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Tuesday, 13 January 2009


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Gran Torino should be sub-titled Dirty Harry Grows Up. Great film, though a little heavy on the Christ metaphors at the end. It really lays the Harry Callahan character to rest (sorry). Kind of sad to see where forty years of moral decline leads, however, and makes you wonder if Callahan might not have been right after all...

Eastwood's character is a cranky old man for sure. You might want to see the movie before you pronounce the character a homicidal cranky old man. Perhaps a cranky old man haunted by specters. Reminded me of people I've known who carried around similar baggage for fifty years.

Is this type size thing by any chance changing the type size in the RSS feeds too? If so, I would be very appreciative if you did not do that. I have set the type size so it is both easy to read and still lets me see as much as possible, and you are overriding my own preferred settings here.

The effect is kind of like if you reached out and blindly changed the volume on my computer to some setting you think I would prefer - not as obnoxious as that, of course, but not exactly friendly either.

While we are on about movies, the most expensive ticket I ever bought to see one was for The Fiddler on the Roof. That was near 40 years ago, and I have never seen it offered on TV, or heard much about it since. What happened?

Around two weeks ago you said you were going to post a Best Of for cameras "in a few days" that was distinct from your Camera Of The Year post.

Still coming, Mike?

That's a hoot.
I was quite pleased when "the Clint" as Europeans call him came out *against* all the gunmen he'd played in the past. In a very un-American way he said he'd come to question the value of killing a lot of people.

Even though I found _Unforgiven_ to belie that sentiment in its last five minutes, I do doubt that he could turn back the clock now to this degree, so probably the new film is being ironic about, let's hope.

It's a mistake. I'm working on it.

Mike J.

Hi Mike,

This may help explain what's going on, at least:

Browsers have a user-settable default font size for body text (and settings for other text types as well). This post, and older posts, appear in the font size I've specified as my default. The previous post on Photo L.A. has it's own specified font size, which overrides my default setting. My default setting was rather large (20pts) so the "new" font looks small. If my default setting had been, say, 12pts, the "new" font would look bigger (it's the equivalent of my 16-17pt size).

People change their default setting for all kinds of reasons--monitor size and dot pitch, how far or close they sit to it, eyesight, their favorite websites like small/large type, etc.

Generally, web page authors can specify font sizes either absolutely or relative to the user-specified default. The trend over the years has been away from user control over type and layout and toward author-prescribed layout. I would guess typepad is using modern CSS rather than HTML, first of all, but, either way, it would appear the new controls available to you specify absolute type sizes. But perhaps there is an option there in your controls?

robert e

P.S. The "Featured comment" in the Photo L.A. review follows my default font size setting as well.

P.P.S. The browser I use is Google Chrome

Mike, the TypePad changes are looking great from my end.

I'm re-discovering Clint and it's been great. My wife got an interest in Italian film recently, so I bought a bunch of Sergio Leone stuff. 'Fistful of dollars' and 'the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly' are really some of the best ever. I haven't watched 'Once upon a time in the west' yet (I know, it isn't Eastwood) but, 'Unforgiven' will be playing in the living room tonight.
I think I remember Clint saying something about getting off his grass in one of those movies with the orangutan ;)

In 1991 I had an epiphany and declared that some day Arnold Schwarzenegger would be President of the USA. I wrote it down on a piece of paper and had two friends sign and date it.
I wasn't too far off...

Early(-ish) Coen and John Turturro--how can you go wrong? _Barton Fink_ is great (also a stand out for Goodman-a fine actor). If you haven't seen them already, you might also like _Raising Arizona_, and _Bagdad Cafe'_.

Addendum to previous post: for _Bagdad Cafe_, I mean the movie, not the TV series.

p.p.p.s. Of course, there is more complexity to how a web site's fonts ultimately appear on a monitor--there is the OS, for example, on which the browser relies for display information, plus: newer OS's, browsers, and some video card drivers can readily magnify and reduce. The point is, despite great efforts at standardization and control in web "publishing", not everyone is on the same page (pun earnestly intended).

At this point, you are ready to throw up your hands. But hold on. (And this is only the opinion of a self-taught, part-time HTML hack long retired from that game) Piecemeal tweaking is just the wrong approach for what you intend. The resultant (yes, it's only "temporary") mess of different elements of a page using different approaches and conforming to different standards will only confuse the issue. Unless there are some typepad tools to automate (and undo) makeovers more globally, I think the more appropriate, sanity-preserving choice is to a) get a handle on your approach to site typesetting in general, then b) build a small mockup, off the main site, that implements the approach using the new tools top-to-bottom; first of all to see if those tools will be effective, and second to give you some ideas on how to transition the actual site if the pilot is successful.

ppppps. Forgive me, I didn't mean to suggest that what you wanted to do is, or ought to be, a big deal. But from what I can gather the tools you have to work with mix inconsistent approaches to type, whether your realize it or not, which unfortunately puts the onus on you to understand the difference and apply them consistently (or not).

If you can´t get points for prescience, you might strive for something different. According to Onion News, the Hindsight magazine has declared Steve Jobs "Man Of The Year Before Last"

Not to plug Netflix or anything, but many of its subscribers (depends on your particular plan) can now watch "instantly" on their computers many films and old TV shows on their computer after a 10-second download. And though the quality isn't fantastic, it sure feels like the future!

For TOP readers, there are several photography-related documentaries that are available for such an instant look -- the recent documentaries on William Eggleston and Henri Cartier-Bresson, e.g. I also just watched the documentary about Sam Wagstaff (the photography collector and patron to) and Robert Mapplethorpe.

"the inaugural Netflix offering was a rather odd little Symbolist romp about Jews in hell called Barton Fink, which I enjoyed."

Great capsule description. And what a film to start with!

"Symbolist romp about Jews in hell called Barton Fink"

Jews in Hell? I thought it was about writers in Hollywood, although I saw it on a triple bill with Naked Lunch, and The Shining so maybe the "writers go to hell" part just blended in with the rest of them.

One of the great things about living in NYC is you can go to a triple feature of Barton Fink, Naked Lunch, and The Shining with an audience composed of writers and their significant others murmuring about how something in the movie reminds them of an amusing incident with their mothers or their agent or their college roommate, then run into John Turturro at the bagel store on the way home.

Mike, if you enjoyed Barton Fink (I haven't seen it in 20 years or so, but I would rather have described it as self described artists in purgatory), then the rest of the Coen brothers' output will probably also entertain you. As for me, the only two films of theirs I didn't connect with were The Man Who Wasn't There, and The Ladykillers (a very tepid remake of a minor classic). Miller's Crossing is *my* favorite gangster movie.

Probably their biggest commercial success was with O Brother, Where Art Thou; the title taken from a terrific Preston Sturgess film, Sullivan's Travels. Coincidentally, one of their follow on movies, Intolerable Cruelty, was a patently Sturgess type comedy, though you wouldn't know it from the reviews it got.

Fun photo fact re: Man Who Wasn't There: It was shot on color film and converted to monochrome in post production.


So tell us, what's on your Netflix list?

Mike, My browser (Safari) hasn't shown a recent post on the main page since last Friday. I was beginning to worry about your health again until I linked to the January archives and saw that you've been posting all along. I'm just thankful that you're OK.

Of course I'm also enjoying catching up on all I've missed too.

Randall Teasley

Mike, if I go to the index page, I get the one from Friday, where the top post is "Around the Web on Friday". No amount of (forced) refresh brings up the later posts. Is that me or the page was simply not updated?

I was very happy to see The Mirror on your list. Almost all of Tarkovsky's movies are near the top of my list of favorite movies. For similarly great Tarkovsky, you should see Stalker, Nostalghia, and The Sacrifice. Andrei Rublov is worth watching but incredibly dense and difficult if you're not fairly well-acquainted with Russian history and especially of that period.

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