Category Archives: Various and Sundry

Video

Prep for Cookie-Making (and Eating) Season!

A holiday tradition for many people is cookie making, which is all well and good, but what to do about all those cookies once they’re made?

Here, we learn from the undisputed master of cookie eating.

Less “um,” more “nom, nom, nom.”

GIFs Out of Balance

Earlier this week, I mentioned doing the sort of my biennial favorite films list. My favorite film for a few years back in the pre-Internet era (well, pre-Netscape Navigator for sticklers) was the experimental, non-narrative film Koyaanisqatsi.

Technically a documentary, I suppose, but really more of a visual essay. It uses a variety of slow-motion, time-lapse, and regular speed, but breathtaking, cinematography resulting in a film unlike anything I had seen before. It may also have been my first exposure to the music of Philip Glass, which is integral to the piece — and Philip Glass music alone is quite the discovery. I also benefited from seeing it on the big screen with an audience, where the collective experience also proved integral, especially at those few points where Glass’ mesmerizing score stops and you could hear a pin drop in the theater.

Its impact has been diminished with the omnipresence of visual media, including the ubiquity of slow-motion and time-lapse video. In fact, I recall a designer friend not being impressed by the film, possibly because of their ready access to stock footage libraries which included countless slo-mo and time-lapse video clips. In short, they felt they could create their own “Qatsi construction” with ease.

Well, thanks to the Internet, we have reached peak “Qatsi.” No, I’m not talking about Alvin and the Chipmunks singing the whole Koyannisqatsi soundtrack, though that’s awesome. I’m talking about the existence, alerted to me by friends and Boing Boing, of Gifaanisqatsi: an algorithmically generated set of GIFs set to Philip Glass’ iconic score. The version I saw included someone in an inflatable T-Rex costume pole dancing. And, of course, cats.

It is truly beautiful and terrible to behold.

I will leave it to you to decide how out of balance we all are.

My 50 Favorite Films: Prep for the 2022 Edition

Another Thanksgiving weekend has past, which for our family meant seeing how many meals the Thanksgiving leftovers would last, how many board games could be played, and who wanted to put what ornament on the Christmas tree. But it was also Thanksgiving weekend on an even year, which means it was time to start prepping for my biennial Favorite Films sort.

I’m a lifelong movie buff and have watched literally thousands of movies. Not all of them are good. Some of the good films are, nonetheless, not my favorite films. As I discuss elsewhere, I rank the films by the criteria of quality, watchability, and resonance.

A Venn diagram of the films I've seen, films I love, films most people consider good, and other films I'd like to rank.
You have no idea how many bad films I’ve seen. So, so many…

The entire stack of films I sort through every few years numbers around 500 films or so. There’s usually something of a lag between when a film comes out and when we get to see it. No longer can I see every film when it first comes out in the theater (even more so this year) and I’m also no longer a film completist. This is one of the reasons I term this a list of “favorites” not a “best of.”

In truth, I try and start forming that list of 500 in October, so that if there are films that have been in the Favorite 50 that I know I haven’t seen in a while or others that I think I need to revisit, I have time to rewatch them. As with the new films, I’d rate this as rigorous, but not precise — and so another reason I term these favorites and not a “best of.”

Here are films I’ve either watched anew –or for the first time in a long time– and made sure were in the sort as part of the 500-odd films:

  • Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
  • The Adam Project
  • The Addams Family (1991)
  • The Addams Family (2019)
  • The Addams Family 2
  • Addams Family Values
  • All Quiet on the Western Front (2022)
  • Amazing Grace (2006)
  • American Assassin
  • Aquaman
  • Army of the Dead
  • Around the World in 80 Days (2004)
  • Avatar (2009)
  • A.X.L.
  • Babe
  • Batman (1989)
  • The Batman (2022)
  • Batman and Robin
  • Batman Forever
  • Batman Returns
  • The Battle of Britain (1969)
  • Battleship
  • Beetlejuice
  • Beyond the Lights
  • Black Widow (2021)
  • The Blind Side (2009)
  • The Bodyguard (1992)
  • Borg vs. McEnroe
  • Brute Force (1947)
  • A Call to Spy
  • Chappie
  • Chip ‘N Dale: Rescue Rangers
  • Collateral (2004)
  • Come From Away
  • Contagion (2011)
  • Crazy Rich Asians
  • Creation
  • The Curse of Frankenstein
  • The Darkest Hour (2011)
  • Darkest Hour (2017)
  • Death on the Nile (2022)
  • The Dig (2021)
  • Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
  • Dora and the Lost City of Gold
  • Do the Right Thing
  • Don’t Look Up (2021)
  • Dune (1984)
  • Dune (2021)
  • Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
  • Edward Scissorhands
  • Elysium (2013)
  • Encanto
  • Eternals
  • Everything Everywhere All at Once
  • Firedrake the Silver Dragon (aka “Dragon Rider”)
  • Four Hours at the Capitol
  • Free Guy
  • Frost/Nixon
  • The General’s Daughter
  • Geronimo: An American Legend
  • Get Smart
  • The Giver
  • Gladiator
  • The Goonies
  • Gravity
  • The Gray Man
  • Gremlins
  • Gremlins 2: The New Batch
  • Greyhound
  • Gunga Din
  • The Guns of Navarone
  • Himalaya
  • Holes
  • The House with a Clock in Its Walls
  • Howl’s Moving Castle
  • How to Train Your Dragon 2
  • How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
  • The Hurt Locker
  • The Ice Road
  • In the Heights
  • Johnny Mnemonic
  • Jungle Cruise (2021)
  • Jurassic Park
  • [Zach Snyder’s] Justice League (2020)
  • Killer Klowns from Outer Space
  • The Lake House
  • Level 16
  • The Lost City (2022)
  • Luca
  • Luck (2022)
  • The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)
  • The Marksman (2021)
  • Marshall (2017)
  • Mary Poppins Returns
  • The Mask of Zorro (1998)
  • The Matrix Resurrections
  • Men in Black
  • Men in Black II
  • Men in Black 3
  • The Midnight Sky
  • The Milagro Beanfield War
  • Miracle at Midnight
  • The Mitchells vs. the Machines
  • Mobile Suit Gundam
  • Mobile Suit Gundam II: Electric Mecha Boogaloo
  • Mobile Suit Gundam III
  • Mobile Suit Gundam: Char’s Counterattack
  • Moonfall (2022)
  • The Most Hated Woman in America
  • Mulan (2020)
  • The Mummy (1999)
  • The Naked Gun
  • Nausicca of the Valley of the Wind
  • The Negotiator (1998)
  • The Net
  • News of the World
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • No Time to Die
  • The November Man
  • Operation Mincemeat
  • The Pelican Brief
  • Persuasion (2022)
  • Point Break (1991)
  • Pokemon the Movie: Secrets of the Jungle
  • Prey (2022)
  • A Quiet Place
  • A Quiet Place, Part II
  • Quigley Down Under
  • Raya and the Last Dragon
  • Red Notice
  • The Resistance Banker
  • The Return of Martin Guerre
  • Return to Oz
  • Robin Hood (2010)
  • Robin Hood (2018)
  • Safe House (2012)
  • Safety Not Guaranteed
  • The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934)
  • The Sea Beast (2022)
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the 10 Rings
  • Shutter Island
  • Sicario
  • Sicario: Day of the Soldado
  • Silverado
  • Snatch (2000)
  • The Social Dilemma
  • Something Wicked This Way Comes
  • Sommersby
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 2
  • Soul
  • Spider-Man: No Way Home
  • Spirited (2022)
  • Spongebob Squarepants: Sponge on the Run
  • Stan & Ollie
  • Starship Troopers: Traitor of Mars
  • The Suicide Squad (2021)
  • Tears of the Sun
  • Tenet
  • The Thing (from Another World)
  • Things to Come (1936)
  • 13th
  • 13 Hours
  • Thor: Love and Thunder
  • Thunder Force
  • Time Bandits
  • The Tomorrow War
  • Total Recall (2012)
  • Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
  • Treasure Planet
  • Turning Red
  • 12 Strong
  • The Two Popes
  • Under Siege
  • Up in the Air
  • The War of the Worlds (1953)
  • Wendell & Wild
  • West Side Story (2021)
  • Winchester ’73 (1950)
  • Wind River (2017)
  • Wish Dragon
  • Wolfwalkers
  • Woman in Motion
  • Wonder Woman 1984
  • Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
  • A Wrinkle in Time
  • Zone 414

You know some of these films won’t get very far, don’t you? Every year, hundreds of films don’t make the first cut. But hey, somebody’s gotta don the red shirt.

Expect this year’s list right around Yule.

Getting the Gift of Gab During Holiday Gobbling

For a lot of folks, this holiday season is the first one in a while where there are more gatherings, both in family homes and in offices. So to prepare for that, writer Olga Khazan over at The Atlantic consulted an effort to help us all get through the small talk — and even if you don’t want to be a raconteur, it never hurts to be a better conversationalist.

Your banter doesn’t need to be up to His Girl Friday level, but it’s best to prep.

Travel the World… via Sandwich

Thanksgiving feasts will be on the tables of millions of Americans in less than a week, but for this Friday before said feast is completely on everyone’s mind, let’s talk about sandwiches.

Social media exercises frequently make the rounds regarding where people have traveled, so I read this article by Terry Ward for CNN about some of the world’s best sandwiches, and I thought this was just as interesting a score to tally… and far more mouth-watering.

The Bánh mì, a consistent good pick for a sandwich

Note that I’m scoring just by the sandwiches alone, not the sandwiches in the actual locale. Granted, it would be wonderful to experience a region’s signature sandwich in its natural habitat –I mean, the tramezzini paired with local wine in Venice sounds wonderful– but that’s for bucket lists.

Right now, my score stands at 11 with several of the rest to be sought out in the near future. Actually right right now, I’m going to get one of my favorite sandwiches not on this list for a late lunch…

Spaaace Regulation!

In case you didn’t think I’d be interested in how the federal government may or may not be getting into regulating outer space, you might not have realized I already have a tag on this website for space law.

Of course I’m interested!

And that’s where Rebecca Heilweil’s article about the FCC getting into space regulation comes in.

The probability that Mark Watney would be all about Martian fruit & vegetable regulations is very high.

I mean, I get the FCC being interested in regulation of communications satellites and the like. But what about space flights? Isn’t that FAA? And what about the inevitable space hotels? Wouldn’t that be the FTC? And thinking of trade, what about international trade — and when does the WTO come into all this? And how do they all work with each other?

Video

Nuance on the trend of “Quiet Quitting”

Earlier this Fall, there was a flurry of posts, thought pieces, and assorted hand-wringing about “Quiet Quitting,” which sounded weird until I learned far too many people have been using the phrase to describe people doing their jobs, just not going above and beyond.

To reference The Princess Bride, I don’t think “quitting” means what they think it means. In fact, I rather side with the people pushing back at hand-wringing over people doing what they’re paid to do. Instead of “quiet quitting,” I’ve heard the entertaining phrase “acting your wage.”

Now, from the title image below, you may correctly conclude that Jon Favreau and his interviewee, Derek Thompson, agree that “quiet quitting” is a silly term, but the hour-long conversation has a whole lot more about the future of office culture, hard work and ‘soft’ work.

(Oh, and I should mention that this is from the Pod Save America family of podcasts which are, by and large, political. Favreau is a former Obama staffer, after all. So just be aware that spice is in the mix).

This Viking Has Dibs on the Library

So, for the past few years, there’s been a particular cartoon that’s made the rounds on social media which friends invariably send to me.

I mean, besides being an avid reader, several members of my family are or have been librarians and are all in favor of libraries. And, let’s be honest, in this scenario, I would totally do this: some of my Viking brethren forget to pillage before they burn. Sure you may have given that cowering monk a reason to think you’re a bloodthirsty barbarian, but that doesn’t mean you can’t raid responsibly.

In short, this is so me.

Picture taken at an odder angle so that this image isn’t pirated willy-nilly (cartoon credit: Cuyler Black)

So I tried to track down who the cartoonist to see if I could purchase a print or high-res file. Thanks to my brother, I discovered it’s one Cuyler Black — and yes, he has a website and online store with several items some of you all might like to buy.

He did not, as it happens, have a print of the cartoon above to sell, so I contacted him, telling the true tale of being a bibliophile you read above — and he sent me this particular print free of charge. If there’s an opposite of berzerker rage, it’s probably the feeling you get in a library, and that’s what he triggered.

So now the print hangs next to home office computer (aka the epicenter of Tulgey Wood Studios). Thank you, Mr. Black!

The Optimization of Boring?

For my work, I’m often focused on continuous improvement — and the silver lining of broken processes means there’s always room for improvement. On the one hand have you ever met those people for whom 99.9999% just isn’t close enough to 100%?

Can more optimization be too much of a good thing?

Derek Thompson over at The Atlantic feels that might be the case, starting, with that most American of statistics obsession: baseball. If you know about Moneyball, from either the book or movie, his premise is that the “Moneyball-ization” of baseball has optimized the National Pastime into the National “Meh” time.

But what if you are one of the many Americans who doesn’t pass their time with baseball at all? Well, he doesn’t stop there. His premise is that this mechanical optimization has penetrated all sorts of aspects of American culture, including mass media in terms of music and films. And for those of us indie creators, that’s certainly a trend to study.

In fact, if you want to get into music, I’ve been watching musician/producer Rick Beato’s YouTube channel for the past few weeks and goes into a music theory version of why music doesn’t sound as interesting (briefly touching on the risk-averse nature of music labels these days).

All in all, stuff to ponder.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Wayang -er- Washington Irving

I was almost going to let Halloween go by without an appropriately thematic post, and then an old classmate shares something he’s narrated — and sharing is scaring!