Friday, April 30, 2021

"Dogpatch", an abandoned amusement park in Arkansas becomes a home for an alien

Shelter on White Rock Mountain


Dogpatch” may sound like an unlikely name for a sic-fi film.

Directed by Tristan Ray and offered by Stingray films, it presents a police officer Aiden Fort (Damian Costello), who gets a call to check out a disturbance at an abandoned theme park called the Dogpatch in the Arkansas Ozarks.  He runs into a pesky old friend Clem (Tim Grassi), and insists on doing the trip alone. At the park he runs into another teenager and then a faceless alien who can make himself dematerialize.

But it’s a nice little autumn road trip.

Picture: CCC shelter from White Rock Mountain in Ozarks, Wikipedia embed, click for attribution

Thursday, April 29, 2021

"Icarus": an astronaut living on Mars is challenged to make a rescue in space

Mars atmosphere


Icarus” (2017), from Frame 48 and directed by Tom Teller and written by Andrew Guastaferro, in the end, explains the use of the title, naming a Greek mythological man who flew too close to the Sun

The cast consists of Jason Tobias, Julia Farino, Thurston Hill, and Sean Burgos.

From life on a settlement on Mars, Julia volunteers to go up to repair a satellite.  When things go wrong, Chris (Jason) goes out to try to rescue her.  His “fear” and caution is what may save his life, from becoming another “Icarus”, as may have been socially expected, even on a small space colony.

Would you get used to living on Mars in an indoor colony as normal?  Remember the film “The Martian”.

Picture: NASA photo showing atmosphere of Mars, p.d., click for Wikipedia attribution 

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Los Angeles "Skid Row, Explained", by Johnny Harris


The 405 from the Angelino Hotel, 2012

Johnny Harris, independent journalist, films “Skid Row, Explained”.

He mentions the Netflix (UK and Ireland) documentary “The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel” miniseries, which I may review later on the TV blog. Here’s an introduction from the director and executive producer Joe Berlinger.

No it wasn’t dark energy.  The Cecil Hotel sits inside Skid Row, which Los Angeles politicians decided to contain in the 1970s. The area had at one time house LA’s main rail station bringing in all kinds of opportunists a century ago.

So they put “edges” around it and policed it heavily, controlling the “undesirable” elements. You can see how that contributes to police attitude toward minorities today (BLM, and the whole Rodney King and then OJ sequences in the 1990s).

The idea of a “containment” zone may have contributed to the idea of “Chaz” autonomous experiments in Seattle and even Minneapolis.

Harris could well choose to look at these communities and the unrest that leads to them. Generally, his videos seem to show empathy toward minorities and document past policies that deliberately excluded them, including overseas (like in Hong Kong). Explaining Myanmar could be interesting.

Harris mentions a sponsor Express VPN, which allows you to log on as if you were in the target country.  My own most recent visit to Los Angeles occurred in 2012;  previous visits in 1967, 1969 (job interview), 1975, 1978 (interview), 1980, 1985, 1986, and a pitchfest for early 2020 was scuttled for me by the Covid epidemic, might still happen. 

Monday, April 26, 2021

"Unfamiliar Cosmos": a potential "couple" of masculine angels negotiate the after life and need to survive going through a black hole into a new universe to be together


my own alternative world is a mess right now!

Unfamiliar Cosmos (2020, 30 min), by Phelan Davis.

A young man (Joe Finley) wakes up in what seems like a multi-dimensional space-time box and wanders through it, meeting a potential companion (is it Phelan)?  Separately, they negotiate the cosmos, which a quick visit to Joe’s home and mom frozen in time, and then through various geometries until they reach a black hole, which Joe survives, getting into the next universe.  Along the way, he sees that Earth has burnt to a crisp.

Phelan tries to make the same journey so they can be together.  Will he be able to survive the next, weakless universe?  You get the impression they are supposed to be angels, and maybe a couple, both being attractive, clean-cut, cis males (when they regenerate from the spacesuits).  Maybe they were created as robots and became conscious, or maybe they are truly angels like in the Bible.  Maybe this is a pitch for gay marriage in the cosmos?  The trouble is, the new Universe needs room for both of them, to be in “power”. Whatever the thematic, this is safely PG-13.   The music score plays with microtones a bit, pretty effectively in refining the pitch of repeated musical intervals. 

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Oscars for 2021 held late, but at Union Station in Los Angeles, and made into a movie itself

Union Station, John & Donald Parkinson, Architects 1939


Here’s a BBC tour of Union Station in Los Angeles for the Oscars, which spreads out the presenters and actors, as if the ceremony were a movie itself.  (Embed from BBC). 

There are lots of homeless living very near the station.

I’m not sure what the used the Kodak Theater for at all this year.

And the Oscars this year refer to movies that very largely were streamed because of the pandemic.

Here is the list of Oscar winners.  “Nomadland” won.  My own choice was “Mank” or “Trial of the Chicago 7”.

Chris Cerrone’s “Invisible Cities” was performed in the LA Union Station (Drama blog, Feb. 10, 2016).

Films shot on location at Union Station (Google):

Blade Runner.

Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid.

Drag Me to Hell.

Gable and Lombard.


Pearl Harbor.


In the Moo 

Union Station waiting room, Wikipedia embed, click for attribution.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

"How to Find Your Passion" according to Perspectopia


Brown Mountain, NC, 2016

Perspectopia, founded by Max Reisinger (now turning 18) is producing weekly (apparently Sundays) videos about content creation from its contributors.

Here’s a sample, from Rachel, Ello, and Ysabel, all as filmers, editors and thumbnail creators, “How to Find Your Passion” (44 min). One of them is from France (where Max went to high school for a year).

They describe spending hours to produce a few seconds of animated content, when they sometimes haven’t decided what kind of final product they want.

The video title reminds of Harvard student John Fish saying that to get into Harvard, the most important thing is to find and state your passion.

Max’s most recent video was about applying to Stanford, and there were a couple from Boulder CO, so I am not sure what comes next.

Personally, I’d like to see something from that alien city drawing, maybe an animated movie set there, or maybe as a design on one of the clothing items.  I think Perspectopia is actually a name already given to an extrasolar planet thought to be habitable to life. 

Friday, April 23, 2021

“The Real Reason McDonalds Ice Cream Machines Are Always Broken”, a film by Johnny Harris


sunset at home

“The Real Reason McDonalds Ice Cream Machines Are Always Broken”, by journalist Johnny Harris (29 minutes).

In short, it’s left-over good-old-boy collusion from companies that don’t want to change.

The McDonalds franchise restaurants have to buy Taylor C602 machines, which require a 4 hour cleaning cycle each night.  But the way the software is set up it is difficult for employees to fix the problem themselves without “calling the guy”. 

 Other chains say that this is a "McDonalds problem". It would be interesting if Harris made a film about franchising in general -- what kind of people are good at it. 

But what’s really interesting about this is how Johnny works.  He has a huge video setup in his home, with a super wide screen terminal, and global map.  In the middle of the video he makes a sponsorship pitch for a life insurance consumer system. 

I can wonder why I didn’t set myself up this way.  Well, I came from specialized issues and got started with my own blogging setup before I understood what a video setup would take, which would have become more feasible around 2013.  But Johnny does independent journalism right, without having to get into identarian issues that drive YouTube away.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

“White People Have No Culture” (but CRT says we all do)



Denis Borges has a 3-minute short, “White People Have No Culture”, with a background a movement from Vivaldi’s “The Seasons” (summer).

The film goes on to display a lot architecture and art, especially in Europe.  There is a Maypole and an image that looks like it came from “Midsommar”.

Outside of the fringe right, white people in the US don’t experience an “identity group” the way BLM and critical race theory says they are supposed to.  But that is because of inheriting the status as the "default" group with hidden privilege from the ancestral past, perhaps.  

Picture: Bilbao, Spain, with Guggenheim, visited myself in April 2001, click for Wikipedia attribution. 

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

"The Workplace", when people no longer have to work for a living


old workplace of mine, Minneapolis

Carlyn Hudson plays some tricks with us in her little 10-minute satire “The Workplace’ (2021), from DUST.

A young man is introduced to his officemates on his first day of work.  We find out later it’s on Mars.  The old fashioned workplace gives people a sense of purpose.  They shake hands; no more Covid.

He has experience in a conventional workplace.  (I faced the retort in my late teens, “what, you’ve never worked before?”

Outdoors, the oxygen is running out and people will need to wear masks again.

Monday, April 19, 2021

NASA: First Flight of the Ingenuity Helicopter

Mars helicopter on sol 46

NASA presents the "First Flight of the Ingenuity Helicopter: Live from Mission Control" (47 Min)

Most of the flight footage is at about the 6 minute mark. The chopper appears to have flown for about 30 seconds, in an atmosphere 1% as dense as Earth’s at Sea Level.

There will several more tests (at least five) according to Wikipedia.

This is the first flight of a human made aircraft on another planet. 

Here is a NASA HD video of the actual flight.

Wikipedia embed shows the device (p.d., click for attribution) 

Sunday, April 18, 2021

“The Eastern Bluebird: Once Nearly Gone”

Eastern Bluebird


“The Eastern Bluebird: Once Nearly Gone” by Lesley the Bird Nerd.

It’s true we don’t see bluebirds nearly as often as robins, and I used to note well the rare instances I saw them in the yard growing up.

The film explains the blue color of the feathers in terms of selective light refraction, not pigment.

Wikipedia embed: click for attribution

Saturday, April 17, 2021

"Why So Many People Want to Be Writers", animated


my high school, rebuilt 

The School of Life presents “Why So Many People Want to Be Writers”, animated, 5 minutes, 2019, 

Why not change “be writers” to “write”? Yup, many first novels are autobiographical, from those prolific with the pen or keyboard but who don't bond to people in groups easily. 

The short film makes us wonder if literature, even as we study it in high school English and undergraduate college, was a replacement for “real life” for the authors.  Remember the 1950's card game "Authors"? 

It is a desire to be heard when the real world won’t listen and is already too polarized by its own intersectional whining.  But then, for tribal people, rioting is the remedy of the unheard. 

Even Socrates said this.

So I wonder what School of Life would think of Tyler Mowery’s recent YT series “The Writer’s Mind”, on Patreon (part of it members only).

Friday, April 16, 2021

“Did Scientists Just Discover the Best Ever Super Earth?” Because it is easy to observe, not because it is habitable

Exoplanet Comparison Gliese 581 d


“Did Scientists Just Discover the Best Ever Super Earth?” from Unveiled, April 12, 2021

The planet in question is Gliese 486b, around a red dwarf 26 light years away.  It has 10 times Earth’s mass and is thought to be a hot, volcanic planet like Venus. It transits its star frequently in a manner that makes it very easy for astronomers to study it.

Gliese 581c is around an even nearer red dwarf star, 20 light years away, 5 times Earth’s mass, gets discusses. thinks it might be too hot.

A better chance is 581d, or even 581g, if it exists.

Picture: Wikipedia diagram of proposed 581 planet model, click for attribution 

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

"The Mind of a Writer", a short meta-film


The Mind of a Writer”, directed by Andrew Kan, story by Tyler Cucuzza.

A portly young man tries to write a story for a job assignment in a company making short films. He is working from home (although this little film was shot in 2016).

A homely couple comes in, sits on the couch and makes various skits   Finally when they get serious bout some romance, Kan comes up with a story that the boss likes. Ironically this film comes up if you look for Tyler Mowery's "Writer's Mind". 

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

"What If We Found Earth 2.0"?


underground on an alien world

The WhatIf Channel presents the little short, “What If We Found Earth 2.0”?  There was a series called this ("Earth 2") in the 1990s with Anthony Sabato and an underground civilization of humanoids.

It’s likely to be somewhat larger than Earth and near a K star or possibly mature red dwarf (no longer flaring), and tidally locked.

But it would take many generations reproducing on a closed O’Neill-like spaceship with authoritarian politics to get there. 

The short had an annoying long advertorial by NetSuite in the middle.

At the end, the video takes another look at Titan.

You can also watch “What If We Discover Life After Death?” on the same channel.  It does explain the Greyson scale of 1983, and the syncing of brain to heart and nervous systems during death.

Monday, April 12, 2021

“1946: The Mistranslation that Shifted Culture”: preview and description and funding pitch from producers (concerns a Biblical translation that caused evangelical Christianity to be focused on homosexuality)


Cathedral of Hope, UCC, Dallas, 2018

There is a film in development named “1946: The Mistranslation that Shifted Culture”, to be directed by Sharon “Rocky” Roggio, and produced by Daniel Karslake.  This is the official site so far, and this is the Facebook page. There is also a second official site to advertise the film. 

The film will maintain that the word “homosexual” as such did not appear in editions of the Bible until February 1946, the Revised Standard Version, in 1 Corinthians Chapter 6.

It then maintains that the pervasive anti-gay culture that persisted until Stonewall and then gradually improved was instigated by this translation change.

The film website has a donation page.  I don’t know it is using indiegogo or gofundme. 

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Titan: A Better Planet than Earth (?)



Ridddle presents “A Better Planet than Earth Discovered in the Galaxy”, 14 min, March 2021.

That “planet” is really Titan, the largest moon of Saturn, sometimes previously covered.  But the phrase in the title “discovered in the Galaxy” indeed sounds, well, pleonastic.

The video mentions organic compounds associated with cell membranes, including vinyl cyanide, and acrylonitrile.

You will wear a mask, indeed a spacesuit, but you might be able to fly in your uniform with the low gravity and thick atmosphere.

The video mentions the hardships of COVID lockdowns in jest.

Artist conception of ice-rimmed methane lakes, p.d., NASA, Wikipedia embed, click for attribution 

Friday, April 09, 2021

“Facing My Fear of Heights by Skydiving” , Ethan Lusby


In flight over Nevada, 2018

Facing My Fear of Heights by Skydiving” by Ethan Lusby Travels.

The Thumbnail title is “I Passed Out: Unconscious Ethan”.

I think Ethan in 19 now, and I don’t think this was necessarily his birthday, but (like Avi Shiffmann and Trey Yingst) he tried jumping out of planes.

This time, an instructor was strapped to him, above him.  But in other videos, I’ve seen people (Trey) jump alone.

A large crew was hired to film the jump from the plane or from other jumpers.

He recently rehabbed his van, and he is all that his dog Millie knows.

This looks like it is filmed over the desert east of San Diego, maybe closer to San Bernadino.

Thursday, April 08, 2021

“The Male Gaze: Nocturnal Instincts” (maybe, from "Poof")


In flight over Nevada, 2018

The Male Gaze: Nocturnal Instincts”, from NQVMedia.

Well, at 92 seconds this is a micro short film.

Two handsome young men sit on a plane (middle seat filled) in flight.  One plays fingers.  No masks. And the film was posted March 19, 2021.

Then they go home together and Dad (of one of them) finds out.

Is light gay intimacy in flight acceptable behavior (even men kissing)?  I doubt heterosexuals could get away with this.

From directors Gustav Olsson, Roberto F. Canuto, Xu Xiaoxi, Dean Anderson, Nicolas Graux and Omri Loukas.

Truth to tell, this is a teaser for a real short film called “Poof” (not yet shown).   

Wednesday, April 07, 2021

""O'Neill Cylinders Explained" on a whiteboard with equations


Is an O'Neill Cylinder like a model railroad loop? 

O'Neill Cylinders Explained  -- Deep Space Colony of the Future” (14 minutes) by “Epsilon Is Greater Than” (Feb. 2020).

Two scientists do the math on a whiteboard and talk about how to build sustainable deep space environments, to have sustainable life in space, without “gravity wells”. 

There is no actual scenery in this video, and the comment about HIV was a bit offputting.

They mention the O'Neill cylinders in “Babylon 5” and the Cooper Station in “Interstellar”. 

Update: April 8: Also look at Interstellar Research Group's "Construction Scenarios for O'Neill Cylinder Space Settlement Habitats, 30 min, 2019, all mathematics, here


Tuesday, April 06, 2021

"18-Year Old Skydiver's Parachute Fails" on first jump, leading to tragedy (and litigation)

Parachuting Pori 2019


18-Year-Old Skydiver’s Parachute Didn’t Open on Jump”, short from Inside Edition. 

This was apparently a birthday present (in 2016).  But was run by a company without the proper safety protocols.

Tyler Turner’s family was awarded $40 million for wrongful death.  The instructor also died from the 13000 foot fall.

Avi Schiffmann, who created a major coronavirus tracker at age 17, went skydiving (successfully) on his 18th birthday in Washington State (Instagram).

Trey Yingst (Fox News international reporter) has documented his own skydiving on his Twitter channel.  A waiter at Freddie’s Beach Bar in Arlington was, at least a year ago as the pandemic started, working on becoming a Skydiving instructor in Virginia. 

Th DC LGBT outdoors group Adventuring has, in the past, arranged jump lessons and hot air ballooning.  Wikipedia embed of a typical 

Monday, April 05, 2021

"Sol 87": an astronaut alone with a robot finds a sentient being



“Sol 87”, directed by Justin Kruse (Empty Can Films, 11 min), presents James MacDonald as a solo astronaut exploring Mars, especially caves, with the help of a robot REX,

The Rex finds something, enclosed in a box, that may well be alive, looking like a squishy monster with tentacles. Someone else had placed it there. But how has it survived in a cave in a lantern?

Wikipedia embed:  NASA picture of impact crater, click for attribution 

Saturday, April 03, 2021

“We Need to Talk about Anti-Asian Hate”, from Eugene Lee Yang


driving to downtown LA, 2012

Here is a special 70 minute documentary on YouTube “We Need to Talk about Anti-Asian Hate”, written and directed by Eugene Lee Yang..

His film discusses the 1991 killing of Latasha Harlins, by a manager at a Korean store in Los Angeles, and the subtle effect it had of diving POC minorities for a time.  After Rodney King’s killing in 1991 and the acquittal of the policeman, Korean-American businesses became targets of looting. The Oscar nominated documentary short “A Love Song for Natasha”, on Netflix is mentioned in the film (Esquire review).

He has a featured YouTube creator essay today by the same name here. 

I simply never encounter this personally.  There is an element of our society that is very tribal and very gullible and influenced by slogans (as from the mouth of former president Donald Trump). 

One of the main grocery businesses in Arlington VA, the Westover Market, which has a bar and book-reading events (though not during the pandemic) and runs charity events and concerts outdoors is run by a Korean-American (mixed) family.

Friday, April 02, 2021

“How Opportunity Shocked NASA Scientists” (documentary of its findings before Perserverance)



Astrum presents “How Opportunity Shocked NASA Scientists” (63 min, March 30, 2021)

At the end of the video there is a livestream of a big Martian dust storm.

The film presents some simulations of what Mars would have looked like when it had more water.

Opportunity, of course, landed in 2018 and paved the way for Perseverance.

Wikipedia embed: MARS Alga crater, impact glass, NASA photo, click for attribution

Thursday, April 01, 2021

"Bridgeton" said to set an example for Hollywood's future attitudes and policies on casting diversity

Disneyland, Anaheim, 2012

Connie Guglielmo writes about the colorblind casting of Bridgerton on Netflx as exerting a real influence on Hollywood as a whole.

But the concept works only when a film or series is essentially abstract enough that characters, at least how they look, become more interchangeable.  That sounds more common in comics or fantasy.

This might not work so well in films tied to specific personalities or characters where appearance somehow matters. My own screenplay "Epiphany", in a sci-fi spaceship setting, has about 15 major characters, and three are black. But for some of the characters, looks matter and do influence what happens to or with them.