recent movies

Little Miss Sunshine

    This movie is awesome. It's National Lampoon's Vacation if you replaced the poop jokes with existential angst and suicide. Very dark, very funny, great pacing. Go see it immediately.

Dark Water

    God dammit, it was The Ring, The Grudge, and a dozen other American remakes of Japanese movies that all have the same plot, villain, and look! What the fuck! And how do I keep getting suckered into watching these?

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Winds

    This movie is kind of hard to describe; there's a small village living on the edge of a toxic wasteland protected by these hundred-foot-tall semi-intelligent potato bugs. Our heroine has to fend off an invasion from a neighboring kingdom in order to prevent the giant bugs from wiping out both sides. It's deeply weird, but very cool.

    IFC played all of Miyazaki's movies a couple months ago, so I've been slowly working my way through the ones I hadn't seen. Nausicaä is my favorite so far, but I've yet to see one of his that wasn't great. (For calibration purposes: I think that almost all of the anime that I've ever seen has been relentlessly terrible. It's very rare that I see one that I like.)

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Current Music: DNA Lounge Live Webcast (Meat vs. Death Guild)

recent books

Some stuff I've read in between hitting reload on Livejournal:

Collapse by Jared Diamond

    This covers some of the same ground as Guns, Germs and Steel (which is awesome), but where Guns was a history of how civilization progressed, this is a comparison of various societies that failed. It's pretty interesting, especially the stuff about Greenland. Basically, the Norse came to Greenland and died out, whereas the inuit who were there already continued on; he attributes this to the Norse's unwillingness to adapt to their new circumstances.

Toast by Charlie Stross

    A bunch of short stories. My favorite by far is "A Colder War", which asks, "what if the technology from Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness was recovered and played a role in WWII and the cold war?" I'm a sucker for Lovecraft sequels.

The Clan Corporate by Charlie Stross

    The sequel, or more accurately, second half of, The Family Trade, which I read last year. It's great -- but it again ends in a cliffhanger. This is what happens when you start reading serieses by authors who are not safely dead.

Accelerando by Charlie Stross

    This story follows a nerd and his family through the transition to superhuman intelligences, and first contact with aliens. It covers a long period of time, and so many of the stories feel a bit disjoint. I wasn't crazy about the ending, and it suffers from the problem that a lot of "singularity" stories do: once your protagonists are effectively immortal, with redundant backups and the ability to fork off clones of themselves, there's not a lot of room left for, well, trouble. It's hard to sympathize with the fates of people who are pretty much incapable of ever being in danger. It's doesn't have this problem nearly as badly as Schild's Ladder did, though.

The Collapsium by Wil McCarthy

    Another singularity story, and in this one, for the first 90% of the book, "peril" is replaced by "court intrigue", I guess under the theory that immortals with nothing to do would turn into Victorian aristocrats. Then the bad guy tries to kill the world. "Oh bother", says the emotionless shell of a protagonist. Ho hum.

    I now promise myself that I'm not going to read books like this any more.

The Oblivion Society by Marcus Alexander Hart

    marcus132 (the author) was kind enough to send me a copy of this, thanks! It's a Y2K-apocalypse road-trip comedy full of mutants, zombies, and giant insects. It's chock-full of jokes; not all of them work, but enough of them do to keep it moving along. As in all movies of this sort, there is an irritating character whose death you are praying for, and (as is traditional) it doesn't come quite soon enough. It's a very visual book; it feels more like a script or screenplay. It would probably make a good comic.

Cusp by Robert A. Metzger

    One day giant rocket engines grow up out of the ground all over Earth and start test-firing. OMG, someone's stealing the planet! It's a pretty cute premise, with an unsatisfying ending.

Spin by Robert Charles Wilson

    One night the stars go out, because the world has been enclosed in a giant black bubble. OMG, someone's stealing the planet! This is actually the same basic intro as Greg Egan's Quarantine which I read a few years ago, but that book sucked and this one is really good. It's good because it has characters that I actually cared about and could empathise with. The technobabble of the bubble and what it's doing are pretty cool, too. And the ending is more-or-less satisfying.

The Prestige by Christopher Priest

    Wow, this book is fantastic! They're making a movie, and I hope it doesn't completely suck. It's the story of two 19th century stage magicians in a bitter rivalry; the first half of the book is the diary of one, and the second half is the diary of the other, with a small wraparound story about a descendant. It's a pretty cool structure; it doesn't quite go all Roshomon or Usual Suspects, but it makes a nice reveal. The two main characters are both nutty in interesting ways. And Nikola Tesla is in it. You can't go wrong with Tesla.

Seeker by Jack McDevitt

    A good old fashioned space opera, and frankly a god damned relief from all of the recent scifi I've read about singularities and godlike posthumans. This is set some 10,000 years in the future, humanity is spread out all over the galaxy and has near-instantanious travel, but there are still telephones and talk shows, and there's not a lot of time wasted explaining why. It's got a bit of an Indiana Jones feel in parts, in that the main characters are "antique dealers" who go out and track down archaeological artifacts from various collapsed and lost human societies. They find a old tea cup, and the logo on it leads them on a long treasure hunt toward a whole lost colony.

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Current Music: DNA Lounge Live Webcast (Meat vs. Death Guild)

Like a one-legged robot in an ass-kicking contest

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Reno Balloon Race 2006

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please speak clearly into the light switch

wired_27b_6: NSA Bill "Major Disaster"

What started out as Senator Specter wanting to rein in the president's program has turned on its head and is now not just a legislative ratification of the program, but an expansion of warrantless wiretapping of Americans.

It would allow the NSA to turn its vacuum cleaners on even domestic phone calls and emails of citizens.

And -- they do all of this in Alice-in-Wonderland fashion by defining all kinds of categories of surveillance to be not surveillance.

The bill is basically saying that any time you are targeting a foreigner, even if you are collecting calls to us citizens, that's not surveillance.

And anytime you are targeting nobody, but scooping up vast quantities of calls, that's not surveillance.


"Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee acted as a rubber stamp for the administration's abuse of power," said Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. "Congress has a right and obligation to conduct meaningful oversight on the unlawful actions of the president. But instead of investigating lawbreaking, the Senate Judiciary Committee wants to make it legal. We urge the full Senate to reject any attempts to ratify this illegal program."

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The Modern Arcana



PS no fatties

Skinny models banned from catwalk

MADRID, Spain (Reuters) -- The world's first ban on overly thin models at a top-level fashion show in Madrid has caused outrage among modeling agencies and raised the prospect of restrictions at other venues.

Madrid's fashion week has turned away underweight models after protests that girls and young women were trying to copy their rail-thin looks and developing eating disorders.

Organizers say they want to project an image of beauty and health, rather than a waif-like, or heroin chic look.

"I think its outrageous, I understand they want to set this tone of healthy beautiful women, but what about discrimination against the model and what about the freedom of the designer," said Gould, Elite's North America director, adding that the move could harm careers of naturally "gazelle-like" models.

The mayor of Milan, Italy, Letizia Moratti, told an Italian newspaper this week she would seek a similar ban for her city's show unless it could find a solution to "sick" looking models.

The Madrid show is using the body mass index or BMI -- based on weight and height -- to measure models. It has turned away 30 percent of women who took part in the previous event. Medics will be on hand at the September 18-22 show to check models.


DNA Lounge: Wherein I read the calendar to you.

Oh yeah, it's probably time for me to hype some upcoming events, since we've got a lot of good stuff going on this week and next:

      Tue, Sep 12:   Snog + Annodalleb + Monstrum Sepsis: That's tonight...
      Thu, Sep 14:   CSI: DNA: It's a crime-scene-themed industrial club, but there's also some kind of live-action role-playing thing going on where you try and solve a mystery...
      Fri, Sep 15:   Meat vs Death Guild.
      Sat, Sep 16:   Kingfish & Eddie's Hubba Hubba Revue: Another fabulous and not-to-be-missed burlesque show, this one featuring the first performance in two years of Lee Presson and the Nails.
      Fri, Sep 22:   Cowboys & Aliens: Their goal is for people to be dressed as same. We can only hope...
      Sat, Sep 23:   Bohemian Carnival: These are the same folks who did the awesome Red Nose District Hullabaloo in July. You will like it.
      Sun, Sep 24:   The Darker Side of Folsom: We will be open, and free, all day during the Folsom Street Fair; then at night, Terrorfakt and Tonikom will be performing (also free!)

(You do subscribe to the iCal feed of our calendar, right?)


DNA Lounge: Wherein there's some kind of icky fairy tale thing going on.

Photos are up of the Genitorturers + Mortiis + Push show, and of Bootie.

Overheard in the men's room:

    "I got dragged up on stage at the last Genitorturers show!"
    "Did she pee on you?"
    "No, they strapped a dildo to my head..."
    "Dude, they usually only do that to chicks!"

bad hair day


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