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mutation
  • 312112.0517

    Before being destroyed by its film version, Howard The Duck was one of the most adventurous comics in Marvel arsenal, it veered betwixt satire and action faster than the panels could be drawn, yet it never found a wide enough audience, the color version was cancelled after issue #31. Here in the 7th issue of Howard's return as a Marvel Magazine, an incarnation with Howard pushed as an answer to Mad Magazine's dominance of black and white satire, Howard finds himself in Swamp City where the mythology of King Kong meets Milton Bradley's Monopoly. Jack Driscoll and Ann Darrow meet Chance and Free Parking, look at Howard's view of the city in the second panel below, a board game layout.

  • 312103.0827

  • 312102.0944

  • 31295.0610

    Your children will ask you if you used keyboards in the old days. "What was that like?" 

    "Gee, honey it was a rectangle with 96 keys" "And you did what with them?"

    "You pressed them."

    The children laugh.

    Complain all you want about the controlled atmosphere of the software or the ever watchful eyes of the code-readers of the App store gateway. The killer app here is not what's here, it's what's not here. The iPad is not only a product of revolutionary potential, it is also crucially cutting-out something much more than a USB port, centralized addiction to the mechanized version of our alphabet: The iPad does not ship with a keyboard. Designed not for techies or digitally saavy households, the iPad is clearly created for children as young as 6, embracing their first advanced learning tool, and for the elderly tech-discarded who have never owned a computer, and have never even tried dial-up, maybe never even created an email account. Both will steer clear of the qwerty-mechanized iPad add-on excursion, at least initially.  The iPad's environment, finger and hand-motion, is a digital-era nod to early pointing and gesture states of language, some even pre-oral/lingual, and in a scary way, it's a reboot of the primitive mindset of collaborative physical gesturing where language takes on meaning as a viewed object, not as a spoken-facial form. This gestural system worked powerfully with small communities since one could always point to a noun, gesture a verb and point to a subject. Slowly all were efficiently encoded as gestures, no pointing required, and the economy and planning potential of the group zoomed.  Once mechanized, our language's hand usage has gone from pointing at nouns to pressing a flat rectangle with 96 keys and twisting it around pronunciation and grammar with our voice. Then came the mouse. The mouse was a brilliant trojan horse add-on that hinted at the keyboard's futility. And now the iPad, a Newton for its time.  The key thing the iPad predicts is the eventual extinction of the keyboard and the collective designing of a return to hand-based languages through game and communication. And where does this designing occur? Through the App store. Imagine how tense Jobs is, it's not failure he fears, he knows this is a home-run, game-changer, it's the success that scares him; in a way 'gave away the store' is an applicable metaphor- he's built the tabla rasa for the next generation and only stands to make transactional amounts on its masterpieces, created mostly off-site. The App store is its own privatized revolution gateway, as if Edison could view all films before they were projected on his coopted Biograph machines and make a nickel on every sale, but the difference is Jobs. Job's self-evolution from Macintosh to iMac is an unusual, arresting, fundamental switch. He went from a youth targeting adults to an adult targeting kids, a path in parallel to both Pixar and Disney. By aiming the iPad's potential market at pre-college children, he's accelerated his access to early minds learning code in his software's architecture, implanting their desire to create for the machine before they begin using console games or PCs.  He's wisely searching for keys in these coming Apps to the next revolutions in shared computing networks. A colossal move on the chessboard. And how did Jobs plan this? It was an experiment called the iPad research group, almost all adults: He made a phone that debuted as a miniature iPad and he found 20 million guineau pigs (like me) to test his software in its transitional period, and he showed major websites how to prepare for a coming market. Warned the smaller ones that things were changing in the browser wars. Look at the iPhone as a fertile, profitable test-marketing for the iPad.

     

  • 31290.2132

  • 31289.0733

  • 31280.1016

    The most under-reported filmmaker is innovator-animator Ralph Bakshi, whose War Wizards came out in 1977 with a small voice part for a little known actor named Mark Hamill. Worried that two out-there 'war' titled films from 20th Century Fox would confuse the market, Star Wars' George Lucas appealed to Bakshi and asked him to rename his film Wizards. Bakshi agreed. Both Bakshi and Lucas had appealed to the Fox board for 11th hour overbudget requests and both had been turned down. Lucas would make do, shooting a few inserts in a restaged cantina and taking zoom footage of the landspeeder out in the Mojave and end up with paydirt. Forced to simplify his film's ending carnage, Bakshi slid in some newsreel footage and fictional live action war film sequences he rotoscoped and distorted (battle smoke gets mirrored) and caused one unintentional parallel: stormtroopers appear in Wizards as their Nazi selves and in Star Wars as a naming that spanned a galaxy. Wizards was a minor hit for Fox. His least seen film was intended to be his arrival into broad, acceptable satire. Coonskin was a marriage between exploitation and dislocation that veered between live action and animated parallels: it drifts by juxtapositioning acted archetypes with drawn ones. Scatman Crothers and Barry White headline. This two-fisted genre manner isn't Bakshi's invention but he did innovate it so radically that Coonskin was immediately pounced upon by Al Sharpton's CORE. Coonskin became a victim of political correctiveness and was quickly disowned by its financier Paramount and sold to a low-level releasing company who released it as Street Fight. This long forgotten masterpiece was never actually seen by Sharpton and his crew, they were merely protesting the film's appearance. Notice Bakshi's subtle color usage-as-commentary in the title sequence image: Scatman Crothers's skintone and background are shown as brown hues while the titles are markedly black. In a film about the black ethnic condition and its myths, the only thing black you actually see are letters.

    The most successful anti-Disney double feature is still Fritz the Cat and Heavy Traffic. Bakshi is so pivotal, Peter Jackson denied he had ever seen his version of Lord of the Rings that emerged in 1978, (when Jackson was 17), and he later bizarrely recanted. In a way, Jackson's retelling was predicted by Bakshi's unfinished version, which was condensing Tolkien denser than Jackson's windy trilogy with three books into two films.

  • 31277.0906

  • 31274.1534

  • 31267.0810

    The Matrix, a self-reflective progeny no less alert than Lucas' first Star Wars, was culled from equal parts THX-1138 and Tron. Both films (Tron and THX) shared unique cybernetic ratios of digital journeys far before the dominance of the PC and are brilliantly contrasted in chroma styles, hues, dialogue nuances and physicality versus 'virtual' or software avatar'd beings. What they shared was more crucial, both failed to make their budgets back, both posed anonymous guards with long poles, both involved escaping speeding bikes, and pivotally, both films lack a coherent and sustained crescendo. Flynn merely did what Neo does, he jumps without fear, but with little build-up to get an audience to root. Tron is the almost-masterpiece, and is perhaps the most informed animated film of the 80's. Lisberger and company take the Disney tower hostage for a late summer in 1982 and alter the rules by cutting away before morphs and tweens finish, pretending as if these glistening lights in transition are normal everyday happenings, subtley they advanced the craft of the virtually exotic.  Now forced to eat its own children (The Matrixes) made at other studios (Warner Bros), Disney has crafted the Tron reboot as a 'legacy' film with falsely iconic hacker Flynn and child now dealing with a more complex INNER. The strains of adding credibility shows in Legacy's design choices, what was hallucinatory as digital is now solid, credible. As a film forced to compete somewhat with its spawn, Legacy now has to make note of The Matrix's possibilities, and since the rules in Tron:Legacy cannot change: it's much easier to suggest them visually (note the furniture overlapping). Tron's Bally-Midway arcade game outgrossed the film 10:1.

    below, taking it too literally, too early: tron: LEG-acy