Oct 132016

Another blast from the past, this one from acclaimed French director Michel Gondry.  I know the French fucked-up in WWII, but to be fair, we fucked them first with this whole notion that you can just overthrow whatever the hell governmental structure happens to be in-place at the time and instantly become a perfect, Platonistic ideal of democracy overnight.  It’s true that our shit was derived to a significant degree from their philosophers, but it’s not like they took it seriously – at least not until 1789.  We benefited from a freak one-time-only superfluosity of genius statesmen whose ambitions were unnaturally checked by a puritanical spirit of self-abnegation.  They just ran with it, and their political and bureaucratic institutions have been fucked-to-hell ever since.


Say what you will, but the U.S. hasn’t produced a Michel Gondry.  And it sure as hell hasn’t produced a Daft Punk.  And I’ll trade you a Reign of Terror for Human After All any day of the week.  But I digress…



Oct 132016

While I’m rasping nostalgic about my youth, here’s a masterpiece by Chris Cunningham.  It’s a scathing allegorical denouement for everything that’s wrong with the modern hip-hop music video, or something, I dunno, I think you just sort of go along for the ride with this shit.  In any case, it’s a classic in its genre.  The genre being… lemme get back to you on that…

Oct 122016

Ever heard the term “strategic bombing” and wondered what it meant?  This cogent, readable history by Budiansky lays it out with all the context you need to understand this bizarre, fleeting dream: of war without fighting.


Imagine a war with no bloodbaths of opposing infantry.  A war with almost no casualties, in which pinpoint strikes instantly cripple an enemy’s industrial capacity (or will) to wage war.  A war ending virtually overnight in negotiated settlement, conceded by rational men because logistics rendered its outcome a foregone certainty.  A war without bullets, disease, malice, or horror.


It’s easy to understand why this idea seduced idealists and military theorists alike before even powered flight was proven practical by the Wright Brothers.   What’s harder to grasp is why it persisted the entire length of the 20th century, despite the nightmares of Guernica, the Blitz, Dresden, Hiroshima, and the Cold War’s inevitable doctrine of mutually-assured destruction.  Budiansky follows the concept from its origin in the science-fiction of H.G. Wells, through the nuclear arms race and the second Gulf War.


Of course, you can’t really explain strategic bombing without discussing its perennially-neglected sibling, tactical air warfare.  There’s plenty of good stuff about the role of Coningham’s RAF in the Battle of Britain (as it turns out, the bombers don’t always get through) as well as the hard-won (and promptly forgotten) lessons learned during WWII about close-air support, culminating in the air war of Vietnam,  and that conflict’s embittered, prodigal son, the Fighter Mafia (whose championship of low-thrust-to-weight ratios led to a little ditty you may have heard of, the F-15).


Most importantly, this book’s aimed not at the airman, but the layman.  You can easily digest its meaning and message even if you lack the slightest clue what I’m talking about.   After all, I didn’t have a clue either, till I read it.


Damned good book.


Air Power: The Men, Machines, and Ideas That Revolutionized War, from Kitty Hawk to Iraq


Oct 122016

From the album Three (2016).  The next time you have to quit a job, just send this link as your letter of resignation – pretty much says it all.  It’s also the most poignant – and in it’s own way, accurate – description of a bad hangover I’ve ever heard.

Final Fantasy XV Live at Abbey Road Studios

 Games, Music, Video  Comments Off on Final Fantasy XV Live at Abbey Road Studios
Sep 282016

Yeesh.  There’s “no expense spared”, and then there’s no expense spared.

An exclusive live performance of songs from the Final Fantasy XV soundtrack was performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra featuring an appearance from Final Fantasy XV composer, Yoko Shimomura at the world famous Abbey Road Studios on 7th September, 2016.

Charlie Victor Romeo (2013)

 Journalism, Video  Comments Off on Charlie Victor Romeo (2013)
Sep 202016

In some ways it’s the quintessential “hard-to-watch” film.  The learning-curve is steep, but short…

This is the movie version of a broadway play (if that’s even the right fucking word), and in this case, “movie version” means they filmed it close-up with a few cameras.  It’s kinda hard to pigeonhole this thing, which is ironic given its brutal simplicity.

It’s the dramatization of the final minutes of a handful of aviation accidents and incidents (which is FAA speak for events in which people were and were not killed or injured, respectively).  It’s rigorously-based on Cockpit Voice Recordings (hence the title), and while a few college experiences left me with an abiding disdain for “theater people”, the verisimilitude of this is such that the troupe has been given kudos by Air Force generals and their performances have been taped by the Pentagon for training purposes.  Some scenes are disconcertingly short: one lasting only long enough for the pilots to take-off and register multiple bird-strikes moments before the mercifully antiseptic fade-to-black and the text-card reporting all crew and passengers lost.

This HuffPo article describes the production as being fairly non-renumerative for the theatre: “Nobody gets paid much, and everyone hangs on to day jobs. Daniels works construction, Berger is in robotics. ”  It characterizes the actors as being drawn to the production “not because they’re into the theater necessarily, but because they’re into the gear,” and says that the show’s “forensic accuracy” is counterbalanced by an “inescapable moral responsibility”, cautiously likening it to a memorial of sorts.

As I said, I have a special aversion to theater-folk, and was prepared to hate this from the get-go based on the Netflix reviews (the worse of which liken it to a “bad SNL skit”), as well as my admittedly-limited knowledge of aviation based on military history, “The Right Stuff”, and the autobiographical works of Chuck Yeager and Chuck Horner.  After 5 minutes I was ready to give it up, and after 10 minutes I was really ready, but around the 15-minute mark I started to appreciate what the Pentagon saw in it.  It’s damn good stuff.  Though, as others have noted before me, if you’re in any way afraid of air-travel, you should for-sure steer the hell clear.

Black Friday Deaths

 The Widening Gyre  Comments Off on Black Friday Deaths
Sep 172016

Random out-of-season post: as of midyear 2016, there have been 7 deaths and 98 injuries attributable to “Black Friday” (see BlackFridayDeathCount.com).  This has always blown my mind – there are some soul-crushing videos on YouTube.  While the numbers may be numerically insignificant, to me this statistic is the ugliest condemnation of our society imaginable.  By contrast, 38,300 died on US roads in 2015, but I get that: various geographical, historical, and cultural factors have led to us having the most commuter-hours in the world, and some fatalities are sadly inevitable.  The future’s going to solve that problem: self-driving cars, better safety technology, medical advances, whatever.  But when you have even the occasional person being trampled to death by consumers fighting to save $30 on the lowest-end television at Wal-Mart as part of a yearly marketing event revolving around what most Americans believe is the anniversary of the birth of their most sacred religious figure…  well it should go without saying, that’s pretty fucked-up.