"That which is overdesigned, too highly specific, anticipates outcome; the anticipation of outcome guarantees, if not failure, the absence of grace."
-- William Gibson, All Tomorrow's Parties
August 4, 2006

Analogies and Metaphors Found in High School Essays

Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.

Absolute genius. I love it. I've been reading Chandler all weekend, too, so it's especially fitting.

He fell for her like his heart was a mob informant and she was the East River.

[via pete]

12:51 PM | Linkwhore
August 6, 2006
August 10, 2006

A few months ago I saw the trailer for Brick. I was hooked on the trailer, and probably watched it half a dozen times. It felt very noir, from the cinematography to the sparse dialogue.

I pre-ordered from Amazon and it came in this week. I watched it last night and was completely floored. I haven't seen a movie this good -- in any genre -- in a long time.

The crew, director, cast -- they definitely knew what the score was. The movie captures noir, both written and film, perfectly. All the cliches you expect to be there are, but like any good story they're twisted and curved, made new. The dialogue is awesome: Sparse and stilted, with the right amount sneer and bile dripping under broken hearts and bones. Brendan even slaps a guy into submission (the last paragraph).

The movie is set at a high school is southern California, but it's completely understated. The characters are what you expect to find in any hard-bitten, dog-eared Hammett or Chandler story. Maybe they wear a jacket with a felt letter on it; maybe they're hanging out in the library and worrying about a math test. But they're perfectly formed for the genre in all the ways that the 2001 Hamlet revisioning tried and failed. That this is not a re-telling or re-imagining, but a new story probably helps a bit in that regard.

The music is as understated and just as necessary as the setting... again, perfect. My only complaint is the choice of credits music, Sister Ray by the Velvet Underground. Very out of place and jarring; it fit in some ways, lyrically, but not in more.

I've only ever seen Joseph Gordon-Levitt in 3rd Rock from the Sun and Ten Things I Hate About You, but the dude knows how to roll in noir. "Throw one at me if you want, hash head. I've got all five senses and I slept last night, that puts me six up on the lot of you." Delivery: Great.

The thing they did with the Brain at the end, in his last scene on the field... very cool..

The story feels really tight. It's convoluted, and the pacing is excellent. In the deleted scenes, you see all the extended versions of the scenes, or the scenes they reshot, and yeah, take a little out, and they got it to fit just right. And you know it's coming, what inevitably does, but it still hits you right in the gut.

The director says it was inspired by the stories of Dashiel Hammett, and that really shows through. Go buy it.

(And the soundtrack is on iTMS, which is frickin' sweet.)

(Oh, and so is the screenplay and novella. But really, yo. The movie.)

7:47 PM | Movies
August 11, 2006

I vaguely recall writing the following early last week, early one morning, so I could get some sleep.

No idea what's going on in it, so here it is with only a few minor tweaks from what was scrawled. Barely legible, it was bracketed by weekly meeting and automated Linux install notes in my work notepad.

12:38 AM | Writing
August 12, 2006

Y'know, if anyone was going to actually install NetBSD on a pigeon, it would be fucking Califorians.

7:34 PM | Linkwhore
August 13, 2006

The fact that iWork applications destroy .svn directories living in their tree sure is freakin' obnoxious. I ran into this while I was making my talks slides in Keynote a while ago, but for some reason it didn't annoy me as much as working in Pages does.

So now when I want to work on something in Pages or Keynote, I have to:

$ cp -R foo.pages foo-orig.pages
$ open foo.pages

Save in Pages, close document

$ cp -R foo.pages foo-orig.pages
$ rm -r foo.pages
$ mv foo-orig.pages foo.pages
$ svn ci foo.pages

Which makes it really hard to do incremental check-ins while I'm working on something.

Thanks, Apple.

4:47 AM | Software
August 14, 2006
August 18, 2006

< ray> A fruitfly decided to fly _into_ my laptop keyboard.
< ray> Somehow it made it out through the USB port.
< rene> haha
< loki> are you trying to say theres bugs in usb?
< rene> hoho
< rene> sounds like your laptop is a lemon
< ray> Not anymore, it crawled out.
< ray> It debugged itself.

8:14 AM | irk

Stopped at Borders on my way home. Got $100 worth of books. Gorgeous girl in line behind me. I was wearing my "We Must ALL Stop ManBearPig" shirt, listening to industrial, rocking the battle pants and laptop murse. That just how I roll.

She was all like, "ehhh", and I was all like, whatever.

It is shocking, shocking, that I got no play.

8:13 PM | Life
August 19, 2006

There's a poster at the bus stop of Market & 12th St. with an ad for World Trade Center in it.

Written between the towers is:

inside job

10:59 PM | Life
August 21, 2006

So I was putting together a test backup server using rdiff-backup last week, and I wanted to (for some strange reason) backup up the various OpenBSD machines I have installed since starting there.

It's pretty trivial:

pkg_add popt
pkg_add -i python

wget http://easynews.dl.sourceforge.net/sourceforge/librsync/librsync-0.9.7.tar.gz
wget http://savannah.nongnu.org/download/rdiff-backup/rdiff-backup-1.0.4.tar.gz

tar -xzf librsync-0.9.7.tar.gz
cd librsync-0.9.7
make all check
make install

tar -xzf rdiff-backup-1.0.4.tar.gz
cd rdiff-backup-1.0.4
python setup.py install --prefix=/usr/local --librsync-dir=/usr/local

If you are using 64-bit hardware, you'll need to use use --with-pic for librsync

The next step is to involved a hacked up version of the littlest backup wrapper script that could, resync 0.3, and bang, done.

rdiff-backup is pretty sweet. Check out the examples, this howto on unattended backups, maybe this arstech article, and this here wiki.

I need to clean up resync a bit (getting it back in VCS will give me an excuse to try out git, too) and then I'll throw it up on code.

12:28 AM | Systems Administration
August 25, 2006

Raed Jarrar's Story - An outrageous incident at JFK.

For all of those who would suggest he asked for it, by wearing a shirt with Arabic script on it... what country is this supposed to be? Sometimes I forget.

1:47 PM | Linkwhore
August 31, 2006

Been sick for... oh. A week. Thankfully I had seasons one and two of Veronica Mars to keep me company. Props to sunfall and robf for suggesting it. While there were a few niggling things that bugged me, the show was thankfully internally consistant, and most of the characters and acting were exceptional.

Veronica Mars is a high school junior in the first season, in the affluent town of Neptune, California. She's still dealing with the murder of her best friend a little over a year ago. Her father got ousted as sherriff for following a path the population didn't agree with, and set up shop as a local PI. Her mom couldn't deal with the pressure, started with the booze, and bolted. There's also a little subplot where she was raped at a party a while back and doesn't know who did it. But Veronica is the kind of girl who isn't just going to figure out the deal, she's going to live that Nemesis line from Snatch without fail.

There are some flaws: The "Am I my ex-boyfriends half-sister?!" subplot was Soap Opera Grade Annoying, but it's one of the few examples of arcing plots that get anywhere near that level. Everything else works and comes together; when it doesn't there's always a good reason why.

There were some parallels with Buffy that I can't decide make me annoyed or if, y'know, I just don't care. What works, works. If it happens to work with a cute blonde girl, well. Here's me being creepy watching high school teen dramas. cough.

<@bda> Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go cry myself to sleep on my semen-crusted My Little Pony sheets.
<@ecronin> while watching WB teen dramas
* bda coughs, closes MoveableType blog entry window.
<@bda> Guess I won't be posting about that, then.
<@ecronin> hah
<@ecronin> its ok. its like joss crossed with hammet, that's why you watch it...
<@bda> It's too flowery for Hammett.
<@ecronin> now the sweet valley high reruns... that's just creepy

That's actually a pseudo-quote from the director of Brick, talking about how Chandler is more flowery than Hammett. How Marlowe (or any of the proto-dicks that became Marlowe eventually) are underneath mostly nice guys, and enjoy relating the graft and being clever, whereas Hammett's characters play it close to the vest.

Veronica mostly plays it close to the vest, up until the point where yeah, it's time to tell the tale, to get the other guy to fill in the holes. The show also plays it pretty close: At one point, you see Aaron Echolls telling Kendrall to "go to his son's apartment..." Next you see her picking up some hair from Duncan's (Logan Echoll's roommate) shower drain. Later Kendrall "suggests" to Cassidy that they buy the old Kane estate, and later still (much further on in the season) you hear about how Aaron's Oscar statue was found buried in the backyard, covered in Lily Kane's blood with Duncan's DNA found on it as -- in the form of hair. Now, put out like that, it's a pretty clear line that Aaron had Kendrall plant the statue as to create reasonable doubt that the ash tray found in the pool is what was used to kill Lily. Keep in mind that these actions are spread across a dozen or so episodes and no one ever states "the statue was planted! The hair was planted!" or anything of the like. The audience is left to figure it out, which is pretty damn nice.

Anyway, some Buffy parallels:

  • Big Love is a brooding sort of dude, who might be evil sometimes, and you can't have sex with him for some reason (Angel/Duncan)
  • One of the Mini Bads is an eventual Love Interest, also very sarcastic with entertaining mannerisms (Spike/Logan)
  • Protagonist hooks/unhooks with Mini Bad who tries really hard to be a good guy for the sake of the protagonist; mostly fails except when it really matters
  • Protagonist hooks up with an Actual Nice Guy who screws up eventually but is still an Actual Nice Guy (Riley/Leo; for the record, I hated Riley and still do)
  • Nerdy Hacker Chick who gets hotter as the series progresses (Willow/Mac)
  • Protagonist has a single parent (Joyce/Keith; I was afraid they were going to actually kill Keith off in the last episode of s2, a la Joyce's death, but... thankfully not. Keith is one of the best parts of the show)
  • The Mayor

Needless to say in a lot of ways I can see people arguing it's just Buffy without the demons and magic, but I find it hard to care. I had a lot of fun and while it might just be the fever talking, I was pretty into the characters. At the end of s2, where it's entirely possible that Keith Mars has just been blown up, I admit to requiring only the edge of my seat (it was also one of those instances where you know they haven't killed him off, there's no way they could have, but you're still into it enough to have the fear you aren't going to get Keith in anything but a stupid flashback ever again). The arcs were also excellent, and s2 pulled quite a few aspects of the previous season in just when you figured the writers had written them off.

There's a lot of annoying beautiful rich people, and the social commentary is a bit ... skewed and screwy (I grew up outside a real barrio), but again, it's hard to care. The stories are amusing, the characters are great, and like, Kristen Bell is really hot or something? I am absolutely looking forward to season three, wherein I hope that Logan stops being such a freaking rich boy wannabe hoodlum. Also, more Cliff. Cliff is awesome.

1:07 AM | Television