a kind of willful blindness to the future

Lacking anything intriguing in my pack to read and sadly mourning the recent (yet not at all sudden) death of my loyal iPod of nearly 5 1/2 years, I needed something to sooth my walk home (and distract myself from being irritated with the traffic), so I printed out a little document to read. Now, I’ve always been a fan of the concept of philosophy, and the years that I spent purchasing (and dare I say, nicely expanding) the Philosophy section at the old City of Books were quite enjoyable. But you know, I’ve never had much interest in actually reading any of it. Today though, while pondering the word crepuscular, I looked up Paul Virilio, who I knew little about aside from that he was someone whose books I needed to keep in stock, and I’d always thought that Crepuscular Dawn was one of the most intriguing book titles I had seen.

Anyway, I ended up printing out a short article called “The Coming Crisis in Real-Time Environments: A Dromological Analysis” (by Ronald E. Purser). I must say, I found it quite intriguing and I may need to pick up some Virilio soon. While my adult life I have always been firmly anti-television, and though I’d always thought that recreational use of the computer was equally unneeded, I’ve always felt that the computer was a still a better way of wasting ones time than watching the television (and I greatly appreciate Jerry Mander and his Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television for its clarity and sensibility in pointing out the psychological, cultural and sociological damages of the medium of television). With the expansion of the, um, “social” aspects of the Internet (especially in the hands of children), I have started thinking that maybe the computer has become a more harmful influence than I generally considered it.

This paper delves into the effects of what Virilio calls Dromospheric Pollution, which is bascially the sociological, psychological and ecological effect of people living in the instantaneous gratification of the virtual data world. He has the premise that people become cut off from spatial and geographical realities and begin to lose track of the unfolding of time as a past-present-future cycle and instead become focused on “abrupt and discontinuous irruptions of various intensities” and that Viriolio “claims that real-time technologies have an effect of narrowing our time sense, refocusing our attention exclusively on the present” and “screen or cut out concern for the past and future”. Some choice bits:

“Dromospheric pollution of our temporal economy is degrading our relationship with the natural and social environment and radically altering the tempo of lived experience”

“in what amounts to a fundamental con-fusion of natural, collective and technological horizons, Virilio posits that Dromospheric pollution, if left unabated and unregulated, will lead to a sharp loss of cultural memory and a degradation of collective imagination… A live (live-coverage) society that has no future and no past…”

“perhaps the greatest danger and threat to our temporal ecology is the erosion of human judgment”

Anyway, for someone like me who is always looking for weak spots in how we live, it was quite interesting and inspiring, even if its relevance is purely theoretical. And you can read the whole thing here The Coming Crisis in Real-Time Environments.

But all in all, what I am really shocked by is that the ‘Sox traded Manny! I mean what? Why? And why to an old New York team? Even the ‘Sox need to have players that the public gravitates towards, and Manny was the best.

the last of the independents

Charley VarrickInspired by a pbs show about Carol Burnett. I had the urge to watch a Walter Matthau movie. Luckily, I had one right here that I’d never seen… Charley Varrick. This is the film Don Siegal made following Dirty Harry, and though it isn’t quite the classic, it does star a number of actors from that film. Walter Matthau is the leader of a bank robbery gang who is looking to make the occasional small haul. His gang includes his wife, an unpleasant man named Harman (played by Andrew Robinson who has previously made me nervous in Hellraiser and his scarily perfect performance as The Scorpio Killer in Dirty Harry) and some other fellow who we don’t get much of a chance to know.

Once they pull a bloody heist at a little bank in a terribly small town in New Mexico, they are rather surprised to end up with three quarters of a million dollars, a surprise that becomes too mysterious after a news announcement states that $2,000 was stolen. Charley becomes paranoid and is instantly convinced that the money was there for some other unsundry purpose. He is right of course, and he is either less paranoid than he should be, or maybe more clever than we think.


Charley Varrick


The people who had the money want it back and with that, the rest of the great cast comes out! John Vernon is Maynard Boyle, the bank president who has lost the money and isn’t too pleased by it. To get it back, he calls in a clean-up guy named Molly to hunt down whoever has taken it. Molly (the always tough and cool Joe Don Baker, following up Walking Tall) is perfectly prepared to do whatever is needed. Once he gets a car, as a repo job from a displeased Albert Popwell (also a veteran of Dirty Harry. In fact, from the best scene in Dirty Harry), it doesn’t take him long to get on the trail.

Normal Fell is also here, as a representative of the law who has taken over the bank. He gets somewhat in the way of Boyle, as Boyle is trying to determine if it is an inside job, or at least if he can find a way to ensure that his “associates” don’t think that he had anything to do with it. Throughout all of this, Varrick’s partner Harman, is just causing trouble. Drinking whiskey and getting mad that Charley is preventing him from going out and spending all of his new found money. How on Earth is Charley going to deal with all these people and survive this mess? It has a fairly casual pace and it’s not the greatest movie, but it is easily worth watching if you come upon as the daytime movie on TV or something.

bs strangeness and northwest underdwellers, be on the lookout!

Now, I don’t hear much general classic rock anymore. Due to the lack of a radio and the fact that KGON seems to play about 3 commercials for every song, I just don’t have the access that I used to. Funny though, last night “The Boss” was on 60 Minutes, then today I was at the Laurelthirst where they were playing The Boss. What makes it especially strange is that they followed up The Boss with a bunch of the other BS, Bob Seger (who I always liked better anyway). And then while walking home from there? A van stopped next to me… Also playing Bob Seger! Yes it is one of those days.

For another odd series of events, today I realized that the wondrous Thickets are, in fact, playing at the Lovecraft Film Festival this year! And you may say that this is a coincidence, but today I also found out about the plight of the Tree Octopus! Those are three tentacle related events in one day. A bit beyond the pale of mere coincidence… But read on… To ensure the waking of the great Cthulhu, we mere mortals must all strive to save his minions. As reported at zapatopi.net, The Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus population has fallen to dangerously low levels! As Cthulhu has few land-based servants, these octopi must be saved!

Go to Save The Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus to learn more! And get your ribbon!




convenience or death

Yes, though I’ve covered it at least 6 times previously here (killing ourselves), some topics I just can’t get enough of…


Cell phone brain scan


The above image is an “Estimation of the penetration of electromagnetic radiation from a cell phone based on age” to the brain.

In yet another recent report on this topic, this one from the Center for Environmental Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh titled The Case for Precaution in the Use of Cell Phones. Aside from this rather scary graphic there are some other reasonable tidbits, such as:

Studies in humans do not indicate that cell phones are safe, nor do they yet clearly show that they are dangerous. But, growing evidence indicates that we should reduce exposures, while research continues on this important question.

The most recent studies, which include subjects with a history of cell phone usage for a duration of at least 10 years, show a possible association between certain benign tumors (acoustic neuromas) and some brain cancers on the side the device is used.

– Do not allow children to use a cell phone except for emergencies. The developing organs of a fetus or child are the most likely to be sensitive to any possible effects of exposure to electromagnetic fields.

– While communicating using your cell phone, try to keep the cell phone away from the body as much as possible. The amplitude of the electromagnetic field is one fourth the strength at a distance of two inches and fifty times lower at three feet.

– Only use your cell phone to establish contact or for conversations lasting a few minutes as the biological effects are directly related to the duration of exposure. For longer conversations, use a land line with a corded phone, not a cordless phone, which uses electromagnetic emitting technology similar to that of cell phones.

– Switch sides regularly while communicating on your cell phone to spread out your exposure. Before putting your cell phone to the ear, wait until your correspondent has picked up. This limits the power of the electromagnetic field emitted near your ear and the duration of your exposure.

The list of people on this committee is impressive indeed and while most people would rather just go about their business and not think about these sorts of things, it would be sad for large groups of people to develop brain tumors in 20-30 years because they spent time chatting on a cell phone as children… Or so I think. But then again, something has seemed creepy about cell phones since I first got one and read in the Motorola manual that “usage should be safe as long as you hold it as you would a regular phone and do not point the antenna at your head”. Hummm…

warning: allergenic

Black Mass Krakow 2004Well, that was rad. While yes, the audio/visual doesn’t compare with the production on Emperor’s Emperial Live Ceremony DVD (the only other black metal concert dvd that I’ve seen and… Dear Amazon, that’s Emperial, with an E), Gorgoroth is more to my taste and this concert is astounding in its setup and nerve. While the families bounded around in the backyard, The Sewer and I (see here for a real review) stayed inside and got our blackness on by soaking up Gorgoroth’s infamous Black Mass Krakow 2004 concert DVD on his much more wonderful viewing device.

I must say, this is a great DVD! Yes, the sound could be mixed better, but I imagine that if you turn it up loud enough, you’ll survive. But the image quality is fine, though it would have been sharper with the red toned down a smidgen, but that’s my only complaint… I liked the green lighting the best. The wealth of cameras bounding around filming this give it a real professional feel (though the drum cameras don’t seem to have the same image quality, or any real point)… But the high point is the show itself!


Gorgoroth Black Mass Krakow


Gorgoroth obviously wanted to make quite a statement with this… Bloodied, hooded and naked people “crucified” on-stage, sheep heads all around and generous splashings of blood surround the band as they do their best to look menacing. And menacing they do. It’s one time that you can feel quite sure that most of the blood splashed around this show isn’t stage blood, and those dozens and dozens of sheep heads that I kept thinking someone might jump on stage and steal are the real deal. And the band, well, they’ve got a pretty good look going, but Gaahl is so wonderfully menacing here that while watching him, I began to feel like this was the moment he began hatching the plot to usurp the band from Infernus.


Gorgoroth Black Mass Krakow


Gorgoroth are one of the great classic original True Norwegian Black Metal bands, with a sound unique from all the masses that came afterwards. It shows as they blast through “hits” such as: Bergtrollets Hevn, Destroyer, Procreating Satan and The Rite of Infernal Invocation. They really have their thing down tight and this show is like watching them promenade into the dance in their finest garb, looking to impress those of their ilk and intimidate all others.


Gorgoroth Black Mass Krakow


Song selection wise, it leans heavily on Twilight of the Idols (which makes sense), and I would have preferred more songs from Antichrist and Destroyer, but there are some great songs here… I enjoyed the bloodied crucified folks, what should be a normal touch for a Black Metal show. Of course, I could have done without the sheep head’s, but they certainly added a special something aesthetically. It was one of those must see concerts… If only it hadn’t been in Krakow.


Gorgoroth Black Mass Krakow


Oh yes, and be sure to check out Peter Beste’s newest version of his Norwegian Black Metal photo project, True Norwegian Black Metal. As the cashier at Powell’s said, it’s about the best coffee table book ever, and one of the best books buys you’ll make (for $37 at Amazon). And for the ladies out there, it’s got plenty of pictures of Gaahl…

well, happy flu sounds a bit funny to me…

I know, I’ve been terribly negligent with blogging… And with movie watching. While I can throw out all of the standard excuses of: work, baby, taxes (yes, not quite finished yet)… I actually do have some stuff up my sleeves. In the meantime, there is always happy flu! I came across it on Duke Listens and, though I’m not really sure about it, and I had to do some click dragging to get anything to appear on my graphic, I figured, what the heck. If you’ve got a website, you should click the “spread it!” button below and add the Happy Flu to it!

an exciting weekend in london

28 Days LaterRight when it first came out stateside, the wife and I went and saw 28 Days Later on our first date. It’s a good date movie (we actually saw two movies that day and, if I may say so, Capturing the Friedman’s is not a good “first date” movie). I am one of those sad folks who admits that it is one of my favorite zombie movies, even though it isn’t a zombie movie. But for the genre, it ranks right behind the wonderful Shaun of the Dead (out here the following year). In fact, seeing those in back to back years and then taking in Land of the Dead the next year, really served to point out the superiority of European films. I don’t know what it is that makes American major studios think that they can take a crappy script, too many overdone and underthought special effects and a bunch of bad acting by dull, buff younguns and actually think that they can come out with a good film. Yes, sure, as readers may remember from the Let’s pretend that we’re nice now post, I did enjoy Land of the Dead, but more as one of those “it’s entertaining fluff” movies, rather then a “this is a really good film” kind of enjoyment. But it seems that on the other side of the Atlantic, they can do everything better, and smarter, for much less money. But I digress. This is the story of a man who wakes up in a hospital bed in an abandoned London and his adventures that follow as he learns what happened and what to do next (the answer to that is: Run).


28 Days Later


28 Days Later starts off with a great sequence of a small group of animal rights activists breaking into a lab and starting to free some caged monkeys, though they receive a very strong opposition to the idea being voiced by a scientist that they find there… We then move ahead (28 days) to a young fellow who wakes up one day in a hospital bed and finds himself to be all alone in London. As he walks around looking for people, it becomes apparent that something terrible has happened. Hundreds of missing people notices, papers saying that the UK is being evacuated, and no one around at all. Ending up in a church whose floor is filled with bodies, he calls out to see if anyone is around. Well, it turns out that London is not completely vacant! Some of those bodies are still living, are very mad and can run quite well, thank you. Getting out of there in a hurry he is saved by a couple of other folks and the story of what happened becomes clear.


28 Days Later


He and his new pals wander London, trying to stay away from the grumpy many who for the majority of England’s population. It’s just a great film. The scenes of empty London are well-done, the story is fun and the movie is pretty non-stop with baddies everywhere, good (and plentiful) gore scenes, tons of action, great tension and a frenetic pace and grainy quality that give it a great cinéma vérité quality (I still find the tunnel scene unsettling). Around this hectic environment, normal people are very few and far between, and if you find what may seem to be a safe haven, may end up being nothing of the sort.


28 Days Later


In desperate times like this, each group is out for their own good, and while the regular survivors may not be as mad as most, they prove that they can certainly be just as dangerous. At about the 1 hour and 44 minute mark, the screen goes black and it’s a great ending for the film. Which, sadly, isn’t the ending. You get the sudden sense that you have started watching a completely different movie, and it is a bit of a let down after the brutal grimness that you had been witnessing.


28 Days Later


Regardless, Danny Boyle (of the also terrific Trainspotting) has delivered a top-notch horror film here. One with lots of re-watching potential. Which is good, as they have made a totally unneeded (I imagine, though I haven’t seen it) sequel with the unfortunate name of 28 Weeks Later… And sadly it seems that there may be a 28 Months Later on the way…

the pleasures of the third dimension

The Flesh and Blood ShowInspired by coming across a copy of Making Mischief: The Cult Films of Pete Walker, I decided it was finally time to watch one of his movies. Due to its easy availability (and catchy title), I selected The Flesh and Blood Show! Starting off with the credits and some bad fake blood in the water, we move to an apartment with two young ladies sleeping, as it is a quarter to three in the morning. Suddenly, someone starts banging on the door! To get a hint of how this movie is going to go, the one girl who is stark naked is the one who gets up to answer the door… Without donning a robe or anything. At this point you know it’s either: Europe, the free love era, one of those kind (the easy nudity type) of movies, or these people are portraying actors. Well, you would be right on all four counts! The story is fine but not remarkable and there are some rather big holes in what goes on. But the cast is pleasant enough, all quite Britishly hip, as in you could imagine them at a party with the ‘Stones, back in the day.


The Flesh and Blood Show


The Flesh and Blood Show is a 1972ish UK movie about a group of actors (most of whom don’t know each other) who are all hired for a performance outside of town, in a creepy abandoned old theater at the end of a pier! Though to me it doesn’t look like a place that someone would have people go to get ready for a performance, the actors go along with it anyway. Even though they don’t really know who has hired them and even though they are left to sleep on the floor in their caveman costumes and such (yes…). Not too comforting, as the place is dark, old, dusty, filled with crap and has a creepy basement (with a guillotine). But this is the perfect place for some hooking up, some people disappearing and some really terrible stage antics!


The Flesh and Blood Show


But while the pier and theater are quite dirty and forbidding, the town itself seems nice enough. They wander over during the day and friendly locals invite them over for tea and nice conversation, including telling them stories of the mysterious disappearances that ended the theaters last run a couple of decades back. But why listen to talk such as that? When the screaming starts and the disappearing starts, they find little help from the disbelieving locals police, and questionable help from each other, as they don’t really know each other… Is someone playing tricks on them? Is one of them stalking around creepily? or is there someone else altogether here.


The Flesh and Blood Show


As one would expect, there lots of milling about, plenty of bad acting, lots of excuses for some nudity (European style) and lots of false scares. All in all, pretty standard. I found it to be more entertaining than any of those Italian Giallo films I’ve sat through, but it had sort of the same feel to it. A slow and rather uninteresting “Slasher” film. Billed (on the dvd) as “an appalling amalgam of carnage and carnality”, it sadly was certainly none of that, not even for its time. Though it is certainly watchable.

Also there is a warning at the beginning that the ending scene was shot in 3-d, so “Please colored viewer provided by the theater”. Well, this darned dvd didn’t come with any colored viewer!

truth or consequences

Ah, fear and loathing… Though the Airport is the only contact that I have with The Department of Homeland Security (could they have picked a more fascistic term?) and I don’t fly often, I still find the DHS to be annoying. All of that ridiculous stuff about water bottles and no liquids or nail files would be funny, if it wasn’t so funny. But I’ve been thinking about this stuff as I am in the process of getting a security pass for the airport, for work reasons, and I am somewhat wary about giving such a dubious organization access to about the only personal information I have that isn’t already on file somewhere, my fingerprints. I didn’t even know until today that fingerprints are taken directly by
scanning, ugh.

But then, to continue the practice of making matters worse, my always reliable new source, Slashdot, directed me to this unsavory piece of information today:

A senior government official with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has expressed great interest in a so-called safety bracelet that would serve as a stun device, similar to that of a police Taser. According to this promotional video found at the Lamperd Less Lethal website, the bracelet would be worn by all airline passengers.

This bracelet would:
• take the place of an airline boarding pass
• contain personal information about the traveler
• be able to monitor the whereabouts of each passenger and his/her luggage
• shock the wearer on command, completely immobilizing him/her for several minutes

That’s really great. Wearing control/shock bracelets just to take a plane ride. I don’t know why they don’t just make passengers unconscious and store them naked in locked caskets for the trip. Think of all the potential problems that would solve!

Anyway, you can read all about it here at the Washington Post:
Want some torture with your peanuts?

Not that I am completely anti-security… I think that metal detectors and lockable armored doors for cockpits are reasonable measures, but that’s about where I draw the line. All of this cataloging of people and excessive control measures can’t be leading us in a very good direction.

play on the cliffs

Death and the MaidenAfter planning on it for a long time, we finally watched Death and the Maiden. A film that I hadn’t seen in many years, but remembered liking. It’s the story of a couple in a South American country soon after the fall of a Military regime and the election of a democratic government. The husband has just been selected to head a committee to investigate human rights violations of the previous government and the wife… Well… She is one of the victims of the human rights violations, 15 years previously having been imprisoned for 2 months and: kept in the dark, starved, tortured and raped. Naturally, she has become rather reclusive, high-strung and paranoid. These folks live on the coast in the middle of nowhere and one dark and stormy night they have an unexpected guest. A nice enough fellow who says he lives in the area and helps the husband when he has a flat tire. While the husband befriends him and they have a couple of drinks the wife, hiding in the bedroom, hears his voice, listens to him talk and swears that it is the Doctor who tortured her all those years back!

In a panic, she sneaks out of the house, steals his car and begins concocting a plan to get him to confess his crimes to her! Of course, as it has been 15 years and she never actually saw her tormentor, other folks may not back up her notions or methods, but she has a gun and there aren’t any people around at the moment. It’s a pretty good thriller and drama. Though it is slow to start, weak in parts and Sigourney Weaver (as the wife) does some rather overdone acting that doesn’t come across too great. On the strong side, it also stars Ben Kingsley as the mysterious Dr. Miranda. I always like Kingsley and he does a fine job here (no Don Logan or anything, but still). I also thought that the story was an intriguing one, it was directed by Roman Polanski, and it has a very low-budget feel to it. Which works well, as its based on a play so the lion’s share of the running time takes place in only one room and there are only 3 significant roles.


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