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The Evolutionary Perspective
Category Archives: Survivalism
Posted: June 9, 2017 at 1:07 pm
Good luck with the future, was the last thing Margaret Atwood said to me, after Id shaken her hand and stammered profusely over what an honor it was to talk with her. She didnt mean my personal future; she meant the future of the planet and of the human race, the same future shes imagined so grimly in The Handmaids Tale and in her MaddAddam trilogy. She meant, basically, Good luck not dying because of global warming.
It was an oddly touching sentiment.
For Atwood herself, the future doesnt look too bad. Hulu has announced its plans to develop a second season of its critically acclaimed adaptation of The Handmaids Tale, Atwoods dystopian classic. Netflix recently announced that it would be getting in on the game with an adaptation of Alias Grace, Atwoods 1996 novel of murder and witchcraft. Earlier this year, she won the National Book Critic Circles Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award, and its widely expected shell only rack up more lifetime achievement awards over the next few years.
At New York Citys BookCon last Saturday, I sat down with Atwood to discuss her work, the changing political landscape of North America, and of course the future. This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Your work has been getting snapped up into all kinds of prestige TV outlets for the past little while. Why do you think that people are reacting to your work so strongly at this particular moment?
First of all, we have a new platform, which is streamed television series, and that has allowed a lot of complex and longer novels to be adapted for screen that probably would have been harder to do as feature films. That is something that started in the 80s, with British television doing classics, but originally they would just be on television, and you would have to watch them on the night, whereas now you can catch up on things and binge watch and all of the new behaviors that we have seen. That means that a lot of people are interested in making these things. So once upon a time, they would have found it much more difficult to make, for instance, Alias Grace, which is quite complex, into a 90-minute film. As a six-part miniseries, theres a lot more amplitude.
So why are people interested in them right now? In both cases, its people who got very attached to the books when they were 19. And then time passed, and it became possible for them to make these things, which otherwise it wouldnt have been. Sarah Polley made Alias Grace, and she has wanted to do that for 20 years.
As for why people are interested in watching them now, that would be another question. But I think these things go in cycles. So, the first wave womens movement resulted in getting the vote. Then there was a pause while other things happened.
Then the second wave came along at the end of the 60s, partly as a result of the various protest movements that had gone on in the 60s. Their interests were in quite a few things, but included job parity and legal entitlements and property settlements; body image kinds of things; equal pay for work of equal value; a whole cluster of those things.
And then there was another pause. People get burnt out; they get tired; generations succeed each other; people dont want to be their mothers. And then along comes another wave. By that time, the people having done the second wave are their grandmothers rather than their mothers, and thats cooler.
And now we have another wave, which I think kicked off sometime in the late 90s, and gathered steam in recent years, I would say the past five to eight. Lets call it third wave. Third wave has been very energized by the election of Donald Trump, as we saw in the extremely large and widespread Womens March.
It is a coincidence of sorts that these novels are coming along just at this time. Nobody could have predicted this exact kind of thing. But it may explain why the amount of attention has been extreme. It would have been a good show anyway, but it would have been a more hypothetical show. People feel now that its a few steps closer to reality, and a few steps closer than they are comfortable with. So its not just entertainment.
Does it feel to you as though its a few steps closer to reality?
Theres no question. Its going state by state, and part of the interest of the federal government in devolving health care onto states is exactly that. Some states will never do such a thing, and other states will do it in a flash.
Part of the narrative about your work recently has been that you examine power in a very literary way that not many other novelists do. Do you agree with that reading?
A literary way, what does that mean?
This is a different writers take, so Im paraphrasing, but her argument was that the preoccupation of a lot of literary novelists tends to be on an individual, familial level, and that you take the beautiful sentences and the careful character-building and apply it to larger social questions.
Well, we all live in the middle of larger social questions. Everything that goes on is actually affecting us in some way.
One thing I do for my characters is I write down the year of their birth, and then I write the months down the side and the years across the top, and that means that I know exactly how old they are when larger things happen. So, if youre born in 1932, youre born into the Depression. Thats going to have an effect on you. If youre born in 1939, youre born into the Second World War. Particularly if you were born in Canada, as I was, because thats when we went in I was born two months after the Second World War began. My joke is that I would have been taller if it hadnt been for rationing, but thats just my joke.
Everything that you experience as a child is related to when you were born, and that happens to every single human being on the planet. Its different depending on where you are, but for instance, if you were born today in Syria, you are going to be born into a certain set of social conditions, and that is going to have an effect on your entire life: Whats possible for you, what social class youre in, what location youre in, which of the factions you belong to. It cannot help but affect you.
So when we have literary novels that dont do those kinds of things, its because were taking the social milieu for granted. This is normality. The milieu thats being described is the way life is.
But then all of a sudden it isnt. Then all of a sudden it changes. So there are people alive today How old are you?
28. So we subtract from today you were born around 1990.
I was born at the end of 88.
You were born one year before the Berlin Wall went down. So you have no experience of the Cold War. This is what I mean. You dont remember it. So seeing a series like Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, thats ancient history to you. To me, its very contemporary, because I remember it. [Old lady voice] I remember those Cold War days
Handmaids Tale is a what if book, but its a what if a lot of things that have already happened happen again, only in a different place.
Moving back a little bit, I know that one of the first books you published was about survivalism within nature being fundamental to Canadian literature as a field.
Survivalism and my book Survival are two quite different things. I wrote Survival because at that time there was no general understanding of Canadian literature, and most people were told there wasnt any, which wasnt true. Or they were told that there was Canadian literature, but it was just a pale imitation of English literature or American literature. And I didnt think that was true, so my book is about how those three things are different from one another.
I examine that question by taking certain motifs and seeing how they are handled differently in classical American literature, classical English literature, and Canadian literature. And why should they not be different, because the geographical location and the demographic mix are quite different in all three places. That was a 1972 book, the first of its kind.
I wondered if you feel that the idea of I want to put this correctly is it survival within the frontier, per se, or survival within an unforgiving natural world?
Classical Canadian literature is survival within an unforgiving natural world for sure. People get trees falling on them, lost in blizzards, drown in large bodies of water.
And thats definitely something thats really operative in a book like Surfacing. Do you see that as still being present in your work, or have you moved away from that in later years?
One of the arguments in Survival is not that Canadian literature should be that way. Its just that it was that way. But that was in 1972. How many years have since intervened? 45 years. A lot has happened in 45 years, and we can go into what some of those things are, but that would be a whole other college paper. A lot of people have written a lot of books since 1972, and a lot of people have written a lot of different kinds of books.
One of the most noteworthy things that has happened since 1972, which really didnt start happening until the 80s, is that indigenous writers have appeared. In 1972, people wrote about indigenous people, but indigenous people were not telling their own stories, and now they are. That would be a whole other chapter, just for instance.
1972 was about year two of the second-wave womens movement, so the depiction of women has radically changed since that time. Different immigrant groups have come in, and Canadian politics has always been different from American politics anyway, and now its even more different. One of the big issues in 1972 was the Quebec separatist movement, and we dont seem to have that with us much anymore.
So all of those things have changed around. And countries are always changing. The vision the United States had of itself in, say, 1960 is radically different than the vision it has of itself now.
One of the things that has happened in the United States is that the gap between poor people and rich people has become huge, whereas the 50s were a decade of the middle class, in which children expected to do better than their parents and in large part did do better. Thats no longer true.
So, land of opportunity not anymore. Not letting people in, not seeing itself as a world leader anymore, abdicating from its role as world leader. Going back to the 20s, an isolationist time. What happened in 1928? The last time there was a Republican Congress, a Republican Senate, a Republican president. They put in isolation policies and what did that produce? The Great Depression.
One of the repeated tropes across a lot of your books is the presence of a character who functions as a shadow self to the protagonist. In your criticism, youve sometimes read that kind of character as a metaphor for the relationship between the writer as a person and the writer whos doing the writing. How would you apply that reading to, for instance, the character of Zenia in The Robber Bride?
Zenia is the shadow self of all three of the characters, but she functions in a different way for each one, because each one of them is different. But if you know anything about supernatural creatures like that, youll know that they cant come into the house unless you invite them over the threshold.
But novels are often constructed in that way. Not just my novels, but anybodys novels. They have various characters in them. You have to be able to tell one character apart from the other one, so we usually give them different names, different hair colors, they look different from one another. Otherwise you cant tell them apart. Theyre usually counterparts in some way, and that goes for everybodys roles.
Theres a structural principle at work somewhere. Thats just something that has to do with works of art: You have a basic rhythm and then you have syncopation. Its true of music and its true of painting, and its true of anything that involves any sort of pattern.
Youve written in one of your essays on the dystopia that every dystopia contains
a little utopia, and every utopia contains a little dystopia. Its very true.
What do you think are the little utopias hidden within Handmaids Tale and the MaddAddam books?
In the MaddAddam books, the little utopia of course is the Gods Gardeners. In The Handmaids Tale, it is the life before. The flashbacks to the previous life, which of course nobody recognizes as a happy place until its gone.
Its the same in 1984. In 1984, its the paperweight that contains the beautiful little thing, and its the rather unpleasant piece of the forest, the piece of nature that they go to. Its about the only thing that remains, because that 1984 dystopia is so pervasive. Thats us grasping at something better.
In any dystopia, the utopian part is the something better, and in a utopia, the dystopian part is the something worse. It quite frequently has to do with, What are we going to do with those people?
What are we going to say about Brave New World? Well, as it turns out, theres this other part of Brave New World that is unregenerate. The interesting thing about that book is that from the point of view of John the Savage, Brave New World is a dystopia. From the point of the people in that brave new world, the previous arrangement is the dystopia.
Partially, probably, because of the focus on your dystopias, theres been a narrative that youre a somewhat pessimistic writer.
Oh, Im hideously optimistic. I havent killed everybody off at the end. Some people do.
Very true! One of the projects you did a few years ago was the Future Library.
A very optimistic project.
Do you think that there will still be people around, ready and willing to read your book in a hundred years?
The project assumes that there will be; thats why people liked it so much. It assumes that there will be people alive in a hundred years, that they will be interested in reading, that the Future Library in Norway will survive, and that it will all come to fruition as the inventor of it has supposed. That would be Katie Paterson. They just had the third handover in the Norwegian forest. An Icelandic writer called Sjn handed over his manuscript. And who will it be next year? Well soon find out!
The project assumes optimism, but do you agree with its optimistic take on the future?
There is no the future. There is an infinite number of possible futures. Which one will actually become the future? Its going to depend on how we behave now. So its not actually going to be up to me, what sort of future we are going to have. Its going to be much more up to you. Youre going to be around for it, whereas Im actually not.
I would say, should we manage to solve the crisis of the oceans, therefore securing ourselves a supply of oxygen, other problems are solvable. Should we not manage to solve that one, theres no point thinking about any of the others. Womens rights will actually be irrelevant, because there wont be any women, or men either.
Read the rest here:
Posted: June 8, 2017 at 10:59 pm
Would it shock you to know that by reading this article, you are presently interfacing with artificial intelligence to enhance personal cognitive brain function?
Lets be clear. Technology is a form of external artificial intelligence or AI. That ship has sailed.
As science pushes forward in its quest to upgrade the human experience, what will it mean for human consciousnessand for you?
Self-Actualization, the pinnacle of Maslows five-level human needs pyramid is close at hand for a larger segment of the population than ever before.
Basic needs met, you have the ability to move far beyond survivalism toward discovering your inner genius, thus reaching your highest potential as a human being.
Yet, lurking somewhere in the darkness, the fear persists that artificial intelligence will surpass human intelligence in an AI arms race as publicly warned by Elon Musk, Dr. Stephen Hawking, and Bill Gates.
Lets first look at how technology has played a part in advancing the evolution of human consciousness.
Try to imagine going back to a world without a www in front of it. Even if youre old enough, its difficult.
The 5 a.m. thud of the local newspaper hitting the pavement outside your window;
Reaching for an encyclopedia that hadnt been appended since the current editions printing a decade earlier;
Waiting until 6 p.m. for world news;
Community gossip . . . It was a small, small, world after allbut only in the last half century. Prior, it was much smaller. Access to external stimuli i.e. education, ideas, and information was a lot more precarious.
Additionally, cultural and religious conditioning did a bang-up job of programming you to take your lumps and like em. There was little to no incentive to change the status quo.
You were highly likely to be born, live, and die nearly similarly to the way your parents did.
Innovation, rebellion, and revolution came at a steep price for those who dared buck society and its institutions even from the inside. Things have improvedslightly.
Hence, except for a handful of time-honored geniuses ahead of the curve willing to take the blows for the rest of us, the collective evolution of human consciousness was tedious, cumbersome, and SLOW.
Then came August 6th, 1991. The world wide web became publicly available without fanfare by global media.
English CERN scientist, Tim Berners-Lee, had developed the first web browser computer program in response to his desire to make it easier for scientists around the world to share information, thus ushering in the Information Age.
(It should be noted that before then, an Internet of networked computers existed originating with the U.S. federal government back in the 1960s to link supercomputers in the event one was destroyed in a nuclear blastalso for communications/storagethe data made safe through redundancy.)
Before we fast forward to today, lets establish a simplified definition of consciousness as self-awareness.
In reality, scientists are still attempting to quantify the unquantifiable previously contemplated throughout the last millennia by philosophers such as Plato, Socrates, Thomas Aquinas, Bertrand Russell, Einstein, and many more.
Research is struggling to move beyond theory to answer rudimentary questions such as whether consciousness originates within the brain, or if the brain acts like a receiver that processes non-physical signals.
A Harvard team of researchers think theyve pinpointed the brainstem regions that are the physical source of consciousness. Whether its the origin of consciousness remains unanswered.
Dr. Lucien Hardy from the Perimeter Institute in Ontario, Canada recently proposed a quantum entanglement experiment to determine if consciousness is local or non-local that could even throw previous interpretations of quantum mechanics and free will into question.
What we do know is consciousness is the individuated subjective experience. I (subject) see an (object); therefore, I know I exist.
Theoretical physicist, Dr. Michio Kaku sums up consciousness as, ... the process of creating multiple feedback loops to create a model of yourself in space with regard to others, and in time...
In the linked video, Dr. Kaku goes on to state he believes beings embody varying levels of consciousness similar to what Eastern traditions call levels of sentience.
(Interesting Note: Years ago, I met Dr. Kaku at a book signing at Wright State University. I gave him a copy of my book, What Is God? Rolling Back the Veil, explaining sentience and levels.)
Feedback loop . . . Think back to those old dusty Britannicas sitting in your parents basement. Human consciousness drafted their content that went on to inform human consciousness as a feedback loop.
Consciousness was recognized in 1918 by Nobel Prize winner and one of the founding fathers of Quantum Theory, Max Planck, as fundamental to all aspects of life.
I regard matter as derivative from consciousness . . . Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing postulates consciousness. Max Planck, Theoretical Physicist
In other words, Planck is stating his yet unproven belief that feedback loops exist within nature. Matter is derived from consciousness recycling back to consciousness.
A modern-day pioneer in the field of unified physics is Nassim Haramein, Director of Research at the Resonance Science Foundation where he leads a team of physicists, mathematicians, and engineers.
Everything emerges and returns to a fundamental field of information that connects us all. Nassim Haramein
Again, information is a form or byproduct of consciousness; consciousness is information.
That all life is inseparable and interdependent will be one of the most important revelations in modern physics.
At this years SXSW Conference in Austin, Texas Ray Kurzweil, Google Director of Engineering and futurist boasting an 86% prediction accuracy rate, forecast: 2029 is the consistent date I have predicted for when an AI will pass a valid Turing test and therefore achieve human levels of intelligence. I have set the date 2045 for the Singularity which is when we will multiply our effective intelligence a billion fold by merging with the intelligence we have created.
(The Turing Test, developed by Alan Turning in 1950, is when machine can exhibit intelligent behavior indistinguishable from human behavior. Technological Singularity is when AI results in exponential runaway superintelligence that would continue to exponentially upgrade itself. Becoming self-aware, it could possibly render humanity obsolete.)
Knowledge is just one byproduct of many feedback loops that run the gamut of five physical senses, or sentience, that makes us human. We might begin to call feedback loops dimensions.
Knowledge by itself becomes a limitation. This is key.
In the same way you look in a mirror and see a living, breathing copy of you, the mirror is only a two-dimensional representation of the you that occupies the 11 dimensions theorized by Dr. Kaku.
Buddhists also recognize a sixth sensethe subjective experience of the mind. Doesnt it reason that the sixth sense also arises as a byproduct (along with knowledge) of the combination of the first five senses? Now were getting into the fractal, multi-dimensional nature of Creation.
Chemical processes in the mind/body feedback loop then create feelings in the body, and so on. If the Universe is indeed unified, then human senses continue beyond six into the sublime and yet undetectable.
Do you see the complex layering of feedback loops/dimensions and processes involved?
Technology/AI are tools that can enhance consciousness, aiding in its evolution, but represent only a fractional part of the whole.
If the question for our times is: when does technology (AI) become self-aware and surpass biology (human beings) in delivering Singularity as a constant, the answer is AI can only mimic a partial experience.
If all life is One, there is no line of demarcation where consciousness begins and where consciousness ends. Consciousness endures, and like the Universe, it expands and evolves.
From another Vanguard 20th century scientist: A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. Albert Einstein
So far, weve mostly explored consciousness and its evolution via external forces from the perspective of separation consciousness.
When you experience yourself as separate from the rest of life, you experience death in the physical world.
What happens when we explore consciousness by tapping into our internal world as taught by the Masters, accessing unseen forces or higher dimensions of consciousness?
What the Masters knew and todays awakening collective mass is realizing comes from a sense (level of consciousness/dimension) no machine will ever experience.
Recognizing the oneness of the Cosmo, your personal experience miraculously transfigures into one where you transcend death for eternal life as extolled by Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, Yogananda, Maharshi, and many others.
Spontaneously evolution is the transmutation of separation consciousness to unity consciousness.
Aided by technology or not, the self-realized human being is a new species
Your brilliant future here now is Singularity as holistic self-awareness in the now moment that you are mind, body, and spirit capable of miracles.
Boundaries removed, you become fearless.
Suffering and hardship end replaced by peaceful, abundant living.
Death conquered, immortality becomes your new reality.
Are you ready to become a Human 2.0? If so, check out my free Your Brilliant Future Here Now Guide, e-books and reading guides, and Your Brilliant Future Here Now blog.
Start your workday the right way with the news that matters most.
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Posted: June 6, 2017 at 6:03 am
The latest release of the popular "Far Cry" video game series will feature a Montana setting, and promoted with video shot near Poplar.
A press release from the Montana Department of Commerce says that Far Cry 5 takes place in fictional Hope County, Montana. Although usually set in exotic, foreign locations such as the Himalayas and a fictional African country, Far Cry 5 is the first entry set in America. Its scheduled to be released in February 2018.Since 2004, sales of Far Cry games have reached more than 42 million.
The press release states:Players will have a large game world to explore while fighting off a hostile occupation of the county. In between the action, players will get a taste of Montanas outdoor recreation with hunting and fishing challenges. We know from the film industry that movies can be some of the best tools available for promoting a destination, but the interactive nature of video games represents an exciting opportunity weve never quite had before, said Montana Film Commissioner Allison Whitmer. Audiences around the globe not only will see Montana, theyll experience it virtually.
The officialFar Cry 5 websiteprovides this overview:Welcome to Hope County, Montana, land of the free and the brave, but also home to a fanatical doomsday cult known as The Project at Edens Gate that is threatening the community's freedom. Stand up to the cults leader, Joseph Seed and the Heralds, and spark the fires of resistance that will liberate the besieged community. In this expansive world, your limits and creativity will be tested against the biggest and most ruthless baddest enemy Far Cry has ever seen. Itll be wild and itll get weird, but as long as you keep your wits about you, the residents of Hope County can rest assured knowing youre their beacon of hope.
A spokesperson for Ubisoft said Montana was a natural fit for the series because of its diverse landscape and the do-it-yourself attitude of its people. The developers visited several times to shoot thousands of photos and interview residents.
A location scout identified a church near Poplar where promotional video for the game was shot. The crew employed three people from Montana. Between labor and other expenditures related to the production, the shoot is estimated to have generated $20,000 for the Poplar economy.
While the Montana Department of Commerce is focused on the promotion of Montana, many gaming sites and reviews are focused on the actual premise and game-play.
An article atKotakunotes:Its about blasting through a section of modern Montana controlled by a Bible-thumping madman who runs a heavily-armed militia. Youre up against The Father, Joseph Seed, who along with his family has spent the last dozen years sinking deep roots into the fictional Hope County while establishing a cult called The Project at Edens Gate.
Sam Machkovech, writing forArsTechnica, said:"The 13-year-old Far Cry gaming series returns once more in February 2018, and, at least conceptually, this might be its most intense entry yet. While Far Cry games traditionally drop players into exotic, international locales with only a gun and a prayer, this year's entry, Far Cry 5, lands in the U-S-of-A. Specifically, the open, rural wilds of Montana. Your mission: invade a militarized cult's massive compound and take down its gun-toting, Jesus-invoking leader."
FromWired:When it arrives next February,Far Cry 5will unfold in a small town in Montana, where a religious cult tinged with American survivalism has emerged. (Think the Bundys, though no shortage of legalese will doubtless back away from that comparison.) Youll play a young police officer, a man or a woman, depending on your decision, and youll be tasked with (ugh) taking this slice of America back.
The Montana setting and choice of villains in the game has even sparked anonline petition, which has garnered nearly 2,000 signatures.
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Posted: June 5, 2017 at 7:15 am
HARKER HEIGHTS In front of retired veteran Sergio Martinez sat a green bag no bigger than the carry-on a passenger on an airplane would stow in the overhead storage bin. What he kept inside of it was not to be used for a family vacation though, and a number of the items probably wouldnt be permitted on an airplane.
Martinez, an extreme survivalist, gave a presentation to a dozen people at the Stewart C. Meyer Harker Heights Public Library on Saturday morning. He talked about what kind of items to pack away in case of emergency, and how to prepare for a disaster situation.
It was toward the end of summer 2005 when Martinez first became aware of disaster preparation. He had family members who lived in Houston that were coming to stay with him during Hurricane Katrina. There wasnt enough food in the pantry, so he decided to head to H-E-B to stock up on some more groceries. When he walked out of the store, the only thing he had was a couple of loaves a bread and some cans of food. Thats when it dawned on him he wasnt nearly enough prepared for survival.
Sometimes you need to trip and fall, and then youre going to learn, he said.
Soon enough, Martinez began teaching himself about survivalism. He read books, talked to experts and watched Youtube videos, and eventually got the chance to compete for a survivalist show that airs on the History Channel.
Martinez recommended preparing meals ready to eat MREs long in advance. His prepackaged MREs included peanut butter crackers, bottles of water, freeze dried food and protein bars. Canned foods including soups and beans are good to pack, too, but in moderation. Too many cans can weigh down a bag, and depending on the situation, you might have to walk for long periods of time. In those situations, any reduction in weight can help.
There were typical items found in Martinezs survival bag, such as an extra pair of clothes, a sleeping bag and a hammock. But there were also nifty tools such as a crank-up flashlight that triples as a cellphone charger and an AM/FM radio. He also pulled out a miniature propane stove and a water filter. At one point, he removed a Bible in a plastic bag.
Staying calm is good when youre out there, he said. Like it or not, everyone is going to get religious at some point. Why not have a Bible?
Much like he was prepared for any potential disaster, Martinez was ready to answer questions from the audience. One person asked him about the difficulty of catching your own food through hunting and fishing, and preparing it while in the wild.
Martinez said that with a little practice, it wasnt that difficult.
But dont expect it to taste good, he said. Once you kill the game, how do you prepare it? We dont have chefs out there.
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Posted: June 3, 2017 at 12:18 pm
Who knew so many organically-grown apple trees shouldered the Yellow Brick Road?
Camping, more than often, can be an exploration in the mundane minutiae of survivalism. We pitch tents in order to shelter ourselves from Mother Nature's elemental fury; bonfires are lit to keep our core temperatures in a homeostatic balance. Water canteens, mulishly straddled to our waistlines, batter and bruise our hips with each pressing hike. Needless to say, such existential odysseys aren't exactly everyone's cup of Early Grey tea. That's, however, when the wonderful witches and wizards of Oz Farm come into frame to help us experience the softer, gentler edges of the great outdoors
One-hundred-thirty miles north of the Presidio in Mendocino County, Oz Farma 240-acre span of redwood forests, snaked through by the Garcia Riveraims to enchant all those who stay within its eco-chic confines. Completely off the grid, Oz Farm is self-sustained entirely by a network of solar panels and a single Bergey wind generator. (You won't find a PG&E electrical line for miles.)
Working in tandem with one another, they not only light up each of Oz Farm's nine rentable structures, they also provide the necessary amount of water to maintain the 72-acres of organically grown crops that sprout up from the heart of the property. From Pink Pearls to White Winter Pearmains, some 14 different varieties of trellis-grown apples are cultivated here; the farm is also well known for pressing some of the best all-natural apple juice anywhere in the state.
So, who's helping maintain all this sweet natural splendor? Well, Oz Farm is far from a one-man (or woman) show.
Above all other recreational endeavors, Oz Farm is a place where aspiring agriculturists can get their hands dirty andin a very literal and metaphorical senseplant the fruit-bearing seeds for their future ambitions as sustainable farmers. Through apprenticeship programs, Oz Farm aims to educate and provide the intellectual capital and real-life experience necessary to create the next generation of sustainable farmers.
Regardless if you want to hone your green thumb or just want to spend a weekend under the trees, Oz Farm will take you back to your minimalistic, pre-smartphone roots. All you have to do is follow the 65 MPH Yellow Brick Road (the 101) up there to get out of Dodge for a bit.
Reserve your next foray into the Wonderful World of Oz, courtesy of Hipcamp.
Location: 41601 Mountain View Rd. (Manchester)
Bedrooms: 9 rentable cabins, with a community house located at the front of the property; cooking supplies, hot tubs, and killer views are all included.
Bathrooms: 9-plus bathrooms; hot showers can be taken at the main community house.
Pet Friendly: There's already a gaggle of welcoming canines and somewhat aloof felines on the property, forewarning. (So, in short: yes.)
Extras: Fresh produce as far as the eye can see, friendly staff to help you navigate all the farm's hidden treasures, bonfire pits, and serene hiking trails! Also, Oz Farm may just be the perfect place to have your future wedding...just saying.
Emerald City's never looked more green or eco-friendly.
(Photo courtesy of Hipcamp)
Books don't need batteries to enjoy.
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Outdoor patio vibes for day on end.
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Livin' the lush life.
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Who needs spring board when you've can just lay your mattress on a bed of mulch?
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Deep breaths and chill.
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Airplane Modeor else.
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So gang, let's all click our heels thriceand celebrate the homecoming songs of summer over Oz Farm bonfires.
(Photo courtesy of Rice Paper Scissors)
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Posted: June 1, 2017 at 10:28 pm
Slide: 1 / of 2. Caption: Ubisoft Montreal
Slide: 2 / of 2. Caption: Ubisoft Montreal
Last weeksannouncement of Far Cry 5 wasnt itself a surprise. Over the past 13 years, the series has evolved from a playground of first-person shooter mayhem to something far more distinctive: A collection of deep, difficult, often politicalgames that served as meditations on violence as much as enactments of violence itself. Theyve gone froma tropical island to an African warzone,toaneven more dangerous tropical island, to an imaginary version of Tibetand in doing so, have sold more than 20 million copies, making a new installment a formality. What is a surprise is the new games focus. While the series has long concerned itself with terror and instability, now its planning to do so with a homegrown brand of extremism.
When it arrives next February, Far Cry 5 will unfold in a small town in Montana, where a religious cult tinged with American survivalism has emerged. (Think the Bundys, though no shortage of legalese will doubtless back away from that comparison.) Youll play a young police officer, a man or a woman, depending on your decision, and youll be tasked with (ugh) taking this slice of America back.
Thats a promising premisebut if the past is any indication, Far Cry is going to blow it.
From its first game, the Far Cry series has been thick with action and lifethe wildlife hunts, your enemies have their own concerns,and combat starts raging fires that transform the space around you. But more interestingly, the franchise lingers in that instability: its earnestly interested in violence and colonialism as forces in the world, and is at least moderately aware of its own complicity in those forces. Its villains are arms dealers and conquerors, and you are a destroyer pitted against destroyers.
That mission, coupled with an insistence on far-flung locales and societies, has produced mixed results. Far Cry 2 was the best title of the bunch, but it couldnt shake an Orientialist attitude toward its African setting. The later games leaned into the fun factor, which made their critiques feel absurdly half-hearted. It has been, at times, a contradictory disaster of a franchise.
Now, instead of exoticizing a foreign nation for a Western audience, the franchise going right to the heartland. This is Far Cry at its most deliberately provocativethe closest its gotten to touching on issues it might actually have something worth saying about. It touches on the slow rise of reactionary conservativism in the United States, along with the survivalist and prepper cultures that have been growing in the margins since at least the 1990s. Combine that with the choice to have you play as a police officer in a small American town, and youre looking at a premise thats already incredibly politicized from the mainstream American perspective.Yet, the series history shows no indication that its writers or developers know how to handle the games political overtones, no matter how earnestly they engage with them.
But, to be honest with you, I dont really care. Thats the thing about Far Cry:Even at its messiest, its always remained interesting. The games attempt ambitious things, and when they fail, theres something fascinating about the way the pieces fall apart. In the gaps of design logic and bad writing, you can see illuminating frictions. You can learn things about the way colonialism works and doesntnot from the games themselves, but by watching how each subsequentgame fails torespond to the criticisms levied at its predecessor. Theres magic in the dashed ambitions of high-budget productions; you can practically see the incompatible ideas spattered on the walls like giant inkblots.
Far Cry 5, when it launches, probably wont be goodat least in the sense of being a coherent game that executives its best ideas competently, let alone doing justice to its subject matter. But it will be fun, and it will interesting.Montanas got a big, big skytheres room for all kinds of stuff under there.
Originally posted here:
Posted: at 10:28 pm
A look at where Covenant is similar to the original Alien, and where it differs.
Much has changed in the 38 years since Ridley Scotts Alien was first released or, more precisely, unleashed. The claustrophobia and primality of that first film have given way, in Alien: Covenant, to expansive planets, lost civilizations, and ponderous mythologies. This is not to say that the franchise has been drained of all its thrills; Covenants pallid neomorphs would give even Ellen Ripley a real shiver. But the prevailing impression left by Scotts latest installment is less of horror than of existential gloom. The threats it conveys feel at once larger and more diffuse than any one creature.
To get to the bottom of what makes Covenant so different from the original Alien, it may be useful to define the genre that the latter so thoroughly exemplifies. Horror, the philosopher Nol Carroll explains, is a compound of at least two other emotions: fear and disgust. These emotions are often evoked, in horror films and literature, by the presence of a monster and what a monster the xenomorph is. Rapacious and vile, its an amalgam of all the qualities natural selection made most salient and repulsive to human beings. This is, of course, true of all monsters: they are more real than real, more predatory than any natural predator. But they are not threatening in the way that a nuclear bomb is threatening. Rather, they are designed and here we can use the word design unselfconsciously to push our evolutionary buttons, to shake us all the way to the bottom of the brain stem.
The original Alien is, in some ways, explicitly Darwinian: it is about one species struggling to survive the predation of another more well-adapted one. The xenomorphs acidic blood and retractable jaw are not meant to be supernatural powers but survival adaptations. As Ash puts it to Ripley, its a survivor, unclouded by conscience, remorse, or delusions of morality. As viewers, we respond to the xenomorph on a primal level. Few of us have ever encountered slimy beasts intent on eating us, but we nevertheless bear deeply programmed instincts about malice and contagion that horror films powerfully exploit. In his book, The Anatomy of Disgust, the writer William Ian Miller provides a precise summary of the type of circumstance for which the emotion of horror evolved. It would be difficult to conceive of a better description of the Xenomorph:
Because the threatening thing is disgusting, one does not want to strike it, touch it, or grapple with it. Because it is frequently something that has already gotten inside of you or takes you over and possesses you, there is often no distinct other to fight anyway. Thus the nightmarish quality of no way out, no exit, no way to save oneself except by destroying oneself in the process. Horrifying things stick, like glue, like slime. Horror is horror because it is perceived as denying all strategy, all option. It seems that horror is a subset of disgust, being specifically that disgust for which no distancing or evasive strategies exist that are not in themselves utterly contaminating. Not all disgust evokes horror; there are routine petty loathings and gorge raisings which do not horrify. Disgust admits of ranges of intensity from relatively mild to major. But horror makes no sense except as an intense experience. Mild horror is no longer horror.
How does this description map onto Alien: Covenant? To be sure, the film has its share of creepy contagions working their way into various orifices. Its in these moments that the movie feels most fun, most like an Alien film. But the emotional timbre changes when the crew meets David, and when he is gradually revealed to be the films primary villain. The cat and mouse game between alien and human turns into something far weightier, if somewhat less affecting. Of course, Scott had already dispensed with Darwinian trappings when, in Prometheus, he revealed that the Alien universe is characterized by design, not natural selection. Ripleys rugged survivalism was replaced with Elizabeth Shaws blind faith. By the time we get to Covenant, Shaws faith in God has in turn been replaced by Davids singular belief in creation.
As I recently wrote in my piece on AI and human nature, reflecting artificial intelligence on screen presents a problem for our emotional machinery. Unlike the xenomorph, whose every feature evokes an ingrained fear response, AI poses a threat that our genes have not prepared us to encounter. Where the xenomorph is hostile, AI is merely indifferent; where the xenomorph is slimy, AI is fastidiously clean. Covenant exploits this fact: the humans in the film are lulled into complacency by Davids unthreatening appearance and do not realize the threat he poses until it is too late. But as his plan begins to unfurl, the emotions we feel as an audience are not the primitive fear and disgust that constitute horror.
A further distinction is useful here: Carroll draws a line between art-horror, of which monster films are a subset, and natural horror, which might describe the Holocaust or some other real-life atrocity. This distinction gets to the heart of the paradox of horror itself; namely, why do we pay to experience an emotion that in many ways seem negative? Art-horror, built as it is on the excitation of certain emotions, can be pleasant in much the same way that a rollercoaster is pleasant. It provides the thrill and novelty of danger without its actual consequences. Natural horror, by contrast, is all consequences. It is the sort of event for which the phrase the banality of evil was coined.
It is precisely this mechanistic, banal sort of horror that David evokes in Covenant. This wasnt always the case: in Prometheus, Davids stiltedness made him an embodiment of the uncanny, which evokes a type of art-horror rooted in eerie curiosity. When, at the end of that film, he is reduced to a severed head (like Ash in Alien), he becomes a reminder of the frailty and vulnerability of the human body. This, too, can be called uncanny, and thereby an extension of art-horror. But in Covenant, David has transcended these limitations; he is, as Walter tells him, too human. Thus, his evil stops feeling like that of a monsterand begins to feel merely monstrous.
None of this amounts to a critique of Alien: Covenant; on the contrary, the film illuminates the boundaries of horror in a way that Alien, in its lean efficiency, could not. But in clarifying these boundaries, Covenant also shows us the many ways in which our emotional equipment leaves us ill-prepared for the challenges of the 21st Century. Violence allures and excites us until it doesnt. We are easily animated against individual villains but find it difficult to counter impersonal systems. And if, as some have argued, our unconcern about AI and global warming constitutes a failure of intuition, perhaps horror is a poor guide for what to be afraid of.
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Via ‘The Florida Project,’ meet two of the youngest stars in Cannes Film Festival history – Los Angeles Times
Posted: at 10:28 pm
Last week, two of the breakout stars of the Cannes Film Festival were looking to take a breather after a grueling session of interviews, press roundtables and photo shoots. They decided to mark the moment with a toast.
"To a great drink," said Brooklynn Prince, who is 7.
"To a great trip," said Valeria Cotto, who is 6. The two clinked glasses, filled with Italian sodas of various fruity provenance, as the Mediterranean lapped at the beachside restaurant behind them.
The festival, which ended Sunday, often revels in and renews existing stars. Nicole Kidman, with four works in the official selection, became an adored fixture this year. But the gathering also has the ability to mint young personalities.
Even, in the case of the Florida natives Brooklynn and Valeria, really young personalities.
The girls are the stars of "The Florida Project," the new film from Sean Baker, writer-director of the indie sensation "Tangerine. Florida centers on the so-called hidden homeless members of the underclass who live in motels and other makeshift spaces. Its set in a part of America rarely seen on screen: Baker cast from and shot in Orlando, in the counterpoising shadow of Walt Disney World. Though thousands of miles away, in distance and sensibility, from the Wonder Woman enthusiasm going on back home, the girls were nonetheless very much of the same shatter-the-ceiling mind-set.
Brooklynn plays the outgoing and at times obnoxious Moonee, who with her mother (Bria Vinaite) and best friend (Valerias Jancey) finds joy amid the bleak survivalism of the Magic Castle Motel and Futureland Inn they respectively call home. Moonee, Jancey and a third friend, Christopher, are often getting into trouble with pranks that can border on the delinquent. But they do it with winning mischief, thus remaining endearing throughout.
In its willingness to see the world radically from young peoples point of view, The Florida Project takes its cues from movies as varied as E.T. and Kids, and exists spiritually somewhere in between. Unlike the children in more burnished Hollywood enterprises, they act like, well, kids. The girls form alliances, act out with exuberance (and, sometimes, petulance), and follow their curiosity into trouble. They remain joyfully oblivious to the hardships of the adult world around them while occasionally just occasionally signaling a bracing awareness. Interested in character moments and episodes more than narrative arcs, the film wowed critics with its lived-in naturalism.
Driving that naturalism are the two young leads. As they fielded a barrage of questions from a table of a dozen reporters, Brooklynn and Valeria showed uncommon poise.
What do your parents do? a European reporter at a roundtable asked them.
In the movie or in real life? Valeria asked.
My mom sells tickets for events and my dads job is, hes in a position, where he makes furniture, Valeria said, before clarifying it was upholstery.
My dads a scientist and my mom's an acting coach, Brooklynn said with practiced aplomb.
You never told us your age, a reporter said to Valeria.
You never asked, she replied, reasonably.
The tendency with actors this young is to assume they are merely playing themselves. But the characters and many moments in the film are carefully scripted, and the girls are legitimately acting.
Theyre doing what adult actors do, which is listening closely, Baker said in an interview. Even in improvisation, theyre receiving lines, and digesting them and spitting them out as character. Both girls easily memorized the script, a point that will resonate for any parent whos ever had a 6-year-old try to prepare for a spelling test.
Their polish came in part from on-set guidance, both from Baker and his partner, actress Samantha Quan, who worked with the children for a month before shooting, using a variety of kid-specific workshopping techniques. Quan would do things like bring the girls into a room and have them describe objects as though they were giving a museum tour, all with an eye toward preparing them to react spontaneously to their surroundings during shooting.
Finding the young actors wasnt easy. Baker was ready to scrap the whole project for lack of a lead until Brooklynn came along, via a local casting agency. He was immediately taken with her confidence and her loose-limbed intelligence. Valeria was found in a less likely place: Target. Baker was doing a walk-through in the hope of locating a non-pro; when he spotted Valeria, he approached her mother and asked if shed like to bring her daughter in for an audition.
Despite their closeness, the two girls are very different. Brooklynn is a natural extrovert, taking the hand of adults she just met, dropping in a French phrase she knows will impress, and describing her favorite Cannes activity as going for a swim in the Mediterranean Sea.
Valeria has a more studied and if this can be said of a 6-year-old darker personality, with a preternatural wisdom; several journalists who talked to her thought she was at least several years older.
Shes a quirky kid, said her mother, Ivelisse Rijos, as her kindergartner daughter name-checked books she liked, including the Junie B. Jones series, the standard-bearer for go-your-own-way childhood thinking.
Since making the movie a year ago, the girls have bonded and now regularly make the 40-minute trip across the Orlando suburbs for play dates.
At Cannes, they sat at a restaurant between photo shoots, hugging each other and talking about matters of the day.
I like Daisy Ridley and Britney Spears, and Cara Devello, or whatever her name is, Brooklynn said, as she gave her costar a big squeeze.
Britney Spears isnt an actress, Valeria coolly replied.
Thats true but I still like her. And Elle Fanning, of course, Brooklynn said.
A handler told her Fanning had several movies at the festival.
Shes here? Brooklyn said, her eyes widening. We need to leave right now and find her. No, really, lets find her.
Rijos wasnt looking for a role for her daughter when Baker approached her in the Target; she in fact thought it was weird when the director handed her a card emblazoned with two chihuahuas, the logo of his production company. She was about to disregard it when an Internet search showed her it was the real deal.
Brooklynns parents were skeptical too, for a different reason: Theyre people of faith and thought some of the profanities Moonee had to utter in the film werent in keeping with their values.
There was some choice words and tumultuous language, and we were going to turn it down for that reason, father Justin Prince said. It was Brooklynn who convinced us she should do it. The elder Prince, who works as an environmental scientist, grew up in a world not unlike that of the movie, living for a time in a trailer in a backyard behind his grandfathers trailer in Ohio.
"I think she was happy to say some of those words because she doesn't get to say them at home, said a laughing Vinaite, herself a non-actor who Baker found on Instagram, to a reporter.
Also of the grown-up world: a Cannes premiere. Nearly a thousand people the night before had watched in the hallowed theater of the Directors Fortnight section, where both girls had tears in their eyes as they acknowledged the crowd.
I did cry last night, potentially, Brooklynn admitted.
I cried because there are some sad scenes and it brought back lots of memories of me and my friends, Valeria added. At the after-party, both girls had taken over the dance floor, well past the fashionable Cannes hour of midnight. Dance like nobodys watching, Valeria said and shrugged the following day.
Someone on a roundtable asked Vinaite what it was like to have such an important role in a movie as a first-timer.
I was definitely nerve-wracked because Id never acted, Vinaite said.
You were very good, Valeria reassured her.
Though the word precocious comes to mind when talking to the girls, Baker was intent in the film on avoiding the trap of the old-soul young person. Indeed, much of The Florida Project feels a lot like peeking in on everyday children who think no adults are watching impressive, given that on a set many dozens were.
Weve always had a very strong reaction to the kids you usually see in Hollywood films, Baker said. It always feels fake; it always feels stilted. We wanted to do the opposite of that.
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That goal becomes more difficult circa 2017. As kids have cameras on them more than at any point in human history never mind dreams of stardom drilled into their minds a naturalistic portrayal becomes that much more difficult. Young people have more tools to star in a movie than ever before, but fewer ways to seem like real kids when they do.
A lot of people asked us how we got Brooklynn to reach certain places, Baker said of critical dramatic points in the film. But most of the time she would just do it herself. Before [a big crying scene], someone on the crew came over to her and started talking. And Brooklynn says, I have to focus right now because Im about to cry.
Brooklynn is probably the youngest Method actor youve ever met, Quan added, laughing.
As the girls sipped on their Italian sodas at Cannes, they began debating not the craft but a more important subject: their favorite movies.
Star Wars, Harry Potter all the Harry Potters, obviously, Brooklynn said. She ticked off some genre fare her family saw during a Halloween movie marathon.
I watch the Disney Channel, Valeria said.
A24 bought Florida at Cannes and is weighing when to release it. Brooklynn could well garner awards buzz if the Moonlight studio decides to put it out during the competitive heat of the fall. If she were to be recognized by Oscar voters, she would shatter by several years the record for youngest lead actress nominee, currently held by Quvenzhan Wallis, who was nearly 9 when she was shortlisted for her turn in Beasts of the Southern Wild in 2013.
Though Justin Prince said he was both intrigued and daunted by Oscar hullabaloo, his daughter was none the wiser.
In between interviews, the young girl walked up to a chalkboard at the restaurant that held the messages from film luminaries and put her own stamp on it. Bonjour. I love Cannes. I am in France, she wrote in a mixture of green and white lettering.
Brooklynn had put her entry right under one from the French director Claire Denis, another female trailblazer at the festival.
When the juxtaposition was pointed out, Brooklynn gave a curious look. "That's cool," the 7-year-old said, and maybe what was most cool was that she didn't realize how cool it was.
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Posted: May 23, 2017 at 10:39 pm
The new Alien: Covenant marks the sixth film in the main Alien franchise since it started in 1979, making it one of Hollywood's longest-running series. And there's no sign of it going away: Director Ridley Scott said in March that there may be as many as six more in the works.
The franchise has had its ups and downs over the years remember Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem? but it has been sustained in large part based on the enduring popularity of the first two films in the series: Alien and Aliens.
The films were made seven years apart by two very different directors, and there isnt much continuity between them, aside from the protagonist, Sigourney Weavers Ellen Ripley, and the H.R. Giger-designed aliens themselves. The first was a claustrophobic monster movie in space made by a young director named Ridley Scott, the second a Vietnam-inspired action film by James Cameron.
But both films succeeded on the strength of their memorable imagery, rich world building, and strong performances. And both films helped launch the careers of young directors who would go on to be two of Hollywoods most successful filmmakers. They are classics of science fiction filmmaking critically acclaimed and beloved by fans and their reputation has helped the franchise endure for nearly 40 years.
Other Alien follow-ups havent fared quite as well. Alien 3, in particular, is widely thought of as a turning point in the series not a franchise killer but a disappointment considering what came before. The third installment, which went through a troubled production, was generally panned on its 1992 release, and in the years since, it has been all but disowned by its director, David Fincher.
Alien 3 may not have quite the mass appeal or enduring legacy of its predecessors, but its low reputation simply isnt deserved. Its a worthy addition to the franchise as strong a science fiction picture, in its own way, as the first two films in its series and another showcase for the visionary talents of a young director who would go on to be one of the most powerful filmmakers in Hollywood.
Like Aliens, Alien 3 took a long time to gestate. Although the previous film had been a huge success, director James Cameron had moved on to other projects, and the writer-producer duo David Giler and Walter Hill, who had been with the series from the beginning, were wary of making another installment. Still, the studio wanted a sequel, so work eventually began on developing a story and a setting. But the project was troubled from the outset even before Fincher came on board.
According to Wreckage and Rage: The Making of Alien 3, a 2003 documentary that catalogs the films production issues in exhaustive detail, the producers struggled to find a director to oversee the production.
Renny Harlin, the Finnish director of A Nightmare on Elm Street 4 and Die Hard 2, was initially brought on with the intention of making a movie in which Ripley traveled to the alien home world. This was dismissed as too expensive, and Harlin eventually left the project.
The development process went much further until writer Vincent Ward proposed a movie about a monk-like society on a planet-size wooden ship floating in space. Ward wrote a series of scripts, hired illustrators to design his wooden world, and even began building some of the sets. But creative tensions mounted between the films producers and Ward, who could never quite offer an explanation for his space-bound wooden world. He exited the project, and Fincher came on board.
At the time, Fincher was in his late 20s, and although he was well known for his music video work, he had never directed a feature film. His on-set perfectionism grated on the producers, who felt he was wasting too much time and money getting small details right. The relationship between the young director and his studio minders was tense at best.
Ill never forget Daves complete devotion to the color of blood, producer Ezra Swerdlow says in Wreckage and Rage. Set footage shows Fincher musing about shooting a thousand takes of an exploding head, and insisting to an obviously skeptical Swerdlow that he would only shoot under certain sky and weather conditions. Swerdlow describes Fincher as openly contemptuous of studio oversight, and says the studio responded by trying to break him.
The conflicts between Fincher and the studio were exacerbated by a rushed schedule. Wards wooden-monastery planet idea was scrapped in favor of a prison-planet concept, but the script wasnt complete. Meanwhile, construction of the films huge sets had already begun. And the movies updated alien design hadnt been finalized, which meant that the creature builders were trying to catch up too.
We went through this production continually reworking the script, producer John Landau says in the documentary. The movie got greenlit based on a whole different version of the script. And David had to deal with that in a very short period of time. He had to design the alien, design the sets, and he had to write the script, all the way into the depths of production.
Once shooting stopped, the fights only continued. Finchers initial cut came in at nearly three hours long, and the studio pressed relentlessly for a version a half-hour shorter than what he preferred. Fincher was a novice director with little power, and eventually the studio won out.
Reviews were generally unkind to the film that eventually made it to theaters, calling it stylish but shallow. Variety described Alien 3 as a muddled effort that offers little more than visual splendor to recommend it, while the New York Times complained that the film was too dark and too implausible. The third installment in the franchise is nothing to scream about, wrote a critic for the Washington Post.
More than a decade later, it was clear that feelings remained raw: Fincher is the only major player who does not appear in Wreckage and Rage, and the studio initially demanded that the documentary makers cut 20 minutes from the film detailing conflicts with the director. When the studio wanted to assemble a directors cut of Alien 3 for a home-video release, Fincher refused to participate. Instead, an extended cut of the film was created based on his editing room notes a kind of directors cut without the director.
The Assembly Cut, as it is known, restores much of what was lost in the studios shortened version of the movie, and solves some of the specific problems cited by critics.
Among other things, it expands the world of the prison planet Fiorina 161 by reinserting a series of exteriors intended to appear at the beginning of the film, showing the residents using oxen to pull wreckage through a bleak industrial landscape. These shots help establish what life is like on the planet, set the tone for the film to come, and address complaints that the world of the film doesnt feel all that large.
The Assembly Cut also dramatically expands the roles of several of the prisoner characters, particularly Golic, a stuttering murderer played by Paul McGann whose part was all but eliminated from the studio version of the film. On release, some critics complained that the cast, all of whom were shaved bald, was poorly defined. The extended cuts extra character moments go a long way toward distinguishing the movies supporting players.
But mostly the Assembly Cut serves to validate the strength of Finchers vision a vision that shines through even in the studio cut. Alien 3 is, more than anything else, a dark and dour mood piece about the ugly depths of the human condition. The Assembly Cut basks in that mood a little longer, and adds more detail around the margins, but theres no missing it in the theatrical release version of the film either. In some sense, critics who praised the look but panned the movie missed the point: In a David Fincher film, the mood is the movie.
And Alien 3 is very much a David Fincher film, as distinctly the product of his dark and twisted imagination as Seven or Zodiac or The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Just as the icy survivalism of Alien helped set the tone for Ridley Scotts career, and the guns-blazing ferocity of Aliens helped pave the way for James Camerons later work, Alien 3 works as a setup for the rest of David Finchers films.
Its nihilistic and misanthropic, bleak and despairing, slickly shot and bathed in ragged industrial gloom. Its a big-budget movie about human frailty and the inevitability of death in which the characters are never particularly likable or heroic and the protagonist dies at the end. As in Seven, the ending is a shock downer. As in Fight Club, the character relationships are built from a series of existential dialogues. As in Panic Room, the story is driven by the need to use ones surroundings to survive what is essentially a home invasion. The alien of Alien 3 is, in a way, Finchers first serial killer.
Finchers perfectionism on the set of Alien 3 would become the norm for the director: Reports indicated that while making Gone Girl, he averaged more than 50 takes per scene. His fascination with violence and gore that is both artful and shocking would appear later in Seven and Zodiac. In all of these films, Finchers obsession with the look of blood comes across clearly onscreen.
Visually, Alien 3 may be the most distinctive entry in the franchise. Cinematographer Jordan Cronenweth, whose work on Blade Runner defined a certain decaying urban sci-fi aesthetic, had to quit after a short time on the job. But the final work by British photographer Alex Thomson is stunning in its own way. Backgrounds are textured with steam columns, damp surfaces, and sharp beams of light that give the sets a textured physicality. For much of the film, the camera lingers close to the floor, pointed up, as if to emphasize the close confines of the prison space and the impossibility of escape.
Beyond the visuals, Alien 3 also excels as an exercise in imaginative world building. Its lonely prison planet is as richly detailed and lived-in an environment as the industrial corridors of Alien or the abandoned mining colony of Aliens. Its sequestered society, in which a religious contingent effectively runs the prison while a small group of overseers struggles to maintain a facade of control, is as nuanced a cinematic sociology as the corporate power structures that drove the first film, or the military conventions that powered the second. Like its predecessors, Alien 3 is an exploration of human power dynamics in a confined setting and the limits of institutional control.
Fincher, in other words, put his own particular stamp on the tropes that animate the Alien franchise: He took the ideas that Scott and Cameron had developed and remade them in his own image. His ideas may be too bleak, too gloomy, too misanthropic for some, but they are clearly his, and in Alien 3 they are presented as forcefully as ever.
Finchers frustrating experience on the film, and his perfectionism, may not allow him to see it, but its a fine David Fincher film. Just as Alien and Aliens were unmistakably products of their directors ideas and aesthetics, Alien 3 is a product of Finchers unique vision. And that, in the end, is what makes it a great Alien film as well.
Posted: May 14, 2017 at 5:38 pm
There'll be a shower with an on-demand water heater, a microwave oven, stove, composting toilet, satellite dish and power provided by solar panels. It's being built on a trailer, so it can be towed anywhere.
Korbel's self-sufficient micro-cottage isn't being built out of a Thoreau-esque desire to simplify, simplify, or to achieve a chic Dwell magazine minimalist aesthetic.
He's building it for the end of the world.
When all hell breaks loose war, natural disaster, a breakdown in civil society Korbel will hitch his house on wheels to a 1972 Ford F100 pickup. (That's before the advent of computerized car systems, which Korbel says will be fried by the electromagnetic pulse created by a nuclear blast.)
He'll haul the structure and his family to a patch of land he has north of Hinckley, Minn., stopping to get supplies he's cached along the way in PVC tubes buried underground. He's prepared, he believes, to ride out anything that man or nature might throw at him.
Korbel, 53, is a prepper, of course, that breed of person who stockpiles food, toilet paper and ammunition to last not days, but months just in case.
Preppers see themselves as prudent, sensible ants in a world of feckless grasshoppers, even while they recognize that others consider them paranoid conspiracy theorists and doomsday prophets.
"My wife gave me the nickname Mad Max," Korbel said. "My brother, he thinks it's nuts. He's lazy. I already know he's going to be knocking on my door."
Predictions that the end is near are as old as Noah. More modern manifestations have included people who felt the need to build home fallout shelters during the Cold War and pessimists who feared the worst from a Y2K collapse. Events such as 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina have continued to fuel fears.
The latest bad news: This year, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists decided to reset its famous Doomsday Clock _ "a universally recognized indicator of the world's vulnerability to catastrophe " from three minutes to only 2 minutes before midnight.
The scientific worrywarts cited tensions between the U.S. and Russia, North Korean nuclear tests, climate change, a rise in "strident nationalism" and "intemperate statements" from President Donald Trump and even "lethal autonomous weapons systems" yeah, killer robots among the looming existential threats to humanity.
According to the Bulletin scientists, in the 70-year history of the Doomsday Clock, the last time things have been this bad for the planet was 1953, just after the U.S. and the Soviet Union developed the first hydrogen bombs. At that time, the scientists deemed we were only two minutes to apocalypse.
Selling peace of mind
No wonder Costco is selling $3,399.99 packages of freeze-dried and dehydrated emergency foods that promise 31,500 total servings, enough to feed four people for a year, with a shelf life of up to 25 years. The food shipment arrives on a pallet that is "black-wrapped for security and privacy."
Or you could buy end-of-the-world supplies from a specialty retailer such as Safecastle.com.
Safecastle was started by Prior Lake resident Vic Rantala after 9/11 because he saw a niche for an online source of affordable, quality, long-term stored food.
The company has since branched out to sell surveillance robots, radiation detectors, folding "bug-out" bicycles intended for paratroopers and a 35-piece pet survival kit designed for a "CATastrophe."
"We sell stuff nobody else sells," Rantala said.
You can even buy an underground fallout shelter that costs more than $100,000.
"We early on developed a relationship with a steel plate shelter builder in Louisiana," Rantala said. "Our builder has done seven-figure bunkers for people."
He said his best-seller is something homier: canned, cooked bacon with a shelf life of more than 10 years.
Rantala, 59, said his background has included service in the Army, intelligence work for the government and communications and consulting for corporations. But selling prepping gear has become "kind of like a life's mission."
The shelters he's sold have saved lives in tornadoes, he said. Some of the food he's sold to preppers ended up being eaten when the disaster turned out to be a job loss.
"We sell peace of mind to people," Rantala said.
Even though he sold the company a couple of years ago, he continues to work for it. He said sales are close to $50 million a year.
He estimates that as many as "10 percent of the population are into prepping these days," although he admits figures can be fuzzy because preppers are notoriously secretive about their preparations.
"Sometimes you don't even tell your family members," he said. "It can be a little bit of an obsession, I have to admit."
Nuts or narrative
"It's good to have something stored away," said Peter Behrens, a psychologist who recently retired as a professor at Penn State University in Lehigh Valley, Pa. "Some 72 hours' worth of food is great."
But he said prepping can turn into a "non-substance pathology," similar to hoarding and excessive gambling, when taken to the extreme.
"A lot of people get into this as a pastime," he said. But he said, "It's a slippery slope to becoming irrational and aggressive."
Behrens said prepping is cause for concern if a person starts hoarding firearms and ammunition and if more than 10 percent of a person's income is devoted to prepping. And he warns that prepping can be similar to being in a cult if a person gives up long-standing relationships with friends and family members to associate only with other preppers.
"This is a situation that revolves around anxiety," he said. "It doesn't match with rational behavior."
But Richard G. Mitchell, who studied survivalists as a sociology professor at Oregon State University, said preppers are people who may just want to resist a humdrum life of comfort and consumption. They want to create a personal narrative of themselves as the rugged individual who's going to survive disaster.
"They want a place where they feel meaningful," he said. "Survivalism is a storytelling process. There's a certain satisfaction to that."
He added, "These are people who are hobbyists. They're amused by the process. They're entertained by it. They're proud of it. They're nuts in the sense that they've not accepted the status quo."
Knowing hell survive
Korbel has stored enough beans, lentils, rice, pasta and soup to feed his wife and their two sons still living at home for a year and a half. He's prepared to grow his own vegetables, mill his own grain and vacuum-seal the foods he's preserving.
"These are good for 50 years," Korbel said, showing off the homemade pemmican balls he's made of beef, peanut butter and nuts.
He stores a couple hundred gallons of water and enough gasoline to fill his truck tank three times. He's got gas masks that he bought at Fleet Farm, and suits to protect against a chemical attack that he bought online. There are weather radios, two-way radios and first aid kits on every level of his house. The upper floor has escape ladders.
He lives about 4 miles from the center of Minneapolis, a little too close in case a nuclear bomb goes off in the city center. Ten miles would be better, he said. But his wife is happy living in Columbia Heights, and the mortgage is almost paid off.
"Yeah, there'd be severe burns, structures coming down. But still survivable," he said.
Among the things that worry him are tornadoes, civil unrest, racial tensions, terrorists, conflict with Russia, a government that "goes rogue."
"I wouldn't consider myself a conspiracy theorist. But I do think about it a lot," he said. "If a comet lands on me, I'm not going to worry about it.
"My worst fear would be a financial breakdown" and a collapse of the monetary system, he said. "You've got people bartering in gold, silver, jewels." Or ammunition.
Korbel has set aside some of that as well, along with handguns, rifles and shotguns.
"I also have compound bows. My boys, they've trained in compound bows. My wife is trained in that," he said.
"You need to defend your property and yourself," he said. But he said, "I'm not prepping for a war. I'm not trying to hide anything. I'm not trying to overthrow the government. I don't want to get shot. I don't want to shoot anyone."
Korbel is a Metro Transit driver and an Army veteran who used to work as a carpenter, a contractor and a semitrailer truck driver. He's been married 25 years, and his wife is a nurse.
"He likes to be our protector," Betsy Korbel said. "There's a lot worse things to be doing."
Korbel said he's been a prepper about 12 years. Last year, he estimates, he spent about $7,000 on the activity.
"When I turn 80, I might turn around and look at this stuff and I might say, 'OK, maybe I bought too much,'" he said.
But he said he pays for prepping with side income he gets from recycling metals from old laptops and wires and driving for a food delivery service.
"I love it," Korbel said of his preoccupation with preparing. "It's something I enjoy."
"I know I'm going to be able to survive," he said.
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