May 20, 2017

Reading: Revolutionary Army of the Infant Jesus, Star Trek: Discovery, MST3K, Fearing the Alt-Left & More

Also: Screwing over creatives, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’s narrative flaws, saving old TV shows, redeeming nostalgia, touring Apple’s new campus, hand-coding CSS, and a better pro-life approach.
RAIJ Live 3
Revolutionary Army of the Infant Jesus in concert

J. Edward Keyes interviews Revolutionary Army of the Infant Jesus about recapturing mystery, religious and secular fundamentalism, neo-folk’s dark side, and the films of Andrei Tarkovsky. “What we’re trying to do with our music is reconnect people with that sense of mystery, that sense that there’s a depth and uncertainty to everything that we take for granted. This is especially crucial in the secular, materialist, capitalist world, where everything has been reduced to commodity and brand.”

While technology has allowed creatives to make more stuff and reach unprecedented audiences, that hasn’t necessarily translated into their financial success. “People don’t want to pay for content. They want to consume it for free, or monetise it for themselves. There’s never been a greater sense of people feeling entitled to your creative work than there is right now.”

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol 2
Two-time galaxy savers

I enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 well enough, but I don’t necessarily disagree with E. Stephen Burnett’s criticisms of its uneven tone. “When the filmmakers show discipline by focusing separately on the crew’s very human griefs, with humor that helps power these struggles, the film blasts off. But moments of uncertainty… threaten to undermine the film’s own fun characters and original ideas.” For the record, Yondu’s storyline was probably the film’s best aspect. And the Mary Poppins line? Pure gold.

Guy Spiller resurrects old machinery to save TV shows made decades ago. “Spiller charges hundreds of dollars to digitize an hour of footage (though it varies a lot depending on the tape), and gets material from all over the country. ‘I’m saving these machines; I’m getting to save shows from the Golden Era of TV, and I’m making people very happy,’ he says. ‘So, yeah, it’s satisfying on pretty much every level.’” Not every hero wears a cape, as they say.

Star Trek: Discovery
The Discovery

Speaking of resurrected TV shows, io9 breaks down the recent Star Trek: Discovery trailer. I remain skeptical, though. Parts look cool but the visuals also feel out of sync with the series’ timeline, which is 10 years before the original series. I still wish that, instead of a prequel, the new series took place after Voyager, and showed us the Federation et al’s future. Going with a prequel seems like the “safe” choice, but also one more fraught with problems.

Oh, and that alien whose race was “biologically determined” to sense the coming of death? I’m sure that whoever wrote that line thought it sounded cool and portentous, but the whole concept of an alien existing only to sense death seems pretty ridiculous. As one io9 commenter put it, “seems like a race biologically determined for the script.”

MST3K, Satellite of Love
The Satellite of Love

MST3K creator Joel Hodgson may make fun of movies, but only as a movie lover can. “[I]n every movie we do, there are moments where you can’t believe how great it is. You can’t believe either how beautiful it is or how good a performance is, there are just these great moments that you can’t get over.”

For Jen Pollock Michel, nostalgia isn’t a dirty word. “Nostalgia can be rallied for political gain to disastrous effect, and we are rightfully wary of rhetoric that distorts history and seeks to exclude. But there is another kind of nostalgia that can’t be so easily dismissed. It tells us that the world should be different that it is. Better than it is.”

Apple Park
The Ring @ Apple Park

Steven Levy explores Apple’s new $5 billion campus. “It’s probably more accurate to say that Apple Park is the architectural avatar of the man who envisioned it, the same man who pushed employees to produce those signature products. In the absence of his rigor and clarity, he left behind a headquarters that embodies both his autobiography and his values.”

Jen Simmons makes a convincing case for eschewing frameworks and learning to code CSS layouts by hand. “How will this be possible? Because now, finally, we have real tools for layout. CSS properties that were created to do layout. CSS Grid, Flexbox, Alignment, Writing Modes, Multicolumn, along with, yes, Floats, Positioning, Inline Block, Display Table — just to name a few.”

Angry Computer Guy

Keri Smith is a liberal distressed by the left’s increasing illiberalism. “I have been wondering why more people on the left are not speaking up against violence, in favor of free exchange of ideas and dialogue, in favor of compassion. But I know why. I was in the cult. Part of it is that you are a true believer, and part of it is that you are fearful of being… trashed as a sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, Islamophobic, xenophobic, fascist, white supremacist nazi.”

Kelly Rosati argues that the pro-life movement could be more effective by adopting a more comprehensive approach to abortion. “Like so many pro-life Christians, I long for the day when Roe v. Wade is overturned. But sometimes I wonder if we’d be ready. What if Roe were overturned and abortion were outlawed in some states today? We would rightly rejoice over the many young lives spared. But would we be prepared to assist the hundreds of thousands of young moms for whom abortion is no longer a legal option?”


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