The brilliant and exuberantly tenacious Phil Broughton is a health physicist, radiation safety educator, and the proprietor/ranter-in-chief of Funranium Labs. It’s a joy to publish his edifying, hilarious essay concerning Hollywood expository narratives as they pertain to… TEH SCIENCE! Illustrated with LULZ from across the world wide interwubz, arbitrarily selected by yours truly. Haha! Sorry, Phil. (No I’m not.) But seriously, Phil is a tremendously gregarious and charming font of knowledge, so feel free to poke him about coffee, nuclear weapons, beer, history, urban exploring, science “or any of the myriad useless facts bubbling about” in his brainmeats at firstname.lastname@example.org. Yay, Phil! ~Mer
Hollywood, we need to talk about your dating habits. In particular, how important it is to have a reference to verify ages before you get in trouble. No, I’m not talking about the hypersexualization of 12 year old girls trying to pass for 18. Nor am I talking about the 60-somethings trying to pass for 18 as well. That is a totally separate headshaking situation.
I would like to blame the movie Prometheus for this rant, but it’s hardly the only guilty party, just the one that finally made me snap. Hollywood, you don’t understand how carbon dating works, that there are other dating methods that sometimes work better, and that the true (unattainable) goal is to find the perfect point of reference to scale them all against. But underlying all of that is a body of scientific work and assumptions that you’ve conveniently ignored in the interest of “character driven plot”. But I have news for you: your characters and your plot make less sense when you take these shortcuts. And when you do this, people become confused as to what science and state of the art technology actually are, to the point that we have to deprogram juries and judges of the CSI Effect in capital punishment trials because Reality. Doesn’t. Work. Like. That.
Wren Britton of PUREVILE just posted this (and several more scorching hot, queer-as-fuck music videos) on his website, saying: “Just some pretty amazing gay positive hip hop…FINALLY…I mean with so many in this genre still on the DL its really amazing to see some new kids standing up and saying ‘YES HUNTY’…..Keep that shit up !!!!!”
Oh, hells yass.
The video for Mykki Blanco‘s “Wavvy” is particularly off the hook. Really, what’s not to love about a juicy, no-holds-barred, 19th Century salon style orgy? Some of our east coast readers may recognize some familiar faces and names from the downtown NYC bohemian gallery scene: Susan Surface, No Bra, Christelle de Castro, Jeanette Hayes, Ruth Gruca…
“What the fuck I gotta prove to a room full of dudes who ain’t listenin to my words cause they starin at my shoes?”
A few hours ago, Finitor posted this raw video he shot on Staten Island yesterday with an iPhone 5. No audio mixing, no post-processing. Its soundtrack is eerily beautiful, and, in the context of current events, more than a little sad.
Finitor writes: “There’s this unfinished building on Staten Island’s east shore, intended to eventually house an indoor track. When the wind blows strong, the metal strutwork and roof skin resonate to create this haunting music, like something one of those austere [Finnic] composers like Arvo Pärt would produce with a full chamber orchestra. …The building looks over the worst storm-hit parts of SI, and the keening is kind of a soundtrack to the ruin.”
Needless to say, it’s been an incalculably stressful and difficult week for millions of people directly affected by Hurricane Sandy. This is just a series of “How You Can Help” links cobbled together from various trusted sources around the web. Please, by all means, add more in comments if you like.
East Coast and Caribbean comrades, we’re all sending lots of love and warm, dry vibes your way. Please let us know how we can help. Hang in there.
NonsenseNYC has also collected together a fine list of people and projects that require aid, many that need actual labour, “not your donations or clicks”. Their latest newsletter began with, “The most important thing to understanding what’s going on is to actually go to the areas that need attention. People who need help will not always ask for it, or be able to ask for it. This is a do-it-yourself guide: call or internet if you can, but ultimately just go.”
As mentioned previously, for the next wee bit, we’re going to be cross-posting some choice Geekquality blog pieces that we think may be of interest to the Coilhouse readership. First up, this interview with writer/director/producer Justin Simien and producer Lena Waithe about their indie film Dear White People, conducted by Geekquality contributing editor Moxie Munroe earlier this summer. (Thanks again to everybody over there. We <3 you.) ~Mer
MOXIE: I’m completely in love with your project, having seen the trailer on Shadow And Act. What sparked the idea for the project? JUSTIN SIMIEN: The original idea for the film happened during my senior year at Chapman University. After growing up in Houston, attending the rather diverse High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, college life at a small private college in Orange County was a four year long culture shock. I wanted to comment on my experience and started collecting personal episodes like mitigating the sheer disillusionment in certain White students when I couldn’t teach them how to crypt walk, or when I decided to finally cut my substantial fro, or just in general when I acted differently then the Black people they saw on 106 and Park. LENA WAITHE: I was first introduced to [the project] in a writers group (which is how Justin and I met). He was writing it as a TV show, but all the themes and the characters were the same, and it had a huge impact on me. I loved his voice and I loved him. Of course we quickly became close friends and I finally read the feature length version of “2%” which is what it was originally called (because the black students at Manchester only made up two percent of the population). And once I read the feature, I was just sold on helping him bring this story to light.
M: As a Black woman and a creative I know I’ve had conversations with folks time and time again, especially in college, that are reminiscent of a lot of moments in the trailer. What was the moment when you all said, “We need to make a movie about this”? JS: I had been working on the material for a few years, trying it as a TV pilot or an overwritten 265 page feature, which didn’t garner much interest for some strange reason, when I realized that my professional life was mirroring my experiences in college. I was still one of VERY few black faces in most of the places I found myself professionally. Requests to teach friends how to crypt walk were replaced with requests for “Dougie lessons.” I was being confused for the one other Black guy in the office, and the requests to see me with an afro continued unabated, despite my insistence that it was a pain for me to manage and I didn’t really want one.
Also (and more importantly) in the culture there seemed to be a real need for a fresh dialogue about race. The birther movement was gaining momentum, the ugly incidents over a “Black” themed party thrown at UCSD mirrored scenes from the script, and debate over the lack of Black voices in film and tv was happening all around me. That’s when I started the twitter account @DearWhitePeople and working in earnest to get the script to a place where it could be shot as a feature.
LW: I dug [his Twitter] so much that every now and then I would pitch him jokes for it and he would throw them up there. But myself, and one of the other producers Ann Le (who’s been there from the beginning) have been passionate about the film for years. And Justin’s been working on the project for about 7 years. So it’s always been around, I think we just all came to the point where we said it’s either now or never. And thank God, because the timing could not have been better.
M: How has the use of social networking aided in the development of this project? (Big congratulations on meeting and exceeding your IndieGoGo goal, by the way.) JS: Starting the Twitter account was great because it allowed me to really work out the voice of one of the film’s leads. In the film Samantha White starts a radio show on campus called “Dear White People,” the controversy over which is a driving force for a lot of the plot. Through Twitter I was able to test out material, refine her voice, and gain some insight on the people that were so offended by what they perceived as an accusation of racism they responded to the account with genuinely racist comments.
LW: We’re a generation that lives on the internet. I actually credit Facebook the most because we can send the link to people we aren’t even friends with in a Facebook message, and the people we are friends with have no problem with us posting the link on their wall. When something is shared and posted on Facebook a million times, that’s when you know you’ve struck a nerve. And all the producers started to get all these random friend requests soon after the trailer launched. That’s when we knew folks were sharing it, emailing it, tweeting about, and blogging about it. When the producers would sit down and discuss the strategy to push the trailer we always knew that we would use Facebook and Twitter. That’s the best way to reach OUR audience.
M: There have been conversations about Blackness and the “Black Monolith” and what that means since the dawn of the Huxtable Dynasty (a name I’ve just decided to give the period of time between when The Cosby Show hit it big and Girlfriends went off the air). I know the project is called Dear White People but what do you think of the idea of a cultural Black monolith and “authentic Blackness”, and what sorts of conversations about it are you trying to raise with this project? JS: To me the film is ultimately about identity and how race identity in particular can be both a gateway to and a huge obstacle for reaching one’s potential. This is compounded by the fact that Black folks and non-Black folks all have very different opinions about what being “authentically Black” actually means.
Each of the main characters are going through an identity crisis with regards to their “blackness” whether its not feeling Black enough for the Black kids, not feeling Black enough for the white kids, or feeling too Black for anyone.
Minorities, along with systemic socio economic disadvantage, have the added pleasure of going through life being pre-defined by everyone according to their race, gender, or sexual orientation. Based on how we define ourselves, some of us find solace in our “ethnic cultures” and some of us feel alienated by it.
Ultimately the role of culture (black or otherwise) as I see it is to help us find our voice and footing in the world. But there also comes a time when to really reach our true potential we have to transcend the cultural and identity cues we’ve come to be defined by. Yes I’ve been watching a lot of OWN.
M: All of your characters seem to be very original, and quite different from each other, yet all of them are also really relatable, both to people of color and universally, which is really refreshing to see. Do you think, with independently produced content on the rise and this age of the webseries, we will see more projects by minorities and see a much needed shift toward more diversity in the mainstream media? JS: The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, Sh*t Black Girls Say, andSh*T White Girls Say To Black Girls is proof that the internet has made it easier for minority voices to circumvent the usual obstacles of creating and distributing content and connect directly with an audience. Here’s hoping that traditional media, be it films or television, pays attention. Diverse stories in the mainstream seem to be shrinking, creating an even bigger disparity between the demographic make-up of the country and the stories dominating our culture. LW: I think folks have always wondered when there is one Black success others will follow, and I’ve come to the realization that the work just has to be brilliant. The only way a Black writer/director/actor/producer will be recognized is if the work is amazing and inspired. Not everything out there is great. Justin is extremely gifted. That’s why he has 3 producers behind him (me, Ann Le, and Angel Lopez) because his vision is so amazing. So if Black artists continue to hold themselves to a higher standard then, yes we’ll see a surge.
I suppose, in an ideal world, I would return from a writing hiatus with the proverbial bang. Perhaps an exposé about key parties held at the Department of Agriculture or a look at psychotic guinea pig beauty pageant moms. But this is not an ideal world, so instead I’m posting this short film — “Cloudy” — by Samuel Borkson and Arturo Sandoval III of FriendsWithYou; a film so saccharine that the resulting diabetic coma will, with any luck, erase the fact that I have been slacking off considerably from your minds.
This will, unfortunately, not work on my masters who, unlike you dear readers (My favorite people in the whole world. Have I told you that? Well, it’s true. You’re also looking quite lovely today, let me tell you.) are devoid of both souls and any emotions save for furious anger, rendering them immune to this sort of thing. For them I have this sizable stone, which I managed to pry loose from the wall of my cell and with which I hope to hit them very hard on the back of the skull. I think it’s a sound plan.
[Editors' note: We first met the delightful Numidas Prasarn last year at the Coilhouse Ball in NYC. Numi is a Brooklyn-based artist and producer who has cut her teeth on a multitude of mediums and roles in the fashion and photography worlds. She's obsessed with fashion theory, and with creating avenues for people to gain aesthetic control of their lives/find their voices. You can find her on Twitter @OhThatNumi, and at her portfolio site, numiempire.com.]
There has been a fair amount of rage surrounding sexism and the science/engineering/tech/VG industries in recent months, and for good reason. Controversies such as the harassment connected to Anita Sarkeesian’s Kickstarter campaign, the Boston API Jam , the Dell Moderator debacle, and even this NY Times Article with its baffling “Men invented the Internet” opener (read Xeni Jardin’s great reply on the subject), coincidentally about a sexual harassment suit in a Silicon Valley firm, make it hard to ignore. And while the backlash that follows these controversies brings out scores of positive support and appropriate outrage, the stories of othering and exclusion remain. The truth is, finding a positive female role model in these industries is difficult for outsiders (and sadly, some insiders), largely because their contributions are downplayed, or even silenced.
So how do we make sure the next generation gets fair play? This film is aiming to give some people hope:
Click image to be taken to full-screen player at the official DLG website.
Drive Like a Girl is a short documentary following the Fe Maidens (sometimes called the Fe26 Iron Maidens)– an all-girl robotics team from the Bronx High School of Science. Regional champions in the robotics competition held by FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), the Iron Maidens had six weeks to build and program two robots and compete in a male-dominated tournament.
On one hand it’s refreshing to see these young girls unabashedly go for it, suppored by an organization that encourages them to explore. Their excitement is infectious. On the other hand, it’s heartbreaking watching these high-schoolers confront the same issues they are bound face as they continue down their paths. It starts early, and it starts small.
Or… perhaps it’s a little more sad knowing that the professional world is sometimes exactly like high school.
Tanya tells us that the idea for Geekquality emerged last year when several of the founding editors met for the first time at the first annual Geek Girl Con in Seattle, Washington. Since that time, they’ve been steadily building/ramping up their online presence. Nowadays, the Geekquality venture is a thriving example of diverse collaborative writing and online community-building.
With staff members hailing from both the West and East coasts of the United States –all geeks and vocal participants in online communities and united by a “love/hate relationship with geeky media”– Geekquality, in addition to celebrating examples of inclusivity and diversity in geek culture, addresses its writers’ mutual, ever-growing dissatisfaction with a frequent lack of intersectionality and diversity both in current geek media and in many fandom communities. This from a group statement emailed to Coilhouse by their editorial team:
“Being a nerd isn’t really so much a choice as it is a facet of your person. How you live, consume, and interpret your experience, however, most certainly is a matter of informed choice. All of us have been disappointed to find that often, analysis that challenges beloved content and creators is dismissed as unproductive and overly negative, when it’s actually critically important. The geek is indeed inheriting the earth, and it’s up to geeks to make sure our influence is not a negative and exclusive one.”
“Talking about video games, comic books, TV shows, movies, etc and pointing out flaws in writing or casting, accuracy in representation of unique perspectives, and general discussion of what could be done better sometimes are met with an arms crossed, head-shaking refusal to admit that some pop culture thing we love can also be flawed. While we are all united by our geekdom, there can still be more inclusion from lenses of feminism, sex and gender, race, ability, and various cultural perspectives.”
Remember that bit at the beginning of The Matrix, when Neo is giving code to a bunch of strangers, and then they go party like crazy people? It turns out that’s been happening since the ’80s, except with high concept combinations of code, music, and graphics instead of viruses.
This demo was completed in two days. On a whim. In 2009. And while there are videos of the demo, like above, the demo itself is an executable file that draws each frame while you watch, from scratch. It is the difference between looking at a print of a painting, and watching the painter as the original takes shape under her brush.
The current demoscene is the product of nearly thirty years of people coming together to make art just to prove that they can. And if you are in New York, and you want to know more, then go see Demoscene – The Art of the Algorithms at the Manhattan film festival today (July 1st), at 2pm. Tickets are available here. If you can’t make it, or you decide you want to own it, you can download the documentary. However! This is only the second screening of this film in the US, so see it in a theater while you can.
“…I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes. “