Gulf War kitsch: Some red-white-and-blue numbnuts reads his ‘Letter to Saddam Hussein,’ 1991
05.26.2016
01:21 pm

Topics:
One-hit wonders
The wrong side of history
They hate us for our freedom
U.S.A.!!!

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I’ve been waiting for this primo item of Desert Storm-abilia to turn up on YouTube for years, and Lord knows I have waited patiently; for as the Good Book reminds us, “the race is not to the swift” (Ecclesiastes 9:11), and some of these fuckers are anything but swift.

Back in ‘91, Jerry Martin (a/k/a Jerry Buckner) rode the tide of blood unleashed by the first Gulf War all the way to #71 on Billboard’s country chart. I’m still struggling to understand how this epistolary spoken word release qualified as a country song, but I’m going to bet it had something to do with the kinds of radio stations that played it and the obscure regions of our nation to which their signals penetrated. A cassingle issued in a plain gray sleeve, Martin’s “Letter to Saddam Hussein” had little in common with Jello Biafra’s contemporary Gulf War cassingle, “Die for Oil, Sucker,” which pointed out that we might not be fighting for the noblest of causes.

Martin left that kind of thinking to eggheads, Poindexters and Philadelphia lawyers. On his cassingle, he allowed as how he didn’t know much of anything, because being so ordinary, regular and real didn’t leave a lot of time for studies. But there was one thing he did know: our pride would be Saddam’s shame.
 

 
I mentioned that Jerry Martin was the pseudonym of Jerry Buckner. Now, I can’t be sure this is the Jerry Buckner of “Pac Man Fever” fame, but I do wonder how many vocal talents named Jerry Buckner might plausibly reside in the Atlanta area. To whom was Saddam supposed to address his reply? Whatever, I bet the dictator thought twice about showing his face down south after this tape came out. Cut way down on his trips to Georgia.

Now a quarter-century old—its sleeve no longer the shiny gray I remember from my Sam Goody youth, but the dull gray I see in my Sam Elliott beard—this curiosity fetches outrageous prices on Amazon. I can’t imagine why. I hope it’s because there are a lot of Big Lebowski and Nevermind fans researching the beginnings of American history’s most bogus journey.

Without spoiling the dramatic ending of “Letter to Saddam Hussein,” I can tell you that we kept its promise. Our boys showed Saddam who was boss, thereby transforming the entire Fertile Crescent into a fiery whirlwind of widows’ blood and children’s limbs. Now our boys will be there showing Saddam who’s boss forever!

Mission accomplished, numbnuts!
 

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Awesome collectible action figure of Alfred Hitchcock
05.26.2016
12:04 pm

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Movies

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Mondo collaborated with artists Trevor Grove and Michael Norman to create this 1/6 scale collectible figure of filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock. The action figure includes:

Director’s Chair
2 Cigars (1 lit & 1 unlit)
Raven
Clapboard
Butcher Knife
4 Interchangeable Hands

In addition to the regular version, we’ll have a website exclusive version which includes a Seagull accessory ($190). The exclusive will be available for 48 hours from Thursday (5/26) at 12PM CST through Saturday (5/28) at 12PM CST.

The figure will be available to purchase today (May 26, 2016), starting at 1 PM EST. It’s selling for $185.00.
 

 

 

 
via Laughing Squid

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Someone put eyeglasses on a museum floor, people thought it was art
05.26.2016
11:52 am

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Amusing
Art

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It seems like something out of a movie. In fact, if there isn’t a scene in some Mr. Bean joint in which people mistake something for art, I’ll eat my hat.

A couple of teenagers at San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art decided to place a pair of eyeglasses on the floor in one of the rooms just to see what would happen. Tentative visitors quickly treated the unassuming, er, spectacle, with the requisite respect owed to any duly accredited piece of conceptual or minimalist art.
 

 
On Twitter, the pranksters go by @TJCruda and @k_vinnn. After just a few minutes, a crowd of onlookers had gathered to investigate the unlabeled “artwork.” Seventeen-year-old T.J. Khayatan (@TJCruda) documented the public’s response on Twitter.

Conceptual art and minimalism are prone to this sort of thing. In 2001, a Damien Hirst installation consisting of a collection of beer bottles, coffee cups, and overflowing ashtrays was mistakenly tossed in the garbage by a janitor. Three years later at the Tate Britain, a Gustav Metzger artwork consisting of a bag of paper and cardboard was similarly thrown out, and in southern Italy in 2014, parts of a piece by Sala Murat were mistakenly discarded.
 

 
Just a few months ago, last autumn, an unruly installation by Sara Goldschmied and Eleonora Chiari at the Museion Bozen-Bolzano in Italy so resembled the aftermath of a riotous party—it consisted mainly of cigarette butts, empty bottles of champagne, and party streamers—that a cleaner put quite a bit of labor into tidying it up, prompting a memorable screed in the Spectator (U.K.) blog with the title “Hurrah for the cleaner who accidentally threw away a modern art exhibit.”

Before he started the band Pavement, Stephen Malkmus worked at the Whitney Museum in New York City as a guard—while he was there the museum displayed a work by the minimalist artist Richard Tuttle called “Ten Kinds of Memory and Memory Itself” that consisted of a few pieces of string placed on the floor. Malkmus has credited the piece as a contributing factor in deciding to start Pavement.
 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Blade Runner’ and ‘A Scanner Darkly’ reconstructed with an autoencoder
05.26.2016
10:49 am

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Movies
Science/Tech

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0_00_01scanblade123.jpg
 
“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe,” said the Nexus-6 replicant Roy Batty at the end of the film Blade Runner.

Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears ... in ... rain.

It’s a great speech—one written by Rutger Hauer—which suggests this bad boy android or replicant has experienced a state of consciousness beyond its intended programming.

While we can imagine what Batty’s memories look like, we can never see or experience them as the replicant or android saw them. Which is kinda damned obvious—but raises a fascinating question: Would an android, a robot, a machine see things as we see them?

It is now believed that humans use up to 50% of their brain to process vision—which gives you an idea the sheer complexity involved in even attempting to create some machine that could successfully read or visualize its environment. Do machines see? What do they see? How can they construct images from the input they receive?

The human eye can recognize handwritten numbers or words without difficulty. We process information unconsciously. We are damned clever. Our brain is a mega-supercomputer—one that scientists still do not fully understand.

Now imagine trying to create a machine that can do what the human brain does in literally the blink of an eye. Our sight can read emotion. It can intuit meaning. It can scan and understand and know whether something it inputs is dangerous or funny. We can look at a cartoon and know it is funny. Machines can’t do that. Yet.

A neural network is a computer system modeled on the human brain and nervous system. One type of neural network is an autoencoder.

Autoencoders are “simple learning circuits which aim to transform inputs into outputs with the least possible amount of distortion.”

Here’s a robotic arm using deep spatial encoders to “visualize” a simple function.
 

 
Terence Broad is an artist and research student at Computing Department at Goldsmiths University in London. Over the past year, Broad has been working on a project reconstructing films with artificial neural networks. Broad has been

training them to reconstruct individual frames from films, and then getting them to reconstruct every frame in a given film and resequencing it.

The type of neural network used is an autoencoder. An autoencoder is a type of neural net with a very small bottleneck, it encodes a data sample into a much smaller representation (in this case a 200 digit number), then reconstructs the data sample to the best of its ability. The reconstructions are in no way perfect, but the project was more of a creative exploration of both the capacity and limitations of this approach.

The resultant frames are strange watercolor-like images that are identifiable especially when placed side-by-side with the original source material. That they can reproduce such fast flickering information at all is, well, damned impressive.

Among the films Broad has used are two Philip K. Dick adaptations Blade Runner and A Scanner Darkly, which is apt considering Dick’s interest in androids and asking the question “What is reality?”
 
Much more after the jump…....
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment