Saturday, January 05, 2008

Je Ne Sais Quoi

This is an old picture of mine, but I just stumbled over it, and decided that I like it. It's got some of that... I don't know what... that I'm looking for. Chaos and order intertwined.
I think it would work best printed really large.


Opening credits from the movie Paprika.
I quite enjoyed it, visually. Though, as the creators also discussed in the commentary, it is probably better enjoyed if you just give up on trying to understand the dialogue and plot, and just let it all wash over you. The story is quite... opaque.

I tried two other films recently by Satoshi Kon, namely Tokyo Godfathers and Millennium Actress. Neither of those kept my interest. They seemed like straightforward stories, and did not have the visual magic Paprika has. I think personally it's a bit of an odd choice to use animation to tell a story which could be told in a live action movie. Why put all the enormous work into animation if you don't utilize the great potential it has for fantasy (or whatever, anything beyond drab reality).

Alex said:
I didn't even know Paprika existed until the day after we (Pascal and I) were discussing anime here just before Christmas.

Hey, I discussed it too! :)
Actually that was why I rented those films.

Paprika was a fun film, my wife commented on how some of the drawing style was ugly, but I found the parade scenes reminiscent of a blend of the foxes wedding from Dreams and the parades in Spirited Away.

The overall story of Paprika at times felt like "Serial Experiments: Lain", but had something new. The slipping in and out of dreams was kinda like The Twilight Zone, or like reading "Ghost in the Shell", or even like reading Philip K Dick.

Now you mention it. K Dick was always playing about with Reality.

One of the things I liked about Paprika is the happy and innocent attitude of the title character. You'll notice she rarely walks, she skips.

For some reason I did not take to Spirited Away as well as other Miyasaki films. My favorites are possibly Totoro and Kiki's Delivery Service. Again, happy and innocent characters. Not all the doom and gloom.

The Simpsons Movie

Just a quick plug for The Simpsons Movie. It's very good.
It did an impressive $400M, even before DVD release, so perhaps you've already seen it.

I was never a huge Simpsons fan, oddly, considering I love comedy and animation, and considering the show is both very popular and very respected. But it always seemed "good, but not great" to me.

But with the film, it is very clear that they put a huge amount of sweat into making it the best movie they could, and they succeeded. It is very funny, the story works, and above all, unlike the TV show, it looks great. The landscapes and architecture and machinery is beatifully drawn, often with CGI 3D technology. It's a pleasure.

Oh, and the nude-Bart scene was one of the funniest moments I've seen in a movie.

Partly because of the much better drawings, I always liked Futurama better than Simpsons. I see they're making a Futurama movie. The trailer did not seem impressive, but let's see how it turns out.

Midrange DSLRs

David Pogue reviews the new generation of mid-range DSLRs. (Don't miss the video, that's always a hoot with David.)

"But if you consider yourself an almost-professional, you do get what you pay for in these tweener S.L.R.’s — better speed, less low-light noise, more customizable and all those cutting-edge features (like live view). People may still look at the camera dangling from your neck and assume you’re a tourist — but in your head, you’ll know that you’re the next Ansel Adams."

Friday, January 04, 2008

RSS confusion

Somebody wrote to me:
"Blog looks great, but don't you offer an RSS feed? I couldn't find it from top to bottom. So many these days use that to read blogs through Google Reader (be it on computers or as in my case I read it on my mobile while I commute on a bus every day) :)"

I thought RSS was on by default. I don't know the first thing about it. What do I do?

I often revise posts several times. Will RSS readers get a new version every time?

I think I looked at RSS for three minutes, three years ago, and I couldn't see the point. What's it good for?

American Pippi

I was blissfully unaware of a 1988 American Pippi Longstocking film. Sadly that bliss is gone now. The "children" in this version are played by teenagers! I don't think America understands children. It tends to either make them like adults, or soak them in saccharine.

Leon Spinks said...
More mindless anti Americanism by dumb-as-shit Europeans. Why are Europeans both spectacularly stupid and lazy? It's a bad combination.

Leon, I did not intend this to become an us-vs-them thing. (And even less an us-vs-US thing:) The world has too much of that. Any culture has its good and bad points, and in fact I like ten times more American movies than European ones, for example.

Senior Moments

Senior Moments
[Thanks to Mary]

Your partner says "lets go upstairs and make love" you reply "pick one,
I cant do both".

When I go upstairs my buttocks applaud me and and my knees sound like potato chips. - Joan Rivers

I dont need you to remind me of my age, I have a bladder to do that for me. - Stephen Fry

You know you are getting older when the candles cost more than the cake. - Bob Hope

Early signs of being past it:

You experience permanent jet lag, yet the last time you stepped on a plane was 5 years ago.

When you are on holiday your energy runs out before your money.

George Burns contributed many in the arena:
[Thanks to Povl]

• At my age flowers scare me.

• Sex at age 90 is like trying to shoot pool with a rope.

• First you forget names, then you forget faces. Next you forget to pull your zipper up and finally, you forget to pull it down.

• How can I die? I'm booked.

• I can remember when the air was clean and sex was dirty.

• I don't believe in dying. It's been done. I'm working on a new exit. Besides, I can't die now - I'm booked.

• I would go out with women my age, but there are no women my age.

• I'm at the age now where just putting my cigar in its holder is a thrill.

• I'm very pleased to be here. Let's face it, at my age I'm very pleased to be anywhere.

• If you ask what is the single most important key to longevity, I would have to say it is avoiding worry, stress and tension. And if you didn't ask me, I'd still have to say it.

• If you live to be one hundred, you've got it made. Very few people die past that age.

• Retirement at sixty-five is ridiculous. When I was sixty-five I still had pimples.

• When I was a boy the Dead Sea was only sick.

• You know you're getting old when you stoop to tie your shoelaces and wonder what else you could do while you're down there.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Stokke chair

I bought this chair (Stokke Balans made in Norway. Designed by Peter Opsvik.) about twenty years ago (!), when I first had back problems. (Actually I think my back problems started when I was 15, but they were diagnosed as a lung collapse, if you can credit that.)

I'm proud that it looks almost as new. But less proud that the main reason for this is the little use it has had over the years.

I think I would be in better shape now, and would have avoided a ton of back troubles if only I had used it daily, instead of sitting slumped at the computer.

The problem is it almost forces you to sit up straight, and if you're lazy and your back muscles are already weak, that feels like work. But it's work you need.

It seems like kneeling chairs are disappearing from the landscape. I can't even find Stokke's once big selection on their site anymore! They seem to be living on selling baby chairs now. What a pity.

I think one problem is that most "kneeling chairs" are static. They can't move when you're sitting on them. This chair can. You can rock a little and you can vary your position as you're working. You can give yourself mini-workouts every couple minutes (or any time you're just reading on screen), rocking and twisting, perhaps to music. You don't even need to get up, just take your hands off the keyboard. Kewl.

I find it works even better with the inflatable seat I bought recently. It flexes under me as I rock and roll on the chair, and makes it more comfortable.

Update: it seems these simple, compact, and effective chairs are still produced, now under the brand name VariƩr. Sadly, now as then, their range are not cheap chairs. Frankly I suspect they may be a bit overpriced, but what do I know about making furniture. I do think though that nobody else makes anything quite like them. I'm considering upgrading to their Thatsit model, but it's like $1200, and I want to make sure there's a real difference from what I have.

DSLR tips web site

Here's an interesting new site: DSLR Tips. It has tips for people who are new to digital cameras with exchangable lenses. And that means most of us. I've been photographing for thirty years, and following digital cameras for ten years, and I still think the dang things are complex.


Here's what Pascal means when he talks about "morbidly obese".
What I find odd about that article is that it says that it's puzzling that he gained so much weight, but there's not a word about what the man eats. You'd think that would be an essential part of the picture, yes?
Here's a video about somebody else, also huge.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

More on downloading

David Pogue has posted an update on the article about generations and copyright.

Happy New Year

2007 was a year of great spiritual expansion for me, valuable life lessons learned, and amazing new friends gained. I wish for 2008 to be more of the same, and I hope the same for all of you. - Eolake