March 23, 2018

The End Of The F***ing World

The End of the F*king World is a Netflix series about a couple of weirdo teenagers who find each other and go on an adventure. There are only 8 episodes, each 20ish minutes long, so this is a quick watch.

I liked it pretty well. Because it is so short I would recommend checking it out and seeing how it hits you. Some people will hate it, and I understand where they are coming from. However, it was interesting enough for me to want to watch all the way through.

It is a strange show, with a unique style. It oddly seemed out-of-time. It is modern and retro all at once. The visual style reminded me of Wes Andersen, with flares of ultra-violence like Tarantino.

I felt like the show was split into two parts. The first 4 episodes were almost funny, in an irreverent teenage angsty sort of way. Even though some of the subject matter was serious, the tone was pretty light. It presented some disturbing things in a nonchalant way.

Our two protagonists meet and form a quick, albeit strange, relationship. They embark on an adventure together. The first half of the season builds toward a pivotal event. Once that happens, everything changes.

The 2nd half took a much different tone. It wasn’t much fun, and it spent too much of its very short runtime with a side plot that was completely pointless. In the very end there were a few moments of beauty and I liked some of the final scenes. After finishing it I continued to think about it a bit. It took our main character through quite a journey, and I think he came out the other side a better person. For that, I liked it.

March 9, 2018

La La Land

The other day I was thinking about just how much I miss writing in this blog. It has been a long time since I written consistently. I go back and forth on whether it is a worthwhile use of my time. I doubt anybody reads what I write… so what is the point. The Internet isn’t lacking for media criticism, so I don’t know that there is demand for anything I have to say. Either way, here we are. I am writing.

Even though it has been over a year since La La Land was relevant, I finally got around to watching it. I remember how much praise was heaped on this movie last Oscar season. I went in cautiously. I had recently seen The Greatest Showman, and I was kind of in the mood for another fun musical. I also loved Whiplash, the last film by the same director Damien Chazelle.

La La Land at the same time had too little music and too much music. If you are going to make a musical… let there be music. If not… don’t have any. I liked the beginning, but then was very frustrated by the lack of music for much of the second act. The music they did have was without largely without lyrics, which I also found frustrating.

The middle of the film dragged on way too long. It lost all momentum that it had built. I found myself getting bored and wondering what all the fuss was about.

The ending saved the movie for me. The sequence when Sebastian played the piano and he imagined an alternate history was so good. That “short film” sequence was worth the watch of the film all by itself.

There was a little confusion about what I was supposed to take away from the film. I read some reviews and considered some of the other takes on the movie. I was amazed by how many people talked about the central relationship and how much chemistry they had. I couldn’t disagree more. For me, there wasn’t much of a relationship there. Much of their time “together” was spent apart. They were two people that found each other a the right time, and were able to push one another to achieving their ultimate dreams in life. I did not feel sad that they didn’t end up together. In Seb’s fantasy at the end he seemed to have gotten the girl, but I don’t think he had his own jazz club. When he gives her the smile he is telling us the trade-off was totally worth it for him.

La La Land was a pretty good movie. I doubt I will ever watch it all the way through again. I could easily skip the middle half of the film and not lose much. The music is okay, but there isn’t enough of it.

I did find myself thinking about the film for a couple days after watching it, which is usually the sign of something good. I liked it more the further I got away from it. Still, I can’t say I enjoyed it, and I don’t share in much of the praise that I have seen from other reviews.

September 5, 2017

Dbrand iPhone 6 Skin

It is a curious thing to become bored with a pocket computer that can run thousands of apps, containing technology that was unheard of just over ten years ago. Still, my 3 year old iPhone 6 was starting to feel boring. To spice things up I decided to try out a dbrand skin that I've heard so much about on the MKBHD & Unbox Therapy YouTube channels.

Installation was not bad. I am a perfectionist. I wanted it to be exact. The Apple cutout could not show any silver around the edge. After a couple tries I got it almost perfect. The sides were easy but the corners were a tricky. I re-did each one 3 times and I can still feel rough spots when I run my finger over them.

Once I finished the installation, my initial reaction was one of disappointment. I expected the skin to feel more "premium". Every time I look at it there is a cognitive disconnect. It looks like real leather, so nice and fancy, but it doesn't feel nice and fancy. It doesn't feel like leather at all. It's just weird.

At this point I've been using the dbrand skin for 5 days. I catch myself sometimes just staring at the back of my phone, which is new. It is like an optical illusion. So far the skin is achieving its purpose. My phone feels novel and different. I'm enjoying using it without a case; feeling the thinness. That being said, it is also a little scary. I've been using this phone in various cases for three years. Now all the sudden it is naked. I was uneasy when I went to the gym, and I didn't have secure pockets. I wanted to run back to the safety of wrapping my phone in plastic and rubber, but cases aren't an option with the skin on there.

Aside from being a little extra careful to not drop my phone on concrete, and having to buy one of those workout arm band thingies, the dbrand skin has been a nice change of pace. It looks cool, and I am getting used to the feeling of it. I'll probably buy another one at some point. I am interested to see how long this one will last and how it wears over time, but as of right now I am a fan.

August 19, 2017

I’ve had a lot of feelings about season 7 of Game of Thrones. I have tossed around the idea of writing about it, but I think I am going to wait until the end of the season. I will say that season 7 so far has been much better than seasons 5 or 6, which I had a lot of problems with. After episode 4 (The Spoiles of War) I was ready to declare the series to be back on track and ready for a fabulous finish. It was such a good episode. Then episode 5 (Eastwatch) happened. It was a terrible episode and the idea to capture a whight and take it to King’s Landing is one of the stupidest plot devices I have ever seen. We have 2 episodes left. It looks like this week (episode 6) is going to be action-packed. If something really cool happens it will make up a tiny bit for the idiocy of the plan, which seemed more like an excuse to get a band of characters together for a mission.

The writing of episode 5 was truly sloppy. It was on par with the Bravos subplot of season 5, or the Arya storylines from seasons 5 & 6. I really really really hope the last 2 episodes of season 7 finish strong.

April 7, 2017

Dave Chappelle's Netflix Specials

I watched both of the Dave Chappelle Netflix specials the other day. I was quite amused. I laughed a lot. It was nice to see Dave again. It was also a strange experience. He wasn’t telling jokes as much as he was just talking in front of the camera. It wasn’t always funny, but it was always interesting.

While I was not personally offended by anything Dave talked about, there were a few moments where I thought… oh geez, somebody is going to get mad about this… I wasn’t surprised when I saw negative reviews popping up on the internet.

I enjoyed both of the comedy specials, but I also think these critiques are valid.

March 17, 2017

Commonplace Book

I love pens and notebooks. I have been keeping journals for the last 15 years. I mostly write down thoughts and keep lists, but I am not very structured. I almost never go back and read the things I have written.

A couple of years ago I read about the commonplace notebook. If I had describe it, I would say a commonplace notebook is a physical notebook[1] where you keep track of the best insights you have come across. It is place to log the ideas that resonated the most with you.

Like any journal, a commonplace book can be whatever you want it to be. Here is a reading list that I went through when trying to learn about the commonplace book. I got a lot of insight from these posts.

I recently started my commonplace book in a Baron Fig Confidant. We will see how it goes, but I really hope it sticks. So far I have written down a few quotes, and made notes about a couple of the books I read this year. I plan to add anything I learn from books, movies, articles, or any gems that I happen upon in daily life. Like many of the articles stated, it is important to review your commonplace book and keep those insights in the front of your mind as you continue to grow. Maybe this will be a journal I will actually go back to.

  1. This could also be a digital notebook, but I think a physical notebook would be more effective.  ↩

March 7, 2017

If I had an hour to solve a problem I'd spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.
-Albert Einstein

March 4, 2017

Swiss Army Man

Swiss Army Man is a crazy movie. It is also one of my favorites of the year. I didn’t find it extremely deep. It mostly sticks to stoner philosophy that is ultimately coming from the brain of a disturbed individual. Even so, I found the writing to be clever. I can also see why some people hate this film. If it weren’t for the performances Swiss Army Man could have been a complete disaster. It struck a chord with me. I enjoyed the heck out of it.

I watched Swiss Army Man on Amazon Prime Streaming, where I believe it is still available.

I really enjoyed this movie, while at the same time it doesn’t really feel like a movie. I actually think it would have been more effective as a short film. It feels like the Daniels got high and came up with a handful of good ideas for a story. That story could have been told in 30 minutes, but they decided to build an entire film around it. I enjoyed some of the “filler”, but in the end it didn’t come together for me as a satisfying narrative.

I enjoyed the premise, and there were great moments of writing. It just didn’t feel like a story that needed 1.5 hours of screen time. Maybe if I go back and watch it again I will feel differently.

I found it intriguing how the movie presents us with so many disgusting ideas and images… but then tries to mold that into something beautiful. Ultimately, if you go along for that ride and are able to see even a bit of beauty in the story, I think you will like the film.

February 5, 2017

Book Review - Deep Work

One of my goals for 2017 was to read more nonfiction books. I wanted to use time that had previously been spent on wasteful things to read books that would broaden my perspective and make me better.

In an effort to keep myself focused on what I am reading I also have the goal to write about those books. This will be my first post.

Deep Work starts off by making the case that “deep work” is valuable. It doesn’t really define the concept of deep work other than describing the act of thinking really hard about something without being interrupted.

I chose this book because I often feel distracted. I wanted to read something that would help me focus on what is important. Deep Work seemed like a great choice to start out 2017. January was all about focus for me. Deep work requires focus, so this seemed like a great book for me to read to begin the year.

The book talks about how easy it is to be distracted in the age of the internet. Most people are distracted. Our culture is distracted. Being distracted is easy. Focusing is hard.

Deep Work makes the case for why it is so important to achieve that focus. However, it doens’t really tell you how or what you should be doing. The book gives you tips on how to remove distraction. It makes the case for why you should delete your social media accounts. However, “thinking really hard” about things still seems like an elusive goal after I was finished reading. The way the book describes deep work is almost like an act of meditation.

Overall I enjoyed reading the book and thought it had valuable insights. You should not expect a playbook of how to achieve “deep work”, but rather a theoretical analysis of why you should strive for it. There isn’t a whole lot of practical advice, but it doesn’t mean that the ideals of the book are not without merit.

Deep Work set the tone my 2017. I have been striving to remove distraction from my life, and Deep Work reinforced why that is important. I think I will try to read this book again, which is very rare for me to say.

I am not sure what I expected out of this book, but I feel a little disappointed by it. I feel like it basically told me I need to “think harder”, but it didn’t really tell me what that means or how to do it. It seems like if I build a cabin in the middle of the woods isolated from all of the distractions of our current society I should be able to think the deepest thoughts I have every conceived of in my life. However, that is not something that is in the budget right now. I guess I will feebly try to think deeply at my own cubicle for now.

January 17, 2017

I am about to write a post that fits into a sub-genre of blog posts that I don’t really like. It is the post where I explain that I haven’t been posting lately, and try to explain why. I might even tell you that I am planning to post a lot more going forward. I’m not even going to give this post the satisfaction of having a title. It is just going to be logged in the archives as a random untitled update, so it barely even counts as a blog post at all.

I started this site years ago to write about movies. These days I don’t watch all that many movies. I have definitely lost my “film nerd” classification. Nowadays when I do watch movies I don’t necessarily feel the need to share my opinion on the Internet.

In general, I am not sure whether writing on the Internet is even a worthwhile endeavor. I go back and forth on the subject. More often than not I think writing for (the idea of) an audience is a good thing for me. It forces me to consolidate thoughts and processes them into coherent ideas. When I don’t write for long periods of time I find myself missing it.

So here we are.

If I want to write a blog I think I am supposed to decide what I want my blog to be about. I think I am supposed to be specific. I need to find a niche. People want to read about a single thing, that is the only reason they will keep coming back. That is a problem.

I tend to believe the area of film criticism is covered by tons and tons (and tons) of writers on the internet. I don’t honestly believe I am bringing anything new or noteworthy by writing about my thoughts on a movie. That idea used to discourage me. It still might. Still, I plan to continue to write about movies, television, and media in general. I also plan to write about other stuff. I don’t know what yet.

Like most people, I think about a lot of things. Most of those thoughts or concepts rattle around in my brain for a while and then they are gone. Time permitting, I would like to write down my thoughts on whatever it is that happens to be passing across my synapses. Sometimes I may form those into a blog post. Sometimes I will post those blog posts.

Anyway. Stay tuned.