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vortex
  • 311257.1435

    Zenon Pylyshyn, Cognitive Scientist, who's discovered rotational aspects of the cortex's way of 'seeing' perhaps even how memories are anchored.

    Why is this important? It may be a key to building the first conscious language, which may in-turn unlock the brain's full capabilities.

    See: Seeing and Visualizing, It's Not What You Think. Winner, Best ABA Scholarly Book, 2003

    Below: Gobors have dual rotational lines, column a are snapshots every 250ms. They illustrate human 'objectification' in motion and space.

    Some think 300ms is the human 'shutter' rate.

     

  • 311257.1212

  • 311256.0727

    The U.S. is statistically riddled with anxiety, depression, panic, according to the pharmaceutical and medical industries, and the figures grow annually. Can there be 10x as many afflicted in the U.S. than in other nations? 3x more than the rest of the developed world? Statistically impossible, but not if you're working for pharma. The key problem is pain is a necessary component to life. Hiding its aftermath inside a drug means there is no growth, no awareness and what follows improper, biological processing of pain is incessant fear. This process has been evolving for hundreds of millions of years, why cover it with a blanket.

  • 311238.1255

    Pipeline Operation Discovered from L.A. Times

  • 311238.1237

    Jackie Sparnackel abandons her van and belongings near the Frisco Pier after driving up to see how the storm-battered structure was doing Saturday. Friends tried to tow her out but she was caught in an overwash. Hurricane force winds from Irene were battering the island where power has been knocked out. (Notice her left hand: she grabbed her meds)

  • 311221.1954

    Google was introduced through books like The Search by Battelle and Googled by Ken Auletta and now James Gleick analyzes four new books, the essay is a must-read:

    "The logical conclusion of our relationship to computers: expectantly to type 'what is the meaning of my life' into Google.

    You can do this, of course. Type “what is th” and faster than you can find the e Google is sending choices back at you: what is the cloud? what is the mean? what is the american dream? what is the illuminati? Google is trying to read your mind. Only it’s not your mind. It’s the World Brain. And whatever that is, we know that a twelve-year-old company based in Mountain View, California, is wired into it like no one else."

    -James Gleick's How Google Dominates Us NYRB

     

  • 311191.0023

  • 311184.1615

    Are we in an era of ambien influenced yes-men and women that run media empires? We're inside an era in which media quickly and expensively grinds out 60's-style imitation 1977-1983 blockbusters; it's factory-made tedium these days, with rigorously tested archetypes aping out cookie cutter plots, where ideas are recycled as fast as the life can be committee'd out of them. An era without autocratic mavericks that take phenomenal risk in the hopes of vast returns. Instead we will be seeing a reboot of a film series that saw its last sequel only five years earlier (the Tobey Maguire-Andrew Garfield Spidermale competition). Yes, we are slumming in a  creative free-zone, and you better settle into your chair and quit complaining. Shareholders, bondholders and boards of directors of media conglomerates are loathe to tolerate a lack of mitigation when the sums can reach $200 million for single films (some upcoming non-sequels with these deep price-tags are 1906 and The Lone Ranger). Blockbuster film has to have its presold hook and there better be a sequel standing by. Even the business model is tanking in an illusory way: revenue is up while attendance hasn't improved above 1997.   From the outside of long-play media (film and videogame) all appears somewhat stable. But not when you look closer. Not at the financials, the flat-lining narrative techniques, the archaic development process. In our age of digital expedience, features paradoxically cost more to say less. It's hard to watch, our most entrancing form of media, the feature film, visual art's challenge to novel and play, devolve into a nearly flat signal. Is there a doctor in the house? Something strange happened in there doc, the whole audience fell asleep.

    "...Summer movie attendance fell to the lowest level since 1997, while soaring ticket prices produced record revenue for Hollywood studios and theater owners...“The movies just didn’t excite people the way they needed to,” Paul Dergarabedian, president of Hollywood.com Box-Office, said in an interview. “When you raise prices and perceive that quality goes down, you have a major problem.”

    -Summer Movie Attendance Falls to Lowest Level since 1997 Bloomberg News

     

    This is a long article of analysis that will anchor here, edited from current sources, both print and web-based.  Even as films marry '3-D' technology to 21st century technology, apparently advancing the medium, the art form has taken many steps backwards as it practices higher speed cutting, uses digital effects to conjure 3-D from 2-D, hide mistakes in continuity, even shifts sound into a kind of wrap-around mix that augments narrative flow rather than shocking audiences' relationship with hyper-reality. The aesthetic is amped further and further, while the meaning and the interactivity of the meanings devalues, disappears. The illusions are vacuous. 

    Movies are themselves an illusion (24 stills per second that seem to be moving) of an illusional flow of time, that has, through its effects, gone to war with itself.  The movie medium is degrading as risk is mitigated by editing, mood is achieved through modulation (lighting continuity is now as important a nuance as acting discontinuity). Caricature and archetype, once subtle and individual tools of performance, are now effortlessly blended to render quick emotional effects (per scene) rather than allowing slow transformations over two hours. Dialogue has become an overlay that is hung per genre, the top selling tickets are loopy mad-libs that well studied viewers can shout out lines in advance, literally predicting character exclamations.  The basic theme here is the flatlining of movies, or maybe even its de-evolution in the face of the videogame following the age of the music video, which competed with and was heavily influenced by the rise of the thirty-second spot (see Mad Men for an able satire of the commercial, there it occurs both during the show and in its own breaks to AMC's sponsors). Peer carefully now into movies and you can see how trailers and entire films essentially relate through ratios both physically (the cutting, the aiming, the exploding) and conceptually (the villain, the gotcha, the reveal). What is important to recognize are the factors that have altered, but not actually advanced film as a cognizant art. It might be this age will be known as the death of film, its collapse into a pure market forcing us into the age of the decog (de-cognizant). Paradoxically, academics have finally begun to see a connection between film and consciousness (much like the two thinkers below this entry exploring humans and galaxies) but they are much too late. We're now watching essentially the same film over and over within any chosen genre.  Studying a repeat will not explore cognizance. Stay tuned...

    Below, the laws of averages: while technology beats innovation eventually, key dialogue moves away from literal ("Lieutenant, drop your gun.") to illusory, vague ("We all have our secrets") watch and listen to the differences in the similarities, carefully... the conquering of heights, the mission outlined while in motion, females as distractions, Cruise Renner vs. Burton Eastwood. Through time, the aesthetic amps, meanings dissolve. Both have switches, yet one movie forces an audience to think, the other thinks on behalf of the audience. Why?

     

    The Producer-Mogul on the current market, Katzenberg addresses the elephant in the room, why movies are decreasing in cultural value:

    "What all of these devices and social networking things do is they're going to actually force Hollywood to make better products, because today the thing that is probably most askew in Hollywood is the issue of marketability versus playability.  And what that really means is that there is this sort of unholy alliance that has existed forever between art and commerce, show and biz.  And today it's out of balance and it's too much on the biz, and it's too much on the commerce and it's too much on the marketability and the fact is that I'm pretty confident, and let's do it, because this is supposed to be an interactive experience here, which is could we agree?  Let me have a show of hands of people that would say the last seven or eight months of movies is the worst lineup of movies you've experienced in the last five years of your life. They suck.  It's unbelievable how bad movies have been, right.  I mean, it's just I haven't seen a run of this, a crop of movies ‑‑ [it's] systemic...  And it is absolutely there is an ebb and flow that comes on, and there is an action and there's a reaction to it, and yes, they will change and there will be an adjustment that will get made to that.  It's a very entrepreneurial world and I think you will see that right itself with time in it. But, right now today it's a particularly dreary moment." - Jefferey Katzenberg 7/16/11

    Critics are trapped not between art and commerce, but between sub-cultures of taste at the margins of movies, rendering them virtually impotent in the broad market-based economy of opening day B.O. Listen to Dargis shift between a dated "Tree of Life" and a leaden Bela Tarr film. She removes herself from any critical awareness of her potential audience.

    "Recognizing patterns is part of the film critic’s tool kit along with a good pen to take notes in the dark. You have to take in a lot of information when you watch a movie just once. The easy stuff is usually the story (boy meets girl) and characters (Romeo and Juliet). The tricky part, when I get to scribbling, is everything else, including how the boy and girl met and what happened next. (That’s the plot.) Was the lighting soft or hard, the editing fast or slow, the camera shaky or smooth, the acting broad or not? Also: Did they dance like Fred and Ginger, shoot like Angelina and Brad? Was it a musical (but funny) or a comedy (with dancing)? Mostly, how does the narrative work?

    Moviegoers fed a strict Hollywood diet may find themselves squirming through, say, a film by the Hungarian director Bela Tarr less because of the subtitles than because of the long takes during which little is explained. The same may hold true for those who watch “The Tree of Life” and want Terrence Malick to connect the dots overtly among his characters, the dinosaurs and the trippy space images. Other moviegoers may just go with the flow. They, like critics — who ideally are open to different types of narratives, having watched nonmainstream, sometimes difficult cinema in school, at festivals, for pleasure and for work — may have developed specific cognitive habits"

    -from Manohla Dargis "Why Difficult Movies are, um, so Difficult" NYTimes 7/8/11

    Academics have it worse. They're stuck between generalizations of tools, which they consider an element in their exploration of cognizance through an art form, or studying the individual practice of toolmaking within auteurs of an art form, which they force into the slim window of subjective psychology (the analysis of the director's subconscious). They fail at both. Here below is a link to a debate over Kubrick's actual mode-jerk, the revolutionary weapon-to-weapon time-hopper of 2001:a space odyssey, with a label he's been forced to wear without his direct or even indirect consultation by David Bordwell and Kristen Thompson called a "graphic-match" that's paraded with similar and opposing tools, also labeled the same way, by Hitchcock and Ozu. By pretending they've codified the tools of geniuses, academics pretend to approach cognizance by simplifying complex tools into their (laymen's) terms. They don't search for thresholds in the audience's responses. They don't make movies and they don't study statistical effects of filmic nuances on the brain: how can they possibly assume they're the proper codifiers? It's like trainspotters interpreting train switch technology. Listen to their hubris below. Keep them out of videogames.

    "Most people don’t realize this, but David and I invented the term “graphic match.” As we recall, this happened in 1975. David was teaching a course that involved screening Yasujiro Ozu’s second color film, Ohayu (1959), a wonderful comedy about television, farting, and small talk. We had never seen the film before and were watching a 16mm print of it.

    When the two shots below passed before our eyes, we both gasped and lunged for the projector. We ran the film back and watched the cut again. There was no doubt that Ozu had deliberately placed a bright red sweater in the upper left quadrant of the frame in one shot and a bright red lamp in the same basic position in the next shot. We didn’t know what to call this technique, so we dubbed it a “graphic match.” Two years later, when we started writing Film Art: An Introduction, we included the term as one technique of film editing and used Ozu’s match on red as one example. By now “graphic match” has been picked up to the point where we occasionally see it used in print." -  Kristen Thompson "Graphic Content Ahead"

    American Myths Reconfigured.

    "It's hard to say what is most depressing about "Cowboys & Aliens" — the film itself, or the fact that this was the best movie a posse of major Hollywood players could come up with.

    A leaden mash-up of western and science-fiction elements that ends up noisy, grotesque and unappealing, this Jon Favreau-directed film features five producers (including Brian Grazer and Ron Howard), six executive producers (Steven Spielberg and Ryan Kavanaugh among them) and six credited writers, led by "Star Trek" rebooters Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci and "Lost's" Damon Lindelof. No wonder the film plays like a business deal more than a motion picture."

    - Kenneth Turan's L.A. Times review.

    "And that is depressing. A howling turkey is at least something to laugh at, and maybe even something to see. But Thor is an example of the programmed triumph of commercial calculation over imagination. A postcredits teaser gives viewers who have lingered in the theater a taste of The Avengers which at some future date will braid together the Iron Man Incredible Hulk and Thor franchises under the eye-patched aegis of Samuel L. Jackson. Or something. This is franchise building of the kind that has long been practiced by comic book publishers to keep their long-running serials fresh and their readership hooked."

    - A. O. Scott's N.Y. Times review.

    A while back the summer blockbuster was designed to hit all demographics, if possible. Jaws, Star Wars, E.T., Top Gun, all aimed if not for highest ground, at least for right in the middle. To cast this wide a net, the makers had to find the right myths. The ones that resonate beyond their first-runs. It's a kind of mental half-life, to see how penetrating a myth is culturally, survey your friends' blu-rays and DVDs. These plots and how they were told still have juice. So much juice the attic is being raided (Alien to Prometheus) while the comic collection and the recent graphic novel offer a very sketchy blueprint (Cowboys and Aliens). Now, this oil-well seems recently bare while it's well-stocked with the dried comic book ink of billions of sold issues. Comic books, the pulp-form of myth for teenagers, has stolen the arc-light of the blockbuster and now consumes more than half of the studios' annual production outlay. Egged on by the runaway Spider Man, unchastened by the weird reaction to Superman Returns, studios increasingly put their chips on a core demographic, the teenage boy. Only Nolan is the sure bet here since he adds a sheen of adult sturm and drang. On most opening nights for comic heroes, studio execs pray to lure these teenage boys' dates, they know they hold the ace up their sleeves: the character and his (or her) origins retold, fleshed out. If the date won't go with him, he's sure to take a posse. Well, next to sure. As a mythic collective that gets projected around the globe, the U.S. looks pretty weird. America churns out superheroes, raunchy/sex comedies, gore-horror at a studio level for half the year. Outsiders provide Harry Potter, Bond. Pixar, Dreamworks Animation and a few others provide the gale-force one-two of parents bringing their broods. The question really is, how did the psyche of the undeveloped teenage boy become the central id of the film industry? Easy, these companies are ruled by Peter Pan complexes. The literate exec of the pre-80's has been replaced by the ADHD exec, reared on Spielberg and comics and videogames, all chomping at the bit of revealing the massive, colossal, the explosive orgy of PG death. None know the secrets of the mega thinkers of the era, Cameron, Spieberg, Lucas, Rowling, Raimi. Few comic book flicks these days try, if any, to attract the sight path of adults or girls, they're seen as demographic wishful thinking. To do this would require breaking the walls of the genre, putting it along a path no one expects to work, or stripping it down to its parts and reassembling it from scratch. But maybe it's time to let the teenage boy have a rest. Besides, playing it safe means the craps table always delivers diminishing returns.

    The Screenwriters.

    Film plots veer towards the synthetic as TV and film archetypes enter their third or fourth versions. Logic, never film's strong hand, is bluffed endlessly to reach opening day box office. This is from www.johnaugust.com, a sharp-mind who analyses the art of writing for film. Notice carefully the choice of words. There are fine lines between art/craft/technique. The two quoted below, along with a few others, work as the puppy-mill/fast-food engineers of Hollywood's current blockbusters. What they make sure tastes good; it appears cute and bubbly on opening day, but size it up a few months later and it rates lower and lower as the dog's temper flares and the indigestion of countless Big Macs take their toll.  Below are outtakes from a talk by Star Trek (and Cowboys and Aliens) writers Orci and Kurtzmann; listen to them make strange, almost absurdist connections between a swaggering alpha archetype (Kirk) paired with a remote, emotionless alien Science Officer (Spock) and the Lennon-McCartney songwriting 'team,' the pitch is so off you have to wonder of they were kidding or stretching. The quotes end with a typical noir technique they've dressed up with a teenager's label, the "structurefuck," as if renaming it makes the tool theirs (it appeared in more than a few thrillers, later Hitchcock used it masterfully in Vertigo when the murder switch is revealed):

    "Lesson: Sequels are for villains; origin stories are for heroes. Heroes determine structure. In further support, Alex Kurtzman offered the example of Iron Man, which he said was all about Robert Downey Jr. and the suit he forges. As for what Jeff Bridges was up to? No idea. Didn’t matter. Good as he may be on screen, we’re really just waiting to see Downey in the suit again. (Not much Vader in Star Wars Episode IV compared to The Empire Strikes Back come to think of it.)

    Kurtzman and Orci researched heavily, studying partnerships – Lennon and McCartney, Billy Wilder and I.A. Diamond, for example — to explore why the core relationship of Kirk and Spock worked so well creatively for the series. Like Lennon and McCartney, both Spock and Kirk lose a parent. It’s something fundamental and shared that allows for a connection even with the contention and heated power struggle. Halfway through writing the first draft, Kurtzman and Orci discovered their own relationship as friends and writing partners had infused itself into the Kirk and Spock dynamic.

    To structurefuck is to disrupt a linear narrative by playing a scene twice in order to achieve a surprise reveal upon second viewing of that scene. The idea being to plant information in the audience’s heads early, when they’re likely to accept it as truth. When the scene plays again later, you alter (or “fuck with”) the perception of fact and force the audience to reevaluate the story by ripping off a mask or showing that the gun shot a blank or that the heroine actually dodged the bullet and didn’t fall to her death but was hanging naked by a bed sheet caught on a piece of glass."

    - http://johnaugust.com/2009/trek-writer

    The Analyst.

    Mark Kermode, British film reviewer, tackles the whole blockbuster enchilada in his new book The Good, The Bad and The Multiplex: What's Wrong With Modern Movies? An excerpt, or maybe an original article, this rant from the Guardian.uk.co sets its sights on Michael Bay's Pearl Harbor as a turning point in the war on moviegoers. Below is an excerpt of the excerpt:

    "They are the Audiences of the Apocalypse.

    How did they get here? The short answer is: Michael Bay. The long answer is: Michael Bay; Kevin Costner's gills; Cleopatra on home video; and the inability of modern blockbusters to lose money in the long run, provided they boast star names, lavish spectacle and "event" status expense. Oh, and they don't try to be funny…

    If you don't believe me, ask yourself this question: "Was Pearl Harbor a hit?" The answer, obviously, ought to be a resounding "No". For, as even the lowliest of amoebic life forms can tell you, that film was shockingly poor in ways it is almost painful to imagine. For one thing, it is "un film de Michael Bay", the reigning deity of all that is loathsome, putrid and soul-destroying about modern-day blockbuster entertainment.

    "There are tons of people who hate me," admits Bay, who turned an innocuous TV-and-toys franchise into puerile pop pornography with his headache-inducing Transformers movies. "They said that I wrecked cinema. But hey, my movies have made a lot of money around the world." If you want kids' movies in which cameras crawl up young women's skirts while CGI robots hit each other over the head, interspersed with jokes about masturbation and borderline-racist sub-minstrelsy stereotyping, then Bay is your go-to guy. He is also, shockingly, one of the most commercially successful directors working in Hollywood today, a hit-maker who proudly describes his visual style as "fucking the frame" and whose movies appear to have been put together by people who have just snorted two tonnes of weapons-grade plutonium. Don't get me wrong – he's not stupid; he publicly admitted that Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen was below even his own poor par (his exact words were "When I look back at it, that was crap"), after leading man and charisma vacuum Shia LaBeouf declared that he "wasn't impressed with what we did". But somehow Bay's awareness of his own films' awfulness simply makes matters worse. At least Ed Wood, director of Plan 9 from Outer Space, thought the trash he was making was good. Bay seems to know better and, if he does, that knowledge merely compounds his guilt. Down in the deepest bowels of the abyss there is a 10th circle of hell in which Bay's movies play for all eternity, waiting for their creator to arrive, his soul tortured by the realisation that he knew what he was doing…"

    - from Kermode's How to make an intelligent movie and not alienate everyone. The Guardian

    The Literary Journal.

    Luddite outsiders watch key blockbusters and distort their themes, completely ignoring the medium's messages. This is like shouting when you've lost an argument, the low of misrepresentation; analysts call this projection. Because he dislikes the film and its technology, he dictates a thematic opposite to dismiss it, pretending to psychoanalyze the film (not even the director):

    "In the unconscious of [Avatar], I would submit, all the Na’vi are avatars. That is, they are all digital representations of humans, lying elsewhere in coffin pods. And they are all vampires. They have preternatural force and speed, wake when others sleep, and feed on the life-force of mere humans—the humans lying in the pods, as a matter of fact. This, I think, is the strange lure of the movie: Wouldn’t you like to be the vampire of yourself? Wouldn’t you like to live in an alternate reality, at the cost of consuming yourself? Vampires have a culture, a community, feelings. They don’t have bodies, but they have superbodies. The only glitch is this residue offstage, rotting and half-buried, that you won’t ever be able separate from altogether—until, at last, you can."

    - http://nplusonemag.com/dont-play-or-youll-go-blind

    No, in the post-production of the film, all of the Na'vi are motion-captured from humans, offering them a way out of the uncanny valley. In the film, the humans with avatars dream to operate them. A vast majority sees a somatic opera in which slumber (in beds, not coffins) yields another doorway of perception while some lone crank sitting at a computer sees vampires and coffins. Not a good day for the literary underground.

    The Analyst II

    The Independent U.K.'s Tim Walker waxes about the golden age of the blockbuster (1977-1985) while wondering which ingredient was key to Raiders of the Lost Ark's ingenuity.

    "Joe Johnston, who started out filming special-effects shots for Star Wars, this year directed Captain America, which borrows not a few familiar Indy tropes. And yet it feels, doesn't it, as if nothing in today's summer release schedule can quite match the brilliance of those early blockbusters. The characters were more vivid, the storytelling so much smarter. Are we watching Indiana Jones, Marty McFly and Han Solo through rose-tinted 2D spectacles? Or has Hollywood genuinely failed to find their like again?"

    - http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/features/no-more-heroes-why-no-one-else-can-make-films-like-steven-spielberg-2354847.html

    The Manager-Producer

    Gavin Polone joins the chorus, adding to a clearly miffed alto section of angry men being driven partially insane by the machinery that's scheduling, funding and releasing Hollywoond fare. It's so bad that nymag.com has offered him a column to rant about it called Making the Sausage.

    "As I know from personal experience, film executives — most of whom use terms like content, brands, and franchise when talking of potential film projects — are directed by their bosses to mine the studio’s libraries for remakes. On numerous occasions, I’ve been told by grasping and desperate execs to take a look at their catalogue and come back to them with ideas on how to remake something. The motivation for studios to focus on their own film libraries for ideas is that they're the greatest hard asset they possess: The last few studios to change hands (Miramax, MGM, and DreamWorks) were priced solely on the value of their libraries, with no credit given for their actual moviemaking infrastructure. Since home video revenue has cratered during the past few years, deriving revenue from those older titles through other means than selling ancillary viewings is imperative if the studios don’t want to write down the value of their assets."

    http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2011/09/gavin_polone_remakes_making_th.html?


    The Forensic Journalist

    Edward Jay Epstein pours over the Hollywood contraction with a fine-toothed comb and finds the bean-counters have all the data they need.

  • 311184.1025

     

    "We see...what experimental facts lead us to ascribe three dimensions to space. As a consequence of these facts, it would be more convenient to attribute three dimensions to it rather than four or two, but the term convenient is perhaps not strong enough; a being which had attributed two or four dimensions to space would be handicapped in a world like ours in the struggle for existence." H. Poincaré

    Barrow and Tipler's 1988 book is a groundbreaking summary of biology, physics and geology, all wrapped up in a semi-tidy box. Posing the thesis that consciousness (Anthropic) is a facet of the cosmos (Cosmological) that, in reverse, can explain the overall principle inherent in its physical make-up, their goals are to unify theory around pivots in ratios and numbers, big ticket items, that lead somewhat to a conclusion that dimensions and time-scales operate with valences of one another. It's the book you hand to someone who claims a universe is inside their fingernail. Although deeply western (their first chapters list no comprehension of eastern thinking or myths of time and scale), the book is meant to universally explore the human nature of cosmology. Be warned, Tipler's later work without Barrow enters crackpot territory as he unifies Christianity and physics with bizarre, self-centered results (he excludes other religious myths as well as hints he believes in intelligent design).  Tipler's other disconnect whopper is his insistence we are the sole vessels of conscious life in the galaxy, so be wary. Although heavily built on equations, the book explains its progressive use of them carefully so that non math thinkers can extrapolate as well. Quotes are astonishing. Illustrations as well. First published in the aftermath of the PC revolution: 1986.

  • 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.