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The 12 Best Zombie Movies of All Time – Men’s Health

Posted: July 8, 2020 at 3:44 am


Zombie movies have been an important part of the horror field for a very long time, but the sub-genre has expanded to include picks that are comedic, action-heavy, and even romantic.

But if you're wondering just why people find zombie movies so fascinating, Stanford literary scholar Angela Becerra Vidergar once explained that, "We use fictional narratives not only to emotionally cope with the possibility of impending doom, but even more importantly perhaps to work through the ethical and philosophical frameworks that were in many ways left shattered in the wake of WWII [when the genre became popular]...In a way, survivalism has become a dominant mode of self-reference for a greater number of people. You see that in the obsession in apocalypse and disaster in the fictional stories we tell."

And while the current coronavirus pandemic has led many people to reach for happier, lighter movies to watch, there's also a good reason why you're reaching for your favorite post-apocalyptic flick: "There is this glimmer of hope that I am really interested in," Vidergar explains. "Even if as a society we have lost a lot of our belief in a positive future and instead have more of an idea of a disaster to come, we still think that we are survivors, we still want to believe that we would survive."

So if you're looking for a new zombie flick to watch, we have some picks for youhere are the 12 best zombie movies of all time.

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1Train to Busan

This South Korean film takes place on a train to Busan as a zombie apocalypse suddenly breaks out both in the country on the train, and the passengers have to figure out how to stay alive while also trying to find a safe station to stop the train. The movie's sequel, Peninsula, will be released this year.

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2World War Z

World War Z's power is in its realism, and the zombie outbreak is portrayed in locales worldwide from Newark, New Jersey to Cardiff, Wales. However, Brad Pitt is there to save the day as United Nations investigator Gerry Lane.

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Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, and Abigail Breslin star in this comedic zombie tale about a group of survivors that try to find a sanctuary free from the zombies ravaging the nation. Expect funny gags, lots of zombie killings, and a cameo from a beloved actorand if you need even more zombie in your life, check out the sequel Zombieland: Double Tap.

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4Little Monsters

What do you get when you mix together Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong'o, a bunch of kindergarteners, and a sudden outbreak of zombies? Movie magic!

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5Dawn of the Dead

The classic 1978 film is the second entry in George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead series, and it follows a group of survivors as they barricade themselves inside a suburban shopping mall amidst a zombie outbreak. Unfortunately, the 70's version isn't available for streaming online but you can also check out the 2004 remake.

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628 Days Later

This film was ranked on the top 100 list of the best British films ever, and it follows a group of four survivors as they struggle to cope with their new reality after a zombie outbreak starts when a group of animal activists release a chimpanzee infected a contagious rabies-like virus. It was later followed by a sequel titled 28 Weeks Later.

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7Warm Bodies

Warm Bodies will truly make you believe that you can find love anywhereeven in the middle of a post-apocalyptic zombie-infested world.

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8Shaun of the Dead

This film is definitely for viewers that like some laughs with their zombie flicks, and Shaun of the Dead includes references to Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, and 28 Days Later.

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9The Cabin in the Woods

This movies follows a group of college kids (including Chris Hemsworth and Jesse Williams) as they spend a weekend in a remote forest cabin. What they don't know is that engineers are remotely controlling the cabin from a secret lab, and they soon fall victim to the zombies surrounding the property.

10Resident Evil

Based on the video game franchise of the same name, Resident Evil films follow former security specialist and covert operative Alice (Milla Jovovich) as she fights against the Umbrella Corporation, whose powerful bioweapons have triggered a zombie apocalypse. Fun factThe Resident Evil film series has grossed over $1 billion worldwide, making it the highest-grossing film series based on a video game.

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11The Dead Don't Die

Hold on, we need this movie's extremely stacked cast first: Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Tilda Swinton, Chlo Sevigny, Steve Buscemi, Danny Glover, Caleb Landry Jones, Rosie Perez, Iggy Pop, Sara Driver, RZA, Selena Gomez, Austin Butler, Tom Waits, and Carol Kane. Whew. The Dead Don't Die follows a small town's police force as they combat a sudden zombie invasion.

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12I Am Legend

While some say I Am Legend isn't a zombie film, there are plenty of fans of this Will Smith-helmed flick that believe its part of the genre. Based on Richard Matheson's 1954 novel I Am Legend, Smith plays a US Army virologist that's the last human in NYC after a virus which was originally created to cure cancer wipes out most of mankind.

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The 12 Best Zombie Movies of All Time - Men's Health

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Inside the luxury nuclear bunker protecting the mega-rich from the apocalypse – CNET

Posted: at 3:44 am

For most of my adult life, I've had an apocalypse plan.

It's been straightforward. Grab my go bag, drive out to a shack in the woods, then hunker down under the floorboards eating canned food through the valve in my gas mask, waiting for the nukes to drop.

But after visiting my first real nuclear bunker, my apocalypse plan has been upgraded. Now my list of needs includes "underground swimming pool" and "postapocalyptic rock-climbing wall." I've become fussy about how I'll spend time during the planet's dying breaths. My bug-out bag has gotten bougie. I've seen the world's most high-tech bunker, and I want in.

Welcome to the Survival Condo. This former Atlas Missile silo turned luxury condominium complex offers the world's rich and powerful a chance to buy into the ultimate life insurance: an apocalypse bunker that promises the perfect combination of shelter and style.

The Survival Condo has a lot of the hallmarks of your standard fallout shelter. It's underground (200 feet underground, in the middle of rural Kansas, 200 miles from Kansas City). It was built during the Cold War (as a nuclear missile launch facility). It's also been retrofitted with nine-foot-thick reinforced concrete walls designed to survive everything from tornadoes to 12-kiloton nuclear warheads dropping half a mile away.

This story is part of Hacking the Apocalypse, CNET's documentary series on the tech saving us from the end of the world.

But if the proverbial hits the fan and you need a place to go, don't plan on coming here. Even if you could find it (the location is secret), the bunker is guarded 24 hours a day. Besides, that's not even your main problem. Your biggest barrier to getting in? This kind of security comes at a price.

The starting cost for a unit in this complex is $1 million, plus an extra $2,500 per month in dues to cover your living expenses: electricity, water, internet, all the tinned eggs you could dream of.

For the ultra-rich and paranoid, though, you can't put a price on safety. When nuclear war is on our doorstep, do you think the world's rich and powerful will be quaking in the streets? Hell no. They're going underground. And I'm determined to join them.

Hacking the Apocalypseis CNET's new documentary series digging into the science and technology that could save us from the end of the world. You can check out our episodes onPandemic,Nuclear Winter andGlobal Drought, and see the full series onYouTube.

Nuclear winter isn't like spending Christmas upstate. It's a global nightmare realm, where Ice Age-like temperatures last for years, populations perish and life as we know it becomes the stuff of sci-fi nightmares.

At least that's according to Brian Toon, professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences at the University of Colorado and world-renowned expert on the global effects of nuclear war.

I met with Toon in his offices in Boulder, Colorado, to learn about exactly what happens when a 100-kiloton nuclear weapon falls.

After a nuclear blast, smoke gets pushed into the stratosphere where it can block out sunlight for years.

"If you get within a mile or so, the pressure wave is so intense it will blow down concrete buildings," says Toon. "And somewhere in that zone, there's a blast of radiation ... and basically half of the people exposed to that would die over a week or two from radiation burns on their skin and radiation poisoning."

Toon says a nuclear explosion is like "bringing a piece of the sun down to the Earth," and the aftermath of that kind of explosion causes huge fires -- think citywide infernos. Those fires push huge amounts of smoke up into the stratosphere. And because it never rains in the stratosphere, sunlight can't reach Earth. Welcome to nuclear winter.

The pressure wave is so intense it will blow down concrete buildings.

Professor Brian Toon

"The temperatures become colder than the last Ice Age," says Toon. "So we have sub-Ice Age temperatures over the whole planet for about 10 years."

That's exactly why the Survival Condo exists -- to protect the mega-rich from the devastation of global nuclear war, and to make sure the world's most powerful people can survive in comfort, rather than shivering in the wasteland, waiting to have their billionaire brains eaten by hungry hordes.

The Survival Condo sits behind a barbed-wire fence that's guarded 24/7.

It took three hours to get to the Survival Condo from the Kansas City airport, though your mileage may vary (citywide evacuations and blown-out bridges will add travel time). But after passing broad fields and bright red barns, I've found what I came for: The best the world has to offer in high-tech apocalypse prepping.

From the outside it doesn't look like much. A guard behind a barbed-wire fence. A wind turbine quietly turning in the breeze. Carefully placed surveillance cameras. And two eight-ton doors set into the nondescript hill in front of us. But this isn't some foxhole in the middle of nowhere. Inside is one of the most luxurious and unusual apartment complexes you're likely to find.

After I'm ushered through the perimeter fence, the massive doors in the hill open and I'm greeted by Larry Hall, the owner of the Survival Condo. He's a burly man with a firm handshake, and he's the picture of Kansas hospitality -- he invites me into the bunker like a neighbor having me over for Sunday afternoon beers.

The Survival Condo descends 15 floors and 200 feet underground.

But as we step inside, I realize this is no ordinary house tour. Despite the glaring sun outside, the air inside is cool and still. My footsteps echo on cold concrete. And as the eight-ton doors slam behind me with a resounding bang, it occurs to me I'm essentially trapped. There's no way I'd be able to get out of here on my own.

I'm at the very top of a bunker that descends 15 floors and 200 feet underground. On this upper level, a wide dome set into the hill houses the main entry and communal recreation facilities. That's where you'll find the pet park, climbing wall and swimming pool (complete with a water slide).

Beneath the dome, the cylindrical silo houses a further 14 floors -- the top three floors are where you'll find the mechanical rooms, medical facilities and a food store (complete with a full hydroponics and aquaculture setup), followed beneath by seven levels of residential condos. At the bottom, the final four floors house the classroom and library, a cinema and bar, and a workout room (with a sauna).

As we make our way through the main entry chamber (which acts as a protected car park if residents need to unpack their all-terrain vehicle during lockdown), Hall talks me through the layout, rattling off a baffling array of features like ballistic walls and bulletproof doors. We kick things off in the "entrapment area."

"If there's rioting or food shortages, that's a normal thing," Hall says, referring to the kind of run-of-the-mill emergencies you might find in the apocalypse.

"But what if there's radiation because of a dirty bomb? You would have to go in this room, which is a decontamination scrub room. The chemicals in here can take care of everything. We have iodine pills to treat you for radiation, we have Geiger counters that detect radiation, and we have special chemicals to scrub both biological and radioactive contaminants from you. But you would lose your clothes. You'd be naked and afraid."

As we wind our way through the Survival Condo, it's like I'm in an episode of Cribz, set in a dark, alternate reality. This is where we keep the camo gear! This is the gun range! Here's how we scrub the volcanic ash out of the air in the event of a supervolcano!

I don't even own a gun, let alone many guns that would necessitate an entire room. The Survival Condo on the other hand...

A short elevator ride down to the cinema level, and we stop to scroll through the 2,000 films on the Survival Condo's internal database (we settle on Armageddon). I head to the gym and try out the exercise bike and sauna room. We pop into the school room and walk past a row of sleek iMacs, still in their plastic wrapping, awaiting the classroom of students that may never come.

The computers here are also equipped with internet... sort of. Everyone who has bought a unit in the Survival Condo has also provided a list of their interests: woodworking, knitting, post-apocalyptic survivalism. Hall and his team feed those keywords into software that crawls the internet, downloading and caching information and websites for each resident.

"So in the event that we had a catastrophe where the internet went down, we would have downloaded a lot of medical information and survival and hobby information for our residents so that they could still use their search engine," Hall says.

After touring the shared facilities, we get a look inside the condos themselves. These aren't the tiny panic rooms I'd been expecting -- they feel like units in a new apartment complex in San Francisco or Manhattan. The kitchens are full of stainless steel appliances, a Sub-Zero fridge here, a Wolf cooktop there. There are brand-new couches, untouched coffee tables and beds that are, frankly, way more comfortable than my bed back home.

The underground units inside the Survival Condo feature TVs instead of windows, showing a view of the outside world.

In the bathroom, an automated bidet awaits. While it's not my first preference in post-ablution freshness (I tried once, there was a lot of shrieking), Larry Hall tells us the complex was designed with long stays in mind -- up to five years. The amount of toilet paper required for the maximum occupancy of 75 people over five years would fill an entire floor of the condo. Turns out everybody poops, but in the apocalypse, you're going to have to do it without TP.

Toilets aside, I could see myself living here. It doesn't feel cramped, and that's probably because of the view. In a decorating touch straight out of Back to the Future II, TV panels built into the walls of each condo act as high-tech "windows" to show residents the real world.

As a bonus, if the world is really ending, these windows display a real-time view of the carnage outside, thanks to the Survival Condo's external surveillance cameras. Everyone come to the kitchen! The surface-dwellers are hunting in packs now!

Down the road from the Survival Condo, Hall has secured a second missile silo he plans to convert into an even bigger bunker. Right now this space isn't much more than a concrete shell, but it gives me a sense of the scale of the kitted-out bunker I've just visited. The deep silo has been divided up with new concrete floors, but an elevator shaft cut down the middle gives me a giddying view of just how deep this place goes.

This missile silo, which will be converted into a second Survival Condo, still has the original blast doors built during the Cold War.

Down a side passage, separated from the main silo by massive blast doors, we find the original living quarters for the military personnel who staffed this facility during the 1960s, living and working in cramped rooms for two weeks at a time. The place looks like a scene from the game Half-Life: peeling paint, rusted metal, old bathroom stalls that definitely look haunted.

The original Atlas Missile Silos were built to house America's nuclear missiles during the Cold War.

This place is a Cold War relic now, but Hall plans to spend the next two years retrofitting it to create another luxury bunker. Given that it's three times the size of the original Survival Condo, he's expecting a price tag of $50 million to $60 million on the build, but he already has a waiting list of people interested in buying the new units. Clearly, business is booming.

Getting a bolt-hole in one of these bunkers doesn't come cheap, however. The smallest half-floor unit in the original Survival Condo sells for $1 million, while the large, full-floor units go for up to $3 million.

Despite that high cost, Hall says his clients are willing to spend the money.

"All of our people are self-made millionaires," Hall tells me. "They're very successful: doctors, engineers, lawyers, international business people... almost all of them have children. And they're concerned about the 'what if' scenario."

Hall rattles off a list of potential "what ifs": Superstorm Sandy, tsunamis, Pacific earthquakes, hurricanes in Texas, global climate change, food shortages, economic collapse, meteorite impact, solar flares...

"If those are the kind of things that bother you, this is the kind of facility it takes to not worry," he says.

All of our people are self-made millionaires... and they're concerned about the 'what if' scenario.

Larry Hall

Those are the kinds of things that bother me, Larry. But frankly, I'm learning that I can't really afford to be worried. I don't have the money to buy a pied--terre in Kansas, just in case.

I don't own a bulletproof, extended-range vehicle to get me there, and you'd better believe I don't have a private jet waiting in the garage.

I realize with a kind of cold, inevitable terror that I've been blessed with nuclear fears and a tin-foil-hat budget.

I guess there's a grim irony in the idea that even when the nukes drop and the very fabric of society has disintegrated beyond recognition, the rich and powerful will still have it better off than the rest of us.

We'll still be a society of haves and have-nots. Except in this case, the haves will be watching Armageddon from the comfort of their air-conditioned, underground cinema. And the have-nots will be out in the wilderness, freezing through nuclear winter and picking over the bones of our loved ones, trying to survive the real thing.

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Inside the luxury nuclear bunker protecting the mega-rich from the apocalypse - CNET

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Leader of ultra-right militia The Three Percenters General BloodAgent predicts end of America by 2021 and warns of new civil war – RT

Posted: at 3:44 am

As the US election looms, the gun-toting III% Security Force stands ready for an anti-Democrat uprising. The group has been accused of neo-Nazism, but one of its leaders tells RT they merely protect the will of the people.

There is a coup taking place right now, theres a collective effort to overthrow our way of life as we know it people are starting to realize its not a conspiracy theory.

If we dont come together as one, well be living in a post-American world by 2021.

Thats the view of Chris Hill, commanding officer of the III% Security Forces Georgia branch. The Three Percenters are a constitutional militia with chapters across the US, their name originating from claims that only three percent of colonists took up arms against Britain in the American revolution.

According to them, over the last few months membership has rocketed by 150 percent, with 50 to 100 applicants per day spurred on by developments like Minneapolis Citys pledge to dismantle their police departmentand Joe Bidens promise to stand up for Muslim communities if he enters the White House.

Hill, also known as General BloodAgent, said: Its like our Founding Fathers stated, we believe we should come together, to lend our arms and council whenever a crisis arises.

We advocate and defend our goals and beliefs with regards to our way of life, our constitution from all enemies foreign and domestic.

The group, whose members are rarely seen in the public eye without military fatigues and firearms, sees its role as protecting the people, allowing them to rise up and take control. They spend a fifth of their time on political activism and the rest doing primitive survivalism, military infantry training, hunting, rescue and first aid.

They believe they have been made deliberately obsolete in modern America, a feeling only exacerbated by the national Defund the Police movement and the Democratic Partys pledge to reform the police force.

Speaking to RT, Hill, a former marine, explained: How do you get rid of a militia in the United States? You render them useless and over time they fade away.

Now were seeing the Founding Fathers had it right, this is something we should have never let the fire burn out on. We have a short amount of time to reignite it.

We will be whenever we need to be, wherever God sees fit. Every day we can reach out to another American citizen and say, Are you in favor of communism and anarchism? We have a right to repel that.

The group, while evidently on the far end of the political right wing, bristle at their depiction in the mainstream media of being racist neo-Nazis, such as a New York Times article whichsaidtheir America is one where Christianity is taught in schools, abortion is illegal, and immigrants hail from Europe.

In one example, the GSF were accused of terrorizing county officials in Georgia out of a meeting to build a new mosque, and linking the place to ISIS a charge Hill denies.

But his group takes reports of things like Muslim community patrols forming in New York after the Christchurch shooting, as signals that attempts to introduce Sharia law are underway.

Still, in Hills view, the group is pro-immigration, supports religious freedom, and would not lead with violence. The big caveats are that the immigration must be legal and the newcomers must assimilate. Like many on the American political right, he refers to undocumented migrants as an invasion.

I am 100 percent against illegal immigration, he explains. The government is cast with a job and part of that is to prevent an invasion, it doesnt specify armed or unarmed, but if 20 million people are in this country illegally, how can you look at me with a straight face and say we havent been invaded?

Legal immigration is fine, as long as whatever caused you to flee, leave that shit where you came from. Learn the language, our practices, our traditions do not try to advocate for other religious, ideological or political beliefs enforced in whatever country you came from.

Im not saying you have to be Christian, in America you are free to practice any religion you like. But if anyone doesnt want to assimilate or come here legally, Id put them in a catapult and fling them into the Gulf of Mexico.

Views like this, and his prominence in the movement, have made Hill a big target for some. He says he and his family regularly receive death threats, forcing him to change his phone number on occasion. He believes they come from the anti-fascist group Antifa, which US President Donald Trump wants to officially label a domestic terrorist organization for its alleged role in the recent riots and the harassment of various conservative figures and their supporters.

I have been targeted for four or five years, Hill says. When I went to Virginia in January they put up a hit list and my face was there, basically Im a target. If they know I am going to be somewhere, they put up my picture and say theyll kill me.

Ive got a Smith & Wesson .40 caliber on my hip and its got 15 bullets in it if anybody threatens my life, they are going to hit a few of them.

One major reason Hill feels hes considered worthy of killing is because of his media portrayal. The influential liberal anti-hate group Southern Poverty Law Center has branded him and his group anti-government, saying hepraisesneo-Nazi movements.

But he claims that the reporting on him is selective.

He is adamant that he cut ties with a group of men formerly in the Kansas Security Force who plotted to bomb the apartment complex of 100 Somali immigrants, and feels their actions are unfairly attached to all Three Percenters to this day.

Reports have linked him to Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and previous GSF member Michael Ramos, who carried out a racial beating in public in 2017.

Hill has no love for the mainstream media: They use freedom of press to slander and lie about me and put my life in danger because of the lies they are spewing.

The images of Hills group almost exclusively have white people in them, but he claims its not on purpose.

I would love to have a wide range of skin tones in our militia, multiple races, any race is welcome. People can look at us and say, they dont see a lot of black, Asian or Latino people. Its not for lack of trying, the invitation is there, we need more.

Its laughable to say I am racist or KKK, as I turn around and look at my son, my daughter who are half-white, half-Asian Im married to a Vietnamese woman and our kids are mixed. That information doesnt reach the light of day as it doesnt fit with everybody who wants to say were all racist and KKK.

My situation doesnt ever make publication, especially from any left-wing liberal sources.

The III% Security Force hope to see President Trump secure a second term in November and believe the Democrats are out to take away their guns.

If Joe Biden wins, as depressing as that sounds, and Joe Biden goes after guns on a national level if hes coming for the guns, he can get it. And any other politician coming for the guns, they can get it too.

They are 24 different states that are going with red-flag laws and gun bans. Thats different from a potential President Biden pushing through some national firearms ban. That is the true definition of tyranny.

Issues like red-flag laws which allow individuals to petition a court to remove someone elses firearm are paramount for the III% Security Force.

If Biden does that, Chris Hill will get up off his ass and fight against that until my last breath.

Hill was preparing for that back in 2016, against the threat of gun-grabbing Hillary Clinton winning the election. Back then, Trump won and his resolve to fight back was not put to the test. Now, Joe Biden is the gun-grabbing pedophile (an apparent reference to Bidens barely-appropriate shows of physical affection to women and children) that theres no way in hell Hill will vote for.

If Biden does win, Hill, like many Trump supporters, is convinced that the Democrat will have stolen the election with the FBIs help, through methods like hacking and mail-in ballot fraud.

Ironically, given how extremely polarizing his views are, Hill wants his militia to be a uniting force. During our conversation, he frequently refers to coming together.

But at the same time, he warns that a US civil war is looming. The racial divide is there, but its the current-day protesters who are the racists, in Hills view. He sees himself and his group as defenders of freedom of speech.

He explained: I believe Black Lives Matter is a racist slogan, I believe the organizers of that movement are Marxists, communists and they have no end-game other than taking to streets to loot or riot.

Ive been in Georgia my whole life other than in the military, I have not seen any Klan or Nazi rallies, there are no white supremacists in large groups. I would tell them to rent a stadium, spill your guts, say what you need to say and lets get on with it.

Nobody in the USA was born into slavery, I understand what happened prior to me being born, a lot of bad things happened, but I was born free just like the next white man, Asian woman or black man, all people.

We are on an equal footing going forward, if you dont like the situation you are in, get a bus ticket and relocate. This is not a movie, its real life.

Never without a gun himself, Hill maintains his group isnt advocating a violent uprising.

Well protect the voice of the people. It cant come from the end of a gun, if we do that then weve lost the moral high ground and the war before it even starts.

Power needs to be given to the people to make changes. But there is no doubt in my mind we are stumbling towards an armed conflict inside the United States of America.

Ultimately, in a country thats rapidly dismantling the unseemly elements of its past, the Three Percenters want to see a return to the principles of 1776 when America formed as an independent nation.

Hill said: We are a constitutional militia recognized by the Second Amendment. In the last 244 years, would you have said we have moved towards perfection or towards damage done and anarchy?

We are definitely heading in the wrong direction.

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Coronavirus and the Culture Wars – PopMatters

Posted: at 3:44 am

Science fiction as adverb, instead of genre shorthand for our uncanny present-day reality. A run to the grocery, a moonwalk down the block, quick errands in N95 masks and latex gloves, maintaining six-foot intervals. Our daily existence is a communal narrative in a Crichton-esque thriller. Tourist attractions are bereft of tourists, metropolis ghost towns. The commute to send a package to one of the few FedEx stores still open becomes an exercise in urban exploration evoking scenes from Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later (2002) or Ken Hannam's Day of the Triffids (1981) or a Timothy Morton essay. A cyclist bikes the center lane of a highway. Billionaires advance on the frontiers of space in privatized rockets leaving burning American streetslittered with shattered glass and flaming wreckagein their wake.

It makes sense. The pandemic of our sociological imagination, something I have spent over a decade contemplating (read: obsessing over) was formed more by the science fiction and horror fringes of literature. For every meditation by a Boccaccio, Defoe, Camus, or Garca Mrquez there are hordes of B movie zombiesfast and slowtransmitting the metaphors of contagion. A recent salon-style conversation of pandemic authors Lawrence Wright, Geraldine Brooks, and Tom Perrotta noted that for its ubiquity today there are not a lot of mainstream literary treatments of the subject in the canon. "I think plague fiction is marked by its scarcity," Lawrence Wright observes.

"There are some wonderful booksbut what is really distinctive about pandemics and horrible disease outbreaks in the past is how little was made out of them. How little remarked they are in human consciousness. This was true even in the plague years. Chaucer just has a sketchy mention of it...People that actually lived in those times. And after 1918, for instance, a disease that killed more Americans, 675,000 it is estimated, than all the wars in the 20th century and yet that was completely purged from consciousness." As if an amnesiac pact of collective denial was made to erase the pain.

Photo by on Unsplash

Megan O'Grady writing for the New York Times takes up a similar thread in her essay What Can We Learn from the Art of Pandemics Past? states: "A marked silence surrounds illness in our culture, and yet it was always there, buried in our cultural consciousness, long before the advent of photography, in concepts that illustrate our sense of death's inevitability motifs that act almost as woodcuts of the mind, such as the Danse Macabre, or the Grim Reaper, connecting us across time with the living and the dead."

A societal fugue state serves as a metaphor in the post-apocalyptic feminist drama Into the Forest (2015) written and directed by Patricia Rozema based on a novel by Jean Hegland. Psychologically, the term refers to a dissociative state where an amnesiac loses details of their personal identity assuming another life in its stead imprinting over the first. Rozema uses this set up to say that civilization itself is a false identity that supplants our original state. As civilization collapses the internet abandoned, gas stations emptied, grocery stores overrun, food supplies dwindledthe characters turn to forging in the woods. Nell (Ellen Page) says to sister Eva (Rachel Wood) as they identify plants: "This was here the whole time."

O'Grady observes that works of art from pandemics past serve as a scar tissue transmitting knowledge of the disease even after the events fade from memory. In short stories of Poe, nursery games like ring-around-the-rosy, the painting of Edvard Munch, Gustav Klimt, and Egon Schielethe latter two artists who died of the 1918 Flu pandemicand other artifacts our impressions of disease echoes between pandemics. This was here the whole time.

Marcus Aurelius who ruled the Roman Empire for 15 years of a plague that claimed five million lives mentions it only once in his Meditations. Chaucer grew up under the specter of Black Death, lost his wife to an outbreak, yet scarcely mentions it in his poetry. Shakespeare saw the Globe closed as part of a stay-at-home order and lost his son to an epidemic, yet makes only allusions in his work. Over the centuries, pandemic narratives are unmoored from their context or pushed underground, where society always goes to exorcise collective demons.

In mid-March of this year, during the early weeks of the (inter)national emergency, I took an unusual assignment unusual even in this uncanny reality. I run a boutique social change communication consultancy that specializes in storytelling. My assignment was to develop public education messaging to navigate conspiracy theories and promote CDC health guidelines. The messaging, for populations distrustful of government, used health communication techniques designed to introduce health positive habits (exercise, diet) to populations facing personal, social, and structural behavioral barriers. As I turned my attention toward collecting and countering myth and misinformation in these early days of the pandemic, we had to create a whole new behavioral health strategy, bringing together community voices, health professionals, and communication experts.

This is a different frontwhat the WHO dubbed an "infodemic" where the struggle to provide accurate, reliable, trustworthy information in the storm of confusion, contradiction, and conspiracy takes on life-threatening urgency. In an interview I produced for a public health webcast, Amy Laurent, an epidemiologist with the Seattle King County Public Health Department, depicted the earliest days of the outbreak as the first case on American soil touched down in her backyard. Information was flying all over the place at the tail end of a long, harsh, flu season that it was like trying to drink from the firehoses at the same time. If this is true of an educated public health professional with over 20 years in the field, it is dizzyingly mind-numbing for the rest of us.

Meanwhile, a New York Times survey, found roughly 36,000 media workers in the United States have been laid off, furloughed, or seen their pay reduced as businesses slashed advertising budgets in response to COVID. Sylvie Briand, the architect of WHO's strategy to counter the infodemic risk, told The Lancet, "We know that every outbreak will be accompanied by a kind of tsunami of information, but also within this information you always have misinformation, rumours, etc."

Image by Michael Knoll from Pixabay

This phenomenon has existed as far back as we have a recorded history of outbreaks. During the 2nd Century Plague of Galen, a ruthless outbreak of measles or smallpox or both (depending on which historian you consult) that lasted 15 years was similarly plagued by misinformation and rumor. As Galen, physician, and namesake of the epidemic, traveled to Asia Minor for two years to observe and document in an act of proto-epidemiology, competing distorted reports reined on Rome like Apollo's arrows in a verse from the Iliad. The death toll climbed to 2,000 a day. Chaldean sorcerers, who booby-trapped an abandoned Temple of Apollo with a supernatural pestilence in a golden chest were to blame. Or, Apollo himselfGod of Medicinefiring diseased arrows on an ailing Rome as punishment for his defiled tomb. Or, dozens of other arguments for profit or political gain.

Author Donald Robertson writes of invented religions that arose in the tumult. Alexander of Abonoteichus, a con-artist who created a human-headed snake-god named Glycon, built a shrine where his followers would puppeteer the deity for paying visitors. Robertson notes, "Alexander became very wealthy and powerful as a result of receiving payment for his prophecies and magical charms. Coins were even cast in honor of the god "Glycon" and statuettes made of him. During the height of the plague, Alexander was claiming to heal the sick with incantations. A crude verse from his oracle was used on amulets and inscribed over the doors of houses as a protection against the plague."

In the Middle Ages, the Biblical God presiding over the Bubonic Plague was no less punishing -- to Kaffa or Sicily or Venice or Marseille or London or any other infected city across Europe, Asia, and North Africa -- than Apollo was in punishing Rome. Plague was carried by demons. It was scapegoated onto Jewish communities, who were perceived to be getting sick less frequently than their Christian neighbors, which was taken as evidence they were contaminating wells, rivers, and springs. Witches in league with the Devil were burnt alive. Xenophobia and racism were chased up and down the Silk Road to Asian cities where the plague was believed to have originated.

Cholera outbreaks of the 19th and 20th centuries were believed to be caused by toxic air and class-based conspiracies against reigning monarchies. In Russia and the UK, they led to riots in the streets. In France, a cholera outbreak in 1832 spread rapidly through the country leaving over 100,000 dead, a rate disproportionately outpacing their European neighbors. Tensions erupted in Parisian slums as the rich blamed the poor for the spread of the disease, while the poor insisted that the rich were attempting to poison them. King Louis-Philippe's mismanagement of the cholera crisis led directly to the revolutionary/ counter-revolutionary eventsclashing fringe right and left-wing forcesdepicted in Victor Hugo's epic novel, Les Misrables.

Braind continues in her interview with The Lancet, "the difference now with social media is that this phenomenon is amplified, it goes faster and further, like the viruses that travel with people and go faster and further. So it is a new challenge, and the challenge is the [timing] because you need to be faster if you want to fill the voidWhat is at stake during an outbreak is making sure people will do the right thing to control the disease or to mitigate its impact. So it is not only information to make sure people are informed; it is also making sure people are informed to act appropriately."

In the weeks that followed, after we adapted our behavioral mapping to messaging for the pandemic, other conversations were had. We talked to public health departments and organizations across the country about applying this strategy to navigate conspiracy theories for other populationsSyrian refugees, gang-involved youth, homeless encampments, Latin-X immigrants, libertarians in Washington statebefore the lockdown protests, George Floyd's murder, international outcry, protests, and political uprising. The exercise became seismology of semiotics. Exploring fault lines beneath the Fractured States in America, trembling.

From the cover of The Leftovers, by Tom Perrotta

Tom Perrotta chose an unexplainable event, a rapture-like disappearance of two percent of the population, as the backdrop of his brilliant novel The Leftovers and equally brilliant HBO series by the same name (2014-2017) to explore "the emotional and psychological cost of a collective trauma", but coronavirus has shown that this literary device seems unnecessary in the real world.

Or, as the case may be, narratives plural, activating those fault lines of the culture war and amplifying splinters, fractures, and fissures. In the WBUR salon, Geraldine Brooks, author of the Bubonic Plague novel, Year of Wonders takes up the thread from Perrotta observing, "My book was set at a time where science and superstition were still fighting it outI would have thought that we had moved on from there but unfortunately all this crackpot superstitious, anti-vaxxer, deep state is coming for our liberties craziness makes me think that we haven't really moved on at all."

The Atlantic identified two kinds of conspiracy theories to have emerged in response to the coronavirus. The first doubts the severity of the virus, even as states reopen only to close again in the face of spikes in the number of cases. The second considers coronavirus as a bioweapon that has been released on an unsuspecting public. These theories overlap and interconnect in some places. They come in a range of variations and expressions. Many predate the outbreak of the virus, conspiracy classics, and alt-right greatest hits, remixed with a COVID-19 focus. As Paul Farmer, physician and anthropologist, once noted: "Blame was, after all, a calling card of all transnational epidemics."

Zignal Labs, a media insights company, tracked the spread of coronavirus misinformation online for a week in early May and identified the five most widespread misinformation topics on COVID-19. They are a microcosmic snapshot of broader myths expressed throughout this infodemic timeline and throughout the entire timeline of infodemics past. Echoes of earlier searches for answers crashing into this present-day search. Chaldean sorcerers become Wuhan scientists. Biomedical labs and biological warfare stand-in for ancient curses. New age hucksters hawking their Glycon-esque shrines and political agendas are grafted onto the fear, ignorance, and powerlessness experienced at this moment.

That George Soros, a conspiracy strawman favorite for the American right over the past 15 years, any week before or since. Or, it was Democrat-funded or China or Russia or the World Health Organization itself as a deep state effort to seize liberties or an outside agitator destroying the US economy or more.

Claims of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment were the second most popular measured by Zignal that same week with 88,166 mentions. Only the most recent topic on treatments trending in the lineage of snake-headed Gods and snake oil salesman even that week. That disinfectants like bleach as a cure for the virus, a concept that spurned a cult in Florida and caught the President's attention, received 85,240 mentions in that same span.

Meanwhile, QAnon enthusiasts glommed onto the 5G cellphone upgrade as the cause of the outbreak, accounted for 87,776 mentions, which led to the more zealous of enthusiasts to damage cell towers in Europe. The "Plandemic" theory, a kind of conspiracy mash-up, got 28,607 mentions that week and a half-hour documentary that received over a million views online before Facebook removed it. The "Plan" is an Illuminati-esque cabal, including Gates and others, to dominate and control the public using the pandemic and the measures put in place to contain it. Incorporating elements of the anti-vaxxer movement and adopted as part of the Lockdown Protests, the Plandemic is a pastiche of grassroots anti-government arguments aimed at appealing to a populist base.

There are some elements of truth, often class-based, that run through many conspiracy theories. Whitney Phillips, assistant professor of communication and rhetorical studies at Syracuse University, argues that conspiracy often operates along our "deep mimetic frames"a theoretical fusion of sociologist Arlie Hochschild, "deep stories", George Lakoff's metaphorical "frame" constructs, and Ryan Milner's "mimetic logics"that encompass "what we believe in our bones to be true about the world."

As a disillusioned former QAnon devotee called "Sam" tells Kevin Roose on his podcast Rabbit Hole, "I know the financial system is rigged against us. I've watched it. I lived it." The entire Rabbit Hole series is a meditation on the ways our "deep mimetic frames" operate accelerated by social media algorithms.

After Hurricane Irma struck Florida, the former QAnon devotee was unemployed, living with a friend, spending most of her time viewing YouTube videos. She describes the clicks it took to move video after video from Elizabeth Warren's economic analysis to QAnon conspiracy theories. The conspiracies appealed to her because it explained her experience and the economic reality she was living.

When Delaney Hall, an editor for the podcast 99% Invisible set out to determine if the coronavirus pandemicthe first pandemic in the era of widespread vaccinationswas shifting anti-vaxxer sentiment she found the reverse was often true. Those who held hardcore, politically motivated anti-vax arguments doubled down, but a second groupreferred to as "vaccine-hesitant"held conflicting beliefs in their head about the issue. They wanted what was best for their children, but were swayed by arguments on both sides. This group could be persuaded.

Photo by Massimo Virgilio on Unsplash

An actual earthquake occurs when the energy generated by the friction of jagged-edged fault plates is released. The racial health disparities ignored for decades African Americans have higher rates of diabetes, higher rates of chronic illness in general, higher rates of cancer, higher rates of anxiety and depression revealed by the pandemic is one such jagged edge. A novel virus, scarcely understood. Overwhelmed hospitals. Mass unemployment. One in four US workers claiming jobless benefits. A shuddered economy. Jagged edges, all.

Inequities of the American health system. Jagged edge. Inequities of the American justice system. Jagged edge. The disproportionate rates by which communities of color are impacted by the disease. Jagged edge. Systemic structural racism implicit in the systems designed to treat, to heal, to cure, to serve, to protect, revealed. Jagged edges. Released energy radiates out in all directions, like ripples on a pond, shaking the earth's surface violently.

I have been spending a lot of time going down rabbit holes these past few monthsalways tethered to a mission, always seeking to message for the equivalent of Delaney Hall's "vaccine-hesitant" audiences in these discoursesconsuming the fringier elements of these conversations. I have been reading a lot of chatter about a Second Civil War from the latest incarnation of the Patriot Movement-turned-Tea Party-turned-alt-right driving the Lockdown Protests.

The most postmodern of extremist groups, the Boogaloo Bois, named for Sam Firstenberg's breakdancing film, Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo (1984) originally emerged from racist posts in the early 2010s, now exist as walking memes with an iconography composed of inside jokes and weird wordplay. A loose confederation in the way the alt-right brought together a broad range of disenfranchised whitesmilitiamen and neo-fascists alongside land rights activists and libertarians trading Michigan Militia camo for Hawaiian shirts because boogaloo sounds vaguely like a big luau. They have been staples on the periphery of lockdown protests and some Black Lives Matter demos alike, arguing that they are for protecting liberties, not white supremacy.

Absurdist characters from a Pynchon novel, that might be more ridiculous than frightening, if it weren't for the success in shutting down the Michigan capital and the number of cities where Boogaloo Bois were arrested with weapons at Black Lives Matter protests. Though Pynchon would probably have a Hawaiian shirt designer, a competitor of Tommy Bahama, as the villainous puppet master of a Civil War that was a publicity stunt to kick-off an advertising campaign.

The aftermath of a Second Civil War is a stalwart of science fiction. Margaret Atwood's 1985 dystopian novel, The Handmaid's Tale, and the subsequent Hulu series that kicked off in 2017 envision the aftermath of an American Civil War won by religious fundamentalists. Phillip K. Dick wrote a quintessentially Phillip K. Dick novel, Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said (1974) set in a police state following the Second Civil War with a pop-singer half-consumed by an identity stealing parasite. The video games Mass Effect (2007) and Shattered Union (2005) the second season of TV show Jericho, and at least one live action role-playing game that plays out scenarios nationwide, involves a Second American Civil War.

In 2017's American War by Omar El Akkad, a former conflict journalist turned novelist, it is simply called "the second". Set a half-century in the future the novel follows Sarat, a young woman trying to navigate life in a refugee camp in Tennessee while being radicalized and recruited by the resistance. The conflict is over a ban on fossil fuels at a time where climate change is raging out of control. The country splits North and South along these new political divides and goes to war after the President is assassinated. The novel has an eerie pacing that reads like dispatches from the future. There is a strange and threatening familiarity with his depiction.

El Akkad refers to it as "dislocative" fiction rather than a strict speculative work. "I take things that happen over there and I make them happen over here," he said in an interview. "Over there" being his beat as a Foreign Correspondent covering the war in Afghanistan and the Arab Spring, but El Akkad also covered protests in Ferguson, Missouri, and the effects of climate change in the south that informed the main thrust of the novel. He followed these issuesthe police brutality, the uprising in response to Michael Brown's murder, the creeping spread of climate change, the devastating loss of an estimated football field worth of wetland disappearing every hour along the Gulf Coast of Louisianaand the arguments against them in his research and he played them out into the future. In short, it may not be as dislocative as we would like to believe.

There is an odd detachment in places. Sarat is a young woman of color in America, but these aspects of her identity are never explored or even considered, which makes for a slightly uncomfortable read in some places for all the wrong reasons. Some of the artefacts that drive the narrative are repurposed missives from El Akkad's time as a journalist and read as such. Overall, this detachment has its benefits, because paradoxically, unlike the right-wing fever dreams of wannabe warriors play acting in life or online, unlike the video games or the TV shows or the comic books, certainly unlike Phillip K. Dick's head trippy work, or even Offred's allegorical adventures, the reverse Hero Journey undertaken by Sarat has unsettling plausibility. It is a rebuke to Sinclair Lewis; it can happen here.

Edvard Munch Self-Portrait with the Spanish Flu, 1919 (Public Domain / Wikipedia)

Throughout Europe, The Plague by Albert Camus has been selling out. The existential novel about an epidemic that ravages the quarantined city in Oran, Algeria served as an allegory for fascism for decades. Today, sales skyrocket as the search for meaning in a time of outbreak has made it a must-read. "Almost as though this novel were a vaccine not just a novel that can help us think about what we're experiencing, but something that can help heal us," explains Alice Kaplan, a French Literature Professor at Yale, in an interview with NPR. I have been thinking about the "scarcity of plague fiction" that Lawrence Wright observed; the scarcity of pandemic artifacts in general. And, what our world might look like if that were not the case.

There is an image that I keep coming back to in my mind. It is an imagined scene. Edvard Munch, dragging out his paints and easel. His movements slowed by aching joints and fever. He is sick with flu. This lethal flu that claimed his contemporaries Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, and his wife, Edith, their child, alongside some 675,000 Americans and a total of 50 to 100 million people. Munch feels like death. With his featuresgaunt cheeks, sallow skin, weary-eyedhe looks like death. Yet, he moves from the bed to the chair, covering his lap in a thick blanket to ward the chills, as he takes up a brush to paint himself. He has spent his entire existence obsessing about his own death "Illness, insanity, and deathkept watch over my cradle," the artist once said, "and accompanied me all my life." and here he looks it directly in the eyes to capture the image, his own reflection.

That is one of the few artefacts that existed from the Flu of 1918. It is one of the few artifacts that that exists from our long history of pandemics, period. Pandemics hold up a mirror to our society, to our culture, showing us the best and worst all at once. We often look away. When the threat has passed, we forget. We wrest art from its context and forget. Delany Hall in her exploration of the anti-vaxxer movement sat down with Dr. Bernice Hausman in the Department of Humanities at Penn State College of Medicine, who observed:

Hall concludes the science is easy, the people are hard.

Cory Doctorow, author and activist, writes of pandemic and political divisions in his 2019 novella Masque of the Red Death. A reboot of the Edgar Allen Poe story with the same name, Masque follows a finance bro prepper who has built a super bunker that he populates with a hand chosen team of equally obnoxious figures. The characters are essentially their own unmaking, so paranoid that social collapse equals certain death. I don't know if a story first written in 1842 warrants a spoiler, but if so, head's up. Even at the cost of the characters own lives, they fail to participate in the messy rebuilding that is going on around them. Opting out of community and even actively avoiding assistance when it is offered.

Doctorow often explores themes of solidarity vs. selfishness, survivalism vs. community. In an essay titled Don't Look for the Helpers on Joseph Fink's Our Plague Year podcast, Doctorow admits that he is often branded a dystopian, but considers himself a realist at worst"Engineers that design systems on the assumption that nothing could possibly go wrong with them are not utopians. They are dangerous idiots and they kill people."and thematically reads more like an optimist, really. Humanity finds a way. Community organizes under the worst circumstances. Crisis can draw us together.

"The tales we tell ourselves about what we can expect in a crisis informs our intuition about what we should do come that crisisI have been telling stories about humanity rising to the challenge of crisis for decades. Now I am telling them to myself. I hope that you will keep that story in mind today as plutocrats seek to weaponize narratives to turn our crisis into their self-serving catastrophe."

In determining what kind of world, we want next, we have to be willing to look. We have to see what is being revealed and develop new stories to change it. If we want to defund police and fund science-based medicine and equitable health care for allwe need new stories. If we want to address climate change and social justice and keep fault lines from being activatedwe need to look in the mirror and see.

* * *

Works Cited

Bauman, Anna Anna and Chakrabarti, Meghna. "What We Learn From Pandemic Lit". WBUR. 14 May 2020.

Block, Melissa. "'A Matter of Common Decency': What Literature Can Teach Us About Epidemics". NPR / WBEZ. 1 April 2020.

Doctorow, Cory. "Don't Look for the Helpers". PMPress. 16 March 2020.

Doezema, Marie. "For Omar El Akkad, journalism and fiction are 'interlocking muscles'". Columbia Journalism Review. 31 October 2018.

El Akkad, Omar. American War. Alfred A. Knopf. April 2017.

Fink, Joseph. Our Plague Year. Podcast.

Gryniewicz, Josh. "Metaphor in a Time of Ebola". PopMatters. 28 January 2015.

Hegland, Jean, Director. Into the Forest. Elevation Pictures. 12 September 2015.

Mars, Roman. "The Natural Experiment". 5 May 2020.

O'Grady, Megan. "What Can We Learn From the Art of Pandemics Past?" The New York Times. 8 April 2020.

Perrotta, Tom. The Leftovers. St. Martin's Press. August 2011.

Phillips, Whitney. "Please, Please, Please Don't Mock Conspiracy Theories". Wired. 27 February 2020.

Robertson, Donald. "Stoicism in the Time of Plague". Medium. 11 March 2020.

Roose, Kevin. "Welcome to the 'Rabbit Hole'". The New York Times. 16 April 2020.

Uscinski, Joseph E. and Enders, Adam M. "The Coronavirus Conspiracy Boom". The Atlantic. 30 April 2020.

Zarocostas, John. "How to fight an infodemic". The Lancet. 29 February 2020.

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Coronavirus and the Culture Wars - PopMatters

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The Rose | by Ben Lerner – The New York Review of Books

Posted: at 3:44 am

At some point I realized the questions were the same questions. Im studying implicit race bias in toddlers. Im tracking the advent of the credit economy. The implication for folk music of the fact that stars dont twinklethe apparent perturbation of stars is just a fluctuation in the mediumis something we want to understand. We want to understand the way it changes our memories of bedtime, for instance. A green flash. Twinkle twinkle. Thats funny, a man in the atrium says, Im studying the same question. In different terms. Im living out that question as kindly as possible; in fact, thats why Im here today volunteering. You have to admit, the staff is doing an excellent job. Then he sips his tea in a paper cup. Then he describes an experience of defibrillation. The other day I went to see the realignment of a permanent collection; abstraction had been demoted. I had complicated thoughts about it, which I carried into the winter sun, where I realized: thats the same question, pressing my face into her inner thigh. Calling a friend in agony. For folk music, the implications are profound. Rhythm shapes feeling. That way abstraction can rise again, rinsed of dominance, a blue rinse for the tradition, little star. Only then is it possible to pose the question, cup the question, blow on it gently. Is recumbency necessary to facilitate analytic revelry. Is your mom really capable of hearing you, given her level of anxiety. To use an example from my own life, I sleep with my head under the pillow. I think its pretty common for men my age. But do we have a sufficient account of those rhythms of behavior as they spread out across a generation. Now a purpose for the arts comes into focus, leaving a bright halo around the body. The way psychoanalysis lacks an account of nut milks. How the term labor plays about the lips of humanists. I develop predictive technologies for complex scenarios. I slow down popular songs and play them over footage of sunflowers tracking east. Thats funny, a man says. When I was a kid I thought all the skyscrapers were department stores, imagined the top floors were devoted to toys, and when the towers came down I kept imagining large stuffed animals in a panic, a few leaping to their deaths. The moon is not the sun at night. How I wonder what you are. Many stones contain small amounts of poison and the nectarine is no exception. These are things Ive never said out loud before, how much his personality depends upon holding a hot drink, a small continuous exhibition of care that contrasts with the viciousness of his speech. Wool has more body than rayon. Or does the tape say viscousness, syntax behaving like a solid, providing light and ventilation. As a blue flame spreads across a shallow liquid spill, Im trying to imagine a lullaby that scales. I was taught this printing method in a dream. It contains a hidden countermelody. All I remember from your course, she told me, is that the rose is obsolete. Wed run into each other on the Queens-bound G, and I couldnt figure out if I should ask her about the bruising on her neck and face. We emerged out of the tunnel into winter sun and around her body a bright halo formed. Can I ask you a personal question. Have you ever felt like your speech is being dictated by phonological associations to such a degree that evenor maybe especiallyin your most intimate relationships, the content of your utterances is driven by the demands of acoustical shape. This troubles inwardness. This opens onto the problems of consent. Auditory memory traces are subject to rapid decay, like a diamond in the sky. Rose was my maternal grandmothers name. Her parents had a small grocery store in Brooklyn. They hired a driver for deliveries who came highly recommended. Butas they learned only after he struck and killed a pedestrianhe had no license. They were sued and lost everything. My great-grandfather went more or less insane. He also suffered from boils. My great-grandmother died from tuberculosis in a sanitorium with concrete floors. Neither spoke English. Rose had to raise her younger brother John in poverty, more or less alone. Many years later, Johnwho by this point was a pioneering anthologist of folk musicwas hit and killed by a Hasidic Jew hurrying home for the Sabbath. Late in Roses life, these two car accidents became confused in her mind. Her father had hired a Hasidic Jew who struck and killed her baby brother. But thats not why Im telling you this story, she said. When Rose was in an assisted living home in Cambridge, she became convinced that the staff were sneaking into her room and subtly altering her paintings. Taking the canvases out of the frames, adding another outline around the apples and pears, restoring the paintings to their places. My cousin would always argue with her: Are you crazy, who would do such a thing, nobody is touching your paintings. This went on for around a year. Until one day my dadwe were all in town for her ninetieth birthdaygot up from his chair, walked to the wall, removed his glasses, inspected the artworks carefully, and said: Well, Rose, you are the one who really knows these paintings. Youve had them for sixty years. So if you say they are being manipulated, Im sure youre right. But you have to admit, the staff is doing an excellent job. How carefully theyre reinserting the paper into the frame. No smudges on the glass. Rose thought for a moment. Youre right, she said, they are doing an excellent job. And she never complained about the staff again. I think this offers us a model of the art critic, if not an itinerary for art criticism, during a crisis in long-term care. Have you noticed how many stories about the power of art are really about the power of institutions, showrooms of the spirit. Here you are, a traveler in the dark. Its most prominent feature is a retractable shell. I prefer the corrosion of metals to the fading of dyes, less the end of an era than its bedtime. Someday it will have to be told how anti-Stalinism, which started out more or less as Trotskyism, turned into art for arts sake, and thereby cleared the way, heroically, for what was to come: nuisance animals climbing honeycomb structures. Fentanyl overdose vids. Im studying how glare light scatters in the eye. Im tracking how expressions of dissatisfaction with the given world can be recuperated by sonic patterning. The bruised idealism of the nectarine. Before a physical confrontation, the girls at my high school used to remove their rings. A ceremony of great solemnity and tenderness. Like one of those childrens singing games thats also an artifact of pagan survivalism. Eccentric circles, clapping, buffoonery. Or like a candle visualization relaxation technique designed to counter the gender panic threatening meaningful interdisciplinarity. Sample sentences, pop-up affects. We were walking on the beach at sunset, hoping to see a green flash. My cousin was explaining a difficulty in his marriage, which he kept referring to as a sticking point. I feel less like Im living my life, he said, than displaying my lifes elements. That he didnt attempt to kill the mosquito that had landed on his arm struck me as an indication of the depth of his depression. It was then that I began to ask: What do the things we spare reveal. Now I ask that at the end of every session. It was then I noticed a gunmetal drone hovering a few feet above us. The atmosphere bends the sunlight, separating the light into its colors, much like a prism bends and splits sunlight into rainbows. That way abstraction can rise again. I told him: I think youre confusing two accidents, those of birth and those of glass. Any long-term relationship is going to involve weeping, crizzling, spalling. If conservators had their way, nothing would ever be exhibited in the atrium. Every minute near sunset, brightness changes by a factor of two, so an error of sixty seconds can do permanent damage. He nodded absently, the fentanyl having its effect. At cloud tops, over distant mountains, beneath very strong thermal inversions at high latitudes: little star. I can feel it getting away from me. A sense of ripe conditions, but not for anything. A sense of oceans and old trees. Then a powerful institution approached a friend of mine about curating an exhibition based on their permanent collection. You can have, they said, free rein. Over the course of a year, she drew up plans for a show organized around the halo. How do depictions of the halo change as pictorial space grows complex. When are halos only light and when do they possess implied mass. Are some figures aware of their halos or are they always extradiegetic. She wouldnt really talk about anything else, even as her partners condition worsened. But increasingly there were problems with the institution; shipping, for instance, was a sticking point. The radiant discs have to be continuously irrigated. Sterile ice has to be packed into the cavities. You have to come up with a fair scoring system for pediatric candidates. Finally, we were having our monthly lunch, and she was complaining, as ever, about the staff, when I just kind of blurted out: Emma, its never going to happen. Olivia, its never going to happen. Mia, theres just no way. All of the most popular baby names end in a. As in sparkling ros. Wild fennel pollen. Stone fruit tossed with salt, bay leaf, and coriander seeds. Think of the head as the lid of a pot, holding the flavor of the shrimp inside its body. Isla, Olivia, Aurora, Cora, Ada, Amara, I said, as she started to cry. The water in our glasses trembled as the G train passed beneath us, little perturbations in the medium. Someday it will have to be told how spider monkeys, who started out more or less as woolly monkeys, evolved a distinct system of locomotion, and thereby cleared the way, heroically, for what was to come: anonymity networks. Among my friends, at least my guy friends, a return to traditional prosody. But of course we never talk about me; we talk about whether youre going to get shit on Twitter for folding in the aureola. Is it better to be sponsored by the diocese or Big Tobacco. Can we secure a couple of big names for the catalog. Bring me up to speed about your volunteer work at the hospital, you say, when the espressos arrive. Meanwhile your partner is sinking deeper into her memory foam, texting you the latest article about microdosing. Maybe this will help, sad emoji. The self-absorption is staggering. The orator aims to bend the spirit by his speech. Rhythm shapes feeling. I pushed my chair back, a gesture totally unlike me, and threw a couple of twenties on the table. Then I found myself on Fulton Street, dazed in winter sun, more than a little drunk. Only when I dug my hands into my pockets and touched the unfamiliar gloves did I realize Id taken someone elses black wool coat. But I couldnt just go back into the restaurant after the scene Id made. I headed toward Fort Greene Park and sat on one of the benches near DeKalb. I felt around the pockets of the coat and found a pack of Vogue cigarettes, the slim British ones marketed to women. While I smoked, I looked through the wallet, which Id located in the inside pocket. Cash, cards, dry-cleaning ticket, etc. There was also a piece of brown paper that I unfolded, revealing the following handwritten note in purple ink: I know weve had a difficult year, but I want you to know that I love you. I will always love you. What happened in Denver will never happen again. If anything, it has only clarified for me how important you are to me. I think the way things started was confusingyour being my teacher. And then when my career took off the dynamic was suddenly reversed. The change was hard for both of us, especially with all the travel. I also see now how it stirred up a lot of stuff from childhood. I just started questioning everything. Im sure this happens in any long-term relationship, but maybe its worse now, for our generation, because of climate change. Anyway, Im not trying to excuse what I did. I just want you to know that I believe in you and I believe in us and Im looking forward to the adventures the new year will bring. I looked up from the note with tears in my eyes. A siren receded in the distance. The sun seemed suddenly lower in the sky. A large white dog on a leash brushed against my legs as it passed. All of my anger was gone. The message, I felt, was meant for me; folk music is for all of us.

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VICE – Armed Man Who Allegedly Stormed Justin Trudeau’s Residence Appears to Have Posted QAnon Content – VICE

Posted: at 3:44 am

Photos via Grindhouse Fine Foods Instagram and THE CANADIAN PRESS/ADRIAN WYLD

Update: This post has been updated to include the charges against Corey Hurren and comment from Marc-Andr Argentino.

Less than an hour before Corey Hurren allegedly drove his pickup truck through the gates of Rideau Hall, where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau lives, a social media account for his business posted a meme that blames the global elite for COVID-19.

At 6:05 AM, the Instagram account for Grindhouse Fine Foods, the company Hurren operates, posted a meme relating to Event 201a pandemic training event put on in part by the Bill Gates Foundation. At 6:40 AM, RCMP said Hurren rammed his truck, which contained multiple firearms, through the gates hard enough to set his airbags off. He left the truck on foot with a rifle in his hand and was intercepted by RCMP officers who, after hours of negotiation, were able to take him into custody without incident just before 8:30 A.M.

On Friday afternoon, RCMP announced a slew of firearms charges against Hurren, a member of the Canadian Armed Forces Reserve. They include: four counts of careless use of a firearm, four counts of illegally transporting of a firearm, four counts of possession of a weapon for a dangerous reason, one count of possession of of a prohibited devices, four counts of possession of a restricted firearm with ammunition, and one count of uttering threats. Hurren attended a bail hearing Friday afternoon but it was pushed back until July 17. He will remain in police custody till then.

RCMP Deputy Commissioner Mike Duheme said there was never any danger to Trudeau or Governor General Julie Payette as they werent at their homes at the time of the incident. While the RCMP says the man had several weapons on him they did not elaborate about the specifics of the weapons.

Citing anonymous sources, several media outlets have reported that Hurren was armed with several rifles and a shotgun, at least one of which was on him at the time of his arrest. Hurren also allegedly had a note on him that he wished to deliver to Trudeau.

According to LinkedIn, Hurren has operated Grindhouse Fine Foods, a meat company, since 2014. The companys Instagram account features posts that are related to the business, such as images of sausages, and others that are personal in nature, such as photos of Hurren.

Hurren in a Instagram post from Decemeber 2019. Photo via Grindhouse Fine Foods Instagram.

On March 27, Grindhouse Fine Foods posted a QAnon meme. It features a white rabbit (the mascot for the conspiracy) at the wheel of a car. The Instagram caption says: Has anyone else been following 'Q' and the 'White Rabbit' down the rabbit hole and how this all relates to the coronavirus/COVID-19 situation? Lots of coincidences in all these 'Q' posts if this turns out to be a 'Nothingburger'." He then lists a plethora of conspiracies in the hashtags which include the killing of Seth Rich, adrenochrome, pizzagate, pedogate, and several related to sex offender Jeffery Epstein. The account also posted several hashtags linked to QAnon like WWG1WGA, a storm is coming, and the deep state.

QAnon is a wide-ranging conspiracy in the United States that focuses on Donald Trumps battles with deep state enemies.

Marc-Andr Argentino, a PhD candidate at Concordia University who studies QAnon and similar movements, flagged Hurren's post to VICE. Argentino said Hurren's posts indicate that he's not a die-hard QAnon adherent, but may have gotten into the movement during the pandemic because of economic and political stress. However, Argentino stressed that we still dont have the full picture of what Hurren believes at the moment.

He's consumed enough of the content to know the very specific hashtags to use, said Argentino.

The meme Grindhouse posted shortly before Hurren allegedly rammed the gates at Rideau Hall was also posted to the account in May. It refers to Event 201, an international training exercise put on by Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the World Economic Forum in October 2019. The exercise was to test the readiness of the world in the event of a global pandemic. Many conspiracy theorists believe it indicates that Bill Gates, alongside other elites, orchestrated the pandemic. The Event 201 post was first reported on by the Toronto Star.

Hurren is from Bowsman, Manitoba, one of the northernmost farming communities in the province. In Grindhouses social media posts, Hurren frequently refers to the fact hes a veteran who recently rejoined the military as a Canadian Rangers member. The Rangers are a part of the national reserve that serve in remote regions.

A robot with the bomb squad recovered a collection of military rations in Hurren's vehicle following the arrest.

The instagram post referring to QAnon. Photo via Grindhouse Fine Foods Instagram.

In one of Grindhouses Instagram posts, Hurren said he had to temporarily shut down his business because of COVID-19.

"As some of you may already know, things have been on hold with my GrindHouse meat products due to the logistics of the COVID-19 situation," he wrote. "I am not sure what will be left of our economy, industries, and businesses when this all ends."

For most of the year, the posts focused on his company (his Ring of Fire sausage, in particular,) his time with the Rangers, and survivalism. That changed in March when COVID-19 hit, and the posts became far more focused on the pandemic and began to reference conspiracies.

The day before Hurren allegedly rammed the gates, an anti-Trudeau rally took place in Ottawa. While the rally was about a variety of subjects, including pushing back on COVID-19 safety measures, many of the attendees were adherents of the conspiracy. Footage of the gathering, which drew hundreds of people, was amplified by Q, the central figure of the QAnon conspiracy. Photos of the event show many attendees holding signs relating to Q. The group chanted where we go one we go all, the main slogan of the conspiracy.

There is no evidence directly linking Hurren to the rally. Duchene said at the press conference that as far as he knew, the suspect was not in Ottawa for another reason but declined to go into any details relating to his travel or activities in Ottawa prior to breaking through the gates of Rideau Hall armed.

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Military Veterans and the Boogaloo Bois Explained – Connecting Vets

Posted: June 20, 2020 at 9:49 am

Over the course of eight days Air Force Staff Sgt.Steven Carrillo allegedly shot and killed a security officer and wounded his partner outside a courthouse, then ambushed and killed a sheriff's deputy and injured four other officers, according to law enforcement. Carrillo was a Phoenix Raven team leader, part of a specialized Air Force security unit that guards aircraft.

Federal authorities say they linked him to the boogaloo movement from social media posts and from phrases he had written in his own blood when he was arrested following the ambush of the deputy, AP reported.

Carrillo's lawyer says he has not seen any evidence that his client is involved in the boogaloo movement, calling it a terrorist organization that uses social media to target, vulnerable and possibly susceptible individuals who may be receptive to their messages of hate and destruction.

But what is the boogaloo movement really? Like many other internet subcultures in recent years, media pundits and experts alike sometimes struggle with the subject. In some ways, the Boogaloo movement is similar to other leaderless groups or movements such as Antifa,Occupy Wall Street, Anonymous, or Qanon in that anyone can claim to be a member.

The members have no clear hierarchy, and simply do not resemble the organizational structure of revolutionary or terrorist groups from the 1960s or 70s. Those structures shifted to an open-source warfare model brought about by the internet, telecommunications technologies, and the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Connecting Vets first reported on the boogaloo social media meme projecting itself into real life in 2019, when Alex Booth, calling himself "whiskey warrior," had a standoff with police in New York. He live-streamed the standoff while walking around his house in body armor, talking about the boogaloo and calling police officers red coats.

Since that time, those espousing the boogaloo have become much more visible to the public as they show up at protests around the country, sometimes wearing Hawaiian shirts under body armor and carrying AR-15 rifles.

But while some may see the boogaloo as a call to action, motivating them to take to the streets, or at worst, murder police officers, others see it as a light-hearted joke.

At first glance it all kinds of feels the same, oneSpecial Forces soldier told Connecting Vets. Vets like it and I find that shit hysterical, I find the memes hysterical. For 99% of the vets out there who find that stuff funny, it is just a fucking joke, he said.

When asked to define what the boogaloo means to him, he said, it is a potential situation founded strictly not in any menace or spite but in the principles of how the nation was founded asrepresentative democracy or republic where power is held by the people. And people use the memes to express their displeasure, and nothing more. They're jokes. Some people take it too far like that 'whiskey warrior' dude. For the majority of people, they're jokes, some of it rooted in political displeasure.

Many of the memes that people like the Special Forces soldier post are inspired by video games such as Bethesda's 'Fallout' series, further blurring the lines between reality and fantasy. Those memes call out humorous fictional side quests for boog believers to begin, treating them as if they are the player character in a video game filled with non-player characters. Those quests are obvious jokes with gags like, "get a confirmed shotgun kill in a Teletubby suit." Others are more questionable, such as, "when the ATF come to confiscate your guns, shoot them in the back of the head."

Global Network on Extremism and Technology (GNET) Associate Fellow Jade Parker added that, the terrorists are not representative of the Boogaloo community. The overwhelming majority of those who adopt the 'Boogaloo Boi' persona anticipate and prepare for a domestic civil war. They do not try to cause it. Boogaloo Bois are also not ideologically monolithic. They hold views across the political spectrum with shared interests in 2A protections, permaculture, self-sufficiency, and survivalism.

Parker added that there is a real concern in that there, is the adoption of accelerationism by a minority contingent within their milieu. That is, the concern is the transition from normal Boogaloo Bois passively prepared for societal dissolution to subversive accelerationists who undertake violent and non-violent action to disrupt the socio-political order.

Accelerationists are terrorists who may belong to any number of different ideologies, or none at all, and seek to accelerate what they see as the inevitable destruction of society. An example would be Brenton Tarrant of New Zealand who live-streamed himself attacking a mosque and murdering civilians in hopes that it wouldignite a chain reaction leading to a race war.

Therein lies the difficulty in understanding what is ultimately a meme whose definition is updated on a near-daily basis by thousands of anonymous internet users. For some, the boog is just a joke and is all about dressing up like Jimmy Buffetwhile out on the shooting range over the weekend. But for some,it is a call to murder their fellow Americans.

Want to get more connected to the stories and resources Connecting Vets has to offer?Click hereto sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Reach Jack Murphy:jack@connectingvets.comor@JackMurphyRGR.

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Return to your roots: Gardening a great solution to cope with stress of pandemic – The Independent

Posted: May 24, 2020 at 3:43 pm

It happened during World War II. It happened during the Great Recession of 2008. And its happening again as millions hunker down amid the economic and social deep-freeze of the COVID-19 era.

Nothing else spurs people to reach for spades and seeds like a crisis.

As America joined the war in Europe some 80 years ago, citizens were encouraged to grow Victory Gardens as a morale booster and as a bulwark against possible food shortages brought on by the growing conflict. Now, for reasons that are eerily similar, theyre turning over soil in their backyards to plant what many are calling pandemic gardens.

Even with the social-distancing restrictions that have made selling vegetable starts, flowers and supplies a chore, Were rockin, says Jack Sumner, longtime proprietor of Highland Farm on Tower Hill Road. Were doing double what we normally do.

Sumner sees two big drivers behind the uptick in demand not just for mainstream gardening supplies, but also landscaping. The first that comes to mind is plain boredom, he says.

For much of the last two months, people basically havent been able to go anywhere. Until May 9, the state had been under a general stay-at-home order. Restaurants have been shuttered except for take-out, delivery and curbside pickup. All but essential retail stores were either forced to close or operate under painful limitations, including for a time flower and garden shops.

People stay home, theyve got nothing to do, says Sumner. So theyre beautifying their yards.

Sumner says some of the most popular items are compost and raised bed mix which indicates to him that folks have been doing their homework about how to start a successful garden. Its all about the getting the soil in good shape. Healthy, nutrient-rich soil is the foundation of everything that happens later.

Its not all veggies, either. Sumner and other garden shops say theyre doing a brisk business in the heavy-duty stuff of landscaping loam, mulch and other raw materials as folks with time on their hands tackle the big jobs. And delivery is more important than ever as Highland Farm and other nurseries maintain compliance with Gov. Gina Raimondos social-distancing and mandatory face-mask directives.

Its masks up over here, he says.

But Sumner says the latest installment of Americas return to the soil isnt just a response to pandemic-induced boredom. Like the fears of food-rationing that fueled the proliferation of Victory Gardens during World War II, deeper concerns about the strength of the food supply have become a catalyst for people to grow some of their own.

All it takes to stoke the whiff of worry is a trip to the supermarket. Major stores are restricting customers to no more than two packages of meat as outbreaks of COVID-19 at some of the nations biggest meat-processing facilities have crimped supply pipelines. Staples like flour and many kinds of fresh produce are often in short supply.

People are getting nervous, says Sumner. I just think people are getting into, Wheres your next head of lettuce coming from?

Julie Gammino Carberry agrees. Shes the administrator of Rhode Island Backyard Gardeners, a Facebook group for hobby gardeners thats seen a spike in new membership during the last few weeks.

I probably have had as many requests for new members just in the last month or two than I had in the entire three years that the group has been around, said

Gammino Carberry. The group is definitely growing. People are looking to add gardening to their repertoire of things theyre doing.

Most of the chatter on Rhode Island Backyard Gardeners is from people looking for tips and advice on how to grow tomatoes, squash and other vegetables. COVID-19 has done nothing to change that.

But Gammino Carberry detects a current of concern among members thats more akin to Facebook groups devoted to survivalism and homesteading.

Theres quite a bit of talk about potential food shortages, she says. I think theres a slight concern in the back of some peoples minds that in the event there is a food shortage, maybe I can grow some of my own food and sustain my family in that way.

More members are swapping seeds than they used to, too, which Gammino Carberry thinks is another indication that members arent just talking about gardening theyre doing it.

It might also be because theyre having trouble getting seeds through to the catalog vendors.

Some were so swamped with orders in late March and April that they stopped taking new ones, essentially suspending operations. Washington-based Territorial Seeds, for example, told customers that it wouldnt accept any more orders until it had processed its backlog.

More recently the company announced that it was taking orders again and would attempt to continue doing so, but it warned customers to be ready for the unexpected.

As we move forward, its unknown to us what the order volume will be, Territorial President Tom Johns told customers. If we find ourselves getting uncomfortably behind in shipping, we may need to cease taking new orders for short periods to focus solely on shipping existing orders.

Of course, the business of gardening got its last big boost during around 2009, when the financial meltdown that caused what came to be known as the Great Recession resulted in mass unemployment and Americans grew concerned about stretching their food budgets. With more than 30 million Americans presently unemployed as a result of COVID-19, a figure that will probably worsen before it improves, food insecurity will likely remain a significant driver of garden-related merchandising for some time.

But some see another factor that has nothing to do with scarcity, fiscal strain or boredom thats been propping up interest in gardening for years, and which is likely to continue to do so long after the pandemic fades into the background whenever that is.

Amid a proliferation of GMO foods, fuzzy guidelines about labeling and supermarket shelves jammed with processed products, the self-tended backyard plot may be one of the last places where folks can find something they know is fresh, natural and healthy.

A backyard gardener is the ultimate locavore in the plot-to-plate movement.

People have been doing that for years, said Wendy Godfrin of Clark Farms in Matunuck. Thats been trending. Its one way to save money and also to know what youre putting on the table.

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Else Blangsted, Who Fled the Nazis and Found a Hollywood Ending, Dies at 99 – The New York Times

Posted: at 3:43 pm

Else Blangsted, who fled Nazi Germany as a teenager believing she had given birth to a stillborn child, then built a career as a leading music editor on Hollywood films, died on May 1 in Los Angeles. She was 99.

Her death was confirmed by her cousin Deborah Oppenheimer, an Oscar-winning producer.

For more than 30 years Ms. Blangsted played a major part in shaping how movie music was heard, through her work on features like The Color Purple, Tootsie and On Golden Pond.

She broke down film scripts to show composers precisely where to place parts of their scores, in dialogue or action, and for exactly how long. She was the composers representative throughout the recording sessions.

The information that came from her was crucial, Dave Grusin, the Oscar-winning composer who was Ms. Blangsteds collaborator on Tootsie and many other films, said in a phone interview. I knew what I was doing was working if she said I was on the right track.

But music editing is an unsung profession. Music editors do not receive Academy Awards, as film and sound editors do. When Mr. Grusin won an Oscar for his score for The Milagro Beanfield War (1988), Ms. Blangsted, his editor on the film, went unrecognized.

Her only major industry honor was the 2006 life achievement award from the Motion Picture Sound Editors, an industry group. In written remarks read at the ceremony, Robert Redford, who directed two of the films Ms. Blangsted worked on, Milagro and Ordinary People, said she had the mind of an artist and the soul of a saint.

But even as Ms. Blangsted had established her reputation as a creative and outspoken partner to composers, the story of her child was about to enter a new chapter.

Else Siegel was born on May 22, 1920, in Wrzburg, Germany. Her father, Siegmund, was a horse trader, and her mother, Lilly (Oppenheimer) Siegel, was a homemaker, with whom Else had a difficult relationship. In a profile in The New Yorker in 1988, she said her mother had subjected her to a life of misdemeanors, punishments and a lack of forgiveness.

When she was 15, she began dating Eric Seelig, then 24. She soon after became pregnant. She told no one. With the Nuremberg Laws restricting where Jews like her could attend school, her family sent her to a Jewish boarding school in Switzerland. It was September 1936.

By January 1937, when she was seven months pregnant, the tightness of her corset was causing her to faint. Desperate and ashamed, she tried to kill herself by lying on a snowy hill near the school, hoping to freeze to death.

She was found hours later, her lower legs frostbitten. Her secret was out.

She went into labor in early March. They used chloroform in those days, and I passed out and came to and I must have said, Is it a boy or a girl? and they put the mask back on, she said in an interview for a documentary about her, Looking for Else (2007).

Later, I demanded: Where is the baby? I need somebody to take the milk.

There is no baby, a nurse told her. The baby is dead.

Else thought she had killed her baby by keeping the corset too tight. But her family, ashamed of her behavior and fearful of Nazi repression, had lied to her and sent the baby girl to a nursery, where a German-Swiss couple adopted her.

Knowing nothing of the deception, Else returned to Wrzburg and in August boarded a luxury liner for New York City. After arriving alone, she headed to Los Angeles, where a sponsor family put her in touch with a local rabbi, who found her work as a maid and later as a nanny for Warner LeRoy, the son of the prolific director and producer Mervyn LeRoy. At 17, she had made her Hollywood connection.

But it was a modest tie at best. Mervyn LeRoy was married to Doris Warner, a daughter of Harry Warner, one of the founders of the Warner Bros. studio, and after a year as a nanny Else eventually found work as a seamstress there.

But she was lonely. She wrote to Eric, who was living in Argentina, and asked that he marry her. They wed in 1940 and had a daughter, Erica Seelig, four years later. They later divorced.

Her jobs continued: She was a wardrobe woman, helping actresses look their best in their costumes; an actress in a small role in the Cecil B. DeMille film Samson and Delilah; and a waxer, who protected film emulsions.

She was hired as a music editor at a postproduction house in 1960; her only credentials were being able to read music and play the piano and guitar. That led to work at Paramount and Columbia.

Her reputation was building. Her importance to me was not only her portfolio, but her charisma, her sense of authority, her humility and her survivalism, said the musician and composer Van Dyke Parks, who co-wrote the music for the 1978 comic western Goin South, starring and directed by Jack Nicholson. Ms. Blangsted did the music editing for that film.

Then one day in 1984, she got a call from an aunt who had read an advertisement in Aufbau, a journal for German-speaking Jews. Her daughter was not only alive, but also wanted to meet her, the aunt said. The daughter, who went by Lily Kopitopoulos, was 47 and living in Switzerland.

Ms. Blangsted tracked down her number and called.

This is your mama, she said, according to The New Yorker. Forgive me. The nurse told me you were dead.

When they finally met, it was the end of drama, the end of shame, the end of accusations, the end of migraines, Ms. Blangsted said in Looking for Else.

Their reunion included trips to each others homes and several years in which Ms. Blangsted moved to Switzerland to be near Ms. Kopitopoulos. They drifted apart after about 20 years, during which one of Ms. Kopitopouloss sons, Sandy, directed Looking for Else, with Daniel Maurer.

In addition to her daughters and grandson, Ms. Blangsted is survived by another grandson and two great-grandchildren. She married Folmar Blangsted, the Danish-born film editor of A Star Is Born (1954), in 1960; he died in 1982.

Ms. Blangsted, a witty person known for her frequent laughter, had many actor friends, including Lee J. Cobb, Gregory Peck, James Cromwell and Mr. Moore. She met Mr. Moore, the star of Six Weeks (1982) as well as the composer of its score, when he was already working with a music editor. The director, Tony Bill, wanted him to meet Ms. Blangsted.

After watching the film together, she recalled in a 2011 profile of her in Patch, a local news website, I said to him, You have two and a half minutes to make up your mind that I will be your music editor. I went away. Came back and he nodded his head, very definitely.

They remained friends until 2002, when, as he lay dying, she called to read him Dickens over the phone.

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Inside ultra-luxurious disaster survival kits where super-rich can pay 4k for night vision goggles and posh – The Sun

Posted: at 3:42 pm

PREPPERS have been infamous for their tin foil hat theories and apocalyptic paranoia since time immemorial.

But now that a terrifying pandemic is our daily reality, being prepared for the worst doesn't seem so silly after all and wealthy celebs are buying into the idea with super-stylish survival kits.

Those used to leading lives of luxury want to make sure they can get through doomsday in style.

That's why there's now a whole industry catering to mega-rich stars worried about the apocalypse.

For a few thousand quid, you can get night vision goggles that come in a bag monogrammed with your own initials.

Kim Kardashian shared a selfie of herself with a survival kit back in February, writing "I travel prepared".

And billionaires worried about civilisation breaking down are currently snapping up five-star nuclear blast-proof bunkers fitted with wine cellars and swimming pools.

But even lowly millionaires might be more inclined to take survivalism seriously after their Beverly Hills homes burned in wildfires and their New York penthouses have been shuttered in lockdown.

Here's a look at the luxury survival kits offering the great and good a stylish solution for getting through armageddon.

For those seeking Kardashian-endorsed survival glamour, look no further than Judy.

Created by Simon Huck, a celebrity PR whiz, Judy is a survival kit company whose products have cropped up in the Instagram accounts of the Kardashians.

The firm offers a range of kits that have been flying off the shelves since the start of the pandemic.

The emergency Judy packs are designed in bright orange and range in price from 49 to 204.

Designed to help one person survive for 24 hours, the company's smallest kit is called The Starter (49).

The bum bag contains a first aid kit, a poncho, a water pouch, a blanket, a phone charger, a whistle, glow sticks, and nutrition bars.

But for those feeling more flush, they can get The Mover a big rucksack containing everything in The Starter, plus extras like a dust mask, biohazard bag, and of course hand sanitiser.

"The Starter and the Mover sold out in the first three weeks they went on sale," Huck told The Times.

"A lot of millennials bought Judys for their parents."

But if you're looking to stylishly survive with your loved ones, you can splash out on The Safe for 204.

Designed to support four people for 72 hours, the big box of survival goodies has everything included in The Mover, plus candles, a hand-cranked radio, and waterproof matches.

"The foundations of all emergency kits are food, water and first aid," Huck added.

Having the foundations of a survival kit is one thing having the most suped up kit money can buy is another.

For a mere 4,116, you can get yourself The Prepster Ultra Advanced Fireproof Emergency Bag.

As the name suggests, the bag is made with a special flame-retardant material used in firefighting suits.

And it can be monogrammed with your initials so you don't mix it up with anyone else's four-grand survival kit when the apocalypse comes.

Each bag, made by Preppi, contains practical necessities like a Garmin satellite messenger and SOS locator beacon, a night vision scope, a solar panel, and an emergency charging kit.

It also holds a water purifier, a Leatherman black carbon steel multitool, and a comprehensive first aid kit.

But it also affords its well-healed owners a few luxuries including premium chocolate and a poker set.

Preppi says the Prepster Ultra Advanced provides "ample luxe comforts" for two people that will sustain nutrition, hydration, power, and communication.

Everything you could ever need, really, for when the aliens invade.

If the apocalypse turns out to be zombies rather than aliens, one company has you covered, provided you're in the US.

OpticsPlanet put together its specialist ZERO kit Zombie Extermination, Research and Operations for those determined to make it through doomsday.

For just 16,207, the company will ship you everything you need to fend off the flesh-eating undead and the equipment to find a cure.

"When the undead hordes rise from their shallow graves to wreak havoc on all decent civilisation, you'll need to both fight back (Extermination), and find a cure (Research)," OpticsPlanet says.

The pricey kit includes a zombie knife, a thermal imaging camera, and gun attachments like shotgun torches and red dot sites to spruce up your personal arsenal.

It also includes a "Battle Mug" which, as well as being an indestructible drinking vessel, doubles up as a blunt-force weapon.

But what really sets the ZERO kit apart is its inclusion of lab equipment so you can pass time in the apocalypse working on a cure for the zombie virus.

It comes with a microscope, pipettes and beakers to aid your world-saving research efforts assuming you have any idea what you're doing.

For those who aren't looking for a fight, there's now a huge industry of luxurious survival shelters for the uber-wealthy.

A far cry from the dingy Anderson Shelters of the Blitz, billionaires are now snapping up subterranean luxury bunkers that boast swimming pools, tram systems, and even wine cellars.

Some, like the Oppidum in the Czech Republic, will even include a spa for their billionaire buyers but they're going fast.

Despite costing at least $1.5million, all of the units in a converted nuclear missile silo at the Survival Condo in Kansas have already sold out.

"Your father or grandfather's bunker was not very comfortable," Robert Vicino, the CEO of high-end shelter company Vivos, told CNN.

"They were grey. They were metal, like a ship or something military. And the truth is mankind cannot survive long-term in such a Spartan, bleak environment."

Vivos XPoint bunkers in South Dakota are made from repurposed military munitions depots costing up to 160,000 and could one day be home to 5,000 survivalists.

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The firm also offers a "modern day Noah's Ark", in a former Cold War-era ammunition storage facility in Germany.

This particular shelter includes its own tram network to transport residents to the bunker's restaurants, cinema and games rooms.

"We have all the comforts of home, but also the comforts that you expect when you leave your home," Robert added.

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