Yes, Clara looks awfully sweet in this photo, but don’t be fooled…
She’s ten times sweeter in person.
Yes, Clara looks awfully sweet in this photo, but don’t be fooled…
She’s ten times sweeter in person.
For this week’s “Grace Notes” column at Christ and Pop Culture, I look at a couple of gems available on Bandcamp (my fave online music source): the “eclectic rock” of Chalk Dinosaur, the classic shoegazing of Lowtide, and the elegant Durutti Column-esque stylings of Garbage Man.
Ah, so that’s what Netflix getting more subscribers sounds like…
Snarkiness aside, the reason people aren’t going to theatres isn’t because cellphones, texting, etc. are banned. They aren’t going because tickets and concessions are too expensive, theatres are too crappy, and the movies themselves aren’t all they’re cracked up to be (even with 3D). People will go — and shell out money — if they perceive value. The answer isn’t to further cheapen the theatre experience, but rather, make it a more compelling experience than the one people can have in their living room with a Netflix account.
“This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)” has a very special place in my heart. It’s basically “our song” for my wife and I, and we played it during our wedding. This version, performed by the group Matteo around a lamp — a nice nod to the Talking Heads concert film Stop Making Sense — is done so with some traditional Chinese instruments, giving the song a nice exotic vibe.
In 1993, Ron Fricke released Baraka, a visually stunning film featuring footage from all over the globe that captured the glories of nature and human civilization, as well as our darker elements. Now, nearly twenty years later, Fricke returns with Samsara, and it looks to be just as awe-inspiring as its precursor. Here’s a brief synopsis:
Samsara takes the form of a nonverbal, guided meditation that will transform viewers in countries around the world as they are swept along a journey of the soul. Through powerful images pristinely photographed in 70mm and a dynamic music score, the film illuminates the links between humanity and the rest of the nature, showing how our life cycle mirrors the rhythm of the planet.
The trailer is also available on Apple’s trailer page.
I’ve written about the creative endeavors of The Colonel Mustard Amateur Attic Theatre Company on several occasions. The non-profit community arts collective has been responsible for such geektastic community theatre productions as X-Files: The Musical and Dr. Quinn: The Musical, as well as several smaller productions like The Brothers Karamazov and Friends. Their latest project, however, promises to eclipse everything they’ve done to date.
Gods of the Prairie (August 17-18, 2012) is an “immersive theatrical experience” inspired by both Wagner's Ring Cycle (aka Der Ring des Nibelungen) and Nebraska history. But whereas previous Colonel Mustard productions have taken place in backyards and empty lots, Gods of the Prairie will take place throughout beautiful downtown Lincoln, with various scenes from the play occurring in different venues and locales. (There will even some “hidden” scenes for the more intrepid theatre lovers to hunt down.) Think of it as a scavenger hunt, only this time, you’re hunting down bits and pieces of a storyline involving ancient Norse gods ruling the prairie circa 1800.
As with previous Colonel Mustard productions, Gods of the Prairie will be free, so a Kickstarter campaign will be launched soon to offset the costs. In the meantime, visit the Gods of the Prairie Facebook page, sign up to help, and mark August 17-18, 2012 on your calendar.
Forbes has calculated that Smaug the dragon, with a personal net worth of $62 billion, is the fictional world’s wealthiest individual. But how, exactly, does one compute a dragon’s wealth? Only with some nerdery of the most epic variety. Here are a few of the calculations:
Gold & Silver in Main Mound: Now, using the same logic as last year, we can figure out the volume of the mound. To simplify the calculation, approximate the mound as a cone, with a radius of 12.45 feet and a height of 13 feet (the dragon’s weight will smush it down a foot or so).
V= 1/3 π r2 h = 1/3 * π * 12.452 * 13 = 2110 cubic feet
Lose 30% of that volume to air and dragon droppings and we are left with 1477 cubic feet of silver and gold. Assuming a 50/50 gold/silver treasure composition and adjusting for the current price of gold ($1642/oz.) and silver ($31.66/oz) we arrive at a value of $14.7 billion for the gold and silver in Smaug’s bed.
Diamond’s Embedded in Dragon’s Underbelly: In the book, Smaug’s soft underbelly is protected by diamonds that have become encrusted in his scales from centuries of sleeping atop his mound. Last year I calculated the worth of all those diamonds at $3.9 billion. Since we aren’t adjusting Smaug’s length — at least not yet — this figure stays the same.
Related: The complete Forbes’ “Fictional 15” list.
This excerpt from Mathew Barrett and Mel Gilles’ The Last Myth: What the Rise of Apocalyptic Thinking Tells Us About America discusses the dangers inherent to embracing an “apocalyptic” view of world crises like global warming, peak oil, and terrorism, the role that the media has played in encouraging such a view, and how such a view prevents any real conversation on actual threats to humanity.
Talking about climate change or peak oil through the rhetoric of apocalypse may make for good television and attention-grabbing editorials, but such apocalyptic framing hasn't mobilized the world into action. Most of us are familiar with the platitude “When the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” In a similar way, our over-reliance on the apocalyptic storyline stands between us and our ability to properly assess the problems before us. Some see the looming crises of global warming and resource and energy depletion and conclude that inaction will bring about the end of civilization: only through a radical shift toward clean energy and conservation, those on the Left argue, can we continue the way of life that we have known. Those on the Right dismiss the apocalyptic threats altogether, because the proposed solutions to peak oil, global warming, and overpopulation conflict with core conservative beliefs about deregulation and the free-market economy, or with a religious worldview that believes humanity is not powerful enough to alter something as large as our climate. Still others dismiss the catalog of doom and gloom as mere apocalypticism itself. Surely, we convince ourselves, all the dire warnings about the effects of global warming aren't that different from the world-ending expectations of the Rapturists?
The result is that the energy we could expend addressing the problems before us is instead consumed by our efforts to either dismiss the threat of apocalypse or to prove it real. Ultimately, the question becomes not what to do about the threats before us but whether you believe in the threats before us.
I’ve written before about growing up during the height of the Cold War, during which various pastors and organizations pointed out “obvious” signs that the Rapture was nigh. Talk about apocalypticism. Unfortunately, such apocalypticism often engendered, not a desperation to help and care for those around us, but rather, a certain smugness and self-righteousness that led to a ghettoizing “circle the wagons” mentality. This part of the article also jumped out at me:
The apocalyptic storyline becomes a form of daydreaming escape: the threat of global warming becomes a fantasy to one day live off the grid, or buy a farm, or grow our own food; economic collapse becomes like a prison break from the drudgery of meaningless and increasingly underpaid work in a soul-crushing cubicle; peak oil promises the chance to finally form a community with the neighbors to whom you've never spoken. Yet despite the fantasia peddled by Hollywood and numerous writers, a world battered by natural disasters and global warming, facing declining natural resources and civic unrest, without adequate water or energy or food, with gross inequalities between the rich and the poor, is not a setting for a picaresque adventure, nor is it the ideal place to start living in accord with your dreams.
Back in my dispensationalist days, when the Rapture was ever drawing nigh, it wasn’t uncommon for my church friends and I to fantasize about the Rapture scenarios. Much of this was driven by the fantastical imagery in the Book of Revelation, and our poor interpretations of it. Again, rather than draw proper inspiration from such imagery, we allowed ourselves to get caught up in a sort of lurid action movie fantasy that had more in common with a Rambo film than anything else. In other words, we bought into apocalypticism and then some.
Christ and Pop Culture’s Nick Olson:
While I understand what Asay means, I think making this type of distinction is precisely where many Christian film critics misunderstand a crucial aspect of assessing film in the discerning way that they intend. Considering the moral tenor of a film has far more to do with how a film treats its content than with the specific content itself. (Which is not to say that the latter does not matter, merely that the former is significantly overlooked given its importance.) If the qualities that constitute effective storytelling are not done well, then the specific message of that story, however moral, will be compromised by virtue of these aesthetic failures.
Why have we come to make a rigid separation between content and context, between the what and the how, between the ethical and the aesthetic? Too many reasons to fit within the scope of this article, I’m afraid. Suffice to say, moral issues cannot be considered well when divorced from narrative context. This means that ethics are inextricably interwoven in good storytelling, or put differently, the Christian message is not something that can be properly depicted or considered apart from aesthetic considerations.
I recently discovered Infinity Shred via Melodic Expectation, where I learned that they used to be called Starscream but had to change their name due to legal threats from another band. Which sucks, but Infinity Shred is still a pretty rad name for a band and it matches their particular brand of kitschy-cool space-age synth-rock well. Think early M83 getting some Tron: Legacy-era Daft Punk treatment.
Now, where’s my virtual motorcycle? I suddenly feel the need to race through the Metaverse, Hiro Protagonist-style.
“Wayfinder” is the first single from their upcoming EP 001 (Gnar Dream) release, which comes out May 15.