Sunday, May 22, 2022

Turning Red

 The true artist must accept that they cannot win, then, but keep trying anyway.

It’s necessary to sweat and scrape and make some ugly mistakes – and then make them again

Jeremy Dynks


My Recent Media Diet, Spring 2022 Edition

Well hey there, it’s been a few months, so it’s time for another roundup of what I’ve been reading, watching, listening to, and experiencing recently. In addition to the stuff below, I have a few things in progress: the second season of Russian Doll, Oliver Burkeman’s Four Thousand Weeks, and I just started dipping into Rebecca Woolf’s forthcoming memoir, All of This. Oh, and I’m listening to Russell Shorto’s The Island at the Center of the World on audiobook and the third season of Michael Lewis’ Against the Rules podcast. All always, don’t sweat the letter grades too much.

Everything Everywhere All at Once. This movie is a little bit of a miracle: action, comedy, heartfelt, and a little bit of a mess, all together in a perfect balance. This is the best movie I’ve seen in ages. (A+)

Encanto. The kids and I liked it fine. (B+)

The Expanse (season six). I’m going to miss spending time in this world with these people. (A-)

Matrix by Lauren Groff. Was delighted and moved by this work of historical fiction about Marie de France. (A)

Station Eleven. I loved the slow burn and resolution of this show. I didn’t think I wanted to watch a TV show about a flu pandemic causing the end of civilization, but it was actually perfect. Both actresses who played Kirsten were fantastic. (A/A+)

The Last Duel. Every director is entitled to their Rashomon I guess? And I’m not sure Matt Damon was the right choice here… (B)

Pig. Had no idea what to expect from this one. Even so, Taken + Truffle Hunters + Fight Club + Ratatouille was a surprise. (B+)

Strafford ice cream. This Black-owned dairy farm makes the richest, creamiest ice cream I’ve ever had. So glad I randomly bought a pint of it a few months ago…I’m never going back to anything else. (A)

Severance. Fantastic opening credits sequence and while I wasn’t as enamored as many were after the first few episodes, the show definitely grew on me. (A-)

My Brilliant Friend (season three). I don’t know why there’s no more buzz about this show. The acting, world-building, story, and Max Richter’s soundtrack are all fantastic. And the fight against fascism! (A)

The Gilded Age. Exactly what I wanted out of a period drama from the maker of Downton Abbey and Gosford Park. (B+)

Exhalation. Second time through, this time on audiobook. I love these stories - Chiang is a genius. (A)

The Book of Boba Fett. This turned into season 2.5 of The Mandalorian and I am totally ok with that. (B+)

Other People’s Money podcast. As a snack-sized in-between season for his excellent Against the Rules podcast, Michael Lewis revisits his first book, Liar’s Poker, written about his experience working for Salomon Brothers in the 80s. (A-)

The King’s Man. Not as fun as the first movie but more fun than the second one? But they all could be better. (B)

Turning Red. I loved Domee Shi’s short film, Bao, and this film is similarly clever and heartfelt. (A-)

Drive My Car. Really appreciated the cinematography of this one; wish I could have seen it in the theater. (A-)

Jennifer Packer at The Whitney. I was unfamiliar with Packer’s work before seeing this exhibition, but I’m a fan now. (A-)

Licorice Pizza. I’m really flabbergasted at the two pointless racist scenes in this film. PT Anderson is a better filmmaker than this. It’s a shame because I enjoyed the rest of the film — the two leads are great. Can’t recommend it though. (D) 

Death on the Nile. These movies are fun. Sometimes all you want to do is watch Kenneth Branagh chew scenery as Hercule Poirot. (B+)

Moonfall. Not as fun or coherent (I know, lol) as some of Emmerich’s other movies. The acting in this is…not great. (C+)

Hawkeye. Fun but I don’t know how many more Marvel things I want to keep up with. (B)

Spider-Man: No Way Home. Tom Holland’s Spider-Man is always fun. (B+)

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore. Better than the overcomplicated sequel and Mikkelsen was a better Grindelwald than Depp. The story wrapped up so nicely that who knows if there will be a fourth movie. (B)

The Tragedy of Macbeth. Brilliant cinematography and set design. (B+)

The Batman. Oh I don’t know. I guess this was a pretty decent detective story, but I’m not sure why Batman needed to be involved. (B)

The Northman. This would have been much better had it ended 20 minutes sooner. Not sure we needed another movie that concludes with ultimately pointless violent masculine revenge. (B-)

Kimi. Soderbergh does Rear Window + The Conversation. The direction is always tight and Zoë Kravitz is great in this. (A-)

The Mysterious Benedict Society. The kids and I enjoyed this solid adaptation of the first book of a popular series. (B+)

Armageddon. The pace of this movie is incredible — it just drops you right into the action and never stops for more than 2 hours. Also, the top question when searching this movie title on Google is “Is Armageddon movie a true story?” *sigh* (B-)

Past installments of my media diet are available here.

Cieslaks of Special Birthday 🎉 Afteroons

 Paul Kelly - Time and Cold River Tide |


guy on YouTube mimicking John Lennon, with Yoko and George Harrison, singing Paul McCartney solo songs.  And now here is “John Lennon” doing “Band on the Run” album


David Boaz honors George H. Smith.  And David Henderson on George.

6. Management secrets of Anna Wintour(Bloomberg).


On Writing Slack Tide by Matt Labash


In the 1930s, Slovenia’s Jože Plečnik created a unique architecture utterly different from the prevailing style of the time – and changed the way we think about cities. BBC


What Are You Really Looking at When You’re Looking at a Black Hole? The Wire


As remote work has left many offices empty, developers are turning these spaces into private homes – hopefully reviving dying business districts as the same time. BBC


The Biggest Potential Water Disaster in the United States New Yorker 




The 666 greatest novels of all time?

Federal election 2022 live updates: Anthony Albanese delivers victory speech, Scott Morrison concedes defeat as Labor wins government


Uniformity, monotony, apathy. They make for drearier reading than a blank page (at least a blank page is hope’s canvas). Hence Kurt Vonnegut’s counsel to aspiring authors:

Make [your] characters want something right away even if it’s only a glass of water. Characters paralyzed by the meaninglessness of modern life still have to drink water from time to time.

(From his interview with The Paris Review in 1977.).

Needs must when nature drives.


 FASTER, PLEASE:  A Single Hormone That Can Help Increase Lifespan Has Been Identified in Mice - More time to do puzzles 


The 4 Fears All Humans Experience


The 666 greatest novels of all time?


A History of Birth Control



Solving the World’s Hardest Puzzle Would Take You Until the Heat Death of the Universe

In an excerpt in The Atlantic from his new book about puzzles, A.J. Jacobs writes about the puzzle he commissioned from Dutch puzzle creator Oskar van Deventer, a “generation puzzle” that will take him almost literally forever to solve.

And then, on a Friday morning, I woke up to an email from Oskar. He had finished making the puzzle — and it worked. He had made a 55-pin Jacobs’ Ladder. Solving it would take 1.2 decillion moves

 (the number 1 followed by 33 digits). Written out, that’s: 1,298,074,214,633,706,907,132,624,082,305,023 moves.

We’d crushed the old record by 13 orders of magnitude. Oskar did some delightfully nerdy calculations on just how long it would take to solve this puzzle. If you were to twist one peg per second, he explained, the puzzle would take about 40 septillion years. By the time you solved it, the sun would have long ago destroyed the Earth and burned out. In fact, all light in the universe would have been extinguished. Only black holes would remain. Moreover, Oskar said, if only one atom were to rub off due to friction for each move, it would erode before you could solve it.



Anthony Albanese - Who is rich now …

Anthony Albanese’s Labor party defeats the ruling Coalition, but may lack the numbers to form majority government


"I am humbled by this victory. And I am honoured to be given the opportunity to serve as the 31st Prime Minister of Australia," he said.

"My fellow Australians, it says a lot about our great country that the son of a single mother who was on a disability pension, who grew up in public housing down the road in Camperdown, can stand before you tonight as Australia's prime minister."


Albanese laid out his incoming government's goals, including improving childcare and aged care, ending the "climate wars", developing renewable energy, and putting in place a national anti-corruption commission.

Anthony Albanese



Matt Thistlethwaite set to win another term in Kingsford Smith, Labor to form a government

The Labor faithful have waited a long time – 15 years, to be precise, since an outright victory.

On Saturday evening around 5pm, as the doors opened on the Labor party campaign event at the Canterbury-Hurlstone Park RSL Club, they set up to wait a few hours more.

As good as it gets’: The Labor faithful have waited a long time for this result


Scott Morrison sheds tears as he gives last prime minister’s speech at his Horizon church


A Melbourne woman who used wigs and sunglasses to hoodwink some of Australia's biggest banks into giving her more than $260,000 belonging to other customers has walked free from court, in a case likened to a "film script".

Melbourne woman sentenced to time served for 'brazen' identity theft bank scam


Crims hit in $500m AFP seizures linked to AN0M sting


$900K cash seized as NSW Police gang crackdown continues

A whopping $900,000 has been seized on the Central Coast and a man charged as gangbusting squad Taskforce Erebus continues to crack down on crime in the wake of three fatal shootings.


True Crime Stories


Despite Ukrainian Claims, Russian Navy Support Ship Appears Unharmed Maritime Executive: “Shocked, shocked!”


Putin, game master? Jacques Baud, YouTube. Important. One teeny addition: The breakaway republics did not have official standing in the Minsk negotiations. They were observers. However they did sign the pact, presumably to signal to their constituents that they were on board. 


Life in the village Gilbert Doctorow. “Life is good.”


Pete Recommends – Weekly highlights on cyber security issues, May 14, 2022 – Privacy and cybersecurity issues impact every aspect of our lives – home, work, travel, education, health and medical records – to name but a few. On a weekly basis Pete Weiss highlights articles and information that focus on the increasingly complex and wide ranging ways technology is used to compromise and diminish our privacy and online security, often without our situational awareness. Five highlights from this week: Survey: 93% of Americans Fear Cyberwarfare Against U.S.; ICE Has Assembled a ‘Surveillance Dragnet’ with Facial Recognition and Data, Report Says; Thousands of Popular Websites See What You Type—Before You Hit Submit; EV Infrastructure Vulnerabilities Put Cars, the Grid at Risk; and What exactly is Web3?


Washington Post: “When a wildfire torethrough drought-stricken towns near Boulder, Colo., late last year, it reminded Americans that fire risk is changing. It didn’t matter that it was winter. It didn’t matter that many of the more than 1,000 homes and other structures lost sat in suburban subdivisions, not forested enclaves. The old rules no longer applied.



Who is rich in America?

We now know who is rich in America. And it’s not who you might have guessed.

A groundbreaking 2019 study by four economists, “Capitalists in the Twenty-First Century,” analyzed de-identified data of the complete universe of American taxpayers to determine who dominated the top 0.1 percent of earners.

The study didn’t tell us about the small number of well-known tech and shopping billionaires but instead about the more than 140,000 Americans who earn more than $1.58 million per year. The researchers found that the typical rich American is, in their words, the owner of a “regional business,” such as an “auto dealer” or a “beverage distributor.”

That is from Seth Stephens-Davidowitz (NYT), who covers some other interesting wealth/happiness topics as well


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