Thursday, May 12th, 2022
So right now all the James Bond movies are available on Amazon Prime, and with the sudden plethora I was stumped which I’m due next to rewatch. When in doubt, it’s back to Goldfinger, just the first few minutes this time. Once again I’m blown away by just how good it is; it’s definitely arguable that both preceding and all subsequent movies lead to and emanate from it. The post-credit opening scene with the swoop down to the diving board and the cut to Felix watching the dive from the glass window — what delicious glamorous filmmaking. “Into Miami / Pigeon Game” is the 1-minute musical accompaniment.
Saturday, May 7th, 2022
Tony Fadell from his new Build book:
And you have to hold on to that “why” even as you build the “what”—the features, the innovation, the answer to all your customers’ problems. Because the longer you work on something, the more the “what” takes over—the “why” becomes so obvious, a feeling in your gut, a part of everything you do, that you don’t even need to express it anymore. You forget how much it matters.
When you get wrapped up in the “what,” you get ahead of people. You think everyone can see what you see. But they don’t. They haven’t been working on it for weeks, months, years. So you need to pause and clearly articulate the “why” before you can convince anyone to care about the “what.”
Saturday, April 30th, 2022
The great Reacher TV series led me to try a Kindle sample, which read well. Feeling in safe hands, I searched the local public library for whichever they had in stock. They had three, and I picked Blue Moon. I began with enjoyment, reflecting on the fictional dream created as we move from little setpiece to little setpiece (a Greyhound bus, a bar, a rundown suburban home). I so enjoy that imaginative experience of fun fiction and love inducing it in others. But after a while this story becones preposterous. The waitress he meets turns out to be a superwoman, and her friends become Reacher’s special forces army as the book climaxes with attacks on the gangsters’ lairs, the body count like that of a one-person shooter. It ends up being… daft, so I think that’s it for me.
Thursday, April 14th, 2022
In an interview on Israel’s national broadcaster Kan, this is a fair-minded well-informed backgrounder on Temple Mount tensions.
Monday, April 11th, 2022
Screenwriting — and acting — genius: Billions, Cory Stoll as Mike Prinz, after a bluff that apparently puts Chuck Rhodes in prison, is watched by the replacement attorney general as he leaves to go to the elevator. Feeling faint and queasy from moments ago losing $3.5b in crypto while pretending to know nothing about it, he leans on the wall in a way a person just wouldn’t normally do. And she knows he was lying. On this subtle display of body language rests so much. Plus, the episode ends with Jerry Garcia singing “Don’t You Let That Deal Go Down”.
Friday, February 11th, 2022
Radical Protestantism leads the pilgrim from the “howling wilderness” and the “enchanted ground” of the Old World and leads him to the Canaan of the spirit. The question is addressed to, and answered by, the individual pilgrim. The Jew is born into the people of Israel; the Christian seeks adoption into the Israel of the Spirit. American Christianity retains the radical individualism of its Protestant forebears, who chose as individuals to become Americans. We have become Americans by adoption, and we have adopted the history of Israel as our national common memory. A profound parallelism is involved. The biblical Election of Israel was not a prize that God awarded to an unlikely nation of shepherds, but rather the outcome of Israel’s free choice to accept the Torah and the responsibility of election. It is our free choice to become Americans that is the cornerstone of our culture.
Wednesday, December 15th, 2021
Shea Serrano at The Ringer dives in to the most magical scene in “All the Bells Say”, the season 3 finale of Succession:
Greg, a 10-foot-tall gingerbread man and also Tom’s accidental best friend, approaches. Before Tom can say anything, Greg begins telling Tom about how he and a woman a few steps removed from royalty have hit it off. Tom lets Greg talk, but he’s only half-listening because he’s still rolling around in his head the information that Shiv has just given him. When Greg is finished, Tom has a realization, and pivots away from the talk of Greg potentially becoming the king of Luxembourg via a countess. “Greg, listen,” he says, and then he pulls out two chairs from a nearby table while looking around to make sure nobody is within earshot.
Sunday, December 5th, 2021
Because the Marvel intro music is replaying in my mind’s ear (composed I believe by the great Michael Giacchino), I went to YouTube and found Every Marvel Intro. Turns out the first time we heard this brief yet potent bit was Dr Strange.
Saturday, November 6th, 2021
Nice appreciative review at Cult of Mac of the latest Foundation episode, “The Missing Piece”.
This week’s episode gave him the Lee Paciest showcase any of your finer Lee Paces could hope to deliver. Appearing to be on death’s door yet radiating immortality, staggering through the desert with red, peeling skin and dirty feet, a false messiah nearly killing himself to gain even more power. This is the kind of thing that simply has to be seen.
Lee Pace for James Bond. Or Scaramanga at least.
Saturday, October 30th, 2021
After googling Jordan Hoffman, I see his Every Episode of Every ‘Star Trek’ Series Ever, Ranked (all 695 of them) from 2014, for Playboy no less.
Monday, October 11th, 2021
National treasure David Mitchell knocks it out the park with his (SPOILER WARNING) review of No Time to Die.
The main spoiler is: they’ve spoiled it. The producers of No Time to Die have spoiled Bond – either a bit or totally, only time will tell.
Another darn piece that expresses perfectly what I was thinking and that I didn’t write myself. This is one where I feel: no matter what, I couldn’t have done it quite this well, this straightforwardly.
Monday, July 26th, 2021
What is an entertainment company? Matthew Ball surveys the landscape, focused on Disney, and concludes they must reach into digital games.
Tuesday, June 29th, 2021
Chaos Monkeys: Inside the Silicon Valley Money Machine
Antonio Garcia Martinez
As author Antonio García Martínez battles away as an eager newcomer at Facebook, his account jolts one awake to the somewhat forgotten power of literature: we are reminded that what will survive these times will likely not be the mammoth trillion dollar company but instead this book.
And shame on Apple, caving to those who campaigned to have Martinez fired recently from his new job there because of some gross and silly yet heartfelt generalization in the book of San Francisco womenfolk; such philistine snowflakes do little more than buttress his point, as well as forcing our author to remain up on these more commanding if perhaps less remunerative cultural heights.
Monday, May 10th, 2021
Elle Griffin is serializing her novel on Substack and here lists others also publishing fiction on the platform.
Saturday, November 21st, 2020
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