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Jun. 20th, 2017 09:30 pm
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[personal profile] bitterlawngnome

Summer Solstice 2017; 7646
© Bill Pusztai 2017

May the power of the people who would do us ill diminish with the length of the days. May their strength to harm drain from them. May their followers disperse. May their excess material wealth fall away from them and never return. May their arrogance and spite drain from them. May their ability to harm us be taken away altogether by the spirits of the dead by the end of Samhain Night. May they spend their remaining days repairing the harm they have done. May the seeds and fruit set this season mature fully in wisdom, compassion and grace.

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Jun. 20th, 2017 07:08 pm
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[personal profile] bitterlawngnome
Spirited Away, dir Hayao Miyazaki and Kirk Wise, 2002, Japan. I think this is the second time I've seen it. It occurred to me while watching it how much this style refers back to the Art Nouveau illustrative style of 100 years ago (especially I'm reminded of some children's books from my mothers childhood), which in turn drew heavily on Japanese art of 50 or 100 years earlier still. And so on.

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Jun. 19th, 2017 09:39 am
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[personal profile] bitterlawngnome
Pather Panchali, dir Satyajit Ray, 1955, India.
Aparajito, dir Satyajit Ray, 1956, India.
Apur Sansar (The World of Apu), dir Satyajit Ray, 1959, India.

This was my introduction to the works of Satyajit Ray, who is one of the most acclaimed filmmakers in Indian film history and probably one of the best ever anywhere. Flawless storytelling, with many subtleties and a deep compassion for the internal lives of the characters at every stage of life.

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Jun. 17th, 2017 04:12 pm
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[personal profile] bitterlawngnome
Дом за вешање / Dom za vešanje / Time of the Gypsies, dir Emir Kusturica, UK/Italy/Yugoslavia, 1988. Not an easy film to watch. It's set in Roma culture and is neither a condemnation nor an apologia, quite unsentimental, but the plot is pure soap opera drama. Plenty of squalor, disaster, betrayal, death, love, fighting, and a bit of magic - for 140 minutes. The film was much awarded and I wonder how much of that was political, since it came out at a time when it was fashionable for celebrities to say noble things about the "poor maligned gypsies". 

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Jun. 14th, 2017 08:48 pm
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[personal profile] bitterlawngnome
Cronos, dir Guillermo del Toro, 1993, Mexico. I wouldn't have noticed had I not watched them within a week of each other, but Cronos is in many ways a speculation on the same themes as Dracula. The differences are more interesting than the similarities: undeath forced upon the victim or a contagion versus being chosen, an unspoken mystical origin versus a mechanism and proto-science, no sort of redemption versus some kind of acceptance in the world of the living. I can also see it as a speculation on the idea of clinical immortality at the price of harvested body parts.

small personal note

Jun. 14th, 2017 11:11 am
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[personal profile] kore


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Jun. 13th, 2017 11:30 pm
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[personal profile] bitterlawngnome
Take a Chance, dir Alfred J. Goulding, 1918, USA. Harold Lloyd, silent.
Captain Kidd's Kids, dir Hal Roach, USA, 1919, silent. Harold Lloyd.
Safety Last, dir Fred C. Newmeyer and Sam Taylor, 1923, USA. Harold Lloyd.

Well, there. I've sat through three Harold Lloyd films, including the one where he's hanging off the clock. Now let us never speak of this again.

The Lamp, dir Roman Polanski, 1959, Poland. Only seven minutes long, but full on magic realism. Very admirable.

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Jun. 12th, 2017 11:21 pm
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[personal profile] pantryslut
OK, I also have to admit to one tiny personal disappointment with The Girl With All The Gifts. It is possible that what I am about to discuss could be considered a spoiler, so proceed at your own discretion. Also there are mildly gory true-life biological experiment details involving animal subjects below.

Back in high school, I worked on a toxicology study for a summer. We were working to answer a certain question about delayed neurotoxins (i.e. organophosphates). Typically, after being exposed to delayed neurotoxins, vertebrates such as chickens, cats, ferrets, mink, and humans experience progressive neurological impairment over the course of days or weeks, especially of their back or lower limbs.

In chickens at least, however, immature chicks seem to be immune to the effects of this class of delayed neurotoxins. At the time, nobody knew why. Was it because their digestive systems were too undeveloped to absorb the toxins? That was one hypothesis.

So we bypassed the digestive system entirely by injecting organophosphates into days-old chicks intravenously, intramuscularly and intraperitoneally. Plus the control group, of course.

Then we pureed their brains (not all of them, only 50%, just like Dr. Caldwell) and tested them for the presence of neurotoxic esterase (NTE), an enzyme which would indicate that the compound had been absorbed and metabolized.

NTE was present in all the dosed chicks. The chemical was absorbed just fine. So we watched the other half of the chick population for limb impairment over the course of a month or so.

No impairment.

The compound was swimming around in the chick's bodies; it just wasn't having any effect on their nervous system.


Except not, because instead there's this thing about first-generation zombies having sex with each other and then gestating babies that I frankly find strained my suspension of disbelief so hard it still has stretch marks. Oh well.

P.S.: Effect of route of administration on the development of organophosphate-induced delayed neurotoxicity in 4-week-old chicks.
Olson BA1, Bursian SJ.
Department of Animal Science, Michigan State University, East Lansing 48824.
J Toxicol Environ Health. 1988;23(4):499-505.

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Jun. 12th, 2017 10:45 pm
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[personal profile] bitterlawngnome
Dracula, dir Tod Browning, 1931, USA. It's amazing to go back to this and realise how often it's quoted or alluded to, from Count Floyd to Rocky Horror to Londo Mollari. I'd forgotten that the villagers in the opening scenes actually speak Hungarian!

Reading: Let's Play Catch-Up

Jun. 12th, 2017 04:31 pm
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[personal profile] pantryslut
It's summer! I have free time again! So let's catch up with my bookshelves, shall we?

This morning I finished reading The Girl With All The Gifts. I would describe this as the In-n-Out Burger of popular literature: it's general shape and flavor are familiar, but of unusually high quality, and therefore surprisingly satisfying. It's not doing anything new, it's just doing what it does well. And since it's a suspense-zombie-adventure novel, I found it really hard to put down. "A page-turner!"

Before that I read The Sellout by Paul Beatty, which gets points for being the cheekiest thing I'm going to read this year, I can already tell. I don't think I am qualified to say much more about it other than how much I liked its sense of place -- it's an L.A. book, but about parts of L.A. you hardly ever see (in fiction or otherwise).

Sometime before that I read Follow Me Into the Dark by Felicia Sullivan, a book about serial killers and generational trauma, written from a feminist perspective. Like many books about serial killers and/or generational trauma, it got a little lurid for my tastes somewhere in the middle -- not gross, just over-the-top-ish. It fixed itself later. It still does some gaudy tricksy things that feel a little unnecessary, but overall it was solid, and recommended to people who like unreliable narrators (hoo boy) and unstable narrative realities and the like.

Meanwhile, I read The Princess Bride aloud to my children. They had mixed feelings, but mostly overall positive. As for me, it was on this re-read that I noticed that the whole "good bits" abridgment schtick is partly a commentary on Les Miserables, where the plot is the thinnest stuff necessary to get you through big blocks of other material, and that those big blocks aren't "digressions," they're the meat of the book, to Hugo anyway. The "plot" is just connective tissue.

trying to get more comms on DW going

Jun. 12th, 2017 02:35 pm
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[personal profile] kore
My first post to [community profile] beautifulmechanical!

Not what I posted there, but they do a beautiful live cover of "Winterlong":

further thoughts on WW

Jun. 10th, 2017 06:04 pm
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[personal profile] kore
That whole entire movie can be summed up as


- She always did what she wanted to, even when she was a wee tiny twig. I don't know if I've ever seen another movie where the heroine is so determined to do what she wants and just goes ahead and does it. And where it doesn't bite her in the ass. The whole film was all about her choices and her journey.

- Steve Trevor was totally the love interest and it was great. Chris Pine also did an amazing job -- and he's always struck me as a horrible smarmy caricature in everything else. Spoiler )

- All the slo-mo in the fight scenes didn't bug me (T said he actually liked it). Modern action movie fight scenes always go by way too fucking fast for me to figure anything out and the slo-mo was basically all "Look at how awesome Diana is," so that was fine by me.

- That Spoiler ) scene was FUCKING EPIC. Holy wow. That was amazingly powerful. I will be surprised if this film doesn't get nominated for awards in f/x and editing. The whole film was also really beautiful to see in the theatre, and I really liked the storybook sequence near the opening.


- The film was never male-gazey and there were actual characters who were not white men! the Not-Howlies were diverse! The Amazons were diverse! That is what happens with a female director. Also, not one fat joke about Etta Candy.

- Spoilery spoiler )

- A.O. Scott said* it reminded him of the Superman movies and I thought for once he had a good point, although WW was a lot darker than those ever got, what with the very first battle scenes, then the Front, the poison gas, the refugees, and the speeches about human nature and war.


-- Oh yeah we also got a trailer for Justice League. HA HA HA HA NO. Altho shirtless Jason Momoa....hmmmm.

*Diana is erudite but unworldly, witty but never ironic, supremely self-confident and utterly mystified by the modern world. Its capacity for cruelty is a perpetual shock to her, even though she herself is a prodigy of violence. Her sacred duty is to bring peace to the world. Accomplishing it requires a lot of killing, but that’s always the superhero paradox.
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