Monday, July 28, 2014

How the Movie of our life ends: Linklater's film 'BoyHood' and Duncan Watts' book 'Everything is Obvious'

VICE Meets: Richard Linklater on the Making of "Boyhood"
Director Richard Linklater describes 'Boyhood' (2014) as a meditation on "Growing up, its about time passing and life going on". Linklater is adept at incorporating grand existential themes in his films. As the movie was shot and written over the span of 12 years, it reflects the malaise and meandering we have through the passage of time. Like any good narrative the viewer remains uncertain as to how it will develop or end, the unconventional filmmaking process making the stakes higher. This is reflected in Grantland's 'Straight to Video' review of the film
CHRIS CONNELLY: (4m 21s) He, I feel hasn't settled into a rhythm yet because he doesn't know where the story is going and that's the thing that's so interesting. So big things can't happen in quite the same way we expect from a movie because he's remaining open - Rick is - to what's gonna happen next in these kid's lives.
Without spoiling the movie, 'BoyHood' closes with several beats which might have constituted an "ending" had they been handled by another Writer/Director. In keeping with the theme of time passing and mirroring life itself Linklater chooses an unassuming scene to ultimately punctuate a narrative told with such moments.

I'm currently in the process of reading two books, 'Outliers' by Malcolm Gladwell and 'Everything is Obvious' by Duncan J. Watts. I was surprised through the course of reading both that they contradicted each other. Duncan cautions against Post Hoc fallacies, not to be misled by conclusions drawn after the fact. In 'Chapter 5: History, the Fickle Teacher' with subheadings like "History cannot be told while it's happening" and "Whoever tells the best story wins" he describes the difficulty in evaluating something as ephemeral as a moment in time.
'Everything is Obvious [*Once You Know the Answer]:
How Common Sense Fails' by Duncan Watts
Chapter 5: History, the Fickle Teacher
Within the narrow confines of a movie narrative, it seems obvious the right time to evaluate everything should be at the end. But in real life, the situation is far more ambiguous. Just as the characters in a story don't know when the ending is, we don't know when the movie of our own life will reach its final scene. And even if we did, we could hardly go around evaluating all choices, however trivial, in light of our final state on our deathbed. In fact, even then we couldn't be sure of the meaning of what we accomplished...
In reality, the events that we label as outcomes are never really endpoints. Instead, they are artificially imposed milestones, just as the ending of a movie is really an artificial end to what in reality is an ongoing story. And depending on where we choose to impose an "end" to a process, we may infer very different lessons from the outcome.
Linklater offers this epiphany on his process, "I guess the key thing is to still think it's worth it". A friend recently remarked as we evaluated the intervening decade since we'd known each other - "As long as you're happy today, you'll have no regrets about your past because everything was leading up to this point".

Find other posts that reference Richard Linklater
- 'Loz in Transit' on the radio: Talking 'Waking Life' and existentialism
- Searchlab Lecture: Richard Linklater talking about being at peace with your art
- Home Movies: 'Before Sunrise' - "I've never been anywhere" quote
Anticipation for 'Before Midnight' and why 'Before Sunrise' is my favorite movie (No Spoilers)
Anticipation for 'Boyhood' and why Richard Linklater is my favorite director
How the Movie of our life ends: Linklater's film 'BoyHood' and Duncan Watts' book 'Everything is Obvious'

Friday, May 9, 2014

Anticipation for 'Boyhood' and why Richard Linklater is my favorite director

VIDEO: 'Boyhood' Official Trailer (2014)

I wrote a piece roughly this time last year in anticipation for Richard Linklater's third installment of the 'Before...' trilogy. 'Before Midnight' premiered at the last Sydney Film Festival, Linklater's latest feature 'Boyhood' will have its debut for this year's program.

I still recall the moment I heard about 'Boyhood'. I was on a train reading Film industry news from some Sydney street press, they announced a Richard Linklater project where he'd enlisted Ethan Hawke and a young boy to film over several years in real time. A piece of cinematic fiction in the vein of the 'Up' documentary series. This was in the early 2000s I had not yet stumbled on 'Before Sunrise' thus this predated my adoration of Linklater.

VIDEO: The long conversation - Richard Linklater on cinema and time
RICHARD LINKLATER: Time is a really powerful factor but it is in all of our lives... I think it's more the perception. How your brain perceives and unfolds through a day and just the perception of an event is so human whether you're in a waking or dream state
Richard Linklater's art is distinct for me in that his work speaks for itself. He handles what it is to be human and the existential baggage that comes with it so deftly that further analysis or supplementation only muddles the ideas. His view of the world as mirrored in his interviews and the manner of speaking in his films is what I love about the podcast format. The honesty, investigation and connection found in my favorite podcasts (YMIW with Pete Holmes and WTF with Marc Maron) had been satiated years before in the conversation found in Linklater's ouvre. I explained in length how Linklater appeals to me in a radio conversation about his movie 'Waking Life' - Talking 'Waking Life' and existentialism

Unlike 'Before Midnight', I've watched the trailer and am not averse to reading up on 'Boyhood' prior to the screening. 'Boyhood' premieres at the State Theatre, Friday June 6, 8:30pm. It will be showing again Saturday June 7 at 11:30am as part of the Sydney Film Festival Program.

Richard Linklater: About Time... trains and dreams
Find other posts that reference Richard Linklater
- 'Loz in Transit' on the radio: Talking 'Waking Life' and existentialism
Anticipation for 'Before Midnight' and why 'Before Sunrise' is my favorite movie (No Spoilers)
- Searchlab Lecture: Richard Linklater talking about being at peace with your art
- Home Movies: 'Before Sunrise' - "I've never been anywhere" quote

Monday, April 28, 2014

Video Game Playthroughs of life: 'Review' with Forrest MacNeil [or Myles Barlow]

I grew up playing Videogames but have not played obsessively for close to a decade. The last game I recall being committed to was 'Super Mario Sunshine' (2002) for the Nintendo Gamecube. In the intervening years games have developed more realistic graphics and incorporated more engaging, moralistic narratives. With the online component and achievement building of personas and worlds in Games like 'Minecraft' and 'Second Life' there's a whole universe of Gaming I'm unfamiliar with.

Several of my friends are gamers and I'm often tantalized by their gaming conversations. I've never revisited gaming as I like to manage my "time sucks" which I know Gaming would be. Instead I just ask a lot of questions, consume shows like 'Good Game' or 'The Indoor Kids' and watch IGN Video Game Reviews.

A good friend told me that he found watching Video Game Walkthroughs a satisfying replacement to actually playing Videogames. He could engage with the emotion by being alongside the Player without having to expend as much mental energy and stress. I found this amusing at first but realised that a lot of our entertainment is passive anyway. We watch Sports without playing and enjoy Cooking shows without picking up a utensil or sampling the meal. This is what cinema is built on.

The thing that's different with Playthroughs is that Videogames are already one level removed from reality, so observing someone playing is two levels removed from the actual experience.

VIDEO: The Last Of Us Gameplay Walkthrough Playthrough (Full game)

I started wondering how a Playthrough of life might look like and how appealing that would be. The closest I could come up with was the Documentary format, then I remembered 'Review with Myles Barlow', a satirical black comedy about a critic who reviews life experiences in response to viewer questions. The Australian show has since been adapted for American audiences by Andy Daly, 'Review with Forrest MacNeil'.

VIDEO: Review - Stealing, Addiction, Prom (Full Episode)

A friend of mine recently Facebook posted that her Eevee evolving into Sylveon (Pokemon XY for Nintendo 3DS) was her "proudest achievement so far this year" which was met by congratulations all around. She remarked astutely "It's all the same to the reward centre of my brain".

Other posts on "Life as a Video Game"
- Dan Harmon and Duncan Trussell: We are in a simulation echo. God was originally a mortal programmer who "sacrificed himself as a player"
- Exploring Worlds in life and in Video Games - The Indoor Kids #59: Why we Play, with Pete Holmes
- Onnit Blog: Self Improvement in Video Games VS the "Real World"
- Kumail Nanjiani and Pete Holmes talk about "affecting the world TODAY"
- Skateboarders GoPro Train Derailment aftermath - 'Strange Days' visceral experience
- On being a Badass: Comedians Harland Williams and Pete Holmes featuring band 'Biting Elbows'

Friday, March 14, 2014

Comedians Pete Holmes and Ben Schwartz discussing Happiness and the Haters

Pete Holmes in conversation with Ben Schwartz discuss Happiness and how trolls and haters fit into the equation.
You Made it Weird with Pete Holmes: #198 Ben Schwartz
BEN SCHWARTZ: (28m 40s) I would want to make everybody happy. As I got older you realise it would waste your whole life to try to get people to love, you just want people to be happy, not everybody's going to like your sh*t and not everybody is going to think you're good and by the way you may not be good in their eyes... Not to be egotistical about it and let it slide. The more you get hit by it, the more you fail, the more you get hurt by stuff like that the easier it is to learn to let it go
PETE HOLMES: But its also, your interpretation of happiness is you and that person getting along...
SCHWARTZ: Yes which is - Great call!
HOLMES: - which isn't true
SCHWARTZ: That's not true, you're absolutely correct. That's not the way to live anybody's life. A random person I don't know
HOLMES: ... It's manipulative for me to try and make everyone like me... Some people hate what you love that's just how it is... Maybe their happiness is hating you. I'm not saying they shouldn't be saying racist things on YouTube. I'm also not saying that's their higher self being filled with hate and spewing darkness. I don't think that's good. Maybe you're not for them and that's OK.
The comedians inject Bill Waterson's ('Calvin and Hobbes' creator) quote about happiness into the conversation. It's not the first time the quote has come up on Pete Holmes' podcast, ambition and the drive of an artist are recurring themes on the show.
Creating a life that reflects your values and satisfies your soul is a rare achievement. In a culture that relentlessly promotes avarice and excess as the good life, a person happy doing his own work is usually considered an eccentric, if not a subversive. Ambition is only understood if it's to rise to the top of some imaginary ladder of success. Someone who takes an undemanding job because it affords him the time to pursue other interests and activities is considered a flake. A person who abandons a career in order to stay home and raise children is considered not to be living up to his potential — as if a job title and salary are the sole measure of human worth.

You'll be told in a hundred ways, some subtle and some not, to keep climbing, and never be satisfied with where you are, who you are, and what you’re doing. There are a million ways to sell yourself out, and I guarantee you’ll hear about them.

To invent your own life's meaning is not easy, but it’s still allowed, and I think you’ll be happier for the trouble.
- Bill Waterson
Zen Pencils: #128 Bill Watterson - A cartoonist’s advice
The Zen Pencils' comic illustrating the Waterson quote also gets a repeat mention. Fittingly Zen Pencils is currently presenting an original multi-part story commenting on the tension between Creators and Haters. Find them here:
- 144. The Artist-Troll War 1: HATRED BREEDS HATRED
- 145. The Artist-Troll War Part 2: NEGATIVITY DESTROYS ALL
- 146. The Artist-Troll War 3: CREATORS > HATERS

Find previous Pete Holmes podcast references below:
Pete Holmes collection: Adjacent experiences
- Zach Cregger: Being a kid again and the power of "play"
- Matt Besser: Travel coincidences and Counting the serendipities
- Duncan Trussell: Traveling, living the dream and remembering it
- Kyle Kinane: Being excited everyday
- The Sklar Brothers: Performing, possibly failing - That's living the dream
- A question answered with a quote: Comedy Podcasts

Saturday, February 8, 2014

A 'Memento Year' exhibition, Hamburg 2011

<< crossposted in the 'Loz in Transation' blog

You know the random things you collect in life that have no monetary value but worth the world in sentimental meaning? Scribbled notes, containers to things long depleted and tickets to events come and gone. When you're on the road you tend to collect more of those things.

I met a German artist at the start of my EuroTrip at a Gallery opening in Venice. Fast Forward 10 months later, I got to crash at his gallery over Christmas and decorate my bedroom. It was a tribute to the people and moments that defined my trip.

Memento Spotlight: Find out more about the Mementos featured
- UFC and WWE autographs in England
- Conversation doodles from Firenze, Italy


The Exhibition runs from December 22 to 27, 2011 at Elektrohaus Art Gallery in Hamburg, Germany.

'A Memento Year' title wall
Trigger Days:
- Trigger posts
- Trigger: Day 244 - 8 months in review
- Day 177 - My second camera's 100 Day anniversary
- Other milestone days of a Memento year: Day 200, Day 150, Day 100
- Hair, There and Everywhere: Haircut days in Europe

Collateral and Postcards collected
- Jacques Henri Lartigue: Why I'm getting a camera
- Your image as a construct - What to Wear (Barcelona)
- Art imitating life: "Neo - Ruin" by Hisahara Motoda
- Free Art Exhibitionism

Germans in attendance
- Louis Theroux, Couchsurfing and Holland
- Social Sunday Sports, Basketball in London
- Other people's stories - Tales of: Living in the moment

Sleeping quarters
- Live: Edinburgh Fringe comedy roundup
- Coolspotting: Nerding out in England - Comics, CosPlay, Video Games and Wrestling
- Road Music: Live. Forever.
- Road Music: Hipsters and Hardcore in Lisboa, Portugal
- The kids are alright: Subculture in the South of Spain
- Live sports results: Barcelona, March 2011

Trigger Music

Trigger: Germany Revisited, Impressions of Köln
- Runnin' (Jay Dee remix) by The Pharcyde
Trigger: Living Island Adventures in Estonia
- 'Born To Be Wild' by Steppenwolf
Trigger: "A moment in time" Panevėžys, Lithuania (2011 m. Rugsėjo 7)
- 'This is the moment' by David Hasselhoff (Jekyll & Hyde)
Trigger: Egotripping II - England, on the road again
- 'On the Road Again' by Canned Heat
Trigger: Crazy Times in Holland, Day 185 - Day 195
- 'Crazy Days Loca People (What the f**k)' by Sak Noel
Trigger: "One hell of a night" Rotterdam, Netherlands (Juli 26, 2011)
- 'Soundtrack 2 My Life' by KiD CuDi
- 'What a great night' by Hilltop Hoods
Trigger: "Qualidade de Vida" in Casa dos Gauchos, Porto
- 'Good Life' by Kanye West
Trigger: The impressions of Porto
- 'Bad Boys for life' by P Diddy
Trigger: Ego Tripping in Portugal - Sintra, Obidos, Ericeria, Coimbra
- 'Road Trippin' by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers
Trigger: A Memento year - The first 100 days
- 'Sonata for Viola da Gamba No. 1 in G' by Bach

Eurobasket 2011, Lithuania corner
- 30HomeGames Blog
- Balancing Basketball and Travel in Lithuania - Part I
- Balancing Basketball and Travel in Lithuania - Part II
- Trash Talk: News and notes on Lithuania and EuroBasket2011

Portugal corner
- Trigger: "Qualidade de Vida" in 'Casa dos Gauchos', Porto
- Trigger: Ego Tripping in Portugal - Sintra, Obidos, Ericeria, Coimbra
- Sintra, Portugal: "O mundo gira" - The second chances we get in life and travel
- Portugal: Eat - Fine Food with Friends
- Portugal: Pray - Saints and Sinners
- Portugal: Love - Portugal sure is warm!
- Tudo Bom: The first 3 days in Portugal (1 of 3)
- Tudo Bom: The first 3 days in Portugal (2 of 3)
- Tudo Bom: The first 3 days in Portugal (3 of 3)

'Loz in Transit' Countries visited
Find the collection of quotables here:
- A question answered with a quote: German + Italian edition
- A question answered with a quote: Spain edition
- A question answered with a quote: Portugal edition
- A question answered with a quote: Holland Edition
- A question answered with a quote: UK Edition
- A question answered with a quote: Lithuania Edition
- A question answered with a quote: Latvia + Estonia edition
- A question answered with a quote: England edition
- A question answered with a quote: Germany Revisited edition

FIBA Basketball jersey, retired and presented

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Facebook, consciousness and connection: Theodore Twombly has found "Her".

Single meets Singularity
Director and tastemaker Spike Jonze is getting plenty of press for his new movie 'Her'. A new age love story that asks questions about "real love" in the Digital age. In an interview with James Bell for 'Sight & Sound' (Jan 2014) Magazine, Spike explains that on the one hand we as humans are afraid of not connecting but afraid of connecting also. Afraid of not being seen but afraid of being seen.

This touches on a similiar theme Comedians Harland Williams and Pete Holmes touched on in an episode of the 'You Made it Weird' podcast.
You Made it Weird with Pete Holmes: #127 Harland Williams
HARLAND WILLIAMS: (27m 45s) Let me ask you this? Maybe people have shifted their focus from - I don't think people on a daily basis think about rocks and twigs but maybe people have injected a little bit of their souls into their cellphones and their computers because all these things become very personal now.
I've literally gone out to lunch with my cellphone instead of calling a friend because I want to be with my cellphone and I want to read USA Today, I want to play a game. I want to spend time with my cellphone, so maybe inadvertently we've shifted some our soul into these belongings but its sad because its not real. They're not part of the earth.
PETE HOLMES: Its a synthetic. We're mainlining a fake type of social [interaction]- but its better. It feels better, like a drug. Like a synthetic drug. It feels better than actually conversing with somebody because you can control it. Its a little bit more private. You read your tweets, you look at your Instagram, you look at your Facebook, you play a game, you read your. Its all very controlled.
Whereas when I'm talking to you, I can offend you...
Other posts on Technology
- Being truly free [with the help of Robots?]: 'Whatever You Wish' by Isaac Asimov
- Technology VS Human instinct: From Inuits in Northern Canada to Jungle Guides in the Amazon
- Comedian Louis C.K. on what Smartphones are taking away
- Comedians Pete Holmes and Eddie Pepitone on the phone as a "Life Companion"
- Dan Harmon talks Television with Marc Maron on GT4: "Hamburger" Art and living in a "concrete, Orwellian Honeycomb"
Other posts on Consciousness

Single meets Singularity (Hurt Edition)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Let's Get Real - Episode 7 preview: Losing Yourself

Its interesting listening back to the expectations had before a trip. My 7th conversation occurred a week before my 6 month jaunt around South America. It was also recorded after a particularly colorful evening that doubled as a farewell celebration. The unforgettable night reminded me of the "Elysium Intentional Community" featured in David Wain's 'Wanderlust' (2012). Naked people frolicking, outdoor bathtubs in the rain with a warehouse rave in between. "It was quite a trip".

VIDEO: 'Wanderlust' (2012)

These festivities provided a great leadup as it made experimentation less urgent for my trip. Its true that if one seeks Drug Tourism in South America, it can be found. In some places its common to see locals indulge in the lifestyle, in other places "plant medicines" are linked to the indigenous heritage. More often than not I found locals who resisted drugs of any form and lamented the shallow impression foreigners were being exposed to.

Practising phrases in Spanish Class
English: Where are you going tomorrow?
I need to relax all day for the ceremony.
In Ecuador I had an opportunity to go on a Sacred Medicine Journey with the San Pedro Cactus. Whilst waiting for the weekend ceremony I did a homestay with a Spanish Teacher. She gave me an insight into how the Economy of the neighboring town was skewed by Cocaine traffickers. My Ceremony never transpired, at first it was postponed then cancelled altogether as the shaman was worried about a "negative energy in the air". I was at peace with her decision. I'd spent time with a disproportionate amount of Conspiracy Theorists in Ecuador, I was aware of how precarious reality could be and was not going to risk it if conditions weren't right.

The Shaman educates visitors of their traditional culture and
the unique process of what he does
My only contact with Ayahuasca besides the countless conversations about it was in the Amazonas of Ecuador. We were able to ask questions of a Shaman who regularly took the plant to diagnose and assist his patients. Interestingly the motorista of our boat was the Shaman's brother, their departed father was considered one of the tribe's best shamans. They were following in his footsteps.

Our motorista and the Shaman's brother
Our motorista who began consuming Ayahuasca at the age of 14 gave up this path to be with his love, a Christian tribemate who didn't approve of the tradition. It highlighted the tussle between indigenous tradition and modernism coupled with foreign influence.

Further reading:
- The representation of Ayahuasca in Hollywood, Ayahuasca: What Jennifer Aniston May Not Know About the 'Spirit Vine'
- San Pedro Cactus (Echinopsis pachanoi) wiki
- Ayahuasca brew wiki