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March 16, 2010

Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro (2005)

After Remains of the Day, who would have thought that Kazuo Ishiguro would have in him a dour, sci-fi novel set in a sort of boarding school. To talk about the plot would be to ruin what is essentially a 280 page slow reveal, where little of slivers of awfulness and horror find their way into the story, making us recoil in disgust as we glimpse only a fraction of the world that exists outside Ishiguro's narrative. Told in first person from a naive standpoint, the book "wants us to inhabit their ignorance, not ours" according to a Powells.com essay. The novel never holds steady or lets us gather our bearings, we spend the novel perpetually leaning forward, trying to grasp meaning among the mundane storytelling. Ishiguro lets us figure out the more horrific passages ourselves, and that's what make it so stomach-churning. Mark Romanek is directing the inevitable film version, for which, no doubt, all secrets will be revealed in the trailer. Could be read as the metaphoric story of a cow on its way to the slaughterhouse.

(The book infected my dreams more than once, a good/bad sign.)

March 12, 2010

Tim Powers - The Stress of Her Regard (1989)

Readable but overlong fantasy-horror-literary history hybrid featuring lamia/vampires and the cream of Romantic poets--Keats, Shelley, and Byron--interacting a with a fictional character, Michael Crawford, who must also rid himself of the curse and save the twin sister of his murdered wife, Julia/Josephine. Powers' skill is in seamlessly incorporating real details--Shelley's drowning, his funeral pyre, the rescuing of his heart, for one example--into a fictional narrative, and deepening the understanding of both novel and history. In the end this was a narrative I wanted to wrap up 100 pages sooner, coming down to a battle to save Josephine and their baby, who might also be a product of the lamia/vampire. The best moments are the ones that little bearing on the plot--a glimpse of a monstrous thing sharing a cargo hold--the least ones the action machinations of the climax. It did make me purchase a book of Shelley poems to counterbalance my adolescent knowledge of Keats.

(BTW, this cover is terrible and looks like a romance novel!)

March 5, 2010

My Little Eye - 2001

A bit of Welsh nastiness from Marc Evans, shot in Nova Scotia with American actors. A snowbound house, five "slices of white bread" coming to the end of their tenacy in a Big Brother-inspired, web-cam surveilled spooky house. After six months, they are a few days away from the million dollar prize until bad things start to happen. The film lays on suspense and tension through a soundtrack of electronic whirrings and clicks, toys with us with a paranoia-upping visit from a stranger, and ends with a satisfying bloody third act. There are missteps--Evans betrays his handicam-only aesthetic when he tries to make the kills zippy, and it's never really feels like these five have been living together for six months. But it has a dark and despairing ending that Stephen King would love.

March 2, 2010

Ming Dynasty, Goleta

Scorpion bowl
We set off in a group to eat everything off the appetizer menu and drink a bucket of booze during happy hour. Click to see the whole set.

February 28, 2010

My Story of the Master Cleanse

After watching Rosminah do it several times, I finally decided to do the Master Cleanse. You may have heard of it--seven to 10 days of nothing but diluted maple syrup and lemon juice, while the body detoxes itself.
I guess at some point I decided my body needed some cleaning out. I'm pretty healthy anyway, but could I do with some extra intestinal housekeeping? Some things were promised: lost weight, a heightened sense of smell, watching weird stuff come out of your body, a general euphoric feeling. I'll try anything once, right?
So on a Tuesday night I had my last food and drink. I went out with a Zombie and an appetizer plate of potstickers. This wasn't by design, just how things played out.

DAY 1: This was the only day I really felt hungry. It was more a mental thing. I kept getting up to "grab a snack" and then sitting back down. While I was teaching I started thinking about what i was going to have for dinner. And then realizing...Nope! The mix itself of lemon juice (2 tbsp) and maple syrup (grade b, 2 tbsp) with water (about 1-1/4 liquid cups) and 1/10 tsp of cayenne pepper wasn't bad. And you do get to have a cup of tea at night: Yogi brand herbal laxative tea.

Continue reading "My Story of the Master Cleanse" »

October 26, 2009

It's the End of the World as We Know It

And keyboard cat will not play us out...

Posted via email from tedmills's posterous


Posted via email from tedmills's posterous



Posted via email from tedmills's posterous

September 17, 2009

Minatur Wunderland Hamburg

One of my contacts on Flickr recently posted some photos he took at Minatur Wunderland Hamburg, "The largest model railway in the world and one of the most successful permanent exhibitions in Northern Germany." I'm not a model railroad geek, but I love miniature stuff. And Wunderland is nut-butty insane. It's on my list of must-sees if I ever go to Germany. Because it's not just the train stations...

...but the outdoor rock concerts...

...and the flash mobs...

...and the protests in the street!
And so so so much more.
Here's a 5,135 and counting photo stream on Flickr for your perusal.
Here's the official site.

August 1, 2009

The Feral Houses of Detroit

James D. Griffioen's photos of nature reclaiming its territory.

July 28, 2009

It's official: Women Are Getting More Beautiful

A hot woman from Finland, yesterday.
According to some researchers
at the University of Helskinki, evolution is making more and more hot women.

FOR the female half of the population, it may bring a satisfied smile. Scientists have found that evolution is driving women to become ever more beautiful, while men remain as aesthetically unappealing as their caveman ancestors.

The researchers have found beautiful women have more children than their plainer counterparts and that a higher proportion of those children are female. Those daughters, once adult, also tend to be attractive and so repeat the pattern.

Over generations, the scientists argue, this has led to women becoming steadily more aesthetically pleasing, a "beauty race" that is still on. The findings have emerged from a series of studies of physical attractiveness and its links to reproductive success in humans.
I took a walk down State Street the other day and confirmed this. Then I spent the next day walking about K-Mart and the theory was disproven aisle after aisle.

July 26, 2009

Nerve.com: My Ten Favorite Festishes

Above: The best orgasm I've ever had.
Lifelong sex researcher Kris Saknussemm tells us about his favorite festishes, most of which, even though I spend way too much time on the web, I have never heard of.

Chremastistophilia -- Excitement at being robbed or held up
One British gentleman proudly displayed the scar he received from a knife wound in the course of a mugging -- an event which he said led to a spontaneous ejaculation, the most powerful and substantial he'd ever experienced. (While the sight of the knife wound continues to unhinge me.)
The others are just as strange.

Krugman lays it down: Why the "free market" can't fix healthcare

We're living in the reasons why, but still, some people seem to think "competition" will give us all affordable (hahahahahahaha) healthcare. And Paul Krugman is here to tell us why not.

There are two strongly distinctive aspects of health care. One is that you don't know when or whether you'll need care -- but if you do, the care can be extremely expensive. The big bucks are in triple coronary bypass surgery, not routine visits to the doctor's office; and very, very few people can afford to pay major medical costs out of pocket.
This tells you right away that health care can't be sold like bread. It must be largely paid for by some kind of insurance. And this in turn means that someone other than the patient ends up making decisions about what to buy. Consumer choice is nonsense when it comes to health care. And you can't just trust insurance companies either -- they're not in business for their health, or yours.
Read the whole thing, it's quite short.

July 25, 2009

David Foster Wallace on Roger Federer

David Foster Wallace had a great article in 2006 on tennis player Roger Federer. This is one of those essays that make you feel way more knowledgeable about a subject you may not know anything about once you finish. And suddenly you look at that subject in a completely different way.

Interestingly, what is less obscured in TV coverage is Federer's intelligence, since this intelligence often manifests as angle. Federer is able to see, or create, gaps and angles for winners that no one else can envision, and television's perspective is perfect for viewing and reviewing these Federer Moments. What's harder to appreciate on TV is that these spectacular-looking angles and winners are not coming from nowhere -- they're often set up several shots ahead, and depend as much on Federer's manipulation of opponents' positions as they do on the pace or placement of the coup de grĂ¢ce. And understanding how and why Federer is able to move other world-class athletes around this way requires, in turn, a better technical understanding of the modern power-baseline game than TV -- again -- is set up to provide.
The whole article is great, read it.