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.  He 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. (She mentions tattoos, but they don't happen, at least in sight.) 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 

Monday, May 18, 2020

"History of the Titans Explored" by Film Comics

Film Comics Explained unravels “History of the Titans (Attack on Titan) Explored

This video is a recap of a Japanese fantasy series (and game) where Earth’s civilization has been confined within three concentric walls, and “infected” beings have grown into gigantic Titans who have no digestive or reproductive organs, but who subjugate the earthlings.

Except that there are pockets of civilization around the world that have been hidden from them.

The series doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the very interesting moon of Saturn or settling it.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

"The Sky": a "cosmic horror" short about two women watching the world end (like "Melancholia")

The Sky” is a “cosmic horror short” directed by Matt Sears, written by Ryan Grundy, starring Chloe Fox and Charlotte Christoff.

In Britain, a young woman has run away from her erratic mother, and another girlfriend finds her as they watch the sky for an incoming catastrophe, which is apparently the approach of a black hole which will spaghettify them both.

In some ways, the film reminds me of the end of “Melancholia” (Nov. 11, 2011).

A good line in the film is “but she’s your mom.”  That sounds like a 48-hour filmmaking challenge.

A strangelet, by the way, would transform the world in about two seconds.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

"The Abbey": soft-core film from "The Channel of Mr. Handsome" but it has a real story about privilege; it's eponymous with a famous disco in Los Angeles

The Abbey” with Paddy O’Brien and Jace Taylor, is back on "The Channel of Mr. Handsome", that was down for a while, with this link.

An aristocratic young man says goodbye to his valet and a working class boyfriend before going off into the (British) military. The undoing of the garment, especially the corset, is interesting. As for the black beetle-like cab, I rode one myself in 1982 in London and strained my knee getting into it, and hobbled around for a while in a Soho bar. 

The film fragment is interesting, and I hope this channel can stay up this time.

The Abbey (as eponymous) is also the name of a famous gay bar just off Santa Monica Blvd in West Hollywood.  A few years back (during Obama), actor Timo Descamps (“Judas Kiss”) had a very public “Happy birthday to me” oyster party there for Twitter.

The bar, like all others, has to deal with the shuttering due to coronavirus, leaving to the question as to how gay bar life (especially disco) can ever return, at least until a vaccine or some sort of reliable herd immunity. But a lot of business people (especially under 30) are already talking about it already (Connor Franta lives there).

Here is a fragment from West Hollywood’s happier days, Halloween in 2017.

I was last there in May 2012.

Friday, May 15, 2020

"Silent Running" (1972 film): No, you can't keep all the Earth's flora in a series of O'Neill Cylinders orbiting Saturn

The recent documentary “Spaceship Earth” mentions the 1972 science-fiction film “Silent Running”, directed by Douglas Trumbull.

The premise may seem preposterous. The Earth has become the usual dystopian wasteland, and all the flora are in a space colony (not exactly an O’Neill Cylinder). They are domes in an orbit around Saturn (although Titan would be nearby).

Then commander Freeman Lowell (Bruce Dern) receives an order to destroy the botanical colonies. 

The film is short for its kind (89 min) and was available in wide-screen formats.  I vaguely remember seeing it in a dollar house, I think, near Bailey’s Crossroads (where I live now, ironically), during a period in my life when I worked for the Navy and had returned to the DC area.

Picture is from the Botanical Garden near the Capitol, Washington DC, late Nov., 2018

Thursday, May 14, 2020

"The Things You Think I'm Thinking": for gay men, is beauty skin deep?


The Things You Think I’m Thinking” is a challenging short (from Sundance 2020), in Omeleto, directed by Sherren Lee and written by Jesse LaVercombe, filmed in Toronto (probably not Yonge Street).

The film opens with a birthday party, with lighted candles (dangerous now with Covid). They probably needed a license to sing “Happy Birthday” in the scene.

Then we see Sean (Prince Amponsah), face horribly scarred, both forearms missing, standing over the scene where the accident disfigured him.

He goes to a gay bar.  Note: he is black.  He meets a seemingly open minded white dude (Jesse) who comes home with him to the apartment. There will be the expected confrontation over, quite frankly, sexual attractiveness.  Then we learn that Jesse has his own need, for medical marijuana. 

This reminds me of a subtle confrontation I had living in New York, my last year, in 1978.  But a screenplay on that event would be a lot more “subtle”.

When I was at NIH in 1962, I put on the air that I would not date someone who was disfigured.  The confrontation was goaded by other people.  It sounds so unacceptable “for the group”.  We send oeioke off to war to be maimed for us.  We’re expected to feel attracted (if in a marriage anyway) if they return.  This is a very big deal.

Picture: Yonge Street, Toronto, my trip, July 2019.  I drove the twelve miles down to the lake and stayed on the waterfront (Lake Ontario). 

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

"I Think I Have a Crush on You": short film from Sweden based on several cases of Internet grooming leading to catastrophe

Aktiv Skola presents a 9 minute short film “I Think I Have a Crush on You” from Sweden (2018).

It is subtitled “A Film About Grooming”.

A teenage girl is contacted by an adult man in a chat room, and she is fooled at first.  Then she wants to break away.  The next morning her mother is concerned.  But then the man shows up, and she disappears.

The film says it is based on several legal cases, that may have led to trafficking. Or simply to abuse.

The film has a disturbing situation but does not become visually explicit. 

There was a case in the US with gay baiting of a young man named Justin Berry, who then cooperated with the DOJ and it was written up in the NYTimes by Eichenwald.  This all happened coincidentally with the NBC series with Chris Hansen, “To Catch a Predator” (book and NBC series) in the mid 2000s.  

Monday, May 11, 2020

1941 cartoon: "Scrub Me Mama, with a Boogie Beat" apparently now is part of animated cinema history

Scrub Me Mama, with a Boogie Beat” (animated).

The 1941 cartoon (now in public domain) is based on a song by Don Raye.  It is thought to be directed by Walter Lantz.

It shows an African-American woman from Harlem exhibiting elbow grease in doing laundry by hand, which might come in useful today. She attracts a crowd, including a (white) woman who seems to have a simpler way to do it.

The images do somewhat show the stereotypes of the time.

The music is a boogie-woogie, which reminds me of “Bugle Boy”, the very first music I heard when I walked into Julius’s on W 10th Street in March, 1973.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

"Living in Brooklyn v. Manhattan": filmed just before social distancing started

Living in Brooklyn v. Manhattan” with Brett Conti

Brett filmed this in early March 2020, just before the social distancing orders hit hard.

He shows an apartment in Brooklyn, with seven people living in it (imagine the hygiene rules now) with a skareboard rink built onto the floor.  Tim Pool would be ecstatic.  (Pool assembled one from a kit for his home in New Jersey.)

He says the cost of rent can be three times less (that’s hard to believe.)

The shows some scenes from Bed-Sty, which were somewhat spared by Hurricane Sandy.

I remember Brooklyn Heights well, with its Barge Music.

The D Train goes right through it, in a sink without being covered.

I don't know if this is the right picture, but I attempted to select a night picture near Atlantic Ave. subway station near the Brooklyn Academy of Music, April 2018. 

Friday, May 08, 2020

"Admirador Secreto": a young women questions three young men who sent the love letters, or were they even intended for her? (Spain)

Admirador Secreto” (“Unknown Admirer”), by Roberto Perez Toledo and Otherside Films and the Correos Film Festival, posted in Nov. 2015.

A young woman brings some letters into the living room to three young men sitting on the sofa, all from an admirer.

At first she suspects the author is one of the men. Then she had to deal with the idea that the letter was intended for one of the men (the guy who had shaved his legs, well, maybe he’s a competitive biker).

I can recall an episode in the 1950s sitcom "My Little Margie" called "The Unknown Admirer" where the elderly Mrs. Odetts got love letters. 

A very curious short film (Spanish,.6 minutes).

Thursday, May 07, 2020

"Tenochtitlan: The Venice of Mesoamerica": a simulation of what a 15th Century visitor to the center of the Aztec world would have seen, and it was all taken from them by the Spaniards

Reconstruction of Tenochtitlan2006

Invicta presents “Tenochtitlan, The Venice of Mesoamerica”, an animated illustrated presentation (8 min) of the city built on a lake, now where Mexico City starts, lasting about a century, to be drained by the Spaniards early in the 16th Century.

The city was actually a union of two communities, each with its own temples.  The city had four major causeways going to the mainland and extensive dikes and flood control There were major temple centers, businesses, and residences, and around 200,000 people lived here.

To the conquering Spaniards, this would have seemed like an alien planet. And the reverse was true, as indigenous populations experienced “alien” conquest in the middle of the previous millennium.

The lack of permanence of their advanced civilization is certainly a warning for all of us.

The picture from Wikipedia (click to see attribution and CCSA) shows a model from the Museum of Anthopology in Mexico City, which I actually visited on Labor Day weekend in 1974, just before moving into Greenwich Village in New York City.

Wednesday, May 06, 2020

"Corona: End of the World": in 2049, two young men ponder their having been deserted by their ancestors after a pandemic and drought

DK Films presents “Corona: End of the World”, or longer title “Corona Virus – Covid 19: End of the World?”, written and directed by Dashyant Kapoor.

In the year 2049, in India, two young men, among the last survivors of a climate apocalypse, struggle for water, see a Taj Mahal destroyed, and then reconcile themselves in a nearby forest.

The film narration speculates that the virus is a cure and the people who exploited the planet for their own financial gain were the disease.

One of the young men says that their ancestors formed a rescue space shit and the fittest went to resettle Mars.

Without women, the young men would be the end of the line, unless the others come back from Mars.

Picture: North of Abilene, TX. June, 2018 

Tuesday, May 05, 2020

"Is Covid-19 Like Altitude Sickness?" If so, some more scary implications that belong in science fiction

I do like to treat lecture presentations as “short films” on this blog (since I have a Wordpress blog for regular features)  when the subject matter relates to other work I have been doing. Such is the case today, with Jason Sonners of HBOT USA discussing “Is Covid-19 Like Altitude Sickness?

The clip shows a still of an expedition up Mt. Everest in Nepal, but then he talks.

He says that the Sars-Cov-2 virus attacks red blood cells (I thought it was endothelial tissue in blood vessels) and interferes with hemoglobin. He discusses the pressurization of a commercial airliner flying at 35000 feet to simulate the atmosphere at 8000 feet, where the percentage of oxygen is still the same, 21%, but the molecules of oxygen are farther apart.  Hyperbaric oxygen therapy for some situations simulates below sea level pressure to cause more oxygen to be dissolved in the plasma of the blood.

The question of altitude sickness comes up because in New York City particularly, doctors started noticing that patients could function (use their cell phones) even as the oxygen levels in their blood were amazingly low.  Other doctors have said that this happens not so much because of blood infection but because the lungs themselves have lost flexibility.

In my own novel manuscript, “Angel’s Brother” there is a virus that first appears only at high altitudes, and then starts moving down the mountains.  As it moves into different populations there are different effects or behaviors of the virus.  I started imagining all this around 2000, and it’s shocking that twenty years later a real life virus does a lot of the things I had imagined.  Yet the coronavirus first exploded mainly in larger cities at low elevations. A virus that causes hypoxemia theoretically might incubate first in higher country and, when spreading to lower country, incubate in people with weaker circulatory systems (as degraded with age or by cigarette smoking), particularly in the lower limbs first.  It is a scary fictitious hypothesis, that has turned out to be partly true.

Picture:  Sierra Nevada, California, near Mammoth Lakes, my picture, May 2012.  Elevation at this spot (with glaciers coming down to lake), about 11,000 feet (climb starts at 9,500 off US 395).  

Sunday, May 03, 2020

"Beyond Repair": a homophobic family tries to put a gay son through a conversion ritual (short film)

Chadkee Skrikker directs the disturbing short film “Beyond Repair”, which seems to be filmed in Spain, but is in English, from KinoBuro (12 min).
A young man in a homophobic family is outed and forced to live with his hostile brother, who puts him through elaborate rituals, including having heterosexual sex and then participating in an act of honor-based violence.
The rituals are suggestive but not filmed very carefully. 
The ending was rather ambiguous.

Picture is a wetland along the Potomac River in Virginia. 

Friday, May 01, 2020

"Sonnet 23": Two gay students meet on a campus, and experience the sonnet as the psalm

“Sonnet 23” is a 4-minute gay short film by Rebecca Shoptaw (2016) where two students on the Princeton (it looks) campus develop a relationship.

The Shakespeare sonnet plays in the background, and it wasn’t assembled by artificial intelligence.
Spark Notes analyzes the sonnet. 

Picture: Mine, Princeton campus, April 2010