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Umm.. nice try but author needs to know pop culture better

Catherine Nichols argues that pop culture has polarized good and evil whereas the characters of old folk tales were a more complex mix. I’m not sure I agree. Characters like Deadpool and the moral mix-ups in Star Trek: Discovery and the sleeper hit Vikings make me wonder if things are changing to the more complex.

Nichols mentions Wonder Woman. True, in an idealistic moment Wonder Woman feels for humanity. But she also kicks ass and is no saint. Another reviewer on the web saw Wonder Woman as a paradox. Gal Gadot herself says she loves the fact that Wonder Woman is not perfect.

I think that because she’s not perfect, she’s more interesting.¹

Gal Gadot – Image via Wikipedia

As for Darth Vader, whom quite a bit of ink is devoted to, Nichols misses the whole point. When push comes to shove, Vader sacrificially saves Luke and does not let him die. By doing so he is redeemed in the afterlife.²

So who’s polarizing here? Pop culture creators or Nichols herself?

I’d reproduce her article in its entirety but unlike that last post from AEON, this one is not Creative Commons. Funny how the one that’s paid for is not as intellectually flexible as the free one.

Image via “Star Wars: A Modern Day Morality Play ” http://www.theolatte.com/2016/12/star-wars-a-modern-day-morality-play/

[A little later…]

Another point that came to mind after a nap, of all things, was the medieval morality play. These made a pretty clear line between good and evil. Often one religious formation demonizing another.

So if Nichols wants to cherry pick a few old folk tales but ignore the greater ‘pop culture’ of that era, that’s one thing. But her comparison to today’s pop culture is a faulty one due to her selectivity.

¹ https://youtu.be/PeCOeqjVAXg

² https://youtu.be/VAuodoEOTto

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Why some mamas and papas don’t like pop music

Last night I was listening to Stingray Music, a Montreal based company which is one of the highlights of Canadian industry. Listeners can switch among several good streams in any given genre, without ads or talk. And the programmers dig deep to find not just the hits but a whole bunch of stuff you’ve almost forgotten or never heard before.

Tuning in to the 70s, I came to appreciate how it’s all variations on a few themes. The hit songs put everything together in the most effective, original way. But there are oodles of copycat, cover and “not quite” tunes. So are things really simpler today? I don’t think so.

As I say in the above tweet, we just have to learn the new medium and its message.

Krewella via Wikipedia


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AI – Should we fear, embrace or accept that the battle will go on forever?

I have a sci-fi novel sitting on my HD (external hard drive, so don’t bother trying to hack me, all you sad souls with nothing better to do than to live vicariously thru other people’s private lives) that deals with the issue of AI gone wrong.

Actually, it’s not so much about AI… more about the interface of biological and machine life. Clearly, this is the direction we’re moving toward as a species. But my novel is set thousands of years in the future. I won’t detail any more because, time permitting, I might publish installments at my personal blog.

One of the central themes of my book is that good and evil continue to battle it out through all time. The notion that we are morally progressing over the centuries is flawed because, as so many well-intentioned materialists don’t get, evil imo is real and never going away. Not in the creation of our matter/energy universe, at any rate. Maybe in heaven.

So for me the above tweet is a good, germinal warning of things to come. Or things that may come. Nobody can really know for sure.– MC


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The Lorelei – Review

Title: The Lorelei
Genre: Action/Thriller, MysteryHorror, Fantasy, Drama
Production: Onview Films
Directors/Writers: Mol Smith
Stars:  Kemal YildirimLorie-Lanie ShanksSophie Townsend » See full cast & crew at IMDB

This is your shadow on my wall

~ “I Have Not Been to Oxford Town” by Bowie/Eno from Outside

The legendary Lorelei is a dark enchantress who lures fisherman and sailors to their death. In geography she is a steep rock over 4oo feet high on the bank of the Rhine river.

Her legend survives in countless songs and stories. So Mol Smith’s The Lorelei continues a long tradition of blending feminine beauty, danger and death—in French and in the arts, she’s la femme fatale.

From the opening frames of this Indie film, set and shot around Oxford, I knew I would enjoy it. But not just because the story takes place at Oxford.

Rebecca

After a scenic introduction, The Lorelei quickly moves into a well-paced murder mystery. Holy smokes, the British are good at that, aren’t they?

Canadians have been watching British TV murders for years. Like Rock and Roll, the Brits have a knack for murder mystery. And director Mol Smith is no exception. Smith is actually based in Oxford, and it shows.

I don’t want to write a spoiler. And regurgitating story lines can be tedious, like a high-school project I’d rather avoid. On the plus side, holistic thinkers like me often pick up on things outside the main plot line.

Elizabeth and Martin

So let’s just say there’s a murder at the outset and a supernatural element adds to the mystery. But that’s only the beginning.

Enter the affluent victim’s daughter, a private detective, a cop, along with a Madame and her “girls” who fund their education by selling sexual services.

The main characters’ lives intertwine with several twists and turns that, if outlined here, would ruin the film. But I will comment on the performances.

Mel Mills (Martin) and Tessa McGinn (Elizabeth) also appear in the Mol Smith’s Abduction. I enjoyed Abduction on a metaphysical level but for me The Lorelei is far more immediate. And the interaction between Martin and Elizabeth seems more real and grounded.

Daniel

Mills and McGinn also make a bold statement that so many millennials just don’t get: Seasoned and mature individuals can be just as sneaky, sexual and sexy as anyone else.

I liked this aspect of the film. Our contemporary “script” for normality implies that middle-aged people should behave like stale bread or sour wine. No sexual attractions nor thoughts. Just turn it all off.

Thankfully, Madonna, David Bowie, Leonard Cohen and a few other celebrities have shown that, for most creative people, that’s a sham. And repressing rather than expressing, redirecting or maybe transmuting sexuality usually turns out badly. If anything, repression leads to stagnant, judgmental and potentially abusive personalities.

Sarah

So I give The Lorelei full marks for representing its mature characters as full human beings, and not just as packages past their shelf life, as many folks – young and old – tend to see it.

Ageism sucks. And it rarely hits the radar these days.

As for the younger actors in this film, I find them charming. Sophie Townsend plays Sarah, a luminous young woman making her way through uni, as the Brits say, by taking clients on the side.

Sarah could be in an early Beatlemania film. Or maybe she reminds me of a young, female incarnation of David Bowie. I don’t know. But something about her spirited demeanor and slightly retro look won me over.

Sarah and Rebecca

Lorie-Lanie Shanks as Rebecca comes out strong, fulfilling that “rich English babe” stereotype to a tee. Rebecca seems to have an ambiguous sexual preference, which only adds to the uneasy tension between her and Sarah.

Shanks would be perfect in an Agatha Christie movie. Murder on the Orient Express, Fantasy Island, or something like that. That highbrow woman with a poisonous snake in a wicker box for anyone who crosses her.

Kemal Yildirim, also in Abduction, plays the private detective Daniel with a characteristic depth and detachment that invites viewers to wonder what’s going on inside his head. Daniel’s low key ambience is captivating. We can never really know what the quietly intelligent gent is thinking.

Likewise, the alluring Hive Queen in Abduction, Amelie Leroy, appears as “Trouble” in The Lorelei. Leroy’s deceptive character effortlessly switches back and forth among English, French and maybe something else. Trouble charges up the film with loads of presence, awareness and jungle-edged sexuality.

Trouble

So we have a supernaturally tinged mystery, enigmatic leading characters and a solid supporting cast. Together, they forge an unforgettable foray into the fictional underbelly of Oxford life.

At least, those on the outside must assume it is fictional. From what I’ve seen in the far corners of student life, there might be more truth to this fiction than most are willing to admit.

“We don’t get murders in Oxford, you get it?” exclaims Martin. It’s all about image. Elitism. High class. And sex workers? That would certainly rub most Oxford Deans the wrong way.

The Lorelei, true to its name, busts the myth and does so very well. Along with its great, gooey makeup art and delightful soundtrack, this is a film to absorb on many levels.

MC

All Images © Onview Films UK. Used with permission.

 

 

 


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Children can attack Ravana to save Sita at Taiwan’s National Palace Museum

Rama’s Marriage, 1913. A scene from the Hindu epic, the Ramayana. Rama marries Sita, daughter of King Janaka, after proving able to wield the great bow presented to the king by the god Shiva

Special to Earthpages.org

At Taiwan’s National Palace Museum Southern Branch in Taibao, children can join the Ramayana battle and attack Ravana to save Sita with an interactive game device for educational purposes.

Lord Hanuman is the game host and it also includes constructing the bridge over the ocean. This is done, after children finish watching animation film on “Ramayana” in its Asian Theater, for the purposes of reviewing the plot and remembering it and children are prompted to recall the storyline. This film “aims to convey to children the many virtues of Rama, Laksmana, Hanuman, and Sita”, Museum announcement says.

Lord Hanuman is also the mascot of Children’s Creative Center of the Museum, (dedicated to 5-12 year-old children and established “to encourage children to explore the diversity of Asian cultures”), “in order to appeal to family audience”.

Commending Taiwan’s National Palace Museum for educating visiting children about Ramayana and for exhibiting Hindu artifacts, Rajan Zed said that art had a long and rich tradition in Hinduism and ancient Sanskrit literature talked about religious paintings of deities on wood or cloth.

Rajan Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, urged major art museums of the world, including Musee du Louvre and Musee d’Orsay of Paris, Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Los Angeles Getty Center, Uffizi Gallery of Florence (Italy), Art Institute of Chicago, Tate Modern of London, Prado Museum of Madrid, National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, etc., to frequently organize Hindu art focused exhibitions, thus sharing the rich Hindu art heritage with the rest of the world.

Jeng-Yi Lin is the Director of awards-winning Taiwan’s National Palace Museum founded in 1925, which houses ancient Chinese artifacts and includes a collection of about 700,000 objects.

Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about 1.1 billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal.

 What to do before you go to India (telegraph.co.uk)

 ‘Hanuman Da Damdaar’ has Salman Khan, animation, songs and a big-budget feel(thereel.scroll.in)


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Abduction (2017) – Review

Title: Abduction
Genre: Science Fiction, Parody, Comedy, Horror, Cult
Production: Onview Films
Directors/Writers: Maurice SmithMol Smith
Stars: Karolina AntosikTessa McGinnKemal Yildirim (…full cast and crew at IMDB)

Abduction is a clever romp into the unknown realms of alien abduction, sexuality, violence and interdimensional rivalry.

Essentially a spoof, I couldn’t help get the feeling that, underneath all the camp, a deeper significance just waits to be discovered.

The film can be taken on several levels. As parody, imagine Rocky Horror Picture Show meets Repo! The Genetic Opera. On another level, Abduction probes the oft unspoken sexual undercurrents in alien abduction lore. In that sense, it’s almost Freudian.

But Abduction doesn’t stop there. Sci-fi fans will appreciate its look at interdimensional affairs. That is, if aliens exist, how might things actually work out there?

The Hive Queen argues with an ET

The story hinges on a hauntingly beautiful Hive Queen who wants to colonize the earth by creating hybrids.

She’s a hybrid herself but imperfect. She can’t have kids. So she does her evil best to create hybrids to take over the planet.

Kemal Yildirim plays a doctor, Asil, who heals abductees with the most unusual treatments. Meanwhile, a government man (Thorson), a psychiatrist (Melissa) and Asil use high tech meds to try to track victims, with comical side effects.

Any more plot summary would be a spoiler. But I will say that Abduction is relatively easy to follow – we’re never left hanging too long – and it does have a nice, trick ending.

The Doctor with Bozena

Okay so I loved it to bits, right?

Well, no film entirely pleases me and Abduction is no exception.

My nitpicky side felt that an outdoor scene with Thorson and Melissa had a slightly rushed dialog. But things level out as the pair move indoors. And as a send-up, a touch of forced dialog is par for the course. Some might find it just adds to the laughs. It certainly does with the Hive Queen, who obviously hams it up.

Abduction also has its fair share of partial nudity and grotesque scenes, the horrific being more in-your-face than the sensual.

I wasn’t too hot on the blood and gore. But I realize this is important to horror fans. I just flick my Vulcan “inner eyelid” whenever something rubs me the wrong way, be it in Abduction, Game of Thrones, whatever.

Thorson, the Doctor and Melissa

The graphics range from intentionally retro (say, 1960s Twilight Zone and Batman) to state-of-the-art blasters, beams and shimmering pod bay doors.

Like the graphics, the soundtrack is a curious mix of old and new. High-end cinematic effects mingle with catchy pop tunes and 8-bit video game sounds.

The ongoing tension between parody and depth along with variable production values keeps this quirky film fresh. Abduction is well the worth the watch, even if you’re not a cult or Indie movie fan. Not constrained by big budget, Hollywood expectations, it’s free to be what it wants to be.

MC

All images © Onview Films UK. Used with permission.

 The Newest Season of X-Files Will Have No Women Writers (thecut.com)

 10 outstanding sci-fi films everybody should watch (mashable.com)

 18 Science Fiction Movies That Used Biometrics (tech.co)

 The most important ‘Game of Thrones’ characters, according to how much screen time they get (businessinsider.com)

 Watch The Trailer For A New Sci-Fi Film Scored By Neon Indian’s Alan Palomo (stereogum.com)

 These Layers of Time Were Created by Arranging Photos on Acrylic (petapixel.com)

 If We Live in a Multiverse, Where Are These Worlds Hiding? (livescience.com)

 Ang Lee’s Will Smith-Led ‘Gemini Man’ Gets a 2019 Release Date (slashfilm.com)

 ‘SNL,’ Westworld’ lead Emmy Award nominations with 22 nods (triblive.com)


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“I’m a – – – – Starboy”

Okay. I like this song. I like it a lot. I’m not sure if I like the censored version better than the uncensored. I mean, I am all for freedom of expression. Even as a Christian, I am not against the artist who put a cross in a bottle of urine (can’t remember the name offhand, and don’t really care to). On some level, that “art” might mean something worthwhile to someone.

Usually, I deplore censorship.

However, this tune raises some interesting questions.

The two main contentious words are the N-word and the MF-word (be forewarned if you follow the links from the above tweet).

So why can The Weeknd ft. Daft Punk can use these words, get about a billion hits at YouTube but if little ‘ol me were to use these words in this here blog, I’d run the risk of being sued?

Double standard?

As for the censored vs. uncensored versions, I admit that while out the other night with my FM/MP3 player, I really liked hearing the censored version on FM. Cutting out the heavy stuff just made it more spiritual.

Hearing the word “Starboy” after a string of synced scratches instead of the MF-word made the whole experience far more transcendent. Walking along a moderately busy road, I could almost envision that Star Child in 2001: A Space Odyssey watching over us, making sure we don’t blast ourselves to hell.

So what’s the story? Should this tune be “cleaned up” for radio?

 The Weeknd Announces A Second Leg Of Legends Of The Fall Tour (thefader.com)

 Firefly Music Festival Announces 2018 Dates, June 14th-17th (allaccess.com)

 Future – “Comin Out Strong” (Feat. The Weeknd) Video (stereogum.com)

 10 Great Musician Selfies for National Selfie Day (v103.cbslocal.com)

 Drake, the Chainsmokers, and all the winners from the Billboard Music Awards (mashable.com)

 Exclusive: Selena Gomez Denies Collaborating with The Weeknd on New Music (now100fm.cbslocal.com)

 China bans online videos showing homosexuality, affairs (rappler.com)