Monday, March 29, 2010

The wizard will wait

What does that mean?

I dunno, something.

And if that aimless beginning implies a certain aimless-ness of my life of late, then it may very well be true. But then again, all aims have their seasons.

In actuality little of my ambition has been lost, perhaps just buried for a moment here and there, covered over by some disappointment and miscalculation.

Ah, miscalculation, and that perhaps is the rub, for so much easier and indeed more successful would my ventures be without calculation, but the requirements of pushing myself beyond my comfort zone, the limits of which are my death, does require a bit of skill and cleverness.

And a bit of a gamble. So I calculate. So I lie. So I pretend and dabble and fail and fumble, but then again... As a priest pointed out at my last Confession, I am too hard on myself. Yes I do need motivation, but I'm trying, I'm striving, and if I don't always succeed...

Ah well, all of this rumbling does not solve my problems, of which there aren't any... well not really, nothing urgent, nothing pressing, hence the aimless-ness. In this sort of uncomfortable haze of a life, relying not on the thrill (because life does go on without it) of life but rather the inertia... it's easy... and that I'm trying to get free (perhaps the solution is that I need to get out of California, except I'm in New Jersey), well that's something.

Still, I'd like something more to come from my life, and in response to that I think I ought have faith in He who I love above all else, and in Him is the hope of all possibilities, of striving toward all goodness, and finding it in His Infinite Love.

God's Love, it's just so beautiful.

So what am I complaining about... really I mean come on! I have God with me, always, forever, what more can I ask for, what more do I need? And if the road is tough, perhaps it is just tough to bring me closer to He who shouldered the Cross on a very tough road, and if I fall sometimes, perhaps it is just so I have the honor of Him picking me up. And the Lord remains always.

And so, even in the cold midnight, it's still a beautiful day.

So take it to your head, take it to your heart and remember Rand rocks. Goodnight Folks!

And God Bless.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Ken Turan, Roger Ebert and the incredible shrinking teamster

I've come to like twitter. I have little confidence in its long-term survival, but I like it. And hence I sometimes read the stuff of the people I follow, and sometimes I go along with the links they post and happen upon finding myself in an interesting article. And so it happened with Roger Ebert's twitter feed, and so I must thank him for this link to this article.

The article is While high school literary magazines are a bit removed from national film criticism, this essay brings to mind my days as an editor for the Ivy. For the first 2-3 years I was there, we followed a rule of whiting out the name of whatever piece we were reviewing. But then one year, perhaps we were just lazy, perhaps we were too smug in assuming of course we knew what was good, despite any personal feelings, perhaps we were just too informal and inattentive, but for some reason we stopped whiting out the names. The odd thing was we didn't end up favoring our friends much (maybe a few cases), mostly though we became more dismissive of people who weren't our friends.

But actually, thinking upon it more, it wasn't really a matter of who was our friends. It was more the case that we were dismissive of people didn't have an artistic reputation. I suppose the real reason not to review friends in our case was not so much that we might champion our friends, as that we became confident that we knew the scene and knew who deserved to be featured from it.

Film reviewers don't really have the option of whiting out the name. While no reviewing friends helps, just knowing who made what, affects the criticism, but on the other hand, deep analytical criticism often focuses on the filmmaker more than the film at hand, and sometimes part of the experience of the film rests in its context, including the context of who the filmmaker is. Most importantly though, film reviewers review famous things and even if they try to avoid it, they will inevitably hear from everyone who is in anything.

But perhaps the solution is thus, and this is an approach I try to practice when looking at films. Treat the film makers as abstractions, as phenomena, not as real human beings. Of course, you can analyze them as examples of human beings making films, but treat them as if they were not real, as if they were a legend, or better yet, a story unfolding in front of you. Indeed treat the entire film scene and history like that. I could go as far to say life... but I won't. Here's the reason I won't, life is something to be engaged in, to revel in, now analysis is part of that process of revelling, but it requires a particular focus to analyze something.

By focus I mean, you cannot analyze something and include everything that ever touched it in the analysis. Because, you as the observer are also touched by it and maybe you can appreciate that on an instinctual level, and maybe you can summarize it, but can you capture the whole of your experience with the object of your analysis? Say a film for example, can you really capture every aspect of how you viewed it, especially since how you experienced the film is intertwined with who you are and what your life has been, can you capture it all?

But if you start talking about the film as something real, something visceral, there's a subtext to it all, where you say "This is how I viewed it as me". And what does that give to anyone else who reads it? Since you cannot communicate the entirety of yourself, but your writing is soaked in the particularities of your experience, you leave the reader befuddled.

That is not to say do not make the writing personal, but rather make it personal in a particular way. Confine the personalness, to this or that aspect of your life. And try to detach the rest of your life from the writing. Now that's an impossible goal, but you try, and you might find your writing becomes more than just words but actual communication.

To get back to what I was saying about film criticism. The film critic cannot explain all of who he is in a citical essay, and if he views the film a real work that has lives and history and everything attached to it, then all his feelings about lives and history and everything, and really everything, becomes the subject of the essay. Usually that ends up at best a beautiful mess, and at worse an ugly one. So a degree of focus must be made, the film becomes an abstraction, and indeed the writer becomes an abstraction to himself, so that this particular aspect of the film and the writer's experience with the film can be detached and put on paper. And that is an impossible task but it's made harder when your personal ties to the film are dear ones. And yet...

Is it possible to communicate without that filtering, by just pouring everything out there? I'd say probably not. But perhaps if you're lucky, talented, or the medium suits you perfectly, you get the miraculous situation where pouring out everything is filtered just by the where, when, and how of your art, and thus despite the uniquely personal chaos of your thoughts, something to a greater or lesser extent universal comes out, or at least something shared by a few people.

The article that prompted all of this, is about a film review by LA Times film cricket Kenneth Turan where he breaks his own rule and reviews his friend's work. And does it create the beautiful mess that I implied would come?

No, but that's because the article by Kenneth Turan is not really about the film (it does contain maybe 3 or 4 paragraphs giving a brief ho-hum recommendation which sounds generally like a famous person recommending a friend's film with a touch of earnestness), rather it's about Kenneth Turan and the writing process. And here Mr. Turan does seem to abstract himself to a degree carving out a moment in his life, his writing of his review, and in reviewing himself, if not the film in question, he makes a fine essay.

So take it to your head, take it to your heart and remember Rand rocks. Goodnight Folks!

And God Bless.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

How did I get here? Really, how? Who and why as well

And the days go by and the water flowing underground...


And if you'd like to make sure that it's all the same as it ever was, here's the lyrics

But damn... it's weird... I really don't think I was going to be here. In fact, in high school I considered myself distinctly un-technical and was somewhat proud for bucking the Indian computer whiz stereotype (But then I decided to buy a stereo...). On the other hand my oldest brother's a tech whiz and I took a bunch of comp-sci classes and I also was involved with the Computer Club (which I tried to steer into a creating sentient artificial intelligence direction, but they said it was "unrealistic" and "delusional").

Still the comp-sci-y part of me always seemed a little less than the other parts and that my career would take me...

But what is a career? (let's look at webster..., though dude Webster, shiny-ness does not excuse a website so crowded with slow running js that it's barely usable (yeah I'm looking at you Mashable))

In a lot of ways, who I am, highly religious, writer-ly, and overall a jack-of-all-trades, hasn't changed much from my days as a 5-year old... but damn...

I guess a lot of my amazement at who I am now comes from 3 things:

  1. I went through a period where any prospect of the future seemed unrealistic since I thought death was imminent
  2. On occasion my imagination runs away with my ambition (but they never actually elope! I mean really!) and I have dreams of myself as widely read and respected and yet only a tiny bit older, if not younger
  3. Perhaps most importantly of all, it's the gestalt of it all. Even if I might imagine a bit of myself here or there, to imagine the whole of my being... can I even conceive of it? (I'm pretty sure actually that I can't).

But while there's certain romantics to my surprise, a greater significance maybe the lesson learned. That is to say, if I did not predict who I am now, will I be able to know what I will become. And thus "How did I get here?" begets "Where am I going?"

But actually I know the answer to that...

I'm going to see the King

So take it to your head, take it to your heart and remember Rand rocks.

Goodnight Folks!

And God Bless.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Doom - The Poem

Doom isn't just a word
Nor just a poem
Doom is a way of life
 Laugh in the face of death
Laugh in the face of life as well

Discard your fears
And throw away your security

Shout to the rooftops the madness of it all
And insist till the bitter end the essential sanity beneath

Sling upon your back the burdens of the ancestors
And toss off your loads as a man created from the void

Embrace everything
And hold onto nothing

Stare deep into the cold abyss of enthropy
And listen to the roaring inferno of the passionate soul
 Understand your own insignifance
And realize the glories of the human spirit within yourself

And know that even doom is not enough


(Not perfect, but doom doesn't come just once)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

An overall sketch of Drupal 7

-get drupal root
 define constants
  error reporting set
   server vars read
   ini settings set
   error reporting set
   start timers
   load settings
   set up path
   session cookies
  init user
  load cache
  check if no-db opt else - get db and variables
  cookie init
   check cachable - get cache
    -maybe still run boot hooks
    serve page from cache
    -maybe still run exit hooks
  -set up db
  -register autoload
  -init variables (either via cache or db)
  -load modules
    require_once DRUPAL_ROOT . '/' . variable_get('session_inc', 'includes/');
  -conditionally start session
  -boot all
  check cache
  get lock and init
  if !cli - ob start and page_header
   -init static + send headers   
  -get languages
  -invoke modules
    require_once DRUPAL_ROOT . '/includes/';
  define more constants
  -load files
  -set up settings
  -init path
  -init custom theme
  -run init hooks

Monday, March 8, 2010

Doom to the Max: Doom doesn't say die

"Dude, that's quite the ax in your back"

"That's quite the nose in my business, you bum!"

"Well you are writing about it online, obviously you can't-"

"See more in my business!"

"Look I'm just saying-"

"Stuff! And when you're saying stuff, I need to listen and say stuff and-"

"Actually you don't need to listen because this is an imaginary dia-"

"You fool, with the fourth wall broken, the gremlins will finally get free! You've doomed us all! We're doomed!

"Don't panic, get the bazookas, we've got gremlin hunting to do..."

"But what if they are too many?"

"Then we'll just have to become a force of doom-

And now you know, and knowing is half the battle.

So take it to your head, take it to your head, and remember Rand rocks. Goodnight Folks!

And God Bless.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

If stupid is as stupid does does that make me stupid?

Forest Gump is a great movie. Period. It tells a story, runs with it covers it fully and flavorfully and beautifully. Let me end any pretense of a review by saying it gets 10/10 in my book.
Now apparetly Bob Dole said that the movie affirms that the American Dream is within the reach of any man. I dunno about that, Forrest really doesn't have a dream. That's kind of the point of the film. He ends up in a lot of places and circumstances, but usually it's just through fortune. Where he ultimately ends up, living in a small town as a father of a boy smarter than him. I suppose that's the American dream, actually one version of the American Dream, which I used to subscribe to a bit more passionately, I suppose back in the days (it's always a bit odd saying back in the day when I'm 23) when I was more focused on my future as a family man, is that the dream ought to be that the next generation has a better life than the previous (of course that leaves quite a burden to those living pretty good lives to begin with), and perhaps his son would have that, with the intelligence of his mother and the loving parent of his father.
But again this is something stumbled onto, accidentally. But maybe what it is, is being the theme of the movie, is that a simple perseverance through the unfortunate accidents allows one to enjoy the happy accidents.
But perhaps another way to look at this isn't to see Forrest as the every man, stripped even of the intellect to differentiate him from others, but rather a highly sincere man. His sincerity allows him to throw him fully into anything he stumbles upon, and perhaps that's the key to his success.
Now is that enough? I dunno, I'm not sure, but I don't think so. One principle I hold is that a quality of a movie isn't how much you agree with it or the truth of its themes. If Forrest's sincerity isn't really enough for life, the movie paints his sincerity enough to make itself great. And what does that signify? Nothing really, but a great movie is worth noting every now and again. As I said, 10/10, well done movie maker people (I'm never sure how to allot the thanks for a movie, especially with a book before it), well done. And that's all I have to say about that.
So take it to your head, take it to your heart and remember Rand rocks. Goodnight Folks!
And God Bless.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

With or without you

I've made my share of mistakes in my life, and when it comes to those, this is, well, not really huge, ind of big, but it's annoying.
What's annoying is, I've given up my tendencies to care. Well, not really. What it is though is I've lowered the bar of my social anxiety tolerance, things bugging me started pressing down and I decided to press down as well. Unfortunately, while that left me less bothered by social anxieties, it also left me less motivated. Because in the end, I still like people, and interacting with them, helping them, making them happy, that makes me motivated and driven. But I stepped back from that risky proposition of social interaction in my workplace (on the other hand, not elsewhere, which gives the whole situation the annoying possibility of indefinitability).
So that approach to things, that was a mistake. But it's always easier to turn off my sociability than to turn it back on. And now I'm feeling a little bit too low with motivation to get past it. And so... and so... I don't know. But that's okay.
Still the Lord remains.
So take it to your head, take it to your heart and remember Rand rocks. Goodnight Folks!
And God Bless.