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market
  • 310157.0942

  • 310154.1652

    The biggest budgeted film of 1977 was 20th Century Fox's $17 million dollar hoped for tentpole Damnation Alley, a brawny action flick starring Jan Michael Vincent (White Line Fever) and George Peppard (Breakfast at Tiffany's). Director Jack Smight was b.o. gold since he'd helmed hits Airport '75 and Midway, but the effects were poorly planned and the film spent 10 months painting in glowing skies. It bombed in the wake of half-its-budget sleeper Star Wars, itself given little chance of success by the Fox brass. Rarely, maybe never screened, this megabudget oddity is being shown at Anthology Film Archives June 17/23.

  • 310152.0920

  • 310151.2135

    Geoffery Wheatcroft slowly, staidly plots out recent Murdoch/News Corp. developments in the New York Review of Books. He spots the corruption of language used by the supposed perps. Does it reveal their corruption? A good read.

  • 310145.0934

    Star Wars turns 35 today and Venus can be seen silhouetted by the sun June 5, 2012 5-8 EDT. Next time it will happen: in 105 years.

    The Mauna Kea Observatory will provide livecam views.

  • 310134.2255

    Certainly the first known interplanetary tale was The True History by Lucian of Samosata written about 175 A.D. Lucian's hero went to the moon, where he found intelligent, nonhuman beings.

    What might be called science fiction began in 1634 with Somnium by Johannes Kepler. Kepler was a great pioneer astronomer, who first established the mathematical principles to explain the orbits of the planets. But he was also an astrologer and mystic. As the title indicates, the story takes place in a dream, where a spirit carries Kepler to the moon and the planets.

    Lester Del Rey The World of Science Fiction 1978

     

    Past the intro: a spirited mash-up of Lensman and Star Wars. Some great physics.

  • 310125.1621

    From Frank Zappa's 1977 concert film

  • 310123.0904

    Joss Whedon's spectacle-lite, The Avengers, showcases the triumph of commerce over myth. In this happy-meal spectacular, the villainous Loki regards humans as "yearning to be subjugated" and this is where Whedon gleefully succeeds, by merging his audience's metaphors he gets to make fun of us while thrilling us; no doubt he knows it's the Disney-Marvel conglom consumers yearn to be ruled by. In the absence of any complex, generative myths of this age, Avengers is here to fill in the blanks. Pick one god from column A and two humans with augmented genetics from column B and add comedic banter and presto. Two early blockbuster-comic hybrids both predicted Whedon's sub-satirical style, mocking the hand that feeds him: Donner's cleverly nostalgiac Superman and the unsettlingly talky Huyck-Katz's Howard The Duck. Maybe Lucas was lucky, by choosing an anti-comic/anti-myth like Howard he gets to cut his losses early. He learned the lesson. Whedon rebuffs the Marvel canon (see the pun?) and makes a mint. The rest of the industry is now stuck putting almost all of its chips on the comic industry as a viable cash-flow source and going for broke. Imagine it is Loki reviewing his own film: "...by the early 21st century, Earthlings had lost the ability to use their central medium, the cinema,  for originating myth, and had to fall back upon other protolanguage sources like comic books and competitors like TV to fill a widening storytelling gap. You see humans use these tools to reassume control over the medium and its followers. The solution is short term, the effects are unfortunately, long term. Good luck humans, see you back at the mythic cave."

  • 310122.1718

     

    Cognitive neuroscientist V. S. Ramachandran's Tell-Tale Brain is an exceptional walk through the modular elements of brain structures that appear to regulate or promote syntax, metaphor, grammar, parts of what we label as language. By deciphering anomalistic behaviors in distinct properties of language correlated to minute parts of the brain, he comes close to proving what linguists have theorized about for decades: The human brain comes wired with language's capabilities. This neuroscientist adds forensic linguist to his titles; he combines both Pinker's and Chomsky's separate, complimentary theories as well a few others into a larger holistic one built on the available structural data. That's merely the first part of the book. What Ramachandran does once he has these pieces is to launch a two pronged adventure. Magellan cubed. First he searches for the missing link in early consciousness: when did the brain 'switch' on this language ability? Secondly he extends these brain structures into visuals. Humans are visual thinkers that enabled verbal language to communicate with. Ramachandran explores how this language 'ability' with its origins in separate parts of the brain, first operated using images the eye sees and the brain memorizes. His eureka is that humans assemble visual information, like spoken language, with properties of syntax, semantic, grammar and metaphor. His careful observations add to the book's self-awareness (he notices in the east an integration between image and context and a disintegration in the west).  He closes his book with a treatise on how visual art operates, and as a lure I've included a taste below, his 9 laws of aesthetics.. A groundbreaking highly readable book.

     Ramachandran's 9 Laws of Aesthetics (from The Tell Tale Brain)

    1. Grouping

    2. Peak Shift

    3. Contrast

    4. Isolation

    5. Peekaboo, or perceptual problem solving

    6. Abhorrence of coincidences

    7. Orderliness

    8. Symmetry

    9. Metaphor

    Below, Ramachandran's mirror-box. A device to help amputees alleviate 'phantom' pain in phantom limbs.

  • 310120.0919

    Birch, which may have supplied the first portable written surface for Indo-European languages, has also been sometimes identified as the Rg Veda's 'tree of life.' Indo-European's first recorded myth, the Rg Veda, is a rich source mined for valuable references to the origins of written language. Both Russian and Hindi histories used birch until relatively recently (14th century).