Monday

News
cnn


As I type this, these are some of the headlines that are currently displayed on the main page of CNN.com (which begs the question[s], what is 'news' anyway? what is it supposed to be, ideally?):

"Ohio State attacker said he was scared to pray in public"

"Dictionary.com word of the year is..."

"Trump falsely claims popular vote win"

"Great Barrier Reef suffers worst die-off"

"NFL HOFer reportedly banned from sideline"

"5 tech gifts to avoid"

"Slaughter of innocents in Mosul continues"

"Holiday shoppers out in force"

"Holocaust ice-skating routine slammed"

"Have Japanese women given up on love?"

"'Florida's health insurance was killing my daughter'"

"ISIS plots discovered"

"Trump ally: Romney 'a self-serving egomaniac'"

"Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro dies"

"Accused church shooter to represent self"

"Lionel Richie on Trump: 'He's a friend'"

"Death toll rises from freak illness"

"Cat yoga: the mewest exercise trend"

This is how all things blur into ephemera...

Sunday

"Drop the 'the'...It's cleaner." GG_AYITL

It's as good as I/we could've possibly hoped. Better, in fact. Not flawless, but thoroughly terrific in every way that matters. And often genuinely surprising, while also always remaining true to the characters and world and spirit of the show. I already want to watch it again!

Wednesday

Wait for It

Sound advice. But for what are we waiting?

Monday

"I tried to work it away / but that just made me even sadder."

Solange somehow knew exactly how we'd be feeling in mid-November! I agree with John Oliver: 2016 has been a world-historically horrible year. But at least it yielded A Seat at the Table - as beautiful as it is prescient, and it only deepens as you live with it - and Lemonade.

Saturday

Another NBA coach lays it all out there: "My final conclusion is, my big fear is, we are Rome," says the great Gregg Popovich.

Thursday

Somehow, of all the people talking and writing about America's Moral Death, Stan Van Gundy said it best of all.

Wednesday

My hangover this morning is real, and so, unfortunately, was last night. I still feel horrible and catatonically depressed. But I'm a straight, white, able-bodied male who is now a lawful permanent resident of Canada. That is to say, I feel more horrible still for all the women (especially survivors of sexual assault), Hispanic-American, Muslim-American, African-American, and LGBTQ people who have been utterly betrayed by their country - or, rather, by the 47.5% of the electorate who have enthusiastically and unequivocally demonstrated that they hate them. It's probably too soon for bad puns - but hate has "trumped" basic decency.
Shameful and disgraceful.

I feel like I could vomit. This is just terrible, and it's so surreal.

Fuck.

Sunday

solange snl

Solange on SNL: And YES I said YES I will YES.

Friday

Album of the Year
solange_seat

if only by a hair ahead of her sister's magnum opus. It's just so damn good, front to back, songs, interludes, everything. I can't stop listening to it, and I miss hearing it when I can't listen to music.

Thursday

Vote for Her
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Barack Obama has been the best president of my lifetime. While some of his achievements, and most notably his signature healthcare plan, have been diluted by the compromise modifications that define the American political system, he has consistently spearheaded real, meaningful progressive change, cleaning up after the economic and military messes that he inherited while at the same time moving the country forward, often like a petulant child digging in its heels: kicking, screaming, whining, and - most troublingly - shooting. I've never doubted for a moment that Obama is a thoughtful, compassionate, reasonable, sane, whip-smart, and inherently well-meaning leader, ever-conscious of the supreme responsibility of his position. Bill Clinton was the second-best president to serve in my lifetime, and while his decision-making (in personal matters, less so political ones) was sometimes more morally or ethically dubious, he was a master deal-maker, and the deals that he made were more often than not toward the greater good.

These presumably reliable historical precedents would be reason enough to vote for Hillary Clinton, as she appears primed to build upon the progressive legacy of Obama, and potentially push promising starts further by means of the center-left pragmatism that she shares with her husband, and perhaps too with help from more favorable compositions in Congress. But the even better reason to vote for Hillary Clinton (and not just against her terrifying, pathologically egomaniacal opponent) is that she's the most thoroughly and distinctly qualified ("prequalified," as the credit card companies would put it) person to ever run for the office(s) of President and Commander-in-Chief. If her handling of government emails can fairly be called "careless," I think it is equally fair to conclude that she'll be hyperconscious going forward, to ensure that no comparable mistake recurs on her watch. Should a major domestic or international catastrophe present itself on day one of her presidency, I would feel confident in her ability to navigate it and respond to it, in her diligent, detail-sensitive preparedness - and, yes, in her judgment. On top of his many other personal and ideological offenses, Trump does not even seem to possess a basic understanding of what the actual, de jure duties and responsibilities of the American President are, or where the limits of executive authority and power lie. He is by every measure the least-qualified person to ever come this close to the presidency, and not just because he's a sexually predatory white supremacist. (Let's not forget, too - just for the record - that the limited evidence we've seen suggests that he's probably only a mediocre businessman, who's done merely okay given extraordinary, stacked-deck advantages denied to the vast majority of us. Not that being a fantastic businessperson would in itself qualify someone to be President, which should never be an entry-level job in public service. But his essential claim to fame is looking more diminished by the day.)

I suppose it ultimately doesn't matter whether you vote for Clinton - who was the superior, better-qualified candidate even before (i.e., vs. Sanders) the decision was a total no-brainer for anyone with a brain and working conscience - or against Trump, so long as you actually show up and vote. Low turnout by an under-motivated Left worries me more than the (large but limited) contingent of alt-right deplorables voting Trump, though, again, the result would be the same whichever the cause. Do not assume that she'll coast to victory, or that he can't really, finally pull out a win. As I type this, FiveThirtyEight gives Trump a 34% chance of winning the election (upon from ca. 12% after the 3rd debate!). This is not a done deal. How many things large and small happen every day of which there's a 1-in-3 chance? So, if you're eligible to vote in US elections, by all means do - for the woman born to do the job and/or against the man who would (to borrow from his go-to vocabulary) be an unmitigated disaster for America and the wider world impacted by it.
Being and Time
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How many movies seriously consider whether time and the developmental trajectory of life on earth are ultimately providentially ordered or fundamentally contingent (or, perhaps, somehow, both)? Voyage of Time does, at once through its succession of images - moving ever forward in time, as the introductory note insists - and Brad Pitt's searching voice-over narration (for the IMAX version). In fact, to suggest that Malick merely "considers" this question is an understatement: he is in hot, intrepid pursuit of its final answer, from the inception of the universe to the edges of the earth. If it's some exceptionally high-level hubris to think that he might find that answer, it's that degree of ambition, and inevitable yet heroic overreach, that make his films - every single one of them - so thoroughly vital. He's one of the great artists that the medium of film has produced, but the ideas he's exploring extend so far beyond cinema. Malick is in conversation with, not just "influenced" or "informed" by, the long (principally, but not exclusively, Western) tradition of theology and philosophy, and he finds his best opportunities for thoughtful engagement at the points where the two converge and run together.

In Voyage of Time, the modern, "hard" sciences that flourished as outgrowths of Enlightenment philosophy feature more prominently than in any of his previous films. Pressing in so as to, at times, constrain Malick's cosmic narrative, Science's confident contributions to our understanding of time and space - which Malick acknowledges without much fleshing out - threaten to render this the most secular of his late films. By the normal, expected standards of the IMAX "nature film," Voyage of Time expends the most minimal of effort on facts, figures, dates, and layman's explanations of scientific processes; yet Malick, via Pitt, still dutifully, mundanely notes that it was an asteroid's impact which caused the dinosaurs to starve and die out. But, for Malick, such key moments of high contingency do not at all undermine this transhistorical "voyage" as merely a series of remarkable coincidences; instead, the many junctures at which the course of life might well have gone off the rails (but didn't quite) are the strongest testaments to the "miracle" and "gift" of life on earth. Whatever your own commitments or lack thereof, it's to Malick's credit that he pauses to ask, pointedly: what is "Nature" anyway? This question was of central importance for ancient (pagan as well as Christian) philosophers and their Scholastic heirs in the Middle Ages, and it has retained the interest of some of modern philosophy's best minds up to the present, but it is certainly a question that no other IMAX "nature film" would pose to its audience.

Nor would such a film - by anyone other than Malick - ask when Love first began, whether it was always already there, and what the course of Life would have been without it. Unmoved viewers may laugh at the merciful dinosaur in The Tree of Life, or, for that matter, at the new, similar footage of dinosaur interactions in this one, but Malick is no cheap sentimentalist - he's onto something. It is particularly through this train of thought regarding "love," delivered over images of (ostensibly) low-complexity marine life, that Malick reinserts Meaning in his narrative of Time and Life. While, following Augustine, the course of events in this world may not carry meanings that we are able to correctly "read" and interpret, it does not automatically follow from this that moments and things within earthly time are entirely devoid of meaning. It's the very illegibility, and polysemy, of these moments and things that make them so full of mystery and potential - one of the defining aspects of Malick's movies. "Love," in all of his films but especially here, should be understood in its fullest, most inclusive sense, as not just amor but also, and crucially, caritas. It's the primordial, animating force in Malick's "voyage," the connective tissue uniting life across time and space, near-oblivion and "miraculous" continuity - 'for love is strong as death.'