Who’s This Guy Whose Hair Looks So Much Like Rand Paul’s?

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Geeks Only, Please

No, seriously. The following post will affect your opinion of me, unless you truly share my geekery. Note that I said for “geeks” only, not nerds only, which in my book means people obsessed with sci-fi and pop technology rather than people who like science and math.

You’re still reading, aren’t you. Alright, fine. Have it your way. Over the weekend I discovered a new version of “Star Wars.” It is terrific. I watched it twice.

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Pixar in Real Life

Two friends now, knowing how much I enjoyed a certain, recent movie that may be the best animated film of the last decade, have sent me this picture:

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A Cool New Stop-Motion Video Reminds Me of an Old One

Lots of folks are talking about this video these days:

As well they should, because it’s totally awesome, both artistically and technologically. And it reminds me how important to let people with creative brains play with high-tech toys, too.

But seeing it reminds me of another stop-motion video which made the rounds a few years ago, and was a huge hit among my circle of college friends. You probably saw it back then, but just in case, it’s below.

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“Fargo” Teaches Me to Understand Sympathy

I watched “Fargo” tonight while I stirred a mushroom-salmon risotto (I’ve been on a movie kick lately, can you tell? I’m taking advantage of a free month of Netflix) and I discovered  simple way to express something I’ve always known about myself but haven’t had the right words for until recently. And I imagine a lot of people feel this way and knew this all along, so I thought I’d write pointlessly about it. Small spoiler alerts if you’re one of the fools (or people who don’t like dark comedy) who hasn’t seen it.

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A Movie Recommendation

I spent the evening making some kind of chinese chicken dish and watching a fantastic little movie with the always-impressive William H. Macy in it. The film, “Panic,” is the kind of thing I think movie critics would call a “gem,” because so few people seem to have seen it.

There I’m tempted to “review” it because I love dishing out opinions about movies, but in truth, I really just prefer doing that as a prelude to a discussion of them with other people who have seen them. And since apparently all of nobody saw this film when it was originally made (I can’t even tell if it had a traditional theater release!) I don’t want to spoil it’s contents. After all, I’ve come increasingly to believe that maybe too much outside knowledge can spoil the value of art, to the point that I don’t even like to see trailers for movies anymore, as they always give away too much of the plot. This is certainly not a movie that relies on twists, but I just think that films should be experienced by audiences who don’t know approximately what’s supposed to happen within them (after all, the people who write them don’t do so assuming the audience know the story). So consider this not a “review” but rather a “handy self-test” description to see if the movie is right for you.

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Mark Wahlberg and an eggplant teach me to enjoy action flicks

I watched “Shooter” last night while I made eggplant curry. The curry turned out really well–turns out the missing ingredient last time I made it was coconut milk– but the really interesting part of the evening was the experience I had watching the movie. By most accounts, “Shooter” was a pretty bad movie, or at least pretty mediocre, but I really enjoyed it. And I think the reason was, I wasn’t really paying attention.

I’m not trying to rip on the movie. I’ve always believed that the so-called “mindless action flick” was a perfectly defensible art form. It’s just like I always appreciated the music of folks like Justin Timberlake and the Black Eyed Peas. I think they’re geniuses: they are legitimately some of the best in the world at crafting catchy beats, hooks, and melodies. You just can’t go to them expecting depth and introspection. That would be foolish. You go to them when you need to be emotionally manipulated by music on a deep level. And I’m not so snobby as to think there’s anything wrong with that on any level. Sometimes you need to be tricked into feeling happy, sad, hopeful, whatever. We do this all the time by turning to friends, starting leading conversations, et cetera. So there’s no reason to feel bad doing it with music.

For some reason, though, I’ve always had trouble letting movies do this to me.

Action films in particular get on my nerves when they try to provoke an emotional response. They always try really hard to get me to have a gut-level, testosterone laced level of support for the hero, and they often try to get me to join in on the his righteous anger against whatever evildoers he’s battling, too. And for some reason, even though I know the trick to enjoying such movies is not to expect any deep revelations about the state of humanity, and not to expect any magical, arts camera work, et cetera, I always manage to get angry at the shallowness of the movie.

This has made a lot of my friends angry to no end. So many of them got a huge rush out of “Quantum of Solace,” but I was busy being mad that it didn’t live up to the emotional complexity of “Casino Royale.” A good number of them managed to get a kick out of the fight sequences in “G.I. Joe,” whereas I couldn’t get over the fact that it contains some of the most unrealistic science, most incoherent plot “twists,” and most densely-packed clichés of all time.

Well now I’ve learned the trick, courtesy of Mark Wahlberg.

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