Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


decay & ruin
Biosphere II
dead malls
Irving housing

got that wrong

appropriate tech
Arduino μcontrollers
Backwoods Home
Fractal antenna

fun social media stuff

(nobody does!)

Like my brownhouse:
   Rhinebeck on a Saturday night
Saturday, December 7 2002

Gretchen got a pint of the Ben and Jerry's seasonal December-only "Festivus" icecream today. Some hours later I suffered a work-induced craving for its cold creamy gingerbread yumminess, and I ate nearly all of it. She was a little ticked off about it, so in recompense I had to agree to go see a movie with her tonight in Rhinebeck.
Rhinebeck is the home of Bard College. It's an upscale town sitting directly across the Hudson River from economically-blighted Kingston. The toll on the bridge between the two is $1 for those going towards Rhinebeck. It's free to go back to Kingston.
The theatre was a funky place called Upstate Films, and like all such places, came complete with hip fashionably-unclean popcorn and ticket people and featured a perfect mix of architectural neglect and pre-modern detailing. Surprisingly, though, the place was actually a full-on multiplex. The movie we'd come to see was Far From Heaven, which came highly recommended from Mary Purdy.
Far From Heaven is the story of a superficially-tranquil nuclear family in the 1950s. As usual for such families, at least as depicted in the 1950s itself, they present to the world a picture of idealized middlebrow success. But meanwhile, and here's the contemporary element, they are disintegrating from within. The old man is an alcoholic and a closet homosexual, and his wife is a clueless, vapid skeleton of a personality. The kids all act as if they're in Leave it to Beaver. Indeed, the actors mostly act in the style of actors in 1950s movies, and even their dialogue is written as an unending stream of 1950s-era clichés. Over this, the orchestral soundtrack often overflows like a vintage 50s-era non-water-conserving toilet blocked by a used steak and pea dinner. The only aspect that doesn't seem lifted unaltered from the 1950s is the cinematography, which has a clever subtly-filtered lushness and lavish big-screen spectacle that seems more contemporary than anything else. The vintage film devices (particularly the deliberately stilted acting, dialog, and predictable outcomes of scenes) are so over-the-top that the movie had trouble being anything more than dull and predictable. As I watched it, my principle pleasure was the beauty of the scenes and polished perfection of the often-embarrassing 50s details (such as clothes). The few moments where Far From Heaven seems to be doing precisely what its makers set out to do is in those transitions where goofy 50s-era scenes are melted by a sudden failure to contain some constantly-menacing in-the-50s-tabboo subject. My favorite of these is when the old man started crying in front of his two "golly, that's swell" kids. It's one of only two or three truly powerful scenes.
After it was over, Gretchen said she thought that this kind of film had already been done, and done much better, in Liberty Heights about a Jewish family man operating an illegal lottery in 1950s Baltimore.
We walked around downtown Rhinebeck to see how its Saturday Night was going so far. From what we could see, the place seemed be squeaky-clean, excessively-lit with Christmas lights, and, most of all, dead. We walked into a bar and had a couple overpriced drinks at the bar. (Evidently Rhinebeck think its some sort of Manhattan, Tokyo, or San Francisco.) There were only about seven or eight other people in the place, most of them somewhat younger than us. As we drove across the bridge back home, I declared, "I'm glad we live on this side of the river."

Being bandied about in my forum:

A piss bottle utopia - I've used piss bottles, but this is out of control!

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