7.2.14

Little Girl Talks about Philosophy


I am not sure if this girl is being coached by an adult, but I thought this was a pretty cool video of a young person attempting philosophical questions.

18.1.14

"Completely Not Me" by Jenny Lewis

"Completely Not Me" by Jenny Lewis was the end credits for "Truth or Dare," the second episode of season three of Girls, the HBO TV show about young women who supposedly are struggling to make it this world that is too much with us (slick reference to William Wordsworth).

5.1.14

Repost: Telekinetic Coffee Shop Surprise Prank


My friend Frank Levy showed me this video and he said, "For a moment these people thought anything was possible." Filmed in a West Village Coffee shop, the makers of Carrie, the Stephen King pyromancer reboot, aim for a genuine shock effect. Frank suggested watching it a couple of times, each time focusing on each of the customers' reactions. Even the woman's dog is freaked. What would Baudrillard say about this? I don't know.

2.1.14

Greig's Best Movies of 2013

To add to the glut of "best of" 2013 lists compiled this time of year, here's my authoritative round-up (not!) of the best movies. In my humble opinion.

1.) Blue Jasmine
Cate Blanchett is tragically diaphanous in Woody Allen's newest cinematic addition.

2.) The Bling Ring
Sofia Copola shows us the beauty of the Los Angeles hills and a vicarious glimpse into the celebrity rich through the lens of the children who rob them.

3.) Mud
You may remember Tye Sheridan in The Tree of Life. He gets his chance to shine in this coming of age tale set in Louisiana.

4.) Lore
A Nazi family try to escape capture at the end of World War II in this drama directed by Cate Shortland.

5.) West of Memphis
Damien Echols, one of the falsely accused "West Memphis Three," gets his chance to tell his story in this revealing documentary directed by Amy Berg.

6.) Gravity
I spent more time looking at the spiraling Earth than the actors, but this movie is cosmic and terrifying.

7.) Her
Spike Jonze is one of my favorite directors. Her adds to my admiration. I've been waiting for a movie about computer love for a long time. It's finally here.

8.) The Spectacular Now
This understated movie ends differently than the novel it's based on, but I thought the two young actors were superb in their vulnerability.

9.) Stand Clear of the Closing Doors
Sam Fleischner allows us to follow a young autistic boy who runs away from his home in Far Rockaway to travel the New York City subway alone right before Hurricane Sandy crashes on shore.

10.) Prisoners
Two girls go missing and the result is an irrational rupture of both desperation to find the truth (Jake Gyllenhaal's performance of a local detective) and insane vigilante justice (Hugh Jackman, who plays the father of one of the missing girls).

1.1.14

Greig's Best Books Read in 2013

Taking my cue from Stephen King in the “Best of” issue of Entertainment Weekly and my High School librarian Margot Polley who every year lists her favorite books, I do the same for my favorite books read in 2013. Note I do not list books necessarily published in 2013, but books I read. This year I read a little bit of everything, so instead of listing books by categories, I decided to just list six memorable books that I thought were awesome. My criteria for selection was whether or not the book was fun to read. If you want to make your own list, go ahead. So here goes …
1. Big Brother by Lionel Shriver
The best novel I read this year. Shriver delivers in her latest diatribe-cum-novel on the healthy eating craze. Pandora Halfdanarson's brother Edison comes to live with her and he's 336 pounds -- a shock to the sister and her nuclear family. The novel glitters with cute tidbits like jabs on healthy eating -- none of the meals Pandora's health crazed husband cooks up are appealing. I love Shriver's nice touches like Pandora's line of talking dolls she sells online that say mean things for people you love. It's standard Shriver replete with an impressive vocabulary and insight into sibling relationships. 

2. Truffaut/Hitchcock by François Truffaut (an interview with Alfred Hitchcock)
The best cinema book I read. Two venerable directors talk about cinema in this classic interview conducted by the French New Wave director Truffaut and stringent auteur Hitchcock. Less on biography and more on form and execution, this book is a fascinating read for cinephiles. I personally love both Truffaut and Hitchcock and I came away with the conclusion that Truffaut makes moves born from his exacting emotional intuition and Hitchcock is the total opposite. Truffaut quizzes Hitchcock on each and every film he ever made and the result is a trip through film history and a rare chance to experience two great movie masters talk shop.  

The grossest book I ever read. I will never think about digestion the same ever again. I hear Mary Roach is famous for writing about taboo subjects like cadavers and stuff, and so I wanted to read her. Do you know why a dog throws up his food? He enjoyed the meal. Did you know that food, as it goes from your mouth to your stomach, is called a bolus? The book is chock full of AMAZING facts about eating and everything that goes with, from the mouth to the rectum. Mary Roach is funny and informative and she has the most clever footnotes ever contrived by an author. The book is not a list of facts about the digestive system. It's more of a series of encounters with scientists who are trying to innovate on everything from saliva to taste buds. 

The best philosophy book I read this year was written by a journalist. Holt asks everyone who will listen the question, "Why is there something rather than nothing?" This simple question is actually a doozy. Why does the universe exist at all? The universe could just as easily never have existed. I remember in College my Metaphysics professor spent weeks discussing it and I got a dose of it in reading Heidegger. This book does not require philosophical expertise and I think it is a good way to get into philosophy. 

5. The End of Alice by A.M. Homes
Every year I gobble up books written by the same author and this year the winner was A.M. Homes. The End of Alice is about Chappy, a murderer pedophile in Sing Sing who has an epistolary romance with an unnamed teenage girl who is obsessed with a young boy (who likes to collect his scabs and eat 'em). The novel reminds me of Joyce Carol Oates's fictional Dahmeresque novel Zombie. Homes wrote a postscript to the novel called Appendix A: An Elaboration on the Novel The End of Alice that I have yet to read.

6. The Last Pictures by Trevor Paglen
There is a certain class of artificial satellites flung into Earth's orbit that is far enough away to stay within Earth's gravitational field but will never either fall back to earth or drift off into interstellar space. They are, say, stuck. Paglen conceived and implemented a way to preserve human memory indefinitely, even after we are all gone. Attaching a small silicon disk etched with curated black and white photographs, Paglen aims to eternally archive humanity's sojourn on the blue planet. The idea is inspired by NASA's "Golden Record" project for the Voyager spacecraft, but less humanistic. The idea is that even after humans are extinct there will still be these "last pictures," a small testament to our shenanigans. Most of the photographs, like a bunch of wasps affixed with what looks like a jet pack, are only meaningful once you read the liner notes, but I like how Paglen tries to capture us in our foibles and shortcomings.

13.12.13

On Looking Back at My First Blog Post

Portrait of an Articulated Skeleton on a Bentwood Chair
Yes, this is confessional.
Forgetting that what I post on a blog is read by people, today someone (a student, no less) found my blog online and read my first post. It is an obscurely written poem about Prague and Dvořák. I do like the first line of the poem, "Dvořák strums his fingers on the dashboard, a melodic lilt to the tune of lips," but the rest of the poem is arduous.