Web dev at the end of the world, from Hveragerði, Iceland

Weeknote: 4 September 2023

(Edited to be more coherent. Having a foggy day.)


The amount of boilerplate and number of dependencies involved in setting up a web development project has exploded over the past decade or so.

If you browse through the various websites that are writing about web development you get the impression that it requires an overwhelming amount of dependencies, tools, and packages. Bare-bones setups are either presented as temporary – something you grow out of – or as some sort of hair-shirt hippie modernity avoidance thing – a refusal to engage with “modern” web development.

But, the basic platform has become extremely capable.

My plan (tentative) is to set up and restart an old project but to also reassess my assumptions about modern web development as I do so. And blog about it.

Between JS modules, browser dev tools, and the growth in recent years in the number of single binary dev utilities written in go or rust, my theory is that you can get a modern web dev setup without node or a package manager, using only a tiny handful of standalone utilities and browser dev tools.


Still mostly reading documentation related to the work stuff above.


Caught up on my rewatching of Clive Barker’s movies and I still think that his best is a movie he didn’t even direct (Candyman). Hellraiser is probably the least uneven movie he directed himself. Lord of Illusions is an interesting attempt at melding Noir and crime with horror, and it’s the noir side that lets it down. It ends up being a horror movie whose pacing is shot to hell by occasional noir-styled interludes. Nightbreed is much improved in its director’s cut, but still has a wildly jittery and unconvincing first half. Apparently the original cut was even longer, by twenty minutes, and I can believe that. It’s one of the few movies I know that would be improved by padding out the beginning.

Rewatched Blade and Blade II. In hindsight, they pretty much perfected the superhero movie formula, coming out four years before Sam Raimi’s first Spider-Man movie. A wise-cracking hero, with a couple of sidekicks to ground them, fights a bad guy who is basically a twisted version of themselves, even with the big, effects-heavy third act action set piece. No wonder Marvel is having problems with their reboot.

Also managed to watch the director’s cut of Alien 3. Definitely a big improvement but still a very uneven movie.

Apparently, during the making of James Cameron’s Aliens, the original cinematographer, Dick Bush, wanted the set lit so that everybody could see all the detail the set designers had put into their work, but that would have ruined the mood of the film. He got fired and replaced with Adrian Biddle who basically preserved the horror movie lighting of the first film, which is how Aliens ended up being an action movie with horror lighting and atmosphere.

Alien 3 feels like it was lit and shot the way Dick Bush wanted to shoot Aliens. Essentially, if you look past the pacing issue, it’s a horror movie with action movie lighting – the inverse of Aliens. Unfortunately, that’s a mix that doesn’t really work. It’s also missing the initial sense of normalcy that then gets disrupted, which is a key strategy in horror for magnifying unease and dread. The director’s cut mitigates this somewhat, but not enough to make it a good horror movie.

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