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  • 311112.1805

    Mel Gibson's follow up to his Christ close encounter Passion is the kinetic Mayamyth Apocalypto. He mimics Apocalypse Now: opening shot (the tapir does a mean imitation helicopter fly-by), then compound, he loads pagan rites for the film's second act-crisis, the Post-Classic beheading ceremony (like it or not, Kurtz's collapsing Khmer temple compound was littered with heads, ending with Chef's). Though the mimicry is subtle homage, there is something very unsubtle about the film, its title, the Greek word for apocalypse. And as any student of the bible knows, Mel's certainly aware that a majority of the new testament's chapters were written in Greek initially, which gives the film away. The apocalypto is the arrival of the europeans, this is the mythology they bring, and it's the word of it in the origin language, it's not Mayan. The european cosmology speaks of an impending apocalypse, something they fear, a passage of destruction, and they unwittingly deliver it as their own myth; they project it onto this 'new world.' The Maya's apocalypse. This is the moment of the apocalypto, this arrival, and it's a clever reversal to Willard's PBR departure in Apocalypse Now.

    Now what's even more unusual about Apocalypto is the birth of the myth Gibson suggests. What happens after the film is hinted at by the entire narrative. The hero, Jaguar Paw, is the sole survivor of a group of men conquered by this unnamed city who fights an almost supernatural battle to return home. The warrior killed by the fer-de-lance even underlines the omen. He even manages to slay one of the city's key warriors and take his knife. And through the omen that releases him to 'fate,' the eclipse that frees him, he leads the final two, the surviving younger warriors, to water where they encounter the apocalypse's arrival. These two warriors will bring the men (and their faith) to the city, where the tale of the now vanished escapee will be retold as a prophecy, as a myth that signaled the beginning of the end.

     

     

  • 311111.1516

    Scientific American proclaimed Einstein's theory would be inexplicable via silent filmmaking, and Fleischer sought to prove them wrong.

     


  • 311109.0901

    1975's very strange The Reincarnation of Peter Proud currently unavailable on video.

    Though only moderately successful in the U.S., Proud has been remade several times in India, a culture with reincarnation mythology, each time with careful avoidance of copyright laws; which means the film is reincarnated only moderately. Original Hindi versions of the remakes themselves have been remade.

  • 31197.1744

    Above image from article Why Thieves are Photographed in the book Professional Criminals of America 1886

    George Leonidas Leslie was an architect turned robber who was known to law enforcement and the underworld as a criminal genius.

    As a young man Leslie studied architecture at the University of Cincinnati. He graduated with high honors. After graduation and the deaths of both his parents in 1867, George gave up his architecture business, closed the family brewery, and moved to New York. Searching for something more exciting and challenging, he joined the criminal underground. For 10 years he was the most successful bank robber in New York state and was perhaps one of the most notorious in U.S. history. By 1874 he was at the head of the most successful gang of bankrobbers known. However, his involvement in these robberies was not known until after his death in 1878. As members of his gang were caught, they told police who had masterminded the robberies. Until then, George Leonidas Leslie lived a life among the rich and famous of his day.

    In 1872, Leslie came to Philadelphia, and, masquerading as an IRS agent by the name of George L. Howard, stayed at the boarding house of Mary Coath while planning the heist of the South Kensington National Bank. It was there he met her 15 year-old daughter, Mary Henrietta Coath. Young Mary was a dark haired beauty, well brought up and well educated, but she fell for Leslie, and they were married after a short courtship. George and Mary moved to New York, where they lived the life of a society couple, with no hint of George's true occupation. There is debate whether Mary was fully aware of criminal activities, or if she was blissfully ignorant. One source said she became aware of his true criminal occupation around 1874, and was only too happy to share in his fortunes. Another source says she was unaware of his activities until after he died. Mary returned to Philadelphia after Leslie's death, and died in her mother's boarding house in 1890, at the age of 35.

    Leslie would spend up to three years planning a robbery. After selecting his target (usually a bank), he would obtain, if possible, the building's blueprints. His architectural background allowed him to build scale models of his intended targets. He would sometimes rent a safe-deposit box, or open accounts with a particular bank, which gave him an excuse to spend time in the building and observe its layout and operation. Othertimes he would get one of his men hired as a watchman or porter, and this spy would gain the information for him.

    Leslie had a model of almost every make and model of vault and safe used in the United States. Before a robbery would be committed, Leslie would find out what type of vault or safe his target used, and then spent months figuring out how to open it without the combination. (Gangs of New York, 188) He used a device that he called the "little joker" that, when placed inside a bank safe's lock, could record the numbers that made up the lock's combination. This required George to enter the bank at least twice prior to executing a robbery, once to place the 'joker," and a second time, to retrieve it.

    When he was certain that the robbery could be committed without being caught, Leslie would select his accomplices and explain to them how to execute the robbery. Sometimes he would set up a room to resemble the inside of the target so that his men could practice the robbery while Leslie watched.

    From 1874-1884 it is estimated that Leslie's gang was responsible for 80% of America's bank robberies. (Gangs of New York, 186) During this time he planned and executed over a hundred robberies and stole between seven and twelve million dollars.

    In his later years he became a consultant for other robbers. For a price he would travel to wherever the robbery was to take place and plan how the operation should go. This part of his life did not last very long. He had fallen for a couple of women, and by 1878 was spending more time with them than he was on his work. His gang lost faith in his abilities, and on June 4, 1878, his partially decomposed body was found at Tramp Rock, Yonkers NY. His murder was never solved, although there is speculation it was related to Leslie's involvement with the sister of one of his associates.

  • 31195.0736

    a Higgs Boson. At Fermi Lab, one the eve of the particle accelerator Tevatron's shutdown, an anomaly is spotted and it might be nothing, but nothing is statistically impossible at one quarter of one percent. If it is an H.B. then the very building block of matter might have been shed.

  • 31192.2246

    U.C. Berkeley's Physicist Muller, a longtime critic of global warming assessments, presents his new findings and admits the models he questioned appear to be accurate. Link is to LA Times.

    an op-ed wondering if humans are veering past paradox

  • 31172.1411

  • 31141.1555

    "It is our despair at the textural inadequacies of

    language that drives us to heighten the structural ones toward"

    From the back cover:

    "THE SUN HAS GROWN DEADLY...

    THE WORLD HAS GONE MAD, SOCIETY HAS

    PERISHED, SAVAGERY RULES

    OVER ALL. ALL THAT WAS KNOWN 

    IS OVER, ALL THAT WAS FAMILIAR IS

    STRANGE AND TERRIBLE. TODAY

    AND YESTERDAY COLLIDE WITH TOMORROW.

    IN THESE DYING DAYS OF EARTH, 
    A YOUNG DRIFTER ENTERS THE CITY"

     

    The book William Gibson wrote an introduction for and admitted he didn't understand. If Cormac McCarthyism has a counterpart in science-fiction, it is Dhalgren, the most absurdly accurate 'apocalypse' set in some form of earth, in a time-frame no one is exactly sure about. And hallucinations occur sometimes in words that no longer exist (you'll have to read it to see what I mean). It might be a work that outlives us and tells future generations what we really knew about the decay of knowledge and the oral histories that will travel along our children's, children's children. Memories barely of the beginings of the end: "the riot began with a murder, some say it was a plane that crashed. No one really knows. That was the time of fear." The hero is an amnesiac who is labelled "The Kid" and enters the soon to be mythic city of Bellona, only now its inhabitants live mostly in memories, and whatever fragments of life can be scraped by on - temporarily, since cities have no purpose except to store mass memories and here, there are few being made. Just living from cans, having sex, and fighting and sometimes group socialization. Oh, wait, it sounds like our present day cities, only without electricity, cars, running water... Maybe the memories will have meaning. The following chapter-heading paragraphs transition to third-person immediately afterwards.

    "2  It is not that I have no past. Rather, it continually fragments on the terrible and vivid ephemera of now. In the long country, cut with rain, somehow there is nowhere to begin. Loping and limping in the ruts, it would be easier not to think about what she did (was done to her, done to her, done), trying instead to reconstruct what it is at a distance. Oh, but it would not be so terrible had one calf not borne (if I'd look close, it would have been a chain of tiny wounds with moments of flesh between; I've done that myself with a swipe in a garden past a rose) that scratch.

    II   Here I am and am no I. The circle in all, this change changing in winteress, a dawn circle with an image of, the autumn change with a change of mist. Mistake two pictures, one and another. No. Only in seasons of shortlight, only on dead afternoons. I will not be sick again. I will not. You are here.

    ..How can I say that that is my prize possession? (They do not fade, neither those buildings or these.) Rather what we know as real is burned away at invisible heat. What we are concerned with is more insubstantial. I do not know. It is as simple as that. For the hundreth time, I do not know and cannot remember. I do not want to be sick again. I do not want to be sick."

     

  • 31132.1243

    LeDoux's The Synaptic Self, a student of megamind neuroscientist Gazzaniga summarizes the science until 2002 and finds the comprehension of the synapse, its chemistry and electric abilities, as integral to decoding how the brain fully works. Next stage, the brain's language. It is not accidental below that visual stimulus is represented by a tool originating in a comic-book.

  • 31128.1537

    Destroy it, the metaphor alters.