Cinema

The Panama City Trumps

#trumpswindle | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Huang reflects on a mission barely accomplished. (Darker Than Black, ep. 14)

This is a lede from Associated Press:

One of President Donald Trump’s family businesses is battling an effort to physically evict its team of executives from a luxury hotel in Panama where they manage operations, and police have been called to keep the peace, The Associated Press has learned. Witnesses told the AP they saw Trump’s executives carrying files to a room for shredding.

And then there is the detail:

Representatives of the hotel owners’ association formally sought to fire Trump’s management team Thursday by hand-delivering termination notices to them at the Trump International Hotel and Tower, according to a Panamanian legal complaint filed by Orestes Fintiklis, who controls 202 of the property’s 369 hotel units. Trump’s managers retreated behind the glass walls of an office where they were seen carrying files to an area where the sounds of a shredding machine could be heard, according to two witnesses aligned with the owners. The legal complaint also accused Trump’s team of improperly destroying documents.

(more…)

Even More (Rape Culture)

[#rapeculture]

Fight: Mikasa awakens ― Detail of frame from Attack on Titan episode 6, 'The World the Girl Saw: The Struggle for Trost, Part 2'.

The lede from Reuters:

Amazon Studios chief Roy Price was put on an immediate leave of absence Thursday, the company said, following allegations that he harassed a producer and ignored an actress’s claim of a sexual assault by producer Harvey Weinstein.

Prognostication being more or less the art of capricious but not quite arbitrary projection, a certain obvious question arises: How many entertainment execs are about to fall? One of the interesting questions becomes whether Tinseltown is about to explode into a million billion tiny, glittering pieces; Hollywood, after all, is a town that has long needed more than just an enema.

There is an alternative at least as obvious as the question itself, that maybe one or two more high-profile entertainment executives might fall from grace, and then society will decide that we have discovered and weeded out the few bad seeds, and get on with show business as usual.

And, hey, maybe the next round can be in the music industry, so we can finally free Kesha, but society probably needs a couple years off, first. You know, only a few at a time. I mean, there are only a few bad seeds, y’know, at any one time.

(cough)

Just compared to shattering Hollywood, which itself seems unlikely, what, really, is the chance this is the beginning of a chain reaction lashing severely through the halls of American financial and commercial power tearing away significant chunks of institutionalized rape culture?

(sigh)

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Image note: Detail of frame from Attack on Titan episode 6, “The World the Girl Saw”.

Reuters Staff. “Amazon Studios chief Roy Price suspended following harassment allegation”. Reuters. 12 October 2017.

Butchery and Botchery

#trumpswindle | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks to supporters in Everett, Washington, 30 August 2016. (Detail of frame via YouTube)

Chauncey DeVega inquires after a point close to the heart of the #trumpswindle:

What happens when Trump and the Republican Party are done feasting on the “white working class” and their other supporters? When the bones are picked clean, to whom will they turn for a meal? People of conscience know the answer even if it terrifies them.

If a budget is a kind of moral document and a statement of priorities, Trump has shown that he is an enemy of the American people and the common good—including his most stalwart supporters. If Trump is willing to betray them, all others should quake in fear at what he plans for his enemies in the process of “making America great again.”

The question echoes: To call for Main Street over Wall Street, why would anyone vote for Donald Trump? To call for empathy with the working classes, why would anyone vote for Donald Trump? To drain the swamp of entrenched interests, why would anyone vote for Donald Trump?

(more…)

The Mrs. Donald Trump Show (Family Values)

Melania Trump discusses her husband, Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump, during an interview with Anderson Cooper of CNN, 17 October 2016.

Important point:

In recent campaign history, certain myths have taken hold in ways that obscure what actually happened. Howard Dean’s 2004 campaign, for example, was already collapsing at the time of his “scream” in Iowa. Mitt Romney’s support was already falling in 2012 when the “47 percent” video reached the public.

And Donald Trump’s support was already fading when Americans heard his 2005 boasts about sexual assault, so his candidacy’s current difficulties cannot solely be blamed on the “grab them by the p***y” audio.

That said, it certainly didn’t help.

(Benen)

Sometimes it seems a fine line; in either case, Dean or Romney, we might respond to Benen by pointing out that what we really mean by something wrecking the campaign is that it was a proverbial final nail, as if until that moment there was some hope of saving the patient, and then the surgeon went and removed the gall bladder with a shotgun.

This is an American marketplace; there are days when people really can’t tell the difference. Never mind.

Another important point:

Complicating matters, Trump and his allies still haven’t thought of a credible way to explain the recording, though the candidate’s wife did her best during a CNN interview yesterday.

Melania Trump defended Donald Trump against allegations that he sexually assaulted women, saying in a rare interview Monday night that her husband was “egged on” to make lewd comments about women that were caught on tape in 2005. […]

[She dismissed the conversation between Trump and Billy Bush] as “boy talk” and speculated that her husband “was led on―like, egged on―from the host to say dirty and bad stuff.”

That’s not much of a defense. Donald Trump didn’t want to brag about sexual misconduct, but he fell sway to the persuasive powers of the host of an entertainment-news show? For all the talk about Trump’s persona as a tough guy, he succumbed to pressure from Billy Bush?

This is just one of those things that people do because so little of what we do is tasked to its ostensible purpose. Really, who thinks things through like that? And, yes, plenty are going to raise their hands, and some are going to be annoyed that anyone asked. But that is also the point. Watching the people around us, we will see and hear similar quirks. Do not focus on what she said, so such, as what it means in the context of what those words actually do.

(more…)

Adam in an Evening Gown

Detail of 'Bug Martini' by Adam Huber, 16 August 2016.Must I absolutely have a reason?

The upside, of course, is that Adam waited an extra day before going Garbo, and on some valence the existential reality of the Universe thanks him.

I know, I know. Kind of like God saying, “Thanks a bunch for being my tool!” Adam has fewer excuses than Job, but nobody had to dare the Lord to give the Bugmeister some Bozo feet.

No, seriously. Oughta teach God to brag. And something goes here about Adam and complaining into cosplay.

You’re welcome.

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Image note: Triptych ― Top to bottom: Bug in Life, Buggy Warbucks, Adam of Green Gables; detail of Bug Martini by Adam Huber, 16 August 2016.

Something Completely Different

Shizuo Heiwajima wanders Ikebukuro. (Detail of frame from Durarara!! episode 7, "Bad-Ass Dude".)

“Have to face it, I’m finally an addict; the smell of popcorn and worn plush lingers for weeks.”

Margaret Atwood

Here’s a change of pace:

No matter where you go, the movie theaters tend to smell the same: like popcorn, and the butter-like stuff they put on the popcorn, and that stale odor of recycled air-conditioned air.

Also fear, and sadness, and joy. These feelings aren’t scents, per se, in that you don’t take a whiff of air and consciously think, “Man, it smells scary in here.” But in a study published earlier this week in the journal Nature, a team of researchers found that the air in movie theaters tends to take on unique chemical signatures based on how the audience reacts to what’s happening on the screen. A horror film, for instance, will have a different chemical imprint than a comedy, which will leave a different mark than a tearjerker.

The report from Cari Romm for Science of Us actually sets a number of thoughts in motion, including a weirdly recursive context in which yes, actually people do now have ideas of something smelling scary, and as the colloquialism sets roots in American culture the idea will eventually concretize or crystallize long enough to be noted, and then set right back to shifting and changing and growing and evolving. It’s not quite the same as the decade-old debate whether sour apple or lime tastes like green, though even then the question illustrates contextual challenges. To wit, the straightforward answer: I’m middle-aged; the sour-apple thing is “new” by comparison, so “lime” is what tastes like “green”. A more honest answer: Marijuana. A more cultural-contextually useful answer: I’m sure as a middle-aged lifer in cedar and hemlock country, green means something different to me than it would a young’n barely as tall as the wheat that is all he can see for miles in any direction.

Smells, of course, are more interesting, but translating the relevant trivia about memory into something useful seems a challenging return on investment especially according to a daunting prospect against success.

Nor should we wonder why Atwood comes to mind.

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Image note: Shizuo Heiwajima wanders Ikebukuro. (Detail of frame from Durarara!! episode 7, “Bad-Ass Dude”.)

Atwood, Margaret. “You Take My Hand And”. 1971.

Romm, Cari. “Movie Theaters Smell Like People’s Feelings”. Science of Us. 13 May 2016.

Our American President (Bathroom Bigot Brawl)

Obama Administration Warns Schools to Allow Transgender Access To Bathrooms (Huffington Post, 14 May 2016)

It really is a nifty headline from HuffPo’s Queer Voices.

The detail:

The Obama administration on Friday told schools and colleges nationwide they must allow transgender students access to bathrooms consistent with their gender identity.

Transgender signThe Justice Department and the Education Department, in guidance directed at every American public school district, admonished educators to treat transgender students consistent with their gender identity, regardless of what sex is listed on student records.

The guidance, which cites the gender equity law Title IX, further injects the federal government into a heated debate over controversial anti-LGBT state legislation, including a North Carolina law that bars transgender students from bathrooms that don’t match their birth gender. The Justice Department on Monday filed a civil rights lawsuit against North Carolina.

“No student should ever have to go through the experience of feeling unwelcome at school or on a college campus,” Education Secretary John King Jr. said in a statement.

(Kingkade)

Meanwhile, apparently something goes here about Disney freaking out zealots, and, you know, it must absolutely suck to be a bigot these days. To swallow their prude pride and just carry on with life is a bitter load to face. Still, there are times when it is worth pointing out that some people spend too much effort worrying about other people’s intimate lives; and then there are such occasions we might point out that some people spend too much effort paying attention to Disney. What sort of cruel God―? Oh, sorry, wrong monologue.

Anyway, Disney aside, everyone say thank you.

Thank you, President Obama. Thank you, Secretary King.

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Kingkade, Tyler. “Obama Administration Warns Schools To Allow Transgender Access To Bathrooms”. The Huffington Post. 13 May 2016.

Sieczkowski, Cavan. “Religious Right Is Losing Its Mind About ‘Frozen’s’ Elsa Possibly Being Gay”. The Huffington Post. 12 May 2016.

The Power of the Dark Sigh

Source Image: Detail of 'Bug Martini' by Adam Huber, 11 May 2016. Modified w/apologies, of course.The setup speaks for itself.

With apologies to Adam Huber, of course. But come on, in a marketplace thriving on bad puns, how can anyone resist that kind of temptation? Just click, damn it. Do you feel lucky? Oh, right. Wrong film. Do not underestimate the power of the dark sigh.

“The Empire Talks Smack”, 9 May 2016

“The Empire Talks Smack — Part II”, 10 May 2016

“The Empire Talks Smack — Part III”, 11 May 2016

“The Empire Talks Smack — Part IV”, 12 May 2016

“The Empire Talks Smack — Part V”, 13 May 2016

We will, of course, update as remaining installments post. (Promises, promises.)

(Wow, we actually remembered to update a post. Yes, it’s surprising. Yes, that’s pathetic. Leave it alone, smackhead.)

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Image note: Detail of Bug Martini by Adam Huber, 11 May 2016. Modified w/apologies, of course.

The Straight Dope

'Scuse me while I responsibly point this at you.

Here’s a a narrative for you, via Kenny Ocker at the News Tribune:

According to court documents:

The teenager set up a drug deal on Facebook with a friend. His friend met the dealer, who showed him the marijuana he wanted. The friend grabbed the bag and ran.

The dealer and the passenger from his car chased the friend about 50 yards before the teenager — wearing a mask and showing a handgun — showed up and asked, “What’s up?”

The dealer and passenger then ran toward their car.

The teenager went to put the gun back into his pants and the weapon fired a bullet through his leg.

In a state where marijuana is legal, this makes exactly no sense. Honestly, you know that bit about how one needs to live, instead of merely exist? Some days it seems like living isn’t enough; it’s like people need to live in an action movie.

Or a one-star farce.

Pick your poison.

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Ocker, Kenny. “Lakewood teenager shoots himself in groin during robbery attempt, documents say”. The News Tribune. 2 May 2016.

The Requisite Post About That Movie

BB-8: Detail of image by Lucasfilm I did, in fact, see the film last night; Star Wars: The Force Awakens is unquestionably a marked improvement over the infamous episodes 1-3, though all I might say in specific review is that I am not ready to echo a friend who declared that Star Wars is back. Nonetheless, it was indeed better than I expected.

Meanwhile, a bit of something interesting, as Melissa Dahl at Science of Us explains why BB-8, the strangely adorable white and orange droid capturing consumers’ hearts everywhere, is “basically the textbook definition of cute”.

What is it about BB-8 that makes it so freaking cute? As it turns out, the little robot is practically a textbook example of Kindchenschema, or baby schema, the reigning theory describing just what features it takes to make someone or something appear adorable. This is something that scientists have been theorizing about since at least the 1940s, when ethologist Konrad Lorenz introduced the concept in a landmark paper.In his words — quoted later in an essay by popular science writer Stephen Jay Gould — for a creature to be considered cute, it must have the following: “a relatively large head … large and low-lying eyes, bulging cheek region, short and thick extremities … and clumsy movements.”

BB-8 nails every one of these characteristics. Its “head” is relatively large in proportion to its spherical “body,” and its “eye” — the black eyepiece, rather — is also pretty huge when compared to the size of the head. The area surrounding either side of the eyepiece bulge out like chubby cheeks, and while it doesn’t exactly have extremities, its rounded lower half definitely adds to the chubby effect. When it moves, it bobs and wobbles a bit as it rolls, making it look a little bit clumsy. In short, it’s got everything required to be scientifically classified as a total cutie pie.

Which sounds about right.

However, I would note BB-8 is also incredibly impractical. Honestly, its appearance is one suggesting marketplace novelty, as if people in that galaxy far, far away, who had already mastered gravity only recently figured out some notion of maglev. This thing is rolling around in a desert and apparently suffers no ill effects of sand. The upshot, of course, would involve a counterspoiler, but if you simply don’t think about it too hard, and attend the script by Lawrence Kasdan and J. J. Abrams, there is at least one occasion that … well, something about predictability goes here. And expectation. And seeing the joke coming only raises expectations. We will get a payoff on this point sometime during the new trilogy. Rather, we should. It really does seem inevitable, so the only remaining question is a matter of execution, and if they cannot pull it off we will know they have failed.

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Image note: BB-8, impractical as can be, but cute as anything. Detail of image by Lucasfilm.

Dahl, Melissa. “BB-8 Is Basically the Textbook Definition of Cute”. Science of Us. 17 December 2015.