Hill House

By | October 17, 2018

The Haunting of Hill House is really great.

I know many people won’t watch it because they think it’s horror, but it’s no more horror than The Leftovers is. In many ways — to its great benefit — it resembles The Leftovers as it’s all about the stories we tell each other, why they matter, and how we exist in other people’s minds and memories and understandings. We are, to paraphrase and expand on something Nell said in the story, confetti that’s spread out across the universe, a confetti of discontinuous moments and cognizances and ideas that equal our totality — a totality that is not just held within us but is contained in other people and in our actions radiating into the world.

The show is also about our interiority and our perceptions as they relate to others — how one moment and one experience can be one thing to one one person and something completely different to someone else and that it’s probably worth more of our effort to consider that, to attempt to understand that — that this comprehension might be the key to some deeper reality.

The show is also about something I’ve been thinking about a great deal lately, and that Shirley Jackson (the author of the novel on which the series is based) was also considering in the novel: that the irrational is absolutely critical to exist in this universe as sane beings. Jackson’s “absolute realism” or as the show changes it “absolute reality” is inimical to our continued existence; depressives and the suicidal experience that absolute reality, and react to it rationally. The show, then, expands on this and essentially says that the darkness is inevitable, yes, but we still can string lights in that darkness and even if oblivion is our fate, there is value yet in those lights, those moments — they don’t diminish in worth because they are evanescent, but rather are worth all the more for their transience.

And, finally, Hill House is all about how the past sometimes — oftentimes — is just as actual and as real as the present or the future. That even when you think it’s not, the past is right there with us, standing just behind us, holding our hand in the dark and whispering in our ears. It never goes away and those moments of the past (to paraphrase Nell again) fall all around us all the time like snow.

The ending is gutting and elegant and really just perfect. No spoilers here; just watch. It is very much worth your time to hear all of their stories and why they matter. Then you’ll know more of your story, too.


By | October 16, 2018

It’s very odd when people say a movie or TV show or book “manipulates” the viewer. I’ve got some news for you, but you know Captain Picard wasn’t really warping through space and shooting phasers, yes, and that Edmond Dantès was not a real person and was not the Count of Monte Cristo, right?

Perhaps they mean that the viewer or reader is manipulated poorly? In that case, it would seem easier just to say that the work is executed clumsily. Some of it is I think that in good fiction, the events feel more natural and they unfold more as we imagine life unfolds (and unravels).

I saw someone also recently angry that a movie used music to “manipulate” the viewer. This is basically every movie since ever, so this complaint also didn’t make a lot of sense to me.


By | October 16, 2018

I still have no idea what the hell a “Minecraft” is, what it does, or why anyone uses (plays?) it, nor do I want to know.

Some things are better left just out there in the world, being all Mincecrafty.


By | October 16, 2018

Yeah, that pretty much says at all. Or arguing over straws or plastic bags.


By | October 15, 2018

by Cate Kennedy
from The Taste of River Water (Carlton North: Scribe, 2011)

In my parents’ lounge room, after Christmas lunch,
I am listening to my brother, the computer programmer,
explaining the principles of cyberspace.

“It’s basically a system of binaries,” he says,
“permutations of zero and one. So the data
may be stored as, say, zero zero one one one, zero zero one.”

My mother sighs, next to us on the couch.
She is knitting a cable-knit cardigan.
“You kids,” she says.
“I’ll never understand how you get your brains around it.
It’s beyond me.”

And she turns back to her knitting,
purl purl plain plain plain, purl purl plain.


By | October 15, 2018

I am so angry that there is no small phone any longer, and nearly none with a headphone jack. User-hostile design is fully dominant now.


By | October 15, 2018

Sears, the Amazon of its day, files for bankruptcy. It was grievously wounded by Walmart, but e-commerce struck the killing blow.

No, wrong. It was wounded by Wal-Mart, no doubt. However, it was killed by finance and financial engineering. E-commerce was ancillary and a convenient scapegoat, just as it was with Toys ‘R’ Us.

Imagine, instead, a different future. Sears could’ve been Amazon. They had the distribution network. They had the warehouses. They had 1,500 stores — thus the space for sales and showrooms. They had the experience. Those chose not to do this and instead engage in real estate schemes and financial shenanigans.

Why does the press never report the real story in these cases? You know why. Not in their financial best interest to do so. The real story of Sears is should-be criminal financial schemes doomed them, just as was the case with many other retailers.

The Bird Behind You

By | October 15, 2018

This sort of thing has happened to me numerous times (though not usually with lettuce). My stock responses are, “Me too!” or “Oh yeah, is he hot?” It really knocks down people’s presumptions and annoys them, which I am fine with. (Yes, I understand why women do this. It’s still annoying as all hell.)

The funniest similar incident was when I was at a boardwalk in Florida attempting to look at a bird. A woman was in front of me, leaning over. I didn’t even see her, because who cares when there is wildlife to observe? But then I realized she was absolutely glaring at me with pure unrestrained hatred. I realized that she thought I was looking down her shirt, which I was not — as I said, I didn’t even see her. I said, “I really don’t care about your breasts. I’m trying to see the bird behind you.” She gave me an even harsher glare (some women seem both offended if you gaze at them and if you do not, which I never understand) and huffed away.

Ok, then.