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extinction
  • 311351.1259

    Colorful writing, breathless. Old school.

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/1990/jan/18/the-revolution-of-the-magic-lantern/

    This is a recently unearthed Stasi microphone, buried behind a thin layer of plaster, these were placed two to a cell in East Germany's Bautzen II isolation cells.

  • 311345.0800

    As the Indian Wars dialed down in the late 1800's, eastern institutions sent ethnographers to study the fallen first Americans. Alfred Kroeber, one of the early pioneers was sent to study the Southern Arapaho in the then Indian Territory (now Oklahoma), then visited the Northern Arapaho in Wyoming finally the similar Gros Ventre in Montana. His studies were published first, like most academics then, in four separate volumes of the Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History. Kroeber's study is a masterwork and is copiously illustrated.

    These two groupings at bottom: 1) Game pieces for a memory game similar to Concentration. 2) Paint pouches.

  • 311285.1148

  • 311197.2205

    The best dinosaur illustrator.

  • 311166.0740

    Strange that with so much knowledge about our future, humans would flaunt their relationship with it. Even stranger that it would take on pornographic levels in regard to our dwindling biological resources, and then get rated, and demerited for the ceremony's decay into rudeness or abruptness. In the same week the New York Times described a larger than ever dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, a nightmare that grows annually, it reviewed Masa, a restaurant that ships ninety percent of its sea-found delicacies via airtravel, and proceeds to charge enormous sums of money for mercury-laced rarities. Historians and anthropologists will one day pore over data like this and wonder how we could have valued excess at the expense of our planet's oceans:

    "Some will take issue with the fact that Masa serves an enormous amount of bluefin tuna, a fish that some say hovers on the brink of collapse as a species. (The reason is presumably simple: its taste.) Others will cavil at the manner in which Mr. Takayama caters to some guests in the restaurant while ignoring others, in seemingly direct proportion to the amount of money they are spending...Nearly all the fish Mr. Sakaeda prepared came from Japan, save some orange clam that one evening he allowed, with a small smile, to be local."

    -Sam Sifton's review of Masa in the New York Times.

     

  • 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

  • 31181.2040

    ...buy a spot in a bunker. "where would you go with three days notice?"

  • 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."

     

  • 31117.1038

  • 3118.1022
    A film set in a techno-human heartbeat, John Carpenter's only studio-made masterpiece, The Thing, has three sources. A Hawks/Nyby remake, the short story "Who Goes There?" and direct references to contemporary shockers Alien and The Shining. Carpenter reduces these scifi-horror discovery tales into a nightmarish fable about isolated men. His film doesn't have to spend its first act inventing a reason to explore, instead the horror arrives instantly. A saucer drops from deep space and descends in great flames, into the center of the frame. Through systematic art-direction (one of many egs: the Norwegian base they investigate is actually theirs, shot after its filmed destruction and freezing), Carpenter uses the audience's memory against them. The alien form is unseen when unfrozen out of a monolithic ice shape (the same ratio as the film screen). Headed by a massively trapezoidal mouth riddled with teeth, it's barely seen in a glance among the charred, gooey results of its merging with available mammalians: dogs and man. By reversing the plot, one gathers how smart 'the thing' actually is, while never knowing exactly what it looks like; it initially attacks the resident scientist offscreen (Blair), presumably during a messy, first autopsy, who then feigns insanity as a result of discovering how dangerous 'it' really is. Watch 'him' regard his former victims, his Norwegian discoverers, pictured in a black and white still. Notice how Blair uses "we" during his autopsy lecture. Later, in 'his' madness-ruse, Blair-thing decimates the radio, kills the remaining dogs, sabotages the blood-supply, drops off hints to sow paranoia (he mouths off about dog keeper Clarke and hides charred MacReady-labeled clothing), then disappears into an off-site jail where he lets the remaining men pick each other off. Unlike Alien, the alien's logic here appears to be highly strategic, hide-in-plain-sight while still nearly invisible. Defensive chess moves instead of  attacks. The tools are gestures that support doubled logic, notoriously hard to find and wield, here any one of Blair's actions could be perceived as solving both beings' problems.  Ingeniously, Blair-thing lectures the base about his own purpose while imitating a human (he bellows "Oh my god" as he splits its skin, exposing the alien's true head, and hilariously this god has dog heads as well). Another 'thing,' Norris, feigns cardiac arrest when confronted with MacReady's potential dynamite-suicide, he serves as a decoy to the crisis.  The thing is smart while appearing blandly demonic.  In the film's reverse of Alien's chestburster, a chest opens vaginally into a mouth; the alien becomes a nonstop series of mouths with appendages. In a movie littered with filmic references, perhaps his most ingenious move is to show the Hawks film version staged as the Norwegians' video of their expedition, in both video and source film, the protagonists unearth the saucer and retreive its frozen passenger. The expedition playback looks uncannily like watching the first Thing on a television broadcast, the way Carpenter grew up watching it on late night Chiller Theater. As for the contemporary, Carpenter gets to homage The Shining repeatedly, and then replace Kubrick's explosion-free ending going full-assault in a dynamited orgy, the film switches quickly from icy blue electric to light by flickering flame. Suddenly they're in the same place as the Norwegians they've found. MacReady and Childs end the film prepared to double the Shining's frozen ending, if necessary. By morning there will be two seated, frozen men. Or will there? Childs's final intro line is "So you're the only one that made it?" while MacReady, spouting breath clouds where Childs has none, seems to know who's who. The visual touches are brilliant: an Asteroids game in the rec-room is followed by Blair-thing's cellular animation, which looks like the Atari game except you see floating shapes absorbing instead of cleaving. Notice the heavy use of signs and color-reversal. The first object the Norwegian helicopter passes over, before the station's perimeter, is a sideways gasoline drum slapped with a Chevron logo. As MacReady hears the thing's far away howl for the first time, he sets off the FIRE alarm, showing wryly the entire film is a movie about setting and exploding fire. By not showing us the thing's first state (how the Norwegian's found it in the ice) Carpenter and latex whiz Rob Bottin play the audience subtly even as the creature's scenes seem like overkill; they fill the void in the ice-monolith with a creature that mutates at will, showing off real-time genetic advancement. A virus that rules over cellular life. Once thawed and left alone, it cannot be stopped. Critically attacked, largely ignored by an audience feeding on the afterglow of E.T. and opening the same day as Blade Runner, The Thing might be Universal's greatest unsung monster, a tradition-genre Universal began in its Lamaelle days with Dracula, Frankenstein and The Mummy.