On the shelf next to the big TV down in the basement den—the TV that is hooked up to the really nice surround sound system that hardly ever get used because 99% of what gets watched in this house is Captain Underpants and shows that have LEGO mini-figs as the main characters—are a whole bunch of blu-rays of really great horror movies. The Haunting. The Shining. The first three Romero Living Dead movies. John Carpenter’s Apocalypse trilogy plus The Fog. The first two Hellraiser movies, before the series descended into forgettable direct-to-DVD mediocrity. Phantasm and Phantasm 2. The list goes on.
I used to watch them a lot, especially in the days leading up to Halloween. Then I had kids. These days, I barely watch movies at all, and on the rare occasion that I do sit down to watch a movie, it is never a horror movie.
Last night, Halloween night, and I found myself thinking that I should watch a horror movie. This thought has occurred to me the last few years on Halloween night. Sure, I’m tired, I tell myself, and if I stay up late, I will regret it at five tomorrow morning when it is time to get up, make the kids’ lunches, head out for my run, and get ready for work. But it’s Halloween! It’s the perfect night for watching horror movies.
And, as usual, I then shelved the idea and headed to bed at 9:15.
If I had decided to stay up, though, I probably would have gone with Prince Of Darkness. While it drags a bit through the middle section when the Evil Green Goo is zombifying various members of the team, I like the high-concept horror and the pervading sense of doom and dread that pervades the film.
Everyone who writes a blog for a while knows that one of the best things about it is the way it allows you to revisit themes and topics. You connect one post to another by linking to it; you connect many posts together by tagging. Over time you develop fascinating resonances, and can trace the development of your thought. Venkatesh Rao has thought a lot about this in his series of posts — he calls it a “blogchain” — on blogs as “elder games.”
But this is not typically how readers read blogs. Not many people read this blog, but those who do typically just read the most recent posts — three days back, max. I add links to earlier posts, but almost no one clicks on them. People don’t click on tags either. And I think that’s because we have all been trained by social media to skim the most recent things and then go on to something else. We just don’t do deeper dives any more. So one of the things I want to be thinking about is: How can I encourage readers of my blog to seek some of the benefits that I get from it?
I agree, and would add that it seems like the same could be said of many long-term, serialized creative processes. I think it speaks to the fundamental gap between the generation of creative work and the consumption of that work.
But even as Silver continues to present himself as an analytically rigorous alternative to the entrails-reading punditry of the “Morning Joe” variety, he also has shown an increasing affinity for precisely that brand of unquantifiable storytelling and third-scotch-at-the-hotel-bar pontificating for which his original project was supposed to be a remedy. During a recent round of the never-ending free speech debates, he opined that “false statements of fact” aren’t protected by the First Amendment, eliciting howling derision from the lawyers in the cloud. Just this week, he logged on to complain, after Trump was—entirely predictably, and without polling!—booed by a crowd at a Washington National’s baseball game on the same day he’d announced that the U.S. had supposedly killed the alleged leader of Islamic State, that “many Libs can’t even permit Trump to have one good day … after US forces kill perhaps the world’s most wanted terrorist.” (He has since issued a tweet suggesting, unconvincingly, that he was trolling.) It’s a curious stance from a man who claims, among other self-imposed limits and constraints, that his empirical models deliberately seek to ignore those major public events that move—usually briefly—opinions about politics and events. To use Silver’s preferred turn of phrase, isn’t one good day just more “noise”?