Wednesday, May 27, 2020

"Daily Life in Ancient Egypt": first in an animated series by New Historia (Egypt had no currency system)


Daily Life in Ancient Egypt” from New Historia, seems to be the first in a series of documentaries (about 20 minutes each) on life in ancient cultures, with 3-D-like animation.

Egypt, more or less the time of Exodus, had three classes: the royalty, the free people (most of whom were farmers) and slaves or serfs.

The film described the three seasons based on the flooding (leaving silt), and ebbing of the Nile. Farming was structured by family units and involved enormous manual labor.  Irrigation was achieved with simple machines (that needed manual operation).

The houses tended to have about 4 rooms, and the diet centered around grains, some fish or birds, and many fruits. 

An interesting feature of Egyptian society is that it did not have a currency. The economy was all barter. Money did not exist until Greece. On the other end of things, advanced civilizations in the Galaxy are likely to have discovered blockchain and have digital currencies.

Picture embedded from Wikipedia, click for attribution CCSA details. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

"Eating Up Easter" on PBS: residents use ingenuity with recycled materials to build a new music school


Eating Up Easter” (2018), directed by Sergio Matu’u Rapu, written by Liz Kaar, written by Elena Kouneski Rapum with Mama Piru, from Kartequim films, was aired in abbreviated form on PBS Independent Lens on Monday Memorial Day, May 25, at 10 PM.,  The original film runs 77 minutes;  it ran 53 on PBS. I think PBS should present the entire film. 

The people living on Easter Island now deal with tourist excesses and wastes, recycling material to build new homes and spaces by hand.  Many of the people make business trips to Chile mainland (Easter Island is part of it) and Argentina for resources.

Much of the storyline concerns building a music school, and this reminded me of “The Mission at Belize”  (Drama blog, Nov. 4, 2012 post).

The documentary mentions a 1994 film “Rapa Nui: Legends in Stone”, named after the Polynesian identification if the island, by Kevin Reynolds, with Kevin Costner and Jason Scott Lee, about two warring tribes in the past.  Misuse of the land did lead to population decline (it never disappeared) but so did foreign invaders and exploitation.

Picture: from Wikipedia, click for credits, was an area used by a cult in the past 

Monday, May 25, 2020

"The Masque of the Red Death": Poe's story, and Vincent Price, all prescient of today's pandemic and the social inequities

The dagger dropped gleaming upon the sable carpet - Harry Clarke (BL 12703.i.43)

The Masque of the Red Death” was a famous short story by Edgar Allen Poe that we read in junior English.  While a plague ravages the peasants, a feudal noble sets up a scheme to trap the virus metaphored as a kind of ghost who may appear in each of seven different colored rooms.  In the end, the phantom is a shell and the disease enemy cannot be scene and the nobleman who hosted the event (Prospero) perishes, as he deserves.

There have been two films, 1964 and 1989, but the first one is far better known. It was directed by Roger Corman and stars Vincent Price as the Prince Prospero, and released by American International (of course).

The movie is a bit more complicated than the story, with clothing colors mapped to room colors, and more involvement of “the proles”.

The title is ironic today because the emotionally charged “wearing a mask” issue for Covid-19, but in earlier times it was common, even at balls and parties, as disguise.

I think I saw this in black and white on a series called “Chiller” in the 1960s.

You can click on the drawing for the story for Wikipedia attribution (embedded, p.d.) 

Sunday, May 24, 2020

"The Beauty of Not Belonging" (and then "The Barber Is the Great Equalizer")

The Beauty of Not Belonging”, by Eizelganger (6 minutes), is this holiday Sunday’s appetizer.

The speaker, who filmed this meditation in late fall in the Netherlands (rural areas) with early morning frost, believes love is more “universal” when not tied to a group, and that outside of a herd one has more freedom.  The describes the “sigma male” (or “sigma female”, he didn’t recognize non-binary) as the individualist who does not affiliate with one tribe or minority for its own sake.  (Example:  Tim Pool.)

Of course, he contradicts Martin Fowler’s “You Always Belonged and You Always Will: A Philosophy of Belonging” (Books blog, Aug 27, 2014).

I have a bonus short to discuss today (which is really like the main course, with no dessert).  It’s a 48-minute video on the Instagram account of “TheJohnFish”, a popular college YouTuber.  The official title is “Shaving My Head”, but really, he got only a buzzcut (like an Army Basic hair cut the day you go in), from his brother (I think), in Ontario. I had one myself as a teen (we called them "crewcuts" in the 1950s when they were very common).  No beanie cap (like Tim Pool's) became necessary (although I had been expecting it.) 

To view the Instagram video (not embeddable), you have to have an Instagram account and be logged on (with the same device).  You can view his YT video from May 23 (at the very end) for context.  This was a fundraiser for “Give Directly”, a charity that gives to individuals in need (Vox has recommended it before).   

This one was pretty innocuous.  The Westover Market and Beer Garden in Arlington VA used to have (on its outdoor patio) some “Be Brave and Shave” parties as benefits for cancer patients (“BillBoushka” blog, Aug. 26, 2014).  Personally, I don’t take violating your own “body sanctity” for the sake of making others “feel all right” is particularly desirable – although this is a very loaded and sensitive subject.

There is some material about this in my books, particularly Chapter2 of the DADT 1 books, about the banter that went on in the barracks in 1969 when I was in the Army. There was a saying “The razor is the great equalizer” (here, “The Barber Is the Great Equalizer” although that didn’t really happen, and is pretty much stalled commercially by Covid.) There is also the matter of the “Tribunals” (hazing) in Chapter 1 (this goes back to 1961 and wouldn’t happen today).  You can visit ASMR Italian and Turkish barbers on YouTube ("no talking") to your hearts' content. 

In any case, the woman in the video made some challenges, offering $1 million in charity donations for bodily shame that “real” men normally find unacceptable. Straight women do that. John was safer wearing a dark t-shirt, not something with buttons.  He drew a cultural line at really playing Samson (I guess I should listen to Saint-Saens's opera soon.) When I was dating women (in 1971) before “my second coming”, well, “they” wanted me to wear beads and become a hippy to cover up my physical and esthetic bodily shortcomings.

The family dog, by the way, pretty much ignored the ceremony (in a back yard).  A cat would have tried to get into the movie. 

Boy, all of this is enough for a real short film, isn’t it, and it would raise eyebrows (before they got shaved) and get into Sundance (online in 2021?)

John has said before he was working on a book on the “attention economy”.  The latest video is far away from that, but I hope the book is forthcoming.

Picture: Waterloo, ON, I was there very briefly in July 2019.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

"Animal Farm", 1954 British animated film based on George Orwell's novella

I vaguely remember “Animal Farm” from 1954, based on George Orwell’s novella to satirize communism (“some animals or more equal than others”), and imdb lists it as a 72 minute animated film, by Joy Batchelor and John Harris, from Louis de Rochment in the UK and France.

I think it played at the KB Ontario on Florida Ave in Washington, which used to play mostly foreign films then.

YouTube has a longer 120 minute version. The novella was inspired by the story of Welsh journalist Gareth Jones who “spied” on the Soviet Holodomor in 1933.

Friday, May 22, 2020

"New York South Bronx 1982" in 16mm (I think)

New York South Bronx 1982” by Craiglaca1, shows in grainy video of maybe 16mm what the largely razed South Bronx looked like then.

I lived in Manhattan 1974-1978 and I rode through the area on an Amtrak train from Boston once in 1975.

I had moved to Dallas at the beginning of 1979 and friends back in NYC would tell me “New York is booming”.  They were just beginning to grasp what AIDS would be all about then.

The video looks like it was shot in March.

Many blocks are razed, other buildings are empty shells. Rather like David Lynch.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

"The Shadow out of Time", adaptation of H. P. Lovecraft's 1936 novella about "becoming" an alien

Bluworm and Millroad Film present a 14-minute short film, setting of H.P. Lovecraft’s 1936 Novella “The Shadow out of Time” with Ake Rosen as the protagonist, adapted for film by Richard Svensson and John Hutch narrating.

In the Depression era, a literature professor collapses, and soon finds himself living lucid dreams as a kind of alternate reality as a Yith, an alien race that had inhabited Earth in pre-history. He finds he has the body of one of these creatures.

When he returns he eventually journeys to the Australian outback and finds a cave with artefacts of the aliens, and is drawn into becoming one of them again.

Ever wondered if it makes sense to ponder waking up and finding you have someone else’s body, maybe someone much younger and can start all over again?  Of maybe your life becomes a review of previous days in your own life while you are the observer having his body?  Could a virus have transferred your consciousness to him, and now you live only through him?