Would You Like To Play A Game?

Play here.

This is Life, a simple computer game designed by John Conway in 1970. It has three rules:

– Birth rule: An empty, or “dead,” cell with precisely three “live” neighbors (full cells) becomes live.

-Death rule: A live cell with zero or one neighbors dies of isolation; a live cell with four or more neighbors dies of overcrowding.

– Survival rule: A live cell with two or three neighbors remains alive

It has fascinated people for years.

”I first encountered Life at the Exploratorium in San Francisco in 1978. I was hooked immediately by the thing that has always hooked me — watching complexity arise out of simplicity.

Life ought to be very predictable and boring; after all, there are just three simple rules that determine the position of some dots on a grid. That really doesn’t sound very interesting until you start tweaking those rules and watching what changes.

Life shows you two things. The first is sensitivity to initial conditions. A tiny change in the rules can produce a huge difference in the output, ranging from complete destruction (no dots) through stasis (a frozen pattern) to patterns that keep changing as they unfold.”

– Brian Eno

More here.

Mank

Gary Oldman plays Herman J. Mankiewicz as he races to complete the first draft of the ”Citizen Kane” script. Along the way, Mankiewicz, known throughout Hollywood as a charming but deeply cynical alcoholic, locks horns with Orson Welles over nearly every element of the film’s story. That feud that would continue beyond the film’s release as Mankiewicz believed Welles was trying to take credit for his work and spent the rest of his life resenting him for it.

”Mank” is more than 20 years in the making, as David Fincher’s father, Howard ”Jack” Fincher, wrote the screenplay back in the late 1990s. He passed away in 2003. The film marks Fincher’s return to feature filmmaking for the first time since his 2014 Oscar-nominated film ”Gone Girl,” having spent the last six years working on Netflix series like ”House of Cards” and ”Mindhunter.”

Don’t Watch After Eating

I hate the songs of Jimmy Webb.  He won a jillion Grammy’s, and he’s regularly named as a great songwriter by people who really should know better (Bruce Springteen and some others).  At his best, his songs are merely annoying, melodically vapid, and oozing with gooey sentimentality (his songs for Glen Campbell: Galveston, Wichita Lineman, By the Time I Get To Phoenix).  At his worst, they are also pretentious (McArthur Park) and stupid beyond all description (Up, Up and Away, McArthur Park again).  I once played Richard Harris’s original hit version of McArthur Park to my older son, who was certain I was playing him a comedy record.  If you’re so inclined, above you can watch him perform what could be the worst song ever written with such bone-headed earnestness that you may find yourself wanting Anton Chigurh to walk up and do his captive bolt stunner thing on him.  I didn’t even make it to the infamous “cake out in the rain” part (surely the dumbest metaphor ever devised).  In a way it’s funny, but mostly not.  My question to you bastards: am I incorrect?  If any of you are Jimmy Webb fans, can you clue me in as to what’s good about him?  Did he write some hidden gems I’ve never heard?  Because based on his biggest hits, I don’t get his reputation as one of the greats at all.