Tag: Arts

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Should we be worried? From ScreenRant:  According to data analytics firm Parrot Analytics, Lucifer was the most in-demand digital original in the United States in May – by a substantial margin. In fact, it was also the #2 comic book adaptation, only beaten by The Flash.  Preview Open

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The Handmaid’s Tale: Looking for Tyranny in All the Wrong Places

 

Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale is a cultural phenomenon. Since the debut of the new Hulu series starring Elisabeth Moss, the novel (originally published in 1985) has earned a new crop of readers, including people who have not yet seen the new web series. I am one of those people.

The world of Atwood’s Tale is a totalitarian Christian fundamentalist nation called Gilead, which was founded after a bloody takedown of the U.S. government. Gilead enforces levitical law more literally and brutally that any Jewish or Christian sect in history. Adultery, fornication and pornography are capital crimes, of course, but Gileadeans may even endanger their lives by owning fashion magazines or wearing makeup. Clothing is Taliban-modest and color-coded to indicate the caste of the person donning it.

Gilead has a strict social structure. Men and women have very distinct roles. Powerful older men get official privileges – such as marriage – that younger men do not. Very few women work outside private homes, but their castes are even more well-defined than those of men. Wives act as the lady-like consorts of powerful men, administering their houses. “Marthas” are household servants who do the real work while the wives engage in handicrafts. Then there are the Handmaids; what they do requires a bit of background.

“Inherit the Wind” Comes Back Home to the Bible Belt

 

Inherit the Wind, a drama by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee, tells a highly fictionalized version of the famous Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925. In the real trial, The State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes, a substitute high school teacher was accused of violating Tennessee’s Butler Act, which prohibited teaching human evolution in state-funded schools. But it was not a trial of real facts – it was a phony case manufactured by the American Civil Liberties Union.

When the Butler Act passed, the ACLU lost no time peppering the state with pamphlets offering to defend anyone who violated the Act. The problem was: the Act went unenforced – and was widely understood to be a symbolic political gesture. In fact, Tennessee had another statute that required public schools to use a specific science textbook that did teach human evolution. So, if the ACLU was ever going to challenge the Act in court, they had to manufacture the facts themselves.

The organization found an ally in George Rappleyea, a businessman from the small town of Dayton, Tennessee. During a meeting of local business leaders, Rappleyea convinced the pillars of his community to sponsor the ACLU’s test case in their county. Rappleyea was against the law himself and others supported it, but the primary argument Rappleyea made to his peers was that the media circus around the trial would be great for business. The others agreed. Now they just needed a defendant.

Why So Serious?

 
Battlefield 1 cover

Battlefield 1, the big WWI game that launches this October, features this Harlem Hellfighter in all its marketing and has an expansion pack devoted to the famed unit. But do any of them identify as transgendered or intersex?

Throughout my life, I have been extraordinarily traditional while most of my friends have been remarkably progressive. Perhaps it’s the curse of an orthodox artist. Perhaps God thinks it’s funny. In any case, experience has taught me to be diplomatic and to choose my battles with care. But while my hippie friends and I have generally gotten along because we share an interest in life’s frivolities (even though we differ on nearly all serious matters), I find it’s increasingly difficult to maintain such friendships. With each passing year, philosophical differences intrude further and further into our casual pastimes.

Electronic Art’s Game Changer

 

Frostbite_engine_logo_2016During this week’s conference call for investors in Electronic Arts (EA) — one of the world’s largest publishers of video games, from phone apps to console blockbusters — the company announced that its development subsidiaries are all uniting in use of its propietary Frostbite game engine. This could be another big step in the evolution of the $90B game industry.

What is a game engine? In short, it’s a software foundation and toolset for building video games. From graphics and audio rendering, to physics simulations and artificial intelligence, the “engine” provides basic code (increasingly, advanced code as well) that streamlines the creative work of game design. It automates complex processes and ensures that they cooperate with each other without exceeding delegated resources.

The newest version of the Frostbite engine will probably be revealed soon. Here is a demonstration of the old version.

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  I’ve spent some time in Florence this month–I had my first Ricochet meet-up–I remembered my days in liberal arts wandering the streets of Florence a few fleeting days fancifully remembered a decade past…–I sat with my friend & talked over some of the things we saw. I’ve been meaning to write about it, but […]

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Underwhelmed By Greatness?

 

RearWindowHave you ever had this experience? Have you ever sat down with a book, a film, an album, what have you, that you’ve heard from time immemorial was a classic and thought…eh? Maybe you would have liked it if you had come to it cold, but it just couldn’t bear the weight of its own legacy.

I’ve always been a big Alfred Hitchcock fan. Vertigo is one of my favorite films of all time. The episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents entitled “Breakdown” is one of the most gripping 30 minutes of television I’ve ever seen (you can find it on Netflix or Amazon). While I’ve worked my way through most of the Hitchcock corpus, I had, until recently, somehow failed to make the time for Rear Window, considered one of the director’s all-time classics. Finding myself with some unexpected free time on a recent Sunday, I popped it up on Netflix. And, well…eh.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a solid film. The acting is stellar, confining the action primarily to Jimmy Stewart’s apartment was clever (it’s essentially the movie equivalent of a bottle episode), and there are some moments of genuine suspense. Overall, however, I came away underwhelmed. Without giving too much away (although, to be fair, the film is 60 years old, so a spoiler alert is an act of charity), the tension in the plot runs as follows: one of the main characters either did A or did B. In the end, it turns out he did B. Not exactly white-knuckle stuff.

The Ethics of Artificial Reproductive Technologies

 

Hand-in-glove with recent debates about marriage should be debates about artificial reproductive technologies, or ARTs. These have been largely unregulated in the US, resulting in a wild west of anonymous sperm donation, surrogacy, three party reproduction (egg, sperm and surrogate all from different people) and hundreds of thousands of frozen embryos awaiting….something.

Most Western countries regulate this industry. Though I’m generally against excessive regulation, I think we — as a nation — need to do the soul-searching and caution that the ART industry is seems so uninterested in doing for itself. In most Western countries, anonymous sperm donation is illegal, as is surrogacy. Many regulate the number of embryos that can be transferred per cycle, resulting in far fewer multiple births. These regulations arise from a great many legitimate ethical concerns. Most nations — and some U.S. states, to some degree — but not in America as a whole.

Classical Music We Love to Hate—Midget Faded Rattlesnake

 

Our most recent thread on classical music favorites revealed a surprising amount of hate for Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor. Or maybe it’s not surprising. Perhaps there’s no surer way to torture a music lover than to force him to listen to music that doesn’t, for whatever reason, meet his expectations of what music should be. And that got me thinking about classical music that I hate. Turns out there’s a fair amount of it.

I can’t be the only one around here who feels passionate hatred for certain pieces of classical music, so I thought it would be fun to start a thread on what classical music we hate and why. Here, in no particular order, are a few of my favorite hates:

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Do you take pride in your work? I mean not only your occupation but all of your labors, around the home and beyond it.  From what does that pride stem? Is it the effort or a successful result? Do you give yourself “an A for effort” even if the endeavor fails? Perhaps your answer depends […]

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What Are Your Favorite Obscure Movies?

 

At the bottom of a webpage, between the “Actresses Who Age Badly” and “Bizarre Creatures of the Sea,” was a clickable list I couldn’t resist — “9 Great Movies You’ve Never Seen”. It turns out I had seen two of the movies, both of which I liked; the original Das Boot (with subtitles), and Fearless.  The ones I hadn’t seen were:

  • Amazon Women on the Moon
  • Swimming With Sharks
  • The Wild Blue Yonder
  • May
  • Secretary
  • Hard Eight
  • Bob Le Flambeur

Have you seen these films? If so, opinions please! What other lost gems should I be watching?