Henry and Kristl enter the Mists of Avalon (2001)

“So ever read the book?” Henry asked, “Seems like the kind of book you would have read, in your days…”

Kristl frowned, “My days? Sounds like I have outlived my shelf live. “

“Eh.. Well I mean, from when you were younger. When you read these books. Fantasy and such.”

Kristl gave Henry a look, “Gosh, you are starting to scare me.”

“Scare you?”

“Well, you are actually right, I have not read much fantasy for a long time. I got a bit tired with the copy and paste books that flooded the market. And we did not have the internet then to figure out the good from the bad. Or even the mediocre from the bad. You had to read the blurb and page through the book. Hundreds of them.”

“See.. I can listen,” Henry smiled sanguinely.

“Oh.. ah.. Well, we might even make a good woman out of you yet.”

“Let’s not go overboard now.”

“But the answer is no. I picked it up once as it had intriguing coverof a woman riding a horse and holding something up. A staff I think. Like a magic user.”

“And?”

“I gave it a try but never got past the first few pages. Perhaps I had lost interest in the whole Arthur legend at that time. The Arthur legend was another dead horse that was beaten ad nausea.”

“But did you read it , Henry?” Kristl asked.

“Nuu.. Fantasy is not my kind of thing.”

“So what do you think of this women movie.”

“Well.. it is a bit quaint.”

“Quaint?” Kristl said.

“Well it was nice to see eh the woman side of it all, but it was kind

of uneventful.”

“No kick ass girls in this one.”

“And full of ‘functional’ sex and even incest. I mean. It was as if the whole woman side of the Arthur legend consisted of scheming, backstabbing, incest and sex.”

“Apparently.”

“I wonder if it was written by a man.. a misogynistic one, ” Henry said.

Kristl laughed, “I was told Marion Zimmer Bradley was a woman. Perhaps the book gives a more favorable angle on the story. Turning a book into a movie usually means that the story has to be condensed and suffer.”

“Yeah.”

“I wonder if you can follow the story if you do not have some background information. Like it is never quite explained why Lot hates Arthur.”

“Some things are also strange. Like when Uther Pendragon sneaks into the castle of Gorlois, disguised as Gorlois, and beds Igraine she gets knocked up and then marries Pendragon, ” Henry said.

“Hmm,” Kristl said.

“Strange is also the decision of Morgause to spare Mordred. She first wants to kill him when he is a newborn baby but when the delirious Morgaine blurts out he is actually Arthur’s son, she spares him..But why? They say that when Arthur has no sons, they are next in line for the throne. So why let Mordred live?”

“I got the feeling that much what was in the book could not be put into the movie and thus we lack events that probably would make the storymore ‘sensible’,” Kristl said.

“Another strange thing is the passivity of Morgaine. I mean it seems like almost everything is happening to her and she is a bit helpless in the face of it. Like oh, right I am taken away to this Island to become a priestess. Oh right, I have to have sex with this guy in some ancientritual. Oh right, I am to be married off to king Uriens.”

“Oh wow, that was one of the dumbest scene ever. Arthur discussing with Uriens to arrange for a wedding and then when they ask Morgaine if she wants to marry this ‘royal person’ from Wales, they forget to mention

that is was the father Uriens they meant and not his son. That was solame. As if such political decisions were done in such a offhand manner. I would grant that Morgaine would probably have had no choice, but the movie suggests it was a mistake and that she could not back out after it had been arranged for fear of Uriens losing face.”

“So?” Henry said.

“To wrap it up?” Krisl queried.

“Still a reasonable movie to watch, I think. Just for the story line.”

“And the acting is decent. Not very good, but passable.”

“Yeah. But the fighting and magic is lame. It is as if people are afraid of hurting each other. And that absurd way of fighting of Mordred. Did he travel to China to learn that tactic?” Henry said and continued, “And did it not strike you as odd that Morgaine at one time suddenly became this killer fighter? Throughout the whole movie we see her never touch a sword and then when she gets ambushed she kills half a dozen of these Saxon raiders. Wow. Way to go girl.”

“I think fighting came natural to women in those days. Men had to work hard for it,” Kristl smiled.

“Yeah.. right. As ‘natural’ as in that women always hit something when they park their cars backwards.”

“Not much of a ‘skill’. And not true at all. A fable. A persistent recurring one. I wonder if we are still claimed to bump into things while parking when flying spacecrafts.”

“Well fables tend to linger on.. so I guess you are stuck with it one way or another. It just morphs into something new.”

“And no doubt we will be seeing another Arthur legend.. maybe next time it will be about gay relations.”

“Or aliens.”

“Or gay aliens.”

“Now there is an idea…”

 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0244353/

Book review: Junky by William S. Burroughs

JunkyJunky by William S. Burroughs My rating: 4 of 5 stars Junky is a horrid book. The focus of this novella is the shallow and deplorable life of the drugs addict as he ambles through life to get to his next fix. Burroughs’ book is unmitigated, the focus is the constant struggle with addiction, for an addict is torn by two opposing desires; to get his fix and to kick his habit.

If this was a movie then the camera would be constant on Burroughs, thinking of ways to get money to get a fix, trying to get a fix, suffering before and after, then trying to get rid of it, actually succeeding in getting clean up for a short while and then falling back into his old life in no time at all. In the mean time he is constantly experimenting with an ever increasing selection of drugs to find that heavenly kick on the cheap. Sometimes you wonder where he gets the money or what social life he has except for hanging out with his junky buddies or being high or strung out. At times he tells us a few things. Like he has a kind of allowance that gives him a certain yearly income. And at one time he buys a farm with a buddy that eventually earns him a profit that evaporates when he wastes it all on his addictions. Sometimes we get a glimpse of other people. He is married, for at times, especially when he is in Mexico, his wife puts in an appearance. But these are just brief excursions, for the camera gets yanked back to focus on him. It is a lurid life.

The lines between users and pushers(sellers) is blurred as users start pushing to be able to fund their addiction(s). Sometimes they turn informer for the police, when they get arrested and strike deal or for money. Or just for any other reason. Burroughs tells us, in a matter of fact voice, how these addicts degenerate morally, turning to all manners of illegal behavior such as stealing or robbing drunks. This degeneration of morals even affect certain doctors, nicknamed croakers, who write out prescriptions for them so they can get a shot of morphine knowing fully well that they actually do not need them for what morphine is meant for.

Shocking are the experiments with new drugs. In their desire for a next fix and due to the constant lack to fund their addiction they are willing to try anything that might seem to suffice. Almost anything that could be taken for a drug is tried out eventually. It is not a nice book to read and sometimes you want to put it down because the life of these people are so dreary, shallow and shockingly grotesque. But somehow you keep on reading, perhaps because you assume that their must be some kind of end. A closure. There is one and it is better not to tell much about it, just that it is not what I would have expected.

This books reminds me somewhat of A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick. The latter has more story perhaps, but there is similarity in the way they describe the lives of addicts. No doubt because Dick was an addict himself and knew what he was writing about, like Burroughs. Although I do not think this is a book to ‘enjoy’ it is no doubt a book to read just to get an idea about what it must be to be an addict. And perhaps that is the major strength of this book, especially if you are an aspiring writer and want to get an glimpse of the life of a drugs addict, without going through the experience yourself.

I was hovering between a 3.5 and a 4. View all my reviews

Art by second life: ⊱The Gateway⊰

The gateway is the short name for a place called The Gateway to BDSM. Next to providing a meeting place for people interested in a certain lifestyle, there happens also to be an exhibition/auction there. I like to discover art in Second Life, especially when it uses Second Life avatars or scenes. This has to do with my ongoing attempts to use Second Life for the making of pictures for my stories. So this was why I went there to have a look.

So here follows a selection of pictures shown at the exhibition at the Gateway. I picked a them purely because I liked them and not because I feel they are far better than the others that are there but not in this post. One factor in the selection is that I avoid overtly erotic scenes, not because I am against those as such, but more because they do only charm me just for being erotic, I prefer to be something more to them. I also took the liberty  to change the pictures by overlaying black templates. This to cover over some parts of the human body that people might have problems with and to avoid these pictures being used. These pictures are the property of the makers and here only shown so you can get to know them. The gallery has a lot more to show and even sells them as part of a way to raise money.

The Gateway can be found here and you can bid on the paintings^^.

Here http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife//162/20/24follows

barbie-adored

barbie-adored-2

The first I want to show are the these black and white picture made by Barbie Adored. Yes I am somewhat biased to this cartoonistic/ popart/ frank miller style of art. I cannot say much more about it but that I liked them.

'Power of  A kiss' by Lita Loire
‘Power of A kiss’ by Lita Loire

This is a picture showing a detail of the drawing Power of a Kiss. According to Lucia (Lucia Ruby Bird) who was organized the exhibition, the maker took a day to draw this(sic).

'Bring Me to Life' by Lita Loire
‘Bring Me to Life’ by Lita Loire
'The Devil Is Female' by Nastjenka Navarita
‘The Devil Is Female’ by Nastjenka Navarita
'Show Me Your Backside' by Nastjenka Navarita
‘Show Me Your Backside’ by Nastjenka Navarita
'The Thinner the Air, Part 2' by Sabbian Paine
‘The Thinner the Air, Part 2’ by Sabbian Paine
'Bound' -Hillany Scofield
‘Bound’ -Hillany Scofield
'Grey' - Hillany Scofield
‘Grey’ – Hillany Scofield

Pictures from the unreal: wildlife

Wildlife
Wildlife

 

A picture I made using Osgrid, Secondlife and real life pictures. The set is made in OSgrid. The animals are from OSgrid. The statues to the right have been made by Laughton Mc.Cry using sculptris. The fish are from the public domain and the advertisement  is from the Library of Congress. The avatar and the spot lights are from second life.  For my next step I want to be able to merge pictures from various sources into an overall picture. That way I won’t be depended on one source.

 

Henry and Kristl did not last to see 13 Assassins

“Gosh,” said Henry.

He and Kristl were both gaping at the large screen that adorned one
side of the wall and which had, mercifully, gone black. A soft sound of
static emitted from the screen. It was the only sound in the otherwise
silent room.

Kristl pressed a button on her wrist watch and glanced at the display.

“Fifteen minutes.”

“That long?” Henry gasped.

Kristl nodded.

“Maybe we can skip to the fight, you know the one that is claimed to be
the best since.. Kill Bill?”, Henry said.

“I somehow got the feeling that it will be as brutal, sadistic,
gruesome and otherwise revolting as the part of the movie that we have
seen up till now. In fact; I would not want to chance it, even if there
was a small chance that it will turn out to be otherwise.”

“Uhm?”

“You think it will?” Kristl stared at him.

“I lost you there… Yet, you know, Kill Bill. It was a great fight
scene. I assume that they mean the fight between the bride and the 99.”

“Well the suggestion is there. Assumption and all that.”

“It makes me so curious. Just to see if it is really that great.”

“The filmmakers would be happy then. They got you hooked by just
alluding to Kill Bill. You immediately draw comparisons. It creates
expectations without actually promising much and thus you want to watch
the movie.Smart advertising.”

Henry nodded.

“But just think of this. How many of the movies we have seen started
out one way and then turned into something completely different along
the way?”

“Well.. not that many.”

“So what is the likelihood that a movie starting out with one sickening
scene after the other, done in drab colors, populated with
interchangeable characters, done in an unremarkable style and devoid of
humor, will become the opposite in the end? Will become to resemble
Kill Bill?”

“Not very likely…”

“So why should I want to suffer all that just in the forlorn hope that
it might turn out to be different?”

“Eh.. because maybe it will?”

“Okay.. I can not stop you from trying, but I rather watch something
that I like to watch and I think might be watchable till the end. Let’s
pop in another movie?”

“We got Azumi and Azumi 2?,” Henry smiled at Kristl.

“More Japanese swordplay?”

“Yes. Was that not the reason we actually wanted to watch this one in
the first place: to compare them?”

“That is true.”

“Besides.. it has a girl as the lead and..”

“…you like kick-ass girls..” Kristl sighed.

“Nothing wrong with that.”

“Only that it is sexist.”

“At least it is not grisly.”

“As if the one precludes the other.”

“Uh? What do you mean?”

“There are some twisted people out there.”

“Yeah.”

“I hope they remain out there and out of my mind. I find those twisted
images and thoughts disturbing.”

“Right.”

“One more reason not to watch this movie.”

“If you think so. I wish it had a sassy fighter girl..I would have
watched it.. In a skirt that is almost to short.. Like Azumi.”

“Pervert.”

“Thanks sooo much.”

“You are welcome.”

http://www.meritcoba.com

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1436045/

 

Between real and depiction of real : Coca Cola, identity and avatars

nerit-insilico-5 copy
Merit at Insilico: The blue ant bar.

 

“Dick’s stories typically focus on the fragile nature of what is “real” and the construction of personal identity.” (Wikipedia: Philip K. Dick)

A few week ago I borrowed some books from the public library. It has been a long while that I visited a library, but of late I found that I sleep better when I read. Even though our library is small, it is still a fascinating place, for you can roam around and run into books that I might have never rented or bought, but captured my interest and can be read without any extra cost. One of these books was a book about  the coca cola. Now I am not interested in coca cola as a business, but I was interested in its use of imagery.  Coca cola is a product, or even more: it is the concept of a product. And it uses pictures to bring this to your attention.
I have always been interested in pictures, when I was young a drew landscapes devoid of civilization. It is still something I like to make. When you see a picture, it invokes a certain feel or an idea. A dark forest gives you a certain feel, a busy street another. These feelings are almost universal, which is handy for that allows us to communicate via images.
Some time ago I made a post about Magritte’s pipe. He said it was not a pipe, because it was a depiction of a pipe and not the pipe itself.
I think this is a rather restricted idea in that the thing is just a thing and there is nothing more to it.  If this were true, advertisements would have no use for they  try to invoke a certain feel and in that way get you to buy the thing that is advertised. Although it is true that an advertisement is also a means to tell that a certain product exist and it  is more then a way to present the object for sale. That is the task of a catalog and not an advertisement.
There is a gap between a thing and how it is presented. But not only between a thing, but also between people and how they present themselves to be. Advertisments are a way to bridge that gap, but stories are another way. And in another way is the use of avatars in Second Life.

At the start of the advertisement you see a picture of my avatar in Second Life. Here are two more:

tau-imani-1a copy
Taubie
tau-profile-teen-yrseke-trudy-1
Shared look…

In Second Life you can change your avatar as you feel fit and with each look another way of yourself is presented. These static picture do not even show the effect of the way a avatar moves. This can have an even bigger effect. I second life I have to main avatars: one is called Merit, the other is called Taubie. They have each a distinct look, but they also have shared looks.  Each looks creates a new kind of identity.
Nowadays the looks are more and more shared looks.

A company like Coca Cola has to establish a idea of itself, to cloak itself and it’s product in a look. Let’s have a look Coca Cola identity.

coca-2 copy

One of the first ways to advertise was to paint you advertisement on a wall. They were ready bill boards. This is what you see above. There is an old picture to the top left. And the lower two are more recent pictures although this does not mean that they were newer. Many wall paintings were walled or plastered over, to be rediscovered decades later because of renovations. Very early Coca Cola used a certain color scheme: red, white and green.  Red stood for energy, white for purity and green for freshness. This is what the book I have says, it is called: The sparkling story of Coca Cola:an entertaining history including collectibles, by Gyvel Young-Witzel). It seems to me that green was dropped after some time, the books does not mention it, but you can see that in the pictures.

Notice another interesting detail that you see on the wall. It lists the price. For about five decades the price of a glass or one bottle of Coca Cola was fixed at  five cent. This means that any rise in cost could not be covered by a rise in the price. A sudden increase in cost had to be covered by the Coca Cola itself, which could only reduce costs by producing less and firing staff. There were even moments in the history of the company that it almost went bankrupt. In the first world war there was a great shortage of sugar because a lot of merchant ships were needed for shipping soldiers and supplies to Europe. Sugar was mostly imported and without the ships to transport sugar Coca Cola could not meet demand. Another moment was in the thirties when the price of sugar rose at a rapid pace.

coca-5 copy

Coca Cola was a soft drink and in the early days of it’s existence it was sold via what was called soda fountains. This was the name for the softdrink dispenser as well as for the establishment itself. The syrup extract of Coca Cola was put into this machine to which water and carbon dioxide was added. This was served in a glass for the price of five dollar cents.
Soda fountains as establishment disappeared towards and after world war II. Or rather, they turned into dinners and lunch rooms. At the time of the prohibition they became more popular and Coca Cola profited from that development as well.
A soda fountain dispenser was the center of the soda fountain establishment. There were therefor often embellished.
Next to Soda fountains bottles were developed to sell soda drinks somewhat later.

coca-1 copy

The reason why bottles started to become important can be seen in the pictures above. It was not uncommon for people to stop at a soda fountain to have a glass of Coca Cola. However with the introduction of the automobile more and more people wanted to take such a drink with them on the longer rides. Hence people wanted to have a bottle. Note the signs: a glass or a bottle costs five cents.
Another interesting this is the amount of text that was used in early advertisements.

coca-3 copy

We now come to Coca Cola’s identity. Coca Cola displayed their product with women. From very early on Coca Cola published a calender showing women. Sometimes they did not even drink Coca Cola. A sample of this can be seen above.  Apparently Coca Cola was convinced that displaying women had a positive effect on the sales. One of the nice side things about the above pictures is that you can see how the clothes change. This was not only because of a change in clothing style, but also a change in morals. The one on the right is actually not from Coca Cola itself, but one of the bottle companies. The writers of the books remark that this was probably not endorsed by Coca Cola and done by the bottling company on their own account.

coca-4 copy

Over time women get a more equal depiction. To the right we see a picture of Aretha Franklin.

Now the depiction of Coca Cola with healthy and young women was no doubt a conscious advertisement strategy. Associate a product with attractive, young people and people might be more inclined to drink it. Mind you.. this does not say they did not use other depictions to advertise their products, one should have a look at Norman Rockwell’s works. Here is one example.

rockwell

Rockwell came to work for Coca Cola in the thirties and he introduce a kind of Tom Sawyer look. It was an idyllic world. Although the boy figure looks poor, it also breathes the mood of the countryside, with is’t slow easy pace of live, with nature and people relied on each other through good and bad times. The dog was a symbol of loyalty.

Rockwell’s influence was no doubt remarkable especially when he was hired to paint Santa Claus. The combination of the two, and the use of the colors of red and white was a great find.

rockwell-2

Santa Claus was another welcome concept used to advertise Coca Cola. After the 1929 crisis any good news and happiness was welcome. And Coca Cola is not shy to admit it helped shape Santa Claus into what it is nowadays. From the angle of advertisement it was perhaps a brilliant find. Well maybe too brilliant, as Santa Claus has become disconnected from Coca Cola and stands now on his own two feet. Still it was a great find.

A company like Coca Cola exist of make belief. It has to conjure up an idea that make their product attractive to you. One set way was to link their product to young, attractive and popular people. In the thirties Norman Rockwell had a roll in developing another vision: the Tom Sawyer look and Santa Claus. The image of Santa Clause has become so defined nowaday that we can hardly belief that he was more or less developed in the thirties and mostly by Coca Cola.

This manipulation of ideas is probably something to be impressed by, but also a bit daunted to.  It seems that it might be possible to create imaginary things and make them part of culture. We have Santa Clause, shaped by Coca Cola and Norman Rockwell. And we have a thing like Valetin’s day. Things that were developed partly in a desire to increase sales. Of course this only works when people accept the idea. Still it is a sobering thought how fast something can become part of culture.