Monday, September 4, 2017

movie notes : Valdemar Legacy (2010)

The Valdemar Legacy (2010) is Lovecraftian horror movie. It was pretty good. It had some tension and it maintained my interest.

The main problem with the movie is the structure. It begins with one set of characters but then has a long flashback with a different set of characters and ends with the first set of characters ready for Valdemar Legacy II. Now, if I had part II queued up after finishing part I then that might be ok; but I didn't.

Spanish language with subtitles and if you watch it with the Amazon Video subtitles turned on then it provides subtitles for the sound effects.

The character Jerv├ís was played by Paul Naschy who I would swear I've seen in more than one movie but I can't figure out which.


from imdb's trivia section :
The first movie in all Spanish's cinema history made without Spanish government subsidies.

That seems both impossible and yet somehow plausible.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Pickelhaube and other headgear

pickelhaube helmet

The spiked german helmet is called a Pickelhaube and upon learning that as a kid I couldn't decide if the name was awesome or hilarious – I later learned it basically translates to "pointy hat" and not "pickle holder" as I had assumed.  This isn't to suggest that you couldn't stick a pickle on to the spike to save it for later. 

Otto Von Bismark in pickelhaube 

Russian Cavalry

An imperial double headed eagle as tall as the rest of the helmet is pretty magnificent. I suppose the spectacular hat is to make up for the fact that he is the cavalry drummer and in about a decade the Russian army would face a Japanese army armed with machine guns.

Russian Army (from here)

While the practicality of a giant feathered plume on your hat might be questioned by some. I wonder if its use waned because it would go embarrassingly flaccid in the rain? 

French army helmet circa World War 1

The French WW1 helmet above has a decorative hump attached, although it was much less extravagant than the golden age. As the steel protective helmet took off the decorative features become less common.

Russian Lancer

The age of fantastic hats was also an age of proud facial hair. Although the fellow above may be making a statement with his lack symmetry.

German Lancer 1914
Note his great squared and flat topped lancer helmet. Just imagine all things he could have balanced up there. People may not be surprised at a head on a pedestal but what about a pedestal on top a head? That's a man with a dangerous outlook on the world.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Ancient Sumerian

Never let it be said that this isn't a classy, high brow establishment interested in other cultures and languages.

The ancient Sumerian symbol for woman :

Sumerian pictogram for woman

Below is the Ancient Sumerian symbol for man. It seems more ambiguous. It could be a fist and forearm or a cartoon man standing in a helmet or a tailless seahorse.


Sunday, August 20, 2017

Genius of the Modern World s1e1 Marx

Genius of the Modern World, season 1, episode 1, titled "Marx" clip from about the 41 minute mark.


Bettany Hughes : And then we're told Marx made things worse. Living with the family was a feisty woman called Helene. She helped around the house, she was a fellow radical and friend but, Marx slept with her and fathered an illegitimate son at the same time that Jenny was pregnant again. This was not Marx's finest hour.

Rachel Holmes (Marx Family Biographer) : Jenny was furious. They'd all known each other for a long time. So, clearly, there is some drama and upset that goes on. and it is really heavy going. Marx is sending notes to Engels saying I can't go home because it's an absolute storm and everyone is really upset and Jenny was furious please come have a drink with me at the pub at Russell street.

Bettany Hughes  : You know he has slept with somebody who's not his wife; she's pregnant. This is a terrible stigma at the time. It's tough now it was really really tough in the nineteenth century.

Rachel Holmes (Marx Family Biographer) : Hmmmm...Well, is it? Because they are quite conventionally unconventional. And at that time, illegitimacy, particularly in the circles that they were moving in, politically and socially, isn't such a stigma. But at the same time quite a lot of the evidence points towards the fact that Jenny wanted it covered up.

Bettany Hughes  : so who takes responsibility for all this?

Rachel Holmes (Marx Family Biographer) : Who makes it ok is Engels. He makes it understood that he is the father. And Engels, he takes the rap for his best friend.

Bettany Hughes  : Wow. What do you think this incident tells us about Marx?

Rachel Holmes (Marx Family Biographer) : Marx is a man! And ultimately, also a Victorian Patriarch. A man like any other that needs to be understood in context and all heroes have their flaws.

The interview with Rachel Holmes ends on that note.

Ah, the familiar Marxist argumentation style of tossing up a variety of arguments up to see what sticks :
Oh, poor Marx! He was a victim in this and people were mad at him; he was suffering! Didn't fall for that? OK, then ...An illegitimate kid is no big deal! It was accepted in their social circle. Was his wife part of his social circle? OK, then ... in that case it's no big deal because Engels makes it understood that he is the father. He takes the rap and by rap I mean the thing I just claimed wasn't a big deal a moment ago. Oh, you still think it reflects poorly on Marx? OK, then ... it's because he's just a man! All men have illegitimate kids! We should really blame the Victorians as they controlled the penis of all German emigres! Blame the Patriarchy! It was taken out of context! Don't forget he's a hero! C'mon! You're holding him to too high of a standard! Nobody's perfect!

I'll note that the subjects of the series "Genius of the Modern World" are Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche and Sigmund Freud.

from episode 2 of the series on Nietzsche :

The host, Bettany Hughes, declares that :
"The Nietzsche of the Nazis was a hideous parody... And yet perhaps the blame for his misuse is not entirely Elizabeth's. Nietzsche would never have advocated Hitler's final solution but, he was naive if he thought his work would not be misunderstood. Evil loves nothing better than a void, and the philosopher's clever, ambiguous aphorisms could easily be put to the service of evil. Even when he was entirely sane, Nietzsche  said that bad would be done in his name. The sister and the brother must share responsibility for the life that his work took on after his death."

There wasn't a comparable measuring of responsibility in the Marx episode.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Erasing the Past : Lynch schools

On Wednesday, the Centennial School Board in Oregon voted to remove 'Lynch' from the names of three elementary schools
Lynch Meadows and Lynch Wood Elementary schools will now become Meadows and Wood Elementary schools
Lynch View Elementary will be changed to Patrick Lynch Elementary, after the man who donated the land to the district in the late 1800s
School officials say they have been getting complaints about the names in recent years over the connotation with lynching
While the Lynch family had no ties to the racist mobs, they decided to change the name so as not to offend any students

In recent years, school officials say they have received complaints from people who are concerned about the name's connotation with lynching.'There were an increasing amount of questions and some complaints from families of color around the name,' Centennial School District Superintendent Paul Coakley, who is black, told the Oregonian.  'Our diversity is increasing every year, with families coming in from Northeast Portland and out of state, so [the names] needed to be looked at,' he added. 

'I don't think any of you have ever seen a picture where one of your decedents was hanging from a tree,' one black man said to the board. 

He probably hasn't either - at least I certainly hope not. Of course, being written by the semi-literates at Daily Mail I felt I had to check the other links to see if actually said either "decedents" or "descendants" or if he didn't misspeak and actually said "ancestors." He quite clearly says "descendants." What a travesty that no one recognized the mistake.


I do wonder if it a bit of rhetoric or if he actually has an ancestor who had been lynched. Of course, white people were lynched too.

A young student added: 'I know the majority of you guys are white and it's hard to know how that word could have an effect but it does. If a simple name change could make students feel safe, then why are we holding back?'
Remember, you have to be sensitive towards people. Unless they were born with the name "Lynch" in their family history in which case you can go ahead and smear them and their name with a brutal crime they had nothing to do with. 

movie notes : Atomic Blonde (2017)

This gets the "She's a Ninja!" tag.  Mostly it was plausible but there were 2 occasions where she grabbed a fully grown professional spy goon and she flipped him aside like he didn't weigh twice as much as her. There were also the occasional choreographed fight scene when she fights multiple opponents where it seemed like everyone paused while she hits the first guy and then the first guy pauses while she hits the second guy etc... But that seems to be in most action movies these days.

It stars an aging Charlize Theron whose British accent didn't seem quite right. But my critical response to her performance could be due to her anti-charisma.  Her power of anti-charisma is probably equal to Matt Damon. Just like Matt Damon in the movie The Martian during the movie I hoped that Charlize Theron's character would get transported to another planet and run out of air. With both I am find myself distracted during their movies with the hope that their characters will die. It is potent anti-charisma indeed when I find myself hoping against hope that an East German Stasi goon will win the fight.

Unlike Matt Damon, I wonder if she is actually a robot. There was a moment, that due to the lighting, her pupil appeared to be square and my first thought was "I knew it she's an android!" (I thought for sure her character was an android in Prometheus). She isn't an unattractive woman but besides her appearance she generally seems like a complete bore and unconvincing.

At one point she takes a bath in a tub full of ice and then gets out, drops a couple ice cubes into a glass and pours herself a vodka. The ice cubes obviously came from the disgusting bath water.