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Journal of No. 118


March 30th, 2006

The dam breaks, the floodwaters are released @ 09:56 am


I've been busy at work, which has been cramping my less work-like activities. But the morning's not over and I've unexpectedly sold close to $8,000 worth of stuff at work, so I'm gonna play net-hooky for a bit.

The nominees for the 2006 Larpies are in. Aaron was robbed on not being nominated for best looking male larper, though James Balelo is a shoe-in for the win.
Rebecca and I are still in the running. Her for best-lookin', me for monstrous-lookin'. I'm afraid the dragon has it sewn up. If I saw that at a LARP, I'd crap my pants. Losing to the dragon would be fine with me, since all I did was wear the suit - Andrew deserves all the credit for the monster. The Female award will depend on whether the majority of judges like furries, Xena's, vampires, or whores.
I'm disappointed (but not surprised) that the venue has switched from the Shrine to the Avalon. (And the day has changed, too). But all in all, repeat after me, "it's an honor just to be nominated."

I've been reading Susan Blackmore's book on Consciousness. It never ceases to amaze me how weird the brain is. No one's quite sure what it's doing, but it's very certain that it isn't doing what you think it's doing. She describes the usual critical experiments, like Libet and so on, but I was struck by one that I hadn't heard about that proves that mad scientists are really cool. In short, a split-brain patient was taught to play a game with himself. His left hemisphere and right hemisphere would play "Guess what number I'm thinking of." The left hemisphere would say "Three" and the right hemisphere would point the left hand to cards that said "higher", "lower" or "correct". There's something so very strangely freaky about two players residing inside one head.

Speaking of strangely freaky, I will move on to some reviews.

On Saturday 14th February 1900 a party of schoolgirls from Appleyard College picknicked at Hanging Rock, near Mt. Macedon in the State of Victoria. During the afternoon several members of the party disappeared without a trace...

That's the central mystery of Picnic at Hanging Rock, directed by Peter Weir. I liked Weir's Last Wave a lot, but I think I liked this film even better. This is perhaps strange since the mystery is never completely resolved. I hate to call it an art-film, because the word wankery is so closely associated with the term, but I think Picnic rates high on art and low on wank. Like a masterful painting, Picnic is not only beautiful, but it gives your brain something to work on: images to interpret, stories to create. A rock-face becomes a rock face; this could easily descend into a heaping portion of wank and cheese, but it doesn't. Overall, the cinematography and the lack of resolution work together to create a tingly feeling of the supernatural that is much more real and unsettling than any CGI boojum.
You can tell that Peter Jackson must have watched Picnic dozens of times before making Heavenly Creatures. Rebecca keeps making the dismissive criticism that Jackson is unsubtle. I always used to respond by pointing to Heavenly Creatures. Now I know where he learned subtlety, briefly, before making Gimli a clown and Wormtongue a leprous creep. Will Jackson ever make something like Heavenly Creatures again? Well, look at Weir himself. After Last Wave and Picnic at Hanging Rock, he's made some good films: Witness, Dead Poet's Society, Master & Commander. But if there's anything in M&C that's remotely similar to Picnic at Hanging Rock, I missed it. What is it about Hollywood that makes directors go from The Hunger to Top Gun?
On the other hand, I'm at least hopeful about Weir tackling Gibson's Pattern Recognition and the slightly embellished historical adventures of magician Jasper Maskelyne in WWII, though the film seems to be in development hell and Tom Cruise's name floating around the project doesn't encourage me. OK, now I'm just rambling.

This brings us to Jack O'Connell's The Skin Palace. I found it intriguing, but ultimately it was just a lot of stuff that happened. I can see how someone might want to base a PBEM RPG on the setting, since the not quite realistic city of Quinsigamond is an interesting place and O'Connell's obsession with the idea of obsession could bear strange and interesting fruit in an RPG world. In the case of the Skin Palace, film is the central obsession, both moving pictures and still photography. As such, I think both the_undertow and aaronjv would find themselves at home in The Skin Palace. On the whole, I was entertained but disappointed that the story didn't really add up to anything and O'Connell didn't seem to have anything in particular to say.
 
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From:stevenkaye
Date:March 31st, 2006 03:16 am (UTC)
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I like The Skin Palace more than I used to, but I think Wireless and Word Made Flesh are better books.

There's more to Skin Palace than just plot, but the questions it raises don't really appeal to me as much. Be interesting to read it against Flicker, though.
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From:aaronjv
Date:April 4th, 2006 09:04 am (UTC)
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Met with Joe Valenti, head of LARPY awards, tonight. It's going to happen. B and yourself need to be there for interviews with international press. I concur with your predictions/comments on the final noms. Apparently, there were at least FIVE complaints from people (judges, or just "peopple", I dunno) about my bare assed "best male" nom (seen above). Tee hee. I offended people I don't even know. SCORE!

I have four or five boooks on my "to-read" list. I doubt I will get to them before the year is out. We keep getting the New Yorker at home every week.

Journal of No. 118