Monday, April 29, 2019

A day in a Tokyo office

In the above video we follow Emi, a 24 year old Tokyo office worker, through her day at work. While I can understand the café, gym and convenience store being in the office building, but the petting zoo is a bit of a head-scratcher.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

The siren's call...

Image from Tacos A-Go-Go (click to enlarge)
You can never control who you fall in love with, even when you're in the most sad, confused time of your life. You don't fall in love with people because they're fun. It just happens. - Kirsten Dunst

Friday, April 26, 2019

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Hot zombie babes just want to be your friend (sort of)

Click any image to enlarge
I'm sure that many of my regular readers will be heartbroken to hear that this is my final post on the Russian TV show Vyzhit Posle (The Day After on Amazon Prime). This post covers the third season, the show was not renewed for a fourth. If you're interested my Season One post is Vyzhit Posle, while Season Two is Can true love survive zombification? I'll try to avoid spoilers, but some will sneak in, so be forewarned if you think you might watch it.

Above is a scene of a Moscow woman who had been beaten and robbed in a village and stumbled upon a group of bumpkins for help. Word had leaked out what had happened in Moscow, but the government -- since they were partly to blame for the whackadoodle 'Create a Master Race' plan that so terribly went awry -- covered up what really happened. The result is all the Moscow residents are feared as possible zombie virus carriers, so that's the level of hostility Moscow refugees can expect.

That works nice as a plot device because it ties our outbreak survivors to the hot zombie babes as all being outcasts, and therefore all being worthy of our sympathy. Still, Season Three frequently goes off the rails.

Zombie stories are handicapped from the beginning by having a completely preposterous premise. They can only work when they're not too ridiculous on the edges that surround the central absurdity of the story. Unfortunately, or depending on how you look at it fortunately, Season Three of Vyzhit Posle is freighted with a lot of ridiculousness around the edges.

The new characters are all pretty silly. Above is Kristina, the best of the new lot, although admittedly I may be allowing skimpy costumes and cheesecake poses to cloud my judgement a bit. At any rate, she is a Russian version of the manic pixie dream girl. She hooks up with Skat, the hacker in the bunker from the beginning who's main purpose had been, until he met Kristina, to be a fount of expository dialog.

It looks like they were building him up for a bigger role in Season Four, but in the mean time he has sex with Kristina, listens to her babble about having a no-strings-attached relationship and watches her cutely faint from time to time. One's suspicions as to where her story is headed are borne out when she lights up with joy upon discovering that the hot zombie babes can self-repair themselves. Yup, she is a manic pixie dream girl with an incurable disease. I must say, her attempts at getting herself infected are pretty entertaining.

Above is Valera, the skin head with a heart of gold who in Season One had fallen crazy-mad-in-love with the beautiful, soon to be zombified Aijan (aka Valera's One True Love #1). In the screen cap he's in a partial state of undress and playing tonsil hockey with Nika (aka Valera's One True Love #3). In the background, circled in red, is Katya (aka Valera's One True Love #2). Hey, I told you that this show had a lot of silly soap opera stuff going on and it's only gonna get worse.

Anyway, to make a long story short, after Valera thought he had killed zombie Aijan at the end of Season One he fell in love with Katya, a spunky newspaper reporter who snuck into Moscow's quarantine zone to try to get the truth. Needless to say when zombie Aijan showed up again the ensuing love triangle proved to be problematic. However, it all came to an end when the Eeeevil Dr Lobodo locked Valera and zombie Aijan in a cage, conducted unholy experiments on her and ended up brutally torturing poor Aijan, who at that time only wanted to tear Katya's face off and then snuggle with her sweetie Valera.

By Season Three Katya graduated from print journalist to the host of 'Black Day', which is the State ran TV channel's top-rated zombie show. In that capacity she ended up interviewing Dr Lobodo. That's a bit surprising because she and Lobodo had shot each other at the end of Season Two, but she's under a government contract so she lets bygones be bygones and puts a positive spin on him and paints him as a hero. Due to the whole 'torturing zombie Aijan' business Katya's craven behavior infuriates Valera. So he dumps her and runs to the arms of Nika before going back to the quarantine zone to settle a score with Lobodo. BTW, did I mention that Nika is engaged to Andrey, the Russian special forces guy? I wonder if that is going to complicate things?

Speaking about Dr Lobodo, that's him above with Inge, the naughty vixen who runs the Eeeeevil lab. Due to a rare semi-successful experiment at the lab they're about to have some celebratory bondage game fun. Lobodo has fallen head over heels in love with her, but she just uses sex to manipulate him in her nefarious schemes. In the above scene she is more or less taunting Lobodo after he asked her if she really loves him. It strikes me, especially if you're chained to a bed, that might be a bad approach to take with an Eeeeevil co-conspirator who may, or may not, have a syringe full of zombie flu in his back pocket.

BTW, the resolution of the Valera/Lobodo confrontation is quite the plot twist.

Above we have Nadya (far left), the former yum-yum girl turned alpha zombie queen. She has snuck out of Moscow in search of a refuge in the woods where she can stop slaughtering people left and right and instead live an idyllic and peaceful life. She has hooked up with a couple other hot zombie babes in search of the same. In the screen cap they are shown dancing around, waving torches in the air and wearing tree branches as tiaras. Way to keep a low profile ladies.

Unfortunately for them their seclusion doesn't last long. Soon enough they are found out. No, not by their late night pagan frolics, instead it through the sheer stupidity of Mitya, Nadya's boyfriend. In fact his idiocy so infuriates Nadya that she breaks up with him. Surprisingly she doesn't tear him limb from limb, instead she just storms off in a rage.

Earlier I mentioned silly new characters. Easily the silliest was Rapida (right) shown above confronting Nadya. She's the sort of 'tough' character you find in a bad video game. She wears goofy leather armor in is supposedly a fearsome zombie hunter. However, from what we see of her she is inept in everything she does. For example, in the confrontation above, Nadya starts the scene bound and gagged in the trunk of a car. Rapida begins by pointing her gun at pregnant Nadya's belly and sneering about the abortion she is about to perform with a bullet. True to Rapida's usual blundering, around 20 seconds later her partners are slaughtered by Nadya and Rapida ends up zombified. Quite the zombie huntress.

Finally, after much mayhem, soap-opera hijinks and amusing closed captioning Nadya gives birth to her little monster... errr… I mean darling little baby zombie girl. Above is Mitya, the proud father of the bundle of joy, holding the little tyke. One of my great regrets in the show being canceled is missing out on how, or if, he survives the toddler's terrible twos.

With all my joking in this post about the show, it is actually quite good. As I said in Part II, this is one of the best and most unique takes on the zombie genre I've seen in a long time. It is also much smarter than my review probably makes it seem. For example, the fate of Aijan hangs over, echoes through and informs a lot of the soap opera stuff in Season Three. Dr Lobodo's "I didn't understand" applies to more than just himself.

Finally I spent a long time trying to find a good video of the hot zombie babe's movement. It is very striking, almost birdlike with their arms thrown back and a weird twitch in their shoulders. Below is the best video I could find. There is a lot of action, but sprinkled throughout it are shots of the hot zombie babes in all their glory.

Season I: Vyzhit Posle
SeasonII: Can true love survive zombification?
Season III: Hot zombie babes just want to be your friend (sort of)

Monday, April 22, 2019

The avant garde as seen in a rear view mirror

Five Way Portrait of Marcel Duchamp (click to enlarge)
"Cubism -- highly influential visual arts style of the 20th century that was created principally by the painters Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque in Paris between 1907 and 1914. The Cubist style emphasized the flat, two-dimensional surface of the picture plane, rejecting the traditional techniques of perspective, foreshortening, modeling, and chiaroscuro and refuting time-honoured theories of art as the imitation of nature. Cubist painters were not bound to copying form, texture, colour, and space; instead, they presented a new reality in paintings that depicted radically fragmented objects, whose several sides were seen simultaneously." [source]
"With his next major work, Nude Descending a Staircase (1912) he (Marcel Duchamp) began to break from Cubism.

There are some familiar traces of Cubism here. For instance, the painting has a limited color scheme of browns and muted yellow, and the subject (the nude figure) is splintered into abstract, geometric forms. But while most early Cubist works focused on static or even motionless subjects, like still lifes or portraits of seated people, Duchamp's Nude depicts its subject in motion.

The barely-recognizable nude is shown from numerous points of view all at once, frozen in time. It's as if Duchamp was trying to paint thirty paintings at once, one for each step down the stairs. The background of the painting is also more faded than the foreground, making it seem like the nude is walking forward to the viewer." [source]

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Commercialism, an Easter fast and Amazing Grace

The above video is the YouTube channel of som's fade. I believe he is Nigerian. His videos are obviously homemade and don't get a lot of views. Kind of like this blog come to think of it, except I'm not Nigerian. I wish him luck in his endeavors.

Anyway, in his video he tells an Easter tale while acts out the parts of Dina and Momma Dina. Dina asks his mom for money for Easter. His mother says no, but promises him she'll cook his favorite meal for Easter. He insults her cooking and ends up on an Easter fast as a result. Will he be able to grovel his way back into Momma Dina's good graces? You'll have to watch to find out.

Below is another video appropriate for Easter. Like the above video, it deals with matters other than crass commercialism. Happy Easter all.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

18th Century hand colored drawings of fish

Click any image to enlarge
These illustrations are from The Public Domain Review's article: Images from the First Colour Publication on Fish (1754). The 18th Century volume Poissons, Ecrevisses et Crabes was the first European book to show fish and crustaceans from the East Indian seas. Many of the colors, and even some of the creatures, are quite fanciful. There are more after the jump, and a few more at the link.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Olga buys some hair conditioner

A while back a nice Russian lady took us on a tour of a Russian convenience store. Today's video features a Russian fellow and his companion Olga visiting an American convenience store. Olga wants to buy some hair conditioner. You may need to turn on the captions and make sure they are in English to understand what they have to say about it all.

In the bonus video below the fellow ponders the American habit of saying "excuse me" and "sorry" when navigating around each other in store aisles. He thinks that Americans are getting scared and apologizing when they do that. He tries to act out the scenario with Olga, but she mainly just wants to blow dry her hair.

Monday, April 08, 2019

Inside a Matryoshka (Russian nesting doll) factory

View the process of making Matryoshkas (Russian nesting dolls). The process is surprisingly labor intensive, with very little automation.

Sunday, April 07, 2019

Ogawa Kazumasa's hand colored photographs

Click any image to enlarge
Ogawa Kazumasa was a pioneer Japanese photographer, publisher and photomechanical reproduction. In his day he was perhaps best known for his photographs of the Sino-Japanese and the Russo-Japanese Wars. You can read more about him at TAP's article: Ogawa Kazumasa and the Halftone Photograph: Japanese War Albums at the Turn of the Twentieth Century.

He also experimented in hand coloring photos. This post shows some of his hand colored work. There are more after the jump, and even more at Getty Museum's archive of his work. At that archive you can also find many of his non-colored photographs.

Friday, April 05, 2019

Mutant Brain

Get ready for a fragrant weekend with Sam Spiegel & Ape Drums featuring Assassin with Margaret Qualley as the dancer.

Thursday, April 04, 2019

When you need a really big gun

A tour of one of the battleship Iowa's 16 inch guns from the powder room deep in the bowels of the ship to the gun in the turret.

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

Can true love survive zombification?

Click any image to enlarge
Last week, in my post Vyzhit Posle, I discussed the first season of a Russian TV show called Vyzhit Posle (The Day After on Amazon Prime). It starts with 11 young people being locked up in a bunker while above ground Eeeevil Russian oligarchs bungle an experiment to create a master race. Instead most of the population of Moscow is killed by a virus, except for young good-looking Russian girls who get turned into black-eyed zombies.

It was quite entertaining, and as Season 2 unfolded it turned out to be one of the better treatments of zombies I've seen in a long time. Before George Romero turned zombies into ambulatory corpses, the horror of them hadn't been hordes of monsters trying to kill, instead it had been the act of zombification itself. That is, the removal of human agency from a person was what was terrifying.

In case anybody decides to watch the show, which is full of plot twists and surprises, I'll try to avoid too many spoilers. That said, the show uses two of the girls who had been in the bunker and turned into zombies by the end of Season 1 to illustrate the implications of the loss of their humanity rather than just the rampaging zombie babe hordes.

In the top picture we have Nadya, the Yum-Yum Girl (high priced escort) who turned into a zombie in the final episode of the first season. It looked like Mitya, her good-for-nothing drunk of a hookup, got killed, but it turns out he escaped Nadya. Well, escaped her for a while. Nadya ends up being the alpha queen zombie, and in the above picture she and her zombie BFFs have tracked him down and herded him to her nest in the palentology wing of a museum. Yea, he doesn't look too happy. Also, entertainingly enough, her nest is a pile of stuffed animals. Hey, a zombie chick is still a chick, right?

The next picture is the research file on Aijan, the beautiful Kazakhstani girl who suffered so much in Season 1 as she slowly zombified. Valera, the skinhead with a heart of gold who became her sweetie had promised Aijan that he would kill her if she turned into a zombie. Well, he screwed that up -- the head Valera, gotta shoot zombies in the head -- and they discover she is back in the clutches of the Eeeeevil research lab. The experiments the caption refers to is them injecting her with every disease known to man. Sadly for Aijan, who can't catch a break on this show, things go downhill for her from there.

There is still a lot of soap opera tomfoolery, the occasional plot hole or two, and many goofy translations in their captions, but the show is good. Much of what they pull off as they show the plight of the bunker survivors and the zombie girls is quite effective.

Finally, and this is in no way a gratuitous display of hot zombie babes, below are a few pictures of them scampering about. Mind you, purely so's you can admire the high quality production design of the series.

Season I: Vyzhit Posle
SeasonII: Can true love survive zombification?
Season III: Hot zombie babes just want to be your friend (sort of)

Warning: never try zombie sex tourism - it will not end well

Monday, April 01, 2019

Love and Hate

To My Enemy - Lucy Maud Montgomery

Let those who will of friendship sing,
And to its guerdon grateful be,
But I a lyric garland bring
To crown thee, O, mine enemy!

Thanks, endless thanks, to thee I owe
For that my lifelong journey through
Thine honest hate has done for me
What love perchance had failed to do.

I had not scaled such weary heights
But that I held thy scorn in fear,
And never keenest lure might match
The subtle goading of thy sneer.

Thine anger struck from me a fire
That purged all dull content away,
Our mortal strife to me has been
Unflagging spur from day to day.

And thus, while all the world may laud
The gifts of love and loyalty,
I lay my meed of gratitude
Before thy feet, mine enemy!