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That writing as careless as von Däniken's, whose principal thesis is that our ancestors were dummies, should be so popular is a sober commentary on the credulousness and despair of our times. But the idea that beings from elsewhere will save us from ourselves is a very dangerous doctrine - akin to that of the quack doctor whose ministrations prevent the patient from seeing a physician competent to help him and perhaps to cure his disease.

—Carl Sagan, Foreword to The Space Gods Revealed[14]

Nothing has changed since then.

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Jun. 2nd, 2012 09:53 pm
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You want to talk about dreary portentous drivel that addresses questions of faith and humanity - I'm watching The Tree of Life on Sky. 40 minutes in I started narrating the film as if the events on screen where a Nick Cave song, of whom I do a passable impression, and ten minutes after that started heckling it as Yosemite Sam. It looks lovely though, but what boring shit. It does remind me that the principle pleasure of cinema will always be staring into people's stupid faces. It is portentous, in the sense of overly solemn. And reader's of my own enthusiastic rambling lately might know how I feel about solemnity.

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Watching The Avengers last week I made a decision about my taste - I'd always been dimly aware that I hated the horrendous treatment of the scientific origin stories in the Silver Age comics. Stan Lee is a big offender for this, and I want to attribute a certain amount of blame to that era for the dire treatment of physics and biology you see being meted out in alleged SF movies now. I can't really hold it against The Avengers as it's reflecting the very subject matter it's doing quite well, but I can hold it against Joss Whedon generally and J.J. Abrams and his lab monkey screenwriters Orci and Kurtzman. And I do, quite vehemently. Now to again be fair before I then go on to apportion blame and opprobrium, if you're doing an adaptation of the 60s Star Trek TV show then robust science would neither be the first thing you took away from the original material nor your first priority in trying to adapt it. The issue I have is that warping the laws of the universe in order to make your plot work is a slippery slope. Space opera as was is pretty fucking scientifically bankrupt, as any decent SF author will tell you, because you get so many free gifts and get-out-clauses to make your plot work with the impossible technology, that there's fuck all left but the yarn. A film like Star Trek is such bilge because it takes these massively forgiving and warped versions of the laws of physics and then applies them badly and inconsistently in order to make their stupid illogical plot work. How many fucking gimmes do you want, you cocking hacks? These men are shit writers and I'm not going to stay quiet about it. I don't think people should be writing those kind of stories any more, and I don't think people should be writing the kind of superhero material The Avengers represents with anything like a straight face. The Avengers represents a much better class of action adventure material than Star Trek did, I just hate how they developed the central device of the Tessaract, a glowing mcguffin cube that the goodies and baddies have been fighting over for the last few Marvel movies, which is a boundless source of Pure Energy, whatever the fuck that means. Oh and it can open windows to deep space that monsters come out of and project forcefields penetrable only by itself. If it was just a reactor, that'd be fine, like it appeared to be in the Captain America film, but it's a ray-spitting magic cube that opens doors in the universe now too. Can we address the fact that, as a trope, the equivalence of magic and energy really fucks me off? I can't be the only one. Anyway, I can't be that mad at this slight, basically enjoyable film, but I'm getting sick of this vapid, illogical "rays and energy" theory of how the physical universe is supposed to work. I find it all so distasteful. That's what I realised.

My Avengers review: Largely an inoffensive movie, blandly entertaining, occasionally laugh out loud funny and spectacular. Couple of scenes of genuinely gripping and fairly nasty villain dialogue that elevated it. Well plotted, well paced and well balanced ensemble action. It's also Joss Whedon reined in, it's him being paid to do what he does with great economy and with none of his smarm. He's going to make so much money off this one, the lucky fucker. Surprisingly, I like all of the heroes involved too. I know sweaty dick all about Marvel really, and Whedon puts across the What Makes These Guys Heroes with great efficiency. On a personal note, my Mark Ruffalo fandom is totally something I'm okay with. Guy is great.

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Apr. 28th, 2012 02:36 pm
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Each media "adds itself on to what we already are", realizing "amputations and extensions" to our senses and bodies, shaping them in a new technical form. As appealing as this remaking of ourselves may seem, it really puts us in a "narcissistic hypnosis" that prevents us from seeing the real nature of the media

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I was just wondering how much music writing I've read where an artist is profiled and their work is discussed in relation to their environment and background. It's a good approach. I'm increasingly inclined to get the shock paddles out and revive the author actually. Me and old Roland never have got on, the tweedy French ponce.

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