The life of Pete Seeger inspired a lot of wonderful words this week — eulogies, appreciations, retrospectives, think pieces, memories from Arlo, one singularly stupendous comic strip — and I could write a lot more. I’ll keep my belated memories brief, because Woody Guthrie’s own summation of his friend, below, is just about the best thing worth reading (and reading aloud) in remembrance of one of the greatest cultural figures this country ever produced, a living archive of every generation thus far of American folk music.
My favorite former newspaper co-workers share lists of their favorite 10 movies each year. I hardly keep up with current film, and my participation has compensated in the past by being overly creative with my lists. Considering that I just chucked my journalism career to pursue a Ph.D., for whatever the hell it’s worth, here are 10 films and film-ish bits I saw this year — a few of them definitely not from 2013 — that are somehow related to the virtual performance, human-computer interaction, digital projection branch of my evolving research interests …
“Robot and Frank”
From 2012. Nifty tale, if awkwardly constructed on screen. Frank Langella is an old burglar with advancing dementia. His family buys him a humanoid robot (with advanced AI, and Peter Sarsgaard’s smooooooth voice) as an assistant and companion, then alibi and accomplice. Can a human bond with a machine? More importantly, can the opposite happen? Even more importantly, is the love interest with Susan Sarandon somehow unnerving…?
Life is great like this: I spent an afternoon this week unpacking the remainder of my library (delayed, as often happens, months after moving in), and basking in the intense comfort of having treasured volumes once again within reach; then, I sat down with a well-earned cocktail and opened Illuminations, a collection of Walter Benjamin essays recently added to my to-read shelf — and what to my wondering eyes should appear but the anthology’s first selection: “Unpacking My Library.”
I'm THOMAS CONNER, Ph.D. in Communication (Science Studies) and culture journalist.