Sunday, December 17, 2017

Short film "Forces" is as much about US wars as it is about LGBT, drawn down to one friendship back home

Dominc Poliquin’s short film “Forces”, produced by Branden Blinn (8 min) depicts a friendship between a gay football player (Nicola Tomasinni) and a straight Army soldier (Benoit Gauvin).

They have grown up in houses on opposite sides of a creek that seems to be in Appalachia. The soldier joined the Army to make something of himself, but developed PTSD after deployment (some combat scenes are shown). When he returns, he challenges his friend, who challenges him back.  And it has nothing to do with sex at all.

This is more about Obama’s War (after Bush’s war) and perhaps the Stop-Loss policy (backdoor draft).

I do have one person friend (I believe a combat engineer) deployed to Afghanistan. 

Saturday, December 16, 2017

"Thirteen or So Minutes": very personal short gay film by Branden Blinn

Here is Branden Blinn’s short film “13 or so Minutes” (the film title seems based on the film's clock length).  Blinn, from what I can see, really likes films about “straight men” (very cis) exploring their homoerotic interests and then sometimes coming out.

Nick Soper plays a handsome white dude who invites a partly Hispanic American (Carlos Salas) up to his apartment for friendship. They talk and become intimate.  The film opens with about a minute of no picture – I would have preferred to see what is going on.

The film consists of the talking, Ninth Street Center style, after sex.  I would have been interested in the buildup of tension first, rather than its release.  In Paul Rosenfels categories, Soper plays the masculine personality.  Both men have "balanced" personalities. Blinn's work seems to deal with "the polarities". 

Soper plays the 100% cis male, with hairy chest and aggressive body language. 

Soper talks about his relationship to his cat.  It would have been good for this to be shown. Some feral cats seem to like mildly autistic and or introverted people, whom the cats perceive as more like them. Cats definitely form opinions on "good" and "bad" people from their worldviews.  
This is very much indoor guerilla movie making.

Blinn rents some of his more explicit films (or major features) on his own platform He says some of them would be rated as adult by YouTube.  I would like to be able to rent them through Amazon or YouTube (which does offer rentals on your Google wallet or account, once you set it up with your credit card).  This strikes me as analogous to the way musicians prefer to use Bandcamp rather than Amazon.  But it’s fine to pay for content.  People have to make a living. 

Friday, December 15, 2017

Vox video: "How the End of Net Neutrality Could Change the Internet"

Liz Sheltens and Mallaory Brangan direct a video for Vox “How the End of Net Neutrality Could Change the Internet

The video gives a great history of the early days of the web, when I made a lot of the material from my first “Do Ask, Do Tell” book free online (for those who didn’t want to pay) so I would be found by a lot of people on search engines – and it worked.  In those days, the Internet was largely text and still images so my own strategy worked better then that it does now.  Hey, it sounds like I should make my own video explaining this.

The FCC regulated the phone companies carriage of the Internet then as common carriers, through the advent of DSL around 2002 or 2003, which was rocky at first.  The regulations meant that phone companies couldn’t charge you more for using AOL (although some companies could charge for time used, and AOL itself did that until 1997).  In 2005, the Bush administration people deregulated, leading to fewer ISP’s which replaced DSL services.

It strikes me that indeed the big problem is that often there are not enough companies in one geographical area (especially rural).  If you have two or three companies in every major area then telecom companies have little incentive to throttle content as some small businesses fear, not trusting their current “promises”. 

The film points out that some regulation was needed for Facebook to be developed and be better than Myspace (Dr. Phil’s favorite – remember those “Internet Mistakes” back in 2007?).
The Vox video is on Youtube, but the copy on their own site when played from Facebook keeps stalling. 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Michael Nichols: "A Life in the Wild"

Yesterday I also saw a 15 minute short film by MichaelNichols, “A Life in the Wild”, an autobiographical sketch of the National Geographic wildlife photographer and his work.  The film was part of an exhibition on his work. 

There was a progression of subject matter, with the most impressive for my dime being the drone photography of a pride of lions, who didn’t object to the foreign object hovering over them, as it didn’t harm them.

There was also a sequence with chimpanzees, which fits into to the NatGeo feature “Jane” by Brett Morgen and Jane Goodall 
There was some pretty impressive work with tree climbers on the sequoias in California. 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

National Geographic's "Tomb of Christ" experience

Today I visited the “Tomb of Christ: The Church of Holy Sepulchre Experience” multi-media including film, exhibit at the National Geographic Museum in Washington DX on 17th street.  The best link seems to be this
Wikipedia explains the history of the site of many of the events regarding the Crucifixion and Resurrection here. At the time of Christ, the city of Jerusalem did not quite include this area but has grown around it, with all three major religions.

Jerusalem is indeed the capital of Israel (and arguably would be so for a Palestinian state), but Donald Trump’s actions this week have been viewed as controversial and have stimulated some violence. But Israel had captured East Jerusalem from Joran in 1967.

The exhibit starts with a series of film clips, leading to a simulated bazaar. Then you step into a 3-D surrounding film experience of the tomb area including oculus itself,, as well as edicule.   The experience ends with a virtual reality experience with googles of the courtyard area.  So this is a trip to the church for $15, without the airfare. 
Photography without flash seemed to be allowed for most of the exhibit; typically photography of film scenes itself is not permitted. It would not work with the 3-D portions. 

Monday, December 11, 2017

Will the 20th Century Fox logo survive Disney?

The deal for Disney to acquire most of Fox assets leaves open the question whether 20th Century Fox, with its triumphant fanfare, will continue to be a visible company in Hollywood, at least as a production entity. 
There’s the Wall Street Journal Story today

Would Fox Searchlight survive?  Several companies (largely Warner Brothers and Paramount) seem to have stopped labeling their “independent” movies separately.


Remember in 1953, with “The Robe”, there would follow, “A Cinemascope picture”. 

Update Dec. 14

Disney has announced its acquisition of 21st Century Fox, story by Yahoo.   Disney will start its own streaming service in 2019 to compete with Netflix, which means many films won't be available on both.  That sounds like a studio's answer to no net neutrality? 

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Can we continue to enjoy the work of disgraced filmmakers? (Pulp Fiction?)

Can we separate our respect for art from the reputation of the artist? 

On Indiewire a number of critics weigh in on the question here

It’s interesting that they discuss “Pulp Fiction”, one of the great films of the 90s (produced by the Weinstein brothers in part, but directed by Taraentino, not involved in all this mess.) 


In other areas, there is a point where we don’t want to consume content from criminals or from sufficiently disgraced persons.  I think the Unabomber and Eliot Rodger “manifestos” are available somewhere online, but nobody seems to want them now. Milo Yiannopoulos lost his publishing deal after somewhat fakey rumors about supporting ephebophilia leaked out in February, but he went on to create his own publishing company that has also published Pam Geller (maybe James Damore?) I think a Netflix-style documentary about Milo, or Pam, or James (or all three in one film) could make interesting home viewing.  I’d be game to support it, maybe.  

Monday, December 04, 2017

"The Savannah: The Largest Domestic Cats in the World"

The Savannah: The Largest Domestic Cats in the World” on Discovery-UK (part of “Cats 101”).
A family a rural area probably in northern California takes in the savannah, a hybrid of serval and domestic cat, graded as to percentage of wild genes.

The cats require a lot of outdoor space, but become attached to people. In South Africa, it’s more common for ranchers to have big cats (even cheetahs) who hunt in a range and remember where home is and return for food. 

This film is the story of two of the savannah cats, Kala and Mondo.  One night, Mondo runs out when the babysitter doesn’t notice (there are two kids).  Someone finds Mondo on another farm 12 miles away and returns him. Even with the second family Mondo was quite friendly.

There are other YouTube videos of Zeus, a serval who has grown up with a pre-teen to teen boy and who regards the boy as part of his “pride”.  A cat may think he or she can teach a human child to hunt.

These animals have lives of their own, and a knowledge of the world we never perceive. Yet they try to share it with us. 
Wikipedia attribution link for picture of a G2 Savannah, by Galawebdesign, CCSA 3.0. 

Friday, December 01, 2017

"Why Vietnam?": LBJ's propaganda piece for prospective draftees in the summer of 1965

In the summer of 1965, the Pentagon produced a “propaganda” film defending the increased intervention in Vietnam, titled “Why Vietnam?”.

The film opens with president Lyndon Johnson reading a letter from a mother of a young man where the mother asks why the boy must risk his own personal sacrifice?

The recent long Ken Burns film on PBS would tend to refute some of the claims in the film.  The “domino theory” is touted (as it may sound relevant to North Korea today).  Also sacrifice is relative, as the people who live in the region sacrifice.

But LBJ also refers to the sacrifice in WWII, and DOD also refers to a Dwight Eisenhower speech.  At one point the film refers to a time when the American forcers were only “advisory”.  Guerilla, asymmetric warfare is explained.

I was working my first summer at the David Taylor Model Basin (Navy) that summer. 

The film is mentioned in the book “Enduring Vietnam” by James Wright. I picked this up at the National Archives after visiting the "Remembering Vietnam" exhibit Nov. 27.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Casablanca on its 75th birthday -- and and example of wartime censorship of Hollywood

I remember seeing “Casablanca” (Warner Brothers, directed by Hal Wallis) at the Inwood Theater in Dallas in 1982.  This is touted by populists as one of the best movies of all time.

But Stephen McVeigh, at Swamsea University in the UK explains this film, at its 75th anniversary, as still a case of WWII propaganda, in a guest post on Rick Sincere’s blog, here
In 1939, when the Blitzkrieg started, the United States was the only country with neither propaganda nor an intelligence agency. That changed quickly in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor.  The Office of War Information would be set up in the summer of 1942.

The agency had shocking powers as gatekeepers of the content of commercial films that got produced, as to helping win the war, an idea that would seem totally unthinkable today with our idea of unregulated user generated content. McVeigh lists seven questions that every film was vetted with. 
By Croix_de_Lorraine_3.png: Daniel FRderivative work: LeonardoelRojo (talk) - Croix_de_Lorraine_3.png, Public Domain, Link

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

"Building a Border at 4600 Meters": Indigenous people along Tibet-Nepal border fall under China's government

Johnny Harris offers a 13 minute film “Building a Border at 4600 Meters” about the indigenous people between Nepal and Tibet, whose land (the Bon) is bisected by China’s “building that wall”. URL is here

The film also discusses the 300 million people throughout the world who live in essentially “stateless” spaces, too remote from governments, mostly off the land, on economies based on barter. But gradually governments encroach.
Ezra Klein posted the video on Facebook for Vox Media.

The picture I selected generates the name of Annapurna Studios.  

By This illustration was made by (User:Royonx) and released under the license(s) stated above. You are free to use it for any purpose as long as you credit me and follow the terms of the license.Example :  © Michel Royon / Wikimedia CommonsIf you use this image outside of the Wikimedia projects, I would be happy to hear from you par courriel ( royonx Thanks !Ce message en français - Own work, CC0, Link

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

National Archives shows military recruiting collage film "We Want You"

The National Archives, in the Public Vaults display, next to the Rotunda, shows a 10-minute collage of military recruiting, mostly during Wold War II, called “We Want You”.  All of this during the time of the military draft.

The main recruiting song was “Over There”, which in my 1969 manuscript “The Proles” was the euphemism for Vietnam.

I visited this area after a visit to the “Remembering Vietnam” exhibit.

The film makes reference to women joining SPARS during WWII to free the men to sail in the Navy (or to fight) during WWII.
There is also a clip that finishing college while in the Army would be no problem. 

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Washington area residents have to wait to see "Lavender Scare" when Reel Affirmations doesn't screen it

There is a bit of a flak in that the DC Reel Affirmations Film Festival declined to show “Lavender Scare”, a documentary about the purge of homosexuals from the federal government in the 1950s during the Eisenhower years and the “Red Scare”, with emphasis on the story of Frank Kameny.

The Washington Blade has a story by Lou Chibarro, Jr., but the DC Center has declined to explain why it wasn’t selected.   But some people seem to believe that retelling history during the current political environment (with Pence as vice-president) could “bring it back”.  The material is also sensitive now because of Trump’s attempted transgender ban in the military, now under litigation.
The trailer shows the practice of “naming names” during the witch hunts.  Similar practices went on in the US military, gradually abetting under “don’t ask don’t tell”, to be repealed in 2011. 
The film is produced and directed by Josh Howard. 

Friday, November 24, 2017

"Tonight It's You": Gay horror short film, with the look of "Bugrush", slams fundamentalist conversion therapy

The short “Tonight It’s You”, by Dominic Haxton, ASPD Films, experiments with horror over its 17 minutes and gives a look that reminds me of “Bugcrush”.  The plot, however, starts out with the intimacy (rather than building up to it), and then the storyline explodes into something much more dangerous and much more political.

A young man CJ (Jake Robbins) answers a personal ad on his phone and drives out to a remote ranch in what looks like the area around San Bernadino east of LA.  His hookup (Hunter, played by Ian Lerch) tells him to go to the back shed.

They make out, but half way through the film “dad” hears them from the house. CJ tries to escape but winds up having to jump into the house, and finds a coven of fundamentalist exorcists determined to convert gays, that would put Mike Pence to shame.  (I know, Trump joked “He wants to hang ‘em all” but this film, shot before the 2016 election, seems ready to blow everyone away, and may have been envisioned as a “just in case” short to slam anti-gay extremism just in case Pence got into office.)

The payoff is, the Hunter’s dad had kidnapped turned into vampires ready to turn on dear old dad, something Dad wasn’t prepared for.  CJ gets to be the hero, and I guess Ian does to. 

The action in the last 5 minutes of the film moves very abruptly and the camera work is quick. 

This is a film where both young men deserve to turn out better than their life circumstances so far would predict. 

I suspect that this has played in some LGBT film festivals in shorts presentations, although I'm not aware that Reel Affirmations has run it.

Haxton's work could probably be compared to Jorge Ameer, who also comes up with novel storylines for with gay material, often with mystery and a touch of horror or supernatural. 

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

"Las Llaves" ("The Keys"): Appealing gay male short film from Argentina -- about jealousy

The short “Las Llaves” (“The Keys”) (2011, directed by Lucas Santa Ana, is worth a look.

Matias (Luciano Prieto), has abandoned a relationship with a fat man Pedro (Hernan Moran) who, when on the phone, indulges a beautiful cat who kneads him.  He brings home a taller, super attractive young man Lucho (Francisco Ortiz).  After they make out and start the shirt and chest work, Lucho notices the pictures of Pedro and wonders if Matias really is over this other relationship.  (Sounds like Sonny, Paul, and the resurrected Will on “Days of our Lives”.)

The film shows characteristic shots of high rise living in Buenos Aires. 
By Sebasiddi - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

"War on Boys": animated video shared by Milo, from PragerU

Here’s a five-minute Facbook videoBeing a Normal Boy Is a Serious Liability in Today’s Classroom”, shared by Milo Yiannopoulos.  It seems to be part of a group “War on Boys”.'

True the school systems have skewed reading programs and behavioral expectations that make boys into “defective girls”.  One is reminded of a book by Patricia Sexton in the 1970s, “Men of Steel and Velvet”.  This gets into George Gilder territory.

The video maintains boys will learn reading if shown action stories.  (But some boys are drawn quickly to science.)  It was critical of “contemplative poetry” in many high school English curricula.

It also says school need to end zero-tolerance policies.  A seven-year-old boy was expelled for chewing a popsicle into the shape of a toy gun.

It also wants to bring back recess – daytime physical activity in the real world, away from screens or video.  

Friday, November 17, 2017

"Husky Dog Adopts Stray Cat, Saving her Life" : mammalian moms really adopt other people's children

Husky Dog Adopts Stray Cat, Saving Her Life” (7 min), from The DoDo. 

Mammalian moms will take of the young of other species.  A NatGeo film showed a leopard taking care of a stray baby baboon. NatGeo has an article on the topic discussing dolphins. 

But in this little story, it was the maternal attention from a female Siberian husky that gave a kitten, found at the age of  two weeks, the will to thrive and live. 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

"In the Stable": short gay film from France stresses "cis male" values with some subtlety

Here is a tender gay short film “In the Stable” apparently set in the countryside in France.

The young man in the formal shirt riding the horse will exploit his clean-cut appearance.

Sometimes “less” means more erotic.  You don’t need to show very much.  Theoretically, this film would stay in the PG-13 territory.

But there is no question, this film appeals to (white) “cis male” gay values, which have suddenly become morally controversial on the far left, as they indirectly oppress people who are less physically perfect.  This presents the ultimate upward affiliation trip. Milo would like this film. 
Note the music, the quiet section of Rossini’s “William Tell” Overture. 

Monday, November 13, 2017

"Charlottesville: Our Streets" premiers at the Virginia Film Festival

While I don’t usually post reviews of films I haven’t seen yet, I have invited guest reviews on a Wordpress blog, and today I wanted to share Rick Sincere’s review of “Charlottesville: Our Streets”, a documentary shown Sunday Nov. 12 at the Virginia Film Festival in Charlottesville. 
Here is the panel discussion:

Here is Rick’s review, at Bearing Drift. The film is directed by Jackson Landers and Brian Wimer, and may be viewed as a work still being completed. Rick has the review on his own site here.
Landers also wrote the script.  This is record time for shooting a documentary on an event with some catastrophic results (one death), as well as a shock to many people (like me) who had not taken seriously the idea that “white supremacists” had been “organizing”.

I did attend Charlottesville gay pride on Sept. 16, a much happier event, and much “nicer” people. Nearby, a half-mile away. the Robert E. Lee statue had already been covered. 

The Washington Post has a detailed prospective article on the film Nov. 12 by Joe Helm here
The filmmakers tell me on Facebook that they are looking for distribution channels, for both theatrical showing and DVD / streaming.  I wonder if there will be a push for sponsors for screenings (in homes, schools, condo rooms, etc).  I expect to see the film as soon as it is available and provide my own detailed review on Wordpress.  I would think this film would become a big draw in the indie documentary market. 

Sunday, November 12, 2017

"Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent": biography of the creator of "California cuisine"

Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent” (103 min), directed by Lydia Tenaglia, narrated by Anthony Bourdain, aired on Sunday, November 12, 2017 under CNN Films. It had appeared at Tribeca in 2017 and was originally distributed by The Orchard. 

Near the end, Jeremiah, around 75, says “I don’t trust human beings, but human beings do wondrous things.” All artists are lonely.

The film is a biography of the inventor of California cuisine” (not exactly the O.C.) and originated the cult of the “celebrity chef”.

The early part of the film presents his private school upbringing in England and his closet life as a gay man, a contemporary of me.

Jeremiah was cut off at age 30 and had to get a job (so I guess he had privilege) but quickly proved himself in California OJT,

He opened numerous restaurants, in San Francisco (the Star) and Hong Kong.
He would live in the Philippines before moving to New York to manage the Tavern on the Green.

It can also be rented from YouTube movies for $3.99. 

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Vox: "Harassment is Breaking Twitter's Free Speech Experiment"

Harassment is Breaking Twitter’s Free Speech Experiment” is a rather disturbing video by Vox Media narrated by Carlos Maza (who is indeed super “attractive”).

Carlos explains how both Twitter and the earlier Blogger were conceived as open free speech flatforms that would enrich public debate by the lack of pre-censorship and gatekeepers.

But Twitter, particularly, has found that the bullies want to rule the roost by intimidating the “weak”. And there are new concerns about foreign manipulation (fake news) and recruiting (as by ISIS).

Not mentioned is the threat (like from the Backpage controversy) to Section 230, which would protect platforms like Twitter from downstream liability for defamation.

Some activists maintain that specific groups (neo-Nazi’s) should not be allowed to be on platforms at all because of the specific (based on history) political threat they pose to certain protected groups.  

Sunday, November 05, 2017

"The Most Advanced Civilization in the Universe" may account for The Great Void

The Most Advanced Civilization in the Universe” by Aperture (9 min).

This little film presents the Kardashev Scale, proposed by Carl Sagan, classifying civilizations by how much energy they can harness.


Earth rates 0.72 on the scale, not even a Type 1 (controlling the energy on its own planet).  A Type 2 can handle a whole solar system and might build a Dyson’s sphere. A Type 3 can control a whole galaxy.  The presence of “The Great Void” may indicate the presence of a Type 3 civilization. 

Friday, November 03, 2017

Life Magazine recalls the films of the 1980s

Life Magazine is selling a supermarket coffee table booklet. “Movies of the 1980s: A Look at the Decade’s Best Films”.

Among my own favorites in the group are “Flashdance” (which I saw at Northpark in Dallas), “Stand By Me”, “The E.T.”, “The Empire Strikes Back”, and Tom Cruise’s legs in “Risky Business”.

I would add “Cry Freedom” to the list.

In discos I prefer music of the 80s, the old Village Station in Dallas (now the S4). 

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Meet the film distributor A24, master of eclectic independent film

The little film distributor A24, in NYC, is indeed getting some attention for distributing eclectic independent films, as particularly explored in this GQ article that interviews some moguls (they do include Harvey Weinstein prior to his fall). 
The company, founded by Daniel Katz, David Fenkel, and John Hodges, has specialized in releasing eclectic films that may not always be politically correct or share everyone’s social norms.

Some of the most important are “Moonlight” (2016 Best Picture), “The Lobster” (2016), “Room” (2016), “Amy” (2016), “Ex Machina” (2015), “Locke” (2014), and “Enemy” (2014).

The company is willing to invest in character-driven films centered around people with unusual, even eclectic challenges and motivations.

It announces itself with a simple logo and no music.  Maybe simplicity is part of the message (I do enjoy the music signatures of 20th Century Fox, Columbia, Universal, Paramount, and Lionsgate, when I get to hear them.) 

Here’s a good article on A24 by Eric McInnis from Arcadia University, here

Friday, October 27, 2017

Some Real Men Won't Survive Halloween

Today’s short film will be about not surviving Halloween, so I didn’t put the name of the short in the blog post title.  When I say "real men", I mean "cis men".  I'm not totally convinced Milo Yiannopoulos would make the cut on his own list. 

Something is about to happen at the beginning of this video, although it definitely seems consensual. Actors go through a lot (most of all Jake Gyllenhaal, the master of fungibility).

Karma RV weighs in on this topic from Britain here.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

"Titan: Saturn's Largest Moon -- An Alternative Earth?": visit the volcanoes, lakes, and sand dunes

Titan: Saturn’s Largest Moon – An Alternative Earth?”, from Space and Astronomy, 13 minutes.


The film gives more spectacular footage from Huygens, as well as realistic artist renditions of landscapes on Titan, with plateaus of ice cut by rivers of hydrocarbon, which soaks into the ice;  volcanoes of water-ammonia ice, big lakes, and sand dunes near the Equator, or organic particles from the Sky.

By NASA/JSC - uppper photo; NASA/JPL - lower photo - File:Titan dunes.jpg, Public Domain, Link

Friday, October 20, 2017

"Why We Built a Cat House"

“Why We Built a Cat House”, by Ministeading.

A young man, apparently in Minnesota, explains how his family captures and neuters cats and releases them.  They defend the territory and reduce the population of wild cats.

But the family built them a house for shelter and gives them about have their needed calories, and lets them hunt for the rest.  The cats tend to bond to them and remember them and return. 
  Why We 

But in South Africa, even larger cats (servals, cheetahs and even sometimes leopards) will behave this way. 

By David Shankbone - David Shankbone, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Weinstein scandal, bad for indie films

The Harvey Weinstein scandal certainly has rocked the movie world, as for how far back it goes, how many women were allegedly abused.

Does the scandal undermine the continued future of TWC, The Weinstein Company, which succeeded Miramax (the remains of the day, so to speak, went to Disney). 

In the long run, this not a good development for independent film.

 Some younger women are saying that he was an "older, unattractive man" only interested in youth. Like a straight Oscar Wilde. There are also reports that he could undermine the careers of women who complained. 
Here is the New Yorker story from October 10, 2017 by Ronan Farrow. 

Oliver Stone reportedly said let's be patient in judging Weinstein, MSN story

Oct. 14: Update:  Harvey has been expelled from the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences, link here

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

"Black Holes: The Arks of the Universe": Can you live inside one, where no one can ever find you?

Life Under a Black Sun” narrated by Jack Daniel of Strange Mysteries, examines the idea (proposed in Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar”, Nov. 2014), that a planet could revolve around a black hole and derive life from the energy difference between the cold black hoke and the ambient cosmic radiation.

In a supplementary video (3 min) for Patreon subscribers, "Black Holes: The Arks of the Universe",  Daniels explores the idea that solar systems could exist inside a black hole, shielded from normal existence, revolving around the singularity at he center.  he video also shows what a Dyson Sphere around a black hole might look like.

The universe will be kaput in a few hundred trillion years.

If you look inside a black hole, you might fall in.  Be careful.  
By Tetra quark - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Sunday, October 08, 2017

"Brokeback Mountain": a brief retrospect

I wanted to recognize here one of the most important LGBT films of all time, that was the 2005 nominee for best picture, “Brokeback Mountain”, directed by Ang Lee. (Focus Features)  it's based on a novella by Annie Proulx. 
In 1963, two young men go to work in the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming as sheep herders, complete with horse and bedrolls.  The get to know each other pretty quickly, and twenty minutes into the movie, passions erupt.

Later, Jake Gyllenhaal’s character will utter the famous line, “I wish I could quit you” – a monument to upward affiliation (not, as a reviewer said about my own book, a “monument to convolution”). With t  Heath’s character is married with a kid, and eventually the wife (Michelle Williams) observes them together back in Texas, and he winds up a single dad.

With the stunning scenery, I wondered why Lee stuck with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio.
I saw this at Landmark’s Bethesda Row on a Sunday night, and shows were indeed selling out. 
By Montanabw - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Saturday, October 07, 2017

"The Bachelor" warns people who inherit wealth about "the dead hand"

This is a good time to recall the 1999 satire of family values, “The Bachelor”, by Gary Sinyor, from New Line Cinema, based on a play by Roy Megrue Cooper in turn based in a 1925 play “Seven Chances” by Jean Havez.

Chris O’Donnell, looking less than a real man in the bod realm, finds himself, as he approaches 30, compelled to get married, procreate, and stay married and stay home for ten years to get an inheritance.  Talk about “the dead hand”.  There is even a moral lecture about sacrificing the self for future generations.

It used to be more common for recipients of inheritances to be required to get married and produce kids than it is now;  in fact we rarely hear about this today. But the film is a warning that inherited wealth can come with real strings attached. 

It's more common that unmarried or childless people have to raise grandchildren or siblings' children ("Raising Helen"). 
This has nothing to do with the 2002 indie film of the same name by Mike Fleiss, about serial dating, which I have not seen.

See an earlier very brief summary on Sept. 19, 2007. 
I have read a screenplay set in Minnesota called “I Hate Speed-Dating.”  Wonder if it will get made.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

"Will Sirius B Supernova Destroy Earth"? (Patreon)

Anton Petrov in “What a Math” for Patreon asks “Will Sirius B Supernova Destroy Earth?”

Sirius B is a White Dwarf rotating around Sirius A, the Dog Star, the brightest star in the sky, 8.3 light years away.  If Sirius A got large enough, Sirius B might acquire enough mass to blow up as a supernova.

On Earth the sky would brighten, but the atmosphere of Earth would be fried away by radiation in about 70 years.  Think of it as a really super solar storm.

But Sirius A really won’t enlarge enough to make Sirius B gain mass any time soon. We’ll die of the usual things first. 
By NASA/SAO/CXC - CHANDRA X-ray Observatory CXC Operated for NASA by SAO, url=, Public Domain, Link

Sunday, October 01, 2017

"Chicken Little": Disney animated film has surprising warning about online reputation pre-Facebook

I thought I would re-visit my old review of the animated Disney 3-D film, “Chicken Little”, written and directed by Mark Dindal in 2005.  I remember seeing it at the old National Entertainment complex in Merrifield before it was torn down to build the Angelica Mosaic complex (centered around the new Target, with huge apartment complexes).

In the film, Chicken Little (voice of Zach Braff) gets hit by an acorn falling from a tree. When he posts that the sky is falling on the Internet, it goes viral (from Google, in the pre-Facebook days) and his online reputation suffers, as does his family’s.  Chicken little redeems himself in a baseball game by hitting a pop fly that goes for an inside the park home run when the opposing team falls asleep out of lack of respect for him.

What a lesson in how (not) to draw attention to yourself with passive marketing.

In the Army, at Fort Eustis, they called me “Chicken Man.” 

Thursday, September 28, 2017

"The Backpage Case and CDA 230" and "Section 230 Exceptions"

Raines Feldman Cyber Liability with “The Usual Suspects”:, present “The Backpage Case and CDA 230”.  

This was actually a criminal case that got to the California Supreme Court.

This is user-generated content – but is Backpage allowing the illegality “knowingly”?

They also talk about Airbnb’s use of Section 230.  

They talk about the owners of the “tools of criminality” not being liable if there are legitimate uses of what they sell (WhatsApp);   Somehow this reminds me of Paladin and "Hit Man" in the 1990s. 

Also watch Brad Thomson discussion “Section 230 Exceptions”, which are four in number.  He presents two important cases.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

"What Would Happen If You Fell into Jupiter?"

What Would Happen If You Fell Into Jupiter”, from Patreon’s “Answers with Joe” series.

Joe starts out with footage from the May 3, 1999 tornado inMoore, OK, which produced winds of 318 mph. 

That’s a typical wind speed high in Jupiter’s atmosphere.

After you pass the ammonia ice layers, you are in hydrogen that gets thicker and hotter, and pretty soon you are fried and crushed to death.  That’s not to mention dealing with the magnetic fields or “Van Allen” belts. 

Joe then explains the supercritical state of matter, between gas and liquid, before metallic hydrogen is reached.

Joe's comment about Van Allen belts is interesting because there has been recent literature suggesting an EMP attack (as from North Korea) could affect the Earth's Vam Allen belts (Australian source).  

Saturday, September 23, 2017

"Pay It Forward": recent project by Jon Bon Jovi recalls the 2000 movie

CNN on Saturday morning ran a story about Jon Bon Jovi’s soul kitchen in Philadelphia with a “pay it forward” option for diners, and sweat equity for the needy.  It sounds like a worth project for someone with the social initiative to set it up, CNN story here.

That reminds me of the 2000 film “Pay It Forward”, from Warner Brothers, directed by Mimi Leder, based on the novel by Catherine Ryan-Hide.

A social studies teacher Eugene Sisomert played by Kevin Spacey comes up with the idea to challenge his students, especially Trevor McKinney (Trevor Joel Osment) to do something to make the world better. Specifically the plan should really help people with things they can’t do for themselves, but that requires them to extend cooperation with others.

The first beneficiaries include an alcoholic mother (Helen Hunt) and a drug addict (James Cavaziel).

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Video: "Homosexuality: it's About Survival, not Sex"

I’ll let this Ted Talk (or “Ted Tallaght”) video shared by Don Kilhefner, “Gay Tribal Elder”, count as a movie.  (Maybe, as in the Minnesota comedy “Great Lakes” James Byrne), it counts as a job interview.)

James O’Keefe (17 minutes) explains “Homosexuality: It’s About Survival, not Sex”. 
O’Keefe explains the well known epigenetic mechanism that raises the probability that a son will be gay by 30% with each successive son after the first from the same mother.  This is partly a measure of population control.  It also provides an altruistic backup, that will help raise the other children and provide more personality variety for the entire tribe.  He compares this to social ants. The queen controls the personalities of workers by the way she treat the eggs, to get various kinds of traits.

O’Keefe talks about heterosexism and “second class citizenship”.  But his theory would tend to demand that a gay person stay home around the family as a spare caregiver rather than establish his separate independent interaction with the outer world.  My own experience is that it is difficult for me to get involved with the physicality of other people's lives if I didn't have my own kids (social capital) but I'm an unusual case as an only child. 

O’keefe looks at men but says the theory would work the same with women.
The theory would really work with sibling transplants, as with Robin Roberts on Good Morning America recently. 

Monday, September 18, 2017

"4th Generation Nuclear Weapons": and these could matter right now

“EnigmaHood” gives us a 15-minute video “4th Generation Nuclear Weapons

The weapon with the spinning top from “Inception” in fact has an anti-matter trigger.  The basic concept is to replace fission triggers for the thermonuclear fusion, and anti-matter triggers would allow for extreme miniaturization (beyond even the “suitcase nukes” widely speculated after 9/11).
The  presentation gives a history of all generations of nuclear weapons, including 3rd (neutron and cobalt weapons). 

It’s possible that bunker-busting tactical nuclear weapons could be used against North Korean missile sites, or so it would sound from this video. 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

"The Blacklist: How an Underground Script List Changed Movies"

The Blacklist: How an Underground Script List Changed Movies”, a seven-minute short by Vox, explains The Blacklist.  No, that’s not the Blacklist that trapped Dalton Trumbo, nor is it the NBC series with Kevin Spacey.  This is a list of scripts, submitted to WGA (the Writer’s Guild West”) that have gone unnoticed, but occasionally somebody bothers to read some of them. 

Mel Gibson picks up “The Beaver”, a 2011 comedy by Kyle Killen, whose script had appeared on this “list”.

Other films that came from the Blacklist include “Argo” (Oct. 14, 2012) and “Juno” (2007).

You can look at some of Kyle’s blog posts, such as one in 2008 about the Blacklist and another one about personal embarrassment in Austin.

I have one script at WGA, a horror sci-fi script "Baltimore Is Missing" (2002), which means literally that.  A wormhole (caused by a rogue brown dwarf approaching the Solar System) consumes an Amtrak train approaching Baltimore as the protagonists (me) find themselves to be puppets in someone else's model railroad layout.  There's even a straight marriage of some sort, maybe something that would have satisfied Babbitt.  And there's one Wal-Mart in the layout.  Familiarity breeds contempt. 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Hillary Clinton Interview Movie by Vox Media ("What Happened") .

Call this a movie if you like (51 minutes).

Ezra Klein of Vox media interviews Hillary Clinton about her book ("What Happened") which I will be reviewing on Wordpress soon.

Hillary talks about universal basic income in the beginning.

Later she says that the hard right wants a constitutional convention to make the government friendlier to business and to inculcate come elements of Christianity into public life, possibly to clamp down on gay rights (by inference).

She sticks to her guns on universal health care coverage.

She talks about the ironies of the Medicaid expansion and the Supreme Court's sabotage of it.

Hillary also mentioned Trump's playing the "zero sum game card", where Trump's base of supporters believe that advances by non-white or non-straight or non-male people came at their expropriated expense. 

Monday, September 11, 2017

"Gliese 710: The Star that Will Enter our Solar System"

Gliese 710: The Star that will Enter our Solar System”, by Anton Petrov, of What Da Math, presents a video diagram of the path of this star, a bit smaller than the Sun, that will pass less than one light year (actually 77 light days) from the Sun and Earth in about 1.35 million years.

The star would pass through the Earth’s Oort Cloud  and could deflect comets and asteroids, causing Tunguska like events (like the explosion over Siberia in 1908). The star could bring its own planets and Oort Cloud.  It would not approach closely enough to raise the temperature on Earth.

Wikipedia attribution link for Oort cloud diagram 

Sunday, September 10, 2017

"Can Jupiter Ever Become a Star?"

“Can Jupiter Ever Become a Star?”, short film by Anton Petrov.

60 masses would make a brown dwarf, which would be smaller in volume but denser.  It takes 78 masses to make a red dwarf star.

What’s more interesting is to wonder what Jupiter’s hydrogen ocean would “look like”, or, for that matter its layer of metallic hydrogen.

Remember how in “2010” Jupiter turns into a star. Not possible.  (See also July 30 post.) 

Wikipedia attribution link, NASA, p.d.