Omnium Gatherum: 4aug2021

An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for August 4, 2021

Here’s a variety of notable things I’ve recently found that you may also be interested in checking out:

  • The Syntax of Belonging: On the Profound Connection Between Identity and Language. Pardis Mahdavi Considers the Evolution of Words and Hyphenate Identities.”—”Here is a list of my favorite books that explore how language can unite or divide us. A group of books that touch on questions of identity and belonging through the words, grammatical marks, and syntax we use.” By Pardis Mahdavi, author of Hyphen [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library], part of the Object Lessons series—”To hyphenate or not to hyphenate has been a central point of controversy since before the imprinting of the first Gutenberg Bible. And yet, the hyphen has persisted, bringing and bridging new words and concepts. Hyphen follows the story of the hyphen from antiquity-“Hyphen” is derived from an ancient Greek word meaning “to tie together” -to the present, but also uncovers the politics of the hyphen and the role it plays in creating identities. The journey of this humble piece of connective punctuation reveals the quiet power of an orthographic concept to speak to the travails of hyphenated individuals all over the world. Hyphen is ultimately a compelling story about the powerful ways that language and identity intertwine. Mahdavi-herself a hyphenated Iranian-American-weaves in her own experiences struggling to find a sense of self amidst feelings of betwixt and between. Through stories of the author and three other individuals, Hyphen collectively considers how to navigate, articulate, and empower new identities.”
  • Mel Brooks Memoir ‘All About Me!’ Set By Ballantine Books For November 30 Publication.” About All About Me! My Remarkable Life in Show Business [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Mel Brooks, due November, 2021—”At 95, the legendary Mel Brooks continues to set the standard for comedy across television, film, and the stage. Now, for the first time, this EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony) winner shares his story in his own words. ‘I hope fans of comedy will get a kick out of the stories behind my work, and really enjoy taking this remarkable ride with me.’—Mel Brooks. For anyone who loves American comedy, the long wait is over. Here are the never-before-told, behind-the-scenes anecdotes and remembrances from a master storyteller, filmmaker, and creator of all things funny. All About Me! charts Mel Brooks’s meteoric rise from a Depression-era kid in Brooklyn to the recipient of the National Medal of Arts. Whether serving in the United States Army in World War II, or during his burgeoning career as a teenage comedian in the Catskills, Mel was always mining his experiences for material, always looking for the perfect joke. His iconic career began with Sid Caesar’s Your Show of Shows, where he was part of the greatest writers’ room in history, which included Carl Reiner, Neil Simon, and Larry Gelbart. After co-creating both the mega-hit 2000 Year Old Man comedy albums and the classic television series Get Smart, Brooks’s stellar film career took off. He would go on to write, direct, and star in The Producers, The Twelve Chairs, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, Silent Movie, High Anxiety, and Spaceballs, as well as produce groundbreaking and eclectic films, including The Elephant Man, The Fly, and My Favorite Year. Brooks then went on to conquer Broadway with his record-breaking, Tony-winning musical, The Producers. All About Me! offers fans insight into the inspiration behind the ideas for his outstanding collection of boundary-breaking work, and offers details about the many close friendships and collaborations Brooks had, including those with Sid Caesar, Carl Reiner, Gene Wilder, Madeleine Kahn, Alfred Hitchcock, and the great love of his life, Anne Bancroft. Filled with tales of struggle, achievement, and camaraderie (and dozens of photographs), readers will gain a more personal and deeper understanding of the incredible body of work behind one of the most accomplished and beloved entertainers in history.”
  • Lost Cityscape.”—”Brian Lomas’ new book, Small Shops, invites us on a tour of a lost cityscape: a world of hand-daubed signage, antique cash registers and family-run businesses. The artist is a native of North Manchester, and, in the early 1980s, he travelled to locations around his home to photograph the last vestiges of a form of local economy under threat from the wrecking ball and the chain store.” Also “Brian Lomas’ images of Manchester’s independent shops in the 1980s. A new book and exhibition from the Modernist Society showcases Lomas’ rarely seen black and white photographs, which offer a snapshot of bygone years ” About Small Shops [Publisher] by Brian Lomis—”Part of Manchester’s urban history is being celebrated with a new book featuring images of local independent shops in the 1980s, which already look like a bygone age. The series of rarely seen black and white photographs, taken by self-taught photographer Brian Lomas in his native North Manchester, have been brought together for the carefully curated book, titled Small Shops. Greengrocers, butchers, barbers, chip shops and florists, many adorned with old signage, are just some of the independent businesses featured. Not only have most of these businesses since disappeared, but many of the buildings that housed them have also now gone. Amateur photographer Brian, who was at the time in his mid-twenties and working as a health service administrator, took the photographs on his Rolleiflex camera mostly in and around Moston, as well Blackley, Newton Heath and Harpurhey. While some of the original prints were initially shown in 1983 at Uppermill Photography Gallery (now Saddleworth Museum and Gallery), and exhibited at Liverpool’s Open Eye gallery in 1986, these images have gone mostly unseen until now. Brian, 65, has lived in North Manchester all of his life, and now resides in Failsworth. He comments: “Even then, many of these shops seemed out of their time, with their quirky and characteristic details – shopfronts with old signage, old fashioned style shop tills and traditional weighing scales. ‘Many of these independent businesses were under threat at the time, particularly with large supermarkets coming into Manchester, but also with shopkeepers coming up to retirement age and not having anyone to pass the business on to. So, I was keen to document these local small shops before they were gone. I’ve been taking photographs for over 40 years and in that time, things have changed dramatically across the city. Many of these buildings are now gone completely, so I’m very glad that I captured that part of history while I could.’ ‘These photographs capture a time and place that, despite being within many of our own lifetimes, now seems like a lost age.'”
  • Kierkegaard: Young, Free & Anxious. Gary Cox considers the problematic side of freedom, from the edge of a cliff.” Philosophy Now, Iss 145, August/September 2021
  • Tweet—”In 2010, at the age of 81, Ursula started a blog. 2017’s No Time to Spare collected a selection of her posts into a book, and for a time, those posts were unavailable online. They’ve now been restored. You can read Ursula’s full blog, starting here: https://www.ursulakleguin.com/blog/0-a-note-at-the-beginning.”
  • Speaking of the return of blogging: “Gawker: The Return. After a failed reboot attempt two years ago, the site that helped set the tone for digital journalism is back.” Also “‘Nostalgia Is a Hell of a Drug’: Will Gawker’s Swashbuckling Style Survive Upcoming Relaunch? ‘Pugilistic’ new editor in chief Leah Finnegan and her burgeoning masthead are drawing raves, but Gawker veterans question the notorious site’s role in a changing media world—and if it’ll have free rein under Bustle Digital Group. ‘The Bryan Goldberg of it all is the $64,000 question,’ says one.” Also “Gawker, The Digital Trailblazer Brought Down By Hulk Hogan And Peter Thiel, Is Reanimated By Bustle.” Also “Gawker set to return again – but can it recapture ‘the old anarchic spirit’? Bustle Digital Group, which bought Gawker in 2018, is to bring back the website with Leah Finnegan as editor. Will it work?”
  • Succession Drama Grips Scholastic: CEO’s Sudden Death, an Office Romance and a Surprise Will. Richard Robinson stunned his family by bequeathing his controlling stake in the ‘Harry Potter’ publisher to senior executive Iole Lucchese.”
  • Percy Bysshe Shelley: romanticism and revolution.”—”Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky, in Crime and Punishment, wrote, “The darker the night, the brighter the stars”. Few people have personified this more than Percy Bysshe Shelley. Born in 1792, Shelley died in a boating accident in Italy in 1822. His all-too-short adult life coincided with a particularly dark time in British and European history. By the first years of the nineteenth century, the great hopes for change aroused by the French revolution of 1789 had all but been extinguished, and a new period of reaction had set in.”
  • Future Space Travel Might Require Mushrooms. Mycologist Paul Stamets discusses the potential extraterrestrial uses of fungi, including terraforming planets, building human habitats—and providing psilocybin therapy to astronauts.”
  • NASA rover spots ‘whimsical’ rock arch on Mars that’s defying wind, dust. Curiosity spotted a tiny sculptural arch resisting gravity on the red planet.”
  • How the earth’s rotation helped the earliest forms of life to diversify.”—”Earth hasn’t always experienced the 24-hour day we’re so familiar with now. In fact, the way the world turns not only determines the length of our day, but it could have contributed to an influx of oxygen on early Earth that helped life to flourish, according to new research. Researchers studying a unique environment in Michigan’s Lake Huron used it to effectively look back at ancient Earth and how changing day length could have impacted the earliest forms of life that existed: tiny organisms called cyanobacteria. Also called blue-green algae, cyanobacteria evolved more than 2.4 billion years ago, and they were churning out oxygen when Earth was still pretty inhospitable. Scientists have struggled to explain why it took so long for Earth’s oxygen levels to rise so gradually over almost 2 billion years — until now.”
  • An ‘integrated mess of music lovers in science’. Music holds a unique power over our species. Except in rare cases of what is called ‘musical anhedonia,’ where a person’s brain scans show their auditory cortex isn’t linked to their reward circuitry, listening to music is like gambling or making love. So it is hard to imagine a more alluring topic for an SFI working group than ‘Complexity and the Structure of Music: Universal Features and Evolutionary Perspectives Across Cultures.'”—”‘The abstraction of musical structures as geometrical spaces naturally invites the analysis of music as a complex system,’ wrote the working group co-organizers in their meeting description.”
  • Stoking the fires of change. Photojournalist Stuart Palley ’11 experiences wildfires in the moment. SMU researcher Chris Roos looks at them through the long lens of archaeology. Ultimately, their perspectives are the same: Wildfires are getting worse, and there’s an urgent need to adopt coexistence strategies. An unusually hot, dry spell bakes the landscape. Ready to say goodbye to summer, friends gather for Labor Day barbecues in neighborhoods surrounded by forest. Winds whip up and embers fly. In the blink of an eye, 1,500 structures are set aflame.”
  • Mathematicians Set Numbers in Motion to Unlock Their Secrets. A new proof demonstrates the power of arithmetic dynamics, an emerging discipline that combines insights from number theory and dynamical systems.”
  • More on this: “Google’s time crystal discovery is so big, we can’t fully comprehend it.”—”Forget Google Search and Fuchsia. Researchers from Google, Stanford, Princeton, and other universities might have made a computer discovery so big we can’t fully comprehend it yet. Even Google researchers aren’t entirely sure that their time crystal discovery is valid. But if it turns out to be accurate, then Google might be one of the first companies to give the world a crucial technological advancement for the future. Time crystals will be an essential building block in quantum computers, the kind of computers that can solve complex problems with incredible speed and power technologies that aren’t even invented.”
  • The slow collapse of Amazon’s drone delivery dream. Amazon has triggered mass redundancies and transfers as it winds down a huge part of its UK drone delivery business.”
  • Labor official recommends scrapping failed Amazon union election, union says. Both the company and the union will have time to respond to the filings before a final decision is issued, a process that could span several weeks.”—”A hearing officer at the National Labor Relations Board’s Atlanta office determined after a multi-week hearing that Amazon interfered with the ‘conditions necessary to conduct a fair election’ by installing a mailbox in front of the fulfillment center to collect employees’ mail-in ballots and offering employees anti-union badges and signs.”
  • More on this: “Shareholders sue Activision Blizzard for withholding harassment info. Complaint: “False and misleading statements” led to “artificially inflated” stock.”
  • The Pentagon Is Experimenting With Using Artificial Intelligence To ‘See Days In Advance’. The Pentagon aims to use cutting-edge cloud networks and artificial intelligence systems to anticipate adversaries’ moves before they make them.”
  • ‘It has to be known what was done to us’: Natick couple harassed by eBay tell their story for the first time. David and Ina Steiner were terrorized for weeks in the summer of 2019 by a team of employees from Internet giant eBay. Here is their account of the events, which have led to criminal charges and a civil lawsuit.” Also thread.
  • Tweet—”After years of abusing users’ privacy, it’s rich for Facebook to use it as an excuse to crack down on researchers exposing its problems. I’ve asked the FTC to confirm that this excuse is as bogus as it sounds.”
  • Killer robots need ‘no new rules’ about firing on humans, Russia tells UN. Moscow ‘out on its own’ as other nations seek to prevent autonomous weapons making their own decisions and ‘deciding who lives or dies’.”
  • The Sacking of a Crypto Mecca. Libertarians built a Bitcoin economy in a small New Hampshire town — then feds tore it down.”
  • Your Facebook Account Was Hacked. Getting Help May Take Weeks — Or $299.”—”‘I ultimately broke down and bought a $300 Oculus Quest 2,’ he said. Oculus is a virtual reality company owned by Facebook but with its own customer support system. Sherman contacted Oculus with his headset’s serial number and heard back right away. He plans to return the unopened device, and while he’s glad the strategy worked, he doesn’t think it’s fair. ‘The only way you can get any customer service is if you prove that you’ve actually purchased something from them,’ he said.”
  • Vaxed, waxed, but definitely not relaxed: Welcome to the pandemic swerve. The delta variant rudely interrupts an optimistic summer with the realization that this ordeal is far from over.”
  • The YouTubers who blew the whistle on an anti-vax plot. A mysterious marketing agency secretly offered to pay social media stars to spread disinformation about Covid-19 vaccines. Their plan failed when the influencers went public about the attempt to recruit them.”
  • Tweet—”Reverse Borat: American white supremacist comes to Hungary to praise its leader and argue how rolling back liberal democracy is such a great thing.”
  • Lawmaker Who Survived Jonestown Massacre Compares Trump To Jim Jones. Trump spins ‘destructive’ narratives to lost souls, says Rep. Jackie Speier.”
  • Supreme Court of Canada Reaffirms Public Access as a ‘Primary Goal of Copyright’.”—”Copyright law has public interest goals. . . . [T]he public benefits of our system of copyright are much more than “a fortunate by-product of private entitlement” [citation omitted]. Instead, increasing public access to and dissemination of artistic and intellectual works, which enrich society and often provide users with the tools and inspiration to generate works of their own, is a primary goal of copyright. “Excessive control by holders of copyrights and other forms of intellectual property may unduly limit the ability of the public domain to incorporate and embellish creative innovation in the long-term interests of society as a whole” (Théberge v. Galerie d’Art du Petit Champlain inc., [2002] 2 S.C.R. 336, at para. 32, per Binnie J.).”
  • Iraq Reclaims 17,000 Looted Artifacts, Its Biggest-Ever Repatriation. The cuneiform tablets and other objects had been held by the Museum of the Bible, founded by the family that owns the Hobby Lobby craft store chain, and by Cornell University.”
  • Black man who says 2 white men attacked him, then was himself charged, slams prosecutor. ‘There’s nothing more American than charging a Black man in his own attempted lynching,’ Vauhxx Booker said of the incident in Indiana.” “Booker slammed the charges and accused Leerkamp of retaliating against him because he refused to participate in a mediated resolution with his attackers. At a press conference on Monday, Booker explained that he was initially open to resolving the case but backed out after he was told he would have to sign a confidentiality agreement and publicly forgive Purdy and Cox.”
  • Governor pardons St. Louis couple who pointed guns at Black Lives Matter protesters. The couple pleaded guilty in June.”—”Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announced Tuesday that he had pardoned Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the St. Louis couple who were charged with waving guns at a group of Black Lives Matter protesters outside their home last year.”
  • Tweet—”A police department in New Hampshire is hiring! And it’s delighted to offer such ‘unique benefits’ as ‘qualified immunity.'”
  • In ‘Right Of Way,’ Angie Schmitt On The Rise Of Pedestrian Deaths.”—”Journalist Angie Schmitt says America’s car culture, our regulations and our road design favor cars — and evermore SUVs — over people. ‘We got to keep the cars moving quickly. Don’t delay the drivers. And that’s taken precedence over keeping people safe,’ Schmitt says. ‘It’s a really bad trade off we make.'” Also “Death Drives. Pedestrian fatalities are rising dramatically in the US, and Angie Schmitt’s Right of Way gives a rare look at why and what might be done about it.”—”More cars on the road, taller and heavier than ever before, going faster: each factor alone presents a serious problem. Together, they are a recipe for disaster.” “Low-income pedestrians, Black and Hispanic pedestrians, elderly pedestrians, and disabled pedestrians are all disproportionately affected. Black and Hispanic men are twice as likely as white men to die while walking, and four times more likely than the average member of the population. Native American men are almost five times more likely.” About, from 2020, Right of Way: Race, Class, and the Silent Epidemic of Pedestrian Deaths in America [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Angie Schmitt—”The face of the pedestrian safety crisis looks a lot like Ignacio Duarte-Rodriguez. The 77-year old grandfather was struck in a hit-and-run crash while trying to cross a high-speed, six-lane road without crosswalks near his son’s home in Phoenix, Arizona. He was one of the more than 6,000 people killed while walking in America in 2018. In the last ten years, there has been a 50 percent increase in pedestrian deaths. The tragedy of traffic violence has barely registered with the media and wider culture. Disproportionately the victims are like Duarte-Rodriguez—immigrants, the poor, and people of color. They have largely been blamed and forgotten. In Right of Way, journalist Angie Schmitt shows us that deaths like Duarte-Rodriguez’s are not unavoidable “accidents.” They don’t happen because of jaywalking or distracted walking. They are predictable, occurring in stark geographic patterns that tell a story about systemic inequality. These deaths are the forgotten faces of an increasingly urgent public-health crisis that we have the tools, but not the will, to solve. Schmitt examines the possible causes of the increase in pedestrian deaths as well as programs and movements that are beginning to respond to the epidemic. Her investigation unveils why pedestrians are dying—and she demands action. Right of Way is a call to reframe the problem, acknowledge the role of racism and classism in the public response to these deaths, and energize advocacy around road safety. Ultimately, Schmitt argues that we need improvements in infrastructure and changes to policy to save lives. Right of Way unveils a crisis that is rooted in both inequality and the undeterred reign of the automobile in our cities. It challenges us to imagine and demand safer and more equitable cities, where no one is expendable.”
  • Why We Have Police: Race, Class, and Labor Control.” Essay by Philip V McHarris from Violent Order: Essays on the Nature of Police [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] edited by David Correia and Tyler Wall, foreword by Rachel Herzing—”Violent Order explores the everyday practices of police and policing as modes of violence in the fabrication of social order. This book’s radical theory of police argues that the police demand for order is a class order and a racialized and patriarchal order, by arguing that the police project, in order to fabricate and defend capitalist order, must patrol an imaginary line between society and nature, it must transform nature into inert matter made available for accumulation. Police don’t just patrol the ghetto or the Indian reservation, the thin blue line doesn’t just refer to a social order, rather police announce a general claim to domination–of labor and of nature. Police and police violence are modes of environment-making. This edited volume argues that any effort to understand racialized police violence is incomplete without a focus on the role of police in constituting and reinforcing patterns of environmental racism.”
  • Why X-rated masterpiece The Devils is still being censored. Fifty years ago, Ken Russell’s historical drama shocked the world with raw violence and mass orgies. It is a tour de force that deserves to be seen in full, writes Adam Scovell.”
  • Daemons, Love & Carnage. Become a Demon, fight for the hand of the beautiful succubus by controlling your enemies and defeating the fearsome Boss. On his wedding day, the demon Valmael is turned into a sword due to a conspiracy by the suitors of his future wife, the beautiful succubus Norahmi. The demon will have to face countless challenges and fearsome opponents to save her bride… and maybe even return to his true form.”
  • More on this: “As Scarlett Johansson sues Disney, the silence of Robert Downey Jr, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans speaks volumes. There has been no statement in support of Scarlett Johansson from her Marvel Cinematic Universe co-stars yet. Perhaps their potentially continuing association with Disney for upcoming Marvel projects makes them reluctant to offend the media giant?” Also “Dwayne Johnson Speaks Out On If He Plans to Sue Disney For ‘Jungle Cruise’ Release Plan.”—”Most recently, Scarlett Johansson shocked audiences after suing Disney for releasing Black Widow on the streaming platform when her contract had an exclusive theatrical release written in. Emma Stone is reportedly also now considering what legal action she can take regarding Cruella‘s release, which also went to Disney’s Premier Access and theaters at the same time. Now, fans wonder if Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson will be taking any legal action as Disney’s Jungle Cruise has also just premiered with the same business model. Reportedly, Dwayne Johnson and his production company Seven Bucks Productions (co-producer on the film) have no intention to sue over the hybrid release. Dwayne is apparently in “lock-step” with Disney when it comes to finding ways to ensure the largest amount of audiences are reached for his film’s premiere. Johnson is also working with Disney in many capacities, producing the latest Disney+ series Behind the Attraction.” Also, in news to no one, highly paid actors are not the only ones Disney doesn’t properly pay: “25,000 Disneyland employees are suing, alleging Disney doesn’t pay a living wage.”
  • Being your authentic self is actually not ideal for creativity.”—”To hear countless management thinkers tell it, success in our complex era boils down to three simple words: Just be yourself. Indeed, authenticity has been touted as the path to achieving greater happiness, and a more profitable rapport with bosses and customers. However, researchers have produced several compelling counterarguments to all that authenticity. For example, staunchly sticking to one’s true self (which may not even exist) diminishes the ability of leaders to make valuable tradeoffs and alliances. The authenticity of leaders also can backfire when it is seen as illegitimate—a problem that particularly affects women and other leaders with ‘outsider’ status. My recent research reveals a perhaps even less expected downside of the authenticity cult. It turns out that creativity—which will be key to firms’ recovery from the Covid recession—may thrive on not always being true to thine own self. In fact, people can gain a creative edge when they assume physical expressions that contradict their state of mind, a phenomenon otherwise known as ‘mind-body dissonance’ (MBD).”
  • What we’ve lost with the rise of TV streaming. Binge-watching robs us of an opportunity to cultivate our moral sensitivities.”—”With binge-watching we lose an unsung resource for cultivating our moral sensitivities – gossip, in an open-ended and impersonal context – a resource that the cadence of traditional sequential programming made available, if only inadvertently. Of course, critics have long been aware that both the form and the content of a work can be ethically relevant. The advent of binge-watching indicates that the delivery platform can be as well.”
  • More on this: “A 700-Year-Old Poem Becomes an Existential Modern Fantasy Film.”—”This version of Gawain is equally worldly and idealistic, longing for the esteem of being a knight, but easily tempted by offers of ease and pleasure. Patel’s wearily nervous performance perfectly highlights his existential terror at the choice before him: death or a dishonorable life. This uncompromisingly somber interpretation of the poem makes The Green Knight a Bergman-esque meditation on mortality. It brings a 700-year-old story to life, only to remind viewers of the perils of living.”
  • Jan Langer’s Faces of Century—”Photographs show portraits of one hundred years old Czechs. Nowadays, there are over 1200. In fifty years their number will reach 14,000. How these people see their life after such a period? The majority of those I approached agree that with advancing age life is faster; until, at last, the life will pass in a moment. Time is shrinking, as are the faces of the elders. I wondered what changes and what remains on a human face and in a human mind in such a long time, and in such a short while in relative terms. I wondered how much loneliness of the old age weighs, and what memories stay in 100-year-old mind. This set of comparative photos (of archive portraits from the family album and contemporary portraits from the present time) explores the similarities and the differences in appearance and in physiognomy. The characteristics of personality change throughout life but it seems as if individual nature remains rooted in the abyss of time. The pairs of photographs are accompanied by brief facts from the people’s physical and psychic world.”
  • The Red Ring and the Wrecking Ball“—”Every two years, when the Olympic institution plants its flag in a new city, speculators from metropolitan Lausanne meet with profiteers in the new athletic colony. They hover over the city map with carving knives, repurposing public spaces and re-zoning residences. Together, for the sake of a two-week event, they take over the territory, line their pockets with public resources, bring in outside workers, and push long-established locals aside.”
  • A Mystical Masseuse Sends a Gated Community Into Upheaval.”—”In Never Gonna Snow Again, Polish filmmaker Malgorzata Szumowska combines the social realism she’s known for — marked by a dry, laconic tone — with a mystical plot. Zhenia (Alec Utgoff), a young Russian-born masseuse/healer, services clients in a wealthy Polish gated community who suffer various forms of grief, loneliness, and unfulfillment. They include a frustrated housewife (the superb Maja Ostaszewska), an eco-conscious widowed intellectual (Agata Kulesza), a dying man (Lukasz Simlat), a repressed soldier (Andrzej Chyra), and a dog-obsessed gourmand (Katarzyna Figura). Zhenia becomes their confidant, and with his hypnotic powers, this outsider nudges the denizens of this high-class bubble toward self-awareness. He becomes a mysterious redeemer, his inscrutability exposing the moral frailty of those around him.” Watch “Never Gonna Snow Again” trailer—”Opens July 30 in theaters and virtual cinemas: kinomarquee.com/snow On a gray, foggy morning outside a large Polish city, Zhenia (Alec Utgoff), a masseur from the East, enters the lives of the wealthy residents of a gated community. Using hypnotic, almost magical techniques to get a residence permit, he starts working. The well-to-do residents in their cookie-cutter homes seemingly have it all, but they all suffer from an inner sadness, some unexplained longing. The attractive and mysterious newcomer’s hands heal, and Zhenia’s eyes seem to penetrate their souls. To them, his Russian accent sounds like a song from the past, a memory of their seemingly safer childhoods. The latest from writer/director Malgorzata Szumowska (Elles, In the Name of) and her longtime collaborator Michal Englert is an unclassifiable meditation on class, immigration, and global warming with touches of magical realism and moments of sober beauty and subtle humor.”
  • Alabama Rain Storm Compared To A ‘Portal To Another World’.”
  • Barbie of Oxford Covid vaccine designer Dame Sarah Gilbert created. Barbie maker Mattel has created a doll of the scientist who designed the Oxford coronavirus vaccine, Prof Dame Sarah Gilbert.”—”Dame Sarah said she found the creation ‘very strange’ at first – but she hoped it would inspire children. ‘My wish is that my doll will show children careers they may not be aware of, like a vaccinologist,’ she said. Her Barbie is one of six to honour women working in science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem).”
  • Dwindle. Occult cyberpunk in the shadow of a twilight city.” Priced at $7.77. “DWINDLE is a fantastical cyberpunk tabletop role-playing game for one or more players. It can be played with a single GM, or multiple players facilitating and GMing for one another.” Also “Cybergrid is an online interface for Dwindle, a fantastical cyberpunk tabletop role-playing game for one or more players by Caro Asercion.”
  • Is the Loch Ness Monster a Lovesick Sturgeon? Locals Don’t Want to Know. Recent DNA research failed to find plesiosaur traces, but that doesn’t daunt Scots who depend on tourism; ‘the closer we get to finding out, the more curious we become’”
  • When slash just doesn’t do it for you anymore? Selfinserlash? Selfinserlash™️! “I have had sex with every actor from the TV show ‘Supernatural.’ What follows is an account of each erotic event accompanied by a letter grade.”