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As Slow As Possible

from OBSERVER

John Cage’s 639-Year-Long Organ Concert Attracts a Crowd in Germany

By Helen Holmes

Artists of many different mediums have always loved to play with the concepts of time and duration, and legendary composer and conceptualist John Cage is no different. On September 5, 2001, one of the composer’s final projects was launched to the world: the slowest concert ever composed. Organ2/ASLSP (As Slow as Possible) is a musical piece by Cage that was originally conceived in 1987 and which is expected to take 639 years to be completed, meaning that if things proceed on schedule, the performance will come to an end in 2640. Over the weekend, on Saturday, spectators gathered in Halberstadt, Germany’s St. Burchardi Church to bear witness to the first sonic change in Cage’s composition to take place in seven years.

Specifically, since 2013, an organ in the aforementioned church has been playing the same note in Cage’s composition. In order for the organ’s notes to change, two new pipes, playing the notes g sharp and e, were added to the apparatus on Saturday in front of an audience of hundreds and captured for remote viewers in a livestream hosted by the John Cage ASLSP project which lasted a grand total of four hours.

[ click to continue reading at OBSERVER ]

Posted on September 10, 2020 by Editor

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Six Months In

from Slate

The Terrifying, Liberating Lesson of the Coronavirus Lockdown

Six months later in America, we’re learning how to live again—and to accept the unimaginable.

By SUSAN MATTHEWS

Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Getty Images Plus.

This is part of Six Months In, a Slate series reflecting on half a year of coronavirus lockdown in America.

A little more than six months ago, I sent a Slack message to Slate’s top editors that said “I think things are about to get really bad, virus-wise. We probably need to start thinking about that.” It was roughly a week before America’s shutdowns began and around the time when New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was still telling people “there is more fear, more anxiety, than the facts would justify.” At that point, alongside reporting on some of the basic science of the “novel coronavirus,” Slate had told the stories of a Chinese restaurant devastated by xenophobic fear and a woman who had canceled a $24,000 anniversary cruise, and published dispatches from Italy, which at the time seemed like the darkest possible reflection of what might lie ahead. But still, it felt like no one was quite convinced a pandemic was arriving here.

One week later, much of America started to shut down, in some form or another. Slate started to order its employees to work remotely March 11. President Donald Trump gave a speech from the Oval Office that night about the virus, but it felt like it was the suspension of the NBA season and Tom Hanks’ announcement that he’d tested positive that jolted the public consciousness. As the death toll rose, the warnings from abroad got louder alongside our own public health officials’, and it seemed to finally hit many of us that we had to stay inside, isolated, alone, for real, with the occasional sanity-preserving walk. In a span of a few weeks, we went from trying to tell stories of how the virus had disrupted some people’s lives to realizing that the virus was disrupting everyone’s lives, and would be for some time.

[ click to continue reading at Slate ]

Posted on September 5, 2020 by Editor

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Le Blaine Rouge

from The U.S. Sun

David Blaine Ascension: Incredible moment magician soars 20,000ft above desert ‘holding onto just 52 BALLOONS’

by Fionnuala O’Leary

David Blaine clutched 52 balloons before parachuting towards the ground

INCREDIBLE footage shows the moment David Blaine soared above the desert holding onto a bunch of 52 helium balloons in a stunt that looked straight out of the film Up.

The illusionist parachuted towards the ground after releasing himself from the bunch of balloons on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, Blaine returned to solid ground in the Arizona desert after his impressive stunt was a success. 

Blaine was strapped in with a harness as he clutched 52 helium-filled balloons and exceeded his projected altitude of 18,000 feet on Wednesday during the “Ascension” stunt.

[ click to continue reading at The U.S. Sun ]

Posted on September 4, 2020 by Editor

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Gone With The Cold-eyed Realism

from The New Criterion

Knights & their ladies fair

On the cold-eyed realism of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind.

by Bruce Bawer

Just after the opening credits of Gone with the Wind and before the start of the film proper is a title card that reads as follows (ellipses in the original):

There was a land of Cavaliers and Cotton Fields called the Old South . . .

Here in this patrician world the Age of Chivalry took its last bow . . .

Here was the last ever to be seen of Knights and their Ladies Fair, of Master and of Slave . . .

Look for it only in books, for it is no more than a dream remembered, a Civilization gone with the wind . .

These are four very important sentences, because they’re intended to shape the way we view the entire 238-minute movie. Down through the decades, they’ve continued to serve that function. But those four sentences were not written by Margaret Mitchell, the author of the 1936 novel on which the film was based. They aren’t even remotely based on anything in the novel. On the contrary, when Mitchell first encountered the title card at the film’s Atlanta premiere, according to her biographer, Anne Edwards, she winced. “ ‘Cavalier,’ ” wrote Edwards, “was not a word she liked associated with the South.” The words don’t appear in the final shooting script, credited to Sidney Howard, or in any of the innumerable earlier versions of the screenplay done by other hands (including F. Scott Fitzgerald). Instead, the title card, along with six cards that appear later in the film, was composed by the prolific screenwriter and playwright Ben Hecht at the last-minute instigation of the movie’s producer, David O. Selznick (“i am certain you could bat them out in a few minutes,” Selznick telegraphed), and was slipped into the beginning of the picture a few weeks after its first sneak preview.

Many people who’ve seen Selznick’s movie but who’ve never opened Mitchell’s novel have acquired the impression that the book is just what Hecht’s title-card suggests: a gauzy, romantic take on the pre-war South. In fact, when the novel is mentioned in passing in accounts of the movie, it’s often summed up by a statement to precisely this effect. For example, in a 2005 biography of Hattie McDaniel, who played Mammy in the film, Jill Watts, a professor of film studies at csu San Marcos, wrote that “In Mitchell’s view, the antebellum South was an era of greatness.” In 2004, Matthew Bernstein, a professor of film studies at Emory, described the racial politics of Selznick’s movie as “less-than-progressive,” while adding that “the film is less offensive than Margaret Mitchell’s novel.”

[ click to continue reading at The New Criterion ]

Posted on September 1, 2020 by Editor

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Hopper Hangs With Welles

Posted on August 29, 2020 by Editor

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Better Off Savage Steve

from Inside Hook

How Savage Steve Holland Changed Teen Movies Forever With “Better Off Dead”

A childhood birthday party with a drunk clown changed the course of cinematic history

BY GARIN PIRNIA

On August 23, 1985, Warner Bros. distributed the dark teen comedy Better Off Dead, written and directed by first-time feature director Savage Steve Holland. It starred John Cusack as lovesick Northern California teen Lane Meyer, whose girlfriend, Beth (played by Nightmare on Elm Street’s Amanda Wyss), breaks up with him. He’s so heartbroken about her dating the ski jock Roy Stalin (Aaron Dozier) that Lane repeatedly attempts — and fails — to commit suicide. It was a comedy based on Holland’s own life, and inspired by another dark comedy, 1971’s Harold and Maude.

“When I was 11 years old, I had this birthday party and nobody came to it except for this drunk clown,” Holland tells InsideHook. At California Institute of the Arts, where he attended college, he says people wondered why he was always so sad. “I pinned it on that birthday party,” he says. “That was a first-world problem — I had a shitty birthday party and I was depressed about it. I made it into a movie thinking, ‘What a sad story.’” A film-fest audience viewed his short film, My 11-Year-Old Birthday Party, as a comedy. “People thought it was so pathetic and sad that they were laughing their heads off. That’s how I started my career. I dug into things that sucked in my life, and the girlfriend thing that happened to me was the biggest suck of all.” Though almost every time Lane attempts suicide he reconsiders, Holland thinks the movie couldn’t be made today. “It was dark, but I was trying to find a way out that wasn’t so depressing,” he says. “And Cusack actually helped a lot. He felt the same way about it. You don’t want Lane to be such a loser. He has to go, ‘I have something to live for.’ As long as the jokes played off in the end and you laughed at his attempts, I think we were okay.”

[ click to continue reading at Inside Hook ]

Posted on August 28, 2020 by Editor

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Nekkidness On Netflix

from The Daily Beast

Inside Hollywood’s Long, Strange History of Movie Nudity

by Nick Schager

Though I might like to claim otherwise, I’m no expert on big-screen T&A&D. Skin: A History of Nudity in the Movies, however, makes a bid for being the definitive documentary on the subject. Driven by a cornucopia of film clip and talking heads—led by actors, directors, historians and critics—it delivers a thorough chronological timeline of cinematic nakedness. Too bad, then, that when it comes to actually delving into the most interesting aspects of its topic, Danny Wolf’s non-fiction film proves, ahem, skin-deep.

Debuting on VOD on August 18, Skin is most valuable as a survey of movie nudity, ranging from the seminal 1887 work of Eadweard Muybridge to the mainstream BDSM fantasies of 2015’s Fifty Shades of Grey, with just about every other notable example in-between at least briefly mentioned. That means that whatever film first aroused you likely appears in Wolf’s doc, be it silent film star Audrey Munson’s Inspiration (1915), Mae West’s sexual innuendo-laced 1930s output, Cecille B. DeMille’s The Sign of the Cross (1932), Jayne Mansfield’s Promises! Promises! (1963), Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-Up (1966), Peter Bogdanovich’s The Last Picture Show (1971), Bernardo Bertolucci’s Last Tango in Paris (1972), Tinto Brass’ Caligula (1979), Amy Heckerling’s Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982), Paul Verhoeven’s Basic Instinct (1992), or Paul Weitz’s American Pie (1999). For every generation, an iconic unclothed moment is vividly revisited here.

[ click to continue reading at TDB ]

Posted on August 27, 2020 by Editor

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A Timely Failure

from Forbes

The First Clock In America Failed, And It Helped Revolutionize Physics

by Ethan Siegel, Senior Contributor

The schematic of a simple, oscillating pendulum acting under gravity's influence.
A pendulum, so long as the weight is all in the bob at the bottom while air resistance, temperature… KRISHNAVEDALA / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

For nearly three full centuries, the most accurate way that humanity kept track of time was through the pendulum clock. From its initial development in the 17th century until the invention of quartz timepieces in the 1920s, pendulum clocks became staples of household life, enabling people to organize their schedules according to a universally agreed upon standard. Initially invented in the Netherlands by Christian Huygens all the way back in 1656, their early designs were quickly refined to greatly increase their precision.

But when the first pendulum clock was brought to the Americas, something bizarre happened. The clock, which had worked perfectly well at keeping accurate time in Europe, could be synchronized with known astronomical phenomena, like sunset/sunrise and moonset/moonrise. But after only a week or two in the Americas, it was clear that the clock wasn’t keeping time properly. The first clock in America was a complete failure, but that’s only the beginning of a story that would revolutionize our understanding of the physics of planet Earth.

[ click to continue reading at Forbes ]

Posted on August 26, 2020 by Editor

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Teslaplane

from OBSERVER

A Tesla Electric Plane? Elon Musk Hints It’s Not Far Away

By Sissi Cao

Elon Musk first floated the idea of an electric jet two years ago. Saul Martinez/Getty Images

Elon Musk once said that one day, “all transportation will be electric, except for rockets.” Yes, that even includes airplanes, which have long been on his list of things to electrify.

The Tesla CEO first floated the idea in an interview in September 2018. The plane he envisioned was a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) vehicle capable of flying at supersonic speeds at high altitudes.

The idea has largely remained a far-fetched dream because in order for Musk’s design to work, the plane would require a battery with an energy density higher than 400 Wh/kg. Tesla’s newest batteries, Panasonic’s “2170” batteries used in Model 3 cars, can only achieve an energy density of around 260Wh/kg.

But Tesla is working to increase that capacity at unprecedented speed right now. In a new exchange with ARK Investment analyst Sam Korus on Twitter, Musk said Tesla may be able to achieve volume production of 400wh/kg batteries in just three to four years.

[ click to continue reading at OBSERVER ]

Posted on August 25, 2020 by Editor

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Neuralink

from Teslarati

Elon Musk to unveil Neuralink progress with real-time neuron demonstration this week

by Dacia J. Ferris

Neuralink’s surgical robot and an example of a wearable device for transmitting neuron information. (Photo: Neuralink)

Elon Musk’s brain-machine interface company, Neuralink, has an event scheduled for later this week to update the public on its progress since last year’s presentation. While the agenda is speculative for the most part, one expectation is a live demonstration of neuron activity.

“Will show neurons firing in real-time on August 28th. The matrix in the matrix,” Musk tweeted at the end of July.

He also revealed a few other clues about the early fall announcement at the beginning of the year. “Wait until you see the next version vs what was presented last year. It’s *awesome*,” he wrote in February. “The profound impact of high bandwidth, high precision neural interfaces is underappreciated. Neuralink may have this in a human as soon as this year. Just needs to be unequivocally better than Utah Array, which is already in some humans & has severe drawbacks.”

As its name implies, the roles of neuron activities are very important to Neuralink’s technology. The venture’s long-term goal of obtaining human symbiosis with artificial intelligence (AI) begins by connecting electrodes throughout the brain and reading its neuron signals en masse. Gathering huge amounts of data from the signals gradually teaches Neuralink’s software how they are used by the brain to communicate with the rest of the body, ultimately leading to a certain amount of replication and direction. The possibilities of such a capability seem endless.

[ click to continue reading at Teslarati ]

Posted on August 24, 2020 by Editor

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The Magic Knife

from ADWEEK

A Knife Brand Brilliantly Used Rust to Create an Outdoor Ad Highlighting Its Durability

The corrosion of the outdoor ad is made to contrast with the product in the center

BY PATRICK KULP

The billboard gradually rusted to reveal the silver silhouette of a knife. JCDecaux

Austrian manufacturer Tyrolit may have confused some people on the streets of Vienna when it first posted a blank sheet of metal bearing only a small brand name as a billboard.

But over the course of the next few weeks, the display would gradually rust to reveal the silver silhouette of a knife at the center and the tagline “Flawless Forever,” sealed behind a protective layer amid an expanse of reddish brown corrosion. 

The clever use of media, which was orchestrated in collaboration with agency Heimat’s office in Wien, Austria, is designed to demonstrate the durability of the Swarovski Group-owned brand’s Iceline line of cutlery.

[ click to continue reading at ADWEEK ]

Posted on August 23, 2020 by Editor

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I Heart UFOs

from Rolling Stone

How UFO culture took over America

by Stephen Rodrick

Aliens tom delonge ufo area 51
Illustration by Sean McCabe for Rolling Stone. Images in illustration by Getty Images

Aliens are calling me, but first I have to buy Lunchables. Soon, I’ll be heading into the Nevada desert. I will not be alone. It is pre-pandemic September, and tens of thousands of seekers are reported to be descending on Hiko and Rachel, two no-stoplight towns 150 miles north of Las Vegas. The two map specks are the closest civilian outposts to Area 51, a highly guarded military installation where, legend says, a hangar holds a gravity-propelled craft that travels between galaxies and through wormholes based on technology acquired from aliens and, according to one rock star, Nazi scientists who escaped to Argentina.

[ click to continue reading at RS ]

Posted on August 22, 2020 by Editor

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Double Cheese is a $1.50 Extra

from CBS Los Angeles

Business Booming At Local Pizzerias Even As Cheese, Pepperoni Harder To Come By

By CBSLA Staff

PASADENA (CBSLA) — In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, there have been shortages of toilet paper, hand sanitizer and coins, but now some pizza places are reporting a shortage of pepperoni and higher prices for cheese.

“The price has gone up,” David Valian, owner of Big Mama’s and Papa’s Pizza, said. “I think since there’s like a meat shortage going around.”

The thin slice of meat — a mix of pork and beef — is the number one pizza topping according to an industry resource, and its one that the popular Pasadena joint has run into issues keeping in stock.

“A couple of weeks ago, we were having some trouble sourcing pepperoni,” Valian said. “We always have to go back and try to find more.”

[ click to continue reading at CBS LA ]

Posted on August 16, 2020 by Editor

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Paranoiac Pakula

from Inside Hook

What the Paranoid ’70s Thrillers of Alan J. Pakula Can Teach Us About 2020

Revisiting the American director’s “Klute,” “All the President’s Men” and “The Parallax View”

BY MONICA CASTILLO

Alan J. Pakula’s 1970s “paranoia trilogy” connects to 2020.
Alan J. Pakula’s 1970s “paranoia trilogy” connects to 2020.

Early in The Parallax View, reporter Joe Frady (Warren Beatty) chases after clues to a string of mysterious deaths in a remote fishing town. The locals don’t take kindly to the outsider asking questions, but the friendly sheriff intervenes and offers to take Frady to the spot where one of the victims drowned. Even though it looks like Joe’s relieved for a break in his story, he’s still on guard, nervously surveying the way people are looking at him and doubting the sheriff’s assuring grin. Something’s not right. When the sheriff takes Joe to the river, he pulls a gun, and it’s up to Joe to figure a way out of a conspiracy into which he’s suddenly thrust. 

That heightened sense that no one can be trusted and that there are greater invisible forces at work help give Alan J. Pakula’s “paranoia trilogy” of the 1970s its moniker. Starting with Klute in 1971, followed by The Parallax Viewin 1974, and ending with All the President’s Men in 1976, Pakula’s films paint a bleak picture of a nation united in chaos. These movies reacted to the tumult ushered in by the Watergate scandal. The Pentagon Papers had revealed a number of ugly truths about the Vietnam War and exposed the existence of COINTELPRO, an illegal FBI surveillance program that intended to destabilize leftist political groups. One of Pakula’s films reckons with the ordeal explicitly: in All the President’s MenWashington Post reporters Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) and Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) piece together the full story behind the Watergate breakin. The other two are more subtle in their approach. In Klute, sex worker Bree Daniels (Jane Fonda) quickly learns that she can’t rely on police protection to rid her of a dangerous stalker.

[ click to continue reading at Inside Hook ]

Posted on August 15, 2020 by Editor

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Roaring 20 II

from The Wall Street Journal

Coronavirus Lockdowns Usher In the New Roaring ’20s

An underground social economy is growing to escape state prohibitions.

By Allysia Finley

Opinion: Progressives to Cities: Drop Dead

States with strict coronavirus lockdowns seem to be reliving the Roaring ’20s. Alcohol is legal in the 21st century’s version of Prohibition, but with restaurants, bars and other social spaces shut down, governors in California, New Jersey and New York are struggling to crack down on illicit summer soirees and speakeasies. 

As in the 1920s, driving gatherings underground has encouraged other illicit behavior, including violence. Last week police busted up a party at a Santa Monica, Calif., mansion with hundreds of revelers….

[ click to continue reading at WSJ ]

Posted on August 14, 2020 by Editor

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Everyday Strangers

from DNyuz

The Benefits of Talking to Strangers

I’m a lifelong extrovert who readily establishes and relishes casual contacts with people I encounter during daily life: while walking my dog, shopping for groceries, working out at the Y, even sweeping my sidewalk. These ephemeral connections add variety to my life, are a source of useful information and often provide needed emotional and physical support. Equally important, they nearly always leave me with a smile on my face (although now hidden under a mask!).

In recent months, under stay-at-home orders because of the coronavirus pandemic, many people lost such daily encounters. I, on the other hand, have done my best to maintain as many of them as possible while striving to remain safe. With in-person time with family and close friends now limited by a mutual desire to avoid exposure to Covid-19, the brief socially distant contacts with people in my neighborhood, both those I’ve known casually for years and others I just met, have been crucial to my emotional and practical well-being and maybe even my health.

The benefits I associate with my casual connections were reinforced recently by a fortuitous find. During a Covid-inspired cleanup I stumbled upon a book in my library called “Consequential Strangers: The Power of People Who Don’t Seem to Matter … But Really Do.” Published 11 years ago, this enlightening tome was written by Melinda Blau, a science writer, and Karen L. Fingerman, currently a professor of psychology at the University of Texas, Austin, who studies the nature and effects of so-called weak ties that people have with others in their lives: the barista who fetches their coffee, the person who cuts their hair, the proprietor of the local market, the folks they see often at the gym or train station.

In an interview, Dr. Fingerman noted that casual connections with people encountered in the course of daily life can give people a feeling that they belong to a community, which she described as “a basic human need.”

[ click to continue reading at DNyuz ]

Posted on August 3, 2020 by Editor

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Rockers CIA

from The Daily Beast

CIA, Guns, and Rasta: Inside the Making of Reggae’s Most Iconic Film

Rockers is an absolutely wild movie with a backstory that’s much, much wilder.

by Patricia Meschino

Rockers is, arguably, the finest reggae movie ever made. 

The 1978 film tells the story of a financially struggling drummer, Leroy “Horsemouth” Wallace (portraying himself), who buys a motorbike with the intention of making extra money by distributing producers’ records to shops across the island. When the bike is stolen by an upper-class organized crime ring, Horsemouth and his friends set out to retrieve it and take back most of the criminals’ ill-gotten goods and distribute them to Kingston’s ghetto dwellers.

The skeletal plot is best summarized as a Jamaican reinterpretation of the legend of Robin Hood meets Italian director Vittorio De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves, yet Rockers mesmerizes as a kaleidoscopic view of late ’70s reggae, one of the most fascinating eras in Jamaican music’s trajectory, and in its respectful, almost mystical presentation of Rastafarian culture, a relatively unknown way of life at the time of the film’s international debut. 

Made on a budget of $250,000 and directed by Theodoros “Ted” Bafaloukos, Rockers caused a near riot at the Cannes Film Festival in 1979 when crowds clamoring for tickets to the four scheduled sold-out screenings jammed the streets surrounding the theater and refused to leave. A review in the French daily Le Monde enthused, “Rockers is not a film, it is a work of art. So good it is difficult to believe, yet it is real.”

Rockers secured U.S. distribution in 1980; 40 years later, the film continues to be widely screened, critically lauded, and now, meticulously documented in a spectacular 320-page coffee table book, published by Gingko Press. Rockers: The Making of Reggae’s Most Iconic Film, was initially written by Bafaloukos in 2005 (he died in 2016 at age 70, due to complications from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma). Featuring many previously unseen, stunning black and white and color photos taken in New York City and throughout his travels to Jamaica in the mid to late ’70s, the Rockers book chronicles Bafaloukos’ personal narrative as vividly and insightfully as it does the landmark film bearing its name.

[ click to continue reading at TDB ]

Posted on August 2, 2020 by Editor

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Evel Toys

Posted on August 1, 2020 by Editor

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Sunshine Of The Eternal Bob Ross

from The Atlantic

Why Is Bob Ross Still So Popular?

Twenty-five years after his death, the painter who gave us “happy little trees” is more ubiquitous than ever.

Story by  Michael J. Mooney

“Every day’s a good day when you paint.” —Bob Ross (1942–1995)

Staring at the empty canvas on the easel in front of me, I couldn’t understand how this—nothing—might somehow transform into even a rough approximation of the Bob Ross painting we were using as a model. That painting was classic Bob Ross: a snowy landscape bursting with color, a world of glimmering trees and vibrant shrubs around a slick, icy pond. Gazing at it evoked that feeling you get sitting by a fire on a crisp, cold night. No way I could make anything like that.

I was in a room on the side of a big-box craft store in the suburbs north of Dallas, about to start a class taught by John Fowler, a Bob Ross–certified instructor—which means that he spent three weeks in Florida learning the wet-on-wet painting technique Ross employed on television. A tall, bespectacled man in his 60s, with a light beard and a deep voice and soothing cadence reminiscent of Ross himself, John explained that he has a few things in common with the puffy-haired painter. They both spent many years in the Air Force, for example, and both retired with the rank of master sergeant. I’d learn he also uses some Bob Ross vernacular, sprinkling instructions with expressions such as “We don’t make mistakes, we just have happy accidents.”

[ click to continue reading at The Atlantic ]

Posted on July 28, 2020 by Editor

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The Immune Among Us

from BBC

The people with hidden immunity against Covid-19

By Zaria Gorvett

There's growing evidence that some people might have a hidden reservoir of protection from Covid-19 (Credit: Getty Images)
There’s growing evidence that some people might have a hidden reservoir of protection from Covid-19 (Credit: Getty Images)

While the latest research suggests that antibodies against Covid-19 could be lost in just three months, a new hope has appeared on the horizon: the enigmatic T cell.T

The clues have been mounting for a while. First, scientists discovered patients who had recovered from infection with Covid-19, but mysteriously didn’t have any antibodies against it. Next it emerged that this might be the case for a significant number of people. Then came the finding that many of those who do develop antibodies seem to lose them again after just a few months.

In short, though antibodies have proved invaluable for tracking the spread of the pandemic, they might not have the leading role in immunity that we once thought. If we are going to acquire long-term protection, it looks increasingly like it might have to come from somewhere else.  

But while the world has been preoccupied with antibodies, researchers have started to realise that there might be another form of immunity – one which, in some cases, has been lurking undetected in the body for years. An enigmatic type of white blood cell is gaining prominence. And though it hasn’t previously featured heavily in the public consciousness, it may well prove to be crucial in our fight against Covid-19. This could be the T cell’s big moment.

[ click to continue reading at BBC ]

Posted on July 24, 2020 by Editor

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A Wrinkle In Picasso

from The Sun

Secret Picasso painting found HIDDEN beneath famous artwork – after strange ‘wrinkle’ was spotted

by Harry Pettit

A sketch of a pitcher, mug and what appears to be a newspaper propped up against a table or chair has been found hidden under Pablo Picasso’s painting, Still Life

DRAWINGS by legendary artist Pablo Picasso have been discovered hidden beneath one of his most famous paintings.

The sketches of a mug and what could be a newspaper were scribbled on a canvas eventually used by the Spanish genius for his 1922 work “Still Life”.

Picasso, who is thought to have made roughly 50,000 artworks during his lifetime, was known to reuse canvases by painting over previous drawings.

The new find by researchers at the Art Institute of Chicago is unusual in that he appears to have blocked the drawing from view using a “thick white layer” of paint before crafting the abstract piece, Live Science reports.

[ click to continue reading in The Sun ]

Posted on July 23, 2020 by Editor

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Stone on SCARFACE

from MovieMaker

When Scarface Was In Trouble: Oliver Stone Looks Back in An Exclusive Excerpt From Chasing the Light

By Oliver Stone

Before Scarface launched a boatload of T-shirts, posters, memes, and dubious imitations of Al Pacino’s cocainized Tony Montana, the film, written by Oliver Stone, was just a movie in trouble. 

In this excerpt from his new memoir Chasing the Light: Writing, Directing, and Surviving Platoon, Midnight Express, Scarface, Salvador, and The Movie Game, Oliver Stone recalls how he found himself caught between Pacino, Scarface director Brian De Palma, and Scarface producer Marty Bregman after a rough-cut screening of the movie that would soon become beloved as a classic of ’80s excess. Everything would work out, of course—in just a few years, Oliver Stone won the Academy Award for Best Director for Platoon, which also won Best Picture. Pacino and Bregman continued their long professional collaboration with Sea of Love and another De Palma film, Carlito’s Way

De Palma’s next film after Scarface was Body Double, another very ’80s, freakishly watchable film that wasn’t an immediate success but has earned a ravenous cult following. And soon after he made another Al Capone-indebted gangster epic (one that got more initial respect than Scarface), The Untouchables. Stone eventually reunited with Pacino, this time as a director, in the adrenalized but surprisingly affectionate Any Given Sunday, another Miami-set tale of machismo, greed, and desperation. 

Here’s Oliver Stone, recalling that fateful screening.

[ click to continue reading at MovieMaker ]

Posted on July 21, 2020 by Editor

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Back To The Horror

from The Atlantic

Why Low-Budget Horror Is Thriving This Summer

These dirt-cheap productions are making money, finding eager audiences, and garnering critical praise during a largely dead box-office season.

by DAVID SIMS

The gory thrills of Becky make the film solid drive-in theater viewing. QUIVER

Only during a global pandemic would the biggest film in the U.S. be not a superhero blockbuster or a Fast and the Furious sequel, but a low-budget horror movie about a teenage boy in the suburbs doing battle with a witch living next door. Thanks to the coronavirus disrupting the usual summer release schedule, The Wretched now belongs to a tiny group of films that have topped the U.S. box office for five weekends in a row, including Titanic and Avatar. Yes, those massive movies made a little more money (The Wretched pulled in a healthy $1.7 million at drive-in theaters) and faced slightly tougher competition. But it’s still surreal to acknowledge that, for the entire month of May, cinemagoers were most drawn to a weird little film with a naked woman wearing a deer skull on its poster.

And yet, most of the other films that have conquered the box office this summer are also dirt-cheap horror efforts: Becky, which features the comedy star Kevin James as a murderous neo-Nazi; Followed, a haunted-house thriller that plays out entirely on a computer screen; and, most recently, Relic, an Australian horror drama that was well received at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Under normal circumstances, these films would’ve followed a similar release pattern—a limited U.S. theatrical run combined with instant availability to rent online. Now they’re practically the only new films available for viewing at the country’s outdoor screens, with regular theaters shut down by the pandemic. It turns out that inexpensive horror flicks, which have been part of the Hollywood ecosystem as long as cinema has existed, are thriving as a result of a sparse film landscape and a largely quarantined moviegoing populace.

[ click to continue reading at The Atlantic ]

Posted on July 20, 2020 by Editor

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The Real Burning Bed

from The New Yorker

“The Burning Bed” Recalls the Case That Changed How Law Enforcement Treats Domestic Violence

By Anna Boots

For thirteen years, Francine Hughes’s husband, James (Mickey) Hughes, beat her routinely. Something as small as the inflection of a word would set him off: he’d pin her down in a chair and pummel her. They divorced in 1971, but, later that same year, he moved back in. “She did try to get away,” her son, James Hughes, remembers in “The Burning Bed,” a new short documentary from Retro Report. “But he would also tell her, ‘There is nowhere you can go, bitch, that I won’t find you.’ ”

One night, in 1977, Mickey subjected Hughes to a particularly humiliating beating. “Smashing food in the kitchen, dumping out the garbage, rubbing it into my hair, hitting me,” Hughes recalled in a television interview, years later. “I thought, I’m never coming back, never, and then I thought, Because there won’t be anything to come back to. That’s when I decided I would burn everything.” When Mickey fell asleep, drunk, that night, Hughes doused his bed in gasoline, lit it on fire, packed her four children into her car, and drove away as flames engulfed the house. Hughes was then charged with the murder of her ex-husband.

Hughes’s story has been told before—the new “Burning Bed” documentary borrows its title from the journalist Faith McNulty’s 1980 book about the Hugheses and from the 1984 TV-movie adaptation, starring Farrah Fawcett. The documentary emphasizes how groundbreaking Hughes’s case was. Lee Atkinson, who was an assistant prosecutor in her case, says that, at the time, police officers would not arrest someone for a misdemeanor unless they saw the crime committed. For Hughes, this policy meant that the police came to her house repeatedly and did not arrest Mickey. “Does she have bruises? Yes. Does she look like she’s been abused? Yes. The police will take a report, but they wouldn’t make an arrest,” he says. At a time when the criminal-justice system failed to deal with domestic violence because—as an “Evening News” broadcast put it—“traditionally, wife-beating has been considered a family affair,” Hughes’s case initiated a sea change, forcing a long-suppressed conversation about domestic violence in America.

[ click to continue reading at The New Yorker ]

Posted on July 19, 2020 by Editor

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Alexandrian Glass

from Real Clear Science

Where Did Rome’s Famous ‘Alexandrian’ Glass Come From

By Ross Pomeroy

Two thousand years ago, the Roman Empire was cranking out glassware unsurpassed in intricacy, beauty, or design, with skill and efficiency that wouldn’t be topped until the advent of modern industry in the 18th century. Large production operations scattered across the empire combined sand and nitrate in kilns reaching 1100 degrees Fahrenheit, creating giant gobs of glass that were then cooled and distributed in huge hunks far and wide. Glassworkers would then purchase this solid glass, re-melt it, and craft it into vessels and other wares.

Various types of glass were manufactured, but the most prized may have been Alexandrian glass, described by one ancient writer as “colourless or transparent, as closely as possible resembling rock crystal.” Glassmakers achieved this feat by oxidizing the sand’s iron from blue Fe2+ to pale Fe3+ by adding antimony oxide. The glass offered a blank slate for decoration and was sought after for serving vessels. The glass’ name hints that it hailed from Egypt when it was a Roman province (the capital was Alexandria), but its precise origin has remained elusive to historians.

[ click to continue reading at RCS ]

Posted on July 18, 2020 by Editor

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The Silver Swan

from Vanity Fair

Homicide at Rough Point

BY PETER LANCE

A view through the mansion’s smashed gates by news photographer Ed Quigley. At far right: detective Fred Newton, who had a surprising theory about how Tirella died. BY ED QUIGLEY/COURTESY OF JOHN QUIGLEY.

In the fall of 1966, billionaire Doris Duke killed a close confidant in tony Newport, Rhode Island. Local police ruled the incident “an unfortunate accident.” Half a century later, compelling evidence suggests that the mercurial, vindictive tobacco heiress got away with murder.

On the last full day of his life—October 6, 1966—Eduardo Tirella flew into Newport, Rhode Island, the storied summer colony of the country’s old money families. He was met at the airport by Doris Duke, the richest woman in America, and they drove to Rough Point, her 10-acre estate on Bellevue Avenue—Newport’s Millionaire’s Row. Eddie, as friends knew Tirella, had just told intimates that after a decade as the artistic curator and designer of Duke’s estates in New Jersey, Bel Air, Honolulu, and Newport, he was planning to sever his professional ties with her, for good. Now, it was time to let his patron and constant companion know, face-to-face.

The handsome Tirella, a war hero and Renaissance man, had just finished advising on a new Tony Curtis film, Don’t Make Waves, and was amping up his Hollywood career. Anxious to move to the West Coast full-time, he intended to load his effects into a rented Dodge station wagon, drop them at his family’s home in New Jersey, and then fly back to California. But nobody left Doris Duke without consequences. Notoriously jealous and known for her violent temper, she’d once stabbed her common-law husband with a butcher knife when he’d angered her. And Tirella, who was gay, had been warned by his lover and friends that Duke might overreact to his pending departure.

Late the next afternoon, Tirella and Duke had a heated argument, overheard by the estate’s staff. Moments later, the pair got into the station wagon with Tirella behind the wheel and headed off for an appointment. Approaching the property’s immense iron gates, Eduardo stopped the car and got out to unlock the chain that held them closed.

Suddenly, Duke slid into the driver’s seat, released the parking brake, shifted into drive, and hit the accelerator. The two-ton wagon sped toward Tirella, burst through the gates, smashed a fence across the street, and crashed into a tree. As Duke sat stunned behind the wheel, Tirella’s body lay crushed under the rear axle.

With massive injuries to his lungs, spinal cord, and brain, he died instantly. Ninety-six hours later, with no inquest—and basing their account of the crash entirely on the word of Duke—Newport police chief Joseph A. Radice declared the death accidental. Case closed.

[ click to continue reading at VF ]

Posted on July 17, 2020 by Editor

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LKJ Wins PEN Pinter Prize

from Brixton Blog

Top literature prize for Linton Kwesi Johnson

Linton Kwesi Johnson
Linton Kwesi Johnson

Linton Kwesi Johnson has been awarded this year’s PEN Pinter Prize.

Judges praised his work, saying: “Few post-war figures have been as unwaveringly committed to political expression in their work.”

The local poet and reggae artist will receive the award in a digital ceremony co-hosted by the British Library on 12 October.

The prize was established in 2009 by the charity English PEN, which defends freedom of expression and celebrates literature, in memory of the Nobel Laureate playwright Harold Pinter.

[ click to continue reading at Brixton Blog ]

Posted on July 14, 2020 by Editor

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Camping Goes Viral

from The Guardian

‘Everyone wants to get outside’: boom in camping as Americans escape after months at home

by Miranda Bryant in NEW YORK

A campground at Joshua Tree national park in southern California. The National Park Service said 330 of its 419 sites are open, although some services are limited. Photograph: Jae C Hong/AP

The pandemic has put many people off hotels and planes – but socially distanced outdoors holidays are enjoying a surge

The coronavirus has sparked a surge in RV or motorhome purchasing and rental, and enthusiastic camping and “glamping” bookings as Americans attempt to escape months of quarantine for a summer break while avoiding flights and keeping their distance.

The pandemic, which continues to rage across the US, has made many traditional holiday activities either impossible or unappealing, putting millions off flying abroad, going to crowded resort hotels, group holidays or cruises. But experts say the apparent lower risk of transmission in the open is making outdoor holidays in demand – and attracting new fans.

[ click to continue reading at The Guardian ]

Posted on July 13, 2020 by Editor

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Editing Mitochondria

from STAT

Gene-editing discovery could point the way toward a ‘holy grail’: cures for mitochondrial diseases

By SHARON BEGLEY

Cells with mitochondria, in red / COURTESY TSLIL AST MOOTHA LABORATORY

Biologist David Liu was in the middle of his morning commute to the Broad Institute two summers ago when he opened the email. We just discovered a new toxin made by bacteria, explained the note from a researcher Liu had never spoken to, and it “might be useful for something you guys do.”

Intrigued, Liu phoned the sender, biologist Joseph Mougous of the University of Washington, and it quickly became clear that the bacterial toxin had a talent that was indeed useful for what Liu does: invent ways to edit genes. On Wednesday, they and their colleagues reported in Nature that they had turned the toxin into the world’s first editor of genes in cell organelles called mitochondria.

If all goes well, the discovery could provide a way to study and, one day, cure a long list of rare but devastating inherited diseases resulting from genetic mutations in the cell’s power plant.

[ click to continue reading at STAT ]

Posted on July 12, 2020 by Editor

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Metroid Sonifying Space

from PASTE

Space Is the Place: How Metroid’s Music Captures the Essence of Space

By Dia Lacina

When the Challenger exploded, my parents tried to hide it from me. They did okay for a few days. But it was inevitable. They knew how fixated I was on space, how I wanted to be an astronaut, and they didn’t want to take that away from me.

Turns out you have to be a die-hard nerd, a low-key jock, AND have led an unimpeachable boring public life to be an astronaut. I talk too much shit for NASA.

But space still rules. Planets are cool.

One of the ways we “see” space and celestial phenomena is through sound. Radio waves turned into data, meaning applied to it. You can also get sick album art for sick albums out of it

I think a lot about how we sonify space. How we communicate emptiness, fullness, and the truly “alien.” Mapping sound to soundless vacuum to express cosmic immensity, like Priscilla Snow does in Voyageur. There’s Kubrick’s usage of classic music—expressive, expansive, cost-effective. Or James Horner’s James Horner-ness. For every vision of space, there is a score. Jack de Quidt has managed no less than threedistinctvisions for the Milky Way.

How we turn the space of space into place, pressing our apprehensions and exhilarations onto the dreams of life off-world is fascinating. Militant or gentle. Banal fantasy. A corporate nightmare. Or the unquestioning delight of “discovery.” 

We are made of stars, we live among them. It’s fitting that our relationships to the heavens should be as complicated and diverse as the ones to ourselves.

[ click to continue reading at PASTE ]

Posted on July 10, 2020 by Editor

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Sedan Gone

from Inside Hook

No Luxury Sedan Is Safe From the Scourge of the SUV

With Bentley ending production of its flagship Mulsanne, is the category in danger of dying off for good?

BY ALEX LAUER

One of the last Bentley Mulsanne luxury sedans
The Bentley Mulsanne ended production in June 2020, making way for more SUVs.

As Jerry Seinfeld said, a classic ‘60s Rolls-Royce is not so much a car as “a nice living room with wheels.”

In the latter part of the 20th century and into the 21st, however, the marque and its contemporaries all but perfected the car part, too. For much of our modern era, the epitome of style, opulence, exclusivity and leg-room in automobiles has been embodied in the four-door touring sedans made by Rolls, Bentley, Maybach and the like.

Last week, the Bentley Mulsanne, a standard bearer for these $100K-plus land yachts, ended production after over a decade in the marque’s lineup. “It is the last of the great coachbuilt cars. This car is made entirely by hand,” Peter Guest, Bentley product line director, said in a video marking the end of production. Dave Barton, a production colleague, added, “There will never be another of its kind.” 

[ click to continue reading at Inside Hook ]

Posted on July 7, 2020 by Editor

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Morricone Gone

from the Los Angeles Times

Oscar-winning Italian composer Ennio Morricone dies at 91

By DAVID COLKER

Oscar-winning film composer Ennio Morricone, who came to prominence with the Italian western “A Fistful of Dollars” and went on to write some of the most celebrated movie scores of all time, has died. He was 91.

Morricone’s longtime lawyer, Giorgio Assumma, told the Associated Press that the composer died early Monday in a Rome hospital of complications following a fall, in which he broke a leg.

A native of the Italian capital, Morricone composed music for more than 500 films and television shows in a career that spanned more than 50 years. At first he was closely associated with “A Fistful of Dollars” director Sergio Leone, for whom he scored six films, including “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” and “Once Upon a Time in America.” Established in his own right, Morricone turned out classic scores for films such as “Days of Heaven,” “Bugsy,” “Cinema Paradiso,” “The Untouchables,” “La Cage aux Folles” and “Battle of Algiers.”

A favorite of critics, directors and other composers, Morricone’s score to the 1986 film “The Mission” was voted best film score of all time in a 2012 Variety poll. On his sixth nomination, he finally won a competitive Oscar, in 2016, for his score for Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight.” The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences had awarded Morricone an honorary Oscar in 2007.

[ click to continue reading at LAT ]

Posted on July 6, 2020 by Editor

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3BlackDot @ NewsFronts

from AdWeek

3BlackDot Announces 2 New Shows at NewFronts Debut

The production studio behind the film Queen & Slim also specializes in connecting brands with gaming influencers

By Scott Nover

The 3BlackDot
3BlackDot teased advertisers during today’s NewFront presentation.

Gaming took center stage at the 2020 Digital Content NewFronts today.

The entertainment studio claims to do a little bit of everything: producing feature films like the 2019 crime drama Queen & Slim, web series featuring YouTube stars and selling merchandise. And through brand and product integrations, they want to connect advertisers to their “hard-to-reach” audience.

At NewFronts, the company announced two new original series: Alpha Betas, an animated show in partnership with Starburns Industries, which produced the first two seasons of Cartoon Network’s Rick and Morty; and Party Chat, a scripted comedy, they described as the gaming analogue to the FX fantasy football-focused series The League. 

Naturally, both series feature influencers in the gaming space—3BlackDot’s niche. 

The company also bragged about its vertical integration.

“We own the ecosystem,” Dana Pirkle, vp, talent at 3BlackDot, said in the presentation. “We craft the content, we own the distribution and we deliver the monetization—all of it managed, directed and executed from within our network at a global scale.”

[ click to continue reading at AdWeek ]

Posted on July 5, 2020 by Editor

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