My Old School

Taking a spin on the trusty old Google I find my old film professor Phil Solomon has been up to something new. I knew him for films made from heavily treated and painstakingly re-printed 8mm footage, films full of magical, tactile textures, of which these jpgs are but a sorry shadow (go here to see what this sort of thing looks like in motion):



In the eight or so years since I was in school, it seems he’s gotten up to something else entirely — a series of non-narrative (and violence-free) digital videos made using landscapes and characters from the Grand Theft Auto games*:



My first reaction was that old jealous “I wish I’d thought of that” feeling. It’s a brilliant concept, and if anyone can carry it off with sensitivity, it’s Phil. I’ve spent many, many hours playing these games, often freely roaming around the landscapes, soaking in the weather, the light. I should have been capturing footage, not hijacking police cars.

The move to video is surprising enough—he, like most everyone on the experimental side of the Colorado film department, was a die-hard celluloid addict, an old-school film-in-a-bucket type. But it’s the decision to use video games as a starting point that’s almost shocking—not so much Dylan goes electric as maybe Elliott Carter making ringtones, or Gerhard Richter doing Windows desktop icons.

Here he is talking to an Ohio newspaper about a show and installation in Columbus, more or less summing up the whole series. Now all that remains is to actually go and see the things.


*—yes I know there’s a whole genre devoted to this sort of thing but I don’t think I’m being overly snobbish in saying this isn’t exactly Sims sitcoms or Warcraft porn.


Knowing your audience

If you, like me, are one of the approximately seven people who:

A) consider themselves unbelievers
B) find the Nü Atheism of Dawkins, Dennett, Harris et al absolutely insufferable
C) want to read about four thousand words of what John Gray has to say about it all

…then by all means go on over here and take a look. It’s pretty much the last word on the subject, plus about 4,282 others on the decline of secularism, the end of liberalism, and the death of the Enlightenment. I had it in my mind to write a pithy little post commenting on those bus ads, but he does it better than I could, which is why he’s a professor at the LSE and I’m, well, something else.

On nice things, and why we can’t have them

Imagine my despair at only finding out that Montreal Canadiens tough guy Georges Laraque has a blog now, when he’s forced by his team’s PR policy to take the thing down. Which is too bad, as “people with weird jobs” is probably one of the most inherently interesting genres of blogging.

If you’re not familiar with the concept, Georges Laraque is a man who is employed by a professional hockey team in the capacity of “enforcer”; he’s there not to score, or to defend, but to fight with members of the opposing team.

In general I’m opposed to the idea of fighting in hockey, and although that’s a very unpopular opinion among hockey fans now, I think history, eventually, will be on my side. One day in the 2040s we’ll be watching whatever the 2040s equivalent of Mad Men is, and hockey fights will be among the period-correct barbarities that we’ll snicker at, knowingly. Still, I find the concept of hockey fighting as a sport within a sport endlessly fascinating, and I’ll miss this little window into that world.

Here’s what a professional hockey fight looks like. Note the audio during the replay, where Laraque politely asks his opponent if he wants to “go,” and then wishes him luck. And if you still wonder why this sort of thing is best left to the professionals, there’s this, about which the less said the better.