A case of the Mondays, part two.

by Tom Gauld (see also: here and here), from here.

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Reading, writing, and arithmetic.

Mad linkage:

Don Draper/Jon Hamm as Superman?

Google and the CIA to invest in the “future” of web monitoring.

The above image, if you can believe it, is for a condom ad. I love it.

Girls like boys with skills.

Elisabeth Hasselbeck’s wacky lesbian theory.

“My soul knows my meat is doing bad things, and is embarrassed. But my meat keeps on doing bad, dumb things.”

-Kurt Vonnegut, Bluebeard.

Lost‘s Damon Lindelof to rewrite Ridley Scott’s Alien prequel.

Old Spice’s sales double with YouTube campaign.

Mike Tyson likes cocaine and sex.

Disabled Austrian man eaten to death by maggots while his partner slept in bed beside him.

The first half of the Rubicon pilot is certainly interesting. A show for smart people or a show for people who think they’re smart (and love 70s paranoia thrillers)?

from here.

The Booker Prize longlist announced.

The longest photographic exposures in history.

Quantum time machine “allows paradox-free time travel.” If you need me, I’ll be in the past. Or the future.

The oil spill: when a science fiction nightmare becomes reality.

The plight of Afghan women: a disturbing picture.

“History is merely a list of surprises… It can only prepare us to be surprised yet again. Please write that down.

-Kurt Vonnegut, Slapstick: Or, Lonesome No More!


The above is a trailer for Gary Shteyngart’s new novel, Super Sad True Love Story. Here’s an excerpt.

The porniest American Apparel ad ever.

Ship lost for more than 150 years is recovered.

Stieg Larsson is the first to sell one million Amazon Kindle books.

Inception: Dreams vs. Reality.

“Just because some of us can read and write and do a little math, that doesn’t mean we deserve to conquer the Universe.”

-Kurt Vonnegut, Hocus Pocus.

Also: Every cigarette smoked in Mad Men.

Where did the money to rebuild Iraq go?

Tokyo’s oldest man has been dead for 30 years.

Bethany Cosentino from Best Coast talks about her cat.

Your lack of privacy on the internet.

Black Wave, Black Mirror.

The Great Wave Off Of Lousiana a la The Great Wave Off Kanagawa, via Reddit and The High Definite.

Also, I guess I’m working up some excitement for the new Arcade Fire album, but here’s “Black Mirror” off their last album:

Murky waters.

Saw this today…

…and had a good chuckle. It’s by artist/journalist Chip Zdarsky, which I discovered it via Warren Ellis’ site and Zdarsky’s twitter, but who knows. It’s absolutely mind blowingly terrible. And wonderful. Like this:

from here.

Unrelated:

“They say, ‘Evil prevails when good men fail to act.’ What they ought to say is, ‘Evil prevails.'”

The underrated Nic Cage film Lord Of War is on Hulu and it’s not bad, if you’ve never seen it. Think Thank You For Smoking, but substitute guns and arms merchants for cigarettes and tobacco companies, keep the same level of ridiculous, but a much different and frighteningly relevant look at the world. It’s almost kind of depressing, but fun. Other movies you can also currently still find on Hulu include: Starship Troopers, Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove, Killing Me Softly (if you can believe it), the original Captain America movie, The Age Of Innocence, The Man Who Cried, Kubrick’s Spartacus, The Corporation, Richard Linklater’s Slacker, La Femme Nikita, and last, but not least, Doug Liman’s Go, a seminal film from my 90s youth.

Open spaces, human traces.

When you live in a city, in a crammed and crowded urban environment, then there’s nothing more shocking then when you get out of it. Go out into the countryside, go into what looks a lot more like nature, and there you’ll find something you don’t find as much in the places where humans cluster and overpopulate: Space. Open space on a sometimes grand scale.

Well, maybe it’s shocking to you. Maybe it’s terrifying. Maybe it’s like hitting the reset button, breathe in some fresh hair, let your self stretch out, psychically trying to fill up that big open everythingness, and then you go and cram yourself back into the human condition, become a part in the machine again and go back to work.

The sad thing is I was reading something once about how cities are actually how humans should be living, at least for the sake of the environment. Sure, they pollute and destroy nature, but that’s because we don’t stop ourselves, and we don’t do better. The constant suburban sprawl is what is eating up our world, getting it closer to inhospitable for all involved, this thing I was reading was telling me. Now, I’m no expert, so take everything I say in this post as fast and loose, but it sounded frighteningly true.

The Crowded City by Kerry Belgrave.

Sometimes you need to go out into nature, find a testament and a monument to the parts of this beautiful planet that were here long before (and hopefully will be here long after us) and just say…

“You rock, rock.” Or something very much like that.

All of this occurred to me this afternoon, I’m sad to report to you, in a Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart is easily one of the prime examples of how human begins are so incredibly good and quite ingenious at owning you in all the little, petty ways. We’re good at compassion and community too, but we’re even better when it comes to making those values a part of a corporate mindset that slowly invades your lives, giving you goods and services you can’t live without.

But, really, this isn’t going to be a post about Wal-Mart. I hate the place, obviously. Sadly, though, I live in a part of the world where I have to shop there just because of the level of income I make and the cheapness in every sense of the word of what they can give me. So I guess I can’t complain? Or shouldn’t? Well, of course I can. And should if I want to. But this isn’t going to be that kind of a post. But we all get the gist of Wal-Mart, and other “big box” department stores. They’re not only soul crushing and demeaning, but they’re affordable in those regards.

Anyway. So there I am in this Wal-Mart today, and they’re remodeling there, I guess. I didn’t know this as I walked in. I’ve gone to get my local grocery shopping done here for years and today I noticed that the usual things weren’t in their usual places. And then I turned a corner and saw something shocking…

Great big open space.

It was like looking at an art installation. I was half expecting someone to walk up with silly haircut and a glass of champagne and tell me what it “means.”

by Lori Nix.

Wal-Mart’s a giant warehouse with fluorescent lights and banners for Miley Cyrus/Jonas bros. bullshit all about and constant calls over the intercom for either a manager or a clean up on some aisle or another. People are always crammed in it. Usually the lowest common denominator of people and you can feel like an alien observer amongst your own human race as you go there, but the point is, things are packed in there tight. Someday aliens or future humans will look at the ruins of a Wal-Mart and treat it like the marketplace of Pompeii or an ancient Aztec city. They’re write beautiful dissertations on how it was important in our lives, and they’ll question what things like J. Lo and DVDs are, as young, nubile Indiana Jones-wannabes dust through what used to be the electronics section with little brushes.

They’ll talk about how money was our universal language, and that even things like God are spoken about in dialects of currency, and Wal-Martw will seem like a holy temple to people of the future and/or alien visitors. This is after some cyberpunk-ish dystopia period where corporations rise up as nation states and you have implants with Sam Walton’s face somewhere in your skeletal structure.

Again, I’m rambling. Apologies. But open spaces. It wasn’t shocking to anyone else. Or, at least, it didn’t appear that anyone else stopped to notice it like I did. Maybe it doesn’t matter to anyone other than me. My other shoppers just filled that newly opened space as they crossed over from $5 DVD bins to the grocery section where you can buy Wal-Mart’s store brand of everything you’d ever need to buy, and now they all come in the same white bag, bland and cold, and reminiscent of the products in Repo Man.

Or stuff produced by the DHARMA Initiative.

Look at that. Rambling again and complaining about Wal-Mart again. And I promised I wouldn’t do that, right? So sorry. But, then again, complaining isn’t so terrible as long as it isn’t all you do. And I should add in that a majority of people who shop/work at a Wal-Mart aren’t terrible people. They’re not all white trash or Jerry Springer rejects. They’re just people. Some of them are people like me, and some of them are better than me, and some are worse, not that it matters. They have lives to live, jobs to work at (when work can be found), and places to be, even if those places are nowhere.

It’s not always easy to rise up from complaining to action, but maybe somewhere on that road is where all your anger and frustration and complaining turns into conversation with others and perhaps eventual solution.

Just remember: As you, me, all of us, everyone and anyone, as we all pick our paths and walk through this life and this world, we’re leaving footprints. Are they for the better or for the worse?

from here.

I’m not advocating anyone go chain themselves to a tree or put themselves in front of a bulldozer. I’m not suggesting you go vegan or start picketing things, but just be aware of how your world is changing and decide if that’s a change you’re okay with and then go from there. Of course, as you make that decision, the park closest to you is being turned into a parking lot so more cars can help to cram more people into a mall and a bunch of trees are being turned into another housing development. These things happen.

They don’t have to happen though, but that’s a conversation for another time, maybe. Think, search, learn, grow. Or, do your best at something similar. That’s all I’m saying. It’s okay to be naive and idealistic for a while, but then go turn it into something useful, if that’s your bag. Or, just go find an open space, something still untouched by the hands of man and enjoy it while you can, while it’s still with us…

And try to fill it with your imagination before it gets filled with things and stuff, or trampled all to shit.

Incognitum Hactenus.

Just a quick note here, from Shoplifting From American Apparel to the book I’m currently reading over the holiday…

It’s Cyclonopedia by Reza Negarestani, which I first discovered in a quick mention on Warren Ellis’ website, and the description of it alone told me that I just had to have it. That description:

Cyclonopedia is theoretical-fiction novel by Iranian philosopher and writer Reza Negarestani. Hailed by novelists, philosophers and cinematographers, Negarestani’s work is the first horror and science fiction book coming from and written on the Middle East.

‘The Middle East is a sentient entity—it is alive!’ concludes renegade Iranian archaeologist Dr. Hamid Parsani, before disappearing under mysterious circumstances. The disordered notes he leaves behind testify to an increasingly deranged preoccupation with oil as the ‘lubricant’ of historical and political narratives.

A young American woman arrives in Istanbul to meet a pseudonymous online acquaintance who never arrives. Discovering a strange manuscript in her hotel room, she follows up its cryptic clues only to discover more plot-holes, and begins to wonder whether her friend was a fictional quantity all along.

Meanwhile, as the War on Terror escalates, the US is dragged into an asymmetrical engagement with occultures whose principles are ancient, obscure, and saturated in oil. It is as if war itself is feeding upon the warmachines, leveling cities into the desert, seducing the aggressors into the dark heart of oil …

At once a horror fiction, a work of speculative theology, an atlas of demonology, a political samizdat and a philosophic grimoire, CYCLONOPEDIA is work of theory-fiction on the Middle East, where horror is restlessly heaped upon horror. Reza Negarestani bridges the appalling vistas of contemporary world politics and the War on Terror with the archaeologies of the Middle East and the natural history of the Earth itself. CYCLONOPEDIA is a middle-eastern Odyssey, populated by archeologists, jihadis, oil smugglers, Delta Force officers, heresiarchs, corpses of ancient gods and other puppets. The journey to the Underworld begins with petroleum basins and the rotting Sun, continuing along the tentacled pipelines of oil, and at last unfolding in the desert, where monotheism meets the Earth’s tarry dreams of insurrection against the Sun.

I can tell you right now that comparisons to Danielewski’s House Of Leaves aren’t too off the mark, but this is much more “theory” than “fiction” in the “theory fiction.” And a lot of it is scary true.

One review, by Pamela Rosenkranz of Artforum International’s best of 2009 gives an even more descriptive review:

An American artist, Kristen Alvanson – out of curiosity or simply boredom, it’s not clear – travels to Istanbul to meet a mysterious online contact. The contact never turns up. However, Kristen, as she relates in her jour­nal, does find a manuscript called Cyclonopedia, which in turn purports to be based on the disturbing and dis­ordered notes of an Iranian archaeologist who disappeared while researching a very eccentric theory about oil’s role in history. So begins Cyclonopedia: Complicity with Anonymous Materials (published by Melbourne’s re.press), a nihilistic but fanciful tour de force of meta-­fiction. Kristen, in addition to being a character, is the creator of the book’s magnificent cover; she is credited on the title page beneath Reza Negarestani, who is the book’s author – and also the author of the manuscript Kristen finds. In this welter of attributions, of course, it becomes doubtful whether Negarestani really wrote the book at all, but whoever the author is, he or she has a profound knowledge of, or a profound imagination about, Middle Eastern archaeology and Islamic mythol­ogy, to say nothing of contemporary petropolitics.

Apocalyptic visions and solar catastrophes have been making their way into my own work, so Cyclonopedia feels especially resonant to me, but its urgency isn’t just personal. The text strips away its own layers to reach a bedrock of premonotheistic symbols and tropes subverting, as it goes, common understandings of “East” and “West” and the relation of these ideas to each other. Creating its own lexis via a Deleuzian philosophical constructivism, building a quasi-scientific machine with madly beautiful illustrations, Cyclonopedia is marked by a peculiar theoretical style. It discovers hid­den paths to a kind of chthonic knowledge; from its speculative abyss issues a horrific “philosophy of oil.” Gazing into this confounding complexity of groundless grounds thrilled my new awareness.

Clearly, the fact that all of that interests me confirms that I’m possibly insane. But it’s fun. And being an fun mental case means you need interesting things to read. I wasn’t feeling too well last night and was up most of the night with this book keeping me company. Perfect late night reading.

from here.

I may talk about it more when I finish it, but as of now (and I should hurry so that I can actively follow the progress of the sequel, which is currently being developed), I’m enjoying it. And… I’m terrified of it. And that’s perfect.

The Counterforce Casting Couch: Independence Day 2

Let’s face it, Hollywood is never going to fund a big-budget original movie ever again.

Search your feelings, you know it to be true.

Marco and I have been talking for a while about doing a series of posts on movies that should be made. Now don’t get me wrong, the projects we’ll be proposing shouldn’t actually be made. In a better world, the budgets would go to real artists who do good work, but that’s not the world we live it, and at Counterforce, we believe in making the best out of a bad situation. Just like Liam Neeson.

no thank you

no thank you

So, let’s get right down too it. You know, you know they’re going to make an ID4:2 some day, so we might as well make it enjoyably bad. Hell, just the idea of watching this movie instead of some Michael Bay cartoon-adapted crapfest gives me a boner. You can never ever go wrong blowing up as many international landmarks as possible.

Thus, The Counterforce Casting Couch: Independence Day 2

PREMISE:

This is gonna be a little rough, we can fill in the blanks during lighting shifts on the set. So, it’s like 20 years after the event of ID4. Will Smith is the President, obviously. The White House will have just finished being rebuilt and look exactly the same as before. Jeff Goldblum will basically be playing Al Gore. Sorta Green Living Apostle / Technocrat in Chief. Shia LeBeouf is Goldblum’s rebellious kid and Aaron Yoo is his buddy who films all their wacky adventures on his Flip Camera. There will be some drama because Shia doesn’t know his dad was a hero because Goldblum’s role was classified or something.

aaron-yoo-shia-labeouf

Ryan Kwanten from True Blood will fill in the Hick Character contingent with his little jailbait sister, Dakota Fanning. I threw a lot of brits into the cast so there can be other groups of characters in the UK and Australia, Iraq, etc. Famke Janssen will play somebody’s wife. Maybe Bill Pullman’s.

dakota_fanning

So, the Aliens come back, only this time, they come in peace and claim to be seeking asylum. Apparently these aliens are the not-evil faction of the bad guys. Will Smith will have all these mixed feelings because he hates aliens, but doesn’t want to be prejudiced to the nice ones. It will be like that scene in Star Trek 6 where Kirk talks about the klingons who killed his son, only this time it will be Will Smith saying it, and he’ll be talking to the First Dog.

Ryan Kwanten

Obviously, the bad aliens come back and destroy a shit-ton more monuments and landmarks. They’ll be led by Nic Cage, who is some kind of evil billionaire who helps the Aliens in exchange for world domination. Definitely gotta sack the Burj Dubai, the White House, Big Ben, the Golden Gate, the Vatican, etc. But this time, the good aliens have shared some of their technology, so the fight is slightly more fair, but earth still gets its ass kicked and the bad aliens occupy the planet. This would all take place on July 2nd.

yeah, that shit's gonna fall

yeah, that shit's gonna fall

The next day would be a lot of failed counter-offensives and characters hiding from Alien stormtroopers. Then Shia LeBeouf will decide to form a resistance and Aaron Yoo will do all the tech shit to get the word out on the internets. Ryan Kwanten will be there with Dakota, and he’ll turn out to be some kind of hillbilly ass-kicker. I see a scene with him, shirtless, feather tied to the back of his head, destroying enemy food supplies boston-tea-party style. Then we’ll cut to Said Taghmaoui in Iraq with a British accent and he’ll be all, “It’s the Americans, they want to organize a resistance, about bloody time!”

not the bees!

And then July 4th will be the big counter-attack. Aaron Yoo will die. Will Smith will fly an alien fighter ship with Bill Pullman as his wingman. They’ll fight their way to the mothership, land on it, then fight their way to Nic Cage’s lair on the bridge. Somehow, Jeff Goldblum will be there too. A big fistfight later, Will Smith wins, then escapes and Bill Pullman and Jeff Goldblum pilot the Mothership into the sun, sacrificing themselves. Shia hooks up with Dakota Fanning, and then after the credits roll, Samuel L. Jackson walks into a bar to talk to him about the Avengers initiative.

And… scene.

Fuck yeah!

Fuck yeah!

You know you’d pay to see it.