Attention K-Mart Shoppers
Jan28

Attention K-Mart Shoppers

Found via Open Culture is a collection of tape cassettes (digitised by Mark Davis) sent to K-Mart stores in the late 1980s and early 1990s to play over the shop speaker system; muzak and store announcements that you can close your eyes to and transport yourself back in time (and, in my case, to a culture only glimpsed on TV and in the movies.) The collection of K-Mart tapes can be found at the Internet Archive here:...

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American Reflexxx: Mob Violence And Gender Confusion
Jan02

American Reflexxx: Mob Violence And Gender Confusion

You know what it’s like. You’re following some random links on random Tumblr sites looking for 1980s-style neon gorgeousness (don’t ask me why) when you find yourself somewhere called Sleazeburger and during the scrolling you notice a comment from someone asking about a film. And then you follow the link in the answer. And then you spend a little over 14 minutes gawping at something mesmerising and distressing, captivating, and mind-reeling. American Reflexxx is a movie featuring that Tumblr site’s owner, performance artist Signe Pierce, and filmed by Alli Coates in 2013. It was supposed to be a short film featuring Signe in stripper gear, neon shoes, and a reflective mask strolling along Myrtle Beach in South Carolina; something pretty, something futuristic cyborg-like, in a tourist destination in the heart of conservative America; it was probably expected there’d be stares, maybe some comments, photos from phones; it was probably not expected that a crowd would form and that both verbal and physical assault would take place. Oh, so naive. There’s some interesting time-dilation editing in the movie which helps to make Signe Pierce’s cyborg seem that much more alien amongst the humans. And, interestingly, it’s very difficult to come away from this video with anything other than bad feelings towards those humans as their behaviour to the alien is distressingly… well, human. The initial interest in the sexy giant very quickly gives way to uncertainty over gender. Unable to truly know whether Signe is male or female or something else entirely the instinct becomes to assume she is wrong, and therefore bad, and therefore a threat, and therefore scary. Adrenalin’s a hell of a drug and it will either trigger a fight or flight instinct but when you’ve got the safety of the herd around you and the threat has no obvious weapons a fight with the protection of numbers in the mob is probably the result you’re going to get. I mean, you’d like to think people could think rationally, perhaps think it’s a model doing a photoshoot or even the art piece it is, show some interest maybe, then go about whatever it was they were doing before, but forming into a mass of bullies is certainly an option too. The video features Signe getting sprayed with water, someone trying to trip her, and someone cowardly pushing her from behind to the floor where she suffers a cut. In each case the person assaulting the alien is a woman. A raised reaction to a perceived raised threat from a potential rival perhaps? Or women are just naturally violent in South Carolina? I’ve not been so I don’t...

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Christian Power Over Wind
Dec30

Christian Power Over Wind

Wind direction is determined by air pressure (which itself is affected by temperature). Wind direction is governed by the result of a change in higher air pressure in one location shifting to equalise into lower air pressure in another. There are a lot of air pressure changes taking place in the vicinity of a tornado as I’m sure you can imagine and probably can work out from an extremely basic – childishly basic, even – grasp of physics; the sort of stuff you probably learnt in your early teen years. Maybe if you don’t know about that you had a terrible education. Or maybe you’re a moron. But I digress. A tornado heading towards the city of Rowlett in Texas apparently altered direction not because of changing air pressure or temperature but because a group of Christians commanded the wind to do so as God had given them that power. Source “We actually went outside and started commanding the winds, because God had given us authority over the winds, the airways,” [Sabrina Lowe of Rowlett, Texas] said. “And we just began to command this storm not to hit our area. We spoke to the storm and said, ‘Go to unpopulated places.’ It did exactly what we said to do, because God gave us the authority to do that.” Let’s make sure we all understand this. The tornado definitely, definitely was going to hit Sabrina Lowe’s area had they not used divine powers. The tornado definitely, definitely was not going to just veer away due to atmospheric pressure and temperature changes such as you might find in the southern half of the United States near a body of water during a tornado. God definitely, definitely gave Sabrina and her Christian friends authority over the wind, something they’d be definitely, definitely willing to demonstrate if pressed. As I see it Sabrina and her Christian friends just admitted directing the tornado to an unpopulated area of the city where it caused vast amounts of damage rather than commanding it to stop where it was making them responsible legally since the destruction can no longer be classed as an act of God but one of malice. That’s a brave but potentially poverty-inducing move...

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Sympathy For The Devil
Dec30

Sympathy For The Devil

The August 1979 publication of Heavy Metal magazine (volume 3, issue 4) contained a comic strip – or, in its own words, a Songsaga – set to the lyrics of the Rolling Stones track Sympathy For The Devil. It just so happens that despite the annoying tendency for students at university to sing along with the music it remains possibly my most favourite Stones track and since the magazine is available for viewing on the Internet Archive I thought I’d reproduce the imagery from that publication here. Heavy Metal v03 #04 Story concept: James Waley Adaptation: James Waley & Gene Day Pencils: Gene Day Inks-lettering: Bill Payne Colours: Martin Springett And, if you want to sing along...

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Neil deGrasse Tyson Talks Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Dec22

Neil deGrasse Tyson Talks Star Wars: The Force Awakens

It’s become something of a tradition that famous astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson – how famous? He’s about 0.85 on the Professor Brian Cox scale level of famous – will take to Twitter to discuss elements of some current big thing and describe the science behind it, what’s right, and what’s wrong. Deflategate? He talked about it. Eurovision Song Contest? He talked about it. Proposed acquisition of 99p Stores Ltd by Poundland? He talked about it after converting the currency to those quaint dollars and cents they have over there. As you probably know unless you’ve been in a cave following a terrible spelunkung adventure (in which case thanks for popping by this site first on your escape from the darkness) the Star Wars universe just added a new movie to the collection in the form of The Force Awakens. I wrote a review about it. Recently. Here it is: Star Wars: The Force Awakens: The Review. It’s a big thing – the movie, not my review – and that means Neil deGrasse Tyson popped up on Twitter and told anyone who would listen about the film. The scientist’s remarks about the new Star Wars film are...

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