Self Wright

Category: Media Page 1 of 2

News Extracts: 16 Jul 2021

A shocking trend, that is easily missed


A perspective on a sort of change in culture and art, using Michaelangelo as an example

Old soundtracks and new ones

I just discovered the music of Eduard Artemyev, and … it’s something I like now.

I came across the soundtrack for Stalker, then realized the same person had composed the soundtracks for other Tarkovsky movies.

He was born in 1937 (for perspective, that’s from before World War 2 started !), and … is not only alive, but still working until very recently!

He was experimenting with electronic music in the 60s, way before synthesizers were commonly used or available.

The Solaris soundtrack is from 1972, and he composed a new soundtrack as recently as 2016.

That’s a long, long time to be doing something.

Declaring “watch-later” bankruptcy

I’m sure a lot of people get to this point … it’s a form of procrastination, clicking on the tempting little Watch Later mini-clock-face.

“Of course I’ll watch you”, I say to the little thumbnail.

Fast-forward a few years later, and there are now about five hundred of these. Surprise.

Given that the average length is about half an hour (if it’s five minutes, I either watch now or watch never), this is several months of dedicated watching time. Not going to happen.

I could painfully prioritize these, figure out what I really meant to watch, and what I was just lying to myself about.

I don’t need to do that. I know I was lying to myself most of the time I clicked that little button.

So the next best option: start over.

Unfortunately, Youtube hasn’t allowed for this possibility.

I found a hack on StackExchange1. It involved moving some playlists around. Painful, but doable.

Doubly unfortunately, this doesn’t work anymore. The Watch Later playlist is an append-log now. Your pile of misery cannot be allowed to shrink2.

There seemed to be light at the end of the tunnel: by suitably obscure Javascript, you too can wipe your slate of false optimism clean. It was an innocuous looking short one-liner3.

I tried it, didn’t work for me.

I tried reverse-engineering it, but couldn’t hack and cut my way through the mass of divs that characterize modern web pages. Javascript is the new assembly language of the web, deal with it.

I got more desperate, tried out other, more unwieldy snippets4.

I did find some kindred souls5.

Anyway I’ve been on-and-off this quest, with no success. Still looking for that “magical snippet” that will work for me.

(@Youtube, Y U No Let Me Delete My Watch History ?!)


  1. From a comment on that page: the clearly bewildered response of “These instructions are unclear”. You don’t say. ↩︎
  2. Okay, it can, but only if you watch all of them and then click on “Remove watched videos” ↩︎
  3. Retrieving a bunch through the right call to getElementsByClassName, then looping and calling click on them ↩︎
  4. This one in particular, successfully crashed Safari for me after a few tries: javascript:var tmr = window.setInterval(function(){var _this = document.querySelector('ytd-playlist-video-list-renderer #button > yt-icon'); if (_this){_this.click();document.querySelector('#items > div > ytd-menu-service-item-renderer:nth-child(2)').click();}else{window.clearInterval(tmr)}}, 1000); ↩︎
  5. As this reddit thread says, “‌Um, I have a YouTube hoarding problem. I have 2,335 videos in my Watch Later list.” Yikes, worse than me by far ↩︎

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Trials

Came upon this scene recently — well, no, I didn’t just come upon it, that would be creepy even by Youtube’s standards1 — I was suddenly reminded of the movie at night, and then (as often happens? insert sheepish grin) I wanted to watch this particular scene and then, thanks to Youtube (yes, it is possible to love it and hate it, why not?), found the precise 5-minute sequence I wanted.

Given that this movie is (checks Imdb) just over three decades old (the last of the trilogy, I would like to pretend the fourth one never got made), I don’t expect a lot of people to have seen it, let alone liked it, but for those who did, it captures a certain feeling2

Here is the next scene, in case you … like this sort of thing.

At least I didn’t see an ad3 at the beginning of these, which is good.


  1. hey, it’s the algorithms↩︎
  2. Yes, the “traps” are … contrived, but … if you had been watching the movie and made it all the way here, there is a certain atmosphere ↩︎
  3. btw I don’t think there’s a straightforward way out for this, either muck with the url, pay Google or pay for a premium extension ↩︎

My favorite year in movies- 2006

There are a bunch of movies I’ve liked, over the years, in different genres, from different times. But there is an unusually large cluster of them around a single year, 2006 (about fourteen years ago now).

The Fountain

Trailer

Among Darren Aronofsky’s movies (I still haven’t seen Black Swan (trailer), but I remember the revelatory feeling of watching Pi (trailer) a long time ago), I like this one the most (perhaps The Wrestler (trailer) would be a close second).

The trailer isn’t as bad, but (with the explicit dates and sections) it gives an overly structured view of what is (or feels like) a layered, mixed up, overlapping, interwoven something.

I’m pretty sure I saw a poor-quality, poor-audio version all those years ago, but I’d recommend watching it at night with good headphones, alone1.

The Prestige

Trailer

The trailer for this movie was terrible; it makes the movie sound very gimmicky, focussed on merely some inter-personal drama between magicians (why should anyone care about that?) And yet, of the movies in this list, it is my favorite, and the one I have re-watched the most.

It is not at all, in my opinion, about the particular details in the story (though Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, and Michael Caine give a magical performance), but something more. Of Christopher Nolan’s movies, I like this more than Inception (trailer) — if the latter is “a movie like a dream”, this one is “a movie like a magic trick”.

Fun fact: the novel it is based on won the World Fantasy Award2.

It seems as though Borden (Bale) and Angier (Jackman) embody two different paths. I suppose part of the reason I like this movie is that I identified with one of them.

Kingdom of Heaven

Trailer

This one is technically from 2005, but I watched it a few months late, so it gets to be in this bucket.

It was one of the first Blu-ray movies I watched3 on a then-new-and-exciting 1080p 50” TV, and it felt tailor-made for a giant screen.

Gorgeous visuals, a sense of history (that moment when Sibylla watching4 from the castle wall whispers, “Salah ad-Din!”), and a great soundtrack (I like all the instrumental pieces, but especially the song5 at the end.

The Illusionist

Trailer

I think I like this for its “period feel” (Vienna, pre-WW1-ish) and high production quality more than the story itself. Also, I had first seen Paul Giamatti in The Lady in the Water earlier that year, which was a disappointment, and he was excellent in this.

(BTW if I had to drop a movie from this list, though, it’d be this one; not because it’s lacking anything, but because I like the others more)

Little Miss Sunshine

Trailer

One of my all-time favorites, both for the movie and the soundtrack, I’ve tried to find “more like this” — as in literally trying to Google for “movies like Little Miss Sunshine” — but failed to find anything. It is a one-of-a-kind, sublime experience. It feels fresh every time I watch it.

This has the most accurate trailer of this list, in the sense that it conveys exactly what the movie is all about 🙂

Also, the first time I saw Paul Dano (my favorite: Being Flynn (trailer)) anywhere.

A Scanner Darkly

Trailer

(I had missed this previously, updating this post now)

The movie is fifteen years ago, today, and the book it’s based on was published about forty-five years ago, but the themes of paranoid self-surveillance feel newly relevant.

That, and the style of the movie is quite unforgettable.

Counterpoint

In those days I used to track movie reviews actively, and also watch movies immediately after release. These days, a year or more frequently elapses between release and viewing, and it’s very common for me to never watch and also never intend to watch the popular or critically acclaimed movies (or, tv shows) for a year.

It’s quite possible, then, that the reason these movies still appeal to me is simply because I was more engaged with movies at that time.

Still, it is my subjective list, and I do end up re-watching these, and re-listening to their soundtracks, so at the very least, I’m sure they are not bad movies.


  1. or not. I don’t actually know if it makes a difference; I think it does require some concentration ↩︎
  2. 1996 winners of science fiction and fantasy awards (scroll down to ”WFA”) ↩︎
  3. Rented from Blockbuster, back when they (a) were around, and (b) had the same rental rate for DVDs and Blu-Rays 🙂 ↩︎
  4. the meeting between Baldwin IV and Saladin ↩︎
  5. Light of Life” by Natacha Atlas; here is a version set to a montage of scenes from the movie ↩︎

On Narration, Tinderbox, and other things …

It’s hard to say what is so good about this video. It is many things.

It is a generally well-made ensemble, a slice of art criticism, a slice of philosophical questions and concerns, it is a demonstration of “thinking through a tool”, it is a demonstration of “showing through a tool“, it is a demonstration of one such tool (Tinderbox), an autobiographical account, and probably more …

Lunchtime WSJ book reviews

I started a paper subscription to WSJ right as the pandemic started, and as we eat family lunch, with no phones allowed, I quickly skim the paper.

I wish I had done this earlier, but also, I know I couldn’t have, because this “15-minute window” is the only way that that I could physically read it — mornings and evenings are too rushed, and night is for doing uninterrupted work that the fragmented daytime doesn’t permit.

Also, I’ve found the reviews are surprisingly useful, I definitely didn’t expect to be reading and learning about new stuff this way.

Here, as an example, a book review excerpt from today’s (well, yesterday’s, I have a one-day reading lag) paper.

So much beauty in the world

Realized it’s been two decades since I first saw this scene.

On the appealing strangeness of My Little Pony

I’ll confess I had no impression about “My little pony” (I’ll abbreviate as “MLP” to save keystrokes) until about a year ago, when I first sat down with my daughter and watched the first episode1 of “MLP: Friendship is Magic”.

My first observation was: “whew, this isn’t as dumb as the other toddler shows she watches; sure, this is approved”.

My second observation was: “wow, this is chock full of a whole cast of female characters” (blowing past the Bechdel test2)

My third observation was: “wait a minute, this is way smarter for any other show that she watches”

The first two were the reason MLP is a big thing right now at our home (figurines, the shows, the movies, even the books3), but it’s this third fact that’s most intriguing.

There are (especially as you get into the later seasons) all kinds of pop-culture references, sometimes really oblique or deep ones, and I sit and wonder, “who is this for?”.

Is it for adults who occasionally watch along? I buy that for a Pixar movie, where we’re essentially in the same seat together for a whole two hours, but … here? It’s a mystery to me.

Anyway, In the end … yes, I’m a total Lauren Faust4 fanboy now, which means “DC Super Hero Girls”5 is approved 6 too 🙂


  1. Imdb link ↩︎
  2. i.e. whether conversations between female characters involve male characters or not; here, male characters are mostly irrelevant to the plot ↩︎
  3. E.g. the Omnibus series, more on which later ↩︎
  4. Who basically created the entire MLP franchise from whole cloth ↩︎
  5. Imdb link ↩︎
  6. … another Lauren Faust creation, with similar dynamics (and many of the voice cast too) ↩︎

Ennio Morricone

I remember it was about sixteen years ago now, that someone introduced1 me to the spaghetti western genre.

This is how I came across the “dynamic duo“ of Sergio Leone and Ennio Morricone. I had watched fragments of them, but hadn’t quite seen them as movies that had anything in common, and I certainly never knew that these were Italian movies, not Hollywood ones (!)

Having seen one I had to see more, but what stuck with me more was their music, and since then, of these movies2, I’ve heard more soundtracks than seen the movies3.

It’s a distinctive sound, and I keep going back to a few favorites every few months. In his memory4, then, here are some of them:


  1. I’m usually the one introducing someone else to something new, so this doesn’t happen often, and I have a special respect for this person ↩︎
  2. Wikipedia ↩︎
  3. although, the slow takes are a good antidote to some of the fare on offer today ↩︎
  4. 1928-2020; he passed away a week ago ↩︎
  5. with the lead-in. Yes, I heard the Metallica version first. Yes, I like the original better ↩︎
  6. though, tbh, only the first half, with the epic whistling ↩︎

Page 1 of 2

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén