Sunday, May 17th, 2020
The Making of Prince of Persia
Video game maker Jordan Mechner wrote a rich diary of his life in the mid-1980s. This book covers the creation his second hit game, Prince of Persia, so we gain access of unique immediacy to the heroic tale of producing a universe-dent-making hit.
I wanted this book, which I discovered via Tyler Cowen’s most recent What I’ve been reading, as inspiration during a small lull in morale as I work on a digital product of my own.
Thirty years on there is some poignancy in that this early period of Mencher’s life was the peak: after graduating Yale, already dreamily successful, he shuttles between San Francisco and Hollywood creating video games and pushing screenplays, a digital Orson Welles (in his later game The Last Express, Mechner combines these passions, relying on cinema to produce an impressive commercial failure).
That said, perhaps it is no failure at all that one can point to the creative peak of a life — Mechner’s arguably was working within the memory constraints of the Apple II to create a foe, Shadow Man, based on the hero character. Here I’m reminded of Ken Kocienda’s not dissimilar Eureka moment when up against a constraint, that of using a dictionary to help create the iPhone keyboard.
Perhaps it would have been a better book if he had fleshed out the journal with an italicized retrospective written now, but count me a late-arrival Jordan Mechner fan. And don’t get the Kindle edition lacking the illustrations; I think I’m gonna need to buy the actual book.
Sunday, March 1st, 2020
Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of an Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader
Brent Schlener and Rick Tetzell
Although the simple thesis gets repeated interminably, nonetheless it’s a nice one: that Steve Jobs’s greatness stems muchly from his constant becoming, constant learning, constant trying to overcome himself (hence the title, which can be read as descriptive).
It’s great to be in his company, which you feel you are, as one of the authors was himself repeatedly so for decades.
One thing new to me was Pixar’s role in maturing Jobs; we don’t often read about who and what shaped the shaper.
Thursday, February 20th, 2020
Mike and Rich of Red Letter Media do a re:View of Star Trek: Picard. I hadn’t articulated to myself why I chose not to watch beyond the first episode — they explain it. One criticism though: they mock the term positronic, seeming not to know it comes from Asimov’s robots.
Tuesday, December 31st, 2019
In r/saltierthancrait and posted by u/yellowdawg299, In your opinion, who is the worst character in Star Wars?. Great stuff.
- “I tell you what, if Rose had killed Leia in TROS and monologued about what idiots the Rebels were for buying her ‘save the people you love’ bullshit, I’d be dragging everyone I knew to the theatre.” —rothbard_anarchist
- “Snoke continues to shrink in intrigue until he is in a fetal position in a jar.” —Wiffernubbin
- “Replace Holdo with an emotionless machine that locks their escape behind a passcode/override that no one but Leia knows after the bridge destruction, and the story becomes more coherent since that’s a matter of procedure rather than a person making active decisions that contradict themselves and their own goals.” —Hylian-Highwind
- “Jar Jar, because the others aren’t in Star Wars.” —JBlitzen
Wednesday, October 16th, 2019
Succession as comedy. Obvious, given its producers, but still, nicely written.
Monday, October 7th, 2019
Tuesday, October 1st, 2019
The future is real but the past is all made up.
Logan Roy in Succession, Series 2, Episode 8
Monday, March 11th, 2019
Putting the ack! in acquihire: Our Incredible Journey.
Friday, December 14th, 2018
Monday, November 19th, 2018
Saturday, November 17th, 2018
“Respected journalist” Joel Golby has pulled off a rather spectacular series of mini-essays for Vice in Choose Your Own Adventure: Friday Night Edition!. More relevant perhaps for people say a quarter of a century younger than me, but one can appreciate.
Thursday, November 15th, 2018
If you don’t give literature a decisive part to play in your existence, then you haven’t got anything but a show of culture.
Tuesday, November 6th, 2018
The degree to which you challenge your own beliefs and expose them to destruction is a test of your worth as a novelist.
Sunday, July 8th, 2018
Sunday, June 17th, 2018
As my year of diving languorously into the murky waters of the Wake wore on, I came to feel that it was this failure, this impossibility, this grand futility of the Wake, that constituted its secret theme, its true aboutness.
Friday, June 15th, 2018
What a lovely episode of Westworld is the latest, “Kiksuya”. I think the show has been great recently, such as crashing into the Shogun version of Sweetwater in “Akane no Mai”, and James Delos’s incarceration and repeated relaunches in “The Riddle of the Sphinx”.
There is so much death depicted in Westworld; I haven’t watched Game of Thrones nor The Walking Dead so perhaps that is par for the course nowadays on tv but it’s new for me. In reality this level of mayhem only exists in pockets (and of course among the non-human), so I suppose it is important that we be reminded of it.
I love the ongoing reversal within Westworld that the real world shot outdoors is fake while the indoor sets underground, reached through Lost-like hatches, are real. And the music; beautiful! And the scenery, beautiful! Without these two elements, how great can a moving picture story ever be?
Thursday, April 12th, 2018
It’s nice to see Slant Magazine praise something fulsomely and in detail: Chuck Bowen on Billions, Season 3.
Wednesday, April 4th, 2018
In this interview Ursula K. Le Guin provides a rather thorough little course on the craft of fiction, covering present vs past tense, first-person vs omniscient narration, conflict as action.
“Henry James did the limited third person really well, showing us the way to do it. He milked that cow successfully. And it’s a great cow, it still gives lots of milk. But if you read only contemporary stuff, always third-person limited, you don’t realize that point of view in a story is very important and can be very movable. It’s here where I suggest that people read books like Woolf’s To the Lighthouse to see what she does by moving from mind to mind. Or Tolstoy’s War and Peace for goodness’ sake. Wow.”
Monday, March 5th, 2018
Ladies and gentlemen, hidalgos and Iagos, may it please you to join Andrew Klavan on this sharp essay through racism and religion via Shakespeare.
Thursday, February 8th, 2018
Quincy Jones on Michael Jackson’s bullshit and everyone else’s too. Oh and famous friends.
Wednesday, January 10th, 2018
Was The Bonfire of the Vanities the American novel’s last hurrah?
Friday, November 3rd, 2017
Drew Pierce, Iron Man 3 co-screenwriter with director Shane Black, discusses the writing of the Trevor Slattery reveal in this Vulture article. There’s also a jpg of the screenplay! This is one of my favorite Marvel movie scenes. And jeez, I just discovered All Hail the King — where have I been?
Thursday, August 3rd, 2017
Wednesday, June 28th, 2017
What an internet treasure. Standard Ebooks is — according to their web site — “a volunteer driven, not-for-profit project that produces lovingly formatted, open source, and free public domain ebooks.” These are some beautiful, consistently-designed ebooks. The epub version works a charm in iBooks.
Friday, January 13th, 2017
At Den of Geek is Max Williams’ revisit of all 24 James Bond movies.
Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016
An inviting tour of the Hebrew writer’s oeuvre as Shai Agnon is translated into English. [via aldaily.com]
Saturday, August 6th, 2016
Nicholas Dames’s Publications page. The man is Professor of Humanities at Columbia University and a mine of gems.
Saturday, June 18th, 2016
Likely the canonical review of Mr Robot, Season #1. By Matt Zoller Seitz.
Friday, June 3rd, 2016
“You can’t cross the species barrier but, by bumping up against it, you can learn things.” In The New Yorker, Joshua Rothman surveys ventriloquism of the soul. “Tolstoy’s animals teach us to be good,” he explains. “Joyce’s teach us to be alive.” [via aldaily.com]
Tuesday, December 29th, 2015
Nice piece by E. E. Knight on James Bond as mythic hero.
Tuesday, December 8th, 2015
If you were troubled by the song persuading Ariel to remain under the sea, here’s why.
Tuesday, March 31st, 2015
Both Hitchcock and Dickens were “fantasists who insisted upon meticulous detail in the unravelling of their plots; they were both poised between art and commerce, with a keen taste for the making of money.” An obvious yet hitherto unmade comparison of two master contemporary English storytellers.
Wednesday, March 11th, 2015
Friday, December 26th, 2014
A little treat: David on David, Foster Wallace on Lynch.
Monday, December 15th, 2014
Season 4 of Homeland is I believe significantly more worthwhile than the previous ones. At the Daily Beast, two versed CIA agents opine that it “accurately present[s] the mission, intensity, pace, contradictions and complexity” of such a mission.
Tuesday, August 12th, 2014
Wednesday, July 9th, 2014
A good time, as we await Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, to review the rather horrible Continuity of the Planet of the Apes.
Saturday, June 21st, 2014
Sunday, April 6th, 2014
All literature writes the character of the wise man.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Thursday, November 7th, 2013
Andrew O’Hagan on Norman Mailer rather than on A Double Life by J. Michael Lennon, the book he’s supposed to be reviewing. “They had Ancient Evenings, his vast Egyptian tome (I read the first ninety pages) and The Naked and the Dead, which was filled with the word ‘fug’ and seemed both plain and good.”
Friday, October 4th, 2013
David Horovitz interviews Yossi Klein Halevi about his new book, Like Dreamers: The story of the Israeli Paratroopers who Reunited Jerusalem and Divided a Nation. The friendship between these two gifted greying Anglo-Israelis is warming.
Sunday, September 8th, 2013
Monday, May 27th, 2013
Really, most science fiction is about economics. A list of the best.
Thursday, May 9th, 2013
Some advice for Disney from fellow artist Frank Lloyd Wright on February 25, 1939, at 11am in Projection Room IV.
Saturday, January 19th, 2013
Wow. Dan Kois, a senior editor at Slate, heads to Portland for a week of serious karaoke.
Thursday, November 1st, 2012
Check out the Moby Dick Big Read, British persons each reading a chapter of the novel. Tilda Swindon reads Chapter 1, Loomings; Stephen Fry reads Chapter 10, A Bosom Friend. Nice.
Monday, October 29th, 2012
Finally, a clear-headed review of Skyfall over at FT: “New director Sam Mendes wants to combine a Bourne-like lack of quips and frippery with Christopher Nolan-ish solemnity and gigantism.” Why eschew what you view as your own franchise’s banalities only to take others’?
Wednesday, October 24th, 2012
Andy Ihnatko, MacTech Conference attendee, on the group tour of Disney Animation, an advance screening of Wreck-It Ralph, and John Lasseter’s desk. [via TidBits]
Monday, August 20th, 2012
The Making of The Spy Who Loved Me by the BBC for the Open University, 1977. Episode #1: Cubby Brocolli, Producer. #2: Ken Adam, Production Designer (“not indispensible”, “preferable”, “unique”, “important”). #3, Barbara Bach, Bond Girl.
Wednesday, June 13th, 2012