August 22nd, 2014 by Toby T
There’s a meme running around that is expressed in the phrase, “first world problems.” I used the phrase the other day in conversation with God and he stopped me and made me define my terms. I don’t think it was so much because he didn’t understand them, or me, as it was just that he wanted to get me to focus so that I could better understand what he wanted to say next.
To me the phrase is a sort of post-modern recognition that the thing I’m about to complain about is pretty high up in the hierarchy of needs. Generally, so high up that I (or whoever) feel kind of guilty bothering to complain about it at all.
God says that although the particular expression is recent, the concept that our complaints may be trivial compared with those of our forebears is not. He says that one of the first times he talked to someone about it with someone was with a caveman complaining that the limited palette of pigments available to him didn’t allow his drawings on the wall to really capture the essential spirit of that day’s hunt.
August 15th, 2014 by Toby T
We lost Robin Williams this week. He was something of a superhero in the realm of comedy, but he had his kryptonite. God and I have been watching such of his films as I have in my collection. She tried to warn me that it wasn’t a good idea to watch The World According to Garp in the same week as Dead Poet’s society, but I’m notoriously bad at taking her advice.
The thing that stands out about his career, to me, is that there is so much work that only existed because he was there to make it. I’ve seen the stage version of Aladdin at Disney’s California Adventure more times than I’ve seen the movie, but as good as the stage genie is, it’s always clear that he’s doing Robin Williams. That movie only existed as a showpiece for Robin. God says so, so don’t let anyone tell you different. Mork and Mindy couldn’t have existed without Robin.
And Dead Poet’s Society. A brilliant film, directed by the always brilliant Peter Weir, but even for that, I can’t imagine anyone else in Robin’s role.
Sure he had his flubs, but I’ll not name them here. The world was a better place with him in it, but now that he’s gone, the world is still a better place, both for him having been in it, and for the work he’s left behind.
August 8th, 2014 by Toby T
How many Gods does it take to change a lightbulb?
Gods don’t change lightbulbs, they just say “Let there be light.”
August 1st, 2014 by Toby T
Last weekend was the San Diego Comic Con. The biggest geek event of the whole year.
I didn’t go. I almost never do.
It’s full of things I love, but it’s also well, just full. It just too crowded for me.
God went without me. He says he likes hearing about upcoming movies and checking out what’s for sale in the dealer’s room, but mostly he goes for the costumes. He says people are at their best when they’re playing and he wishes we’d do more of it.
He also has a soft spot for costumers. He says it’s because when he goes amongst us in human form he’s essentially wearing a costume and he likes it when we act like him.
July 25th, 2014 by Toby T
This week I saw Monty Python perform live. I was thousands of miles away at the time, so I was not only not in the room with them, I wasn’t even on the same continent. Not that they were on a continent. They were in England, which is an island, but, well… You know what I mean. Because of the distance, I watched them in a movie theater, broadcast up on the big screen, so really, performance-wise, it wasn’t any different then if it had been recorded in advance.
Yet I put value on it being live, and on it having an element of artificial scarcity.
God tells me that the value comes from the same part of my brain that handles nostalgia. She said it’s the same part of me that values memories of having been to Old Faithful over having seen professionally produced film that showcase the geyser in ways that merely being there can’t match. But was particularly odd about this, she said, was that I was putting together a sort of memory stew in my brain, mixing in bits and pieces from having seen the Monty’s so many times before. Memories from seeing their TV show, from having gone to their movies, from hearing them on the radio and from when I did see them live and in-person at the Hollywood Bowl. So, yeah, nostalgia. Nostalgia for what had come before but also fresh nostalgia, created there on the spot for what was happening right in front of me even though it was happening a third of the way around the world.
July 18th, 2014 by Toby T
I was pondering this week that the slang terms “frou frou,” “hoity toity,” and “chi chi,” all pretty much mean the same thing, all follow a consistent pattern, while all not quite being words. They have a certain onomatopoeic feel to them, but they’re not actually onomatopoeia.
I tried to get some insight from God on the subject, but he just said that following the minutiae of the evolution of English slang was just too too much to expect of him.
July 11th, 2014 by Toby T
I don’t know if you’ve noticed but for a few months now a sort of corporate street fight has been going on between Hachette Publishing and Amazon. I’m not going to actually take sides here, though I’m definitely on one side over the other, based on the publicly available information. God pretty much refuses to discuss the situation at all, let alone take a side.
What I do want to talk about though is the further devolution of the language that I’m seeing in this fight. Time and time again, I’m seeing articles that talk about Amazon’s contribution to the publishing ecosystem citing how valuable it was that they invented the Kindle.
And that’s what angers me. I hold inventing things in very high regard. Inventors, to my thinking, are probably the pinnacle of the human species.
The Kindle was not “invented.”
To invent something there has to be a spark. There has to be inspiration and a new way of seeing things or of doing things; there has to be uncharted territory, a path that isn’t visible. What was unclear with the Kindle was whether or not there was money to be made. It was unclear if the product could succeed. But it was never unclear if it could be made.
And don’t think I’m trying to put down the engineers that created the Kindle, engineering is noble and important, but creation, well creation is a pretty god-like ability. So full props to the engineers who created the Kindle, but my hat’s off to the inventors out there. May they never rest, never settle, and always love what they’re doing.