I was walking my toddler to daycare today, as I do most weekdays, and we arrived at a busy intersection nearby. The OX bus to San Francisco had just dropped off a heavily eye-shadowed sullen Goth teenager with dark feathered hair and was preparing to turn the corner on a green light when it just...stopped. Traffic starting backing up several blocks to the bridge to Bay Farm Island.
What was the deal? Why was the bus driver just sitting there? Did she have to stay there until a certain time? Was the bus broken? Were my son and I too close to the curb? I stepped back, then saw the problem.
In the turn lane of the cross street, in the car-sized box of the lane with the giant words KEEP CLEAR painted in it, a woman was sitting in her minivan. Was she oblivious? Stupid? Selfish? Ignorant? Illiterate? Had she just made a mistake?
The KEEP CLEAR was added to the street about a year or so ago because the many busses that make that turn each day were always having trouble managing it without smashing into other vehicles, and snarling traffic. The OX literally could not have made the turn without the clearance afforded by KEEPING CLEAR that spot of the lane.
So in one dumb/oblivious/stubborn/mistaken stroke, this woman had instantly caused a traffic jam at 8:20 AM at a very busy intersection, one that would probably have a ripple effect that would last for an hour.
It doesn't take much to foul up the social system on which our daily lives depend. We don't often stop to recognize this, nor the immediate corollary: that the system is extraordinarily, almost magically, robust and complex.
The irony is that human beings long for the explicable, the comprehensible, to the extent that we rarely even acknowledge the incredible complexity of the systems that flow into our everyday lives, and even deny it outright (viz, Creationism). Yet this complexity is all around us, all the time.
Another great essay from Tony Zhou, this time about why most modern comedy films are terrible except for everything by the great Edgar Wright.
Hana Beshara helped operate a website that streamed "pirated" movies and TV shows. She was caught as part of a sting by the Department of Homeland Security. She went to federal prison for almost a year and a half. This and other arrests of similarly hardened criminals has stopped movie "piracy" in its tracks. Wait, um, no, not stopped...what's the phrase? Oh, yeah: had absolutely no effect on movie piracy whatsoever.
You can say, The law is the law and If you can't do the time, don't do the crime. Except that the law has been written by giant media corporations and their lobbyists to protect their own decades-old business models. The history of entrepreneurship—particularly in the media industries—is essentially a story of one "illegal" assault on old technologies and outmoded business models after another, trademark wars, intellectual property "theft," and rampant bootlegging that then turned into, say, the motion picture business, or radio, or cable television, or the VCR. Funded Ivy-league prodigies become billionaires doing this. Less gilded kids go to federal prison.
Great mashup artist, or the Greatest mashup artist?
I don’t know what Terminator 5 is going to be about, of course, since it won’t be out for a year, but here’s what I think should happen in T6:
A Terminator is sent back in time to kill John Conner when he’s like, whatever, 30, or something. (I know, the world ended in T3. Big deal, it’s time travel, blah-blah-blah, magic.) Anywho, the robot succeeds, in the first ten minutes of the film. Bam, Conner’s dead, mission accomplished. (Bonus if this time the adult Conner is played by Edward Furlong.)
Now the Terminator has to adjust to just hanging around in the present with nothing to do. He has to “live his life.” So he does stuff, meets people, becomes a member of the community, goes to college, falls in love, whatever. Eventually, he develops empathy for human beings and comes to regret what he’s done.
So he puts himself in deep-freeze or something and waits for the rise of the machines, then he hops back in the time machine, goes back in time and stops himself from killing John Conner. The End.
You’re welcome, Terminator producers.
Every Frame a Painting’s Tony Zhou is back with an excellent essay on Satoshi Kon’s editing style. Four years after his passing, we still haven’t quite caught up to Satoshi Kon, one of the great visionaries of modern film. In just four features and one TV series, he developed a unique style of editing that distorted and warped space and time. Join us in honoring the greatest Japanese animator not named Miyazaki.
Satoshi Kon (今 敏) was a Japanese anime directer, writer, and manga artist. His artistic vision and penchant for blending reality with dreams and the subconscious made him one of the few modern artists pushing anime forward. Mr. Kon is best known for directing Perfect Blue, Millennium Actress, Paprika, and Tokyo Godfathers. He also directed the psychological horror anime series Paranoia Agent. Mr. Kon was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in May of 2010, and passed away at the age of 46 on August 24, 2010. You can read his final words here. Mr. Kon was working on a new film called The Dream Machine at the time of his passing. It has recently been announced that production on the movie will continue, though doubtless the completion of the movie will be bittersweet for both the fans and those at Madhouse Inc. —Fuck Yeah, Satoshi Kon
This is a brilliant primer on the uses and abuses of the cinematic frame.