I could describe Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig’s Frances Ha as a film that crosses elements from Woody Allen’s Manhattan, Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation, Jim Jarmusch’s Stranger than Paradise and Terry Zwigoff / Daniel Clowes’ Ghost World but such namedropping, while accurate, might mislead you into thinking Frances Ha is a self-conscious and highly referential indie. It is not.

Baumbach and Gerwig built the rarest of filmic pleasures nowadays, a completely contemporary motion picture that stands alone, no references required. No other film I’ve seen recently is as remotely accurate as what it like to be a young (and perhaps "undateable!") adult nowadays, the New York City setting being totally irrelevant to its ressonance. The sequence (minor spoiler) in which Frances goes into debt and spends a weekend in Paris all by herself is utterly soul-crushing, way more poignant than the science fictional, literal aloneness Sandra Bullock’s character endures in Alfonso Cuáron’s Gravity (also an incredibly good movie on a wholly separate set of merits).

Do yourself a favour and watch Frances Ha as soon as possible.

If you are in for the high jump, either jump higher than any one else, or manage somehow to pretend that you have done so. If you want to succeed at whist, either be a good whist-player, or play with marked cards. You may want a book about jumping; you may want a book about whist; you may want a book about cheating at whist. But you cannot want a book about Success.

G.K. Chesterton, All Things Considered (1915), as quoted by Jason Kottke.

Kottke is right to point out Chesterton wrote the last time social class inequality was as high as it is today. Like then, nowadays there’s a flood of literature about Attaining Success (a.k.a. Entrepreneurship), books but also blogs, podcasts both daily and weekly in audio and video formats, along with the acompanying conferences, workshops, incubators, seminars, meetings, camps, reality television and the odd TED talk, in both ‘real TED’ and totally unaccountable (eg. TEDx) versions. The artistic-minded can also expect a similar plethora of writings and speeches about Creativity. Success does seem to belong to the quacks writing about it, most of whom aren’t as articulate as a Malcolm Gladwell and provide nothing better than garden-variety homeopathy evangelists.

At any rate, literature about Success (and Creativity) does provide one with a good heuristic on spotting a phony. Just look at his or hers’ bookshelf or browsing/sharing preferences. As Chesterton points out, a lack of ‘technical’ literature (on the game of whist, on design, on computer programming, on writing, &etc.) is the mark of the mediocre.

I’m pleased that Sunday, September 15th, the RU+A participatory and urban art event will happen here in Porto. The ugly metal shutters that make the street landscape after stores close will be illustrated by fine local artists. There will be visual arts and woodworking workshops for children and the old alike. There will be live music and deejays and street theatre. And there will be beverages, including beer.

Even though the online fundraising fell a bit short, the gals got lucky as a plethora of sponsors came around to help the event happen. Now RU+A only needs a public. If you’re around Porto next Sunday, come spend the afternoon in the area between Rua de Cedofeita and Pr. Carlos Alberto. Help them make this event a success!

This is worth reposting as there’s only one week to go on the Indiegogo fundraiser:

RU+A (Facebook link) is a project that aims to qualify a run-down area at the center of Porto by inviting local visual artists to paint the area stores’ metal shutters in an event that will be taking place September 15th. There’s also going to be some live music in the street, a graffiti workshop and more — even possibly a barbecue.

Friends, Joana and the RU+A gals need to provide all the materials (paint, brushes & etc.) and all the permits for that event to happen. They’ve set up this fundraiser for both private and small-business sponsors. Perks include, besides a shout-out / some advertising for you, unique traditional portuguese ceramic tiles painted and signed by one of the artists. If you can, please help them out! Time is running out!

Even though I have some trouble doing anything with it (other than filming my friends’ kittens), I find the concept of Vine quite interesting: six-second videos made with an app that works like old Super8 cameras (only recording while you press the trigger), encouraging both synthesis and all kinds of in-camera experimentation. And even though Instagram though has similar capabilities, Vine’s lower six-second limit just seems more interesting, focused on action rather than on beautifully-filtered meditations.

To the point, here’s a compilation of six-second science experiments and explanations. Awesome. (via It’s Okay to Be Smart)

Toiletwolf (huh?) is right now one of my favourite photography weblogs. I’ve always been partial to austere planimetric (that is, ‘elevation’) photography, and I’m really enjoying the author’s use of longer lenses and croppings in the compositions.

Last week I helped Joana shoot this video presentation for the Indiegogo fundraiser for RU+A (Facebook link), a project that aims to qualify a run-down area at the center of Porto by inviting local visual artists (a call for proposals is currently in effect) to paint the area stores’ metal shutters in an event that will be taking place September the 15th.

Friends, Joana and the RU+A gals need to provide all the materials (paint, brushes, & etc.) and get all the permits for that event to happen. They’ve set up this fundraiser for both private and small-business sponsors. Perks include, besides a shout-out / some advertising for you, unique traditional portuguese ceramic tiles painted and signed by one of the artists. If you can, please help them out!

When I was a kid I would stand on my head and force myself into odd perceptions. I would pretend being able to walk in the ceiling or in the walls, wishing hard to defeat gravity.

In Rubix, Christ Kelly renders a city as the faces of a moving Rubik cube. Even though the 3D execution isn’t up to par with videos such as Alex Roman’s The Third & The Seventh (another veritable architectural video megademo), Rubix's concept makes it oddly compelling. I'm hooked.

This book was given to me by my grandmother shortly before she died. It is a nineteenth century ‘encyclopedic manual’ that was issued to schoolteachers and had belonged to her own grandfather. As like most semi-gifted children I spent most of my childhood reading rather than interacting, whenever I went to the countryside to visit my grandparents I would spend most time in the living room, browsing whatever books I could find. Since most were religious in nature and didn’t interest me, I always ended up reading chapters of this book — chapters on Morals and Religion (written from a Catholic fundamentalist perspective and which reminded me too much of Church on Sundays, so I skipped ahead), Mathematics and Geometry, Physical Sciences, History and Political Geography, and, interestingly, Greco-Roman Mythology.

The joy I felt when my grandmother gave me this book subsided and after she died it became just a memento, a gift from the grandparent I got to know the least, from whom I hold just brief memories from those rare, once-a-year visits. At home in the city the book laid largely unnoticed among all the other tomes in my bookcase, even if I would entertain the thought that it was really valuable (it’s not — mint condition copies can be bought for cheap online). I reasoned Manual Encyclopedico was an antique book, after all!

As I recently rediscovered the book I also learned to see it as a symbol of my own smartassedness. Feasting on encyclopedic information had been an addiction since an early age. From lonely afternoons reading the Junior Woodchucks Library in childhood to late-night binge-reading on Wikipedia in my late twenties, I had started to feel the weight of my own gluttony for facts. I’ve found some people may compliment me for being knowledgeable and opinionated, but most will resent me (and there’s an overlap between the two groups). Being a ‘know-it-all’ became a common accusation in foundering relationships; or the justification for a bad first impression. Being self-aware and trying to do something about it only seemed to make matters worse.

It took me quite a while to understand information doesn’t equal wisdom, and knowledge of ‘facts’ will often just lead us astray. I may carry a store of knowledge of a wide-ranging level of usefulness and expertise, but at thirty-four I still feel the same teenage hard time engaging in conversation with people I don’t know very well.

Paradoxically I should have paid more attention to Manual Encyclopedico. Besides all the facts about History and Political Geography which are obviously long outdated, in the old book a luminiferous aether is presumed to permeate the universe and our Sun is described as an inhabitable globe with a "radiant atmosphere" in the same pages that list the sixty-four known ‘planets’ of our Solar System. The lightning rod, the train and the atmospheric baloon are described as cutting-edge technologies. I used to have great fun reading all these ‘facts’ which were so obviously wrong and outdated. What I should have understood is that it is in the nature of facts themselves to suddenly become untrue.

This simple observation is the great nugget of wisdom I should have found in these pages. I was just too blind to see it.