I have a bit of an obsession with Casey Neistat. Or rather, I’m obssessed with Casey Neistat’s process. He’s messy but organised, chaotic but meticulous. Watching this video made in 2010 about the 10 rules for Tom Sachs’ studio (Casey Neistat was one of Tom Sachs’ studio assistant), you can really see where he got a lot of his ideas.
A strange sigil has been cropping up in (mostly indie) games and, thanks to some amazing detective work on the part of some redditors, it appears to be pointing to some kind of ARG. Is this Frog Fractions 2? Is lowbrowculture.com Frog Fractions 2? If you want to get deeper down the rabbit hole of this, I can recommend the /r/gamedetectives subreddit which consumed a lot of my productivity last week, especially their work on Overwatch’s apparent “Sombra ARG”, where it’s perfectly reasonable to take a random line of source code from a web page, run it through a Vigenére cipher (using the passphrase gained from a previous bit of detective work) and then diff’ing the resulting “datamoshed” image with an original image to get even more clues. I love this stuff. (Incidentally, this is the second week in a row an article from Patrick Klepek has been making me happy. He’s doing amazing work at Vice.)
Let’s just take a look at the lede to this story:
Spokeswoman at high temple of particle physics suggests ‘scientific users’ of the Geneva facility ‘let their humour go too far’ with staging of occult rite
Holy shit. Something about the phrase “pranking scientists suspected” doesn’t fill me with confidence.
Disney’s Practical Guide to Path Tracing
Walt Disney Animation studios have put up a primer on a super-technical high-tech subject presented as if it was a 1950s documentary. It’s really informative and really charming. See also Disney’s Practical Guide to Snow Simulation.
Speaking of Pixar, Quora has some real gems hidden away deep in its belly. Like this fascinating 2011 answer from Craig Good, Pixar boffin, about the render times for the original cinema release of Toy Story vs the 2010 remaster.
Popbitch goes deep into the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Maps, digging into the music theory behind what makes it so unique and why it turns up under so many pop songs. Why did the Black Eyed Peas sample the intro? Let’s take a look at the drum tab to find out, shall we?
I’ve got a real soft spot for ‘clicker’ games. Things like Cookie Clicker and Candy Box just hoover up my productivity (honestly, I went to look up the URLs for these and I just lost 20 minutes to Cookie Clicker again). Spaceplan does nothing new with the formula, but it’s very slickly done and, unlike most other games of the genre, this one actually has a well-written story.
No Man’s Sky (game)
No Man’s Sky is a peaceful, colourful slice of sci-fi. When people ask me what it’s like, I say it’s very Minecrafty. You travel to galaxies to collect resources that allow you to travel to more galaxies and collect more resources. And you do this again and again until you’ve explored the universe. The act of doing this is so serene and calming, it’s a lovely refresher from the usual hyperkinetic games that come out this time of year. Also, there’s a lovely story doing the rounds of people naming the planets they find after dead relatives as a way to remember them. Pull-quote: “It’s one of 18 quintillion planets now and no one else may ever find it but I know it’s there and it has her name on it. That’s good enough for me.”
Web series where people take drugs assemble Ikea furniture. In the first episode, Giancarlo and Nicole take acid and build a chest of drawers and it’s actually super sweet.
Geoff Manaugh (BLDGBLOG) is one of my favourite writers. In his book A Burglar’s Guide to the City, he talks about how burglars have used architecture to plan their robberies. If, like me, your favourite parts of heist films like Ocean’s Eleven are the bits where they construct elaborate recreations of the places they’re about to rob, then this book is right up your street.
Phone Sex Operators (article)
A series of portraits of the people on the other end of phone sex lines. Their stories are fascinating
“My first night was on a Saturday at midnight. It was a gentleman who I believe called himself Bob. He told me about his first experience with a glory hole. He explained that he had no one he felt comfortable telling this to, and I felt a strange intimacy between us, though it was rooted in a fantasy. I think it’s easier to release repressed desires to a non-judgmental, fictional person, because there are no consequences in the outside world.”
- Forrest Whitaker doing a weird breathy accent is super distracting. Is that supposed to be a British accent?
- Oh God, what if they try to make Ben Mendelsohn do a British accent?
- This looks every inch a Gareth Edwards film.
- It looks like they’re trying to set up K-2SO as the comic relief. If those are the best laughs they could pick out for the trailer, oh dear.
- Felicity Jones seems like she’s stuck in the Tomb Raider school of action acting.
Overall, I’m cautiously optimistic about this one. It looks great, really nailing the 70s aesthetic with a cinéma vérité feel. But Edwards’ last film, Godzilla, was let down by its characters and nothing in this trailer suggests things have improved.
In an effort to push out the jive and bring in the love, I’m going to more of an effort to talk about the things that are bringing me joy.
It never quite shakes off its influences (basically all of Spielberg’s early 80s films – Jaws, E.T., Close Encounters and Poltergeist), but as a piece of summer fluff, Stranger Things was surprisingly entertaining. It’s less cliffhanger-y than the other Netflix original shows, but it’s managed to achieve a pretty compelling vibe that draws you back for more. I’m interested to see what they do for season 2 now that they’ve basically tapped the 80s Spielberg well dry.
Sleeping Giants is a big dopey sci-fi thriller about the discovery of huge pieces of a statue from an ancient civilisation. And the whole thing is told in an epistolary manner, where each chapter is the transcript of an interview. So the information is drip-fed to the reader, increasing the tension. It’s not going to win any literary awards, but it’s so fast-paced and cinematic, it’s a great summer read.
Brie Larson as Captain Marvel
Call me Captain Marvel. pic.twitter.com/IgqRIb9ijM
— Brie Larson (@brielarson) 24 July 2016
A lot of great news came out of Comic Con. We got a rad Doctor Strange trailer, a pretty decent Wonder Woman trailer. But my absolute favourite news so far has been the announcement that Brie Larson will be playing Carol Danvers in the Captain Marvel film. This is some perfect casting.
Films You’d Love Your Kids to See
The Lighthouse Cinema here in Dublin are running a “Films you’d love your kids to see” season. Now, I question the logic of programming for kids and scheduling shows way too late for kids to actually attend. Still, I’m not going to turn up an opportunity to see The Goonies in the cinema.
If, four months ago, you had asked me about my expectations for AMC’s adaptation of Preacher, I would have probably given you the vocal equivalent of the poop emoji. But the finale this week capped what turned out to be an unexpectedly great season of an unexpectedly great show. It’s not a straight one-for-one adaptation of the comic, but they absolutely nailed the tone of the books. Definitely worth checking out.