Poker Face (2012) IMDb B-

Saw with LD. Stylish, great cinematography, good dose of Russell Crowe’s gravitas, and plenty of wealth-porn1 (and gratuitous art history lessons). Huge build-up of suspense (a la “Clue” or “Orient Express”) with a lame resolution towards the end.

Oh and RZA’s in this movie. I continue to be delighted by the random stuff he decides to show up in.

  1. There’s a scene where Russell Crowe opens a case containing at least $2M+ in watches and swaps a Panda Rolex on his wrist for a 5711. Even though it’s very well-established that our protagonist is a man of means, this scene is absolutely essential to the story being told because… 🤷‍♂️ ↩︎

On Convenience in 2022

Definitely the future of television I had in mind was me having to google every movie I want to watch to see if it’s currently in one of its one-month windows on any of the seven streaming services I pay for. This is way easier than buying a DVD. I love it.

@chasemit

Crinoids!

These are fossilized crinoids found in Western Australia by Tom Kapitany. Crinoids are animals and belong to the phylum Eichinodermata which includes starfish and sea urchins (and they all have “pentameral symmetry”). This is all well and good but these things, in their fossilized state, look like so much like the sentinels from The Matrix I wonder if there was any inspiration here.

Crinoid fossils by Tom Kapitany

Sentinel robots from The Matrix

Here are a few more fossils

Crinoid fossil

Another Crinoid fossil
Source: Fossil Huntress

And their basic anatomy

Crinoid Anatomy

The Mess Britain Is In by Larry the Cat More Pasta

Saving this for a quick TL;DR of the shitshow

For those asking from around the world how Britain has gotten into this mess:

  • The Conservative Party has always been obsessed with Europe
  • This caused divides making the party hard to manage
  • Back in 2015 then Prime Minister David Cameron had an idea
  • He promised a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU if he won the election
  • He won the election
  • The referendum was held; 52% of people voted to leave the EU
  • David Cameron resigned
  • Theresa May became Prime Minister saying that “Brexit means Brexit”
  • It turned out that nobody actually knew what Brexit meant
  • She called an election and lost the majority
  • She couldn’t get the Conservative party to agree on a Brexit deal so she quit
  • Boris Johnson became Prime Minister promising to “Get Brexit done”
  • He called a general election and won a majority
  • The UK left the European Union in January 2020
  • Major Brexit issues remain unresolved and it has negatively impacted the UK economy
  • Boris Johnson was forced to resign in disgrace in July 2022 following a series of scandals
  • Liz Truss was selected to replace Boris Johnson by members of the Conservative Party
  • She announced a raft of unfunded tax cuts to “grow the economy”
  • The economy collapsed
  • She sacked her chancellor
  • She resigned

Fin.

A Terrible Typeface on an Expensive Watch

This is the Patek Philippe 5131. It’s a world timer with a lovely hand-painted cloisonné enamel dial, a marvel of engineering and ingenuity from one of the Holy Trinity of watchmaking that will set you back at least $150,0001.

It also features one of the shittiest choices of typeface I’ve seen on a watch of its calibre.

Patek Philippe 5131

I wonder what the design process was at this august company when it came to this watch’s dial. It would appear that someone at Patek opened up Microsoft Word (at the last minute?) and just fell in love with the majesty that is the SHOUTING VARIANT of Lucida Calligraphy. The overall effect is one where you wonder if you’re looking at a knockoff.

A sample of Lucida Calligraphy in ALL-CAPS

I like to imagine they received feedback about this ‘bold’ choice since here’s the next version, the 5231, on the right (with its ghastly older brother on the left).

Patek Philippe 5131 on the left and 5231 on the right
Source: Revolution Watch

I got that picture from this exhaustive history of Patek’s World Timers. It’s well-researched, has a lot of pictures, and is a good read if you can withstand sentences like this written by the same bro who will definitely not teach you anything about after-dinner drinks.

As if, somehow, by losing myself in the beautifully rendered map of the Americas, Africa and Europe, I could remember how interconnected this world once was and hopefully will be again. So, I began to see my World Timer as a chalice of renewed hope to once more live the glorious opiatic maelstrom of transcontinental travel, even if for the time being this is limited only to my imagination as I write these words.

Cool man.

  1. If you’re new to the world of watches, this is a very reasonable price for a piece like this. Consider this Rafa Nadal-endorsed Richard Mille (RM 27-04) that costs well over $2.5M (here’s why). It is, again, a wonder of mechanical engineering and watchmaking. As far as time-telling goes, this legend that is the Casio F91W ($10 or less) is more accurate (and, I imagine, can withstand “12,000 g’s” while lasting more than a decade on its battery). ↩︎

Telugu Folk at The Movies

A theater-owner on Telugu moviegoers at RRR:

This fucking shit destroyed my theater opening night. The Telugu crowd specifically wrecked out shit. No issues with the Hindi dub or the Tamil dub.

Confetti cannons, spraying soda everywhere, littering in the parking lot, sneaking in more people than there were seats in our biggest auditoriums, screaming and shouting and chanting constantly.

I get the guy is something of a hero. I get you’re excited for your long awaited movie or whatever. Here’s an interesting thought thought: fuck off. :) Just fuck right off. Don’t be an animal and make my and my employees lives worse to have more fun at our expense.

The janitors saw the insane amount of glitter and newspaper shreddings and confetti explosions and said “hm, actually, second thought, fuck this. Nobody gets paid enough for this.” In-between every seat, every chair, in every row and even where there weren’t rows of seats, on every step, even up by the projector window. We’re lucky they didn’t damage the silver screen in any way, tbh, but that’s about it. Took days to fully clean.

Fuck RRR specifically for this reason. I know it’s probably decent, and a few friends watched it on Netflix, but out of sheer principle I just can’t bring myself to watch even a second of it now. There were some fun scenes for sure, but I think I’d much rather watch War or Baahubali 1 and 2 than RRR on account of the bad time everyone but the Telugu crowd had.

With the usual “not all of us” apologies from other Telugu folk of course.

I have never, ever understood this deeply embarrassing behaviour from my people1. At college, I remember watching a Chiranjeevi movie at some small town in Iowa. The poor folk who ran the theater had no idea what they were in for. Moviegoers littered the entire theater with glitter and torn newspaper and didn’t clean up after the show was done. Some set up an unsanctioned tea and snack station for the intermission (these refreshments were, of course, offered at a price). Chanted, chatted loudly, and generally made a nuisance of themselves.

I’ve been offered quite a few reasons as to why Telugu folk do this and they’re all pretty bullshit. I personally refuse to go to the first screening of any Telugu movie in Des Moines in case I have to deal with “passionate” people who don’t seem to understand that they’re rude, ill-mannered, immature, and annoying pieces of shit to everyone else around them.

  1. Those are things I could find in a few seconds for the recent release of a terrible movie. ↩︎

Black Hole by Charles Burns A

'Black Hole' by Charles Burns

About five minutes in, I felt like I was reading a masterpiece even though I know very little about the graphic novel/comic genre. This is some mesmerizing inking (Burns won a lot of “Best Inker” awards for this work). The panels almost look like woodcuts. It’s about teenagers and adolescence and how we see our bodies during those important formative years, as simultaneously beautiful and grotesque. The world of Black Hole is bleak, boring, and pretty horrifying. And we’re talking moody teenagers so you get to witness a lot of terrible decisions, angst, ennui, despair, friendship, love, sex, camaraderie, depression, grief, humor, violence, acceptance, and hope in a very short span of pages. Lots of yonic imagery. The author published this over a ten-year period starting in 1995 and it looks like these are almost exclusively what he worked on during that timespan. Amazing.

Sample panel from the book 1

Sample panel from the book 1

Gargi (2022) IMDb A-

Saw with LD. Very heavy subject matter loosely inspired by harrowing real-life cases and I skipped watching a few scenes. Sai Pallavi was intense and excellent, of course, but we were very impressed with the raw vulnerability and menace Saravanan brought to his character (also called “Saravanan”, lol). Kaali Venkat was great too.

S Sudha deserves a special mention both for her austere performance and who she is:

One of the places where the movie hits it out of the park is the casting of S Sudha, a transgender person, as a transgender judge in the movie. One of the fewest and rarest moments in Tamil cinema in which a transgender woman is shown to be in a position of power and authority. When she asserted her identity and agency in her reply to the misogyny of the Public Prosecutor (Kavithalaya Krishnan), the audience in the Chennai theatre erupted in applause, signaling a positive change in society.

Siddarth Muralidharan, “‘Gargi’ is special for two reasons: It is bankrolled by a woman and led by Sai Pallavi”, The Print

On Morals versus Ethics

What is the difference between ethics and morality? A morality functions according to principle, while an ethics functions according to experimentation. A morality presupposes a discontinuity between principle and action, while an ethics presupposes a continuity of action and character. A morality tells one what one ought to do, while an ethics asks what one might do.

Brent Adkins, Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus: A Critical Introduction and Guide

According to Britannica, most of us tend to use the terms interchangeably, and we tend to associate “ethical” behaviour with professions (like law, medicine, and engineering).

Ethicists today, however, use the terms interchangeably. If they do want to differentiate morality from ethics, the onus is on the ethicist to state the definitions of both terms. Ultimately, the distinction between the two is as substantial as a line drawn in the sand.

The way I understand it is: We mostly agree that gay marriage is ethical. However, it may be immoral to an adherent of a religion that proscribes it (but would they agree that it is ethical?)

On Living

What makes life worth living? No child asks itself that question. To children life is self-evident. Life goes without saying: whether it is good or bad makes no difference. This is because children don’t see the world, don’t observe the world, don’t contemplate the world, but are so deeply immersed in the world that they don’t distinguish between it and their own selves. Not until that happens, until a distance appears between what they are and what the world is, does the question arise: what makes life worth living?

Karl Ove Knausgard, Autumn

On Criminal Nature

The reason republicans get so incredibly huffy when any of the tools of law enforcement are ever turned upon them is they think “criminals” as an inherent class of people (who they of course could never be part of) rather than a descriptor for someone who commits illegal acts.

@opinonhaver

Not too far-fetched an observation. Consider the following:

Under the Banner of Heaven (2022) IMDb B+

Disturbing fictionalization of a real-life tragedy (cached). Based on a book by Jon Krakauer. Andrew Garfield is simply excellent as a devout Mormon, dogged detective, and patriarch (“priesthood holder”) of his family.

Features some quick lessons in the History of the LDS which was not very flattering to the Church. Characters say “I’ve had a revelation” a lot before proceeding to perform all manner of shitty deeds. It’s a meditation over common-sense and rationality, spiritual doubt and loss, and the unbridled power that most religions impress into the hands of men by upholding and sanctifying patriarchy.

It’s all bleak, awful stuff. Moreso when even the heroic Pyre engages in it, which is exactly the point. Under the Banner of Heaven illustrates how no one who grows up in this kind of environment can escape its influences — no matter how kind, progressive, or loving they think they are. That’s why it’s so jarring when Pyre transforms — from the man who says, “I love you,” during every phone call with his wife, Rebecca (Adelaide Clemens); tucks his daughters into bed each night; and gently invites his dementia-addled mother, Josie (Sandra Seacat), on daily walks — into a domineering “priesthood holder.” The decisions he makes as the family’s religious authority are ostensibly to protect his family from the doctrine he’s beginning to interrogate, but he still uses its male-exalting infrastructure to get what he wants.

Roxana Hadadi, “Under the Banner of Heaven Was No Mystery”, Vulture

Each episode would start with one of the beautiful title cards I’ve seen for a show:

Title Card for Under the Banner of Heaven with exquisite typography

They should give this young actor an Emmy for the few minutes she’s on screen 💯

Se7en by David Seidman and Ralph Tedesco A

'Se7en' by David Seidman and Ralph Tedesco

Came recommended by HU. I had to borrow them from PG1. A limited, 7-part comic book series based on one of my favorite movies. Told from the perspective of John Doe and provides his backstory which is about as sad and disturbing as you can imagine it would be. About as gory as the movie itself. Most parts have a different style. Plenty of out-of-context Bible quotes. Just really well-executed.

  1. These are hard to find and expensive: anywhere from $250 on eBay to $350 on Amazon. ↩︎

Shorting Things

You predict (or have insider information) that the price of lawnmowers will fall. The current market price of a lawnmower is $1,000. You go to Eddie’s Lawnmower Rental Company and rent a lawnmower from Eddie for $10 a day. He doesn’t care about you returning the same lawnmower; he just wants you to return a lawnmower (assume that all lawnmowers involved in this story are in great working condition).

You sell this lawnmower to your neighbour for $1,000.

Ten days later, and as you predicted, the price of lawnmowers falls to $500. Now you buy another lawnmower for $500 and return a lawnmower to Eddie. So now you have gained: $1,000 - ($10 x 10 days = $100) - ($500 on the lawnmower you bought) = $400.

Now say you made a bad prediction and the price of lawnmowers went up to $1,500. So now you have lost $1,000 - ($10 x 10 days = $100) - ($1,500 on the lawnmower you bought) = $600.

Theoretically, there is no bottom to your losses. So you have to be very careful when you short things. It’s not for everyone. Stick to Index Funds if you don’t understand what you’re doing.

Finally, here’s some discussion on where the expression ‘going short’ may have come from.

The Northman (2022) IMDb B+

Saw with LD. Revenge flick set in Scandinavia in 895 AD. LD thought that the ultraviolence was a bit gratuitous and didn’t serve the plot very well. I don’t know what one would expect from a story about a beefy Viking beserker hell-bent on revenge. Lush, beautiful, amazing visuals from Eggers and crew. I wish I saw this in the theater. This is Eggers’ third movie after The Lighthouse (which we thoroughly enjoyed) and The Witch (which I am too much of a chicken to watch). Alexander Skarsgård and Anya Taylor-Joy are simply excellent.

Bheemla Nayak (2022) IMDb B

Excellent cinematography and art direction. Bouncy background score by Thaman. Rana Daggubati stole the show, is magnetic in every scene he’s in, and we were all amazed by the ease with which he plays arrogant douchenozzles 💯 Could’ve been at least an hour shorter. Lovely poetry.

My Undecided Thirties

Indecision has been a pretty huge problem in my life and this comment by /u/tomwaste hit home.

I’m not sure if people have experienced the same but when I entered my 30s I became convinced I was rapidly running out of time. Rather than using that as motivation I let it paralyze me with indecision because I “couldn’t afford to make the wrong choice.” Consequently, I’m now 39 and, though I’ve had great things happen in my 30s, I regret spending so much time worrying and so little time committing to a course of action.

What’s the simplest way out of this mire of Analysis Paralysis?

“One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. ‘Which road do I take?’ she asked. ‘Where do you want to go?’ was his response. ‘I don’t know,’ Alice answered. ‘Then,’ said the cat, ‘it doesn’t matter.”

Their comment also reminded me of this Sylvia Plath poem illustrated by Gavin Aung Than of Zen Pencils.

The Fig Tree, a poem by Sylvia Plath illustrated by Gavin Aung Than of Zen Pencils

Zephyr Howls

This is Zephyr, a “captive-born gray wolf” at the Wolf Conservation Center in NY. Below, you can hear him and his friends orchestrate some of the most beautiful sounds you will hear today. I’ve watched this five times and it was somehow even better with my eyes closed.

Here’s the Wolf Conservation Center’s YouTube channel for more music. Fuck I love wolves ♥️🐺

Netsuke

Summary of Wikipedia article: Japanese kimono didn’t have pockets. They needed something to store their stuff in. So they made containers that they hung from their kimonos’ sashes1. The part that secured the container to the sash at the top was called a netsuke (“root attached”.)

Here’s a really cute one of a sleeping cat from the 19th century 😻

Japanese cat netsuke from the 19th century

Update

Here’s another. It’s a crouching tiger 😍

Japanese crouching tiger netsuke from the 19th century

  1. An obi, which is a favorite NYTimes crossword clue! ↩︎

The Valeriepieris Circle

This is from a while ago but I didn’t get the memo. It’s a little crazy:

A map of the The Valeriepieris Circle

It’s named after Reddit user /u/vaieriepieris, an ESL teacher from Texas, who made it for a map subreddit in 2013.

  • There are more Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and Communists inside the circle than outside it.
  • It “pulls all of this off while being mostly water and including the most sparsely populated country on earth (Mongolia).” (Source).
  • It also contains the highest mountain and deepest trench.

On Doing Nothing At All

As far as Indian Gurus go, I find this guy more illumined and full of practical, actionable advice than, say, this guy, less full of shit than this one, and definitely less batshit crazy than this one.

Via LT 🙏

Update

The creator of the video is Masood Boomgaard. Here’s his YouTube channel. And here’s the Balm your Soul needs in its entirety 🙏 🌸