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Monthly Archives: June 2009

thesis status = begun

So I’ve officially started writing my PhD thesis. I’ve downloaded the latex template and written an outline and everything.

My typical thesis-writing day goes like this:

9 AM Bike to the lab.
10 AM Procrastinate.
11 AM Procrastinate.
12 PM Stress out about procrastinating. Man, that was a long bike ride into school. I’ll be able to work better when I’m not so hungry.
1 PM Lunch.
2 PM Procrastinate.
3 PM Procrastinate.
4 PM Stress out about procrastinating.
5 PM Really stress out about procrastinating.
6 PM Really, really stress out about procrastinating.
7 PM Jesus, I have to go home soon, and I’ve done nothing all day! Why am I so lazy and stupid!? Aaargh! At this rate, I’ll never graduate! Time to really buckle down, no matter how long it’s going to take!
7:10 PM Cut and paste two pages from a paper written two years ago. It’s going to have to go in, anyway. The notation doesn’t match, but I can fix that later. Maybe I should make a file to put all my macros in? It’ll make it easier to keep everything consistent.
7:20 PM Recompile thesis file. Hey, with the title page and table of contents and table of figures and chapter headings and bibliography, it’s already 8 pages!
7:30 PM Well, no point forcing myself to stay all night, that’s just masochistic, and a masochist I am not. And anyway, I’m hungry. Head home.
8 PM Eat dinner. Watch about 6 episodes of Peep Show. I’ve earned it.
12 AM Oh, God, I was at school all day and got nothing done! Nothing! I’ll never graduate! Tomorrow, no excuses, I am going to work.

random link roundup

What has Worio recommended to me this week?


more about Up and WALL-E (spoilers!)

Well, my review of Up was pretty short (I was aiming for “pithy”), but the comments have already grown longer than the post, and in them Tyler raises an issue that I’ve been thinking and talking about the past couple of days.

Apparently, a whole lot of people find the long opening sequence, which follows Carl and Ellie from childhood to Ellie’s death, quite moving. I know I’ll probably forever be in a minority on this, but it really didn’t have much impact on me. Part of that is definitely my own temperament — I’m not a sniffling at the movies kind of guy, or even an “it’s getting dusty in here” kind of guy (to quote Adam and Matty). But some movies do get to me. Just not this one.

Now, just so we’re on the same page, I do admire the scene. In fact, I think as pure cinema, it’s brilliant — we know these characters and their lives, and there’s not an ounce of fat. But it’s maybe too simple for subtlety. The scrapbook and the tickets in the picnic basket are just a bit much. They didn’t sneak up on me, they told me what to feel, and that breaks the spell.

There also seems to be a feeling that the scene is more impressive for being in an animated Disney film, but I’m really not a fan of grading on a curve (plus, there’s always Bambi’s mom). The thing is, with a Pixar film, I don’t really think about the fact that I’m watching an animated film, or a quote-unquote kid’s film, and I don’t feel that’s what they aspire to be compared to (well, maybe Cars does). But the thing is, I’ve already seen Love Story and Terms of Endearment and find them cloying.

I think WALL-E is a much better and less conventional film than Up, but it has the calculated tear-jerker scene when WALL-E is damaged. That scene also doesn’t really work for me, because I’ve seen it so many times in other films: of course WALL-E is going to come back to life and remember EVE. Duh. The scenes that get me the most are the montage of WALL-E looking after EVE when she shuts down, and the zero-G space dance. I’m not even sure I could articulate why they choke me up, and I’m kind of afraid that if I could, they wouldn’t.

The Field at Richard’s on Richards

The Field at Richard’s on Richards, originally uploaded by Mister Wind-Up Bird.

Electronica has really fallen out of the mainstream in the past few years, but there are still brilliant acts like The Field emerging. On stage, they’re about as charismatic as most electrominimalists, but the live versions of some of their tracks killed, especially "Leave It" from Yesterday and Today. The music has a clean, contemplative feeling. It reminds me of hiking alone through the mountains.

(They were opening for The Juan Maclean, which didn’t really do much for me live, and I left after a few songs. Though they do have a kick-ass theremin player.)

Up (2009)

Much more of a straight-up action-comedy than my favourite Pixar movies, but as a piece of cinema, it’s so well-made, I can’t complain. I’m not sure it’s a movie I’ll be revisiting often, but I still admired the hell out pretty much every technical and storytelling aspect.

So where does it fit into the full ordering of Pixar flicks?

The Incredibles > WALL·E > Ratatouille > Finding Nemo > Toy Story > Up > Monsters Inc > Toy Story 2 > Bug’s Life > Cars.

That’s where.