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Archive for August, 2012

Wonder less full.

Sorry y’all: Rachel Weisz, Michael Sheen, Amanda Peet, and Barry Pepper are all left on the cutting room floor of Terence Malick’s To the Wonder, opening soon at the Venice Film Festival. In case you were wondering, that leaves Ben Affleck, Olga Kurylenko, Rachel McAdams and Javier Bardem in the story of a “man who reconnects with a woman from his hometown after his marriage to a European woman falls apart.” The economic crisis is also somehow involved, presumably in much the same the dinosaurs were in Tree of Life.

(FWIW, among the men left behind in The Thin Red Line were Viggo Mortensen, Mickey Rourke, Lukas Haas, Billy Bob Thornton, Bill Pullman, Jason Patric, Martin Sheen, Donal Logue, and Randall Duk Kim.)

Well, Mars is the Red Planet…

“Informant stated that the general aim of these science fiction writers is to frighten the people into a state of paralysis or psychological incompetence bordering on hysteria which would make it very possible to conduct a Third World War in which the American people would seriously believe [sic] could not be won since their morale had been seriously destroyed.”

They’re coming to get you, Bradbury…Apparently, the author of The Martian Chronicles was on the FBI’s Communist watchlist in the 50’s and 60’s for penning potentially subversive “science fiction” stories. “Using a Freedom of Information Act Request, the Huffington Post received a copy of Bradbury’s file, and it turns out the FBI checked Bradbury’s passport records and staked out his house.

Let’s Do Lunch.

This has been languishing in the bookmarks: Awesome People Hanging Out Together. By “awesome,” read “famous” a lot of the time — but still, very fun to peruse.

Twenty Years of Garmonbozia.

Does it work if you haven’t seen the TV show? As Lynch might put it, gosh, no. (It’s a prequel, but it bends time and space to wrap up a few stray plot threads from the series — if you’re working your way through the show on DVD, treat the movie like a coda or you’ll be lost.) But that’s what’s fascinating about it — in some ways, Lynch’s most uncompromising and unrelenting movie is the one he made while beating the dead ghost-horse of a canceled soap opera.”

Twenty years after its opening, Grantland‘s Alex Pappademas takes another look at Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. I never understood the hate this film received. (Then again, I also liked Peaks’ much-maligned second season.) Sure, it’s a bit all over the place, but there are impressionistic moments in Fire Walk With Me — the trapped Leland monkey, the picture-within-a-picture, the phantom Bowie — that still frighten me for reasons I find impossible to explain, much in the same way some of the third act bizarroland suicide stuff in Mulholland Drive — the blue box, the creepy homeless guy, the little tourists — seems to bypass my brain completely and just frazzles my spinal cord. And what’s not to like about Special Agent Chet Desmond?

Spin Spin Sugar.

In the disk of gas and dust surrounding this newly formed star, we found glycolaldehyde, which is a simple form of sugar, not much different to the sugar we put in coffee,” study lead author Jes Jørgensen, of the Niels Bohr Institute in Denmark, said in a statement. ‘This molecule is one of the ingredients in the formation of RNA, which — like DNA, to which it is related — is one of the building blocks of life.'”

The Land of Chocolate? Astronomers find sugar molecules orbiting young star IRAS 16293-2422, 400 light years away. “‘A big question is: how complex can these molecules become before they are incorporated into new planets?’ Jørgensen said. “This could tell us something about how life might arise elsewhere, and ALMA observations are going to be vital to unravel this mystery.'”

Target Acquired.

“Then, Daphne Bavelier of Rochester University began publishing studies showing that computer games improved the vision of people with normal eyesight. I couldn’t help but wonder: If they helped the normally sighted, why not people with impairments? Also, I saw studies where enriched environments for rats improved aspects of vision damaged after early deprivation. Well, what’s an enriched visual environment for a human? It might be a computer game. I thought, ‘Click, why not give it a try?'”

Developmental psychiatrist Nancy Maurer discusses her findings that playing first-person-shooters helps people born with cataracts to improve their vision. “I’m a reader. My husband and I don’t have children. So computer games wouldn’t be a part of our lives. I’ve never played one. I can’t imagine enjoying playing one.

Man Out of Time.


The high heel he used to be has been ground down…With the Blu-ray release around the corner, a worthwhile deleted sequence from The Avengers involving a melancholy Cap has made it online. (An alternate opening to the film is floating around as well, but it’s not nearly as interesting or well-executed. Seems more like a forgotten, high-concept Robin Sparkles video.)

Keep Your Lid On.


Nah, it stayed a hat and no, I didn’t chase it. Nothing more foolish than a man chasin’ his hat.”

The Great Thaw.

By itself it’s just a number, and occasionally records are going to get set. But in the context of what’s happened in the last several years and throughout the satellite record, it’s an indication that the Arctic sea ice cover is fundamentally changing.

With a fortnight left in the melting season, Arctic ice hits a record low. Oh, I’m sure it’s just a coincidence, just like the 327 months in a row of above-average temperatures we’ve had of late. Nothing to see here, move along. (Picture via here.)

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