thanks

Hello, readers.

I wrote a thing about Nick Drake for the folks over at And now we rise. It came about after listening, and tweeting about, the 99% Invisible episode about him, Three Records from Sundown. Here’s the beginning of that thing I wrote:

Under the television, behind a couple of cabinet doors, she kept her collection of CDs, a myriad of albums, artists, and mixes. For a time, after she left, she left that collection behind. I guess I knew one day she would come back for it, and she did, but in between when she first left, and when she came and collected everything, I listened, I swallowed, I absorbed, I pushed that music deep, deep down into my soul, holding on to what we had and what I knew we had lost. Among those CDs–so many of them just CD-R’s with the name of an album, artist, or mix written in black marker–were Weezer, Neutral Milk Hotel, Badly Drawn Boy, Lou Reed, Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, and one mix called “The Frantic Panic Mechanics.” The music blurred into a soundtrack for that moment. One of those CDs had a name written on it I had never seen before.

Nick Drake.

Head over to And now we rise to read the rest. Music is the best time machine. Well. Except for a delorean.

Also. It’s Thanksgiving in the U.S.

So, remember, if you make a bear, undo it, whether you meant to make a bear or not.

Also, also. Someone quoted this passage from To Kill a Mockingbird the other day. It seemed right.

“Atticus–” said Jem bleakly.
He turned in the doorway. “What, son?”
“How could they do it, how could they?”
“I don’t know, but they did it. They’ve done it before and they did it tonight and they’ll do it again and when they do it — seems that only children weep.”

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee (published in 1960 – based in 1936)

Happy today, readers. Be awesome. Be worthy of thanks.

Thank you.

ttfn.

the daily show

Hello, readers.

A lot of things happened in 1999. Things happen all the time. Some of the things that happened in 1999 include, among other things, The Phantom Menace by George Lucas, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, and my graduation from high school.

I remember this one discussion from near the end of that year. I was talking to a boy in my AP English class. The boy’s name was Jake. He possessed a laconic way of being wise in which he spoke little but nodded a lot. One of the things I said in this discussion was how sad I was, at the end of the last year, when Craig Kilborn left The Daily Show with his now famous: dance, dance, dance . I was worried it wouldn’t be as good. I mean, John Stewart? The guy from MTV?

Jake nodded.

“But, well, he turned out okay, didn’t he?”

Jake nodded.

“Yep,” he said. And he nodded some more, so I knew he agreed with me more than a little bit.

I’m reminded of this conversation because yesterday and today my tumbles and tweets have been full of a literate rage. And I wonder how much of that rage, at least among people my age and younger, is, in part, inspired, distilled, and perhaps educated, through years of watching John Stewart, the guy from MTV, demonstrate a glorious obsession and wicked delight with documenting the stupidity, ignorance, and hypocrisy of everything and ever. Stewart, and his writers, defined what it was to cut apart the news and put it back together in a way that made sense. In a way that looks familiar to me now, seeing the gifs, clippings, live videos, and take-downs, that have dominated my tumbles and tweets.

I don’t know. Just a thought. A wonder. And, at least, for me, a lot of gratitude for this man existing. For showing a lot of us that it was not only possible to care, but possible to stay sane, and funny, while doing it. god bless you, Mr. Stewart.

Here are some highlights from the last 15 years.

Mr. Stewart after 9/11.
Mr. Stewart on Crossfire.
Mr. Stewart on the Financial Doodah of 2008 with special guest Jim Cramer from CNBC.
Mr. Stewart, a few months ago, right after Ferguson

A lot of people have this thing where they say that sarcasm is the coward’s way. That comedy is a shield. That being funny is a way of avoiding the things that hurt. These people are missing the point, I think.

Once upon a time, in a small town far, far, away, someone told me that I was shorter and funnier than John Stewart. Clearly, I’m not. Clearly, they were being funny. Possibly they were saying, “You are funnier than John Stewart” when really they were thinking, “I really, really, like you.” Either way, it was a very kind thing to say because maybe what they were saying is that you try to be funny in the way that John Stewart is funny. And that meant the world to me. Because John Stewart, as much as anyone else, knows how to be funny in a way honest, kind, and full of rage.

evitable

Hello, readers.

Winter in London. Thicker coats. Colder rain. Denser fog. The sun sets earlier than you think. The darkness always takes you by surprise. Except, you know, eventually it doesn’t. Sooner or later you learn.

Some things I notice when reading a book like The Perks of Being a Wallflower

1) Letters are good. Both the ones contained in words and the ones that contain words.
2) Books remind me of me.
3) Books remind me of other people.
4) Books remind me of time.
5) Books remind me of lot’s of things. They give me the time and space to remember. They help me imagine things other than they are, and other than me.

Here are other things I’m reading which will probably not result in me making lists of a sad/happy nature.

The Atlantic on self-segregation

HuffPost on white privelege

The Guardian reporting some news

I have to go buy a pie plate now in which to later make pie. Yeah.

 

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bread

Hello, readers.

This could have happened on a Monday. Or it might have been Thursday. Might be it doesn’t matter when it happened, so much as that it did.

Except, in this case, I know.

This was definitely Monday.

What I remember is eating a slice of bread, sitting half on her kitchen floor and half on her living room carpet, my legs stretched out and her sitting beside me, my body empty and electric and my heart so still, so terrified to beat because that would mean time passing, and I wanted nothing more than for this moment to last forever, me eating a slice of her bread, us sitting beside each other, drops of rain lingering in her hair like shattered glass, and both of us knowing in a way we had never known anything before.

Happy Monday, readers.

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couches

Hello, readers.

Across London, in Soho and Camden and Boomsbury (well, Bloomsbury, if you want to be less explosive) and, perhaps, other places, there is a cafe called Yumchaa. They make a golden, soft, delicious lemon drizzle cake which is gluten free and, well, I suppose I’ve already mentioned its being delicious. Another thing they do is have all of their tea out for to smell. More places should let you smell their tea. I like the couches, too. More places should have couches.

Mike Nichols died this week. Here are things to read about that.

He was, like most of that breed of stylish New Yorkers transplanted from elsewhere, a self-invention.

His version was the man who quipped dryly from behind dark or tinted glasses, perhaps in a turtleneck and perfectly fitted trousers, and surrounded himself with friends and associates who if they couldn’t be witty, were at least gorgeous or rich. I always felt a special, tickling shiver when I saw him in public, where he seemed to stand and speak with the droll finesse you always hope such idols will possess in real life but seldom do. via

When I think of him, I think of Angels in America, The Graduate, and Closer–the first being a thing I’ve still never seen, but should; the second being a film I have seen and adored for its ability to be, in turns, rebellious, absurd, and self-aware; and the last being a film that revealed to me at a still tender age the manner in which honesty might shield within it the deadly thrust of cruelty.

Also. This weekend will feature an absurd amount of sitting on couches, eating pancakes, and drinking coffee in honor of binging Gilmore Girls. If you’ve never seen that show, and you love shows capable of inflicting referential whiplash (seriously, there is an entire wiki devoted to the show’s encyclopaedic wit), as well as shows in which things like this exist, then you should probably watch it. Few shows depict the generational lovestrife of grandmothers, mothers, and daughters, quite so well. If, any. I’m sure there are some. I can’t think of any. Oh, except for this. Still. Very few manage to, as I’ve said, include things like this.

Happy Friday, readers.

I’m pretty sure Lorelai and Rory would’ve loved the hell out of a Mike Nichols marathon. This seems like a good weekend for it. Brew some coffee, or tea. Find a proper couch. Get to work.

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occasionally

Hello, readers.

Occasionally, one has lunch in the gardens of Gray’s Inn, sitting on a bench, resting your styrofoam-held tempeh curry precariously on one knee, and you listen to EG discuss how, once upon a time, this area was full of barristers and solicitors–all those hopes and frustrations discussed and written and argued within chambers around the square–and the trees stand watch along the lane, other people having other lunches beneath, leaves flashing gold and tumbling in their own occasional space and time the way, sometimes, EG says that she imagines me walking along the streets of London, duffel coat tucked tight, scarf snaking loose along one shoulder, occasionally pulling a hand from my pocket to let the emotions tumble free like leaves along the pavement, waiting.

Occasionally, these things happen.

Happy today, readers.

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gyeongju

Hello, readers.

As mentioned, the London Korean Film Festival occurred recently and among the many wonderful films on display I only managed to see the one, Gyeongju, but, happily, within this one wonder there were many wonders as so often does happens with wonders. One day I may retire the word wonder, but not today.

via: londontree
via: londontree

In Gyeongju, the film (dir: Zhang Lu, a Korean professor living in Beijing (a man played by Park Hae-il returns to Korea, and in particular, the city of Gyeongju after the death of a friend. He is a man bereft. We don’t need to know why. All we need to know is there in the scene when he lands in Gyeongju and removes a cigarette from his pocket but doesn’t smoke it; he holds it under his nose, inhaling what he’s no longer allowed. His wife, it seems, can’t stand the smell.

The city of Gyeongju contains a great many temples, grotto’s, folk villages, and very large hills in which are buried the bodies of a great many former great people that lived and ruled during the Silla dynasty. It’s a small, quiet place, somewhat overburdened by death and time, and such is the film set here. The professor seeks a cafe and a portrait that once hung there, a portrait that depicted something indecent. He finds the cafe. The owner (a woman played by Shin Min-a) tells him she wallpapered over the portrait. She serves him his tea. They spend the day together, from morning to sunrise the next day, having tea, riding bicycles, eating, singing, visiting the hills that keep warm the dead, and listening to messages left on their phones that will crack open your chest and rip out your heart.

Many reviewers say it reminds them of the Before series, and I see what they mean. Gyeongju like those films, concerns itself with conversation and the magic shared between two people trying to understand one another. Perhaps, more than in Before, though, Gyeongju possesses a greater sense of time and sadness, of ghosts pressing up through the earth and mind, altering the contours of things. It’s a quiet film that made me chuckle, smile, laugh, and hope.

via: hancinema
via: hancinema

There’s a thing in films I love more than anything, and that’s when a director allows the camera to rest on a scene, allows us to fall inside the moment. No cuts. No extra music. Just people living. Zhang Lu delivers so many moments like this, of such cutting perfection, such careful observance. There’s a scene inside this film, inside of a noraebang, that is a thing of such beauty, longing, and awkwardness, oh, it’s so good. The movie deserves a bit of your time, if nothing else, for that scene.

And that’s not mentioning the thing with the ear touching. Oh! The ear touching.

Happy Wednesday, readers. I’m sure there’s a joke to be made about humps and burial mounds, but I will refrain from such.

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orgcon2014

Hello, readers.

On Saturday, ORGCon2014 happened at Kings College in Southbank. It’s an event organized by the Open Rights Group, a UK-based group tasked with campaigning for the rights of individuals on “…issues ranging from mass surveillance, to copyright, censorship, data protection and open data and privacy.” Among other things, it’s patroned by Neil Gaiman.

Here’s a link to the ORGCON2014 brochure in case you’re the sort of person interested in brochures.

Cory Doctorow did the keynote and expounded on his three laws.1

Panels occurred on ‘if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear’ (fascinating word bombs dropped by nomadic hacker, artist, and designer Eleanor Saitta; on what big tech companies are doing in the age of mass surveilance (here’s an example of them going the extra mile in doing their own surveillance); on the state of NSA surveillance; on social data; on ISP tracking; on drone strikes (brilliant visualization here, accompanied by a brilliant talk by–we kill people based on meta-dataJennifer Gibson, human rights lawyer with Reprievehere’s a great report on not-great killer robots); on DRM; on the whole world, really, of data–its creation and its control.

There’s a lot that could be said, and may be said in the coming weeks, as EG and I absorbed all that to which we listened and which inspired. Right now, what seems most prudent is to be conscious of our digital consumption and our idenity, to, if nothing else, take stock of two basic things.

1) All the data we create, who’s collecting it, and the where’s and what for’s.
2) How much of the stuff we buy is, for lack of a better term, ‘closed’ data? How much art we buy comes equipped with DRM? How much do we spend on Netflix and other such big-data companies that happily share with us content, but work very hard to control the ways in which we are allowed to consume that content?

To address (1), we decided to make a list of the all the ways in which our data may be collected (either in the background or by active choice)–e.g., our internet service provider, the apps we use, the websites we frequently visit, and then figure out what data’s being collected, how it’s being used, and to what degree we would prefer our data not to be collected, or used.

To address (2), Doctorow suggested taking stock of everything you give to the big companies that work so hard to track you, or lock down things you buy with DRM, and give some percentage of that, each year, to organizations like the EFF or ORG, who are working to make sure that, over time, everything we are isn’t tracked, owned, and sold. Or. Heck. Just give money to the artists directly. In the end, that’s the business model we want. The one that puts a large amount of value in the baskets of the people who create the things we value.

Doctorow said something very smart at the end of his talk.

There are a lot of issues more important than a free and fair internet. Refugee rights. Police shootings. Black sites. Torture.

All of those fights, though, he said, will happen on the internet.

Happy Tuesday, readers. Keep your eyes peeled for those data brokers. They certainly have their eye on you.

ttfn.


  1. Doctorow’s three laws being, as follows:
    (1) Anytime someone puts a lock on something that belongs to you and won’t give you the key, then the lock isn’t there for your benefit.
    (2) Fame won’t make you rich, but you’ll have a hard time making money if no one’s heard of you.
    (3) Information doesn’t want to be free. People do.

monday moment

Hello, readers.

This could have happened on a Monday. Or it might have been Thursday. Might be it doesn’t matter when it happened, so much as that it did.

What happened was that I came out of my room afraid that my parents were fighting again. They fought a lot. And at volume. As a lot of parents do, each in their own way, with shattered glass or damning declaratives or blusterous sighs. During one argument, I remember being so angry and scared that I threw my toy rabbit at the floor. The toy rabbit wore rollerskates. One of the wheels broke. I was crushed.

But they weren’t fighting that day. They were sitting on the couch, looking at pictures and laughing. I asked if everything was okay. They smiled. Actual grins. And said yeah. I don’t remember what pictures they were looking at. Or what they were laughing about. I must’ve been about eleven. Unless I was six. Somewhere in there, I guess, between those ages when it seemed that if my parents raised their voices it almost always meant something wasn’t okay.

But on that day, and on probably more days than I remember or ever knew, my parents were just two people sitting together and sharing something of the joy of being close to someone.

It’s cold and gray out there today, readers. Stay warm.

Happy Monday.

ttfn.

p.s. Stay tuned for how orgcon2014 changed my life.

p.p.s. I realize people say things changed their life all the time and that the phrase has lost some of its meaning. This is okay by me. Everything changes your life, so I pretty much feel like the phrase means everything it always meant which is that I noticed one part of the everything that changes my life.

moments

Hello, readers.

Last night, I attended a screening of Gyeongju, shown as part of the The London Korean Film Festival. A full review of that will appear shortly, including descriptions of the crowd what included sparkling converses and spider-haired men that smelled of beer and damp sheets.

In other news, this happened.

And this.

The other day, in this post, I described a moment from my life. I enjoyed it. I will most likely do it more, and I will tag each such entry with the tag, ‘moments’. Many of the moments will probably be moments that involved me. Some of them may not. Some of them I might make up. All of them will be real, though, and will have happened to me. Especially the ones I make up.

Happy moments, readers.

ttfn.

p.s. As you go to sleep tonight, try to remember one moment. Could be from today, or yesterday, or from a film, or a story someone told you once. Hold the moment in mind, let it sit on the tip of your tongue. See if it speaks to you in your dreams.

p.p.s. That came out sounding much more romantic and, um, dreamy that I originally intended. Ah, well. These things happen.