wervenyt's recent activity

  1. Comment on What are you reading these days? in ~books

    wervenyt
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    Finished Pnin. I'm not sure why, but I'm appreciating it a lot more in hindsight than I did in the moment. Something about Pnin's dedication to his own lens came through in those last chapters,...

    Finished Pnin. I'm not sure why, but I'm appreciating it a lot more in hindsight than I did in the moment. Something about Pnin's dedication to his own lens came through in those last chapters, maybe.

    On to A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, by Joyce. I picked it up a few months ago, and really struggled getting through the first chapter. The stunted sentences kept catching in my head, the conventions regarding time jumps didn't convey the intention, I'm not sure. This time though, I got a lot more out of it. I'm excited to finish the book now.

    2 votes
  2. Comment on What are you reading these days? in ~books

    wervenyt
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    Earlier this week, I read Yelena Moskovich's Virtuoso. I found it beautiful and moving, both thrillerlike and meditative at once. The structure of the book was enrapturing, with the callbacks and...

    Earlier this week, I read Yelena Moskovich's Virtuoso. I found it beautiful and moving, both thrillerlike and meditative at once. The structure of the book was enrapturing, with the callbacks and callfores and the refusal to witness an event from a single perspective. The discussions of violation felt a little over the top, or at least went over my head, and the racial elements felt shoehorned. But in such a short book, I really came to care for Aimée, Zorka, and Jana.

    End of Virtuoso quasispoiler question What happened to Amy? I'm fully lost in those last few pages, and am, honestly, a little afraid of defogging them.

    Then, having been a little teased by a comparison of Moskovich as an "eastern european, lesbian Cormac McCarthy" and not quite getting that, I picked up Outer Dark. This is my third book of his, following The Road and The Orchard Keeper. Compared to his first novel, this was a hundred times more readable, and the plot, even if oddly shaped and obtuse in its own right, infinitely more interesting. While parts of me miss the jangling sonorous passages of McCarthy's imitation of Faulkner, I'm glad there was something to actually sink my teeth into with this one. Pardon.

    Thematically though, this book is darker, by far, than the Road. The tension in scenes is only let off by the sheer idiocy of some characters, and at some point that stops being funny.

    Spoilers for Outer Dark I can't help but feel this was a story of a man, refusing to sleep in the bed he made, and in so driving away each and every opportunity for peace, before being confronted with the only remainder: the three. Rinthy's victimization is nearly total, but Culla is constantly thinking "someone should tell that old man about the swamp" while waiting to see what happens if he doesn't. The fate of the child was grim enough, but that final scene drove home that Culla, our supposed Adam, is fundamentally incapable of good.

    With those two bundles of joy behind me, I decided to give Nabokov's Pnin a go. It's a lot more fun, but, frankly, who cares about a campus novel? I'm following through on the reading for the simply delightful word-by-word prose. The way that Nabokov performs verbal acrobatics, with internally rhyming sentences and unprovoked spoonerisms all over this otherwise straightforward story is wonderful, I just wish the plot felt like it was going anywhere.

    5 votes
  3. Comment on What's your unpopular food opinion or idiosyncrasy? in ~food

    wervenyt
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    Chicken and turkey are excellent meats. Full stop. Chicken suffers from being mild by nature as well as horribly easy to raise well-textured but flavourless meat in factory contexts. However, it's...

    Chicken and turkey are excellent meats. Full stop.

    Chicken suffers from being mild by nature as well as horribly easy to raise well-textured but flavourless meat in factory contexts. However, it's got a nice little sweetness by itself, is incredibly tolerant to bad cooking for a meat, and has great little nutty flavour when well raised.

    Turkey is usually decried as dry, and...what else? I don't know where this perception of turkey as sub par stems from. The traditional herbs used in american turkey dinners? Sure, if you try to roast a whole 18 lbs turkey in one go, without a ton of attention and know-how, it'll be powder. Because you just stuck meat in the oven for 5 hours. When made in a sous vide, stewed, roasted in parts, properly seasoned and brined, turkey has a rather delicate texture and a natural flavour unlike anything else.

    Both of these birds (in the US) suffer from the endless serving size fetishization and demand for low fat meat of our contemporary culture. A giant bird, that didn't take years to get that big, isn't going to taste great, and fat carries flavour. So you have these chickens and turkeys with enormous breasts, neglected legs and thighs, and because most home cooking is learned from family tradition, not a real understanding of thermodynamics, the only thoughts are "high and quick" or "low and slow", neither of which will compensate for the difference in each piece's mass with modern birds. For turkey, add in the desire for a picturesque whole bird for Thanksgiving, and you get whole generations who grow up only knowing it as either slimy cured lunchmeat or crumby roast.

    2 votes
  4. Comment on Statues of Walter White and Jesse Pinkman unveiled in Albuquerque in ~tv

    wervenyt
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    Just assuming Bugs was following Route 66, which doesn't feel off-base, it means he was either heading east or west. In which case, thanks to the broad lack of...things outside of ABQ and Santa...

    Just assuming Bugs was following Route 66, which doesn't feel off-base, it means he was either heading east or west. In which case, thanks to the broad lack of...things outside of ABQ and Santa Fe, he was either going to Santa Fe, or further, into Colorado, or down to Las Cruces, El Paso, or Juarez.

    None of those places are insanely different from either west Texas or Arizona, so probably not much.

    1 vote
  5. Comment on Statues of Walter White and Jesse Pinkman unveiled in Albuquerque in ~tv

    wervenyt
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    One has to assume it's part of it. Shame it coincided with the popularization of the internet, because maybe people are just seeing more information period lately. I'm not a good litmus test,...

    One has to assume it's part of it. Shame it coincided with the popularization of the internet, because maybe people are just seeing more information period lately.

    I'm not a good litmus test, though. I've been isolated since before covid, and have spent more time around non-americans than non-NM americans for the past few years.

    1 vote
  6. Comment on Statues of Walter White and Jesse Pinkman unveiled in Albuquerque in ~tv

    wervenyt
    (edited )
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    No, yeah, I agree. I was in high school as it wrapped, and the show holds a very special place in my heart, as well as all my local pals. However, I have definitely been asked questions (typically...

    No, yeah, I agree. I was in high school as it wrapped, and the show holds a very special place in my heart, as well as all my local pals. However, I have definitely been asked questions (typically from the sort of person who previously thought NM was a Mexican state) about how many methheads I see daily, if gun violence is an hourly occurrence, etc. Like I said, I don't mind it much.

    3 votes
  7. Comment on Statues of Walter White and Jesse Pinkman unveiled in Albuquerque in ~tv

    wervenyt
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    ABQ resident here. While I'm generally...meh? on this, it's inspiring some local drama. A lot of people have a bit of a grudge on the reputation of New Mexico as the "meth capitol of North...

    ABQ resident here. While I'm generally...meh? on this, it's inspiring some local drama. A lot of people have a bit of a grudge on the reputation of New Mexico as the "meth capitol of North America" bequeathed upon us by the show. Now, I'm of the opinion that being remembered at all is a strict improvement to the former assumption that we're a broadly-unknown developing nation on the other side of the US border, but it's a fair grudge to bear.

    Even though Gilligan footed the bill, many think that the city displaying the statues is tantamount to condoning the behaviours portrayed in Breaking Bad. Bluntly, I think that's dumb, but there's something to be said for not wanting to officially enshrine an at-best antihero who's conflated "Albuquerque" with reckless drug abuse and pointless murder.

    5 votes
  8. Comment on Will Smith: It’s been a minute… in ~movies

    wervenyt
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    We aren't the victims here, are we? Why do we deserve an apology?

    We aren't the victims here, are we? Why do we deserve an apology?

    5 votes
  9. Comment on What are you reading these days? in ~books

    wervenyt
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    Around a month back, I made the mistake of thinking "I'm sure the Recognitions will be a lot quicker of a read now!" And that's how I've spent the past week on 100 pages. This time around, it...

    Around a month back, I made the mistake of thinking "I'm sure the Recognitions will be a lot quicker of a read now!" And that's how I've spent the past week on 100 pages.

    This time around, it feels much less bleak, more like a tragic accounting of the failings of postwar humanity than the endless rushing of well-reasoned hot air out of Gaddis' educated-but-hopeless worldview I found last September. Recktall Brown is no longer a caricature, just an archetype broken by design, Fuller isn't a fool, just a victim, and Otto isn't pathetic, he's pitiful.

    I'm not really sure that the author wanted that sympathetic side to shine as much as I'm seeing today, because his boiling rage continues to ripple through the pages. Regardless of anything characterwise, that Cuff ad juxtaposition is irredeemable.

    6 votes
  10. Comment on Is your smartphone ruining your memory? A special report on the rise of ‘digital amnesia’ in ~health

    wervenyt
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    This is me. I run a business that involves my driving for about half the time I'm on the clock, and while 80+% of that driving is to and from locations I'm familiar with routing, I still have to...

    Even better would be, trying to figure out the route yourself first, in your head, and then ask the app the best route.

    This is me. I run a business that involves my driving for about half the time I'm on the clock, and while 80+% of that driving is to and from locations I'm familiar with routing, I still have to be able to react to emergent traffic patterns and get to the next appointment on time. I will pull out a GPS map in a pinch for optimization and first-times, but I always consciously come up with a hypothetical route to compare it to. My navigation skills have only improved.

    On the other hand, I am rather neurodivergent regarding spatial reasoning and orientation, e.g. I almost always have a mental compass "at hand", I make a game out of optimizing my footpath in busy areas, etc. This might just be my weird map-loving brain. I struggle to think the exercise wouldn't be beneficial for most people though.

    4 votes
  11. Comment on Congress' push to regulate Big Tech is fizzling out in ~tech

    wervenyt
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    It's definitely true that it's more nuanced than capital vs not-capital, but that doesn't mean that the ownership class doesn't have outsized influence, compared to the rest of the population,...

    It's definitely true that it's more nuanced than capital vs not-capital, but that doesn't mean that the ownership class doesn't have outsized influence, compared to the rest of the population, which is essentially what "both parties operate at the behest of the capital-owning class" means.

    5 votes
  12. Comment on Should I quit smoking right now, or wait? in ~health

    wervenyt
    Link Parent
    Maybe not in the wake of a covid scare though...

    Maybe not in the wake of a covid scare though...

    2 votes
  13. Comment on California lawmakers reject ballot proposal that aimed to end forced prison labor in ~news

    wervenyt
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    Correctional officer and police unions make up the bulk of the "prison-industrial complex" lobbying parties, and private prisons house a vast minority of inmates in the US. One, out of the 35...

    Correctional officer and police unions make up the bulk of the "prison-industrial complex" lobbying parties, and private prisons house a vast minority of inmates in the US. One, out of the 35 prisons in California, is privately owned. It's less of a single industry making big bucks, and more like a hellish version of a jobs program.

    5 votes
  14. Comment on What are you reading these days? in ~books

    wervenyt
    Link Parent
    Yup! As much as I'd like to say I've invested hundreds of hours in reading, contemplating, and researching him and his works because he is a prescient genius who happens to be an excellent author,...

    Yup! As much as I'd like to say I've invested hundreds of hours in reading, contemplating, and researching him and his works because he is a prescient genius who happens to be an excellent author, it's probably more that he just writes a damn good noir.

    1 vote
  15. Comment on What are you reading these days? in ~books

    wervenyt
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    That story is kind of hilarious, thanks for sharing. I'm excited to take an edible and watch the movie, I love PTA's cinematic eye, and it's not likely anyone else would be crazy and skilled...

    That story is kind of hilarious, thanks for sharing. I'm excited to take an edible and watch the movie, I love PTA's cinematic eye, and it's not likely anyone else would be crazy and skilled enough to pull off a Pynchon novel.

    3 votes
  16. Comment on <deleted topic> in ~talk

    wervenyt
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    I'm not even one of the "in principle, wealth disparity is an evil" folks, but, nah. I would probably get along with a few of them based on personality, but none of them earned their wealth, most...

    I'm not even one of the "in principle, wealth disparity is an evil" folks, but, nah. I would probably get along with a few of them based on personality, but none of them earned their wealth, most of them are clearly obsessed with money as an end in itself, and even the ones who seem to be genuinely in the predicament of feeling trapped between being a lone arbiter of insane power and the complete lack of ability to actually divest themselves without just reproducing similar outcomes don't seem interested in dismantling the corruption of our world.

  17. Comment on What are you reading these days? in ~books

    wervenyt
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    Just finished Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon the other day. I knew it was his simplest novel, and that it was a stoner noir pastiche, but, somehow, I didn't expect the first chapter to hit,...

    Just finished Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon the other day. I knew it was his simplest novel, and that it was a stoner noir pastiche, but, somehow, I didn't expect the first chapter to hit, beat-for-beat, every single trope and cliche. As the book went on, it loosened up, became more of a true satire than a goofy "what if the hardboiled PI was actually just baked as hell?" I think, had I recorded the data, I'd find I laughed aloud every other paragraph or so. Probably the funniest novel I've read yet. Despite the light tone and relatively easy going prose, if you had to say the book was about anything in particular, you might go with "a dissection of how moneyed interests and the government may have conspired to distract and dismantle the US midcentury counterculture in the pursuit of kneecapping civil rights and any long term hope of effective policy". But it's mostly a stoner scrying his decayed memory for connections and purpose to the utter chaos of deception, misapprehension, conflated and divided identity, and the chocolate-covered-frozen-banana-chomping quasi-fascist LAPD detective that hound him throughout the plot.

    Beyond the book itself, the protagonist is clearly based on the author, and that ended up helping me build a deeper understanding of Pynchon's philosophy, on a human level, than any of his other books I've read except Mason & Dixon, and this one was a whole lot more accessible. It also illuminated his statement regarding The Crying of Lot 49 being a book wherein he seemed to have forgotten what he'd learned about writing.

    Anyway, that's all for this quarter's update on my Pynchon obsession. Hope to see you 'round these parts again soon.


    Currently, I'm reading The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaño and The Tartar Steppe by Dino Buzzati.

    Having heard a lot of great things about Bolaño over the years, and always looking for more reasons to love latinoamerican culture, when I heard that The Savage Detectives had snapped Marlon James out of a period of writer's block, I put it on my list. Later, when, scrolling through various literary websites and subreddits, I saw numerous people claiming the book had inspired them to begin writing, I knew I had to start it soon. Well, 30% through, I don't know about all of that.

    But it is a very interesting book. The first quarter of it is basically a novella about a 17 year old kid going off on a coming-of-age journey of lechery and pretense throughout Mexico City, ingratiating himself with a fictionalized rendition of the young author's failed artistic movement, the visceral realists (based on the infrarealists). This kid fucks, first of all. He also is a little asshole who needs to get over himself. He spins a web of relationships, platonic and romantic, meaningful and transient, true and false friendships, eventually getting so tangled up by half-hearted commitments that he's miserable. So he absconds with the leaders of the visceral realists, fiction-Bolaño and his BFF.

    As far as I can tell, the rest of the novel is patchwork interviews with characters who appear or are mentioned in the first section, discussing the visceral realists from all sorts of points of view. I'm having a ton of fun piecing together their adventures and interests, it's a lot like reminiscing on the fun of later adolescence with a large group of friends. Everyone has different stories, about the same events, but unlike that, where all that matters is that everyone had a good time, I get the sense some linchpin is going to fall.

    The Tartar Steppe is a lot less fun. I went into it completely blind, but the first couple chapters did an incredible job at building a nearly slapstick kafkaesque setting and mindset, only for that paranoia and intentionality to fall away, leaving a skeleton of absurd horror. I'm only about a third through this one too, so it has plenty of room to evolve however it will from here, and that's kind of awesome. On the other hand, it's deeply, deeply unsettling, in ways similar to a Shirley Jackson. I expect to love, or at least respect, it by the end, but for now, I'm really dragging my heels with it compared to the quick-paced thrill of following a bunch of pretentious 20 year olds around Mexico.

    5 votes
  18. Comment on What's the point of grammatical gender? in ~humanities

    wervenyt
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    It feels like you're conflating the basic capacity for any language to be used to convey roughly any human experience, which is irrespective of efficiency, and any language being equally...

    It feels like you're conflating the basic capacity for any language to be used to convey roughly any human experience, which is irrespective of efficiency, and any language being equally well-suited for any given concept. At least theoretically, there's nothing stopping anyone from writing a whole essay to set a mood in order to capture your earlier hyggelig usecase.

    3 votes
  19. Comment on What's the point of grammatical gender? in ~humanities

    wervenyt
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    As a fellow layman, just to be clear, you're saying that particular cultural concepts may not be translatable, and so to say every language is identical in the expression of human experience would...

    As a fellow layman, just to be clear, you're saying that particular cultural concepts may not be translatable, and so to say every language is identical in the expression of human experience would be incorrect?

    2 votes
  20. Comment on ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ catapults past $1B at worldwide box office in ~movies

    wervenyt
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    Definitely not, but when they've gone so far out of the way to avoid potential conflict, it can break immersion. When an underground art film eschews the trappings of real life, that's one thing....

    Definitely not, but when they've gone so far out of the way to avoid potential conflict, it can break immersion. When an underground art film eschews the trappings of real life, that's one thing. When Tom Cruise is flying US fighter planes and navigating decades of emotional baggage, it feels weird that he's literally only doing it for the plot. Almost like a spec script that sat on a desk for a decade, waiting for things to stabilize a bit in the real world for finishing touches and "believability", but then went straight into production.

    On some level this approach is interesting, because TG:M is undoubtedly a competent action film in structure and execution. It proves, at least on certain scales, people are willing to watch a movie without all the little details that can add up to 'plot holes', or root for a bombing run without an actual villain. However, it's, in that way, the logical endpoint to the alienating effect profit motive can have on art.

    It's a movie without any sense of drive beyond the timer periodically counted off by Jon Hamm and Mr. Cruise's fetish for flying jets. And for an 80s nostalgiabomb, that's hardly a sin. It's not great though.

    1 vote