Musings and Mirth

About Me

I spend way too much thinking about me. This is the blank space where that paragraph should be.

Watching Movies with Emma: The Edge

My 13 year-old daughter indulges my strange movie-watching habits. For instance, I almost always choose a movie I’ve seen and liked over one I’ve never seen. And I often watch the same movie over and over again until I know all of the dialogue. One such film of these is The Edge. It’s written by David Mamet and stars Alec Baldwin and Anthony Hopkins. Every line of dialogue in this thing is brilliant. It’s hard to pick my favorite scene because they’re all good. I even like the cheesy death-by-bear scenes. But when Hopkins and Baldwin speak to each other that’s when it is at its absolute best.

Like this whole bit:

And this….you just have to excuse the bearskin outfits.

Whenever The Edge is on TV I almost always watch it, which means I’ve seen it at least 20 or 30 times. My daughter Emma has also now seen it several times and can quote lines of dialogue from it, “never feel sorry for a man who owns a plane.” And “What one man can do another can do.” I try to impart upon her the importance of great dialogue. I am hoping she learns to love Mamet as I do, even if he became a conservative.

In Praise of…Van Morrison

God, man.  I never stop loving this dude.  Thing is, even when his songs are cheesy, and they often are, they are still amazing.  He is best performing live – he goes into the zone.  Here is one youtube of Wavelength. Oh Van.

Carmageddon — Yes We Can (If Frank Sinatra Says it’s Okay)

If it doesn’t say everything about Los Angeles and urban Americans that there was city-wide panic in the streets about this supposed carmageddon. Since it turned out to be nothing spectacular in either direction, that is the news story: nothing happened. It was Y2K all over again and it makes you wonder what we’d all do if there was ever a realized catastrophe (be careful what you wish for, I know). What struck me about it was that it was only two days of the 405 (or as we like to call it, the 4-oh-five miles per hour) being shut down – they were on a weekend. The 405 is rarely jammed on the weekend anyway. Try shutting it down during the work week for more than two days – then you’d see people lose their minds. But two measly days? Saturday and Sunday? Really media?

What happened was that it got quiet. Really quiet. Too quiet. It was peaceful. There were no cars on the freeways. Can you imagine the revolutions and evolutions in the biology in and around the freeways on those days? Can you imagine how clean the air must have been?

It was yet one more reason not to trust the chattering media — radio, television, print – they all created unnecessary widespread panic. Even if the reason it was so quiet and calm was in direct response to their hysteria it does give one pause, makes one distrust – the way you would if you saw someone you thought you knew have a crazy person meltdown in front of you.

You would maybe continue to know them but it would never be the same.

And so it was with watching the impossible — empty freeways — that it seemed, for a brief moment, that this wasn’t a city where people stayed in their cars. LA can get to you after a while because it is so unwelcoming. New York City, for all of its imperfections, is a city for people to interact — not in a friendly way, particularly, but still – you are on a subway, on a sidewalk, in a store and everywhere there are other people. Here in LA it’s possible to go a whole day with no personal contact at all. You can go in your car somewhere, windows rolled up, air conditioner on – and then back to your place where you plugin and interact online – a virtual community suits LAers.

The day no one could ride the 405 forced people to think about how they spent their time. Some went to the Farmer’s Market, some just took a walk down the street. Some just thought about it: where can I go without using my car? See, it wasn’t just about staying off the 405, it was about not crowding the streets and alternate routes – either way, we were all forced to think about this. So, for two days it worked. Not designed to last, though nothing is.

Google Plus – is it One Social Network Too Many?

I was invited to join Google+ by a friend. This was how we all got gmail, remember? Painfully earned invite by painfully earned invite? It generated that lemming-like reaction of MUST HAVE IT NOW OR BE LEFT BEHIND. Cut to: Google has infiltrated every aspect of my online life. Facebook and Twitter are the two places it does not. Twitter is a great business tool for now. It is not so much a joining together with friends/communication tool that Facebook is. But Facebook is too personal. It’s just too much up in your business. You can’t really be unseen there, move anonymously through it gathering information and spreading it, like you can on Twitter. Google+ will probably land somewhere in between the two: it will offer more than Twitter but less than Facebook. You can exclude people from your status updates if you don’t want them to see it – say, leave off all of your family members and show it only to your work friends. This is, so far, the coolest thing about Google+.

Listen, I’m not saying it isn’t cool. I’m just wondering where in god’s name am I going to put everything? As it is, I barely check Facebook. Twitter is something I do constantly, in real time. I read and engage with people there moment by moment throughout the day. I have other networks of communication too – it’s just that when I click on my Google+ homepage I’m confused. The reason Facebook works across such a broad spectrum, I figure, is that they give you less choices, not more. We pretend to want to have more freedom but the fact is, advertisers and corporations know this, we don’t. We will choose a Starbucks over a local joint, or a Home Style Buffet over a small town diner because we are assured that we will get basically the same experience every time. We don’t want to gamble our money on something that might not be what we want or what we ordered. Some of us are more willing than others to take risks. Facebook operates on that same notion that we don’t want a lot of choices – we all want to exist on relatively the same playing field. Facebook takes our limited choices and enhances them. So we can have friends but we can choose what we show certain friends. We can have photos but we can choose who gets to see them.

read more…

i have found what you are like

by ee cummings

i have found what you are like

by e.e. cummings

i have found what you are like
the rain

(Who feathers frightened fields
with the superior dust-of-sleep. wields

easily the pale club of the wind
and swirled justly souls of flower strike

the air in utterable coolness

deeds of green thrilling light
with thinned
newfragile yellows

–in the woods
And the coolness of your smile is
stirringofbirds between my arms;but
i should rather than anything
have(almost when hugeness will shut
your kiss

One Really Important Thing I Learned Today

In all of the years I’ve been online, I’m still surprised to find that every single day I find a new voice, a new vision, a new person who is handing out useful info, advice, or just plain beauty. Today’s cool person is Derek Sivers. I found him via Lifehacker (a great site) and immediately, I’ve already learned several important concepts. Some of them confirm what I suspected but weren’t yet a certainty (I HAVE MY CERTAINTY!).

Sivers gave up his investment in CDBaby and put it towards charity, musical education specifically. That is “his story,” but his blog is full of great advice that he gives away for free.

It’s a streamlined, non-cluttered site with the important stuff to know up front.

What drew me there was his post on how not to thwart your own development by assuming you are smarter than everyone else and that you already know everything. Not a good long term plan, it turns out.

He says to assume you are below average — and that may be the thing that saves you. The other really spine-chilling bit of news for me? Something he just wrote a week or so ago on why it’s important to provide something FOR others rather than just for yourself. This is especially true if you are hoping to make money as a blogger; you aren’t going to make a dime doing what I do on this site, that is, write for my own pleasure without giving back much to my three readers. And that’s why I only have three readers. The moment I start giving a lot back to readers? That’s when people will come, Ray. If you build it, they will come. People like information. They like a daily surprise. They like wit, beauty, even conflict. They like political discourse. They like commentary. So, if you wanna be a blogger, read Derek Sivers and you will learn much, Grasshopper.