Vulture: “‘Heel It Now, Dig?’: Rian Johnson Revisits the Mystery of Brick”

Looking back at his film “Brick”, Rian Johnson describes how dialogue choices helped with the budget constraints:

We weren’t going to be able to create expressive sets. We weren’t going to be able to go to town with production design. It was just going to look like a high-school movie, until somebody opened their mouth. Once they did, you then knew this was something different. You had to prick up your ears and figure out what this world was. It was making sure that the audience felt secure in that disconnect of being in a fantasy land. This is more Blue Velvet than The River’s Edge.

“Brick” isn’t my favorite Rian Johnson film — I really like the meta-commentary on filmmaking in “The Brothers Bloom”, which also features Rinko Kikuchi’s amazing character, Bang Bang:

Vulture: “The Paul Hollywood Handshake Is the Absolute Worst”

Brian Moylan, writing for Vulture, capturing the unctuous bundle of self-satisfaction that is Paul Hollywood:

Admittedly, part of what fuels my hatred is that the commendation is coming from Paul, the beautiful, blue-eyed physical embodiment of manspreading. It’s almost like his arm-pumping is mansplaining baking to us. As Anoosh Chakelian writes in the New Statesman, “you can just see the blokey pleasure twinkling in Hollywood’s eyes when he swings his right arm out. The smug smirk. The eyebrows raised in can you believe I’m praising you? mock-benevolence.”

I don’t even remember noticing “the handshake” while watching earlier seasons, but while watching one of the recent episodes on Netflix I turned to Jordan and said, “It looks like they’re trying to make this A THING.”

How Pencils Are Made

You ever read/view something, say to yourself, “That would make a good blog post,” and totally forget to bookmark it? After my colleague Katie mentioned that the Philadelphia Museum of Art had a pencil bar, I told her I had just seen a post with behind-the-scenes videos of pencils being made.

Except: I didn’t have the link anywhere in my Pinboard, and my browser history didn’t turn up any hits. Turns out:

  • I had read it via RSS reader
  • It was on

The music on the Faber-Castell video is a bit … much, but I am fascinated by the multi-stage process. The Derwent video is (as noted by Jason Kottke) less slick, but it’s also more soothing as a result.

Some related bits ’n bobs:

My friend Henry and I were discussing note-taking tools, and he mentioned that he’d been using some of the Blackwing line. I’ve always preferred a pen, but I’m starting to think I should give pencils a try.

Terseness tension

I found myself agreeing with a lot of what Christian Heilmann writes here, especially this part:

Terse code is harder to read. Oh boy, this is holy war material. I’d rather have maintainers get clean code that follows a style than clever, dense hacks. And it shouldn’t be a rite of passage to know all the syntactic magic a language allows. U wl b abl 2 rd ths, as our brain craves harmony and tends to fill in gaps. But it will tire you out much faster than a proper sentence.

One of my former colleagues warned me off this kind of terseness by recounting how he once tried to shorten his function names into acronyms, turning pickFirstItemFromCollection() into something like pfifc(). It was a short-lived experiment.

I’m also reminded of this Twitter thread by Marco Rogers, looking back at the genesis of the arrow syntax in JavaScript, and how that trades readability for terseness:

The javascript community fought hard for the fat arrow syntax, () => {}.

It’s shorter for sure. But way more annoying to type on a regular basis than function() {}.

And that is the folly of programmer culture IMO. Constantly optimizing the wrong things for the wrong reasons.

The Last Video Store

A short mini-doc on Ardmore’s own Viva Video. The bittersweet tone is one I share — like the store’s owner, Miguel, I hope that Viva Video can keep going as long as possible. Streaming is more convenient, but I love that my family has a space like Viva Video where we can go, browse, get the staff’s opinion, and get a chance to experience the unexpected.