Posted by: Brad Nixon | March 9, 2010

Being Here

First, thanks to Julie Nixon for yesterday’s thoughtful reflections on being a military spouse. It was an excellent way for all of us to participate in International Women’s Day.

Thanks also to everyone who took a moment to click into “Under Western Skies” for Julie’s post. It was the busiest day ever since the blog launched in November. If anyone has come here following a link to Julie’s Women’s Day article, please scroll down to see it. Or, the direct URL is:

Now is the point at which I make some smart-aleck comment about returning to normal status: International Men’s Day, which prevails the other 364 days a year, but I’ll refrain.

I read this morning that Sony will begin selling 3-D TVs in June. Thank goodness, we’re saved, and, once again, by Sony, who have given us so many marvels. This flat, two-dimensional world we’ve been stuck in since Philo Farnsworth created a video image on a cathode ray tube has gotten too, too mundane. We need more stimulation! However, Jerzy Kosinski said pretty much everything I would say here about our media culture, and in a far more trenchant and entertaining way, so read the book, even if you’ve already seen Peter Sellers in the movie. (Books are ALWAYS better than the movie. Always. If you can think of an exception to this rule, Nixon’s Book-Movie Law, write me. You’ll be wrong, but write me, anyway.)

This topic relates to something posted recently by Blog Brother Niels, HERE, in which he reminisces about the rapid evolution of media technologies across the short years of his young life, leading up to the introduction of laser-based readers like CDs and DVDs. We all share that fascination, I think, however old or young we are. I can’t use the phrase “B side” with my nieces and nephews, who were born in the era of CDs, after the era when analog audio disks had two sides. My memory goes back further than Niels’ and my working career in video production began as some really old technologies were just fading away: my first-ever home video production used a reel-to-reel Sony recording deck with 1/2-inch tape. The professional tape at the time was just moving out of the 2″ monster tapes, and I took courses to learn video production using analog 3/4-inch tape cassettes. Now, stuff comes out of the camera on hard drives, I take the hard drive to the studio, download it, and, voila, everything is there in the system. By the way, I might observe that this awesome transformation into a non-linear digital world does not save any money. It’s more expensive than ever.

Some of us, we romantics, have an innate tendency toward nostalgia. We are the ones who collect old cars or toys, who go to museums full of airplanes from a bygone era, or reminisce about myriad other aspects of the past. I suspect that Microsoft is full of such hazy-headed dreamers, or they’d have managed to create a user interface that was ready for the 21st Century. The tough-minded kids are at Apple and Google, crushing the past and erasing it. No one working at Apple would write, as I did, about his halcyon days using a manual typewriter, HERE.

It just doesn’t pay to start longing for the days when things were slower, clunkier and less reliable. That’s silly. The only thing missing, you see, is a sense of physical style. Would you rather drive a new VW Jetta or a 1958 Chevy station wagon? Well? Hmmm …. I’ll have to get back to you on that. Meanwhile, for the near term at least, when I need to view something in 3-D, I’ll probably turn my chair the other way, away from the television, and look out at the little phoebe dipping water out of the pool. It’s just like being there.



  1. Okay, I’ll bite on Nixon’s Book-Movie Law.

    Books open up the imagination and fit themselves into it whereas movies pin-point visual and sound specifics, to the point that books have the huge advantage of being more enduring. It’s a fun topic to kick around, but I probably agree with Nixon’s Book-Movie Law, that the book is ALWAYS better, so a “probably” on top of your “ALWAYS” leaves maybe some hedge room:

    A Clockwork Orange is a great book and a great movie. The movie benefits from an impressive score which cannot be equalled in the book by most imaginations; maybe Beethoven would have been okay with it. Anthony Burgess himself claimed the book was pretty much a minor work, for him, but of course he was comparing it to his other work which he wanted to be taken seriously and maybe he did not realize how good a book he had written. I bet he did; at least I do not believe he went so far as to say the movie was better than his book. In any case, it does not really matter what the author said about his book, but the book and the movie are close as I see it.

    The Godfather movie has great everything in it. The book is pretty good too, although it has been 40 years since I read it and maybe that leaves the movie with a bit of an unfair advantage on my opinion.


  2. I actually, do remember older recording media. As a matter of fact, the first Camera I ever filmed with as a kid was a 8mm Smalfilm camera. The film Cartridges could tape about five minutes worth of film. Sound had to be recorded by alternate devices. I remember the big reels we had to put in the tape recorder so we could record. I was to young to memorize sizes but I do know I was very proud that my dad let me hold the camera.

    I think I must agree on the Nixon’s Book-Movie Law. Although there was this one time I remember that I thought the film was better. But I forgot the film. On the other hand there are plenty of examples where the film ruined the books story.


  3. Brad:

    Really nice!

    Beatty & I are sharing our box of chocolate mint cookies. They’re really good.

    Uncle Buck


    • I thought in a place named Peachtreee City they would have Chocolate Mint Julep Cookies!


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