rfbooth.com :: blog archives

Moments in time, preserved to embarrass me later.

31-12-2002 (archived)

An old year ends, and so does flem. Dammit. Oh well, it was insanely great while it lasted.

As some compensation, have you noticed that Queen of Wands has been particularly good recently?

As the year ends, what have the hot topics been? Google's 2002 Zeitgeist tells us. (Via Boing Boing.)

2-1-2003 (archived)

Danny O'Brien wants to become an American citizen; he's lived there for a while, and he's having a child there. Look how easy it is.

This week's film review is “Sweet Home Alabama”. It's mostly set in Alabama, and it's pretty sweet, so I can't really argue with the title. Brief plot summary: beautiful New York (but Alabama-rooted) fashion designer becomes engaged to handsome New York politician and society chap. Having neglected to finalise the divorce from her old Alabama beau (or tell new boy he exists), she flies down home (ahah! The third word!) to sort it out.

Romantic happenings, leavened with comic moments and garnished with sadness, ensue.

Yes, it's a chick-flick, but not a boring one. It's sweet, funny, and eminently enjoyable. Gossamer-light and completely without meaning, but fun.

4-1-2003 (archived)

Mark Pilgrim's year in review has plenty of interesting analysis. It also has Mark's picks for his favourite of his own posts this year; if I were you, I'd read them all.

Right now, if I had to give up all the people on my daily reading list one by one, Mark would be the one I'd still be reading at the end.

No animals were harmed in the creation of this web page. All of us, however, were humiliated and demoralized by the actual events that inspired it. Everything worked out okay, though.

I Gave My Cat an Enema. File under “I don't know why this is funny, but it certainly is”.

6-1-2003 (archived)

Neil Gaiman, author of the astonishing, multi-award-winning “American Gods” (and many other fine things, not nearly enough of which I have read yet) is keeping a journal. Isn't the web wonderful?

Which SF writer are you? I'm Kurt Vonnegut, which makes me happy. I only wish my writing reflected it. (Via Neil Gaiman..)

7-1-2003 (archived)

William Gibson, seminal co-founder of cyberpunk and one of the best prose writers in SF, is blogging. Isn't the web wonderful? (Via Die Puny Humans.)

Second in line is this really fat, disgusting, funny-smelling guy about 30 with red hair who laughs at his own jokes. He talks a lot, but he knows everything about Tolkein. It's hard not to look at him and admire him.

The Two Towers Waiting In Line Journal. Although I liked the film, I'm kind of glad I demonstrated restraint and didn't go until the second day it was showing. For the first film, I went on the first day. Many people were in costume, and not in a fancy-dress having fun way. NOT ZESTY.

That said, I am going now to see it again.

9-1-2003 (archived)

This week's film review is “City of God” (or, if you prefer, “Cidade de Deus”). It's a Brazilian Portuguese-language film set in the eponymous Rio slum. It follows several characters growing up over the course of the sixties and seventies; the main viewpoint character is a kid called Rocket who wants to be a photographer.

The slum is dominated by disorganised but armed crime, mainly robbing outsiders rather than locals (who, after all, have little to steal). As drugs become more and more significant, one character rises to dominate the City; one of the more interesting points, for me, was that when this extraordinarily violent and callous character was at the height of his powers, life for the ordinary slum-dwellers was at its best. He made the trains run on time.

The film is told as a series of stories; this form, the unflinching and naturalistic violence, and the occasional black humour all make comparisons with Tarantino's work very natural. There is no gloss of hip over City of God, though; it just looks, and feels, like life. Astonishingly, the cast were all unknown kids from the slums.

This is an extraordinary film: brilliantly executed, unflinching, deeply disturbing and thoroughly rewarding. See it if you get a chance.

And who'd have thought a chicken could run that fast?

10-1-2003 (archived)

From time to time, I think about piracy and filesharing. I'm not alone in this, of course. It's still very early days for William Gibson's light-on-links blog, but so far he's posting thoughtful, lengthy pieces every day and is already one of the blogs I most look forward to as I browse. A couple of days ago he mentioned novels on the net, and in doing so linked to (well, printed the link, anyway) Tim O'Reilly's recent article about filesharing, books, music, and so on:

A question for my readers: How many of you still get your email via peer-to-peer UUCP dialups or the old "free" Internet, and how many of you pay $19.95 a month or more to an ISP? How many of you watch "free" television over the airwaves, and how many of you pay $20-$60 a month for cable or satellite television? (Not to mention continue to rent movies on videotape and DVD, and purchasing physical copies of your favorites.)

I think Tim is exactly right, to the extent that I really don't have anything to say on the topic today that he hasn't already said. Sure, there are some people who are gleefully downloading gigabytes of illicit music, books, blockbuster movies, porn... but these people wouldn't be buying were they not downloading. What the people who were (and still are) your customers are doing now is trying stuff they might want to buy, and getting things that you aren't prepared to go to the trouble of selling them. Provide us with a way of paying you a realistic amount of money in a reasonably convenient way for a good product, and they will, same as we always have.

On a similar note, Cory “Boing Boing” Doctorow has written a novel, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. It's available in a variety of formats for free download from that very website, and had done something like 20,000 copies last time Cory posted about it, yesterday. It's also, as of yesterday, Amazon's 304th best selling book of the moment. There's an interview touching on, amongst other things, why he did this apparently-crazy thing on Creative Commons's site. They provided the licensing terms under which it's released. What does this tell you? It tells you that people will pay for content you give away, if it's good.

I'm a content creator, in my small way. I create intellectual property, for fun and for my living. I write here, I write music, I create fresh mathematics and give away code. I can't tell you how exciting these changes in the way people publish are to me, I'm not that good a writer; but with link-heavy pieces like this, I hope I can help you see it for yourselves, if you don't know already.

13-1-2003 (archived)

This week's film review is “The Good Girl", an independent starring Jennifer Aniston and a bunch of people you've seen but can't place. (Those of you who've seen Donnie Darko will remember Jake Gyllenhaal, though, and Zooey Deschanel, especially, deserves to go on to bigger roles.)

It's a beautifully understated piece about a young woman (Aniston) who despairs of her dead-end job, dull husband, and boring life, and becomes invclved with a boy (Gyllenhaal, playing a much stupider, shallower version of the vulnerable, mixed-up kid he gave us in Donnie Darko). It's wickedly funny, occasionally very sad, and blessedly brief - a ninety minute film is a breath of fresh air among the two-and-a-half and three hour movies we've been offered recently. Aniston's performance is underplayed and believable, without a hint of Rachel, and she carries a film that, in the end, is a about other people only as they affect her character.

This film is touching, restrained, and very very funny. It would be easy to let it slip by unseen among all the watchable, big name films on release this month. Don't.

14-1-2003 (archived)

I'm going to a conference today (in fact, by the time at(1) has posted this, I should be en route to Chicago), and am unlikely to post while away. Even if I find ssh-enabled machines, the hotel charges a dollar a minute for computer use...

No, I don't know why I'm flying to Baltimore via Chicago. Hey ho. I do know I'm staying the weekend, since that saves almost $1000 on flights. Ain't capitalism great?

The rfblog will return next Monday, or possibly Tuesday if I'm really jetlagged.

There are plenty of worse places I could be than Baltimore, of course; I always fancied going to Antarctica until I read Big Dead Place. Lots to read, fascinating, funny. (Via Boing Boing.)

And if that doesn't catch your interest, how about the coolest bartender ever? (Via jwz.)

My final word-heavy offering to amuse you while I'm away (as you'll all doubtless pine bitterly for me) is an article by Paul Anderson on some of the things that could be better in heroic fantasy. Enjoy!

21-1-2003 (archived)

Well, I'm back, it was a very good conference (or rather, the sessions and invited talks I attended were good), and I kept a travel diary which'll probably get posted as soon as I get it typed up. I didn't feel up to blogging yesterday, as I unfortunately went something like 35 hours between sleeps. Why do some people feel the urge to talk at top volume on overnight flights? Bastards.

Brief blogging: this BBC story, again on music piracy, seems to have completely missed the point that Robbie Williams was making, at least on Radio 1 - mp3 players are Dead Good when you're on the move - but I'm mainly pointing to it as yet another piece of evidence that Kim Howells, our minister for culture, is completely unclued.

Is it really too much to ask that a minister should know something about his portfolio? That the man in charge of the arts budget should, perhaps, not be the sort of person who slates conceptual art on the Today program? The sort of person who repeats crap fed to him by giant corporations verbatim? I very rarely get political on this site, and I don't intend to start, but this guy is a joke.

And yes, I know he went to art school. And yes, I didn't. That doesn't alter the fact that he (at least, judging from his public pronouncements) is a clueless reactionary.

Enough. It probably tells you something about my priorities that this has actually enraged me more than the Iraq/US fiasco we're currently involved in; I suppose it's closer to home, since I am a musician and not a soldier, a state profoundly to be wished.