Saturday, June 23, 2018

How a CIA-spy film "Three Days of the Condor" started an episode in my life

In early October 1975, I recall seeing “Three Days of the Condor” in a big theater on 86th Street on the Upper East Side (when I was living in lower Manhattan).

After I left the theater, I encountered a newsstand with a little magazine that told me about Dan Fry’s group “Understanding” in Arizona, about UFO’s.  In early November 1975, Travis Walton would report his “abduction” in northern Arizona.  In early December, I would use a little vacation and make a 4-day air-car-rental trip to Arizona to look into this and visit Understanding. That started a significant activity in my life.

But the film (directed by Sydney Pollack [for Dino de Laurentis and Paramount] and based on James Grady’s novel) is controversial. It presents Robert Redford as Joseph (“Condor”) Turner, a librarian in the pre-internet days whose job for the CIA was to read everything that got published and connect the dots.

Condor himself is in mortal danger when one day after lunch he finds six of his co-workers assassinated.
The film will actually get into the idea that the 1973 energy crisis (and oil embargo) could severely curtail American lifestyles.

Friday, June 22, 2018

"One from the Heart": odd Francis Ford Coppola musical was shot for big screen with old aspect ratios

I recall “One from the Heart”, directed by Francis Ford Coppola (American Zeotrope and Columbia) back in early 1982, as a framed love story musical (composer is Tom Waits) promoted as being in 70 mm “Technovision” but actually presented on a square old-fashioned 1.37:1 aspect ratio, to emphasize the staginess.

Hank and Frannie (Frederic Forrest and Teri Garr) have an embedded relationship on the Las Vegas circus stage which translates to real life, rather like “I Love Lucy”. When they break up in real life, everything comes apart;  there is even a kidnapping.

This was a very odd film given its effect with the small aspect, when I saw it at old Northpark on a large screen in Dallas.  But with Coppola, you never know.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

"Why Humans Are Obsessed with Cats" (they domesticated themselves)

Here’s a Facebook shortWhy Humans Are Obsessed with Cats” (6 minutes).

The domestic cat domesticated itself about 4000 years ago, self-selecting to be welcome around humans. It seems to be the only animal that can survive on its own in the wild and yet invite itself into a human home, and remember every home it has ever been in.

The short is based on the book “The Lion in the Living Room: How House Cats Tamed Us and Took Over the World” (2016, Abigail Tucker).

Some slightly larger wildcats, like the bobcat, cannot legally be kept as pets and safely live in a home, but will befriend humans and return to homes where they have been fed, even days later after hunting miles away.  Cats (apart from cetaceans) may represent the apex of mammalian evolution (you could include bears) without developing bipedalism, which gives primates the ability to use their hands to make tools and becomes an enormous advantage, giving reason for a larger brain to develop.

Monday, June 18, 2018

"False Negative": curious gay Italian short film that starts out in a straight disco

Domenico Sarsco (Luca) and Emanuele Gampa appear in the 23-minute Italian short film “False Negative” (“Falso Negativo”), written and directed by Dario Lauritano

Luca and a younger friend get in to a straight disco in Milan after waiting in line. The younger friend tries to come on to Luca in a restroom (unusual behavior in bar). Luca tells him to go away but has to drive him home anyway.

One the way home, they’re caught in a drag race or road rage situation with some hooligans but manage to get away. Then Luca suddenly decides he is interested in his younger partner after all.

This is a rather strange story concept.  I though that the title would refer to HIV.

Luca is particularly appealing physically.  Both men speak English as well as Italian and can sing to 80s music on the radio.  I thought he spoke Spanish to one guy in the bar.
I have yet to go to Italy. Picture, from Winstar in Oklahoma.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

"What If?" Trump shows Kim Jong Un propaganda film

Donald Trump and the White House had a propaganda film called “What If” produced to show to Kim Jong Un, four minutes.

The Huffington Post examines how it was wrongly connected to a real Hollywood company, “Destiny Films”.

The film sounds like an obvious sales pitch intending to manipulate an audience. It is possible, of course, to imagine a unified Korea (but what about the communism?) 

Trump says the buttered up Kim Jong Un at the meeting (to the great offence to the victims of his regime) because he doesn’t want Americans some day have to deal with nuclear explosions on their homeland (he didn’t mention EMP specifically, but he knows about it). Trump has given credit to the sacrifices of the Warmbier family. 
Trump had been coached starting in late winter to tone down the rhetoric against Kim.
The “What If” could be continued:  :What if my own blogging and writing output (and music) is one lifelong process piece that gradually gets less bad?  The jury is still out.
By Zubin12 - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

"A Colony on Titan": short

Dreksler Askal’s “A Colony on Titan” (6 minutes) offers an animated view at what Titan really looks like if you actually land there.

Admittedly, it is ten times as far from the Sun as Earth (Mars is 1.5 times as far) and it may take a century or more for humans to even envision going there.  I think Huygens took about eight years to get there.

Gravity is 1/7 of earths, and climbing 12,000 mountains of ice and sand would be easy (in a space suit).

But what would a live colony there look like, at almost -300 F.

The hydrocarbon chemistry is there to support maybe some kind of prokaryote-like cell, if it can find an energy source.  Maybe there is something like a slime mold.  And there is a subsurface water layer, heated by gravitational tug from Saturn, which could have life, in comparison to Europa.
There will be volcanoes with ice as lava.

It’s rather interesting that the fictitious company on “Days of our Lives” is called Titan.
Wikipedia attribution link for picture of cryovolcano 

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

"Standing on Ceres": with 3% gravity

Standing on Ceres: Closest Dwarf Planet to Earth”, by Drexler Astral.

Gravity would be only 3% of Earth’s.  The dwarf planet is 584 miles in diameter, so the horizon is very near.  There are salt flats, and a 12000 foot mountain of salt, almost Biblical.
It would seem to take very little effort to function there, until your bones got weaker.

By NASA / JPL-Caltech / UCLA / Max Planck Institute for Solar System Studies / German Aerospace Center / IDA / Planetary Science Institute - (see also, Public Domain, Link