March 16, 2017

So I got Hulu

Filed under: Pop culture — acagle @ 7:02 pm

And I’ve been watching some of the old shows they have on. For example. . . .Space: 1999!

I like (read: how goofy is that?!) how Martin Landau turns one way and then Barbara Bain turns the other way.

Here’s the premise for the noobs:

The premise of Space: 1999 centres on the plight of the inhabitants of Moonbase Alpha, a scientific research centre on the Moon. Humanity had been storing its nuclear waste in vast disposal sites on the far side of the Moon, but when an unknown form of electromagnetic radiation is detected, the accumulated waste reaches critical mass and causes a massive thermonuclear explosion on September 13, 1999. The force of the blast propels the Moon like an enormous booster rocket, hurling it out of Earth orbit and into deep space at colossal speed, thus stranding the 311 personnel stationed on Alpha.[2] The runaway Moon, in effect, becomes the “spacecraft” on which the protagonists travel, searching for a new home.

Anyway, at the time I thought it was kind of pathetic how we went from studly Captain Kirk to weenie John Koenig wearing pajamas. But I still think I watched every episode; strangely, I haven’t really remembered ever seeing any of these before, it’s like watching a new/old series. It’s definitely cheesy. I think I built a plastic model of one of the Eagles when I was a kid. I thought they were functionally cool.

It’s obvious now that the writers knew next to nothing about actual space. For one thing, even though they’re far, far away from the Sun the whole area around the moonbase is always brightly lit. Plus there’s sound in airless space. They don’t seem to understand distance in space either, or speed for that matter. They’re supposedly blasted away from the earth, but almost immediately end up in different solar systems. By the 8th episode they’re actually between galaxies! Yet, when they are approaching various plants and such they have at least a couple of days where they can shuttle back and forth.

It’s kind of fun experiencing the mid-1970s vibe though. Especially after having watched a bunch of the old Star Trek episodes recently.

January 11, 2017

Movie Review Review

Filed under: Indiana Jones, Pop culture — acagle @ 11:22 am

Sort of. Well, not really. I’ve been meaning to link to this for a while.
Dead Poets Society Is a Terrible Defense of the Humanities

I’ve never hated a film quite the way I hate Dead Poets Society. I expect that them’s fighting words, at least in some quarters; at least I hope they are. Because I’m trying to pick a fight here.

I was in the last year of my English literature PhD program in the summer of 1989, when Dead Poets Society was released. My younger brother Scott, who really didn’t have the money to spare, slipped my wife Robyn and me a ten-dollar bill (these were simpler times) and told us he’d watch our kids so we could go out to see it. No one in my family quite understood what I wanted to do for a living or, having finished my bachelor’s degree, why I’d spend seven more years in school to do it; but having seen Dead Poets Society, Scott believed he finally had an idea of what I wanted to do with my life, and more importantly, why.

FWIW: I love the first half of the movie. The scenery is beautifully shot, what Keating (Williams) says about poetry appeals to me (more on that later), and it may have influenced my reading of poetry. Confession: I read a LOT of old poetry. Have since about 1986. More on that later, too. The second half of the movie is (IMO) just run of the mill Bad Old Conservative Authorities vs. Good Young Rebellious Feelzies. Meh. Whatever. Rinse, lather, repeat, ad nauseum.

Anyway, I can’t really argue with much of what the author of the piece says. Yes, some of the interpretations of some of the poems Keating/Williams provides are misleading and/or wrong. Yes, if you want to get an *in-depth* understanding of poetry — the author was getting his graduate degree in English at the time of the movie — you don’t do it the way it’s presented in the film.

That all said. . .whatever. It’s a movie. It’s not supposed to represent Reality any more than Indiana Jones represents archaeology in real life. Lots of archaeologist like to dump on Indy — “No *real* archaeologist would EVER behave like that!” — but they’re not movies about archaeology; they’re movies about Indiana Jones. It’s for entertainment.

Given the context and the audience it was intended for, I think DPS is a nice diorama, if you will, of what poetry can be and do for the masses. I took literature in college. We analyzed poetry. We analyzed old prose works. We diagrammed poems. And I basically hated it. Yeah, it was nice to know (sort of) but it totally drained all the life out of it.

It was only after I’d graduated (and kept my textbook for some reason) that I started reading that stuff again for pure recreation. This was before DPS came out, btw. I found I loved old literature. I think I’ve read The Scarlet Letter six times already Just reading the words was an end in and of itself. Example:

“Old age hath yet his honour and his toil;
Death closes all: but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.”
(Ulysses, Tennyson)

I don’t give a crap what meter it’s in. Once you wade through the unfamiliar language structure — through much reading of it — it’s beautiful and inspirational. It speaks to me across the decades.

Enjoy watching Indiana Jones. Enjoy watching DPS. If the latter can get some people to just read poetry slowly and carefully just to get some enjoyment out of it, I think it’s done it’s job.

January 9, 2017

Literary Archaeology

Filed under: Pop culture — acagle @ 3:16 pm

Agatha Christie helped in uncovering Iraq’s ancient Nimrud

There’s a little video at the link which doesn’t seem too informative.

I thought it was common knowledge that she worked in Mesopotamia (at least tangentially) but perhaps not. I’ve never actually read either one of the archaeologically-inclined books, though I suppose I should. I did some minor consulting on this book for which the author gave me a nice little credit but that is about the extent of my literary consultantship.

So far. . . . .

May 23, 2016

Okay. I don’t really get this at all.

Filed under: Media, Pop culture — acagle @ 7:13 pm

The future of archaeology starts with No Man’s Sky

Archaeogaming, as defined by scholar Meghan Dennis, is “the utilization and treatment of immaterial space to study created culture, specifically through videogames.” It’s a new field of study that is only now starting to dig its way into academia. Three books on the topic are scheduled to arrive in 2017 alone, the latest of these being The Interactive Past, which was successfully crowdfunded by the VALUE project on Kickstarter.

I just don’t know about this. I did always think that the sort of video games like Civilization might be a good way to study how people go about making decisions based on a number of factors in simplified-but-real-world(ish) scenarios, but I kinda don’t get this.

May 16, 2016

Action! Romance! SEX!!!

Filed under: Media, Pop culture — acagle @ 7:04 pm

In other words, fictional archaeology: ‘The Dig’: a timeless tale of ancient English treasure

Edith Pretty is an English widow who owns the land where the treasure is buried. Basil Brown is a local self-taught archaeologist, hired by Edith, who makes the initial discovery. Edith’s young son Robert follows the hunt with mounting excitement, and several competing archaeologists and museum bureaucrats converge on the site once they realize what is at stake.

“The Dig” has a feeling of hush about it, in part because the reader knows the turmoil of war that the country and these characters are about to be plunged into. There’s the restraint with which the English express themselves, even when some cutthroat museum politics are involved. And there’s the sense of awe and wonder that unfolds as the ground gives up its secrets. Archaeologist Peggy Piggott recalls watching three exquisite pieces of gold being gently extracted from the earth.

I probably shouldn’t include the sex part; people tend to hump like bunnies when out in the field.

May 14, 2015

Star Wars archaeology

Filed under: Pop culture — acagle @ 7:10 pm

I ordinarily wouldn’t run this but it’s from the utterly fabulous Kristina Kilgrove (she’s been seen around these parts before), and you can tell I haven’t been checking my feed for a while because this is from 10 days ago and why did my mom have to give birth to me on May the Fourth??!!

Star Wars Archaeology

If your social media feed is anything like mine, a bunch of punning Star Wars fans have already exhorted “May the fourth be with you!” today. Since the original film was released the year I was born, I have grown up with the movies… although I confess the last one I saw was The Phantom Menace one late night back in college.

April 28, 2015

Gaming archaeology?

Filed under: Media, Pop culture — acagle @ 7:02 pm

As MMOs Continue to Grow Leaving Old Areas Behind, Gaming Archaeology has Risen Up to Explore and Remember their Past

MMOs such as World of Warcraft and Guild Wars have been going strong for years now continually growing their player base and the areas open to them. They’ve become so large that the games have taken on the same traits as real world cultures. As they continue to grow the community moves to new areas, new hub cities, leaving the old ones behind. Just as real world cities are abandoned and forgotten old hub cities in MMOs are quickly forgotten. Yet those old cities and areas don’t completely disappear.
Players have discovered that those old areas are still holding on waiting for someone to come back to them. That’s inspired a whole new in game hobby of gaming archaeology, where players hunt down forgotten places to see what’s still there. Players who have jumped into this new hobby are quickly discovering how much old content in games like World of Warcraft is still there. Unlike ancient cities in the real world, those old digital spaces are perfectly preserved. They don’t suffer the same decay which means all those old AI characters are also still buzzing about.

I was going to suggest that maybe this has some analogy for abandonment scenarios, but there doesn’t appear to be much in the way of secondary uses for such things. Be kind of interesting to set up something similar that doesn’t have all the quests and wars and junk and see what people do with it.

February 27, 2015

Three goofy links: Part I

Filed under: Pop culture — acagle @ 10:06 am

I don’t know what the deal is with this silly photograph, but it seems to be causing some small amount of consternation Interwebs-wide:
Desert Fox

This Wired article explains what’s going on. . . .mostly, I guess. Our brain does a a lot more interpreting than we tend to think it does, for example the famous tile color illusion:

Which explains some of this, but there’s also the fact that it’s a photograph,, not something you’re actually looking at so the various filters and adjustments will change what colors are being presented, which your brain then tries to make the best guess using.

I dunno why people are so fixated on it, it just seems dumb. But then, as Wired says, must be a Thursday on the Interwebs.

February 14, 2015

Blogging update

Filed under: Blogging update, Pop culture — acagle @ 10:20 am

I fell deathly ill last Thursday and between that and the Project From Hell, I have been absent from blogging.

Really. Deathly. Had one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel.

I leave this for your viewing and listening enjoyment:

January 22, 2015

“Friends don’t let friends skip leg day”

Filed under: Pop culture — acagle @ 12:29 pm

The Rise And Rise of the Spornosexual

I’m embarking on Walker’s three-month Warrior Workout because I’m investigating men’s bodies. That is, ahem, I’m investigating the trend of men getting increasingly… ripped. Jacked. Pumped. Whatever you call it, it’s a certain type of “fit”. “There’s this big thing now called ‘physique training’,” Walker says. “It’s all about having abs, looking like a fitness model.” It’s a look that has come to prominence in recent years. “It used to be bodybuilding,” Walker adds, “but that look’s unattainable — you have to take steroids. With physique training, instead of spending 10 years trying to build mass, you just get really lean.”

Slight language warning.

I found much of the discussion enlightening from an image ideal perspective. We are all aware of the general changes in the idea of female beauty — Reubens’ rather ‘full figured’ women to todays plastic-busommed Barbie dolls — but most are only passingly familiar with the male changes. Someone wrote an article not long ago about her dismay at the disappearance of the “manly man” from the screen and in real life: Those big, tall, barrel-chested men that were held up as something like the male ideal, such as Robert Shaw in From Russian With Love:

Then we went full-blown bodybuilder:


It’s mediated somewhat to a leaner and not-quite-as-bulky Hugh Jackman as the article notes:

(You’re welcome, ladies)

I, of course, take something of a middle ground. I certainly qualify as a gym rat and I’m certainly buffer than yer average 50-something, but I don’t take it nearly to that extent. Yes, the way I look is a good chunk of why I work out — though not from a “OOooo he’s h.o.t.” perspective (I wish), but more from a general aesthetic one — but it’s also because I don’t want to be limited physically by much of anything. And, you know, it feels great, I like the gym atmosphere, and errrmmmm yes the eye candy is a nice fringe benefit. I don’t have a 6-pack, and don’t really care.

This isn’t really new, someone wrote a book about it a few years ago called The Adonis Complex which is pretty much the same thing. I’m not even sure this is a real different phenomenon from what’s gone on in the past, just a different focus. Different groups used to pay attention to their looks in different kinds of extreme ways; think of the big pompidou’s of the 1950s or the long hair of the 1960s and ’70s or even the zoot suits of the 1940s. Even cigarettes were a form of behavior that gave off social cues.

Frankly, I could think of worse ways for men to be drawing attention to themselves.

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