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The Matrix is remembered for a lot of things: The influential technical aspects like the use of bullet time and 1990s CGI that managed to not look terrible; the imaginative world building that was richly expanded in the Animatrix and greatly confused by the film’s actual sequels; and, of course, a bunch of people doing bad Keanu Reeves impressions saying, “I know kung fu.” But one thing people often forget to acknowledge about The Matrix is that it’s just a damn well-made movie. This fact can be attributed in part to the film’s use of transitions, which allow a glut of complex visuals and lore to be translated into a smooth and tightly constructed story.

In a new video essay, Patrick Willems examines the Wachowskis use of transitions over the course of The Matrix’s three acts, highlighting exactly why they’re so effective. For example, the ...

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Clippy is, at this point, one of the icons of the ’90s PC boom, along with the flying toasters screensaver, the Windows start-up sound, the dancing baby GIF, and pretty much everything related to AOL. Clippy was a notoriously useless personal assistant, the worst-possible example of computer interfaces being dumbed-down and made approachable for the clueless grandparents who would theoretically be figuring out how to “process words” and “play solitaire” on their new, fancy calculators.

All of which makes old Clippy ripe for parody and subversion, but all of which does not explain how pregnant Clippy came to be:

Pregnant Clippy raises a lot of questions. First off: Is it necessary that Clippy be female? Could Clippy have reproduced asexually? If not, who is Clippy’s partner, and how did they ...

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The friendly skies continue to turn increasingly hostile, as The Milwaukee Sentinel Journal reports that a passenger was removed from a Delta flight for going to the bathroom before takeoff. It seems the man, Kima Hamilton, was on a flight on April 18 from Atlanta to Milwaukee, where he lives and teaches art. The plane was taxied, and the passengers had been instructed to remain seated, but after the plane stayed up for another half hour—according to an eyewitness—Hamilton had to go to the bathroom, so he did. Hamilton had attempted to use the plane’s bathroom earlier, but was told by a flight attendant that they’d lose their place “in line” to take off. After that, a couple of flight attendants took turns asking Hamilton to disembark, without explaining why he had to, or if he’d be allowed to take off with the rest of ...

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Posted by Stubby the Rocket

Shadowshaper series TV film rights optioned Anika Noni Rose Daniel Jose Older

Actress and producer Anika Noni Rose has optioned film and television rights to Daniel José Older’s The Shadowshaper Cypher series, the bestselling YA urban fantasy series with an Afro-Latina heroine who can shape magic through paintings, music, and stories. This is Rose’s (via her company Roaring Virgin Productions) second collaboration with Older; in 2015 she optioned his Bone Street Rumba series.

Shadowshaper was published in 2015 and was named a New York Times Notable Book. The synopsis:

Sierra Santiago planned an easy summer of making art and hanging out with her friends. But then a corpse crashes their first party. Her stroke-ridden grandfather starts apologizing over and over. And when the murals in her neighborhood begin to weep tears… Well, something more sinister than the usual Brooklyn ruckus is going on.

With the help of a fellow artist named Robbie, Sierra discovers shadowshaping, a magic that infuses ancestral spirits into paintings, music, and stories. But someone is killing the shadowshapers one by one. Now Sierra must unravel her family’s past, take down the killer in the present, and save the future of shadowshaping for generations to come.

Shadowshaper was a book I couldn’t put down,” Rose told Deadline. “At a time when so many are feeling powerless, Sierra Santiago is a young Afro-Latina heroine who finds her power within herself. Through a strong spiritual connection to her ancestors, the discovery of the magic living in her art, and with the help of some amazing friends, she saves her family, and her Brooklyn neighborhood from certain destruction. A face and culture we rarely see on screen; she is the heroine we’ve been searching for, only to find she lives right next door.” You can also listen to Older talk about the book on the Midnight in Karachi podcast.

On Twitter, Older expressed his excitement about the potential adaptation in the most fitting way—through emoji:

Shadowhouse Fall, the second book in the series, will be published this September.

Warbreaker Reread: Chapters 29 and 30

Thursday, April 27th, 2017 04:00 pm
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Posted by Alice Arneson

Warbreaker Brandon Sanderson

Welcome back to the Warbreaker reread! Last week, Siri continued her search for information, and Vivenna continued to meet with criminals. This week, Siri gets a new definition of beauty while Vivenna, Vasher, and Lightsong ponder their options.

This reread will contain spoilers for all of Warbreaker and any other Cosmere book that becomes relevant to the discussion. This is particularly likely to include Words of Radiance, due to certain crossover characters. The index for this reread can be found here.

Click on through to join the discussion!

 

Chapter 29

Point of View: Siri, Vivenna, Vasher
Setting:
The God King’s Palace, the D’Denir garden, a street nearby
Timing:
The morning after Chapter 28

Take a Deep Breath

Siri and Susebron converse quietly in the bedroom after the night’s performance. He is interested in her background and her homeland because he is interested in her, but the conversation accidentally shifts to discussion of religions. This is disturbing for him, partly because he’s never realized that worship of the Returned is exclusive to Hallandren, and partly because it seems so strange for a god to have a wife who doesn’t believe in him. He brings the conversation back to her, though it again wanders—this time into beauty and BioChroma. Even though, or perhaps because, they are discussing uncomfortable topics, they continue to grow closer and are rapidly coming to love one another.

Vivenna stands with a crowd of onlookers gaping at four bodies in the D’Denir Garden. While she first focuses on the details of life and death with her enhanced vision, Denth points out the bizarre look of the wounds—a telltale sign that these men were killed by Nightblood. Denth stews about a way to deal with it; Tonk Fah suggests stealing it, but Denth refuses to consider touching it. He wants Vasher to draw it, to be forced to use it until it either kills him or weakens him so that Denth can take him down, refusing to accept that Vasher could have beaten Arsteel fairly. Vivenna is unsettled by the morning’s events, and realizes that she is being watched by someone with a lot of Breath.

Vasher looks down at the departing group from the top of a nearby building. Nightblood cheerfully suggests going down to talk to Denth, and asks where Shashara is; as usual, he either can’t or won’t remember that Shashara and Arsteel are dead, and that Denth is now Vasher’s mortal enemy. Vasher, however, is merely frustrated with Vivenna’s activities and the related disruption of plans; he knows he’ll have to deal with this bunch, but decides to wait for now.

Breathtaking

But you don’t believe in worshiping the Returned?

Siri shrugged. “I haven’t decided yet. My people teach strongly against it. They’re not fond of the way that the Hallandren understand religion.”

He sat quietly for a long moment.

So… you do not like those such as me?

“What? Of course I like you! You’re sweet!”

He frowned, writing. I don’t think God Kings are supposed to be “sweet.”

“Fine, then,” she said, rolling her eyes. “You’re terrible and mighty. Awesome and deific. And sweet.”

Much better, he wrote, smiling. I should very much like to meet this Austre.

Okay, to be honest, I don’t really have anything in particular to say about this. I just love it, so I quoted it for you. There you have it.

Local Color

The annotations, as they so often do, address the most interesting points of discussion. One is the way in which the Siri-Susebron romance provides a light counterpoint to the danger and tension of Vivenna’s plot, and the soul-searching and intrigue of Lightsong’s. Speaking of Susebron, yes, he did get better at spelling too fast. Did you really want to read more chapters of misspellings? A lesser issue is that the location of the bodies (the D’Denir gardens) is purely coincidental—in-world, of course. It’s handy for the author and the characters, but Vasher didn’t use the location just because Vivenna had been there the day before. It would be a non-scene, but the conflict between Denth and Vasher needs to be A Thing for the reader. Finally, there’s a quick summary of the Pahn Kahl religion, and the clarification that the religion itself isn’t driving the actions of the Pahn Kahl people; it’s the way they’re taken for granted and all but ignored as a people that is the problem.

 

Chapter 30

Point of View: Lightsong
Setting:
Lightsong’s Palace, Hopefinder’s Palace
Timing:
Unknown; probably soon after Chapter 27

Take a Deep Breath

Blushweaver watches in astonishment as Lightsong makes a horrible mess with clay and a pottery wheel; he concludes that pottery is definitely not one of the skills carried over from his previous life. Juggling fruit, however, is… as is mathematics, sketching, and a surprising knowledge of sailing terminology. He’s been experimenting, and along with pottery has shown no affinity for dyeing, horses, gardening, sculpting, or foreign languages. As they walk away together, Blushweaver is bemused by his fascination with his former life; she insists that she wouldn’t want to know, because she was obviously boring before.

Together they arrive at the palace of Hopefinder the Just, god of innocence and beauty. He is a bit of a paradox—the youngest of the gods by apparent physical age, but fifth oldest in order of Return. He and Blushweaver take opposing views of the current political situation; where Blushweaver is confident of the approach of war, Hopefinder is convinced that affairs are growing more stable. As they debate the matter, Lightsong mostly listens, and discovers that there’s a lot going on in the city of which he was completely unaware: rumors of the presence of a second Idrian princess in the city, for example. Listening for other points of interest, he muses on the oddities of a god who Returned as a very young child, combining as he does many mature traits with others that are distinctly child-like.

As this rambles off into musings on cultural ideals as reflected in the gods, he is abruptly brought back to the conversation by Hopefinder rebuking Blushweaver’s attempts to seduce him. This brings it to a point: he knows that her real purpose in visiting him is to try to obtain his Lifeless Commands. He proposes a bargain: his command phrase in return for her votes, to be directed as he wishes. To everyone’s surprise, she accepts the deal. Lightsong is disturbed by this evidence of Blushweaver’s conviction that war really was coming, and equally disturbed by Hopefinder’s willingness to give up what should have been a sacred obligation. As Hopefinder prepares to release his Commands, Lightsong sees a vision—a shining room made of steel; a prison.

As Hopefinder leaves, Blushweaver is pleased to now hold the Commands for two of the four Lifeless contingents: Mercystar gave hers to Blushweaver the previous day, encouraged by Lightsong’s interest in solving the mysterious death of her servant. She assumes this was his ultimate purpose, but he denies it; his primary interest is in the mystery of his former identity.

Breathtaking

“Eleven years. Eleven years of peace. Eleven years to grow to sincerely loathe this system of government we have. We all attend the assembly court of judgment. We listen to the arguments. But most of us don’t matter. In any given vote, only those with sway in that field have any real say over anything. During war times, those of us with Lifeless Commands are important. The rest of the time, our opinion rarely matters.

“You want my Lifeless? Be welcome to them! I have had no opportunity to use them in eleven years, and I venture that another eleven will pass without incident. I will give you those Commands, Blushweaver—but only in exchange for your vote. You sit on the council of social ills. You have an important vote practically every week. In exchange for my security phrases, you must promise to vote in social matters as I say, from now until one of us dies.”

The pavilion fell silent.

“Ah, so now you reconsider,” Hopefinder said, smiling. “I’ve heard you complain about your duties in court—that you find your votes trivial. Well, it’s not so easy to let go of them, is it? Your vote is all the influence you have. It isn’t flashy, but it is potent. It—”

“Done,” Blushweaver said sharply.

In a way, it does seem like a bizarre form of government, where assignment of responsibility has nothing to do with either the interests or aptitudes of the individual. It’s easy to see the god of bravery holding a quarter of the army, but why the goddess of matrons and families? The god of innocence and beauty? The goddess of kindness?

For that matter, who decides what the political assignments are? Who names the Returned? Who decides what attribute(s) they represent?

Local Color

The annotations reveal that Lightsong (who isn’t the first, but is the first of his generation, to investigate his own past) was actually the son of a potter. They also clarify some of Lightsong’s musings about the nature of the Returned and the aging process they undergo if they return while very young children. Finally, they address the underlying depth of personality of both Blushweaver and Lightsong, both of which are becoming more apparent in the text itself by this point.

Snow White and Rose Red

This week, Siri and Vivenna occupy the same chapter, but with vastly different situations. Siri, while she really is trying to find out if/why/from whom her life is in danger, and likewise Susebron’s, at the same time is in a comfortable life where she is learning to fit. She’s also totally falling in love with her husband, and thoroughly enjoying her time with him. While there is a certain tension emanating from Bluefingers’s warnings and from the attitude of the priests, it’s overwhelmed by the increasing intimacy and the delight she feels in his company.

Vivenna, despite her relatively wealthy status, has no such joy to balance her many discomforts. She’s out of her depth politically and socially, she is deeply uncomfortable with all the color and ostentation (not to mention Awakening), she’s even more deeply uncomfortable with the large stock of Breath she holds, she’s unsure about the validity of their more criminal activities even in ostensible service to her homeland, and she has no one she can confidently rely on. She’s got Parlin, who she likes and trusts but doesn’t really respect. She’s got the mercenaries, who she sort of likes (well, some of them) but doesn’t understand at all and doesn’t entirely trust. And she’s got Vasher watching her with unknown motives.

So far, we’ve seen Siri go through stages of carelessness, rebellion, fear, fascination, cautious acceptance, familiarity, determination, and growing confidence. Vivenna started out calm and confident, but every time we see her she’s got more doubts and less confidence… and the slide has only begun.

Clashing Colors

A few chapters ago, we saw the difficulty Vivenna had with understanding the Hallandren religion. This chapter brings up the same subject, but this time it’s a difficulty between Susebron and Siri:

Siri flushed, hair blushing as well. “I’m sorry. I probably shouldn’t talk about other gods in front of you.”

Other gods? he wrote. Like those in the court?

“No,” Siri said. “Austre is the Idrian god.”

I understand, Susebron wrote. Is he very handsome?

Siri laughed. “No, you don’t understand. He’s not a Returned, like you or Lightsong. He’s… well, I don’t know. Didn’t the priests mention other religions to you?”

Other religions? he wrote.

“Sure,” she said. “I mean, not everybody worships the Returned. The Idrians like me worship Austre, and the Pahn Kahl people—like Bluefingers… well, I don’t actually know what they worship, but it’s not you.”

That is very strange to consider, he wrote. If your gods are not Returned, then what are they?

There’s a lot more, but I can’t quote the entire section. Susebron is understandably disturbed by the realization that his wife, who he is coming to care about very much, doesn’t actually believe that he’s a god at all. Worried that it makes him sound petulant, he is nonetheless honest with her about his concern. It’s a touching little scene, as they struggle to understand each other’s point of view. So many things that Susebron has always taken for granted, Siri simply doesn’t believe—but it’s her lack of belief that helps her work out the mechanics of his actual abilities. It’ll be a lot more chapters until he fully believes her and acts on this understanding, but as with many “minor details” it will be critical to the plot solution.

In Living Color

Siri’s breakthrough understanding about the difference between Susebron’s Divine Breath and the thousands of additional Breaths was probably a lot more stunning the first time through… This time, we’ve been talking about it enough already that it feels like she’s just finally catching up. She’s right, in any case: he can indeed make use of all those additional Breaths to Awaken, but they still don’t know how to do it without the ability to speak. She’s wrong on some other things, naturally, but still pretty close. Also, his reserves are growing faster than she’d been told, since sometimes he gets three or four Breaths each week while only consuming one.

Denth & Vasher, while not actually doing anything, are busy lurking around in the background being ominous. Also, they really don’t like each other.

Probably the biggest revelations about the Returned in these chapters, though it’s more world-building than plot-building, is the musing on Hopefinder’s development. Returned as a two-year-old, he now has the body of an extremely impressive thirteen-year-old, with the maturity of a much older person. As is the way with all Returned who are very young at the time, during his first year his mental and communicative abilities matured very rapidly, so that in many ways he was an adult in a three-year-old’s body. Assuming he doesn’t give up his life first, he’ll continue to mature until he reaches prime adulthood, and then stop aging. Nice gig if you can get it.

You have to wonder, though, what makes Endowment give the occasional two-year-old (or baby) the opportunity to Return, and what makes them accept it…

This segues pretty handily into Lightsong’s musings (more world-building) about the way the appearance of each Returned reflects their own ideals. A lot of it is cultural—what are the current societal standards of beauty? Some of it is simply individual self-image—Lightsong is an example of this, where his physique reflects his own mental image of what the god of bravery ought to look like. It’s a clue, which we’ll see borne out at the very end of the book, that once they understand how it works, Returned can actually change their appearance at will.

Don’t Hold Your Breath (Give it to me!)

Nightblood is, as always, a bizarre combination of hilarious and creepy. How much does he understand and refuse to acknowledge, and how much is just the limitation of a hunk of steel given sapience? He never remembers for more than a few minutes that things are no longer the way they were when he was created. He remembers the people he collects along the way, from Shashara and Vasher at the beginning, to Denth (Varatreledees) and the other scholars, to Vivenna in the present. He just doesn’t seem to comprehend the passage of time or the permanence of death.

Exhale

I saved my favorite piece for last, with sort of a half excuse that it didn’t fit very well in any of the other units. This is Susebron’s perspective on beauty, which is both natural to his condition and a lovely insight on true beauty.

I suspect that the mountains are beautiful, as you have said. However, I believe the most beautiful thing in them has already come down to me.

On the surface, that’s quite a pick-up line. (Can you use a pick-up line on your own wife? I guess…) On a slightly deeper level, it’s an exquisitely beautiful thing to say to your bride. And on a purely practical level, it’s completely amazing.

I have thousands of Breaths, he wrote. It is hard to see as other people do—only through the stories of my mother can I understand their ways. All colors are beauty in my eyes. When others look at something—a person—one may sometimes seem more beautiful than another.

This is not so for me. I see only the color. The rich, wondrous colors that make up all things and gives them life. I cannot focus only on the face, as so many do. I see the sparkle of the eyes, the blush of the cheeks, the tones of skin—even each blemish is a distinct pattern. All people are wonderful.

He erased. And so, when I speak of beauty, I must speak of things other than these colors. And you are different. I do not know how to describe it.

I can’t quite articulate what I love about this. Something to do with the factual nature of what it’s like to have the Tenth Heightening, coupled with a personality that seeks to understand the nature of another person. Something to do with the kind of sight that no longer sees physical beauty as exceptional, because to him all people are equally beautiful. Something about how it would be nice if we could all do this, but for reals like Susebron—it’s not that he has somehow overcome the distraction of physical appearance, which is the best we can hope for; it’s that he really does, unavoidably, see beauty in the appearance of every person and every object around him.

Welp. That’s clearly going to just go in circles, so I’ll quit. But I hope you see it too; I think it’s a pretty cool aspect of the magic that Sanderson chose to bring out.

And that’s it for the blog—now it’s time for the comments! Join us again next week, when we will cover chapters 31 and 32, in which Vivenna gets two very difficult lessons, and Siri gets a much more pleasant—if confusing—one from a white-haired storyteller.

Alice Arneson is a SAHM, blogger, beta reader, and literature fan. If you Facebook, you can join her in the Tor-Sanderson-rereader-specific group known as the Storm Cellar; since it’s a closed group, you have to ask to join. Identify yourself as a Tor friend, and one of the moderators will add you. Also, the Oathbringer progress bar is currently at 44%. Just sayin’…

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Posted by Peter Bright

Intel Skylake die shot. (credit: Intel)

While Intel's desktop and laptop processors are using the latest generation Kaby Lake core, the multisocket high-end Xeon processors, used in servers and workstations, are still using the much older Broadwell core. The full range is due to be refreshed soon, with a whole range of new chips using a derivative of the Skylake core. There's still not much known about these long-awaited processors, but Intel has let slip one thing: an all-new naming scheme.

Currently, Xeons have a series name—one of E3, E5, and E7—a model number—a four digit number—and a version number. The version number denotes the basic architecture, with the current version 4 meaning Broadwell. The series name indicates the core variant—in general, E7 has more RAM capacity, more cores, and more reliability features than E5, and E3 is used for parts that are essentially rebranded standard desktop chips. The first digit of the model number denotes the number of sockets supported (from the single socket 1xxx parts up to the eight socket 8xxx parts), with the remaining three digits having no particular systematic meaning, but being used to distinguish between all the different core count and clock speed options.

(credit: Intel)

The new naming, which Intel has disclosed in a change notification document (spotted by Computerbase), appears to discard this scheme entirely. At the top are 14 processors branded "Xeon Platinum" at base speeds from 2.0 to 3.6GHz and 8000-series model numbers. These are presumed to be counterparts to the current E7 range. Exact socket and core counts remain unknown. Most of the Platinum series is expected to offer between 22 and 28 cores, with the exception of the 3.6GHz part; this will use the same design, but with far fewer cores enabled, to offer a high-cache, high-clock option.

Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Posted by Andrew Cunningham

Ron Amadeo

It's the end of another era for BlackBerry. Its last internally designed phone, the BlackBerry KeyOne, will be available for preorder in Canada on May 18 and released in Canada and the US on May 31. Unlike 2015's keyboard-equipped BlackBerry Priv, the KeyOne isn't a slider—its keyboard is always exposed, and as a result, it has a shorter and more squarish display than most modern smartphones. Like the Priv, though, the KeyOne runs a lightly customized version of Android (version 7.1.1, in this case) with some of BlackBerry's apps and services preinstalled.

The US version will only be available for the full unlocked price of $549 at first, but the Canadian version will be available for $199 with a two-year contract from Bell, Bell MTS, SaskTel, and Telus Business. The UK version is also available now from Selfridges for £499, with a Carphone Warehouse launch following on May 5.

Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Posted by Jon Brodkin

Enlarge / Net neutrality supporters march past the FCC headquarters before a commission meeting on May 15, 2014. (credit: Getty Images | The Washington Post)

Did you feel a sudden loss of Internet freedom in February 2015? That's when the Federal Communications Commission imposed net neutrality rules that prevent Internet service providers from discriminating against websites and other online services. And that's when Americans lost their Internet freedom—according to the current FCC chairman, Ajit Pai.

Pai, a Republican and former Verizon lawyer, opposed the net neutrality rules when Democrats held the commission's majority, and he quickly got to work dismantling the rules after being appointed chair by President Donald Trump. To convince the public that the FCC should eliminate rules it passed two years ago, Pai's office yesterday issued a press release titled, "Restoring Internet freedom for all Americans."

The press release says the plan to eliminate Obama-era Internet regulations "will benefit all Americans" by "boost[ing] competition and choice in the broadband marketplace" and "will restore Internet Freedom by ending government micromanagement and returning to the bipartisan regulatory framework that worked well for decades."

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Cookbook experience

Thursday, April 27th, 2017 11:42 am
resonant: Brian from The Breakfast Club: Demented and sad, but social (Default)
[personal profile] resonant
Has anyone created a family cookbook? Or had other print-on-demand experience?
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Posted by Matt Webb Mitovich

The Chekhov’s Gun principle tells us that every dramatic element in a story must be necessary. And ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. gave us much food for thought this week, with the revelation that Dr. Fitz’s Project Looking Glass is a nearly complete doohickie that will allow Aida, an AI stuck in android form, to inhabit […]

(no subject)

Thursday, April 27th, 2017 11:30 am
telophase: (Default)
[personal profile] telophase
I'm looking on Amazon Japan for pose books, and the Google machine translation is awesome.

From a book on kimono and poses with people in and partly out of it:
Making a manga artist Pose collection Delusional pose collection SPROUT

Suzuya called the strongest bang of this century. The second popular series that Mr. appointed Mr. as a model.
For this time, we will
raise your new delusions on the theme of kimono, such as Yukata and Hakama! Of course, the figure of bare duck is exposed as well!
The pictures are nice, but I have so little call to draw people (or ducks) in and out of kimono that I can't justify ¥2500 for it.
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Posted by Michelle W.

During the ’70s and early ’80s, 30,000 people “disappeared” during Argentina’s Dirty War — some of them pregnant women who gave birth in detention centers, had their babies stolen, and were then killed. Delia’s daughter Stella was one of those women. Aided by other mothers and grandmothers, Delia never stopped looking for her lost grandson. Bridget Huber tells the story of Delia’s search in California Sunday magazine.

Delia counted the days until Stella’s due date. Then she started looking for Martín, too. A neighbor whose own son was missing told her that searching mothers were meeting in the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires. The first time Delia went, there were just a handful of mothers, but their numbers multiplied each week. The women made head scarves from cloth diapers they’d saved from their children’s infancy and embroidered them with their missing sons’ and daughters’ names; their white kerchiefs would come to symbolize the search. Public assemblies were forbidden, so the women would make counter­clockwise laps around the plaza, sometimes prodded along by soldiers’ gun barrels. (Within a year, three of the mothers would disappear.) In the plaza, Delia met other women who were looking for pregnant daughters or daughters-in-law. Soon they were meeting in parks and coffee shops. They’d bring props like knitting or birthday gifts to pass themselves off as harmless grandmothers on a social call. But really they were plotting investigations. The women made the rounds at candy stores and orphanages and spied on families that might have acquired a child under murky circumstances. They gathered evidence and stuck it in tin cans that they buried in their gardens.

Read the story

The Legacy of Star Wars' Journal of the Whills

Thursday, April 27th, 2017 09:00 am
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Posted by Miss Cellania

When George Lucas was working on the early drafts of what would become Star Wars, he was going to have the story narrated by a character who was explaining it to a a more advanced species long after the fact. The "Journal of the Whills" was the written, or otherwise recorded, account of the Skywalker saga. The idea was scrapped long before the script was finished, but Lucas' early idea managed to hang around long enough to find its way into the Expanded Universe, and then into the official novelization of The Force Awakens. Read the story of the Journal of the Whills at Den of Geek.  

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Posted by Teresa Jusino

You remember that tone-deaf Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad, right? Yeah, we’re trying to forget, too. Thankfully, Heineken has released something that can serve as an amazing palate cleanser, clearing away any aftertaste left behind by that denim-wrapped monstrosity. Check out the ad above, called “Worlds Apart.”

In it, a group of six people with varied (and opposing) worldviews are paired up with their opposites to take part in an experiment. They aren’t told anything about the other person, or what the point of the experiment is. However, we as the viewer are privy to that information thanks to short segments in which each person tells us about themselves.

So, we know that the white, “new right” misogynist has been paired with the liberal black feminist, that the environmentalist has been paired with a climate change denier, and that the trans woman has been paired with the cis man who thinks that being trans is “not right.” As you watch the ad, you’re compelled in large part because you’re afraid for these people. I mean, you kind of figure that it’s not going to get too bad, because Heineken probably wouldn’t release an ad in which their experiment went horribly awry.

They end up chatting about themselves and are very complimentary to each other through the first half. The misogynist tells the feminist that she seems “quite ambitious and positive, and … you’ve got a glow, do you know what I’m saying? Your aura is really cool.” When the trans woman reveals that she’s served in the military, the cis guy expresses how proud he is of her and her service. The climate change denier compliments the environmentalist on the fact that he seems like a good listener, and they both talk about how fast they’re becoming friends.

Still, you’re on pins and needles as the truth is revealed, and toward the end of the experimentafter each pair had built a bar and stools togetherthey are shown the videos where they and their partners were expressing their views. They are then given a choice: walk away, or sit and talk about it over a beer.

heineken

One moment that’s particularly heart-stopping is when the guy who was paired with the trans woman walked away. At first, we see her sitting alone at the bar and we’re stunned … but then the guy turns around and sits back down, and they both laugh. He was just kidding. Each of the pairs ends up being quite capable of having a conversation over beer.

What was successful about this ad that absolutely failed in the Pepsi ad, is that this ad actually dealt with real and specific concerns. Whereas the Pepsi ad featured a protest with non-committal signs reading “Join the conversation,” (the conversation about what exactly?) this ad wasn’t afraid to be about specific things: feminism, transphobia, climate change.

It also used real, average people, rather than Kendall Jenner and her denim-clad protest army pretending to be average people. This gave the ad a dramatic tension that can’t be faked.

Lastly, Heineken, like Pepsi, placed value on the conversation, but that conversation was based firmly in reality. Whereas in the Pepsi ad, the simple act of handing a police officer a Pepsi and having him accept it was reason enough for the crowd to go crazy, here we’re left with the sense that the chatting over a beer is just the beginning. It’s a happy moment in the moment, but we’re under no illusions. There’s still much more work to do, and this ad is a teensy first step, albeit an important one. However, after having the chance to get to know each other casually and socially first, before delving into the politics, these six people are a little more equipped to begin that work than they were before.

It’s easy to be cynical about advertising, and that cynicism likely increases or decreases in direct correlation to one’s feelings about capitalism. I, for one, am a bit of an advertising and marketing geek, and I believe that certain ads are successful because there’s an art to them. All art is trying to relay a message, whether it wants you to think about a particular political message, feel an emotion, relate to the artist in some way … or even buy a product.

This Heineken ad was both good art and solid advertising.

(via The Daily Dot, featured image: screenshot)

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Posted by Jessica Lachenal

(image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

(image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

As we reported just a few days ago, the Cassini orbiter is settling into its final death throes as it begins to descend into Saturn’s atmosphere. Recently, it dipped between Saturn itself and the planet’s innermost rings, a region previously never explored by any spacecraft. According to Engadget, the project manager for Cassini, Earl Maize, said, “No spacecraft has ever been this close to Saturn before. We could only rely on predictions, based on our experience with Saturn’s other rings, of what we thought this gap between the rings and Saturn would be like. I am delighted to report that Cassini shot through the gap just as we planned and has come out the other side in excellent shape.”

Apparently, Cassini is more or less unscathed by its initial plunge, a far cry from the premature death many on the team had feared. Interestingly enough, the team opted to use Cassini’s satellite dish as a shield to guard the orbiter from potentially unseen or other unknown elements or particles that could have resulted in the orbiter’s destruction. To do this, Cassini would be forced to go dark and couldn’t transmit back to Earth for a while. It came back online today at 2:56 AM EDT.

Again, Cassini’s final dive into Saturn is scheduled for September 15th. Up until that fateful day, Cassini will continue to dive closer and closer to Saturn, hopefully returning each time with more and more data for us to pore over back here on Earth.

Speaking of returning with data: NASA has a fine collection of some of the photos Cassini took of Saturn’s atmosphere. They are, as Gizmodo so succinctly put it, quite hauntingly beautiful.

(image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

(image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

(image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

(image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

There’s something that really mystifies me about that second photo and its ghostly white spectral figures that seem to orbit around a dark eye with a lone point of light at the center. It’s really quite something.

Jim Green, director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA, said in a statement, “In the grandest tradition of exploration, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has once again blazed a trail, showing us new wonders and demonstrating where our curiosity can take us if we dare.”

Simply beautiful. Excellent work, NASA and Cassini!

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Posted by Chris Evangelista

blow out

(Welcome to Now Stream This, a monthly column dedicated to the best movies streaming on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and every other streaming service out there.)

Next month offers a wealth of options for movie fans of all tastes. How about a thriller from one of the greatest filmmakers of the past 50 years? How about an Oscar-winning drama that’s as good as you’ve heard? If you’re feeling especially adventurous, how about an English TV movie so scary that it’s hardly been seen in 25 years? We have all of this and more!

1. Blow Out

Streaming on FilmStruck May 3

Brian De Palma’s 1981 masterpiece Blow Out shows the filmmaker firing on all cylinders, creating a perfect film in the process. This is De Palma using every weapon in his arsenal: gorgeous split diopter shots, revealing split-screens, lengthy tracking shots, and themes of voyeurism. John Travolta plays a B-movie soundman who becomes an inadvertent “ear witness” to a political assassination when he ends up recording the audio of a car driven by a governor plunging off a bridge. Assisted by a woman (Nancy Allen) who was in the car with the dead governor, Travolta’s character tries to piece together the clues at his disposal to blow the lid off the conspiracy, all while being pursued by dangerous assassin (John Lithgow). Blow Out is always at a fever-pitch – the film seems to exist in a heightened state of excitement, and that excitement is infectious. Few films are as thrilling and watchable as this – it’s the perfect example of why De Palma is a master of the craft.

For fans of: The Conversation, Blow-Up, the Liberty Day parade.

2. A Simple Plan

Now streaming on Hulu; leaving 5/31

Sam Raimi may be known for his more over-the-top entries (Evil Dead, Army of Darkness, Drag Me to Hell), but one his very best films is this frosty 1998 neo-noir. Set during a snowy Minnesota winter, A Simple Plan stars the late, great Bill Paxton as Hank, a working- class guy living an average life with his pregnant wife (Bridget Fonda – remember her? Where did she go!?). One day Hank, his awkward brother Jacob (played by Billy Bob Thornton) and Jacob’s friend Lou (Brent Briscoe) are out hunting deep in the woods when they stumble upon a crashed airplane. There’s a dead man inside the plane – and a duffel bag containing $4.4 million. After some deliberation, the men decide to keep the money, and everything promptly goes very, very wrong. What follows is a chilling, twisty and surprisingly emotional thriller. This is Raimi at his most restrained; a slow-burn film with ice in its veins. Paxton is great as a good man who gets caught up in a terrible situation and Thornton gives one of the best performances of his career as Paxton’s troubled brother. A Simple Plan is currently on Hulu, but it’s leaving May 31 – so if you somehow missed this gem, get on it fast.

For fans of: Fargo, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Bill Paxton (that’s all of us, right?)

3. Ghostwatch

Now streaming on Shudder

In 1992, the BBC broadcast Ghostwatch on Halloween night and proceeded to scare the hell out of everyone. Done in a faux-documentary style, Ghostwatch is deceptively effective and was even more so for UK audiences since the special employed real-life, respected BBC newscasters. Presented as a special investigating a real haunted house in Northolt, Greater London, Ghostwatch starts off almost playfully before descending into nerve-jangling terror. One of the many clever ways Ghostwatch gets under your skin is by subliminally inserting ghostly apparitions into the backgrounds of scenes that aren’t supposed to be outwardly scary. The result is an unsettling, highly effective experience. Ghostwatch was so effective that the BBC actually banned it for a decade. Now, thankfully, we can watch it on Shudder.

For fans of: The Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity, The Conjuring 2, British ghosts.

4. Manchester by the Sea

Streaming on Amazon Prime Video 5/5

One of the few films that fully understands the language of grief, Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester by the Sea follows Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) as he deals with the fall-out of the death of his brother (Kyle Chandler). Much to Lee’s shock and confusion, he’s been made the guardian of his late brother’s son (Lucas Hedges). As the film unfolds, Lonergan jumps around in time to reveal more and more about Lee and his troubled past. This occasionally jarring, non-linear editing from Jennifer Lame is one of the main reason’s Manchester by the Sea is so effective – the narrative never tips its hand too early. There’s plenty of sadness in Manchester by the Sea, but it’s not a dour weep-fest. In fact, the film is surprisingly hilarious at times due to some perfectly timed dark humor. Affleck, who won Best Actor for the role, is undeniably great in the film, although it might be hard to appreciate him in the role in light of the disturbing sexual harassment allegations against him.

For fans of: The Sweet Hereafter, The Big Chill, You Can Count On Me, wicked awesome New England accents.

5. Jackie Brown

Streaming on Amazon Prime Video 5/7

Quentin Tarantino followed-up Pulp Fiction with his most subdued, and perhaps underrated movie. Based on a novel by Elmore Leonard, 1997’s Jackie Brown is a crime drama about suddenly realizing you’re too damn old. Blaxploitation icon Pam Greir is Jackie Brown, a stewardess who supplements her income by smuggling money in from Mexico for gun-runner Ordell Robbie (Samuel L. Jackson). When Jackie gets caught with the money and some cocaine she was unaware she was even transporting, Jackie has to think fast. She can either sell-out Ordell, risk prison, or come up with a plan to net herself a serious payday. Tarantino specializes in the cinema of the cool, but Jackie Brown is a drabber, more run-down type of film, populated with characters who are past their prime. Robert De Niro is hilarious as Ordell’s shuffling, mumbling right-hand man; Bridget Fonda (hey, two Bridget Fonda movies in one column!) relishes every moment she has as a scheming beach bunny; and Robert Forster steals the entire film as a sympathetic bail bondsman who gets drawn into Jackie’s plan. Tarantino has made great movies since Jackie Brown, but he has yet to make a film quite as mature as this one.

For fans of: Coffy, Foxy Brown, Get Shorty, The Delfonics.

Continue Reading The Best Movies Streaming in May 2017 >>

The post Now Stream This: The 10 Best Movies Streaming in May 2017 appeared first on /Film.

LOTR: Book III, ch 1-2, heroes being heroic

Thursday, April 27th, 2017 09:27 am
sartorias: (JRRT)
[personal profile] sartorias
Kicking off The Two Towers is mostly action, with great character moments, and of course plenty of blasts back to the past. These two chapters concern meetings between people who know their legends, without being aware that they are embarking on becoming legends themselves.

This is one of the aspects of the coolness factor, the seduction of competence and striving for a sense of right that has always sparked for me.

Not that there won't be questions. But that's coming.

For now:

When Aragorn finds the dying Boromir, the latter confesses, and Aragorn tries to give him peace. When Gimli and Legolas catch up, they find him grieving over Boromir, and over his own failure to keep the company together and safe on their perilous road.

He’s not just grieving but weeping, and I do want to talk about tears, but later. There’s a passage I’ve always remembered where I think it’s important. Meanwhile, the three search the Orcs, but don’t think about decent burial for them as they do Boromir, who gets sent over the falls, Aragorn making a poem and commenting that in Minas Tirith they endure the East wind, but don’t look to it for news.

After finding clues of the hobbits—and of two separate orc forces—they take off in pursuit. Aragorn regrets bitterly turning away from the south, but duty calls, and they start running northwards.

In chapter two, they encounter the remains of dead orcs, also unburied. More about that later: as a kid reader I was not bothered, but later on, I was.

They reach the plains of Rohan, where Aragorn finds Pippin’s brooch lying a little ways off the trail—evidence, I think, that Pippin has quick wits, though he’s still a kid.

They camp, then Legolas gives the ground a listen, after Aragorn comments that the earth must groan under the orcs’ hated feet. They push on, then comes an interesting passage. Aragorn says he’s tired:

"There is something strange at work in this land. I distrust the silence. I distrust even the pale moon. The stars are faint; and I am weary as I have seldom been before, weary as Ranger should not be with a clear trail to follow. A weariness that is in the heart more than in the limb."

"Truly!" said Legolas. “ That I have known since first we came down from the Emyn Muil. For the will is not behind us but before us."


Saruman’s magic seems to reach out beyond anyone being able to hear his voice. Right? I want to discuss Saruman's magic, but later.

On they go, until they meet the Riders of Rohan, who nearly go past them until Aragorn asks them for news.

It doesn’t start out well: when Aragorn says that they had recently come through Lothlorien, Eomer infuriates Gimli by commenting about Galadriel, “Few escape her nets, they say.”

It’s Aragorn the peace maker who comes between Eomer and the other two, who are ready to do battle on the spot. He explains their quest, but then he reveals who he is, and demands that Eomer choose swiftly.

Then comes one of those cool moments that thrilled me chitlins as a kid reader, when Eomer says, “These are indeed strange days. Dreams and legends spring out of the grass.”

I’ve always loved larger than life characters, especially when they live up to the promise.

Anyway, they find out that the orc band that took the hobbits is toast, but no sign of the two prisoners. The Rohan knights are skeptical about hobbits, and when Eomer comments, “Do we walk in legends or on the green earth in the daylight?” Aragorn comes back with, “A man may do both.”

Zing, more coolness factor. They exchange news—all pretty bad—and Eomer insists that Rohan does not pay tribute to Mordor, nor would they sell black horses to Mordor, for they are put to evil use.

This demand for specifically black horses passed me by when I was young, but it caught my attention this round. But I think that will belong to the discussion of black and white, light and darkness.

They discuss Gandalf, and then what to do. Eomer for the third time comments on the strangeness of these days, but when he wonders how he is to judge what to do, Aragorn says:

"As he ever has judged," said Aragorn. "Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing among elves and dwarves and another among men. It is a man's part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house."

They decide to go on, though Gimli feels about horses the way Sam feels about boats. They reach Fangorn, where the trees act oddly, Aragorn saying that Fangorn holds some secret of his own. What it is he doesn’t know.

To which Gimli replies with heartfelt truth, “And I do not wish to know! Let nothing that dwells in Fangorn be troubled on my account!”

Gimli gets the first watch—and their camp is disturbed by an old man. Who vanishes, along with their horses. Aragorn comments that he had a hat, not a hood . . . and they wait out the night.

So, all kinds of setup for later payoff.

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