Angry Robot

This Is a Real Movie

The questions pile up. Is it a joke? Is that the most outlandish plot ever? Is “unwittingly” the word that is carrying the most water in what is unmistakably a champion of a sentence? He trained a dolphin to assassinate the president, ok it’s weird but I get it. But he did it by accident?! Tell me more! I would ask exactly how this dolphin was going to kill the president, but unfortunately the artwork is a pretty huge spoiler by today’s standards… unless it’s speculative? I mean, does the dolphin assassin succeed? Is the president now dead?!

Was there a mid-70s wave of dolphin assassin films? Am I wading into heretofore uncharted waters (sorry) of cinematic excitement? There certainly was a rash of “Day of” + animal movies. Day of the Jackal, Three Days of the Condor. But these aren’t about actual jackals and condors. Did this production team, rushing to cash in on the day-of-the-animal craze, take things too literally?

Speaking of production teams. Day of the Dolphin, produced by Asylum Films. I get it. Produced by Roger Corman, totally can see that. But Day of the Dolphin a 70s mainstream auteur cinema project directed by Mike Nichols and written by Buck Henry?!

Is this a real movie?

The wonderful world of Chinese hi-fi

We Shouldn’t Bother the Feral Scooters of Central Park

Fans Were Surprised to Get More Gang Starr. They Almost Didn’t.

New Gang Starr album coming Friday despite Guru dying in 2010. It’s a long story.

Smart Speakers Kill Brain Cells

Some time ago I got Echoes and Sonos speakers for our house, thinking one of the good things about having smart speakers would be: they let our kids choose music to play. This is true, although there’s a huge downside: they let our kids choose music to play. And kids have terrible taste in music, they only know six songs, and they like to play them all the time. The one my kids always choose? I Like to Move It Move It.

Right now you’re thinking, yeah wow I bet it would be terrible to hear that song – perhaps the most repetitive song ever “written” – multiple times in one day, and you’d be right! But what’s worse is, Alexa doesn’t even choose that version from its search results. It chooses the will.i.am cover version from Madagascar 2:

You probably shouldn’t play that. It is staggeringly, soul-crushingly bad. It’s what happens when perhaps the worst rapper alive decides to cover the worst song in the world and BARELY EVEN DIALS IT IN. Lyric sample:

Shake up the ground, shake up the ground
Shake like a earthquake, quake up the ground
Play to make a sound, play to make a sound
Play to make a, play to make a, play to make a sound
So I can do my little dance, do my little dance
Do my little, do my little, do my little dance
Ants in my pants, got ants in my pants
Ants in my, ants in my, ants in my pants

I’m guessing it took Mr. i.am less time to write the song than its total running time, yet I have to listen to the consequences of his decisions multiple times per day, and even one listen of that song kills brain cells. This song is an atrocity. What’s even EVEN WORSE is that of course a song that murderously repetitive is a total earworm – like when you catch yourself singing “BY MENNEN” in the shower. So if the multiple plays this song gets in my household weren’t bad enough – each one, I’m sorry to say, fractionally enriching Mr. i.am – they are rendered insignificant next to the multiple times more replays performed upon me daily BY MY OWN TRAITOR BRAIN.

My only succor is the thought that I do not have to pay him royalties.

Perhaps that will come in a future software update.

Hong Kong student living in Toronto strikes a nerve on Twitter with eerie observations about Canadian life

The winter is dark and harsh with stinging cold. They spread salt over the roads. It poisons water and eats metal, and they tell you now it is safe.

“There Is Definite Hanky-Panky Going On”: The Fantastically Profitable Mystery of the Trump Chaos Trades

The Furtive Writer

What’s poppin, he wrote furtively to himself at work. Of all the secret habits to have, writing was the worst.

It was hard to hide in most situations. Ever try dipping your quill in ink on the subway? Using your Fumeboy-6 coal-fired typewriter at the playground? But at work, oddly, it was open season. Apparently he wasn’t allowed to drink openly here, or even operate a still, as the training videos and HR department made abundantly clear eventually. And knitting was frowned upon, as was operating his forge. But writing was just a part of the job. It looked like everything. He could be writing an email! He could be writing a powerpoint sled! He could be writing a boring meeting!

As the thrill of flaunting office norms faded, he gradually realized that he had nothing to write about. He could review the video game he had been playing obsessively! But such write-ups of passing obsessions always made him feel foolish weeks later when he was no longer in the clutches of said obsession, like that gluten-only cookbook he self-published, or his encyclopedic survey of the market’s leading chicken costumes. If only he had withheld the photos. No, all his passions fired in the wrong directions. Niche, temporary directions.

He was wrong, as usual. There were many things to write about, that would stand the test of time, that would speak to many. The travails of the heart. The challenges of child-rearing. Managing stress. Hard-gained wisdom, hard-lost youth.

Or that hobo he had set on fire last night.

Transit Map of Imperial Rome

The Roman Empire’s Roads In Transit Map Form

The First of Possibly Many Last Posts

Wondering if I should write something here?

Funny first line to write as I’m already writing something, and it’s always here where I am.

I guess what I’m debating ultimately is do I keep writing on this website. Now, “keep” is perhaps too strong a word, as I haven’t really done anything on it for over a year.

So the question, if I can gradually clarify through writing, is: is there something worth writing here?

To be clear, “clarity through writing” is the whole point of writing here, originally, for me. It was essentially therapeutic, a way of clearing an oft-muddled or indecisive mind by testing its mettle in the forge of… words and stuff.

That it was shared online, and people liked it, and commented, and linked to me, and I to them – that was a bonus.

Now, thousands of years later, I’ve made weekly writing part of my self care routine – I just don’t post it publicly. All the eyeballs are long gone, slurped into Facebook’s glass house. Writing here is a monologue to a house of skulls and dust. Ok and, TBH, a handful of my close friends. Hey fellas!

And, I write much more of the time for work, which is much busier than it was back at The Dawn of the Blog Age. And, in my great and unmatched wisdom that I have Earned The Hard Way (through age and hard living), I do sense that I perhaps have a clearer mind to begin with?

(You’d be right to point out, if that were the case, I’d already know the answer to the question I am floundering around presently. And. It’s not a good sign that I’ve avoided writing here for some reason for the longest time since the Fourth Bloggerozoic Era, Since the Rule of Bloggosaurus the Pretty Ok, since Bloggicus Brought Hot Takes to the Bloggicists, since…)

I’m pretty sure I have a point in mind, though, at least somewhere in here. It is this: the bonus of blogosphere community is long gone. That’s fine, I have other communities, more often now in real life, so that’s nice. And even the main point, of clarity through writing, is much less valued now for me, as I have other techniques for finding, or maybe maintaining, clarity.

And, a much more prosaic reason: time. There is no time for this. I have many times written posts that, for clarity, need to be rewritten, and rewritten, and re-re-written, and then abandoned. They know what they did! The only thing I could successfully publish were link posts with like no original thought at all.

But fucking hell, god damn if I don’t miss it.

So here’s my Promise of Excellence* to you. (*Note: promise will not be honoured.)

I hereby promise to post at least one soul-searching, “haven’t posted in a while”, “wondering whether to stop this nonsense”, flirting-with-final-post post per decade, or year, whichever is sooner.

(Ed. Note: I’ve just reread this trainwreck of a post and it goes exactly nowhere, and fails to answer the question it eventually figures out to pose, which is: is there something worth writing here?

The answer is: yes, but is it anything more than tortured, perpetual last posts? Like Sisyphus pushing the Publish Boulder up the WordPress Hell Hill?

I beleive it is, but I’m ever the optimist.)

This Is a Constitutional Crisis. What Happens Next?

Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg on what’s next for Tumblr

WordPress maker Automattic bought Tumblr from Verizon for pocket change and I don’t usually get excited about corporate deals because they are usually either boring or depressing but this one I am very happy about. I don’t know if Tumblr will ever be an alternative to Facebook et al but Automattic is the best possible company to give it a shot.

Fintan O’Toole: Ireland can stop a no-deal Brexit. Here’s how

Disney announces $12.99 bundle for Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+

This is quite cheap really. Wonder if there will be an option for Disney+ on its own though?

How the Cover Song Conquered Movie Trailers

Thanks again for the link, y

‘Never On Tuesday’: The Real Story Of The Bizarre Nicolas Cage Cameo That Lit Up The Internet

Thanks for the link, y. Great clip but mostly I want to mention this anecdote:

I had gone to a party that he was at, maybe a year before. A friend said, “Oh, you want to go to a party that Nic Cage is having?” We went to an apartment in a famous old building called El Royale in Hollywood. Went up to whatever floor the party was on. There were very few people there. And Nic was there with Crispin Glover. I’m not even sure if it was Nic or Crispin Glover’s apartment, but there was a giant aquarium and there was a baby shark just swimming back and forth inside. He just sitting on the end of the bed, and he sat there for maybe an hour just watching the shark going up and down.

Children’s Village Forever

In designing Children’s Village, his driving philosophy was simple: “What would I, as a child, like to do.” But his conception of what a child might like to do was shaped by a childhood so full of Dickensian deprivation and casual violence that the idea of transplanting that experience to quiet 1970s Toronto is impossible to imagine.

To Impeach or Not Impeach

I place a lot of stock in the opinion of Josh Marshall at TPM, who thinks, if I can summarize: impeachment that is sure to die in a Republican-controlled Senate is a waste of time, so Democrats should focus on the other ongoing investigations, and possibly pursue impeachment at a later date if the needle starts to shift. Here’s one article on the topic, and here’s a more recent one.

(Brief summary of how it works: the House of Representatives, now controlled by Democrats, would start an impeachment inquiry. This would be a “trial” in the House in which evidence is presented, testimony given, etc. They would then vote on articles of impeachment, and then the vote on whether to actually remove Trump from office is done by the Senate, and requires a supermajority of 67. The Senate is currently controlled by Republicans.)

On the other hand, there are some great points in this article. First, impeachment proceedings themselves will move the needle.

Richard Nixon’s approval rating was at 65 percent when his impeachment process began and only 19 percent of the public supported his impeachment. By the end, the numbers had flipped: his approval was 24 percent and support for impeachment was 57 percent.

Second, even if the Senate lets Trump off, this is a better position for Democrats than failing to impeach:

If the public believes Trump is guilty but the Senate lets him off anyway, he won’t ever be truly exonerated—he’ll be O.J. Simpson, assumed guilty but sprung by allies and circumstance. Some Democrats have argued that we should skip impeachment and vote Trump out instead. But if the House impeaches Trump and Senate Republicans fall in line to protect him, the argument that the ballot is the only way to remove him will be supercharged… By contrast, declining to impeach Trump validates his claim that Mueller exonerated him.

Finally, this sobering point:

Even more ominously, Trump’s weaponized Department of Justice under Barr, who has shown himself to be Trump’s eager and obedient partner in abusing the power of the state to advance the president’s political interests, will inevitably invent a pretext for investigating the Democratic nominee. Democrats should consider whether they’d rather engage that fight against a president who has been impeached for serious crimes, or against a president strengthened by the de facto exoneration bestowed when his opponents declined to pursue the evidence against him.

Here’s an article by Greg Sargent that goes into more detail about how impeachment proceedings against Nixon affected poll numbers. Essentially, support among Republican voters was never more than one third, but the proceedings galvanized Democrats and swayed independents.

Josh has just posted this morning on the topic, clarifying some points, but unfortunately it’s behind the paywall (totes worth paying for btw). Here’s the crux fo me:

Historically impeachment inquiries have lasted about eight weeks, give or take. So once you commence an impeachment inquiry I think you’re starting a timer that leads you to a vote on articles of impeachment in a couple months. It seems crazy to me to put a two month time limit on the mountain of things Democrats need to be investigating. In theory, you could just declare its open-ended and say it won’t be bound by any arbitrary timeline. This was actually my thinking at first. But that’s naive. This greases the skids for actual impeachment on a pretty short timeline and ‘when will they impeach’ will become the question that overwhelms everything else.

Two points here. First, even if you concede that the inquiry must not last longer than two months, that’s still a lot of time when you consider these would be televised daily – and of course there is a shit ton of evidence. Second, even if you are strategic about timing, potentially this leaves a fair amount of time for the various committee investigations to hold their hearings and present their findings. The earliest you would want to have the impeachment inquiry would be fall 2019 (no one watches TV in the summer). Perhaps you want the committees to get airtime in the fall; you hold the inquiry in the winter, or the spring of 2020. I’m not sure it works to wait until September 2020 given that the election is early November, and you want to have the Senate already have voted at this point.

I’ll say this much. I’d get cable again just to watch it.

Timothy Olyphant on ‘Deadwood’ Movie, David Milch and Why Series Ended

The Deadwood Movie is Friday.

Playdate. A New Handheld Gaming System

Panic is making a console. Hardware design by Teenage Engineering.

‘Anyone Ever Seen Cocaine?’ What We Found in the Archives of Bernie Sanders’s Long-Lost TV Show

Bernie looked ancient at 45

10-cent thrift shop record sends Toronto artist on a years-long reggae investigation

(via retro)

“Neural network generating technical death metal, via livestream 24/7 to infinity.”