Going through the motions

I just got back from yet another Tom Cruise movie. I've recently developed a passive affection for Tom Cruise, based on nothing more than time and endurance on both our parts. I don't follow his every tabloid move or track him on IMDB or anything, I just like the thought of, here's another summer, let's see what Tom Cruise is up to, if he looks any older. He's one of those stars I chart my own path by; we grew up together, Tom and I. I was there for The Outsiders, back in the day. I showed up for Risky Business and All the Right Moves and Top Gun and Cocktail, and eventually I even forgave him for Vanilla Sky. Bold move, I know. We both went through phases and we both got older, a little sadder and hopefully a little wiser, but we survived. We made it this far. When Tom Cruise dies, probably a part of me will die along with him. This isn't morbidity speaking, only fact. Unless I go first, in which case I doubt Tom will even know I'm gone. That's fact #2, a tough pill to swallow, sure, but let's not kid ourselves here.

And the movie was fine! I don't have anything profound to say about Mission: Impossible: Whatever. I don't think "profound" and "Mission: Impossible" belong in the same sentence, even, but feel free to present your own thesis. It delivered exactly the kind of mainline, mainstream extravaganza experience I expect from a blockbuster summertime action movie, so I was satisfied. Everybody earns their paycheck. They all succeed at their jobs. Alec Baldwin shows up and performs as Jack Donaghy, which is all anybody wants him to do anymore, and there is a female role (one! one chick!) played by an actress named Rebecca Ferguson, who ends up stealing the whole picture right out from under all these seen-it-all-before old-timers. It was loud and fun and forgettable, just like summer and most other things. That's what summer is for, in my opinion. It's just one long hot nap with your eyes open.

This movie was shown at my goofy neighborhood Loews, which features reserved seating for the matinee price of nearly $20, which let’s face it is a little outrageous. It is, right? Sometimes I can't tell what's normal anymore, but that seems wildly expensive to me. I could get two Shack burgers and two orders of delicious crinkle-cut fries for that kind of dough. Life can’t be all about Shack burgers, though, can it? Sometimes you need to cut the fat with some wide-release, widescreen entertainment, don’t you? Don’t bother answering, these are all hypothetical existential conundrums that will take me literally decades to unravel. But obviously, on my part, at least, there's some resentment involved.

Reserved seating is generally not a problem for me, since I purchase most of my tickets online, where I can take the time to study the seating map and make an informed decision in relation to easy bathroom exits. But this afternoon, in a rush of overconfidence, I mistakenly opted to “pay with cash.” I rolled up to the box office at the last minute and, with zero preparation or forethought, took one look at the available seats and casually pointed to “A1,” which I chose because it reminded me of steak. Not a solid foundation on which to base financial or emotional investments, FYI. And I knowingly performed this stupid action while assuming that “A1” would be the last seat in the last row, when in hindsight…

Well. The signs were all there. You would think I’d never bought a ticket in any kind of theater before. You would think I forgot how letters and numbers work. The ticket taker actually laughed out loud as he escorted me all the way down to my seat in the front row, on the aisle, which is a seat that clearly exists almost exclusively for the benefit of weirdos and idiots. Not a seat that any normal, right-thinking person would select unless they were operating under extreme duress, whereas I ended up there because I was lazy and dreaming of sirloins I have known.

Altogether it was a very off-putting experience. The lady next to me was wearing crazy hiking sandals and a little baseball cap, which I respected, and we each laughed and gasped at the appropriate places, but she also smelled like certain hotel lobbies in Las Vegas, a heady combination of vanilla and sunscreen designed to smother the senses and make you lose all track of time. I could have sat there for weeks and not even known it. And since this particular theater specializes in all the latest moviegoing comfort gimmicks, the seats are these deep, wide-bodied leatherette numbers that recline to a nearly horizontal position, so watching this film was basically the cinematic equivalent of lying flat on my back for three days while staring up at the ceiling and slightly to the left.

The good news is that I can now confirm for you, from a distance of approximately 10 feet and at a magnification rate of well over 450,000 percent, that Tom Cruise still looks pretty good, and that Alec Baldwin has got the largest head in the history of all humankind.

Not now, thanks, but maybe in the future

From Idle Words, on tech utopianism, my favorite brand of screwball utopianism:

So because powerful people in our industry read bad scifi as children, we now confront a stupid vision of the web as gateway to robot paradise.

Here's Ray Kurzweil, a man who honestly and sincerely believes he is never going to die. He works at Google. Presumably he stays at Google because he feels it advances his agenda.

Google works on some loopy stuff in between plastering the Internet with ads.

FUN FOLLOWUP FACT: all brands of utopianism are screwball. There is no other kind. Furthermore, when it comes to picking an internet side, here's the side I'll pick:

“If you think the Web is a way to CONNECT KNOWLEDGE, PEOPLE, AND CATS, then your job is to get the people and cats online, put a decent font on the knowledge, and then stand back and watch the magic happen.”

In unrelated news, yesterday I was called "Four Eyes" by a grown man trolling Eighth Avenue for tourist fares in a black Town Car (his exact words: "Shut the fuck up, I'm not even talking to you, Four Eyes!"). Four Eyes! As far as burns from randos go, it was painfully obvious, but it also felt like being eight years old again. Good times.

Source: http://idlewords.com/talks/web_design_firs...

Recommended for you

This is Yo-Yo Ma playing a Mark O'Connor song from "Appalachia Waltz." It's gentle and wistful and appropriately floaty, per its lepidopteran namesake, and perfect for thoughtful activities or stressful morning commutes, which is to say, all morning commutes, unless you work at home or are a corpse. Happy gross summer, wherever you are!

Mandatory Steve McQueen

Was Steve McQueen a great actor? I don't know. Do you? Does it matter? He's been dead a long time (1980). I picture him as the kind of guy who wouldn't have much use for silverware. Not a neanderthal or anything, just too cool for shrimp forks. Or the kind of guy who would find shirts with collars a real pain in the ass—a step too far, neck-wise. I can relate: just toss me a ham bone and an ironic tee, chop chop! I love him in Love with the Proper Stranger, co-starring Natalie Wood and Mr. C. from Happy Days, which looks way more carefree and larky than it actually is, and maybe that's enough. Maybe it's enough that I judge the whole of Steve McQueen based on a single film performance that's so weird and off-kilter I can't even decide whether it's any good or not but love just for the fact of it existing. Maybe not jumping to conclusions vis-a-vis subjective, non-verifiable creative metrics is just part of my growth experience. But man oh man, the man sure could wear a sweater. (I'd say chuck the cigar, Steve, but they didn't know things back in the 60s; I recently learned that from Mad Men. Nobody knew anything until about 1985, I guess. Now we're all geniuses.)

Other summers

Don’t you ever look at pictures of yourself and think, really? I was that small? Already so deeply committed to navy blue? Standing way out there on that age-inappropriate "play system" ledge? In the overly watchful world of today this picture would result in an immediate call to the cops by a nosy stranger and land somebody in the cooler for sure.

My friend Meredith sent me a postcard one summer, when we were in our early tweens, I suppose, from someplace fabulous like Scotland or Alaska, and all it said was BEWARE OF THE MAN IN THE PLAID PANTS. We used to publish an alt-weekly newspaper out of my parents’ garage, printed in exotic hand-lettered type and featuring gritty neighborhood exposés such as “Tuesday Morning Mrs. Raimer Blocked the Sidewalk with Her Car.” Once I threw editorial oversight and common sense straight out the window and inserted a coded message to my mother that read, in its entirety, “I DEMAND THAT YOU PUT ME IN PIGTAILS TOMORROW.” I suspect that may have resulted in one cancellation amongst our subscription base of three. Whatever! Pandering to your audience is for the birds.

The kid in the limoncello shirt in this photo is Brett, who lived in Boston but used to visit his grandparents in Wisconsin for a couple of weeks every summer. My brothers called him “Spartacus” for reasons I can’t remember. He was super smart and had this loud wild cackle when he laughed but his face would turn bright red when he was mad, so maybe that was why. My dog bit him once, right on the earlobe, which he was none too happy about either. Dogs and kids from Boston don’t mix, that’s the moral of this important story.

Straight from the wishing well

Dave Winer on Amazon's Prime Day:

I went to the site, clicked around, but it made me feel sad for the little boy who lusted after all the good stuff. Now, if they were selling what I had when I was that kid, hanging out with friends at the playground, throwing a football in the street, swimming in a lake, baseball, flirting with girls, plotting and scheming adventures. It's all about the friends I had when I was a kid. I wish for one more week as a kid, just one more. I would pay a lot of money for that.
Source: http://scripting.com/2015/07/15/ohWhenMate...

Fireflies

And these are my vices:

impatience, bad temper, wine,
the more than occasional cigarette,
an almost unquenchable thirst to be kissed,
a hunger that isn't hunger
but something like fear, a staunching of dread
and a taste for bitter gossip
of those who've wronged me—for bitterness—
and flirting with strangers and saying sweetheart
to children whose names I don't even know
and driving too fast and not being Buddhist
enough to let insects live in my house
or those cute little toylike mice
whose soft grey bodies in sticky traps
I carry, lifeless, out to the trash
and that I sometimes prefer the company of a book
to a human being, and humming
and living inside my head
and how as a girl I trailed a slow-hipped aunt
at twilight across the lawn
and learned to catch fireflies in my hands,
to smear their sticky, still-pulsing flickering
onto my fingers and earlobes like jewels.

— Cecilia Woloch

Two things the internet brought me today

Enjoy this beautiful day // Wire & Twine // 07 13 2015

Enjoy this beautiful day // Wire & Twine // 07 13 2015

BOOBS! Ha ha

haha

ha.

But seriously, just the t-shirt. I got this from Wire & Twine, a Cincinnati-based design concern co-owned by Chris Glass, who I've been following online for close to a decade. Of all the blogs I've ever loved that were owned by someone I've never met, his was one of my favorites. I keep it in my Occasional bookmarks folder in the hopes that someday a new post will magically appear. He actually wrote a thank you and signed the packing slip for the shirt, and it was just like getting a note from an old friend.

+ I miss blogs still. I miss the welcome mats, the lights in the windows, those voices you heard through open doorways. I know it's useless, I know I'm a dreamer and I repeat myself over and over on this topic, as if blogs are going to save us (p.s. nothing's going to save us)—but come back, old dead blogs! Come back!

Movie dance

I have, in this my 45th year, come to terms with the fact that I am a Square with a huge capacity for loving the shit out of terminally uncool popular music. It's like they always say: you can't fight city hall.

via Two Bossy Dames