Sita Sings the Blues

Art, Media, Liberty 2009-07-26 08:39

Sita Sings the Blues is a feature-length, animated film that I found unique and entertaining.

The creator, Nina Paley, wrote, animated, directed, and produced the whole thing. A film of this caliber could only have come from a Hollywood studio at a budget of million a decade ago. Now one (admittedly very talented, ambitious, hard-working) person can do nearly the whole thing herself.

It’s licensed under the Creative Commons License. If you’re not familiar with the CC licenses, recall the FBI warning at the beginning of most DVDs: it states that you’ll go to jail if you give a copy of the movie to your friend, or show it to a group of people in a public place (a “screening”). Now, imagine the exact opposite of the FBI warning. That’s the Creative Commons License. It encourages you to freely share, copy, and remix the work in any way you like.

The Deal With Things

Philosophy, Art, Learning 2009-07-04 03:19

When you try something new - like a new TV show or movie, a new food, or a new card game - and you decide you don’t like it, there are two categories your judgement may fall into.

  • One is that you just don’t get its deal.
  • The other is that you get it, but you don’t like its deal.

Figuring out the deal is part of the fun intellectual stimulation of our recreational activities. A process of exploration and discovery.

Jerry Holkins puts it like this:

“It is my goal to play a game until I discover its thesis. […] Essentially, I want to know a game’s intention. That intention is surprisingly close to the surface in games most people consider to be of high quality, and so I don’t need to play them very long to discern it. I will still finish games that I have come to understand, but a large part of my enjoyment is bound up in this interpretive process.”

Dreary Phrases

Art, Language 2009-04-19 01:10

You probably know what it means to “live vicarously through” someone. But do you know what “vicarously” means by itself?

You might know what it means to refer to something’s “consitutent parts.” But do you know what “constituent” (as an adjective) means by itself?

You may know what it means to say “do (X) with impunity.” But do you know what “impunity” means by itself?
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Art, Media 2009-04-07 01:58

Validation is an entertaining a clever mini-movie. Take the time to watch it all the way through, it’s worth it.

The Triplets of Belleville

Art, Media 2009-03-28 08:20

A good movie you probably haven’t seen: The Triplets of Belleville.
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The Destruction of Sennacherib

Art, Media 2008-09-17 01:38

The Destruction of Sennacherib is a short story on the Variant Frequencies podcast. I found its overall production striking: use of sounds, music (some of which I recognized as Abney Park), and multiple voices combine to produce a fiction podcast episode not quite like anything I’ve heard before. Good stuff.

Sidebar: this story is steampunk to the gills. A year ago I called steampunk “a rising genre.” Aparently I underestimated that by quite a bit, since the New York Times is writing about it now.

Internet Time-Wasters

Internet, Art, Silly, Games 2008-09-13 03:23

My latest method for goofing off on the internet: Zero Punctation. All the epsiodes are good, but the review of Assassin’s Creed is a good place to start.

The recently posted review of Braid captures what’s wrong with the game industry (high development costs stifling the innovation and creativity that typically comes from small dev teams), and how Braid is part of the new wave of indie games which is changing that.

For reference, past goof-off methods include: the Onion (oh so long ago), Homestar Runner, Ask a Ninja, Penny Arcade, and XKCD.


Art 2008-08-30 12:03

“When I read a novel that I really like, I feel as if I am in direct, personal communication with the author. I feel as if the author and I are on the same wavelength mentally, that we have a lot in common with each other, and that we could have an interesting conversation, or even a friendship, if the circumstances permitted it. When the novel comes to an end, I feel a certain letdown, a loss of contact. It is natural to want to recapture that feeling by reading other works by the same author, or by corresponding with him/her directly.


A novel represents years of hard work distilled into a few hundred pages, with all (or at least most) of the bad ideas cut out and thrown away, and the good ideas polished and refined as much as possible. Interacting with an author in person is nothing like reading his novels. Just about everyone who gets an opportunity to meet with an author in person ends up feeling mildly let down, and in some cases, grievously disappointed.”

From Why I am a Bad Correspondent by Neal Stephenson

Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Art, Dating 2008-08-25 11:09

Saw Vicky Cristina Barcelona the other night, and really enjoyed it. As for the polyamory themes it contains, Lauren Wissot sums it up nicely:

“Not only is [Woody Allen’s] latest celluloid psychotherapy session Vicky Cristina Barcelona a phenomenal work of intellectual porn, but it also happens to contain one of the sexiest, most hysterical and poignant portrayals of polyamory to come along in a long, long time. Allen actually gets that those of us who choose to live outside of hetero monogamy are not voracious sex addicts lacking in morality – on the contrary, we simply abide by a different set of desires and ethics than that of the mainstream.”

Some heartwarming stills:

My Creative Beast

Art 2008-08-23 04:31

“My creative beast is restless and hungry, and I’ve learned that if I starve it by arbitrarily limiting its routine, it’s not happy. It’s all well and good to cut the fat out of your life to make time for what’s important, but you can take it too far. By turning off the internet, I turned off my source of inspiration. I was trying to write in a vacuum.

From Cooking for the Creative Beast by Matt Wood