Derik Badman's Journal

2020-10-19 08:27

Had two days off work and then the weekend, spent a lot of it handling things that had been on my todo list for awhile (and didn't play any video games). Set up email on my domain so I can try to move away from gmail and better control my email. Trying out Fastmail which so far I like. Just forwarding from gmail for now, until I can get a lot of accounts switched over.

Also spend a long time cleaning up my computer, deleting old stuff, moving things around for better organization. Moving more stuff out of Evernote and into Joplin, another way to better control my data. Evernote had a lot of notes and images and clippings that had been in there for years which I didn't need. Not quite done yet, but I made a ton of progress. I gathered together all the notes from our D&D campaigns and shared a big zip file with everyone in case they want it.

Finished up Elizabeth Prettejohn's The Art of the Pre-Raphaelites the other day. Her discussion of their use of painting from life, en plair air, and specificity was quite interesting. They were concerned with painting truth, such that in Millais' "Ophelia" all the flowers and plants in it are very specifically painted from a location, but since it took him months to paint all the landscape, the flowers and plants changed over time, so while everything in the image is what he actually saw, it's not what one would actually see at any one time.

Started John M. Ford's The Dragon Waiting and am just over halfway through. While I am enjoying it, I'm also not finding it to be as amazing as the essay I read about it, the introduction (which was really overdone), or the blurbs would have me believe. A lot of it just feels under explained. Wolfe has as a tendency to not explain everything and to leave large gaps, but it's all done via a specific intradiegetic narrator, who doesn't know everything, who forgets things, who purposefully omits things, who misses events for various reasons. This novel does not (as far as I can tell) have such a narrator, so when it under explains and keeps secrets it just feels cheap. There are points where I'm just like "what the hell is going on." It doesn't help that the motivation for and goal of the protagonists feels very opaque even halfway through. There is a lot to do with English kings and queens and succession but the quantity of similar names and my lack of knowledge in that arena makes it pretty confusing too, but at the same time I'm not even sure if its important to understand it all. I'll keep reading hoping things become clearer but so far I'm not overly impressed.

Watched Tsai Ming-Liang's Children of the Neon God, which... meh... I did not enjoy as much as a number of his other works like What Time is it There or Goodbye Dragon Inn. It was his first film and felt familiar in many ways but less focused and sure of itself. Watching it I was oddly thinking of cyberpunk. While the movie is set in Taiwan in the early 90s, something about the atmosphere felt very cyberpunk: run down apartment buildings, lot of crowded streets, neon, old video games, motorcycles, tiny hotel rooms, petty crime. There was nothing futuristic about it, but it had a similar vibe one might get from an early cyberpunk story.

We also watched Only Angels Have Wings an old Howard Hawks movie with Cary Grant and Jean Arthur. It was an odd one. The description billed it as a romance between the two, which it was, but really the focus of the movie was about all these airplane pilots somewhere in Mexico or Central America trying to fly mail on a schedule despite dangerous weather in the mountains that separate their coastal town from the inland where they need to go. The plot had a strange way of having these scenes that seemed really odd and unnecessary but which later on made sense. For instance, at one point a guy fails at getting some nitroglycerine past the mountains and bad weather, so he's told to drop it. Their mountain lookout guy is like, "There's a bunch of condors; drop it on them." And sot there is then a scene of the plane dropping the nitroglycerine on some birds on a mountain. It seems completely weird and random and cruel, until a number of scenes later, a condor crashes through the windshield of the one of the plans and almost kills two guys. Strange.