Thursday, November 28, 2013

Goodbye, Herman

I started to watch “Hello, Herman” this morning but I had to switch it off. It was really awful. I have huge respect for Norman Reedus from “The Walking Dead.” Even his fantastic acting could not save this film. He was so much better than all the other actors involved that it reminded a bit of those straight-to-video action flicks Oscar-nominee Eric Roberts starred in during the 90s.

And the subject matter had the makings of something worth seeing too. Reedus is a vlogging journalist--named Lax Morales? Seriously?--who accepts an exclusive interview offer from a high school spree shooter. But the journalist has a touchy past involving a white supremacy group, and these details slowly emerge during the film.

But there were too many huge flaws. Principally, the spree shooter kid is a terribly-drawn character played by a weak young actor. His dialogue is all over the place and so unrealistic that you have no sense of who or what he is supposed to be. Most of the time he comes across as just an Evil Villain (tm) more appropriate to a comic book flick than a serious drama. Mix in the horrible title, lazy directing choices like the use of stock footage and continuity errors, and it became clear fairly quickly that I had better ways to use my time that watch this.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

"Inspiring" circle bait

A lot of the Google+ circle “requests” (since it is not a de dicto request) I get come from people whose postings are what I call “Luminous Fantasy Realism” (LFR) images. These are software enhanced photo-paintings that share a certain aesthetic, if not subject matter.

LFR images are somewhat limited in scope. They use a bright light sources or reflections thereof; lots of whites, yellows, and oranges and hardly any dark colors (except those necessary to depict edges); and subject matter of striking natural scenes, like forests with light coming through the trees, waterfalls, mountain vistas, etc. There are rarely animate individuals depicted, although more than one individual may appear as long as these animals (or people) function mainly as composition elements rather than the focus.

The subject must always remain The Awe. Or, more cynically punned: The Fawe.

Notably, the individuals who post these things usually 1) mainly post these images and almost never post informative articles; and 2) tend to have thousands of people who have circled them (i.e., chosen to follow the postings of these individuals.

I never circle these LFR posters simply because there are a lot of them and I don’t want my feed cluttered with a bunch of faux-inspiring images. But the more I have seen of them, the more suspicious I have become of the intent. I mean, who posts only such things? Who quests the infinities of the Internet and returns from the journey to offer us only this?

Whether or not they have an agenda, one thing is clear: a lot of people are buying into it. Again, thousands usually circle these people. It is as if the LFR crowd as discovered an exploit, a nearly perfect form of circle bait.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


When I was thinking about opening up FB a while ago, it struck me again that it is mainly this huge time suck that is almost always unsatisfying. I always expect (or at least hope) that something worth my time will appear. Instead I wade through reams of things to be ignored or which are mildly amusing at best. Meanwhile the minutes seem to rush away unnoticed.

I am sometimes tempted by links that I would never seek out on my own. The usual reason is that I am checking out something that is recommended by a person whose judgment I have some respect for. But time and again the links are not worth my time. They are not about things that interest me, or they are of poor quality. Many of these things are not links at all, but can be absorbed on the same page. I waste time looking at and reading these things, like memes. There are sometimes quite a few of these.

I suppose this social factor is really what is behind a lot of these phenomena. I get pulled into much more time wasting and recurring feelings of listlessness because of this implicit expectation about the relative value of the interests of people I like. 

And I don’t think such expectations are normally wrong. Instead, there is another factor unique to FB in play: there is a subtle pressure to post something, anything. Based on some of the things I have seen posted, many people must feel like anything they find mildly amusing is appropriate to post. Thus I see today, for example, someone I would not expect posting a Gawker “story” about funny photos of Toronto’s crack smoking mayor. And I don’t blame the poster (much) because it seems to me like the context encourages such behavior. It’s the same way one shouldn’t look down on a person when they act mildly silly to entertain an infant. FB infantilizes social interaction in an only somewhat metaphorical way.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Write it down!

I am dying. I was just reading some journal entries from December 2005. It is like crack. I can’t believe how powerful it is for me to read this stuff. A lot of the stuff isn’t even hooked up to episodic memories anymore, but it is just incredible to be able to tap into my thinking from back then. 

I have to do more writing in my notebooks, no matter what. It may be the most important thing in my life. I just realized that someday it will be the only thing I have left. My life will be almost over and my powers almost all gone. And I will be able to tap into my rich internal life at another time. The power and richness that is preserved is difficult to believe.

This is clearly one of the greatest things about being a person who mainly lives in his own mind: it is possible to preserve it for later and therefore liven things up later in an extremely powerful way. There is nothing as powerful as the experience of being able to relive your own thinking when you are thinker. It doesn’t have to be about experiences, but those are interesting, too. 

The experiences are mainly interesting for the thoughts I also express about them. But it is actually easier sometimes to will oneself to write habitually when one approaches it as "just jotting down daily events." Even when one is short on energy or focus, the jottings tend to trigger the good stuff: expression of thought. Even narrative is thought, of course (and vice versa): but reportage clearly seems to lie on the lower end of the difficulty scale.

Speaking of narrative, a bit of context is in order: I was rereading the 2005 entries because I finally started working on an update to “Turning Points.” That was the piece I wrote in 2005, influenced by an article about John Lennon. In the article, the writer tried to pinpoint the most influential events in Lennon’s. I liked the idea, and I figured I would have an even better grasp on my own life. Eight years later, it is well past time for an update.