Archive for March, 2006

THE WRITER

Wednesday, March 29th, 2006

I picked up the first issue of Wholphin, McSweeney’s new quarterly DVD magazine. It’s a collection of short films and such. Some really excellent material, but my favorite is The Writer, a short cartoon by Carson Mell.

Here’s a clip from The Writer: Part 2. Funny stuff.

Check out the rest of Carson’s movies while you’re at it.

PILLOW FIGHT CLUB

Saturday, March 25th, 2006

Fun at the Vancouver Art Gallery.

See my flickr set here.

I also recorded a video (WMV, ~10 MB).

THE WORLD IS ALWAYS ALREADY ENDING

Monday, March 20th, 2006

So are you tired of all these awesome posts yet? Ready for something sloppy and derisive? Me too!

Check out this NYT piece about the dying art of conversation. Did you know that there are more, worse conversations now than in any other time in human history? Your suspicions have been confirmed: The past was way better than the present. Conversation was awesome back when everyone was Cicero or Montaigne or Hume and everyone hung out in salons all the time, but people now are dipshits. Especially Americans, of course.

The article is not at all worth reading, but I want to point out this typically anemic paragraph:

O.K. But listen to “talk” radio, with its combative recruitment of allies; or “talk” shows in which guests are promoting themselves or their products and hosts are prepared with leading questions; or “talk” news shows in which conversation becomes a form of shouting. Look at our isolating iPods, at text messaging with its prepackaged formulas, or instant messaging with its iconic smilies, so necessary to make sure the telegraphic prose is not misunderstood. CUL8R.

Prepackaged formulas? Is the grapheme sequence {CUL8R} inherently worse that the sequence {see you later}? One is prepackaged and the other is not, I guess.

And again with the frackin “isolating iPods.” Truly, if it werent for those dreadful WALK MEN, (and newspapers and magazines and scenery), our buses and trains would be idyllic oases of stimulating, non-formulaic discourse and informed democracy.

Aside from that, the article is paltry. The prose is so stiff and lifeless I’m having trouble deciding if it’s meant to be a mockery of it’s own thesis? I mean, if you conclude your stilted, boilerplate essay about the decline of conversation with the paragraph, practically undergraduate in it’s earnest banality,

“It is an ideal worth talking about,”

you may feel a sting. That’s irony fucking with you. And irony only hurts; it never helps.

Anyways, I look forward to the year 2050 when conversation will have died completely, because of neurocasting.

ENTROPY

Saturday, March 18th, 2006

I rode my bike to the library yesterday. The sun was warm, though there remained a slight winter chill in the air that made my ears ache when riding into the strong wind. I had to return Wittgenstein’s Mistress, which was a few days overdue. I’m glad I held onto it so I could get to the end, which was surprisingly satisfying for a plotless stream-of-consciousness novel. I can’t recommend that book highly enough. I bought a second-hand copy of David Markson’s other experimental novel, This Is Not A Novel, but I haven’t started it yet. Wittgenstein’s Mistress is a plotless novel with only a single character, while This Is Not A Novel kicks it up a notch, having no plot and no characters either. I wonder if it’s a novel?

The route I take to the library follows Adenac through a semi-industrial area, to the path around False Creek past the Edgewater Casino. It’s a nice way to get downtown, and a pretty popular bike-commuter route. It was early afternoon when I started my ride, so I only saw a few other cyclists. We smiled at each other as we passed, reflecting each other’s pleasure at being back out on two wheels a long sunless winter. The streets and sidewalks seemed unusually empty.

On Adenac, in front of the blank facade of a small textile factory, a black Corolla stops, all four doors opening, and four women get out. They represent diverse ages and ethnicities. A middle-aged asian woman get’s out of the drivers seat and behind her a younger blonde. When the blonde gets out, a grey fedora-style hat falls out behind her. She walks in front of the parked car towards the sidewalk, not noticing it. As I ride by I slow down and tell her she’s dropped her hat. I assumed it was hers, but I suppose it could have been left in the back seat by car’s owner, who is probably not the blonde woman. People rarely sit in the back seat of their own cars. She smiles and says thanks, I say no problem and smile back.

About a block from my building, an elderly man crosses the intersection ahead of me. He strikes me as ‘elderly’, but he might have been only in his mid-fifties. He has a gaunt face and a careful, fragile gait. His hair is long and white in the back, but shaved from his forehead and temples back to the midpoint of his skull. I think to myself that it’s a pretty avant garde hair style and that he must be an artist or a Hare Krishna maybe. Half-way through the intersection he reaches to get something from his pocket (a handkerchief?) and a piece of yellow lined paper, folded and well-worn, falls to the street. He continues walking. I pass through the intersection a few seconds later, and I stop to pick it up. I enjoy reading the ephemeral notes that people write to themselves. After I lean down to collect it, I decide that it may be something he needs, so I call out to him — he’s about fifteen paces up the street now. I ride over and tell him that he dropped it. He examines it, confused at first and then he recognizes it. He tells me that he had a stroke recently and that there are certain things that he has trouble remembering, and that he (or perhaps his wife or doctor) wrote these things down on that piece of paper. Sort of like Memento, I guess. I wish I could have seen what was written down there. He showed it to me but I couldn’t make out the handwriting at a glance.

So that was my day finding random things that people drop. I was present at just the right moment to catch these two objects; a few seconds sooner or later and they would have disappearred anonymously forever. Imagine how often this happens without anyone being there to notice. Objects must be constantly pouring out of people’s pockets and cars, into the world.

ENLIGHTENMENT

Monday, March 13th, 2006

Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.

Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.

Even if you can’t get rid of the heat, as long as you can get rid of bother with the heat, your body is always on a cool terrace.

(Photographs courtesy of the fabulous Miss E. Brant.)

MODERN PAPERFOLDING MAY BE LOOKED UPON AS A STRUGGLE TO BREAK OUT OF THE TYRRANY OF THE SQUARE

Tuesday, March 7th, 2006

Today I took a writing test, as part of the interview process for becoming a full time course developer, instead of a contract media developer (“pullin triggas fo tha scrilla”). The test was to write an instruction guide for making a paper airplane.

The story of modern paperfolding technique begins with Spanish philosopher Miguel Unamuno (1864-1936). Unamuno’s writing was influential on later existentialist thought and he is often compared to Kierkegaard. Like the Danish philosopher, he interrogated the boundaries of reason and faith and his aim was to understand life in its complex emotional and intellectual dimensions. He was skeptical of rationality and resisted systematic philosophizing, preferring fiction as the medium of his ideas.

In 1902, Unamuno produced a supposedly humorous exegesis on the subject of an origami called “pajarita,” which is Spanish for “female bird.” (The Japanese refer to the same shape as a dog.) In doing so, he altered the course of European paperfolding away from the square and towards bird-based designs. I say “supposedly” because it’s hard to imagine the author of a line like

“There is no true love save in suffering, and in this world we have to choose either love, which is suffering, or happiness. Man is the more man – that is, the more divine – the greater his capacity for suffering, or rather, for anguish.”

would be likely to create a sentimental treatise about a paper bird.

Is how my instructions would have begun if I’d been able to do some research first.

MCLUSKYISM

Friday, March 3rd, 2006

Top 10 Mclusky song titles:

10. Join The Mevolution
9. Dethink to Survive
8. The Habit That Kicks Itself
7. Without MSG I Am Nothing
6. Rock vs. Single Parents
5. The Difference Between Me And You Is That I’m Not On Fire
4. whiteliberalonwhiteliberalaction
3. Reformed Arsonist Seeks Child Bride
2. Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues
1. Dave, Stop Killing Prostitutes