Thursday, December 24, 2009

Favorite Movies of the Decade

Top Ten

American Splendor
Away from Her
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Fog of War
In the Mood for Love
Lives of Others
Lost in Translation
Mystic River


King of Kong
In the Bedroom
I've Loved You So Long
Me and You and Everyone We Know
Punch-Drunk Love

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Lovesick Country (Compilation)

I put together the original version of this compilation in the spring of 2003. I've just slightly revised it--this version is better than the original one.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Herzog on Nature

One of the most striking contrasts in Werner Herzog's "Grizzly Man" is between Timothy Treadwell and Herzog's respective conceptions of nature. Treadwell is portrayed as having an idealized conception of nature, as a perfect realm which we can enter into and become one with wild animals (which is, of course, what literally happens to Treadwell himself). Here is Herzog's response to this conception of nature:

"I differ with Treadwell. He seemed to ignore the fact that in nature there are predators. I believe that the common denominator of the universe is not harmony but chaos, hostility, and murder." (at 1:10:50 in the film)

"What haunts me is that in all the faces of all the bears that Treadwell ever filmed I discover no kinship, no understanding, no mercy. I see only the overwhelming indifference of nature. To me, there is no such thing as a secret world of the beers and this blank stare speaks only of a half-bored interest in food. But for Timothy Treadwell this bear was a friend, a savior." (at 1:36:43 in the film)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Trickle-Down Art

This Indiana Jones sculpture at the Fairfax Walmart is presumably some sort of effect of the recent rash of creative uses of Legos in photos, videos, and interior design. But what I really like about it is how it uses a fake prop from the movie, rather than recreating it in Legos.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Shredders of YouTube

I love watching guitar shredding videos on YouTube. Watch this one first and then this one.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Game Face

Compare and contrast the following two virtuoso performances:

Eddie Van Halen playing Eruption

Steve Gadd playing Mr. Magic

One thing that I find striking is the immense difference in the sorts of facial expressions that each of them tends to make while playing. In both cases, so much of what they're playing is obviously rehearsed, the result of a tremendous amount of practice. Both of them could probably play their parts in their sleep. But while playing in front of an audience, they act very differently: Eddie acts as if he's having a baby, whereas Steve acts as if he's just joking around. I think this marks a deep aesthetic difference, between two very different forms of artistic expression.

True Lies

The best moment in "True Lies" is when Arnold runs out of the Georgetown Park shopping mall onto the National Mall, where he commanders a horse, which he then rides through a very DC-esque hotel (maybe the Mayflower?), before riding it across the street into the lobby of the Bonaventure Hotel (in LA)! He then takes one of the glass elevators in the Bonaventure directly to its roof (I wish that were possible), at which point it becomes a Marriott (much more DC).


I love Wikipedia. But we need to rethink our obsession with inserting "Citation Needed" next to every claim that someone else makes. For instance, I was just reading the entry on When the Levee Breaks and someone had written that "[t]he Led Zeppelin version [of the song] features a distinctive pounding drum beat by John Bonham, driving guitars and a wailing harmonica, all presumably meant to symbolize the relentless storm that threatens to break the levee". Seems on point to me. But then someone else added a "Citation Needed" at the end of that claim. What good, at all, would it do to cite someone else saying this same thing? Granted, there are going to be cases in which people insert completely ridiculous critical claims. But in such cases, shouldn't we just revise what they've said, rather than ask them to find a published critic who agrees with their ridiculousness?