The Fairy Scientist

Remember me talking about how Kara’s dad made a documentary? Now he’s produced a short film for a competition on skepticism and science, featuring her adorable fast-talking niece Lydia in a quest to verify the existence of fairies. Unlike Andrus, this one you can watch right now as part of a proven and effective way of avoiding your work. Go do that!

This also makes xkcd more plausible

Sick Kara is zoning out watching The Lost World on TV. It occurs to me that the moral of all the Jurassic Park movies, as explicitly stated by Jeff Goldblum and borne out by events onscreen, is this: “Quantum physics guarantees that you will be killed by dinosaurs.”

I never really liked the films, but I could get behind that premise.

In which scrolling through Google Reader gives me a mild heart attack

Rian Johnson is posting like twenty pictures a day to the just-created Brick tumblr, for some reason. Happily, today he included this DVD-cover fan art that I did back in 2005. I always meant to clean that up and redo it; I had a couple other ideas for doing similar treatments of different scenes, but I don’t remember what they were now.

I’ve been thinking about Brick a lot the last couple of days, actually, because it’s occurred to me that I have pretty simple tastes in terms of plot. Give me any of the following and I will squeal with delight (double points for setting it in high school):

  • Emotionally crippled badass tries to get to the bottom of things (Brick, Neuromancer, Veronica Mars)
  • Young woman comes into her own and learns how dangerous she can be (Howl’s Moving Castle, The Privilege of the Sword, Bone, everything by Robin McKinley)
  • Tenuous network of friends and lovers collapses under the simple pressure of human desire (Lovebot Conquers All, Battlestar Galactica, Magic for Beginners)

And, of course, the latter is why I love Scott Pilgrim. Take away the video-game trappings and the fight scenes and the hipster music references and the fourth-wall humor and… okay, don’t take any of those, they’re great. But the real reason I have such an aching priapism for those comics (which I didn’t pick up until 2008! GAH) is the way O’Malley spends so much care and attention setting up what we in the Indie RPG Club call a relationship map. He gets you to like everybody in it, gives them each their own petty little wants, and then lets them tear each other apart.

Not that I would know anything about what that’s like.


Carrie Fisher blogs, apparently, and the evidence suggests that she’s been doing a bit of back-and-forth with the Internet in her own defense. Basically, people think she doesn’t look like she did in 1983. I will allow you a moment of shock.

On my west’ard migration a year and a half ago, while I was bumming around San Francisco on my own, someone–Sumana?–suggested that I take a night and go see a play. By happy coincidence, I was in town at the same time as Fisher, who was doing her show Wishful Drinking at the Berkeley Rep. So I got a ticket and went.

I learned a great deal about Fisher that evening (I hadn’t even known she was married to Paul Simon), and in the process saw probably the only good one-person show ever. I also laughed a lot. How can you avoid laughing at the image of Cary Grant calling up a teenage girl, at her parent’s slightly deranged request, to lecture her soberly about the dangers of LSD–twice? Or at a still from the bridge of the Death Star about which she noted that “I weighed about ninety pounds here, eighty of which I carried in my face?”

It’s one thing to know somebody is a writer; it’s another to see her perform in a self-written multimedia showcase that includes jokes about her own electroshock therapy. I liked Carrie Fisher before then, almost as much for her guest spot on 30 Rock as for Star Wars (and that was all before I knew she tried out for Han Solo). After that show, like became admiration, and she was elevated to the selective ranks of people who have secured my loyalty pretty much for good. Even if her blog posts are littered with unnecessary punctuation.

(In case you’ve noticed that I started dating a short girl with a screenwriting degree, a taste for wine and a sardonic sense of humor within months of moving to Portland: shhh.)

It’s not as if I think the people reading my blog are among those going “oh no how did princess lea get fat :(.” But I feel the need to state this anyway: Carrie Fisher rolls with my crew. And before you write a word against her, consider the fact that fuck you forever, and die in a hole.



Kara’s Dad, Robert, along with her brother-in-law Ty, made a biographical documentary last year about the late illusionist Jerry Andrus. It’s a really, really good movie, unimpeded by the title Andrus: The Man, the Mind & the Magic. In particular, I found the breakdown of some of his optical illusions fascinating, and the close-up magic he demonstrates is unbelievable; one of the most interesting things about Andrus was that he used both to provoke skepticism and critical thinking from his audience, rather than to cultivate an aura of mystique.

If you’re in Oregon, you can watch an hour-long cut of the movie at 10 pm tonight on OPB’s Oregon Lens. I recommend that you do!

The Brothers Bloom

I loved Brick so much that I wish I had more and better things to say about Rian Johnson’s follow-up movie. There were some beautiful shots and some very good gags, and it actually earned a little pathos by the end. But the cleverness was worn way too obviously, there was a surplus of voice-over, all the Double Shyamalans got old, I never stopped believing that Mark Ruffalo was Mark Ruffalo, and there were some distinctly Orientalist aspects to Bang Bang that made me uncomfortable.

On the other hand, I think it passes the Bechdel Test–Rinko Kikuchi and Rachel Weisz are actually the best parts of the movie. And the Brick cameos tickled me. And the movie at least had the sense to joke about its own very overt, very LOOK-HE’S-WEARING-A-WHITE-SUIT symbolism.

I don’t know! It was okay. I’d see it if I were you, and I hope Johnson’s next movie is just a little less ambitious, and meaner.

In which I pick on a universally-beloved mute cancer survivor

This essay presents me with problems, because I agree with its hypothesis, but not its premises or its conclusion, so, er.

I’ve said before that snarky writing is weak writing, after which a conversation with Holly led me to reduce my stance to “snarky writing is comorbid with weak writing.” Ebert and I concur on this. He goes on to state that blogs devoted to pure snark are dumb, and that gasping about the “gayest Oscars ever” because Hugh Jackman sat in Frank Langella’s lap is equally dumb; this is also true.

Then he defends Joaquin Phoenix’s current performance art spectacle as an “accomplishment,” and as “committing himself as an actor.” Sorry, Roger, but acting isn’t art in and of itself, and acting like a bewildered person with nothing to say, without letting other people in on the joke, is no achievement at all. (I have similar problems with Andy Kaufman, but at least he brought a Duchamp-like duplicity to the exercise.)

More essential to his argument is his assertion that the snarkers should leave! Oscar! Alone! Sorry again, but a critic of all people should understand that you don’t get to just declare that it’s not for you. Joaquin Phoenix and the self-righteous pomp of the Oscars deserve no better than snark, because they’re functioning on the same level. Scrape away the ornamentation, and there’s nothing worthwhile underneath.

But that doesn’t mean that snarkery is a noble satirical endeavor. Sumana (via John Hodgman) provides a better argument than Ebert: snark is just “meh” without the benefit of brevity.

Three things make a roundup

Anyone? Anyone?

The other day I ripped off a 2007 Lyttle Lytton winner and wrote Rooney, a vision of the latter days of a movie which I always thought held sinister undertones. After I posted it, I realized that the premise really could probably stand further explanation, and I was not wrong! First Peter wrote Cameron Frye, and then William followed up with Rooney again:

Rooney is on the run.

It had started as a careful stroll by the river to dump the rifle: then a quiet ride home to find some people in ‘Save Ferris’ shirts quietly breaking into his house as he pulled up.

But Rooney was nothing if not prepared. Six months later and they’re still looking for the ‘Man who killed Chicago’. Meanwhile, Rooney’s shaved his moustache, pays in cash, and has a California Driver’s License that proclaims him to be

“Edward Rooney?”

He turns, halfway to his car, to find Sloane Peterson with a ‘Save Ferris’ lapel pin. And a gun.

Sometimes I really am tempted to turn on WordPress comments on Anacrusis, but come on, the LJ community is already so much fun!

Shorter-than-the-Title Reviews: First in a Series

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull:

God damn ball licker David fucking Koepp.

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