Wednesday, November 11 2020

revisions, vic berger, and deliverance



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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone. From the magical world of midweek paid vacation, let me be the first to wish you a happy Wednesday. Even though I have the rest of this week off, I had no intention of sleeping in. Deep down I knew that the key to unlocking today's potential for maximum enjoyment was getting an early start as if nothing was out of place, making up the difference with a stellar afternoon nap later today. Consequently, I'm here. Bright eyed, bushy tailed, freshly awake, even though nobody asked me to.

Even so, I'm running exactly fifteen minutes behind my regular workday cadence. Each day I take a shower and plant myself at the computer to write at 8:30, and at the time of writing this paragraph it's already 8:45. It's almost like my subconscious sluggard chose to rebel in that way.

Whatever. I don't have anywhere to be today. My top priority is just hanging out with Rodney and Miles to give Marissa time to prepare for her virtual art gallery this weekend. Speaking of which, I'll share the details as soon as I can find them. The event information wasn't yet on Marissa's website, but I'm sure updating that page is near the top of her sprawling TODO list this week.

But like I said, I don't have much to do today. Last night Rodney and I penciled in a soft commitment to reenacting some Paw Patrol action around his Adventure Bay tower. I have a thoroughly frozen chicken in the fridge that may need some extra help thawing before dinner.

I've also gotten back into hacking on my blog. Last night I crafted a slick python script for automatically managing revisions (trigger warning: this could get a little nerdy). With each set of changes I make, I assign a revision stamp comprised of three digits separated by periods (e.g. v11.0.3). Each time I make a small tweak to the tooling or source code that runs behind the scenes, I increment the last patch version number. Each time I make an small edit to existing text, like correcting a typo or adding a caption to a figure, I increment the middle minor version number. Lastly, new entries increment the first major version number. And of course, I have some concise commands I can run while editing to make the whole workflow breezy and effortless. Once I'm done writing this entry, I'll run the command make publish, which will automatically increment the version to v12.0.0 and shove it up into the Internet for the eternal Internet.

Sip. What do you have to do today? What's your favorite way to track changes to a bunch of text files? And more importantly, how has your week been?

Earlier this week, Marissa and I were hanging out on the couch taking in some YouTube videos. We were enjoying some of the bizarre works of the surrealist video creator Vic Berger, known for making these dreadful, unsettling cuts of awkward political situations.

"I need to show you my favorite one," I laughed, flicking my phone screen. "This one is a classic."

For Marissa, I played Mr. Trump Gives Jon Voight A Medal. In my view, this is a quintessential Vic Berger classic. It's got dancing, a deep cut reference to Baby Geniuses 2, and it beautifully amplifies how awkward it must have felt to be in the same room as Donald Trump while we was raving about how good of a movie Deliverance was in his usual tone deaf style.

Watching the video must have planted a seed. The next night, I picked Deliverance as our movie pick.

Marissa groaned. "Isn't this the movie with... you know... that one scene where..."

"Yep." I interrupted. "I think I saw this movie in high school. To be honest I don't remember that much about it."

It's a shame that Deliverance is only remembered in pop culture for its infamous excruciating rape scene, and I include myself in that oversight. Seeing the film once in high school, that was my only take-away. But revisiting the film later in life I've come to appreciate everything else going on that makes the film so powerful and dreadful.

Family men Bobby, Ed, and Drew reluctantly follow their macho survivalist friend Lewis to a remote part of the Appalachian mountains to get one last shot at canoeing a dangerous river before it is paved over for a man made lake. They stop at a gas station to fill up and get directions, and we witness some important interactions that make for grim foreshadowing. Bobby, the man who would later be violated in the woods, exhibits a serious lack of respect for the hillbilly type. "We got a live one here," he quips turning his back as the owner of the gas station. I watched Bobby carefully through the early scenes. Each time they interact with a local, Bobby refuses to speak with them for more than a few seconds and literally turns his back to let his more meek friend Ed converse on his behalf.

Waiting around at the gas station, Drew confidently noodles on his guitar, and he's joined by a boy banjo player. The two proceed to play the iconic "Dueling Banjos" musical number. It's a fun, light-hearted interaction, but remember that Drew can't keep up with the boy, stopping the song early yelling "I'm lost! I'm lost!". The boy would reappear later, stoically swinging his banjo and casting a haunting gaze at their canoe as it passes. Drew, as well his other friends had already been weighed, measured, and found wanting. Down river, death awaited.

Laster in the film, Lewis kills one of their pursuers with an arrow. The men have a heated discussion as to whether they should turn the body into the authorities or take it upon themselves to hide it in the woods.

"Where is justice?" screams Lewis. "These people are all related. Do you want to sit in front of a jury with his mother, brother, and sister in the jury box?"

The men chose to hide the body, thinking the locals had no respect for justice. But they were again made to rue their disrespect for the local land and culture. They find themselves fleeing from the law and evading justice, leaving a gruesome secret behind them in the bottom of the lake that haunts Ed in his dreams.

It's a good movie. Painful to sit through on a lot of levels. On a shallow level, there is an gruesome and vivid rape scene that's difficult to shake off. But surrounding the rest of the movie is a haunting tragedy how a group of modern men tried to use a river they didn't understand to gain respect, and how the river punished their disrespect with suffering and death.

Go watch Deliverance. It's a good one. Thanks for stopping by today, have a great Wednesday, everyone.