Friday, July 10, 2020

"Why Travel Will Never Be the Same": The Economist

COVID-19: Why Travel Will Never Be the Same” with Leo Marini for The Economist.

Travel is down to less than 50% pre-pandemic levels everywhere, even more in Europe.

The speaker maintains that business travel subsidized vacation and personal travel. So the permanent loss of business travel for conferences and sales could greatly constrict personal travel, especially at holidays.

Some predictions say a sense of a new normal will not exist until 2023.

Carbon emissions have dropped during the pandemic, partly because of air travel drop.

I have wondered if individuals will be rationed in their travel or need some sort of permission at some point in the future.

Thursday, July 09, 2020

"What If We Built an O'Neill Cylinder?" or lots of them; Jeff Bezos wants to


What If We Built an O’Neill Cylinder?” asks the “What If” channel.

Jeff Bezos wants to build enough of them to house 1 trillion people.

They would be set a La Grangian points and be tethered in pairs, and be about 4 miles in diameter and 16 miles long.

The film shows planet of artificial cities, lakes and green mountains.

The film has a sequel, to be looked at later, about getting people there.

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

"Siren Head": short horror film illustrates use of "motion capture" technique

Siren Head”, a four-minute short film from “Shutter Authority”.

A young (black) man roams outdoors in a tropical beach location look for artefacts of alien encounters for some kind of film contest (like the 48-hour film festival).  He suddenly encounters a golem with two sirens in place of a head, which chases him to his death.  Police encounter the same at night.

The film then mentions “motion capture” and “smart suit” technology in digital filmmaking, which is very much worth looking into.  It would seem to supplement common digital film platforms, like Final Cut Pro and the like.

Picture: Cape Cod, MA, Aug. 2015 

Sunday, July 05, 2020

"The Mask", horror short made in mid 2019, seems oddly prescient now

"The Mask", from Garahisarliyin, made sometime in mid 2019, certainly anticipates COVID (5 minutes).

“The Mask”,from Garahisar

A young man (Aden Akyol) with no face wakes up, puts on a mask to look like a real human, and everyone ignores and bumps into him.

It’s as if he does not exist anymore, and lives only in a simulation. But for him a mask would give him an identity, not function as a symbol of vulnerability, 

Perhaps this is his afterlife, after purgatory, for all eternity.

Saturday, July 04, 2020

"Dark Passenger", horror short (derivative of "Taxi Driver")

Flickr - Duncan~ - Fox Trot

Willow Screen Productions presents Sean Kehoe’s “Dark Passenger” (2014).

In London at night, a taxi driver (Del O’Sullivan) picks up a “dark passenger” (Ted Conley), who is on a mission to do a kidnapping in a hotel bathroom with a poison syringe. It sounds like a hired hit from Vladimir Putin.

The director says this was made with “zero budget” and might become a feature.  I don’t see the existential compulsiveness in the DP character, however.

Wikipedia:  South London flats with a fox (click for attribution)

Friday, July 03, 2020

"Lockdown Lite: Sweden’s Model for Coronavirus Control", special documentary from ABC News

DIMG 5456 (4735649602)

Lockdown Lite: Sweden’s Model for Coronavirus Control”, from ABC News-in-depth, which now seems to be producing some festival-ready short film documentaries (like for 2021 Oscars, everything debuted online).

The film traces the “Guioco Piano” approach to controlling the pandemic, leaving things open, and up to personal responsibility. The result is six times as many deaths as in the surrounding Norway and Finland, with a very heavy concentration of deaths in homes for the aged.

The film presents  health minister Anders Tegnell, as well as detractor Stefan Hanson. 

The immigrant communities are particularly hard hit because they tend to live together in large extended family groups.

The film shows people, many of them immigrants, going into health facilities and getting antibody tests and being told that they’ve had it already.

Picture: Midsommar in Sweden (not the movie), click for CCSA attributes, Wikipedia.

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

"The Central Dogma of Biology", by Avi Schiffmann

University of Washington Quad, Spring 2007

Here’s a short film from June 2019 by Avi Schiffmann, then a sophomore in high school at 16, “The Central Dogma of Biology”, with Arman Azeem and Sean Roandson, and a cat.

With skateboards, old tires, and various other knickknacks around a Seattle high school’s grounds, the characters string together a hip-hop narrative of how viruses mutate.  There is mention of transcriptase, which would have come from HIV.

Yet, the film seems like a shocking prescience of the “gain of function” experiments done in the past with coronaviruses, which have led to Sars-Cov2. The style is pretty much pure David Lynch.

And Avid started working on his coronavirus tracker before Christmas 2019, before China admitted it had a problem (Dec. 31).  A teenager knew about this before the CDC did? (And then China covered it up for two deadly weeks, and then our own government fumbled it for two months.)

High school biology will never be the same.

And neither will “the Chaz”.

Picture:  University of Washington, Wiki (click for attribution). 

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

"Never Have I Ever": a party game becomes a short film (women's setting)

Mander Films Media presents “Never Have I Ever” with two young lesbian characters played by Kalia Westen and Natalie Shershaw.

The title is based on a common party game or challenges (a little like “Mother May I”). Eduardo Sanchez-Ubanell made a video with another friend and his dog over a year ago.  “Those were the days, my friend” (a 1968 song when I was in the Army), pre pandemic, pre-social distancing.

It’s going to be a challenge to keep making these short films – maybe you can get the actors tested reliably before doing them. That will really be a problem for “porn” and I think there is a documentary about that coming in July.

I suppose you could say this film title would fit a documentary about OCD.

Monday, June 29, 2020

“Why a Single Little Spot Makes Driving Across ‘America’ Impossible” (and it actually matters in a major novel)

Darien Gap OSM

RealLifeLore presents “Why a Single Little Spot Makes Driving Across ‘America’ Impossible

That strip is the Darien Gap in Panama, the last 60 miles to the Colombian border, although a Toyota Corolla is said to be able to 4-wheel bushwhack it.

The jungle is rugged and dense and there are sacred lands for indigenous peoples.

Otherwise the stretch would be part of the Pan-American Highway.

The idea of a Pan American highway occurs in Clive Barker’s novel “Imajica” as “The Lenten Way” connecting dominions (with gaps).

Saturday, June 27, 2020

"Model Citizen": animated BW short film shows how, in a dystopian fascist future, the perfect parents have an expiration date

David James Armsby presents “Model Citizen”, in black and white, animated (5 min)., from Dead Sound. 

The husband who supports a stay-at-home wife and son, who grows up, and is checked by a robot everyday for their compliance with fascism.

Then one day is their last, and the robot takes them to a pit to be thrown in.  But they rebel.

Dystopian indeed.  

Friday, June 26, 2020

"The Other Side of the Box" (Short of the Week), a kind of "virus"

The Other Side of the Box”, by Caleb L. Philips, from Short of the Week.

Ben (Nick Tag),  and Rachel (Teagan Rose) are a nice young couple celebrating Christmas Eve (probably in Toronto) when an old rival Shawn (Josh Schell) delivers a present, an open box with a black mass filling it (no pun).

It is rather like an analog black hole (which mathematics predicts); if you throw anything into it, the object disappears. But then a decapitated head protrudes.  The gig is that someone has to watch it (stare at it) at all times. 

Then when Ben goes on excursion to the basement to see what lies beneath, it gets interesting.  Maybe Ben is a virus himself, with multiple copies.

Suppose the coronavirus spike could contain an analogue black hole, to reproduce whole people?

There was a horror feature in by Richard Kelly “The Box” (Nov. 6, 2009) with a somewhat related premise.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

"Three Strange New Discoveries from Titan" (Petrov)

First global geologic map of Titan (PIA23174)

I keep up with Petrov’s video series (“Hello wonderful person”), which he says he broadcasts from South Korea (he was in quarantine at one point) because he covers stuff relevant to my screenplay and novels.

3 Strange New Discoveries from Titan”, with Anton Petrov


The scientist explains that Titan’s orbit is getting larger a few centimeters every year, and that Titan has tidal pull on Saturn’s atmosphere.

He discusses the tendency of the hydrocarbon lakes to fill near the poles but they make be evaporating from basins near the equator.

Most of the solid surface is a kind of grainy ice.  Pictures of its surface amplify the light so you can see what looks like a twilight.

Petrov also mentions the circulation of methane, with some odd observations that may suggest life. Maybe something like a slime mold on Earth, maybe. A blob.

 Wikipedia map of Titan surface: click for attribution 

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

"Feast on the Young", horror fairy tale from Alter

Alter films presents a horror short “Feast on the Young” (VCA), directed by Katia Mancuso.

Mina (Paige Joustra) is very protective of her baby sister Alice (Jena Schaak) and yanks away a fantasy scrap book.

Later Alice wanders into a forest and Mina follows, and discovers there is a real fairy after them both. It gets gruesome. 

Once a ring of mushrooms is breached, it is a real fight for them both to survive.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

"Environmental Court Takes Your Home" (without due process)

Court Strips Elderly Woman of her Home and Ruins her Life”, retitled as “Environmental Court Takes Your Home”, from the Institute for Justice (June 2020).

Somewhere near Memphis, TN, an “environmental court” evicted a woman from a home condemned after being damaged by a tree ten years earlier when she couldn’t get it repaired. 

I’ve never heard of “environmental courts”.  But they don’t seem to follow due process in taking property.

This situation reminds me of the dilemma for people losing jobs during Covid and getting evicted as stimulus runs out, and this even happens when people are quarantined;  we aren’t protecting their own income or rights at all!! So it is timely that this video appears now, deep into the pandemic. 

This video is presented as a lecture, but it would make a good documentary movie from someone like Andrew Jenks, perhaps, maybe on Netflix or YouTube Originals.

Picture: SW of Nashville, mine, 2014 

Monday, June 22, 2020

"Is It Free?" Comedy short from UK (2014) reminds one of Reid Ewing's 2012 "It's Free" series; well, not much in life is really free!

Is It Free?” (2014), directed by Lauris Beinerts, at the Westminister Film School (UK), is a little comedy where Jack Hawkins plays a young man manipulating people who ask for a place to sit next to him in various venues. Everything does have a price. 

He also manipulates the price of a cup of tea.

The film reminds me of Reid Ewing’s 2012 tryptich “It’s Free”, “Free Fish”, and “I’m Free” as part of a “Reid-ing” series that was presented by Igigi, no longer available – again, looking at what in life is free.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Drake Equation 2020: 36 Alien Civilizations (all with travel bans)

Anton Petrov explains “New Drake Equation Suggests 36 Alien Civilizations in our Galaxy”.

This is based on a recent paper.  The range is from 4 to about 250.  But the expected distance to the closest alien civilization is about 7000 light years.

Solar systems around Sun-like stars generally would form only in the outer reaches of the Solar System.

But civilizations capable of communications like ours may typically go extinct in a few hundred years because there are too many big things that can go very wrong.  This would explain the Fermi Paradox. 

We don’t seem to find any evidence of secondary civilizations produced by AI robots.

It’s also likely that earth-like planets have been around for at least 10 billion years and that we’re relatively late in the process of maturing as a civilization.

But your teenager who comes up with the latest global invention is probably not an alien. 

Saturday, June 20, 2020

"Say Can You See": do you notice people not of your own race in public?

Say Can You See”, by William Leigh, subtitled as “a short film about street photography, pre-pandemic and post George Floyd.

Near Times Square in NYC, a black man wears a T-shirt inviting others go give him a hug.  The shirt confronts the passerby, “I am a black man”.

Of course, I am more likely to notice men I would feel attracted to (white).

The film runs about four minutes and has a ground-bass figure in the background music.

Friday, June 19, 2020

"How to Fix America's Police", by The Economist

Camden NJ poverty

 How to Fix America’s Police”, by The Economist (a UK-based publication).

The 10-minute film starts with a dark challenge:  I speak in subjunctive mood. White Americans owe on a past-due debt (interest and principal) to black slave descendants that has accumulated for the past 400 years (before Jamestown). 

If so, that is an assertion separate from the idea that better-off people need to “give back” to help remedy economic inequality, which used to be the much more accepted moral assertion (even if that has a Marxist origin).

Then the film shows a die-in protest, and gradually moves toward the basic problem of why American police kill so many more black people (usually young men) than white. OK, it’s complicated (and here the short becomes like a “Vox explains” video, or a Strikethrough that Carlos Maza should be making now.)

The basic problem is that there are so many police departments, and they are guarded by politically powerful police unions.  Then there is the legal doctrine of “qualified immunity”, which has been thought to be necessary because police work is para-military and inherently dangerous – a model which needs to change (and maybe be mostly eliminated). Libertarian groups like Cato are now proposing ending or limiting qualified immunity, and Congress and Trump seem to be willing to look at it.

The film looks at what the demands for “defunding the police” would really mean, and they settle on the idea of “starting over” the way Camden NJ did in 2012.  (Wikipedia explains how the Camden County Police Department took over.)  But Stephen Delaney maintains that the results and process are quite complicated and emotionally challenging (Washington Post).

As far as paying back the debt, some activists seem to be implying that “privileged” people who happen to be white need to give service specifically to black-oriented efforts to be allowed to stay on stage, which would mean that their speech was no longer their own.

Picture: urban decay in Camden NJ. Embedded from Wikipedia, click for attribution.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

"CHAZ Exposed"

Entering Free Capitol Hill

A realtor (Summit Properties NW) walks “Inside Seattle’s Lawless CHAZ (Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone) – No Police or Government”.

Is this an Anarchist’s wet dream?

Tourist attraction?

An autonomous socialist republic?  A reservation?

Update: June 18:  News2Share has a similar short today (11 min): "Inside CHAZ". 

June 22: There have been at least two shootings and one death in the Chaz (Pool). Twitter reports instances of activists confiscating phones or demanding deletion from journalists photographing them. 

Wikipedia embed:  click for attribution 

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

"Something for Love": when cell phone messages match glances on the street


Searching for Love” (Oct. 2018), is a nice 11-minute film by Ed Fritz, from the “good old days”.  A young man (Max Claude as Adam) searches for love by trying to match chat messages on his phone to his own photographic memory of “glances” from the past.  How often do you think someone you see in an ad or gay film is someone you’ve met?

The last part of the film turns into serial speed dating in a café and is less than impressive.

I think the film was shot in Philadelphia.

It is listed as age-restricted (but there is little that is explicit).  The central character is a “stereotyped” blond white guy, but at least one of his intimate partners is a POC.  I don’t know if that’s politically correct.

Since Blogger prefers you not embed age-restricted films, I’ll include a bonus:  Sam Cushing, gay gymnist and pianist (I think in Chicago) talks about his future in challenging times. 

But I know that a lot of people will say, well, yes, young affluent gay white men living alone are ironically the safest (and luckiest) population right now. It’s easy to stay out of trouble.  Some of them say they are trying to help businesses figure out how to rebound from the pandemic and that is the most charitable thing to do – help small business.

Picture: Philadelphia, near 30th st station, March 2018, mine (on the way to a cybersecurity meeting). 

Monday, June 15, 2020

A Marxist explains Marxism, and it can indeed overlap capitalism

Madrid may day375

AzureScapegoat renders “The Difference Between Socialism, Communism and Marxism, Explained by a Marxist”.

Well, not much that calls itself socialist is really socialist.

Under socialism you have anarchism, and Marxism.  Orthodox Marxism encapsulates Maoism and Leninism, etc., but revisionist Marxism (democratic socialism) spills over into capitalism under the rubric of social democracy.

The video mentions the “moneyless” society of Star Trek as Marxist. (Well, communist).

It doesn’t mention social credit, which is how you can apply Marxist-style principles to individuals.

PictureL embded from Wikipedia, revolutionary from Spain, click for attributes 

Sunday, June 14, 2020

"How Modern Families Increase Social Inequality" from The Economist

The Economist explains “How Modern Families Increase Social Inequality”

The title of the video seems to derive from the ABC “Modern Family”.

It starts out with some examples of same-sex marriage in the west, and then moves to South Korea to look at the social patterns (almost as if inspired by “Parasite”).

In the end, economic equality for women, it says, has been very bad for less educated men, who, in that country, have to import foreign women for brides.

Modern families in the upper middle class are stable and transmit their stability to their kids and pay formal lip service to liberal values. But they tend to have very little emotional empathy for (or proxmitiy with) the poor (only cognitive empathy).  That’s one reason for the breakdown (disguised as racism) for the “Black Lives Matter” protests.

Some of this has to do with population demographics  and lower birthrate among richer families.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

"Is Death Final?" from the "Closer to Truth" series

Is Death Final?  This 26-minute interview is Episode 1306 of a series “Closer to Truth”, with Robert Lawrence Kuhn.

I would say, it doesn’t make sense that you wouldn’t know you’ve passed away and can never return.

The interview compares two ideas:  your replacement in another universe, and your resurrection, as understood in various interpretations of the New Testament.  

In a “resurrection” a continuation of your old sense of self.  I doubt it.  It is sort of a “rebirth” with the “no spectators” (or “Burning Man”) mentality (like the Netflix movie). You have to accept a certain Tolkien-like fellowship with others and realize that truth is no longer your own. It is very much a "group activity" and about comradeship, even belonging to what seems like a cult and that eliminates individuality as you're used to it. You have agree to help make certain failures of others "all right".  I'm not sure I'm in that space right now. 

If I were to get Covid19 and die of it, right now, I would want to own it, the moral responsibility.  That’s because of my past privilege relative to what I could earn. No funeral, no obituary, no recognition.  Resurrection is something you have to want.  At the moment, I’m not sure I would be game for it.  I want to see people be the best they can be as individuals.  If I let go of that, I feel they won’t, even if it is not my call to make.

So I would have to “change”.  But I cannot accept someone else’s order and revolution imposed on me. Things are taken away from people all the time (as sometimes even with revolutionary expropriation), but a lot of time they really hadn’t earned what they thought they had.  They came at someone else’s expense or risk.  Call it karma. The political extremes want to make this a matter of identarianism.  I don’t.  Yet the desire to see personal purification can lead back to at least a soft fascism. 

I do have ideas how I fit in as COVID and BLM resolve, some rather specific plans.  But they have to resolve “satisfactory”, reasonably.  There is no guarantee that they will.  So I could, at age 76, already be in a kind of living purgatory, an epilogue that sounds like a soft ending of a big symphony rather than a militant triumph.

There is evidence that "consciousness" survives brain death for some time (not certain if destruction of the brain by explosion or later cremation stops it).  So it matters if loved ones are around even if someone is in a coma.  Sometimes lucidity returns at death.  But then there may be the attempt to find a place in a larger group to belong to. 

Picture: Burning Man, Renwick Gallery exhibition, Washington DC (even in Nevada), May 2018

Friday, June 12, 2020

"Who Did It Better?" aka "True Love v. Life Lilies" (from "All About Strength")

I found a curious gay male channel “All About Strength” from Germany on YouTube.

One film “Who Did It Better? The Great Gay Shaving Battle” sounds like forbidden fetishism, but it puts four actors (Ryan Kwarten, Robert Kazinsky, Drew Van Acker, and Steve Strait” in a fast moving sequence where (after an unrelated opening shot of a smooth man covered with shaving cream), seems to put the actors into a face shaving (and maybe face saving) sequence.

The action moves so fast and has so little continuity that you can’t tell what really happened (but then a guy wakes up from a dream).

The film has another subtitle, “True Love v. Life Lilies”, which doesn’t make too much sense.

But this is one of a huge collection of fast-moving comic shorts.

A film like this (even at 4 minutes) is erotic (rated R) only when you can follow what happens with some kind of continuity.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

David Lynch: "Feature Films Are in Trouble, the Arthouses Are Dead"

David Lynch, interviewed by William Mullally, for “The Cutaway”, announces, “Feature films are in trouble, the arthouses are dead.”

Not dying, but dead.

Like I remember the Biograph in Washington DC in Georgetown.

It would seem to be the enormous weakening of our globalized culture from COVID.

It would affect screenwriting, because writing for a series is very different than for feature films.  

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Cheddar explains "The Real Reason Washington DC Doesn't Have Skyscrapers"

I always wondered, as a boy, why my "home field" didn't have skyscrapers and all other cities "in the league" did. 

The Real Reason Washington DC Doesn’t Have Skyscrapers”, as explained by Cheddar.

There have been several laws since the 1890s, but essentially most buildings cannot be taller than the Capitol (281 feet), with the Trump Post Office towner (341) an exception.

The Cairo Apartment building in the Dupont Circle area (160 feet) was an interesting exception, in the 1890s.

There is now a rule regarding the relationship between building height and the width of streets.

Would loosening height restrictions help reduce rents?

Nearly Arlington has gradually increase heights in the Rosslyn, Ballston and Crystal City areas.

Picture: from Washington Monument, August, 2007

Monday, June 08, 2020

Retrospect: Nolan's "Interstellar" had been a metaphor for the death of (celluloid) film

Schlegel wireframe 8-cell

I don’t want to talk about Christopher Nolan every post, but this video from Neo and “Society of Geeks” about Nolan’s 2014 epic draws an interesting metaphor, “Interstellar Is About the Death of Film”.   The original review here is Nov. 9, 2014.

The speaker argues that Nolan is making a testament to the death of celluloid film, and the replacement with all digital.

There are visual analogies, to the objects used in conventional projection and the items in Nolan’s space travel, including the tesseract at the end.

He also makes note not only of the time paradox, and of the manipulation of time boxes (as is being discussed with “Tenet” now) but also of how characters wind up living in their original houses, but in new O’Neill cylinders in space.

Wikipedia:  Click on image above for attribution credits (CCSA),  Also look at this gif of a tesseract (would not embed). 

Saturday, June 06, 2020

"Leviathan": can a scientist's unpublished scrapbook endanger the entire world? (short film)

Here is a bizarre short film from Spain by Erik Woolcott, “Leviathan”.

A man (Gilberto Nue) looks at his late father’s effects, and his crude but dangerous “mad scientist” experiments (maybe “gain of function”?)

The effects are manuscript scrapbooks, especially bizarre abstract drawings, and a cigarette lighter, that seems to have magical properties.

Although I am sympathetic to the idea that a person’s unpublished manuscripts can unveil terrible secrets (that’s an idea that drives much of my own novel), I couldn’t really tell where this was going, except to catastrophe for the son.

The 2019 film has many festival awards. (No connection to the film reviewed here Jan. 28, 2015.) 

Picture: Ocean City, MD (a few years ago) 

Friday, June 05, 2020

Joshua Fluke spins a yarn (for a screenplay?): "My Family Predicted the Rapture"

IM Flash exterior-11

My Family Predicted the Rapture”, by Joshua Fluke.

Josh has made funny videos about the tech job market, and about heterosexual dating.  He is 30 years old and lives in Utah.

Recently he made some videos saying he was “raised in a cult” (which demanded incredible submission and obedience of kids to “God”) and about problems in the family about his lack of emotional loyalty to some of them (even paying their rent) as a tribe.  I thought he had been raised in a variation of LDS (Mormon) church but this sounds more like Assembly of God or something (I’ve been to the Brownsville church in Pensacola FL, back in 1998).

He spins this yarn about the 2005 prediction of the Rapture (and I do recall the film in the early 1990s, I’ll have to see if I’ve covered it on this blog). 

He also goes through a chart of all the unfulfilled rapture predictions.  I don’t know whether this was pre-tribulation or post-tribulation, but our country seems to be going through a tribulation now.

Josh should take up screenwriting.

Picture: flash memory factory in Lehi (click for Wikipedia attribution)

Thursday, June 04, 2020

More theories on "Tenet": does local time-reversal even make sense in physics at all?

New Rockstarrs and EAVoss offer another prediction for July 17.

Here’s a theory of “Tenet’s” time reversal idea.

It has to do with Maxwell’s equations and entropy, with blue and red rooms.

If you think about it, biology (progressive reproduction, eventually expressive of local consciousness that can make deliberative choices) exists to counter entropy.  So some form of it should somehow exist in many places.

So a well-developed consciousness can reverse time “locally”. 

But then there would be no causation.  You can’t commit a wrongful act and “take it back” in the real world.  That what time controls. 

There would need to be intersecting parallel worlds.

I like the idea of “making time” better, because space-time is always expanding (previous blog post).

The movie may start in the middle.

Tomorrow I’ll go back to other stuff on this blog.

Picture: where I parked yesterday to visit the DC protests. 

Wednesday, June 03, 2020

Why "Tenet" is believed to be set up as a sequel to "Inception"


Flash Fanatics explains “Why Tenet Is an Inception Sequel in Disguise

The short answer is that the two kids at the end of “Inception” are main characters in “Tenet”, 30 years forward.   Robert Pattinson plays the boy.

"Tenet" (Syncopy) is supposed to come from Warner Brothers to Imax theaters July 17, and we hope the country will be open enough from coronavirus to show it in big theaters then (including AMC, haha). 

Michael Caine is in the real world in both films.

The video mentions the spinning top, as a key to whether “Inception” really did return to the real world.

The hooker seems to be that science has found a way to get more time and stuff into reality, and slow down things.  In some cases, you can reverse it (maybe with string theory) although I don’t see how that gets around causality in physics.

Maybe the concept is to generate more space-time with some sort of metric tensor that would become a reverse Alcubierre drive. That would make space travel around the galaxy practical, and make it possible for humans to move and travel around and mix with other aliens.

The piano shown above was stashed away on a lower level of a parking garage on I St in Washington near 16th St when I went there to film protesters today.

Maybe it’s a prop for “Tenet”.  The name of that film is a palindrome, remember. (So is the last movement of Hindemith's Horn Concerto. Hans Zimmer seems to like passacaglias and ground bass structures for his music to Nolan films.)

In my own novel (draft done but now getting a close look for plot holes), "Angel's Brother", I have a situation where a CIA chief "knows" the conspiracy theories, and hires a "retired" military intelligence officer (who teaches history now) to go on sudden missions to connect the dots, of clues left by a gifted college student, a scatterbrained blogger, and surprisingly the officer's own wife, who works is a nurse and validates the medical clues. And there is a virus that can play tricks with space-time, sometimes.  (For example, supposed the spike on the coronavirus sometimes housed a temporary mini black-hole.) How close could an "amateur" sci-fi novelist come to guessing the plot of this movie?  

In the novel, the "virus" quietly does enough damage that the "Earth" has to be evacuated by "angels" to an eyeball planet in the galactic neighborhood.  But the "added space-time" technology makes this possible.  How close can I come in guessing this movie? 

Picture: embedded from Wikipedia of the tensor of an Albucierre Drive; click for attribution for the art-work. 
Here's a bonus.  Fox journalist Trey Yingst seems to be like a Christopher Nolan character in this little short film he put up on Facebook, link. He likes to film himself jumping out of planes, too. You can look at his Instagram account (you have to be logged on yourself) to see another version of this little film. 

Monday, June 01, 2020

"The Den": a motorist find an actress with amnesia in a storm, and takes her to a bar for help, and finds out they already have her trapped

Alter presents “The Den” (1976, or “La Guarida”), from Spain.

A man, driving in a thunderstorm at night, almost hits a woman on the road. He takes her to a quiet bar, “The Den”, for assistance.

But the people in the bar seem to be a cabal running a business that may have involved her (maybe trafficking).  She says she is an actress, and she doesn’t know who she is, and that is a paradox here.

But things will indeed come to a head. There is a bit of Tarentino in this film. Directed by Iago De Soto. 

The picture shows a random bar in South Carolina ("The Money") in Jan. 2011, during a trip of my own (about 50 miles S of Charlotte near I-77, don't recall the town.)

Sunday, May 31, 2020

"Come at Me, Bro": two gay jock roommates have a wrestling match with mouthguards

Come at Me, Bro” (2019), by Ethan Fuirst , with Ryan Meyer and Jake Murphy, by Nautilus.

Two gay athletes, perhaps in a college space, decide to try something different: a wrestling match, with purple mouth guards (similar to football players’) which make kissing less intimate. The guy with the vulnerable plaket button shirt gets pinned but survives.

I can remember a wrestling PE class in 11th grade when I accidentally kicked the assistant principal as he walked by. I also remember a softball game where I pitched a shutout and hit an inside-the-park homer.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

"Lost in a Mistake", short film in three time takes

Lost in a Mistake”, a short film by Matthieu Lange, placed on YouTube by Lange Vision after its festival opportunities were canceled by Covid.

In a desert community, an appealing looking teen Liam (John Bertchtold) wants to end his own life after getting trapped by some undefined situation.

The film is in three takes:  “Running”, “Hiding”, and “Confrontation”.

The action happens with a sedan and a van he lives in, and a noose, and a drink, and a cell phone.

It’s like a “48 Hour Film Festival” work. 

Friday, May 29, 2020

"Intelligent People Prefer to Work Alone": and evolution is changing us and giving introverts an economically competitive advantage

“Strong Mind, Strong Life” and “Fearless Soul” report, “Science reports Why Intelligent People Prefer to Be Alone” ( 7 min).

Look at some of the great teen accomplishments of the past decade or so.  Jack Andraka’s pancreatic cancer test, he did it himself. (Some of the same underlying concepts are being used now at Stanford to test wastewater for COVID, and this idea will soon be deployed large scale.)

Taylor Wilson built a fusion nuclear reactor at age 14, by himself. In fact, you can look up the Helena group and find hits of other similar stories.   Maybe solve some problems with power grid security?

Ali Schiffmann, as a high schooler, built one of the largest coronavirus tracking databases and websties in the world.

John Fish built one of the best known learning channels for college students, and describes the need to work alone and be alone sometimes.  Tyler Mowery, with a generally similar moral value system, has built a good channel teaching people how to write commercially successful screenplays.

Humans evolved as social, tribal animals.  But the fast pace of technology has given individualistic, less tribal people a competitive advantage, leading to social tensions (and probably genetic changes leading ironically to smaller families).  This happens with other animals.  Cats, for example (unlike dogs) have had to learn to function well both alone and in groups.

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?

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

"Eldritch Code": an IT support guy must deal with the ultimate zero-day logic bomb attack on his company, and the entire world

Eldritch Code” is a horror short film by Ivan Radavic.

Glen Cadigam plays an IT guy in a typical pre-Covid (this is 2018) workplace (reminds me of “Office Space”) and he becomes suspicious of Susan at her workstation and takes her computer.

He replaces the infected hardware and firmware, but soon the virus comes back anyway.  It had somehow stored itself in a cloud and reloaded.

Then the computer rather exploded and engulfs him on an interstellar journey to restart civilization.

What if a computer virus could infect humans? 

Picture: Maryland Science Museum, Baltimore, 2014