’re right. But then I’d have to buy paper comic books, and then either store them or give them away when I was done.

I have some good friends who are major comix nerds, and our tastes sorta overlap. But of course they also sorta don’t. In any case, for the record, these are [reasonably] current titles that I really like, in case anyone wants to take a stab at further recommendations:

  • Bad Machinery
  • Bitch Planet
  • Deadly Class
  • The Manhattan Projects
  • Ms. Marvel
  • Nailbiter
  • Revival
  • Saga
  • Trees
  • Wayward
  • The Wicked + the Divine

Friday night we watched Whiplash. I kinda really enjoyed it and kinda hated it. I’m still not sure which side I fall on, because I’m not sure what it’s actually trying to say, particularly since Jason Reitman was involved. 

Certain types of people seem to be taking it at its word, as summarized by the bald white asshole’s soliloquy in the jazz club, something about how true genius has to be spurred and flogged and just generally beaten out of people. And that it’s ultimately a solitary endeavor.

But surely it’s so over-the-top that it has to be satire, especially with a known serial deadpan satirist like Reitman as the executive producer. Right?

I finally decided that I was most comfortable assuming that the movie timeline actually stopped with the car wreck, and that the entire second half of the movie was a deathbed fantasia. It was the only answer that made sense of the whole thing & its many contradictions.

It was also extraordinarily depressing to think of all those people busting their asses & enduring endless torment just in order to play kind of bland note-perfect midsize-band arrangements of mainstream swing tunes. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s great music, but at this point, 50-60-70-80 years down the line, the stakes in recreating it should be pretty fucking low, and you’d hope that people would just be playing it for fun.

Given the number of Lincoln Center name-checks in the script, I’m assuming that this is all Wynton Marsalis’s fault. I’m glad we have the cooler Marsalis brother here in Durham.

February 23-27, 2015

February 19-22, 2015

Well, we survived the Deadly Cold Snap without anything bad happening. Didn’t even slip & fall on the ice. I give full credit to the ugly, too-long too-wide Chinese flannel-lined jeans I wore. I ordered them sight-unseen over the internet back at the start of winter & was then too depressed to return them, which worked out pretty well, I guess.

The cold snap meant I got to eat at Dashi without standing in line, so that’s something. It also meant I worked from home for a solid week, which got old after day two or three. I missed my land-line and my real headset. I missed my Absurdly Large Monitor. 

That’s actually about all I missed – my coworker was working from home as well, so it’s not like I would have seen her had I made it to the office.

But despite the fact that it takes 20 minutes to get to work, and there aren’t as many lunch options in RTP, and nothing is walkable … despite all that, I still appreciate the clear delineation that comes from Going To Work.

Friday night we watched Fury, which was well-made and entirely superfluous. Like, seriously, a WWII movie? In 2014? Nevertheless, the set dressing was amazing – the interior of the tank alone was remarkably detailed – and it was competently made & suitably depressing. 

Saturday night we watched Upstream Color, which is one of those heavily symbolic movies that everybody raves about. It had its moments. Overall I didn’t think it was as good as my [fuzzy] memory of Primer, actor/writer/director Shane Carruth’s first feature, which I saw at the Carolina when it came out. But I haven’t seen it in a decade, so who knows. M wants to rewatch it this week, so I’ll have more to say soon.

In any case, my life wasn’t changed by Upstream Color. Sorry!

Tonight we’re sitting on the couch listening to Freddie Hubbard and not watching the Oscars. It’s somewhere between an overt boycott and a final acknowledgement that they no longer hold even a shred of interest for us. For the same reason: It’s all white men slapping each other on the back, and occasionally handing out a token award to a white woman. It’s gross.

And the movies they purport to honor aren’t a comprehensive cross-section of the best the year had to offer, specifically because of their white male supremacy problem.

But instead I get to read a good book and listen to music and get to bed at a decent hour, so it’s all win from where I sit.

February 19-22, 2015


Skateboarding Makes Afghan Girls Feel Free

When 19-year-old Nelofar steps on a skateboard and flies down the big ramp she tells me she feels “very brave and very strong.” She feels free.

“I like the 360 flip, that’s very amazing,” she laughs. Looking at Nelofar, wide-eyed with enthusiasm as she Skypes me from Mazar-e-Sharif’s Skateistan school, I tell her I think she’s pretty brave, too.

UNICEF identifies Afghanistan as one of the worst places to be born a woman in the world. Of the 4 million children not enrolled in school, 60 percent are girls. And, as international forces continue to withdraw from Afghanistan, violence against women is still prevalent. When Nelofar steps on a skateboard, she’s breaking gender boundaries.


February 15-18, 2015

This entire expanse of time was consumed by weather-watching. OK, well, not really. But it sleeted! And then warmed up slightly & semi-melted, then snowed apocalyptically for a good 40 minutes, then cleared off. Photos available in posts immediately prior to this one.

Did I have any deep thoughts over this period of time? Probably, but nothing so deep that it’s not encapsulated successfully & succinctly in my Twitter feed. This Tumblog is supposed to be for longer-form things, but sometimes I just think in 140-char bursts.

Themes over there at Twitter: misogyny in tech. Restaurants opening & closing. Robert Christgau is still alive & still reviewing records, and trying in his ham-handed old-white-male kind of way to be raw & sensitive and Truthful. Which is how he winds up kinda fat-shaming Merrill Garbus? Really? 

Tuesday night we watched Nightcrawler. Holy moly what a creepshow. Jake Gyllenhaal did something horrible to his skull in order to play this part. Lesser-known younger Gilroy brother Dan wrote & directed – his first directing gig – and did a good job, assuming that we were looking for another Paul Schrader. Were we?

Everybody on Facebook is posting their top-10 NC bands. It’s incredibly sweet. I’ll have more to say on that in my next post. Or the one after that.

p.s. oh yeah the new Sleater-Kinney is still a lock for Album of the Year. Hasn’t faded one iota.

February 15-18, 2015

Business Conduct Guidelines

I’m doing the annual required re-read and confirmation of IBM’s Business Conduct Guidelines. It’s actually a cool thing to do, because it means I get to be reminded of this policy:

IBM strives to maintain a healthy, safe and productive work environment which is free from discrimination and harassment, whether based on race, color, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, genetics, disability, age, or any other factors that are unrelated to IBM’s legitimate business interests. IBM will not tolerate sexual advances, actions or comments, racial or religious slurs or jokes, or any other comments or conduct that, in the judgment of IBM management, creates, encourages or permits an offensive or intimidating work environment.

That’s pretty cool, y’all. I’m glad I work here.

Business Conduct Guidelines