Comment Extravaganza 2008!

Three years ago I got tired of only publicly mocking blog spam and took the relatively extreme preventative measure of shutting off comments on all entries that were more than a month old. I even wrote a script called No Comment that would help you to shut off the comments on all your old posts if you so desired. By my logic at the time, if you arrived at my entry more than a month after I wrote it, whatever you had to say was useless to me, and the probability that you were a spam bot was simply too high.

Well, I’m feeling risky in 2008.

I’ve decided that for at least a few days, and perhaps weeks or months depending on the outcome of my experiment, I’m going to open all comments back up again. I’ll be very interested to see what kind of non-spam comments I get, if any, and where they’re located. In the mean time, expect that blocked-spam counter at the bottom of the page to rocket past 25,000 in short order.

Hedgehog in the Fog

My friend Eddie just posted a link to a film called “Hedgehog in the Fog” on YouTube. I watched it, enjoyed pieces of it, didn’t enjoy several others, and now I’m feeling quite shallow. Let me explain. (Warning, some spoilers ahead. I recommend watching the film before reading further.)

For the first minute or so of the film, I really enjoyed it. The style is very playful, disarming, and unique. The folks who worked on the film are obviously very talented designers and animators.

Then I got further into the story and my feelings shifted. I started wanting a concrete plot. As the story progressed, it began making less and less sense. I understand that the hedgehog is disoriented and scared, and that the world is a beautiful, mysterious, frightful, wonderful place. I also understand that sometimes it’s nice to see new things, and sometimes it’s nice to be in a familiar place with familiar friends. Outside of that, though, the whole film felt like 95% style and 5% story to me. Heck, even 99% style and 1% story.

The thing that I’m calling “shallow” in myself is that I don’t enjoy those ratios, at least not in film. Or in books, for that matter. In music, dance, and visual art those ratios are fine. I don’t really need a concrete story in those art forms. (I suppose I’ve proven that by my love of Beck; you’d be hard-pressed to come back with anything very concrete from any of his songs.)

For some reason I hold film and books to a different standard than music, dance, and visual art. I’m not sure why exactly. I think it may be because film and books are highly capable of telling a deep, intricate story with lots of detail and dance, music, and visual art would have a very hard time matching film and books in that way. So I let them off the hook, so to speak, and expect something different from them. When I think of the movies and books that I tend to prefer, they’re all fairly plot-driven (e.g. Harry Potter) and not as deeply metaphorical or stylistic as some of their counterparts. I’m struggling to come up with a “counterpart” here because I tend not to read those kinds of books. Let’s say Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. But that’s exactly my point. It took me two minutes to come up with that book and two seconds to come up with Harry Potter.

So, is that shallow? I do occasionally enjoy an artistic film. 2001: A Space Odyssey is actually one of my all-time favorites, and we can all agree the plot breaks down quite completely near the end of the film. But films like that are certainly an exception for my favorites list.

Has anyone else felt the way I do on this issue? What are the pitfalls of this perspective on art, and should a person strive to move beyond it? If so, how can that leap be made?

Hey, Frank

Kooks have always fascinated me. There are so many varieties, and it’s interesting to see what they latch onto and why. They express their ideas in a way that must seem so clear to them but is completely opaque to others. It’s obvious that the Internet has a special way of bringing even more of these folks out of their dark corners of obscurity. Sites like Time Cube and Rixstep are fun to browse. (I insist Rixstep is a real up-and-comer in this category. He’s got a special Mac Developer slant to his work that brings him closer to home for me personally. His software has even inspired haikus in those who have used it.)

Today as Steph and I were leaving the Moscone Convention Center and heading back to our car, we ran across a minor San Francisco celebrity. As we passed him, I turned my head and said, “Hey, Frank.” Steph waited until we got a few steps away and said, “Who was that? Do you know that guy?” I don’t really know him, but it’s hard not to recognize Frank Chu once you’ve seen him. No one really understands his message, of course, but that doesn’t deter the forward-thinking companies who sponsor his sign. He’s apparently been getting sponsors since 2001 and I can confirm he had one this afternoon, though I didn’t have time to stop and see exactly who it was.

Rock on, Frank. Maybe some day we’ll all find out you were right and impeach Clinton for colluding with the 12 galaxies. Until then, get more of your stuff on YouTube! Even an idiot with a totally stupid video can get 270,000+ views up there.

By the way, Zegnotronic would make a great band name. zegnotronic.com is available!

MacBook Air

MacBook Air

So very, very thin. I had to cross my eyes just to see it, like some kind of Magic Eye picture.

It’s strange because in this photo, it doesn’t look that thin. In person it’s a different story. I can’t believe they fit a functioning computer into this package. The Apple Employee working the show floor who showed me the working model confided that she suspects secret alien technology is at play somehow in its design.

Purple and Brown

In the early days of Jim Henson’s work, many of his sketches (some say almost all) ended in one of the main characters being eaten, blown up, or at least lit on fire. The elements of the sketch were often so simple and pure that they didn’t require dialogue.

I recently discovered a bunch of clips from a series called “Purple and Brown” on YouTube, made by the guys at Aardman Animations (of Wallace & Gromit fame) that really harken back to that simpler form. I like them a lot. Seeing them makes me miss Jim.

So enjoy, and search YouTube for “Purple and Brown” to find more.

Thoughts on Music

Steve Jobs wrote an article today (yes, this is rare) called Thoughts on Music, and it’s up on Apple’s site where you all can read it. It’s an excellent read, and it’s a rare treat, considering how tight-lipped Apple tends to be about things like this.

I understand it’s a little long, but if you care about the future of music, and especially if you care about DRM, it’s worth a read. DRM is a topic that affects all of us, and this article could end up being pretty significant in the history of DRM.