DIARY 2004















Sun, Oct 31

<18:41> Way cool would be an understatement. This is now way beautiful. I'm blogging on Hoo with a new monitor. This VG910b is the fruit of Friday's impulse shopping in Tampere. I'd been planning to get a larger and flatter screen for, hmm, a few weeks now. As I moved to Jyväskylä last year, I decided I'm not buying another CRT again, and that decision has held fast. This time I was looking for something bigger and more portable, for watching movies on the bed, for which it's necessary to move the display. Actually I fancy a huge movie screen, for which the only sensible option IMHO would be a projector, but lack of space and other considerations led me into this flat panel, which is very nice for a compromise.

For a size summary, this ViewSonic is 19'' viewable, 1280x1024. While that ratio is not ideal for movies, it's great for photographic and textual work. In fact, I wasn't too picky about the resolution, as I was looking for a good !/$ value. One thing I wanted was both DVI and VGA, as I don't have any DVI cards now, but want to keep the option for later. In principle it's a bad idea to convert through VGA, but I find absolutely no problems with the picture. Probably as I'm used to an old CRT and a passive LCD :)

Of course, before proceeding to watch movies there is the sacred obligation to review the past ones I've watched. Matango is a really camp and B piece of SF horror from 1960s Japan, and also known as Attack of the Mushroom People. There is in fact a strong but nonobvious connection with psychedelic substances, which is presented in a few good scenes, but most of the film is so bad (with a B) it's good.

Amores Perros is something completely different. I saw it fairly late at night after a long dinner, and my memories from the final third are somewhat hazy. I do remember finding it great in many levels. The three overlapping stories as such are kind of mundane, but this film handled them with great care. The film had the kind of silent and subtle power that I recently experienced in Motorcycle Diaries.

Mon, Oct 25

<23:22> This weekend was a movie binge of a sort. On Friday I noticed I have a Finnkino ticket valid until 2004-10-23, and on that Saturday went to see Motorcycle Diaries, a true story of Ernesto 'Che' Guevara de la Serna. It turned out a very different experience from the past films I'd seen. It had a kind of 'light and deep' touch that made a strangely powerful impression without a hint of forcing anything. A curiously natural flow of journey.

I didn't know much of anything of Che before, and the film was a real eye-opener in that sense. I now have a mental image of him as possibly the greatest person ever lived. Some heavy introversion with indelible honesty oozes through. Truly a mind to aspire to. Even if he leaves the leper colony only after a few weeks to pursue further adventures. And surely there are exaggerations and shortcuts in the movie adaptation, but that just makes you want to read the book, which would be nice.

One thing that makes this a different viewing experience is the language and the culture. I couldn't help picking familiar words every now and then, even though I've never studied Spanish. I also find it beautiful to listen to, compared to the abomination that American is to the fine English language.

Fri, Oct 22

<23:38> It was a dark and stormy night in this modern interpretation of Ten Little Niggers with a few disturbing twists. The idea of TLN was what caught my initial interest in Identity about a year ago, around the time when Rigorist was playing Thomas Rogers the butler on stage. It was pretty well developed and distorted to make an intriguing mystery film, but unfortunately it was presented in a Twilight Zone style (complete with an Indian graveyard) which kind of ruined the seriousness of the mystery.

Overall it was quite entertaining nevertheless. In fact, the worst thing had nothing to do with the B style; too much of the suspense was hinged on the grand revelation in the end. It's quite comparable to Sixth Sense in the way that there's little reason to ever watch it again.

That was yesterday; today I watched yet another B movie, Creature from the Black Lagoon. Surprisingly good SF for its time; there were very few obvious scientific errors, and a lot of science was explicitly discussed there. Other than that, it had all the contemporary quirks in acting style and male/female roles, but it was quite bearable as you could focus on the decent SF storyline while laughing at the deficiencies.

Mon, Oct 18

<23:37> The quote starting the previous entry is from Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash. In retrospect it was not an entirely valid ingress for the rest, but at least it reflects my situation in a job more menial than what I think I 'deserve' (whatever that means) judging from my background.

There are a few other curiously touching bits about the book, though overall it's not a very serious piece of prose. The author states in the afterword that he intended to write a graphic novel, and that style has remained even though he ditched the idea for reasons undisclosed.

There seems to be a lot of overlap between Slashdotters and fans of Stephenson, and I've come across lots of comments on his stories. The general complaint seems to be the curtness of his endings. But whether or not I've been prepared for the worst, I thought the ending of SC quite appropriate, given the overall comic-book style. The lengthy musings of what really happened were there alright, though perhaps the sequencing of the final scenes was not to everyone's taste. I happened to like the ending a lot, and would even strive to write something similar myself.

There are a few alternative points of view in the story, in addition to the protagonist's. Female characters are a bit under-represented, but those that do surface are unusually independent and meaningful, given the genre expectations. The badass teenage girl Y.T. practically steals the show, but there is also the more subtle and powerful character of Juanita who unfortunately works too much in the background.

In summary, the book presented a nice hodgepodge of both familiar and surprising elements. It helps to know a bit of computers, and Unix in particular, to enjoy some of the inside jokes. I probably expected it to be a more serious cyberpunk exploration in the spirit of Neuromancer, but I was definitely not disappointed by what I got, despite the major differences.

Sun, Oct 17

<02:04> "You're a really smart hacker and the greatest sword fighter in the world — and you're delivering pizzas and promoting concerts that you don't make any money off of. How do you expect her to—"

It's been a chagrin in my personal life, but it has resolved itself into a great liberation. There's been a degree of change in the way I look at the world, which is a good thing in many ways, even if the tears I've shed tell otherwise. Visiting my parents in Varkaus, reading Snow Crash and watching Abre Los Ojos; with all of them I've noticed being drawn to the human relationship aspect.

About the film, I had practically seen it before which was annoying, on the other hand this fact gave way for me to consider other issues besides the story. It was particularly annoying to have seen the Hollywood remake before this original, and this relation between the two was apparent. It probably has to do with the Spanish vs. US atmosphere as well. This original felt more honest and down-to-Earth; the absence of one Mr. Cruise goes a long way ;)

This week I've also seen Super Size Me. A comparison to Michael Moore's documents is easily made; there is not so much novel information as there is converging insight and entertainment value.

Fri, Oct 1

<22:01> Life™ on weekend did not end at the robotics movie. Saturday night was the time for some femijanitorial pardeying at Lutakko. That too was better than expected. The music of Cleaning Women was not just weirdly experimental, but also wildly danceable. I've been listening to the new CD I bought almost every day now. The coolness is probably attributed to bringing back the atmosphere of the gig, but that fact does not dimish what I feel about it. The new album is actually CW's soundtrack to Aelita, which of course I'm quite keen on seeing, but the complete audiovisual is probably hard to come by — my friend/roommate Rigorist has been lucky enough to experience it with CW live :)

Yesterday I saw the Adventures of Iron Pussy, which as the name suggests is pretty hilarious and camp, but it also has an ethereally romantic side to it. One thing that I particularly liked was the handling of a Bondish plot in the Thai way. It was much more enjoyable to follow, with a more relaxed flow, than a typical Western action flick. Plus there wasn't any strong contradiction between the sensitive and the comical; the underlying factor here is probably naivete.

Risto A. Paju