Sep 26 2007

Best books ever

It’s not as though I’ve had time to read any books lately, but I got into this thing a few weeks ago where I was asking people to on-the-spot list the five best books they’d ever read. I think it was kind of a fun exercise, because I think the lists people came up with weren’t the same as if I’d given them more time to think about it or if they had gone home and looked at their shelves or talked to their friends. The spontaneity I think made the responses tend towards those books that had really left a big impression.

I don’t remember exactly what mine were, the first time I did it, I remember I was scandalized to discover that not only was The Great Gatsby, not on Stasia’s list, but that she didn’t even like that book that much…?!?!

I think my list ran something like (in no particular order):

The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Unbearable Lightness of Being Milan Kundera
The Grapes of Wrath John Steinbeck
We Yevgeny Zamyatin

The Catcher in the Rye J.D. Salinger, or maybe it was
The Sound and the FuryWilliam Faulkner

I was a little embarrassed that it was all white men, and that they were all from the canon :-( I would have given Toni Morrison’s Beloved an honorable mention. After hearing a few other people’s lists, I think I also would have included Love in the Time of Cholera, or more likely One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez.

So, yeah, it’s a fun game. Play with your friends. Or even better your enemies, you probably need to read more of the books they like.

I also think more people should read short stories and I was really delighted recently to reread The Purloined Letter by Edgar Allan Poe. Other short stories I’d list in my most influential are The Garden of the Forking Paths and a bunch of others by Jorge Luis Borges and F. Scott Fitzgerald. For a really great collection of short stories I would recommend Beverly Lawn’s 40 short stories: a portable anthology


Sep 26 2007

On becoming boring

Stasia posed the following idea off-handedly to me a few days ago:

“Does buying a house make us boring?”

By which she meant that since we’ve decided to buy a house in short order here in Portland, it seems like we talk about nothing else. Which I can sympathize with; I have to admit that it’s a formidable process, and does commandeer some percentage of my thought-time during a day. Lately it’s been thinking about calling mortgage vendors and asking them for estimates on humongous loans which is a bit intimidating.

Ok, you’ll have to excuse the most boring post ever in response to the question of whether we’re getting too boring.

Really, Stasia asking that question made me immediately try to think of random interesting-sounding things, so that in case someone (most likely Stasia) asked me what I was thinking about, I could off-the-cuff reply with something that would sound like I had great things going on inside my head. Kind of dumb, no? Instead of actually using my time-limited brainpower to think about things, I was instead thinking about the kinds of things that people find most interesting when someone says they were thinking about something. Trying to come up with the most-discussable and well-thought-out-sounding responses was a silly exercise, which I think for reason involved brightly colored images and loud noises and those popular culture topics about politics and foreign policy and whathaveyou. I suppose it’s good that no one asked me what I was thinking in that interim because I’m not sure in retrospect I would have been all that proud of the response I would have given. I think that the question is a valid one though. I mean, I don’t know how one really evaluates the merit of a particular thought, well, no, that’s not what I mean exactly, I have at least some grasp in my head of a rubric which I would use to evaluate my own thoughts, but rather I have little idea about what it is that other people would/will value in my thoughts. So barring this knowledge, I think it’s best (and acceptable) to judge if my thought-time has been well spent by the metrics in my own head.

So have I been engaging myself recently in thoughts that are worthwhile, interesting, or have other characteristics of merit? I can think back on times when I have most certainly felt like I was the most boring person in the world because I would speak with my close friends and they would ask me what I was thinking about, and I would present the most meager of responses, and realize to myself that whatever it was I had been thinking about in the last week, it was not worth remembering and I had largely forgotten it. I don’t think that now is like that. There are definitely things going through my head, and although many of them may begin on a practical level, I think that I have a respectable habit of generalizing things and thinking about the more abstract aspects of my own immediate situation. With all this housing stuff, one thing I’ve been thinking about somewhat is gentrification, and the establishment and growth of communities. I’ve also thought at length about the appropriate ratio of enclosed space to owned space, and about even the general aspects of “ownership” of land.

So in short, I don’t think I’ve been super boring lately, at least not on the fast-track here inside my skull. Maybe I just need to be a little better about the kinds of things I talk about and vary the topics enough so that I don’t wrongly appear to be so mono-faceted.

Stasia also thought more about this as illustrated by this post.

On the title: I kind of fancy myself as an amateur philosopher, and I think it’s funny how many articles/books/treatises in philosophy are entitled: “On x”. As though this book/treatise/article needs no further explanation, nothing on the back of the dust jacket, just read the title, it’s all right there. I image many posts will be “On x”.


Sep 15 2007

new theme

So while I’m getting used to this new format I think I’ll probably go through a host of different themes. One day when I have time again, maybe I’ll even make my own theme. For now though I want to keep it simple, and it’s such a joy that the internet has gotten to a place where style and content are separated enough for me to throw a new skin on my ideas whenever I feel like it.

As for this blog, I’m not sure why the image links (or that one from the last post anyway) aren’t working, but it seems like a lot of people have that problem with wordpress. If I get a chance the next avenue I’ll investigate is permissions on my webhost. Maybe wordpress doesn’t have the access it needs or something.

I wanted to also mention that my friend Dan passed me some links after we spoke a few weeks ago, which included a link to this fellow Louis Theroux’s documentaries here. I started watching “The most hated family in America” and just couldn’t stop. Well, actually I could and did stop, but only because I had to, but it was really quite amazing and I can’t wait until I have some time to finish it up. So check it out if you get a chance.


Sep 9 2007

Today was good

Successfully made a number of effects for the film. None of them will probably make the final cut, but it’s good to at least have the proof of concept down. I’ll post pictures here later if I get a chance. I tried loading this trailer Fernando made to our website, but I couldn’t get the Flash player to work correctly :-/ I guess I’ll hack at it tomorrow.

Also, I helped Mike move out of Portland today. It’s only to Salem, which is better than Chicago I suppose, but I’ll still miss him and it will definitely change the dynamic of our relationship.

Phil’s big vote is in a few hours. I hope it goes well. If not I’ll post a copy here of what would have been the best Harvard Law Review article of the decade.

Orange Car

Here’s one of the effects. I’m sure there are better ways to do this, but I did it with a mask and a “leave color”. I wish I knew how to use any of these programs better…