Bubble Bursts Film Tradition

“Hollywood is abuzz over Bubble.

It’s not that Steven Soderbergh’s new art house movie is expected to break any box office records when it opens Friday. A low-budget murder mystery set in a doll factory and made with non-actors, it’s hardly blockbuster material.

But because it’s the first feature by an Oscar-winning director (Traffic) to be released in theaters, on cable television and on DVD in a four-day span, Bubble is forcing everyone in town to wrestle with this question: Is the great American tradition of going out to the movies on its way out?” (LA Times)

Short answer: I doubt it.

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Culture Clash Redux

End of the Spear reviewed: “In 1956, five American missionaries were killed by members of an Ecuadoran tribe called the Waodani. The Americans had been trying to penetrate the tribe’s isolated culture, befriend its members, and bring them to Christ, but instead met their deaths at the hands of the Waodani’s spears. The story could have easily ended there, another violent clash between disparate peoples. But that was only the beginning. In a decision that would have been unimaginable to most people, the wives and children of the murdered missionaries moved into the Waodani village and helped to care for them, successfully forging a friendship that transformed all of them.” (BeliefNet)

The Year 1905

I had received this or something like it several times in recent months and was glad Ed Fitzgerald reposted it in his consistently wonderful weblog unfutz. He uses it to riff on the fact that, despite the reminder of the progress we have made in material well-being over the last 100 years, we are in the midst of the rightwing dismantling of the century’s progress in personal freedoms. Point well-taken, but I was searching for it for a different reason. The mother of a friend of mine, who had celebrated her 100th birthday last summer, passed away last week. I wanted to send her this text to complement the more personal reflections on her mother’s 100 years:

“Here are some of the U.S. statistics for 1905:

The average life expectancy in the U.S. was 47 years.

Only 14 percent of the homes in the U.S. had a bathtub.

Only 8 percent of the homes had a telephone.

A three-minute call from Denver to New York City cost eleven dollars.

There were only 8,000 cars in the U.S., and only 144 miles of paved roads.

The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph.

Alabama, Mississippi, Iowa, and Tennessee were each more heavily populated than California.

With a mere 1.4 million residents, California was only the 21st most populous state in the Union.

The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower!

The average wage in the U.S. was 22 cents an hour.

The average U.S. worker made between $200 and $400 per year.

A competent accountant could expect to earn $2000 per year,
a dentist $2,500 per year,
a veterinarian between $1,500 and $4,000 per year, and
a mechanical engineer about $5,000 per year.

More than 95 percent of all births in the U.S. took place at home.

Ninety percent of all U.S. physicians had no college education. Instead, they attended medical schools, many of which were condemned in the press and by the government as ‘substandard.’

Sugar cost four cents a pound.

Eggs were fourteen cents a dozen.

Coffee was fifteen cents a pound.

Most women only washed their hair once a month, and used borax or egg yolks for shampoo.

Canada passed a law prohibiting poor people from entering the country for any reason.

The five leading causes of death in the U.S. were:
1. Pneumonia and influenza
2. Tuberculosis
3. Diarrhea
4. Heart disease
5. Stroke

The American flag had 45 stars.

Arizona, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Hawaii, and Alaska hadn’t been admitted to the Union yet.

The population of Las Vegas, Nevada, was 30!!!

Crossword puzzles, canned beer, and iced tea hadn’t been invented.

There was no Mother’s Day or Father’s Day.

Two of 10 U.S. adults couldn’t read or write.

Only 6 percent of all Americans had graduated high school.

Marijuana, heroin, and morphine were all available over the counter at corner drugstores.

According to one pharmacist, ‘Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind, regulates the stomach and bowels, and is, in fact, a perfect guardian of health.’ (Shocking!)

Eighteen percent of households in the U.S had at least one full-time servant or domestic.

There were only about 230 reported murders in the entire U.S.”

Loompanics folds

The legendary purveyor of hard to find, controversial, unusual books, whose catalogues I have been getting for years, is folding. Loompanics offerings have included books about identity change and dropping off the map, anarchsim, anti-corporate issues, the politics of privacy, self-defense, survivalism and self-sufficiency, lockpicking and other illegal activities, confidence scams, outlaw history, and getting revenge. Great for those seeking practical advice or just daydreaming (I won’t tell you which category I fit into…). They are offering all their stock at 50% off if you want a last chance. [thanks to the null device via walker]

Neuro-Valentines

A proposal from Mind Hacks, given the approach of February 14th: “All you need is a few well-connected neuroimaging buddies and probably four or five hundred pounds to afford the scanning time. Sit yourself in the scanner looking at picures of your beloved, or maybe listening to the song that was playing when you first met. Some quick image analysis later, and a trip to the printers, and – viola! – you have a customised Valentines Day card showing your brain and the activity of your brain as you contemplate the love of your life. The inscription? ‘Thinking of you’ should do it!”