rarely a blog about horses
March 17, 2024

Some thoughts about Dune that are not really thoughts about Dune, except for the ones that are of course about Dune

In preparation for seeing Dune 2 in theaters, at the recommendation of approximately seven thousand people, I watched the first three-fifths of the first Dune film, slowly pretending to be increasingly absorbed with my phone despite nothing happening on my phone, before turning it off, apologizing to my girlfriend, and asking her wheth...
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February 10, 2024

The Sight and Sound 100: an incomplete series of capsule reviews

In late 2022, Sight and Sound released its once-a-decade list of the greatest films of all time. The list is voted on by slightly under 2,000 film critics, making it a somewhat more rigorous survey than most, and this decade's was a doozy: thanks, in part, to the inclusion of significantly more women and non-white critics, rankings wer...
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September 16, 2023

Ween live: a capsule review

The comedian Stewart Lee does a bit where he compares how easy it is for youngsters to get into BDSM now, compared to what their grandparents had to go through. He describes said grandparents sneaking onto farms, stealing empty potato sacks, in order to manufacture gimp masks for themselves. Nowadays, he sneers—half-joking, half-seriou...
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August 16, 2023

The vulnerability that most men never know.

I was talking to someone recently who, like many women, made the mistake of finding men attractive and wanting to fall in love with them. I mean, she didn't want to fall in love with them—she was actually kinda hoping that she'd never feel the urge to fall in love again. Because—get this—every time she tried to fall in love, it was wit...
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July 28, 2023

Human experience, hold the humanity.

Kittens, babies, and pornography are the most popular content on the Internet because they allow emotionally repressed people opportunities to express feelings without admitting any tenderness or vulnerability in the process. Following in close second is content that induces outrage, resentment, grievance, and despair, for similar reas...
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June 30, 2023

An album review that isn't an album review, really

Today, I would like to discuss the new album One-Hit Wonder by Suzuki Matsuo, a duet consisting of Kiyonori Matsuo and Keiichi Suzuki, most famous for being the founder of the legendary Moonriders. You can listen to the whole album here. It would be hard for me to "review" this album, because it wears its joys and sweetnesses on its su...
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June 12, 2023

Harry Potter and the Cauldron of Media Illiteracy

Somehow, over the span of a decade, I've gone from a Problematic Harry Potter Hater to a Problematic Harry Potter Lover. At no point in that decade have my feelings about Harry Potter changed; I would go as far as to say that I'm not sure I've had an original thought about Harry Potter between 2013 and today. There simply has not been ...
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June 10, 2023

A rant about the gaslighting bastard that is the official Shrek soundtrack.

You don't know what the world is, when you're still young. You haven't experienced its many miracles, not enough to know where to look for them. You haven't witnessed its unfathomable cruelties, either. I wasn't ready for Shrek. Specifically, I wasn't ready for John Cale. But I wasn't ready to experience such profound betrayal, either....
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May 18, 2023

NOBODY ASKED FOR THIS: Here's One Sparks Song From Every Sparks Album, Okay?

Sparks, the band, has been around for over fifty years. Their first album was released in 1972; their newest, the unfairly-well-named The Girl is Crying in Her Latte, releases this month. It has been noted by quite a lot of people that Sparks remains obscenely good, unlike most things that involve men in their seventies trying to do th...
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April 29, 2023

A skeptic's thoughts on Transcendental Meditation™

At the start of 2022, I finally coughed up the [large sum of money] needed to take a four-day course on Transcendental Meditation™. I'd been debating doing this for close to fifteen years, yet it still felt uncomfortable—maybe even unethical—to me. TM™ has been criticized for being, not just overpriced, but cultish: maybe even predator...
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March 22, 2023

Procedural rhetoric and ludic aesthetics: understanding the relationship between play, morality, and art

This one's for the nerds. Prelude (press X to skip) My academic focus, circa 2011, was play theory. I studied the psychology and sociology of play: how does play affect individuals, and how does it influence societies and cultures? I studied the philosophy of play: why is play so famously difficult to precisely define? But my real focu...
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March 15, 2023

The perils of a consumer mindset.

In the wake of OpenAI announcing their latest and greatest GPT-4 model, I realized what bugs me the most about AI culture. It's not the technologies we're calling "AI" themselves, which I think are occasionally exciting and frequently very fun. (I find it less exciting than most people seem to, but I value fun more anyway.) No: the thi...
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March 7, 2023

Cults of charisma

Paolo Sorrentino's The New Pope is a show about fanaticism: specifically, about the kind of passionate devotion that goes past love or even reference to become a dogmatic, unflinching worldview. It follows John Brannox, who reluctantly becomes Pope John Paul III in the wake of his popular predecessor's unexpected near-death. The first ...
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February 23, 2023

An "Unforgettable" Sound

Shortly after learning about the death of Tohru Okada, one of the six men who made up the seminal and somewhat unbelievable Moonriders, I learned that he'd released an album only a few years ago that I'd never heard about. To understand how strange this is, you'd need to understand the depths of my Moonriders obsession: I track this ba...
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February 22, 2023

It's clear to me that all of Blue Velvet's central conflicts could have been solved with polyamory

I have been informed, by many enthusiastic practitioners of polyamory—people who date, love, and even marry more than one individual at a time—that quite a number of great works of art can be understood by enlightened modern audiences to be about how superior polyamory is as a way of handling relationships. Hamlet, for example, is no l...
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February 10, 2023

Amoral morality: on "Breathless" and Tarantino

I: Godard It was only by sheer fluke that I wound up watching Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction and Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless back-to-back. Pulp Fiction was a whimsical date-night pick, because she hadn't seen it and I likely haven't for a decade; Breathless was in preparation for Godard's Histoire(s) du cinéma, which the Philadelphi...
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February 2, 2023

Thoughts on Groundhog Day

Part of the genius of Groundhog Day is that—to paraphrase Ebert (I think)—Bill Murray plays Phil as somebody who is plausibly above all this. Sure, he's a jerk and a chauvinist, but that first go-around is perfectly tooled to make you sympathetic to his jerkiness, if not the chauvinism stuff. It's not that he's some hotshot TV guy, it'...
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December 26, 2022

Assorted thoughts about Avatar 2: The Way of Water 2: Way Waterier

Mostly spoiler-free. • The middle hour of The Way of Water consists entirely of a family getting to know a new community they belong to, while also discovering the ecology that that community is defined by. That's the movie in a nutshell: community belonging to its environs, families belonging to community, individuals belonging to fam...
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December 9, 2022


I don't exactly believe in inevitability. There are other worlds in which I became drastically different flavors of person, I'm sure. But sometimes I think about the way that I've gradually shifted, across the course of my life, towards a fascination with the spiritual significance of play, and wonder how much of that end destination s...
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December 7, 2022

Maximum Viable Product [I]

I'm going to tell a story about myself in two parts. But for me to tell it, I have to start with the part that has to do with Steve Jobs. Forgive me, and bear with me; there is a reason I'm going here, I promise you. I. Of all my teenage memories, the original iPhone unveiling remains one of the clearest. I cringe every time I say that...
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November 24, 2022

Crude simulacra

“They look at racist and violent systems and see them as hobby systems, like learning lore in a video game. They have special costumes. They can recite trivia about racist and violent systems but have no grasp of the systems' meaning. Where someone else might go into fashion or community theater, they invent costumes that convey the "g...
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November 12, 2022

Where desire leads, beyond the moment.

For a long time, I struggled with the Buddhist concept that desire leads to suffering. It felt severe to me, harsh, even a little bit inhuman. Sure, I've suffered over desire—haven't we all?—but I didn't want to stop feeling desirous. The people I know who tried to live that austere, meditative life didn't strike me as wise or particul...
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November 2, 2022

Dissecting the new White Lotus intro, because I can

I can't stop listening to the new theme to season 2 of The White Lotus, which has been playing on repeat ever since it popped into the iTunes store halfway through Monday. I also keep watching the new intro to The White Lotus, because—in my opinion—it is a glorious masterpiece that deserves to be taught in schools. This might just be t...
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November 1, 2022

Are poptimists hipsters? An investigation

I spent a year of my life—specifically, my freshman year in college—fascinated by hipsters from afar. I was at a dull school, wondering how on earth my life was supposed to begin, and I lived close enough to New York City that I could imagine a more exotic life happening just beyond my grasp. I couldn't imagine the world of art, cultur...
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October 31, 2022

"Hey, Siri."

She lives in your hotel, but she only leaves her room at night. Her life consists of her bedroom and the hotel kitchen—nothing outside, nothing in between. She doesn't want to talk to you. She doesn't want to talk to anyone. else Heart.Break(), released by Erik Svedang in 2015, is a uniquely lonely game. Most characters in it say very ...
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October 29, 2022

On the luminous ground.

I've been rereading Christopher Alexander's The Luminous Ground, the fourth volume of his magnum opus The Nature of Order. His first three volumes are what you might call pragmatic and secular: they focus on properties of composition that might be used to create more fulfilling—literally more alive—architecture, and on how these proper...
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October 14, 2022

The rupture of the nuclear family.

This essay contains major, ruinous spoilers for the seventh episode of the second season of Twin Peaks, "Lonely Souls," which was my favorite episode of television for a good decade. I cannot convince you to care about this, other than to say that Twin Peaks is a show worth experiencing, and that this episode is one of the few things w...
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October 3, 2022

The algorithm wants to kill you.

[tw: suicide] For the first time, a court has found two social networks directly responsiblefor the death of one of its users. A coroner testified that Instagram and Pinterest contributed to her death "in a more than minimal way." The defense these companies provided was that they are not responsible for the content of their sites. The...
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September 25, 2022

The tangible lie and the intangible truth.

It's hard to talk about The Basic Eight, Daniel Handler's debut novel and the only one he wrote before publishing A Series of Unfortunate Events as his better-known alter ego Lemony Snicket, without spoiling it. Which is a shame, because it's a book that I hold dear to me, and it's also one that I refuse to spoil. So we're going to ope...
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September 22, 2022

What's in a map?

I've been finding myself playing Ocarina of Time, in the same compulsive manner that a salmon returns to its place of birth. In part, that's because Nintendo has managed to set the standard for game design for literal generations: time and again, it finds ways of expressing what gaming could and should be, and its expressions often win...
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