Feature Attractions


Tarkovsky’s Stalker

This long tracking sequence, following the trolley as it clanks and clangs along, is the most straightforward journey imaginable—horizontal, flat, right to left, in a straight line—and full of all the promised wonders of cinema. That’s what we are being sold in the trailers that precede what used to be called the “feature presentation”. Unfortunately, this has become the most debased wonder in the history of the earth. It means explosions, historical epics in which the outcome of the Battle of Hastings is reversed by the arcane CGI prowess of Merlin the Magician, it means five-year-old children turning suddenly into snarling devils, it means wrecking cars and reckless driving, it means a lot of noise, it means I have to time my arrival carefully (twenty minutes at least) after the advertised programme time if I am to avoid all this stuff which, if one were exposed to it for the full hour and a half, would cause one’s capacity for discernment to drop by fifty percent (or, conversely, one’s ability to tolerate stuff like this to increase a hundredfold). It means sitting there shaking one’s middle-aged head; it means that one is wary about going to the cinema. It means that there are more and more things on the street, in shops, on-screen and on telly from which one has to avert one’s ears and eyes.—Geoff Dyer, Zona


Another Birthday, Already? Jeez!

Another Birthday, Already? Jeez!

Again I survived! Today is my 44th birthday. Before you smirk, I now measure my age strictly in the hexadecimal numbering system, which counts 0, 1, 2, 3 and on to 9, A, B, C, D, E, and F. I think you will agree that it’s a much more flattering number, until the letters of the alphabet start showing up, making people say, “Hold on thar!” Of course, I won’t get to be 4A years old for another six years. By then, I may have to find a still more flattering number system—perhaps vigesimal (to the base twenty).

If you are not a computer wonk and want to find out how old I really am now—in the decimal numbering system— you just follow these simple steps:

  1. Take the number of Muses in Ancient Greek mythology.
  2. Add the number of the current Baktun in the Long Count of the Mayan Calendar.
  3. Multiply the result by the number of Theological Virtues in Catholic dogma.
  4. Add the number of scoops of raisins in every box of Kellogg’s Raisin Bran cereal.

There, that wasn’t so very difficult, was it? Easy as pi!