Tuesday, July 31, 2018

"Why Hollywood Won't Cast Josh Hartnett anymore"

Here’s a good one: “Why Hollywood Won’t Cast Josh Hartnett Anymore.” (That, to negatively paraphrase Mark Zuckberberg talking to Leslie Stahl, is not a question.) 

I was living in Minneapolis in 1998 when H20 appeared and, at 20, and raised in St. Paul, he got lots of attention.

The big breakout was “Pearl Harbor” from Touchstone Pictures Memorial Day of 2001 (before 9/11).  "Black Hawk Down", after 9/11, from Ridley Scott, was very big, too. When I worked as a substitute teacher 2004-2007, "Pearl Harbor" was shown to a US history class. 

But over time Hartnett started turning down important roles, especially to play super-heroes in comic book movies, as if he were "too good" for such populist affairs. And somehow he “insulted” Christopher Nolan, who invested in Christian Bale instead.
 As for super-heroes, imagine David Hogg simply playing himself in Marvel Studios's next movie. 

He spent a sabbatical back home in St. Paul for about 18 months. And he assisted Barack Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012.
But he did star in some smaller films and then became a father.  Now he’s returning to television.
You wonder, what if he ran for office? 

Or, what about my little “Do Ask Do Tell: Epiphany”?
I remember when working for the Minnesota Orchestra in 2002 he was really considered hot. He didn’t always care for all the adulation.

I think I met Hartnett twice while living in Minneapolis.  Once was standing in line outside the Uptown Theater to see "The Blair Witch Project" in 1999; the other was at an IFPMSP forum.  The folks at Uptown actually knew who I was then with my DADT books.   

Sunday, July 29, 2018

"Europeans Don't Want Children"

Europeans Don’t Want Children” as explained by Douglas Murray, to Mark Steyn

Murray is the author of “The Strange Death of Europe”.

Murray argues that economic factors discourage middle class families from having enough children to replace the population without immigration. 
The discussions center around demographics in the UK.  Douglas says the country needs to build a city the size of Liverpool every year to house the migrants.

Only the very rich or very poor seem to have many children.
A longer film on this topic, “Demographic Winter”, had been reviewed June 7, 2011.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

8 Planets that can Sustain Human Life (maybe)

“8 Planets that Can Sustain Human Life”, from Insane Curiosity.

Well, the video doesn’t prove that any of the planets can sustain intelligent life.

The video presents eight star systems, starting with one with a star somewhat like our Sun 1700 light years away. Proxima Centauri B get mentioned along with the severe solar storms.

The most interesting possibility might be the last one, the Trappist star, a dwarf star with three planets potentially in the Goldilox zone, although the dwarf star is unstable.
However there is an M star, with much less radiation and a lot more stable than usual, 11 light years from Earth with a habitation-zone planet.  This could be the best chance.  

Friday, July 27, 2018

"Standing on Proxima B: Closest Exoplanet to Earth"

Drexler Astral provides us with a short film “Standing on Proxima B: Closest Exoplanet to the Earth”

The film is six months old, but this exoplanet, despite its nearness, wasn’t discovered until 2016.

The planet is thought to have a mass of about 1.3 times the Earth and probably be tidally locked around the dwarf star. The star is unstable, so solar storms would have blown away most of the atmosphere and sterilized the surface with solar radiation.

The Wikipedia article is more optimistic than the film about the possible habitability of the planet, especially in the probably permanent twilight zone. It may be conceivable that some atmosphere survived.  If it is thick enough and has some water, it could be warmer, although the film thinks it averages about -20 F. 

See also short on July 17, 2017 (and illustration there).  See also June 12 for another Drexler short. 
It would take something like an anti-matter drive to reach even the nearest star in only a few decades.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

"The Backpacking Cat Who Travels the U.S. with his Human": That's Simon, and he behaves like a dog

The Backpacking Cat Who Travels the U.S. with His Human”.  Yup, a third straight cat film. 

This is Simon, who behaves much like a dog on this backpacking trip with Josh.

The trip appears to happen in Oregon r Washington state.  The cat is able to swim across rivers. 

Simon has to stay on a leash, or else he would go on his own to hunt.
If Josh were to fall and be injured, could a cat go for help?  Dogs will. There have been cases even after private plane crashes.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

"A Cat's Guide to Taking Care of Your Human": what "they" really think of us

So what if this micro-film is from Purina, commercially motivated:

A Cat’s Guide to Taking Care of Your Human

Cats really do think they have it better than us  They don’t know where we get our food.  They want us to go outside, even at night, into the wilderness and hunt. They do seem to be aware that human infants will grow to adulthood and take a long time to grow up.
They also think we will freeze to death because of our, relatively speaking, dearth of body hair, at least compared to them.

Monday, July 23, 2018

"Meet the Designer Cats with Wild Blood", Vox short film

Meet the Designer Cats with Wild Blood”, Vox video by Dion Lee and Mac Schneider (10 min). 
The film documents the efforts of a young man to develop new breeds of domestic cats with the markings of some wild cats, especially leopards, ocelots and servals.

People owned wild cats until perhaps the 1960s when local laws were tightened.

Typically, the male offspring of a hybrid may be infertile, but several generations of females are possible, and ownership becomes legal at a certain generation. The generations are numbered as F1 to F6 etc.  

The savannah is a hybrid of domestic cat and serval.

These cats may need more outdoor space for hunting and not be suitable as indoor pets. But they will tend to be loyal to humans who have raised them.  This is similar to bobcats and lynxes, wildcats that are not suitable as pets but who will remember humans they have met and who have fed them, and they may want to return, even over considerable distances. 

I can remember staying in a friend’s apartment in New York in 1980.  While he was out, as I got up, the cat surrounded me, and led me to the kitchen, and the exact spot in the refrigerator for his food. Cats can communicate complicated messages to humans they don’t even know, almost as rudimentary speech.  Their intelligence is often compared to dogs and that of small children, but they have outdoor hunting and survival skills human children or adults don’t have.
Wikipedia attribution link for savannah F2 cat photo, galawebdesign, CCSA 3.0.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

"Glengarry Glen Ross": the loan origination fee for "always be closing"

This may be a good time to remember “Glengarry Glen Ross” (1992), from New Line Cinema, director James Foley, screenwriter David Mamet, based on his own play. Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Alan Arkin, Ed Harris, Kevin Spacey all play proles, and Alec Baldwin (hairy) is the real estate boss, who at one point talks about squeezing of you-know-what with his bare hands.

This film is actually credited for the phrase “Always Be Closing.”

I’ve never seen it a virtue to huckterize what other people built. But that’s my own luxury.

I saw it at the Arlington VA Shirlington Theater in 1992. 

Friday, July 20, 2018

"#NeverAgain: March for our Lives": stirring new video

Here’s a four-minute film “#NeverAgain: March for our Lives: Honoring the Stoneman Strong”.
The tone of the film speaks for itself. Toward the end, there are some numbers showing how beholden some GOP politicians are to the NRA.
David Hogg appears near the very end. “How Dare You…”   Look at this particular tweet about Pulse. 
Maybe this serves as a warmup for “Dark Money” which I will see and review soon.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Why 23 Million Americans Don't Have Fast Internet (Vox video short)

Mac Schneider explains for Vox, “Why 23 Million Americans Don’t Have Fast Internet”.

The definition of broadband is tricky and changes, but has generally been based on wirelines models, which is very expensive in rural areas.

The 4G wireless model works for most personal use, but is not sufficient for schools and hospitals.What about 5G?  Google wants to use balloons to deliver wireless broadband. 

In some rural areas, schools have set up trailers with broadband for kids to do homework.
Vox likes the FDR rural electrification model.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

"Burning Soul": unusual gay short film and period piece set in the 18th Century, long before Australia was even settled

Burning Soul” The Raising of the Flag” (2016) is an unusual gay short film, as a period piece, from the Sydney Film School, directed by Cedric Eugene Desenfantes. 

In 1727, a ship from the Dutch East India Company crashes on the Australian coast. Pieter (Teo Falk) and Hendrick (Rasmus Hansen) have helped rescue everyone else but have fallen in love. And having been seen, they are persecuted for “sodomy” and forced to raise a flag over the beach with the Dutch word for it.

Little could they imagine how things would change in four centuries.

The film has played in many overseas LGBT film festivals.  The scenery is quite spectacular on anamorphic wide screen and high definition. 

Wikipedia attribution link for 1861 drawing by Hodgkinson, p.d. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

"Lindy Lou: Juror #2": a woman who had helped send a man to execution looks up other jurors

On Monday, July 16, PBS aired an abbreviated version of Florent Vassault’s “Lindy Lou: Juror #2” (2017), official site.

Twenty years ago, Lindy sat on a jury that convicted a man of murders and sentenced him to the death penalty.  After years, he was executed.

Lindy, living in rural Mississippi near the bayous, goes on quest to find the other jurors.  She eventually finds the foreman. One juror asks her not to call again, however.  Generally, the jurors feel that any one of them could have stopped the death penalty.  The lack of remorse of the defendant is often mentioned.
The 85 minute film (according to imdb) was compressed to 56 minutes, with brief comments by the filmmaker at the end. Vassault said that Lindy, a conservative woman, became a different person through the jury experience.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

As per Vox: "How Parkland Student David Hogg Beats His Critics"

How Parkland Student David Hogg Beats His Critics”, a short film on Vox Media by Carlos Maza (interviewing) and Coleman Lowndes.

David calls himself Press Secretary for March for our Lives.

Maza develops the idea that the mass of smear campaigns from the alt-right becomes the story, making it difficult to focus.

And some of the stories are really silly.  For example, that he be a 27-year-old crisis actor with a facelift.  Isn’t 27 awfully young for such surgery?  Another is that he is 135 years old, which implies that he is reincarnated into Second Life, or is an alien from another planet, who commutes the 30-or-so light years through a worm hole, and rents his body from Hertz when he is here.  But they used to claim that Mark Zuckerberg is an alien.  It’s too bad the English language doesn’t have a clear-cut conjugated subjunctive mood, to separate out the “alternative facts”.

As for the reincarnation, I think getting to have a 17-year-old body and start over where you left off is a good deal.  Like a car trade-in. 

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Is it such a big deal for cis actors to bend genders, even for "Rub and Tug"?

There is an upcoming comedy film called “Rub and Tug” to be written by Daniella Greenbaum.
But by now we’ve all heard the flak over Scarlet Johansson’s apparent initial casting as a transgender character, when arguably a trans person could have been cast.

It has been common place for actors to change genders in film, all the way back to Linda Hunt in “The Year of Living Dangerously”.
I admit, I’m not a great fan of seeing men shave their bodies to play trans women, like Jared Leto (I can’t remember the film) or Neil Jordan’s 2005 film “Breakfast on Pluto”.  Even Justin Timberlake likes to shed his external trappings, or as does Jake Gyllenhaal.

But actors do this, and some see it as part of their lives (most of all Steve Carell as “The Forty Year Old Virgin”).  They even do it for the soaps.
But that’s off the subject of trans.  The New York Post has a story by Jonah Goldberg (a conservative author of a major book on tribalism) in which he excoriates Business Insider for pulling a critical article after the fact by Daniella, after outcry from the “social justice warriors”.   

There was a Canadian film in 2002 called “Rub and Tug” by Soo Lyu, a comedy set in a full body massage parlor.

It seems likely that in the future social justice warriors will complain about scripts that show cis gay male characters as heroes (surviving an apocalypse) but slight gender fluidity. (Like mine.)  Gender meritocracy is coming to be seen as no-no. 
There are plenty of YouTube videos of massages or medical examinations of attractive men, obviously intended to appeal to gay male audiences by surviving the maulings, for example this one in German with “Oskar” 

Thursday, July 12, 2018

"The Collector": Wyler's 60s thriller made fun of the innocently mentally sick, not funny today

I recall a bizarre film that precedes “#MeToo” by a few decades. William Wyler’s British crime drama, “The Collector” (1965), for Columbia.

Terrence Stamp played a bank clerk and butterfly (“OGAB”, from Tiny Tim) collector to took to chloroforming women and keeping them just to have them. But in Miranda (Samantha Eggar) he met his match, a woman who would undo him to satisfy his fantasies.

Somehow, this old satire reminds me of the later “Boxing Helena” even if it isn’t as brutal.
I recall seeing it at the old Buckingham Theater in Arlington VA, the building is now a post office. It was a “neighborhood” in a time when movies went from downtown to the neighborhoods. The center aisle went down the middle of the auditorium, which was unusual at the time.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

"10 Warning Signs Tour Heart Isn't Working Proper;y" (short, PSA)

Today we’ll show “10 Warning Signs Your Heart Isn’t Working Properly”.

The illustration of the bald leg with sock imprint marks is maybe the most provocative sign. I can remember sitting in a godfather’s lap as a boy and teasing him about this.

Persistent annoying shadow pains in the left elbow or even a left finger could be a sign.

I recall getting a fundraising call one time from the American Heart Association about “getting the word out”.  But I have my own individualized way of doing that.
I still take Losartan.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

"A Day in the Life of a Surgeon", especially at 5 AM

Here’s “A Day in the Life of a Surgeon”, by a young surgical resident, David Hindin, in Philadelphia (Oh, yes, the Phillies, rivals of the Nats). I think that’s the Penn campus, near Drexel.

He gets up at 5 AM and buys coffee for the outgoing shift. He shows the little rest cubicle, with a bunk, and lots of textbooks (like Organic Chemistry, and a military surgery book with graphic war injury pictures from Afghanistan). The residents share this sleep space for their 24 hour shifts. 
He carries field notes, pens, and a chest tube needle package for dire emergencies in his shirt pocket.
He stops short of showing the scrubbing for surgery, which could get interesting.  Maybe that happens in another video.

I’m trying to find out more about  (Sundance’s) “Science Fair”, which has been bought by National Geographic but I don’t know when it will show.  Maybe Magnolia can pick it up for a theatrical showing,  Jack Andraka is on a senior project (Truman scholar, Stanford University) researching Ebola this summer in Sierra Leone, and I have a feeling that material will hit the video and short film circuit in a few months. But Jack will face this routine (from Hindin's video) himself one day if he becomes an oncologist (maybe mine if something happens to me down the road – I turn 75 today).

Saturday, July 07, 2018

SCOTUS-Toons: Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Human Rights Commission (oral arguments in animated film)

Here is a “SCOTUS TOONS: Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Human Rights Commission”.

The oral arguments are overlaid with animation, since video photography is not normally allowed at the Supreme Court.

The arguments concerned not so much “religious freedom” as “compelled speech”, if you regarding decorating a wedding cake as speech.

SCOTUS sided with Masterpiece Cakeshop on very narrow grounds earlier in June with a majority opinion underscored by the retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy. 

The Masterpiece Cakeshop case has nothing to do with the new Strand Releasing film “The Cakemaker” (reviewed by me on Wordpress).

Thursday, July 05, 2018

"100 Mile Rule" demonstrated the sales culture rule "Always Be Closing", which is now the title of a gay male short film

I wanted to revisit Brent Huff’s comedy in 2002, “100 Mile Rule”, which I saw at a festival sponsored by IFPMSP in Block E in downtown Minneapolis when I lived there.

The film presents a sales force at a motivational training seminar with the mantra “Always Be Closing”. That is indeed what sales culture is about, somewhat discredited today by the concerns over spam and superficiality.

The comedy concerns the rule that heterosexual married men can fool around if they are more than 100 miles from home, that is, on a road trip.  I wonder if that applies to hookups in the office.
The film might seem offputting today because of the “#MeToo” movement and all the sexual harassment workplace scandals and prosecutions. The DVD now comes from Image Entertainment. 
But then there is a YouTube gay “soft core” film called “Always Be Closing” (2018).  It requires age verification, so I won’t embed it.  A realtor plays the role of a gay husband to close the sale.  I guess that gives the film some social issue significance.  By coincidence, the customer actor resembles David Hogg in facial appearance. The actors are named as Jack Porter and Peter Pounder.  This is one of those movies where chest hair doesn’t ever exist, pleasing National Review writer David Skinner.
Alec Baldwin (hairy) made the phrase famous in “Glengarry Glen Ross” (1992).  I’ll look at that one again later.

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

"Brimstone and Glory" depicts a pyrotechnic festival in Mexico

ON Monday, July 2, PBS POV aired the film “Brimstone and Glory” by Viktor Jakoveski, a film celebration of the National Pyrotechnic Festival in Tultepec, Mexico.

The 67-minute film was slightly condensed to fit in one hour.

The film had two parts, “Castles of Fire” and “Burning of the Bulls”.  The second part looked a but like the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, except that it was on fire.

The spectacle of the film reminded me of the Renwick Gallery exhibition of “Burning Man” in Nevada.
The entire film can be rented on YouTube for $3.99. Oscilloscope handles the DVD and theatrical release. 

Update: July 6

There has been an unfortunate explosion, with fatalities, at this site this week in Tultepec, BBC story

Monday, July 02, 2018

"Twin Oaks: An Egalitarian Community": film captures a retrospect of my own visit to the place in 2012

Twin Oaks: An Egalitarian Community” is one of many short films on income sharing communities. 

I visited the community for a 3-hour tour and reported it on the “Major Issues” blog on April 7. 2012.
I remember the hammock factory, and the tofu distribution. I didn’t see all the farms.

Work week is 42 hours a week.

This is not for everyone.  It is for highly socialized people. “Acorn” is another (smaller) commune nearby.  These areas are a bit South of Mineral, VA, which had the earthquake in 2011.  That’s in the Piedmont.

They use a moneyless credit system.

Do people “retire” to this?  The commune does have a hospice in the rear part of the property.  About 100 people live there.
There is some Internet access at the community.  I hope some residents will find this post and comment.
I am reminded of “Spring Work Camp” at Loma Foundation (which had to recover from a 1996 fire) in New Mexico.  I visited that back in 1984.

Sunday, July 01, 2018

Web designer and commentator explains "Why I'm Against the Daily Stormer Being Taken Down" in short film

Apparently from Virginia, Anthony Brian Logan, himself an African-American who seems libertarian-to-conservative in his approach to issues (at least here), explains “Why I’m Against 'The Daily Stormer' Being Taken Down”, put up on Aug. 15, 2017, shortly after the Charlottesville riots and violence (14 min).

Logan explains the “slippery slope” of tech companies reacting to individual complaints about hate speech (or possibly worse, like actual threats or incitements to vigilantism) on their platforms.  Logan explains well the difference between domain name registration and actual content hosting, which some people might be able to do on their own. He also notes that your own hosted content normally carries a presumption of more freedom and less supervision or meddling than use of a “free” social media platform. He suggests that a complaint from a specific woman in the LGBT community sparked GoDaddy’s action against Daily Stormer.  But I am under the impression there were many other complaints.  However, he is right in suggesting that a single user “with a green check” and lots of (Twitter) followers might be paid more attention to with a complaint.  Logan uses some photos from other determined activism, such as a removal of a Confederate statue in North Carolina. 

In fact, GoDaddy CEO Blake Irving had explained his action against DS, which took some time on a weekend and deliberation within the company, to CNBC here.

It should be noted, that most accounts of the Daily Stormer indicate that its content was very extreme in attacking specific groups. Logan dismisses it as not a "serious website", but it seemed to have a very determined and angry, if hidden, following.  But it seems to be a specific (false) insult over the characterization of a woman killed in Charlottesville (the perpetrator awaits trial for murder in Virginia) that started the snowball.  The site editor, Andrew Anglin, has a very controversial history indeed.  I believe the site was driven underground and the site has been pretty much blackballed from the regular world of hosting and domain names. 
Generally tech companies try to follow what they call “terms of service” and “acceptable use policies”. They may feel pressured in the political climate to interpret their AUP’s more narrowly than in the past, or they may feel tempted in the future to place other limitations on what kinds of users can use their services, because of a quickly growing political change, toward tribalist group-think and identity politics ("intersectionality") on both left and right, that is quite shocking to me.  Activists consider gratuitous speech from those without their own "skin in the game" as an indirect kind of bullying, wanting to see supposedly settled issues not brought up again just for "debate".  For example, a host could decide in the future to host only actual businesses and ban “provocateurship” because suddenly this has become so "socially" risky. 
There is a change in the public apperception of user-generated content, as neglecting real need or oppression and as antithetical to genuine political process, that is quite disturbing (there was some talk of this problem back in 2005 with a campaign finance reform issue but it died down).  There are other threats to UGC, including FOSTA/SESTA undermining Section 230 (there is new litigation to enjoin it), loss of net neutrality (maybe not as important as feared), and opposition to “surveillance capitalism” and the fake news and user-PII-compromise and election meddling scandals, as well as a big copyright fight now in Europe.