Jailtime.

Posted: August 30, 2011 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

Feels weird living in a new home without Internet. It’s only gonna last till tomorrow, but it really makes you think about our dependancy on the net. Don’t misunderstand, I think internet is an amazing thing, but there’s something more “authentic” in living only with what is actually close to you. It’s a form of silence, a very palpable one, and like silence it covers things like a dress, and makes them prettier. It’s no coincidence you’re obliged to respect silence in a museum.

So right now, my half-unfurnished house is sort of a museum. It’s me, my better half, and our things, and nothing to distract us. Yes, there’s books, and there’s the TV – but we barely ever watch it – but it’s not the same thing. The Internet is alive. You don’t just use it, it interacts – it answers. It’s made of people. And since it’s alive, it’s like someone sharing your space. You can’t be alone, when you got access to the internet. It won’t let you be alone, unless you let yourself. It’s been only a few days, but I’ve rediscovered the pleasure of silence. Not being able to get online in a couple seconds on my phone to find something to distract me from the moment I’m living was refreshing. And when I got the net back, tomorrow, I’ll make sure to shut it down every now and then, and take time savor the moment and just watch outside my window, or sit in the kitchen just drinking tea, with nothing pulling me away.

 

 

As an incidental note, I’ve seen the new Conan movie the other night. I’ve seen the critics have butchered it, and I can see why, but I disagree. It’s not a good movie by any lenght, but it’s a good Conan movie. Momoa pulls the role well as far as action goes – he’s not the dumb brute John Milius turned him to, and looks more like the “panther warrior” Howard described. If anything, Momoa is probably a bit too young and too pretty, but that’s Hollywood, and a bit of fanservice for the girls is overdue. The movie has a ton of problems – the writing is often cringeworthy, the “plot” falls apart in the last half, there’s about a dozen too many close shots of Conan doing his serious eyebrows move, but it’s watchable. And it gets violence right. It’s an R rated movie that isn’t afraid to show a violent man as a violent man. Conan is an asshole who twists his sword in a guy’s back while talking to you, and that kills a guy putting him in a trebuchet.

Is the 1982 movie better? Probably. But it’s a 1982 movie. It’s a movie from a different time, for different audiences. The 1982 movie would sell tickets only on Schwarzy’s body, and so it had the luxury of not giving a fuck about pacing, or structure, or featuring James Earl Jones in a wig as a villain. It had action, and humor, and it was a movie made of moments instead of the somewhat sterile plot-driven romps we get today. It would be somewhat ingenerous to label the original Conan a the classic so-bad-it’s-good flick, but it clearly could get away with more than the people doing it today felt they could. In the original movie, Conan the Wrestler in a Wig describes his credo answering the question “What is good in life?” with: To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women. The “new” Conan says I live, I love, I slay and am content. That’s a lot more like the book’s character, but does it work as well?

All in all, you probably heard terrible things about this new movie, and well, my advice is that if you can appreciate dumb fun and loud action, it’s nowhere near as bad as they paint it. It doesn’t take itself too seriously (even if it lacks some humor), and the action and swordplay is excellent, in this age of kid-oriented superhero flicks.

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What a weekend. I got no internet in my new apartment yet, so I missed quite a lot of updates. I’ll try to make up for it.

Starting with a few personal notes, life in our new flat is being a lot of fun, with a few minor hiccups. The other night I had a close friend visiting, and showing off the house and furniture, at some point I proudly showed him a present my buddy Smurfpower got me: a ceramic kitchen knife.

For those who don’t know, ceramic edges are created from a particularly hard kind of ceramic (generally zirconium dioxide) that, through a quite fascinating forging process, is turned into something harder than steel. On the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, zirconium dioxide is rated 8.5. Hardened steel is 6. Diamond is 10.

So we’re looking at a very hard blade that basically never needs sharpening. My friend picks it up and says “it looks like a toy, so it’s probably absolutely lethal”. Well, it is. I was making a salad yesterday, and cutting some onions with the knife I underestimated the blade. It went through a 7 cm-wide onion like it was paper, and I managed to cut my finger. It kept bleeding for the entire day. So yes, thanks Smurfpower, it’s a really sharp blade. I’m loving it.

Moving on to the topic subject, I wanted to share some pictures from one of my favourite oriental artists: Yoshitaka Amano.

My reference to Klimt is probably inappropriate, but I always felt a connection between the two artists (possibly because I like them both). Amano worked mostly on comicbooks and videogames (he’s mostly famous in the west for his silouette work for the logos of the Final Fantasy saga, and that’s how I came to know him too).

What I absolutely love about him is how he’s fundamentally a melting pot of influences and sensibilities. His style is extremely “western” for a japanese artist, yet it’s also clearly inspired by japanese prints and watercolors. His subjects range from improbable anime heroes to western characters in victorian clothes to scenes pulled straight from the Arabian Nights. He’s delicate yet powerful, and his vision of beauty, while uncompromising, is absolutely charming. The men he draws are feminine YET manly. His women are beautiful but flawed. There’s a vague air of sadness or rather melancholy in his work: everything he depicts seems part of a dream, and aware that at some point you’ll have to wake up and leave the magic behind. That’s probably the key to understanding the bittersweet beauty of Amano’s work. He’s a man drawing dreams.

Yes indeed I am. Ironic, since I’m the one who came up with the idea of this threeway blogging extravaganza, yet… very much like me. I tend to be late, frequently. Religiously.

Some say the first post in a blog is the hardest, as the writer feels the need to both introduce himself and to create a syntetic manifesto of what their blog will be in the coming years (weeks) of activity. I humbly disagree – the first post is incredibly easy, because it’s both an introduction and a manifesto, and there’s nothing that is easier and more natural than pretending to be more interesting than you actually are.

In no particular order, my name is L. and english is not my first language; in complete honesty, I’ve never actually studied it in school. Now, how I got to learn english is actually a funny story and, in a curious way, pertinent to the part where we get to my blogging manifesto. I was a 10 years old kid, and me and my older brother were both fans of miniatures and tabletop games. One day, my mother took us both to our local gaming store to get us a small reward for some school achievement I don’t remember, and the shopowner (who, at that point, was basically a family friend), trying to answer one of those terribly scary and complex questions only a kid with a fixation can ask, picked up a magazine from a box. And we saw it:

Now, I actually still own that issue. Actually, I own about 20 of those 199x issues. Because after we started flipping those 50 or so pages of impossible to comprehend text, me and my brother were utterly fascinated. This was about the hobby we loved, yet it looked much more in-dept than what we, as kids, had interacted with no differently as you would with a toy. It was a secret chest of mysteries. It made me feel ignorant, and it tickled that hitch that has always been a part of my life, if not the actual engine of my existance:  I needed to know more. Suddenly, the actual toys weren’t really that important. I had already discovered the power of imagination. I could make up my own toys, I could look at pictures and make them do much more than their stiff plastic and metal bodies could – in my mind.

So, we wanted the magazine. Actually, the magazines. The storeowner, a very generous guy, told us we could have it, and a couple more – it’s not like they were selling. So we sat down for like 20 minutes, in the basement of his store, picking magazines, and then we came up with a couple dozens of them. The guy was sort of embarassed as he told us he couldn’t let us have them all for free. And my mother, in one of her greatest moments of clarity, asked him how much the magazines would cost. I don’t know what possessed her that day. She knew we didn’t speak english. So after the guy told her, she leaned toward us and asked us if we were sure we wanted the magazines, and she informed us we wouldn’t have any toy if we took the books.

The books won. It was just so much better. A toy was a dead thing. This was alive. There were hours and hours of reading and daydreaming there. So we went home, and we still couldn’t read english. And well, with a dictionary and those magazines… we learned. I can’t exactly describe the process. It was sort of magical. It was a lot of fun, and endless hours spent on something as insane as the kind of stories Games Workshop was surrounding their games with in the 90s. But it eventually led to me and my brother knowing a rudimentary form of english (but good enough to scare my first english teacher, who told me she’d never met an 11 years old kid who knew words like “forthcoming”, “middle ages”, and “carnage”), aside from a full set of less useful (and socially accepted) notions like how the Machinarium was keeping the Emperor God’s husk from decomposing and the names of half a dozen different types of demons who could kill you with sex.

So what’s the moral of the story? First, that if my english is far from perfect, or the structure of my prose is archaic, or sometimes I sound like a chinese warning sign, there’s a logical explanation. The second is the manifesto. I’m a guy. I’m not very good at talking about myself. I’m particularly bad about talking about how I feel, as I don’t feel the necessity to (and I know this frustrates my significant half to a point), so it’s pointless to me to write a blog about who I am. I wouldn’t be sincere, or interesting, or I would simply run out of stuff to do.

It’s easier to talk about what I like, and what I do. I’m a storyteller – not professionally, but in nature. I’m fascinated by stories because everything I look, touch or hear seems made to have one. I’m the guy who drives home on the backdrop of smokey mountains and thinks – feel would be more correct – that that scenery, that moment is meant to be part of a story. I think telling stories that talk about things you see, feel or know can capture the beauty of the “real” world and create something new but equally beautiful with it. Like when I was a kid, and I was reading on those magazines of the majestic imperial Capital Ships, so large that they could host a town over their hull… a second later, I was on that hull, telling myself a story about anything that could fill my imagination and make me feel the warm sense of peace that only daydreaming can give.

So while this blog will definitely have room for the events of my actual life (I’m in the process of moving in with the most significant significant other I’ve never imagined I would one day share my life with), this will be mostly about imagination. I may post something I wrote, or some ideas on storytelling itself, or more frequently my comments and experiences with the medias that more significantly represent storytelling for me – books, above all else, but also movies, comics, videogames. I promise you I’ll try to make my ramblings over the things I love as interesting as I can, and every now and then I’ll touch what I don’t like or loath, and I assure that then I won’t even have to try.
Dream on.