Friday, October 3, 2014

Amazing how quickly an uninterrupted 3 hours of worktime degrades until it’s just 30 minutes. Some days it feels like all I do is read & triage resumes, but the reality is that I can only bear to read maybe 10 of them before I have to distract myself with Teh Internets.

In one such distraction, posted about not having any Album of the Year candidates except for Beyoncé. I don’t have a theory yet as to why this is, but posts like this tend to yield more response on Facebook (10+ people) than on Twitter (1 person).

I wound up sorting my music directory by date & skimming through titles; I feel like slots 6 thru 20 will have plenty of contenders, but there hasn’t been much of anything that has dominated the CD player in the car, or headphone time at work, in the same way as previous years.

Still, some highlights so far:

And a raft of albums by bands whose most recent previous albums were easily #1 record material, but whose 2014 releases just … aren’t, quite. Top-20, sure, mostly. But 2014 has been the year of the One Notch Lower. I had been reluctant to name names, but since this is Tumblr & I don’t have any friends here:

  • Pallbearer
  • Hiss Golden Messenger
  • Spider Bags
  • Sharon Van Etten
  • Swans
  • Fucked Up
  • Tune-Yards
  • White Lung
  • Earth

This is tricky because what I’m saying here is that all of those bands’ previous albums were phenomenally awesome & their new ones just aren’t quite as phenomenally awesome. OK, well, in the case of Earth, I find it kind of unlistenable, but anyway.

Interviews all afternoon. This is already the Year of the Hackathon. Everyone is doing it now. I wish I had a more positive outlook on the phenomenon. There are definitely hugely positive elements to it – just exposing students to emerging internet technologies, and to the idea that something of value can be rapidly prototyped, is a huge step forward from traditional CS curricula. So OK, sure, that’s a very good thing.

But the downside is the normalization of crappy architecture, even more disregard for testing, a reinforcement of the culture of all-nighters, and an explosion in the amount of half-finished abandonware. I wonder how many of these projects live on in any capacity outside of a couple of sentences on a resume.

After dinner, went to see Gone Girl. I had only gotten about 5 pages into the novel before giving up in annoyance (at the writing style, I assume), and since I don’t really move in popular-novel circles otherwise, I was blissfully clueless about all of the plot twists. Of which there are many.

In the hands of another director (say DePalma, with the exact same script) it could have been nudged over the line into black comedy, a line which in Fincher’s hands it kind of tiptoes up to but then shies away from. Which is too bad, because none of the characters are particularly likeable otherwise, and playing the plot twists straight gets kind of exhausting after a while.

Either that or Fincher thought he was making a black comedy but couldn’t quite pull it off. I laughed a few times anyway, but not enough to redeem the 2.5 hours we sat through.

Mechanically it was weird. The media circles around everywhere but is never quite in the audience’s face enough to seem fully oppressive – so when the characters spend [too much] time sneaking through the woods to avoid the press, it just feels kind of disconnected & time-wastey. It’s weird because at a macro level, Flynn & Fincher did a pretty good job of getting through all the twists without completely losing the thread of the plot. Detail-wise, though, the editing is kind of a mess.

Anyway. Really liked Kim Dickens (of course). She played so much smarter than everyone else in the movie that I kept expecting some amazing last-minute twist from her, and was really disappointed when the credits rolled without it.

Friday, October 3, 2014

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