Friday, November 30, 2012

iTunes 11 f---ing sucks

Too exasperated to even anatomize here, but let's just say that directly adding a new item to, say, the n-th place in a playlist on your ipod is now impossible. That's a deal-breaker for me.

More generally, at every turn, any attempt to get a clear picture of all of your media at once (even on your main computer, let alone on that and (in a separate window) any other device you may have) is frustrated. Even the ability to navigate between songs at the level of their information has been removed (so, e.g., if you want to enter the track number and name info for an album you have to exit from the informational summary for one file, go back to song listing then choose the informational summary for the next file, and so on: what was formerly a one click operation now takes a 4 or 5 steps. Entering the info for a whole album that used to take 10 clicks, now takes 40 or 50.)

In sum, a program that has up till now been unwieldy and irritating, has with version 11 finally become unusable and non-functional. Sell Apple now. The company has completely lost its mind.

Update: Having slept on it... things aren't quite as bad as I thought. For example, the multi-information I mentioned seems to have more contextual than I realized - you can't manoeuvre at that level in some playlist views and in artist view, but otherwise it seems OK (maybe the database has caught up with the problem overnight - it definitely seemed to be a more prevalent problem yesterday). So... grumble grumble OK. But another big problem: I've found that the search doesn't work as it should. I have songs by Annie Lennox both on her own albums and on compilations like Red, Hot and Blue, yet searching on 'Lennox' or 'Annie Lennox' no longer brings up the latter. Staggeringly, I can get the latter to come up when I home-share my collection and search using the older itunes on the other device. So in the strongest possible way iTunes 11 has gone backwards. That's unacceptable, dismal, etc.. Yes iTunes probably is improved in various ways but, like a car with all sorts of arguably interesting new features that nonetheless runs off the road or can't take a corner, it's still a piece of shit.

Update: To get iTunes search to behave reasonably, go to the search box and uncheck 'Search Entire library' and go with just 'Filter by All' checked. With that and the sidebar permanently turned on things feel almost back to functional (except for the no multiple windows problem which inflicts inefficiency across the board, presumably on the theory that inflicting what's optimal for ipads/iphones etc. on every other environment is acceptable now).

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Godard's Histoire(s) du cinéma

Gap-filling on Sight and Sound's new Hot 100, I'm checking out Godard's Histoire(s) (1988-1998), which some have praised, see, e.g., here and here (for a vital aid). In his New Biographical Dictionary of Film Thomson lauds as follows:

Of course, it was natural that Godard would provide his own retrospective—and sweep up the entire medium. Histoire(s) du Cinéma is a great catalogue work, worthy of Robert Musil or Walter Benjamin—or Chris Marker. But in its astonishing beauties, and the suggestiveness of its editing, one may still see and feel the Godard of the early sixties. Thus, the Histoire(s) reasserted, beyond doubt, that his is one of the great critical yet poetic minds in the medium.
Unfortunately, so far (just one headache-causing hour in) I feel like Thomson's more caustic remarks about Godard's 1950s criticism apply equally well to Histoire(s):
"[T]ruly useful insights were offered in writing that was appalling, trite, chaotic, and gratuitously unreadable. It came armed with frightful name-dropping from literature and painting. Hardly a film could be classified without reference to Faulkner, Proust, Auguste Renoir, or Velázquez. In part, this was his need for classification, the unappeasable urge to cross-refer rather than to describe a thing itself. And these references are meaningless....Godard’s criticism is so aggressive that one feels only its insecurity... It means that his articles are addressed to himself, rather than to readers. The tone is austere and forbidding, as if to exclude others from cinema in the very act of celebrating it."
Godard actually says relatively little in his own voice, and there it's mostly sententious nostrums to which one mostly wants to shrug or perhaps laugh (much as you would to a standard, empty political speech). But occasionally he makes a factual claim, some of which are plainly wrong, e.g., at 19 mins into the first part of the doc., Godard claims that Howard Hughes was a producer (producteur) of Citizen Kane, which is false. (Compare: a fluffy, largely content-free political speech that nonetheless makes a few it's easily-checked claims about unemployment rates or Benghazi or whatever.... that turn out to be flatly false.) The impact is devastating... it becomes very hard to stick-with Godard, to take him seriously. Overt contradictions such as between 'Cinema is not part of the communications industry or entertainment. It is part of cosmetics, the industry of masks.' (2nd part, 7 mins in) and 'It [cinema] boils down to entertainment. It can't be explained otherwise.' (2 minutes later) don't help either.

Since Godard doesn't care enough to get basic stuff right it's hard to have faith in or even ascribe determinate content to his more oracular, necessarily uncheckable remarks. Whether Histoires(s) can be satisfactory conceived as its own self-contained mega-video-art-piece/work of political science fiction remains to be seen, but on current evidence (update: 2 hours in) it can't be. Rather it appears to just be a mess, stuck in some messy zone between The Power of Nightmares, Sans Soleil, Cremaster Cycle, and Inland Empire, and decidedly inferior to all of those boundary points.

So who got Godard's Histoire(s) onto the Sight and Sound list (and ahead of, I dunno, Rear Window, M, NbNW, Touch of Evil, Night of the Hunter, and Sunset Boulevard)? Jonathan Rosenbaum, Richard Corliss, and who else?

Update: Finished it! Good God, well that's 4+ hours I'm never etc.. One of the (in my view, relatively few) highlights is his tribute to Hitchcock in the penultimate Chapter 4a (Le Contrôle de l’univers (1998) - The Control of the Universe). Godard's characteristically hyperbolic remarks (whch work much better accompanied by counterpointing, often slow-mo Hitchcock clips) are as follows:

We forget why Joan Fontaine leans over the cliff.
Why was Joel McCrea in Holland?
What confession did Montgomery Clift keep secret?
Why did Janet Leigh stop at the Motel?
Why does Theresa Wright still love Uncle Charlie?
What isn't Henry Fonda entirely guilty of?
Why did the American government hire Ingrid Bergman?

But we remember a handbag.
But we remember a bus in the desert.
But we remember a glass of milk, a windmill, a hairbrush.
But we remember a row of bottles, a pair of glasses, a musical score, a key chain.

Because with them and through them Alfred Hitchcock succeeded
where Alexander, Caesar, Hitler and Napoleon failed:
In taking control of the universe.

Maybe 10,000 people haven't forgot Cèzanne's apple
but a billion remember the lighter in Strangers on a Train.

Hitchcock, the only accursed poet to meet with success.
Our century's greatest creator of forms.
Forms tell us what is at the bottom of things.

What is art, if not the way forms become style?
What is style... What is style, if not man?

So it is a bra-less blonde tailed by a detective scared of heights
who proves that it's all cinema, that is, child's play.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The White Shadow (1924)

Great intertitles:

Here Nancy, the girl without a soul, sang and danced and gambled.

Bohemians live and die – but the Cat still laughs!

Friday, November 09, 2012

American Democracy in Action

Pennylvania’s awful gerrymandering of congressional districts (since the post 2010 census redistricting) has ensured that it grossly over-represents Republicans and under-represents Democrats at the Federal level. So this year (2012) Repubs won 13/18 PA congressional districts = 72% of the available representation despite winning only 49% of the vote! (See all data here - you have to add things up yourself at this point):

Total/popular votes for Dem House candidates in PA = 2,702,901
Total/popular votes for Rep House candidates in PA = 2,627,031

PA is truly a travesty of democracy with a downright evil Republican establishment (much anti-Clinton nonsense during the '90s sprang from Western PA) that should shame any principled conservative.

Sadly it’s the same story nationally (modulo recounts and provisionals still to be counted), although corresponding Democratic hackery elsewhere evens things up considerably:

total/popular votes for Democrat House candidates ~ 54 million
total/popular votes for Republicans House candidates ~ 53.5 million

Less than 50% vote share gets the Repubs at least 233 reps, i.e., at least 53% of the House.

The US has much to be proud of politically speaking, but also much that's patently disastrous, completely avoidable, and finally just shameful.

Friday, November 02, 2012

God's on Twitter

And evidently knows his away around 140 chars:

Personally speaking, it's conceivable that Obama's going to win re-election and that he wouldn't have without Superstorm Sandy throwing various bad-for-Mitt issues into newly sharp relief. If that's Divine Intervention, while one can question the Big Guy's methods, I guess I'm for it.