Monday, November 17, 2008

The BLANK Five Minutes of Film.

This is for my Film & Lit. Class.
The idea is to find an interesting germ of a paper topic in any random video clip.

No One is Bigger than The System.
The individual and the System.

Mankind is of a very peculiar mindset when it comes to large scale social systems. Modern culture seems to both love and fear, to idolize and simultaneously desire the system of its own making. We believe in both The System and in the individual. We believe in society and community while we maintaining the ideal that each and every member of society is a beautiful and unique snowflake.

In this brief clip, excerpt from the stand-up satire of Eddie Izzard, we see individuality come into direct conflict with the system. In this funny collision, we see that the system does not allow anyone to be bigger than the system itself. And while that is absolutely frustrating when we are in line at the DMV, it is absolutely essential in maintaining real equality, even if it is only the equality of universally poor customer service.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Cool Artwork

I found this very cool page of art work. The one above is by Beppe Giacobbe

But check out the whole website: Morgan Gaynin.

This one is by Shannon Brady :

Monday, November 10, 2008

MOMA / Tate

Isn't this a neat picture? All glowing glass and urban shadow.

This is the Museum of Modern Art in NY. A super cool place, but it has an infuriatingly inefficiant lobby. Go figure.

But as bad-ass museums go, there is no cooler customer than the Tate Modern in London. Cool as a cucumber. This is the outside:

This is the inside (yeah, those silver tubes are slides!):

The Tate has a dimly lit Mark Rothko room upstairs and it is one of my favorite places in the world.

Here is a picture of it (I lifted the picture from I swiped the other pictures too. Thanks, suckers!).

... like a kid out in the rain ...

I know it makes me a girl, but I love these umbrellas. I wish I lived someplace where weather happens.

Occupational Happiness.

I found this interesting. The article linked below is just a little Yahoo jobs thing about which professions have the happiest people (overall).

That’s all.

No attempt at some witty quip. I’m not trying to be pithy.

I just found the article interesting.

The article.

Oh, but since we are on the subject of professions, here is a picture of the Village People:

Man, those guys look happy about their chosen professions. Yes they do. Very happy. Positively gay.

(And then I chuckle to myself while I sit in the dark alone. So alone.)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Free Rice, go win some!

Everyone should be going to this website:

Basically you answer some questions, learn some things about the world AND win free rice for hungry people.

What's bad about that?

Nothing, that's what.

So don't be a bastard, go win some rice for some people whose lives are a hell of a lot harder than ours.

Go on ... I'll wait.

How lame am I?

Lately I have been doing this: late at night I have been obsessing over the new netbook that HP just put out. It is called the HP Mini Note 1000.

For a couple years now I have been entertaining the notion of getting one of those tiny laptops so that I could have it with me all of the time. I think this would be very good for my writing because as it is, I hardly do any writing at my desk at home. I do most of it in a spiral notebook and then have to type it up later.

The problem with this strategy is two-fold. It is not an efficient use of time and – some of you might be familiar with this – after a good stretch of writing, there is a cool down period like some people experience post-coital. So half of what I write, I never end up typing.

So anyway I have devoted too much of my time to researching various little laptops (called “netbooks” by the kind of people who like to make shit up).

Well, I really like this HP one. It has a 92% size keyboard. The laptop is basically built around the keyboard. That is actually a big deal. Go to the electronics department at your local Target, they have started carrying the ASUS EEE PC (this is a real netbook that I was drooling over for a while) put your hands on that thing and try to imagine typing a Great American Novel on that little bastard. Probably not, right?

Anyway, the point was, that at night I am often finding myself Google Imaging the HP Mini Note. They are the same pictures everyday, but I scroll through them anyway.

Where I start.

I am starting to feel ashamed of this. It is like porn to me now, only more lame. MORE LAME THAN INTERNET PORN. What the hell is that? I am still relatively young. I’m funny and even witty occasionally. I am an interesting person and I am at least as cool as you are, so why the hell am I spending my free time skulking around the internet google imaging a computer?

What the hell is wrong with me?

But then it gets worse.

Next I realize that once I have the damn thing, I will need a good bag to haul it around. Because what's the point of owning it if I don't have a good bag to carry it around in? So then I start Google Imaging things like

And so then I'm reading about laptop bags for waaaaaaay too long. But reading about bags makes me want to travel, so I start looking at websites about traveling, but not just traveling, how to travel light with just your tiny laptop. A couple of nights ago I was reading about the Zen of packing light. What the shit is that? I stopped myself and I was all, “Jamie, how did this happen to you?”

Anyway. I am doing this almost every night. I have a problem.

Funny. Glib. Funny again.

So I was reading one of those unforgivably self-important celebrity gossip blogs ( – this one is the worst of the bunch because it is called 'What Would Tyler Durden Do?' It feels like maybe this guy once had hopes of skewering celebrity culture, but now just whores for it. It is that time-honored Joan Rivers career path) … anyway, there was a blog entry title that I liked. It said this: EVERYONE IS OFFENDED BY EVERYTHING.

The blog was about Heidi Klum dressing up as Kali for Halloween. If that’s the kind of thing you want to see (it is not at all sexy), here it is: Regrettable.

But the point was, I just found that title funny. Glib, but funny.

Response Paper

This is for my Film & Lit. Class:

On Orwell: ideas, words, and pictures in motion

Of fundamental importance to any fictionalized telling of a dystopian tale, is the ability of the society to function on more than simply a surface level. The story and environment must wrap around one another in a way that not only furthers the plot, but furthers (or furthers subversion of) the ideology of a particular dystopia. This multi-layered dystopian model of storytelling is exemplified in George Orwell’s novel 1984 and it is grimly illuminated by the 1984 film adaptation of 1984.

Both the novel and then the film, employ numerous devices (verbal, aesthetic, ideological, etc.) to induce the reader/viewer into a particular position relative to the society being described. In this way, Orwell is in fact doing two things simultaneously; he is rendering dual worlds concurrently. In the first world, Orwell is crafting the society in which Winston (his protagonist, and - some would say - everyman-hero) lives. This first world is deceptively simple; the energy of all citizens is directed toward upholding (ideologically) and supporting (through physical labor) the reining government of Big Brother. In creating this first world (the world of the story), Orwell is using his powers as a writer. He renders a world that is grey and cold and dirty. The duality of Orwell’s writing becomes apparent though in the way that he is clearly seeking to evoke emotional reactions that can be linked to political realities. In this second world that Orwell builds (that of the reader), he is playing upon the reader’s preconceptions and, manipulating the reader in such a way that the emotional becomes tied to the social and political.

From the very first page of his book, Orwell works to carefully craft a well-thought-out and fully realized dystopian society, but more than that, he immediately connects the visceral to the political. Ever aware of the importance of even the most subtle of language, the author uses the novel’s first sentence to give the reader his first lesson in the sociopolitical reality that is being creating. Orwell wrote, “It was a bright and cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” (Orwell, 5). The pluralization of clock to clocks lends itself to the idea of a communalization of society. The reference is not to Winston’s specific clock, but to all of the clocks of society, striking at once, as if of a single mind and purpose. Additionally, by referencing time as thirteen, Orwell is able to force the reader into making a cognitive connection between military-time and the society in which Winston lives. This first sentence served Orwell’s dual purpose well in that it established Winston’s world, but also provides the reader with a template for how to think about the novel. By immediately connecting the cold April day with the communal clocks, Orwell has bound these two worlds together. In other words, communization (re: Communism) is cold and lonely.

The 1984 film version of 1984 (directed by Michael Radford and staring John Hurt) uses a visual language of images and motifs to manipulate viewers, in this way, the film is participating in the same duality as the novel. Knowing that anyone who views the film version would be at least acquainted with the themes of the novel, Radford made very specific choices about how to visually present Winston’s world. Rather than presenting it as an efficient, futuristic, and fully industrialized society (of the type that Fritz Lang created in Metropolis) he chose to show the world as specifically lacking in technological progress. Every set and set-piece in the film looks weathered and old. The film portrays Winston’s world as one in which there has been no effort to modernize infrastructure. The film subtly asks it viewer to question this reality and by questioning, to subvert the authority in that world. Radford wants the viewer to wonder, why does the future look so old? By creating a 1984 that actually looks more like 1948, Radford is able to comment on the economy and social values of the totalitarian society; that a society which squashes individualism and creativity can not progress. Or that without a free-market economy, technology can not progress. In fact, the only progressive technology that exists in film which would separate it from 1948, is the telescreen, but even those are black and white and made to look dingy and aged, as if that period of technological progress ended some time ago.

By telling the ‘future’ world of 1984 with a visual language more suited to a World War II period piece, Radford gives shape and life to the era and the political climate in which Orwell was writing. Just as Orwell was extrapolating the evils of Communist ideology, Radford was extrapolating from technology and society as it existed in 1949 when the novel was first published. In this way, the visual style of the film is not just an idea encapsulated, but it is also homage to Orwell himself, because it is an Orwell might have imagined it.

In his article, “Orwell on Literature and Society” J.P. O’Flinn asserts, “that the history of the past two hundred years represents the cumulative ability of the written word to sway men’s minds,” (609). Of this idea, Orwell was most certainly aware. Many remember - and are quick to comment on the fact - that, in much of his literary fiction, Orwell was raging in protest against the evils of Soviet Communism. However, fewer seem to recall, that Soviet Communism itself was simply the (attempted) implementation of the Marxist ideals laid out in Das Kapital and The Communist Manifesto. That is to say, while Orwell was reacting to Communism, Communism itself was a reaction to imperialism and Capitalism.

However much they stand in opposition to one another, these various competing ideologies share a similar semantic component. The Communist Manifesto begins with a line as stark and foreboding as 1984, “A specter is haunting Europe – the specter of communism.” (Marx, 37). In this sentence (and in the ones that follow) Karl Marx and Frederick Engels represent Communism as a wily antagonist to the Capitalism that was making a slave of Europe in their time. Communism, to these men, offered a civilized answer at a de-civilized world.

Surely Orwell, at his typewriter in 1949, would have agreed that the specter of Communism was indeed haunting Europe. He might even have admired the language of the line, or recognized in it the duality of purpose.

In this way, Orwell and Radford could sit across a table from Marx and Engels and find agreement in that cumulative ability of the written word to sway the minds of men. Regardless of ideology, each was participating in that great dystopian project. Effective participation in that dystopian idea requires that language (or the language of images) be operating on many levels at once. That it engage the reader/viewer on both the surface emotional and deeper ideological levels; on both the visceral and political levels.

Orwell once explained, “All art is propaganda.” (O’Flinn, 608), in a similar way, one could say, all dystopias are both art and propaganda.

Works Cited.

Marx, Karl, and Frederick Engles. The Communist Manifesto. Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2005.
O'Flinn, J.P.. "Orwell on Literature and Society". College English March 1970: 603-612.
Orwell, George. 1984. New York: Signet Classic, 1950.

Monday, November 3, 2008

My Bread is Better Than Your Bread.

Violet rocks because she makes bread! She totally made the bread that we had with dinner. And while the above picture is not the bread that Violet made, I had to use this picture because Violet's bread was so good that the camera couldn't capture an image of it. It must be something weird about the way that light and awesomeness work.

Anyway, if you want some bread, hit up Violet, she makes it!

Cops Crack Clock Case

So this is awesome! A twenty-five year old clock heist has been solved! That’s right ladies and gentlemen, a clock heist. I am so going to write this movie. It is a frame story, about the contemporary investigators who are on an elaborate treasure hunt… NAY!, clock hunt, that’s the outer frame. The inner frame is the dashing, internationally known Israeli master-burglar who stole them in the first place.

Can you feel the awesomeness?

Car chases in Jerusalem! Foot chases in the Hollywood Hills! Exotic locals! Maybe I can work in Interpol! Not the band, the international crime-fighting justice league! Or … well, maybe the band too! We will have them on the soundtrack! It will be in the multi-million-dollar contract that I sign when I write this script!

Anyway …what am I talking about?

Read this awesome article before I buy up the rights!

Awesome article about clock theft.