Kubrick explains the ending of 2001: A Space Odyssey in rare video clip

A rare 1980 clip of Stanley Kubrick talking on the phone about the ending of 2001 has surfaced by way of a Reddit thread. A piece on the Esquire website explains:

...In a bizarre video, which has appeared on Reddit this week, the director seems to provide a very simple and clear explanation of the 2001: A Space Odyssey ending. It comes from a Japanese paranormal documentary from TV personality Jun'ichi Yaio made during the filming of The Shining. The documentary was never released, but footage was sold on eBay in 2016 and conveniently appeared online this week timed with the movie's 50th anniversary.

Here is the transcript of Kubrick's comments:

I’ve tried to avoid doing this ever since the picture came out. When you just say the ideas they sound foolish, whereas if they’re dramatized one feels it, but I’ll try.

The idea was supposed to be that he is taken in by god-like entities, creatures of pure energy and intelligence with no shape or form. They put him in what I suppose you could describe as a human zoo to study him, and his whole life passes from that point on in that room. And he has no sense of time. It just seems to happen as it does in the film.

They choose this room, which is a very inaccurate replica of French architecture (deliberately so, inaccurate) because one was suggesting that they had some idea of something that he might think was pretty, but wasn’t quite sure.

Read the rest

Pagan Kennedy's NY Times piece on collective vs. personal health becomes "New Rule" on Real Time

Imagine my surprise to see my old friend, Pagan Kennedy, being talked about Friday night in a "New Rules" segment on Real Time with Bill Maher. Pagan's opinion piece in the Times, and Maher's Real Time bit about it, make the rather obvious, but still important, point that you can obsess all you want over your own personal health, but if the environment around you and the public policy that governs it are diseased, your health is still in jeopardy. As Kennedy puts it in the Times: "It’s the decisions that we make as a collective that matter more than any choice we make on our own."

In the article, Pagan catalogs many of the paragons of health nuttery (Pritikin, Rodale, Euell Gibbons, Adelle Davis, Clive McKay) and how they didn't even live an average lifespan. Maher makes funny work of this, and the rest of piece, while making sobering points about the health perils we all face. Maher: "No matter what you do for yourself, how right you eat, if the air is full of lead and the bug populations are out of control and your city is under water, it doesn't matter. You can eat kale until it comes out of your ears. You can stay hydrated, slather on sunblock, steam your vagina, eat your placenta, work at a standing desk, and put a healing crystal up your ass, but there is no escaping the environment we all live in.

(My favorite line from the bit: "Back [in the 1970s] when Scientific American was the name of a magazine. Read the rest

"Girls and boys like to play witches, don't they?" Mr. Rogers interviews Margaret Hamilton, aka the Wicked Witch of the West

Here is a clip from a 1975 episode of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood where Mister Rogers interviews Margaret Hamilton, the actress who played the Wicked Witch of the West in the 1939 film, The Wizard of Oz.

Looking at this video, it's hard not to pine for a time when you could talk so sweetly and innocently about witches on a children's program and not risk fundie villagers showing up at the neighborhood's gates with pitch forks and threats of a boycott.

[H/t Susan Jamison] Read the rest

Celebrities destroy their pie holes with hot sauce while being interviewed

Hello. My name is Gareth Branwyn and I am a hot food addict. As I type this, I am horking my way through a can of tuna iced with a generous layer of Sriracha sauce. But as my mouth and tongue are ablaze with the beloved rooster sauce, I know this level of heat is kid's play. Sriracha is a paltry 2,2000 SHU on the Scoville scale (a measure of capsaicin concentration in hot foods).

What might it be like to eat food in the 500,000-600,000 SHU range? And then answer provocative interview questions? That is the premise of the hit YouTube show, Hot Ones, now in its 6th season.

When I first happened upon this show a few years ago, I wanted to hate it. I thought it was a goofy premise and I'm generally not a fan of shows that create fear, pain, or deep embarrassment in other humans for my cheap entertainment. But as Stephen Colbert says below (he's a fan and had Hot Ones host Sean Evans on as a Late Night guest last year), the whole spicy interview process is fascinating and lends itself to some funny, strange, and sometimes quite insightful interviews.

Anyone who's ever eaten peppers in this heat range knows how darn-near consciousness-altering it can be. I'm always amazed at how composed and physiologically unaffected many guests of the show are. Colbert's obvious struggle, as over a million SHUs of capsaicin light up the sensor neurons in his head, is more of how I imagine handling it. Read the rest

What's new in tabletop gaming (June edition)

Here are some recent game releases of note and some of what I've been up to in hobby gaming over the past month or so.

The Grimoire Osprey Games, $20, 2-4 Players, 12+

One of the hallmarks of the highly-successful miniatures skirmish game Frostgrave is that it has a fairly simple, elegant rule set. But like all games that become this popular, Osprey has been cranking out the supplements, accessories, and even a spin-off game (Frostgrave: Ghost Archipelago). With such rapid expansion, it quickly becomes difficult to keep track of all of the new magic spells, monsters, treasures, new characters, and the like. Because the game is basically about dueling wizards and their warbands fighting over treasure, there were already a lot of magic spells to choose from in the core rulebook. But after four major supplements, the spell lists were getting a little unwieldy. Enter The Grimoire, a lovely boxed set of 122 magic spells cards which includes all of the spells, from all of the wizard schools, from the core rules and all supplements to date. This includes the just-released Maze of Malcor.

Airfix Battles Introductory Wargame Modiphius, (as low as) $23 1-4 Players, Ages 10+

Airfix Battles Introductory Wargame is not a new game, only new to me. It was recommended by my friend Rodney Orpheus when I started asking around for a modern version of an old school map and chits wargame. And that's exactly what this game is. It's also an amazing reminder of just how far wargaming design has come--at least in terms of playability and quality of components--from the Avalon Hill/SPI games of yore. Read the rest

Pam Grossman talks "waking the witch," empowerment, and the magic of art on Ultraculture

My favorite witch, Pamela Grossman (who runs the art/occult blog, Phantasmaphile, the podcast, The Witch Wave, and is the author of What is a Witch) recently sat down with Jason Louv of Ultraculture to talk all things witchy.

On the podcast they discuss (among other things):

What being an “out” magician was like growing up and in the working world, and what the reaction has been like How the archetype of the witch can help empower us, evolve us and move us forward as a culture The resurgence of the toxic right How hope for the future is shining through, even in our dark present moment

For those of us interested in such things, it's a smart, far-ranging, and fascinating conversation. You can read more about Pam and listen to the podcast here.

Image: Sylvie Rosokoff Read the rest

Rosemary's Baby and the era of Satanic panic

Inspired by the 50th anniversary this month of the release of Rosemary's Baby, my friend Peg Kay Aloi has written a piece on Crooked Marque on how the iconic occult horror film helped set the stage for the Satanic panic that was to follow.

And therein lies an unusual irony: The clear message of Rosemary’s Baby was that the devil-worshiping witches live right next door, on the other side of the wall of your charming flat on Central Park West. They’re like family: They act as surrogate parents by giving you healthy herbal drinks and silver pendants to protect you, but they’re actually planning to consecrate your baby to the devil. Even your doctor is in on it; heck, your own husband signed his firstborn over to Beelzebub so he could get a juicy part on Broadway! You try to convince people of the plot you’ve uncovered, but they just cluck their tongues (poor thing, you’re just exhausted) and tranquilize you. Even when you’re proven right, that they were there all along, the witches next door who contrived to make you give birth to Satan’s spawn, no one helps you.

Despite overwhelming evidence that most acts of violence against children are perpetrated by family members, the tendency is to look beyond the home, to suspect a shadowy outsider, someone with a taste for heavy metal music and black T-shirts, or a penchant for goddess worship and tarot cards. Rosemary’s Baby masterfully other-ized the evil that lies within (and without), making us hide our children away from any and all possible dangers, including public schools, the internet, the outdoors.

Read the rest

Muttnchop Piper explains Netrunner, the cyberpunk card game

It's always a treat to see someone unexpected embrace tabletop gaming. I just got the Netrunner: Revised Core Set, the latest edition of the popular and surprisingly immersive cyberpunk card game originally designed by Richard Garfield (who also designed of Magic: The Gathering). I decided to watch some videos on playing the game using the new set, as I haven't played in a while. I happened upon a series of videos by Muttnchop Piper, a YouTuber who runs a channel on pipe smoking and tobacco.

I was surprised by how good, and charming, these videos are. He talks about how the game brought him and his grown son closer together. His son is an artist, and growing up, wasn't into the typical things, like "hunting and fishing." His son introduced him to the game, and as you can clearly tell from the videos, Muttnchop Piper has really taken to it. He and his son play the game every Thursday.

In the videos, he describes the world of Netrunner, how to play one of the Corporations, how to play a Runner, and he runs through a sample game. There are a lot of how-to-play Netrunner videos out there, but I don't think there's a better intro series than the one from this unlikely of sources.

I also like this brief video explaining why you should play Netrunner. I love this game and think it evokes a cyberpunk world better than just about anything short of reading a novel in the genre. Read the rest

Touch Me Not, a surreal 18th century manual on how to raise the Devil, and then send him treasure hunting

Last year, the UK occult arts publisher, Fulgur Limited , celebrated its 25th anniversary. Initially focused on the work of the early 20th century British occult artist, Austin Spare, over the years, the imprint has published some of the most beautiful and significant books at the confluence of art and magic and has been the leader in the modern so-called talismanic publishing scene. What the Devil is talismanic publishing? It's an approach to publishing that incorporates magical practice into the act of publishing itself.

The concept originated with occultist Aleister Crowley in the late 19th century. He sought to treat his small press published books on magic and poetry as talismanic objects. Where any book nerd might argue that a finely designed, high-quality printed and bound book is already a magical object, talismanic publishing takes this to another level, with the selection of papers, inks, colors, fonts, and dates and times of publishing often being chosen with magical intent and a special level of consideration being given to the "out of box" experience and initial opening of the book. I have had talismanic books arrive with hand-calligraphied addresses, special perfumed paper wrappings, wax-seals, hand-drawn sigils, and more. Some may roll their eyes at all of this as woo-woo marketing gimmickry, but when this treatment is done well, it lends itself to a unique and elevated experience for anyone who loves bewitching books.

A great case in point is Fulgur's gorgeous new tome, Touch Me Not, their full-color facsimile of the infamous late 18th century grimoire, A Most Rare Compendium of the Whole Magical Art. Read the rest

Fantastic new promo video for this season's Power Racing Series

One of the great joys of being involved with Make:, Maker Faire, and the maker movement over the years has been watching the creation, growth, and evolution of the Power Racing Series. For those who don't know, the Power Racing Series was started by Jim Burke (who was, for a time Make:'s lead designer) when he was at the Chicago hackerspace, Pumping Station: One. The first race was in 2009 and was all PS: One members. The second race, at the 2010 Detroit Maker Faire, was the start of the PRS and Maker Faire's partnership which continues today. Now, the US-spanning PRS circuit includes races at Maker Faires across the country.

Basically, the Power Racing Series is teams of adult kiddie car hackers modifying Power Wheels (and other powered kid vehicles) and racing them in a LeMons-style race. The hacker teams can only spend up to $500 to modify and upgrade their car. It's all in good fun and basically an excuse to collaborate with other makers to try and push your tiny ride to the limit. And to have a crackin' good time in the process. Prizes are given out for things like the most Moxie Points, your ability to take risks, swerve into your weirdness, and pander to the crowd.

There are 9 races taking place this season, starting at Maker Faire Bay Area this month (May 18-20) and ending at the Maker Faire Orlando in November (Nov 10-11). Check out this wonderful video that Jim Burke posted to his YouTube channel a few days ago to promote Season 9. Read the rest

What Jack Kirby proposed for the plaques on the Pioneer space probes

By way of the Daily Grail comes this fascinating bit of Pioneer spacecraft history. Kirby was among the artist asked to submit ideas for the plaques to be flown on the Pioneer 10 and 11 space probes, launched in the early 1970s. Kirby's submission was vastly different than the very literal pictogram designed by Frank Drake, Carl Sagan, and Linda Salzman-Sagan and flown on the missions. Jack was not comfortable with the idea of giving some future Galactus GPS directions to our house.

I would have included no further information than a rough image of the Earth and its one moon. I see no wisdom in the eagerness to be found and approached by any intelligence with the ability to accomplish it from any sector of space. In the meetings between ‘discoverers’ and ‘discoverees,’ history has always given the advantage to the finders. In the case of the Jupiter (Pioneer) plaque, I feel that a tremendous issue was thoughtlessly taken out of the world forum by a few individuals who have marked a clear trail to our door.

My point is, who will come a-knocking – the trader or the tiger?

In describing his approach to the art he submitted, he wrote:

It appears to me that man’s self image has always spoken far more about him than does his reality-figure. My vision of the plaque would have revealed the exuberant, self-confident super visions with which we’ve clothed ourselves since time immemorial. The comic strip super-heroes and heroines, in my belief, personify humanity’s innate idealism and drive

Personally, I don't think we want "underwear perverts" (as Warren Ellis has called spandex supers) representing us, but you've got to love the idea of communicating "exuberant, self-confident super visions" of ourselves. Read the rest

First look at Strange Angel, the CBS series based on the life of occultist, rocket pioneer, Jack Parsons

After much anticipation, we finally get a first look at Strange Angel, the ten episode CBS All Access drama series based on the life of rocket scientist, JPL co-founder, and occultist, Jack Parsons. The series is loosely based on the book, Strange Angel, by Boing Boing pal, George Pendle. It remains to be seen how loose. And how far from reality they take the occult and sex magic aspects of Jack's life. Parsons was a member of British occultist Aleister Crowley's O.T.O., and for a time, ran the group's Agape Lodge, a hotbed of sex, drugs, and edgy classical, in Pasadena, CA. The series premiers on June 14th.

If you are unfamiliar with Parsons, here is an article I wrote for Make: magazine years ago, focusing on Jack's amateur rocketry roots. Read the rest

Exploring the politics and history of alternate universes at the Templin Institute

If you haven't seen any of the videos produced by the Templin Institute, then you are in for a real treat. Templin is a shadowy online organization of deep sci-fi, fantasy, and game geeks who post a prolific number of extremely well-done documentary video essays covering the histories, politics, factions, cultures, and characters behind dozens of sci-fi and fantasy universes.

I have binge-watched dozens of episodes covering aspects of Star Wars, Star Trek, Fallout, Mad Max, Dune, Harry Potter, Warhammer 40,000, Aliens, and many more. They do a really impressive job of putting together these essays using film clips, screen caps, concept and fan art. The writing and narration are also well-done and extremely informative. I learned a lot, even about fictional universes that I already know way too much about.

Recently, the Templin Institute has announced a crowd-contributed sci-fi universe that they are creating themselves. They are going to allow their viewers to submit planets, races, factions, and the like, and the best/most popular ones will be incorporated into the world and future videos. I love this idea. I just hope it doesn't take too much away from their weekly coverage of existing fictional worlds.

You can follow them on their YouTube channel, Twitch, and Facebook. And you can support them on Patreon, if you like what they are doing. Read the rest

What's new in tabletop gaming? (April edition)

Last month, I posted the first of what I hope will be a series of Boing Boing articles looking at the latest tabletop miniature, board, card, and roleplaying games, and some of what's going on in tabletop gaming culture. Here is some of what's been holding my attention this month.

Mythic Battles: Pantheon Monolith Games, 1-4 Players, Ages 14+ I was bummed when I thought I wouldn't have an opportunity to plug this game here on Boing Boing. Mythic Battles: Pantheon was a Kickstarter exclusive game in 2016, a campaign in which Monolith/Mythic Games raked in nearly US$2.7 million. I was lucky enough to be one of the backers. The rewards for the base game and stretch goals amounted to two gigantic doorstop boxes filled with some of the most gorgeous, detailed minis, boards, cards, and other components I've ever seen. There are few recent games (see Rising Sun below) that are lovelier than Mythic Battles. A board game/miniatures hybrid, Mythic Battles pits (usually) 2 players and their hosts of Greek gods, titans, monsters, and heroes against each other.

I cannot tell you how much I love this game. Besides the beautiful miniatures and components, which are all highly evocative of the setting, Mythic Battles: Pantheon has some really unique and interesting game mechanics, mostly driven through an activation deck and special "Art of War" cards, which serve as wild cards that allow you to perform a number of special actions. This really is ultimately a deck management game. Read the rest

Deciphering "wee old lady" library book code

Georgia Grainger, a Scottish librarian, began a fascinating Twitter thread earlier this week:

Turns out from the ensuing comments that this is a rather common practice. Read the rest

Is Stormy Daniels being shadowbanned on Twitter?

This afternoon, Stormy Daniels, the adult film actress and director to whom Dear Leader's lawyer, Michael Cohen, paid hush money weeks before the 2016 election, tweeted the following:

It's true. If you search on her name, and hit the Latest tab, you see lots of Trump-linked tweets and tweets where Ms. Daniels is mentioned, but not a single one of the recent Tweets from Stormy Daniels herself. [Note: her posts don't appear when you click the "Latest" tab, but her posts do appear in the "Top" tab -- Mark]

Hey Twitter? What's up with this? Is she being shadowbanned? It actually appears to be a redirect to Trump tweets. Who might be doing this?

Image: mkhmarketing/Flickr. Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) Read the rest

Watch the world's oldest board game, The Royal Game of Ur, being played

Last year, in celebration of International Tabletop Day, the British Museum did several videos of Merlin the Magician, er... Irving Finkel, the Assistant Curator of Ancient Mesopotamian script, talking about and playing The Royal Game of Ur, an over 4-millennium-old game from Mesopotamia.

Finkel has spent the lion's share of his life trying to decipher the history and rules of this ancient, 2-person racing game. The museum had a copy of the board (which Finkel made a replica of as a child), but had no idea which rules set went with it. Fortuitously, among the museum's 3500 clay tablets, Finkel eventually managed to uncover an analysis of the game, written by a Mesopotamian astronomer, and from there was able to reverse engineer the rules (and matched the rules to the mysterious gameboard artifact in the museum's collection).

There are some interesting mechanics here, including using 4-sided dice that have two white tips. An upright white tip counts as a 1. The Royal Game of Ur looks really fun, and surprisingly exciting to play. Finkel points out that it's the kind of game that, when one player falls behind the other, it actually gives them a momentary advantage and that creates a kind of back and forth, quickly changing fortunes dynamic that makes for a tense game. Finkel also points out that the original board had a built-in drawer to house the dice and playing pieces, a design that's still used in chess and other boards over 4,000 years later. Read the rest

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