Weekend Reads: Dream Pop, Evangelion, Massive Attack, Beyoncé, Fake Instagram Celebrities & more

Also: “The Expanse,” movie monster science, “The Crow“ s dark legacy, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, “Blue Velvet,” and what’s wrong the internet.
Cocteau Twins
Cocteau Twins, dream pop’s kings and queen

Pitchfork compiles a list of the 30 best dream pop albums. “The term has meant different things to different audiences at different times, because it was always more of a descriptor than a proper genre. So in assembling this list, we took the descriptive quality of the term and ran with it, assembling a list of 30 records that felt like they belonged together even as they came from different scenes, eras, and geographic locations.”

You really should be watching Syfy’s The Expanse. “It is, in two words, A Lot. In the wrong hands, it might even be Too Much. But under the watchful eye of series creators Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby… and with both members of James S.A. Corey’s real-life writing team heading up the writers room, as well as SyFy’s full support (and budget) behind it, The Expanse is not just spectacular, but, in the most literal sense, epic.” Arguably the thing I regret most about cancelling Amazon Video was losing the ability to watch The Expanse.

Evangelion: Death Rebirth

An exhaustive overview of Neon Genesis Evangelion, one of the most (in)famous anime series of all time. “There is an unwritten rule in most anime circles that should never be broken: Never start a conversation about Evangelion. The simple mention of the name creates an effect that can (and will) ruin relationships, turn people away from anime, and ultimately just pollute the air with a toxicity that is incredibly challenging to traverse through.”

Massive Attack’s Mezzanine recently turned 20 and to celebrate the occasion, they encoded the classic album into DNA. “Using technology developed by scientists at Swiss university ETH Zurich, the digital audio of the album is to be stored in the form of genetic information. The audio will be compressed using Opus, coded in DNA molecules — with 920,000 short DNA strands containing all the information — and then poured into 5,000 tiny glass beads.”

Godzilla: Final Wars - Ryuhei Kitamura
The Big G

What’s the science behind gigantic movie monsters like King Kong and Godzilla? “We want to consider three biological methods for gigantic animal expansion. First, larger atoms, actually in a similar vein to Asimov’s own answer to shrinkage. Second, larger cellular structures inside the monster’s body, and third, cells that remain the same size, but multiply in rapid quantity to create more living tissue and a proportionately larger body. I like the third one the best, but we’ll get there.”

Tom Breihan reflects on why The Crow has become such a cult classic. “[T]he comic, in its viewpoint and its aesthetic, spoke to a generation in which alienated outsider detachment had gone full mainstream. A movie version of that was fully equipped to sell a specific idea of cool to kids who thought they were too cool to have such things sold to them. And, speaking as someone who was very much one of those kids, it worked.”

Avengers: Infinity War - The Russo Brothers
All the superheroes

With the release of Avengers: Infinity War, it’s time to start thinking about phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. “I think the overall mythology will begin to [grow], as you’ve already started to see with Guardians and certainly now with Panther and with Doctor Strange. I don’t think we’ll ever leave our past behind necessarily, but I think the new elements and the new inroads and, by the way, places that we haven’t explored yet from the comic universe, will become more and more at the forefront.”

Speaking of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the movies have grown increasingly distant from TV shows like Agents of SHIELD, Agent Carter, and Jessica Jones. “The Marvel Cinematic Universe still represents a laudable idea that was mostly always too ambitious to work: a shared universe of movie franchises, weaving in and out of each other, a decade of continuity across blockbuster after blockbuster. It’s sad that that idea remains a dream when it comes to bridging the movie-verse with the growing world established on the small screen five years ago.”

Movie Theatre
The silver screen (Jake HillsPublic Domain)

Maybe next time, go see a movie all by yourself. “Perhaps my favorite thing about watching movies by myself, however, is the lack of pressure to form an immediate opinion. Much to the annoyance of my friends and family members, I’m not particularly good at articulating how I feel about a movie until I’ve had a little time to think it over… Whatever the reason, those extra minutes I spend to myself after watching a movie — on the subway, in the car, along the street — give me time to bounce ideas around in my head before trying an opinion on for size.”

Beyoncé’s Coachella performance was more than a concert; it was Illuminati propaganda. “During a set full of music, dance, and images, Beyoncé ran through centuries of Black cultural touchstones in just two hours — and spawned a range of theories about what she was really trying to say.”

Blue Velvet - David Lynch
Bluer than velvet was the night

Tara Isabella Burton argues that David Lynch’s Blue Velvet is a great movie about faith. “It would be foolish to argue that Blue Velvet is a specifically, intentionally Christian movie… But Lynch’s treatment of redemption and unearned forgiveness in the face of horrific evil bears a strong resemblance to the idea of grace in the Christian tradition: as something that is not earned,’ but rather offered freely; something that does not negate the difficulties of the world but rather offers hope beyond it.”

Jake Meador is weary of Christianity’s penchant for worldview criticism. “[I]t leaves us with a much less interesting world and a savior who does not seem to love it nearly as much as the God of the Bible is said to love the world. And that picture is a real barrier to evangelism. But more than that it is a barrier to worship because it creates divisions within our minds that should not exist and deprives us of the chance to see the face of God in unexpected places.”

Mosaic Web Browser

Hard to believe that it’s been 25 years since the Mosaic web browser was publicly released. “It was a radical step forward for the web, which was at that point, a rather dull experience. It took the boring document’ layout of your standard web page and transformed it into something much more visually exciting, like a magazine.” My discovery of Mosaic, and by extension, the World Wide Web, in the spring of 1995 was one of the most important moments in my life, for a number of reasons.

In 2018, people get sad when their favorite fake Instagram celebrity’s account is hacked by another fake Instagram celebrity. “Bermuda took over Lil Miquela’s Instagram and wiped it clean, calling the move her next step.’ She then shared six different posts with long, ranting captions, four of which were selfies. In addition to calling Lil Miquela a fake ass person,’ Bermuda also gave her an ultimatum, saying that she wouldn’t give Lil Miquela her account back until she told people the truth.’ The irony, of course, being that neither of them are real.” What a future, folks.

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M.G. Siegler writes that Silicon Valley is out of touch with reality. “If I had to guess, I’d say the root is an increasing sense of entitlement as the tech industry has grown in stature to become the most important from a fiscal perspective and arguably from a cultural perspective as well.”

Finally, VR pioneer Jaron Lanier laments what’s wrong with the internet today. “[I]f you go back to the origins of Silicon Valley culture, there were these big traditional companies like IBM that seemed to be impenetrable fortresses. And we had to create our own world. To us, we were the underdogs and we had to struggle. And we’ve won. I mean, we have just totally won. We run everything. We are the conduit of everything else happening in the world. We’ve disrupted absolutely everything. Politics, finance, education, media, relationships — family relationships, romantic relationships — we’ve put ourselves in the middle of everything, we’ve absolutely won. But we don’t act like it.”