99% invisible, cold war artifacts, crazy clown time, medium format cameras, homemade bread, the dougi, hello



"Bunnies. Bunnies. It must be bunnies! Or maybe midgets..."

"What's a knockout like you doing in a computer-generated gin-joint like this?"


inception.lucid dreaming

when idries shah, the preeminant sufi teacher was asked to name "a fundamental mistake of man's," he replied, "to think that he is alive, when he has merely fallen asleep in life's waiting room."

- from exploring the world of lucid dreaming

"dreams, they feel real while we're in them right?. it's only when we wake up do we realize something was actually strange." -dom cobb, inception

when i first saw inception a few years ago, like many people, i was quite taken in by it. i recall thinking at the time that the film felt like a bit of a visual effects game changer in the way the matrix was ten years prior. i still feel that way. both films presented visual effects that were unusual and innovative and wove these effects into a story line in such a way that the results were completely psychologically immersive. the so-called "wizardry" of both bullet time and bending cities have now become iconic. but their emotional resonance within the films endure. i felt this was more than computer graphics posturing. they were and and remain examples of what can be achieved when vfx are allowed to move beyond the literal and into the abstract dream state.

i started thinking about inception again because, like the matrix it draws on some well known philosophical concepts towards constructing a pop oriented interpretation. to this end, the film's use of lucid dreaming theory and research is pretty well known.  having recently begun reading stephen laBerge's book on lucid dreaming however, i find the film's premise even more intriguing.  certainly the film posits some far out concepts. but in principle, the idea that we can achieve greater self awareness and reprogram ourselves in a waking state through lucid dreaming [in other words, inception] is entirely plausible as it turns out. at the moment i am only in the first phase  of the book which focuses on accurate dream recall. but stay tuned for future lucid dreaming updates...




On the surface, Drive is a fairly straight forward neo noir thriller. It’s about a heist gone
wrong, unrequited love and the violent underbelly of Los Angeles. Like many classical noir films,
the city of LA operates as a character within the film. There is perhaps a small debt owed to
Michael Mann here in the minimalist landscapes where the city vacillates between an abstraction in
the background and an ontological space we are acutely aware of. Drive is a film that is in dialogue
with itself. It is not pastiche or even simply homage, but something with more depth that emerges as
a reflection on genre and a meditation on the discourse of film itself.



A lot of directors have made this kind of film. Tarrantino in particular jumps out as someone
who is interested in making films for cinephiles. A lot of us enjoyed the overt references to film
theory in Inglorious Basterds. But where Tarantino employs a bloodbath of violence to disrupt the
narrative and invoke an awareness of the constructedness of the film apparatus, Nicolas Winding
evocation of the language of film is more sustained and operates on a level that is subtly
woven into the narrative rather than a disruption or even extension of it. Where Tarantino’s films
feel like they want to show off what he knows, Drive lets the theory take a back seat. It’s there
informing the story in an important way, but as subtext.



in the mood for...

in the mood for love is a terribly romantic film. it drips with atmosphere and longing. the slow takes, musical interludes and near perfect chemistry between tony leung and maggie cheung are hypnotic and very nearly lull the audience into believing that this is the kind of movie where love simply has to prevail. but- it's not that kind of movie. this is the kind of movie where the possibility of everything is dangled in front of us. we wait, afraid to exhale, lest the delicate bubble of desire pop. and we wait. and wait. unrequited love does not quite explain it. the film conveys an incredible sense of passion without a single screen kiss. it's not for the faint of heart. but if you like your romance weighty with a sprinkling of tears, go back to this classic. and happy valentine's day...



stills from wong kar wei's in the mood for love, 2000


good evening



"in those days, pleasure was not considered fashionable; indeed, we on the left saw it as a vaguely right-wing feeling." --bernardo bertolucci


i was turned on to this book- film: the critics choice over at FSFF. it's a beautifully designed coffee table book that also happens to be pretty high on substance. heavy hitters like david bordwell and peter wollen among other contribute with bernardo bertolucci writing a short intro that's really quite passionate and polemical. buy it used for mere pennies. 


summer days

we're already on the other side of summer here in the southern hemisphere. it's been a pretty dodgy one, with more wind and rain than heat and sun. plus, it's always a bit sad when the days start to feel noticeably shorter. but for now let's focus on the good times...


at this time

because i too am a sucker for a sunset photo.


our lady

"'first love,' hina alvi says, 'is like your first heart attack. chances are that you'll survive it, but you don't outlive it. that first gasp for air is the beginning of the end. you have managed to breath some air in, and you think you are all right. you might think it's a matter of lifestyle, quit this, cut out red meat, walk, run, get a personal trainer, try shitting standing up,'ll get you in the end.'"  -our lady of alice bhatti

our lady of alice bhatti is pretty unusual for a pakistani novel. there is  fair bit of violence in it, and sex too, which may not appeal to the exact stratum of society that especially needs to read it.  while much south asian literature tends to vacillate between depicting pakistan as a nostalgic space of diaspora or a geopolitical hotbed of fundamentalism, this novel does neither. it offers a portrait of contemporary urban pakistan that is complex, layered and entirely unsentimental. at times it is brutal, but the dark brutality rests on a kind of insight that should not be dismissed.  a lot of pundits continue to ask why pakistan remains a country at crossroads sixty five years on. this is not a book specifically setting out to answer that question, but it does get at a certain kind of truth about it.

like mohsin hamid’s moth smoke, our lady unfolds as a modern crime noir. it’s a tragedy about a woman who is punished not for what she has done but for who she is. she is a reluctant femme fatale- her sexuality a weapon not because she chooses to wield it but merely because she possesses it.  and her story is an indictment against a society that remains handicapped not by it’s polarization against the west as the nightly news would have us believe, but rather because of an internal class based system of misogyny that is condoned by a corrupt church-state system. this is a country out of order, and the external pressures of the new great game have spun it out of control.

despite all this it would still be dismissive to categorize this novel as a timely political thriller, because i think it gets at something even deeper than the current state of affairs in pakistan. at it’s heart it’s a feminist novel. it’s about how the bodies of women are being trampled, displaced and discarded in lieu of rational discourse. this war is not being waged by outlaw forces in turbans but by fathers, husbands and brothers who have acquiesced to a society of inequity. and it’s happening because a country has turned in on itself. the daily human suffering that has come out of this cannibalization is what our lady is really about. combined with hanif’s previous a case of exploding mangoes, it’s a must read.



i came across this nest of seagull eggs on the rangatira side of kapiti island. a little girl found it on some rocks near the shore and immediately ran back to the tour guide pleading that someone had to help the baby bird because it wants to get out! it seemed to be going at a steady clip, no doubt it was out soon enough.

there were also loads of cheeky weka birds walking around. they are so fast and clever. one pretended to saunter by me in a disinterested manner then out of nowhere dived into my bag and grabbed a piece of foil that was somewhere in the middle of the bag and dashed off before i even knew what was happening. moral of the story: don't trust a weka.



on some of the shorter walks in tongariro i took along a medium format film camera i have been learning how to use. it certainly involves a lot more effort to get results but it's pretty interesting comparing the same image to one taken with my canon digital slr [see below]. the fidelity of color and depth of detail in the darks kinda blows my digital version away. i also think the developed positives have a charming quality on their own. here i used a film stock called velvia which is known for its ultra rich color. velvia the word [and the results] remind me of a kind of processed american cheese known as velveeta. if you grew up in america in the 80s i don't need to remind you how rich, creamy [i daresay delicious] that synthetic cheese was. think there's a reason the two words sound similar!