October 2-13, 2015

The first weekend in October was supposed to be Afropunk Atlanta, but the 8+ days of rain & the threat of flooding & hurricaning & whatnot led the organizers to cancel the whole thing. It is thus that I found myself driving to Greenville NC in a driving rainstorm with M to attend the North Carolina State Weightlifting Championship.

The weather was actually quite nice on the day of the event, albeit muggy as hell. Greenville has a very nice convention center. I have never lifted a weight in my life, but dating a weightlifter has turned out to be comparatively painless, inasmuch as the meets are indoors and they’re actually fun to watch. Plus nobody seems to mind if you just sit there & read a book instead. It’s one of those sports that’s all about the insides of the athletes’ heads.

After we got home, we went to see The Martian. On the one hand, it was a very well-made distillation of the book, preserving the highlights & teasing out the suspenseful bits to showcase.

On the other hand, it was in many ways a total betrayal of the thing that so many nerds loved about the book, namely that it’s essentially a 400-page treatise on problem-solving under duress. There’s a *lot* of that still in the movie, but folks who haven’t read the book will perhaps be alarmed to learn that for every innovative jury-rigged solution showcased in the movie, there are 50+ more in the book.

(This also means that the book can be tedious going if you’re looking for things like characterization & taut plotting — but man, if you like MacGyver and those 10 minutes in Apollo 13 with the duct tape, you’ll love this book.)

The rest of the week unspooled comparatively uneventfully — I had taken Monday off to fly back from Atlanta, so I went ahead & took it anyway, and spent the day continuing to slowly plow through some coding that needed doing for WXDU. (it was harder than I thought to find a WYSIWYG editor that would spit out markdown on the backend — apparently markdown nerds are a little too pleased with how easy they think it is to learn their flavor of markup, so WYSIWYG doesn’t even cross their minds.)

We’ll not discuss the 90 minutes I spent on 15-501 on Thursday evening. It’s amply documented on Twitter.

Saturday night we had tickets to see the new production of Antigone at UNC, with Juliette Binoche (51) playing Antigone (generally accepted to be around 15). This is the same production that premiered at Brooklyn Academy of Music a couple of weeks ago, from the new Anne Sexton translation.

There were a ton of problematic elements (not least the age mismatch), but I nevertheless found myself totally drawn in. The translation is spare, elegant, not particularly “poetic” but still beautiful. The staging worked well. Could have done without the hugely distracting use of the Velvet Underground’s “Heroin” as overpowering closing music/image/moment. Made no sense. I had a visceral reaction to it because it’s a brilliant piece of music, but that overrode whatever I had been feeling a moment before.

Did I ever write about seeing Sicario? Apparently not. I don’t even remember when we saw it. It was thoroughly competently made and kind of abhorrent. It’s all very Paul Schradery: here’s the drug war up close, here’s our lady FBI agent who still has a shred of human decency, here’s the wringer we’re going to put her through until she learns that human decency is an outmoded concept. Blah blah blah. Dudes make the most tedious movies when they think they’re being edgy.

Tonight we saw Goodnight Mommy, an Austrian horror/suspense movie whose uniformly good reviews mostly just illustrate how starved the nation’s critics are for marginally interesting horror. This has actually been a pretty solid year for indie horror — between It Follows and The Babadook, we’ve had at least 2x as many solid flicks as one might have expected. A third would have been overkill.

Goodnight Mommy covers some of the same ground as The Babadook — single parent, weird relationship with the kid, things spiraling out of control. The difference, at least for me, was that I picked up on The Big Twist within the first five minutes of the movie, and I think that skewed my perception of the whole rest of the thing. Plus, FYI, there’s some pretty unsettling torture in the last third which I wasn’t expecting & wasn’t prepared for.

We’re not watching the first Democratic debate tonight. I can’t bear the uniformly terrible questions, the stilted format, the candidates parroting their talking points into the camera. I’ll catch the highlights on the internet tomorrow. It’d take quite a bit to dissuade me from voting for Bernie Sanders, inasmuch as I’ve been an admirer of his for ages & ages.

Coming soon (probably this weekend): the results of my preliminary investigation into a couple of interesting micropayment platforms as an alternative to ads on The Internet. Spoiler: Not quite there yet. But very interesting.

October 2-13, 2015

June 13-21, 2015

Ugh, another long gap. Part of that time was spent migrating from tumblr to WordPress, but that’s not really a reasonable excuse.

Let’s see: Last Saturday . . . was kinda just a chore day. The only entertainment of note was going to Gocciolina for their 1-year anniversary party/cookout thing. Which was fun, but not as much fun as actually having dinner at Gocciolina. One of these days we’ll learn how to plan dinner more than 30 minutes in advance, and then we’ll be able to eat there again.

We finally dug into Inside Amy Schumer — jumped right in with Season Three, under the assumption that the magazine articles & whatnot are correct & that the latest season is the best. (And, having finished 3 & moved backwards into 2, I think that was a reasonable assumption.)

It’s uneven — any show of its kind probably would be — but the sheer brilliance of 12 Angry Men Inside Amy Schumer should earn it some kind of permanent spot in the TV Comedy Hall of Fame. It’s utter genius. If you’re reading this & haven’t seen it, you can rent the episode for a couple of bucks on Amazon. Do it.

Or maybe watch 12 Angry Men and *then* do it.

I’m still working on reading Cadillac Desert. I paused it this week to take another stab at The Martian, which I had put down earlier because, honestly, it’s not that well-written. But last week I read this XKCD:

I have never seen a work of fiction so perfectly capture the out-of-nowhere shock of discovering that you've just bricked something important because you didn't pay enough attention to a loose wire.

Which is awesome, so I decided to give it another chance.

It’s close to exactly what that comic describes. The character development is so-so, some of the writing is kinda meh, but boy there’s a lot of carefully written narrative about engineering oneself out of an endless series of jams.

Anyway, life-wise, the week has been quiet — reading, surfing the web, etc. Being appalled at the news. The usual stuff. During the summer I’m in front of my computer less during the workday, which means I fall way behind on Twitter, far enough behind that I don’t even scroll back to try to catch up. It feels kinda weird.

Last night we drove down to Jordan Lake to look at stars through some moderately large telescopes, under the aegis of UNC’s Morehead Planetarium. It was cloudy earlier in the day, so much so that I was kind of gently agitating not to go, but M persisted and by the time we got down there, there were big patches of open sky.

So we stood in line for 15-20 minutes to look at Saturn through an ~8 inch telescope. It looked more or less just like this:

I try not to be a jaded 21st-century dude, and yeah, the awareness that the light hitting my eye had bounced off Saturn was cool. But still, come on. I have been totally spoiled by The Internet. Sigh.


June 13-21, 2015