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Tobias Slater works for White Mischief, a London-based group that now regularly curates steampunk parties and events for die-hard fans of rocket packs, wooden rayguns and compasses. “Every day I check my Facebook profile and find another two or three friend requests from neo-Victorian, brass-goggle-wearing folk, some sporting the most incredible moustaches (and that’s just the women!),” Slater wrote in an e-mail. Still, he predicts the aesthetic will remain niche. “Can steampunk cross over and become mass market like the original 1970s punk? No. Absolutely not. Whereas any suburban kid could be Johnny Rotten with a ripped T-shirt and a safety pin, the steampunk look takes a lot of time to recreate.” –“What’s with Steampunk?” Gary Moskowitz, More Intelligent Life
Midway through The Autobiography, production numbers are leavened with footage of dubious “human interest,” excerpted from the home movies Ceau?escu commissioned as “souvenirs” of his Black Sea holidays and Carpathian hunting trips. The first of these—a blast of richly saturated Kodachrome interrupting 90 minutes of black and white footage—preserves a casual volleyball game in which Ceau?escu is not only showboating but blatantly cheating. In subsequent candid moments, Nicolae and Elena are shown playing backgammon at the beach or driving through the snow, bundled up in matching, fur-trimmed white parkas. Perhaps I missed it but Ujic? provides no evidence of the scepter Ceau?escu was said to wield on state occasions. Still, the spectacle of Romania’s royal couple, costumed as though for the sleigh scene in a 1950s MGM musical, suggests in a small way the megalomania of Ceau?escu’s bulldozing central Bucharest to build a gargantuan presidential palace and parade boulevard. –“Tyrant with a Movie Camera,” J. Hoberman, The New York Review of Books
A side note about Danny Trejo: “That Guy” actor Danny Trejo shows up here, the reborn “El Scorpio” character from Predators 2, double-fisting machine guns and all. It’s no surprise to see him. Rodriguez has used him regularly, including in both Desperado and its sequel Once Upon a Time in Mexico, even despite Trejo’s character having died in the first film. It’s also no surprise to see him playing a character with no surname (Cuchillo). Since his 1995 star-making turn in Heat (in which he played a character named just “Trejo”), Trejo has had well over 100 roles, almost all as characters like Razor Charlie, Poacher, Scarface, Fred, Collins, Pierce, Vito, Jumpy, Slim, Machete, Pedro, El Jefe, Bob, Manny, El Patron, Cucuy, Raul, Papi, Harold, Rondo, Apache, Fury, Roy, Creek, Shady Chuck, Priest, Albert, Junk, El Chivo, Clint, Capone, Manolo, Perry, Barro, Captain Podrido, Mario, Esteban, Crazy Joe, Jimmy, and Tortuga. He has played a character with the one-word name “Hector” no fewer than five times. Brody’s character should have been killed early on with Trejo finishing out the film. Predator vs. Machete, a truly unique sequel. –“‘Predators’: Robert Rodriguez Gets to the Chopper,” Abe Sauer, The Awl
More from Rafe Bartholomew:
On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in California’s ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.
In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as “indigenously Californian” elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a “home without its mother.” Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the “world’s biggest selfies,” and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”