Saturday, November 27, 2021

Guide to Louisville Eats

August Moon (Chinese) *

Bar Vetti (Italian)

Con Huevos (Mexican Breakfast/Brunch) *

Dragon King's Daughter (Asian-Latin Fusion)

El Mundo (Mexican)

Everyday Kitchen (Regional Farm-to-table)

Grape Leaf (Mediterranean)

Grassa Gramma (Italian)

Havana Cuba (Cuban)

Jack Fry's (American Fine Dining)

Kashmir (Indian)

La Bodeguita De Mima (Cuban)

Le Moo (Upscale Steakhouse)

Louisville Cream (Premium small batch ice cream)

The Mayan Cafe (Mayan/Latin)

Merle's Whiskey Kitchen (Southern/American)

Mussel and Burger Bar (American)

Pizza Lupo (Pizza/Pasta)

River House (Seafood)

Roots (Vegetarian)

Seviche (Latin)

Simply Thai (Thai & Sushi)

Vietnam Kitchen (Vietnamese)

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Nomadland (USA: Chloé Zhou, 2020)

 Nomadland (USA: Chloé Zhou, 2020: 107 mins)

Freeman, Judith. "A Steady Diet of Low Expectations: A Conversation with Jessica Bruder, Author of Nomadland." Los Angeles Review of Books (April 23, 2021) ["Three years ago, when Jessica Bruder, the author of the Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century, published her nonfiction account of the growing tribe of nomads roaming the American West, people who live in their vans or cars or RVs and work seasonal jobs to get by, she couldn’t have known that her book would end up as a movie, directed by Chloé Zhao and starring Frances McDormand, one that is not only sweeping up awards but has also been embraced by a great cross-section of viewers who are enthralled by its generous and moving portrait of humanity. Not that Bruder’s book didn’t get a lot of attention when it first came out: it ended up on half a dozen of the best book lists of 2017. At the time, Rebecca Solnit said of Nomadland, “People who thought the 2008 financial collapse was over a long time ago need to meet the people Jessica Bruder got to know in this scorching, beautifully written, vivid, disturbing (and occasionally wryly funny) book.”"]

Kim, Jean. "Caught Between Worlds MinariNomadland, and reflections on Asian-American identity." The American Scholar (August 12, 2021)

McDormand, Frances. "Nomadland." Kitchen Sisters #159 (February 9, 2021) ["Sometimes you read a book and it alters the course of your life. That’s what happened to Frances McDormand. Twice. First it was Olive Kitteridge, the HBO series she produced and starred in based on the book by Elizabeth Stroud. This time it's Nomadland. Academy Award winning Frances McDormand talks about the making of Nomadland which is coming to Hulu and select theaters and drive-ins starting February 19, 2021. Directed by Chloe Zhao, based on the nonfiction book Nomadland: Surviving in the Twenty First Century by Jessica Bruder, Nomadland is the first film to ever premiere at the Venice, Toronto and Telluride Film Festivals all on the same night — where it took home all the top prizes. The story is a tale of our times centering on the very “now” many Americans find themselves in. People uprooted from their old jobs and old neighborhoods, places they've called home for decades, now living in DIY customized vans, migrating for work with the seasons. Christmas near the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Virginia, the sugar beet harvest in North Dakota, cleaning latrines and being campground hosts in National Parks. They were already on the road by the thousands before the pandemic uprooted even more. Frances McDormand plays Fern, a woman in her sixties who, after losing everything in the Great Recession, sets out on a journey through the Midwest living as a van-dwelling itinerant worker — a modern day nomad. Frances talks about her experiences making the film in the van-dwelling community with clips from director Chloe Zhao, author Jessica Bruder, van-dwelling guru Bob Wells, and clips from the film. “…Zhao’s fable speaks to us, in 2020, as John Ford’s The Grapes of Wrath did to audiences eighty years ago.” Anthony Lane, The New Yorker"]

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Michael Benton: Quicksilver Dreams & Hidden Realities

 Quicksilver Dreams & Hidden Realities

Standing on the shore of Quiddity I cast my consciousness to catch quicksilver dreams that will nurture me with glimpses of hidden realities.

Recognizing that there are other realities, other possibilities, other journeys, other methods, is the path of wisdom. Learning how to engage with them is the essence of Art in all its manifestations.

The possibility for any kind of peace is only ever realized when differences learn to co-exist. No need to assimilate, conquer, conform, or convert. Crusades are for the insecure; instead we need to create an environment in which people will be encouraged to continuously become what they would be.

Peace and love,

Michael D. Benton

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Parasite (South Korea: Bong Joon-ho, 2019)

Parasite (South Korea: Bong Joon-ho, 2019: 132 mins)

Bradley, S.A. "Again, Volatile Substance: Caligari Goes to the Oscars." Hellbent for Horror #93 (April 26, 2020) [Bradley makes a case for three Best Picture nominees as horror films: Joker (Todd Phillips), 1917 (Sam Mendes), and Parasite (Bong Joon-Ho).]

Cook, Adam. "Parasite (Bong Joon Ho, South Korea)." Cinema Scope #79 (2019)
Hudson, David. "Bong Joon-ho's Parasite." The Current (May 23, 2019)

---. "Weighing Parasite's Wins." The Current (February 11, 2020)

Juhyundred. "Reading Colonialism in Parasite." Tropics of Meta (February 17, 2020)

Kang, Inkoo. "Parasite: Notes from the Underground." Current (October 30, 2020)

 Koresky, Michael, Nicholas Rapold and Amy Taubin. "Bong Joon-Ho's Parasite." Film Comment Podcast (October 26, 2019) ["At Film Comment, we love it when we get behind a movie and then see other movie-goers share the love. Parasite, the funny and fierce thriller from Bong Joon Ho, was on the cover of our September-October issue, but wasn’t released in theaters until mid-October. But what a release! Audiences are packing the theaters. To talk about the movie’s appeal and Bong’s masterful filmmaking, FC Editor-in-Chief Nicolas Rapold sat down with contributing editor Amy Taubin, who wrote out September-October feature on Parasite, and FC columnist and critic Michael Koresky."]

 Kunkle, Sheila. "Parasite and the Parallax of Social Relations Under Capitalism." Crisis Critique 7.2 (2020) ["This paper offers a psychoanalytic film analysis of director Bong Joon-ho’s 2019 film Parasite, which engages Slavoj Žižek’s concept of a “political parallax.” The analysis reveals how social (class) relations under Capitalism are anamorphically distorted and structured by way of an unsymbolizable gap. Ultimately, achieving a parallax view allows us to see that it’s not capitalism that breeds parasites; rather parasitism is already there, inherently built into capitalism in the form of an internal excess. Thus, capitalism itself becomes the parasitic system that perpetuates both the fantasy of freedom and the fetishization of class difference, which, paradoxically obfuscates class struggle itself."]

Lin, Ed. "This Side of Parasite: New Korean Cinema 1998–2009." The Current (November 2, 2020)

Liu, Rebecca. "A Hellish Commons: Bong Joon-Ho's Parasite." Another Gaze (February 13, 2020)

Park, Ed. "Memories of Murder: In the Killing Jar." Current (April 20, 2021)

Yoonsoo, Kristen. "The Parasite Eight-Minute Meal." Filmmaker (December 10, 2019)

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Archetypes: Family

Aster, Ari. "Hereditary." Film Comment Podcast (June 14, 2018) ["For the release of horror sensation Hereditary, we invited the film’s director, Ari Aster, to come for a wide-ranging chat. The talk was moderated by FSLC Editorial Director Michael Koresky, who wrote of Hereditary in our May/June issue: “We are compelled by our family stories, but they are often constructed narratives, given to biases, subjectivities, fictions. If at times Hereditary feels more like an askew domestic melodrama than a horror movie, that’s not accidental.” Aster talks about his love of Ingmar Bergman, his fear of The Wiz, his next project, and the arduous road to staging a scene just so.

Colins, K. Austin, et al. "Families on Film." The Film Comment Podcast (November 21, 2018) ["In marketing parlance, a “family film” has tended to mean an anodyne product, something that all could enjoy and that couldn’t possibly offend anyone. For our latest Film Comment Podcast, we’re taking our cue instead from movies actually about families, with all of the love, mundanity, and cringing horror left intact. That includes not only Shoplifters—a new release from that auteur of the comforts and complications of home, Hirokazu Kore-eda—but also the likes of Jodie Foster’s Home for the Holidays, Orson Welles’s The Magnificent Ambersons, Yasujiro Ozu’s Equinox Flower, and a couple more that may surprise you. Film Comment’s Michael Koresky was joined for this discussion by K. Austin Collins of Vanity Fair; Aliza Ma, head programmer of Metrograph; and Farihah Zaman, filmmaker and FC contributor."]

Digging Deeper. "A Separation: A Man-Made Divide." (Posted on Youtube: May 5, 2016)

Dogtooth (Greece: Giorgos Lanthimos, 2009) Dialogic Cinephilia (Ongoing Online Archive)

Feliciano, Moisés. "Yorgos Lanthimos and Realism." (Posted on Youtube: June 17, 2019)

Frames of Empathy. "Midsommar: Finding Your Family." (Posted on Youtube: November 27, 2019)

Harrison, Sheri-Marie. "Us and Them." Commune (June 6, 2019) [On Jordan Peele's 2019 horror film Us.]

Heller-Nicholas, Alexandra. Silence and Fury: Rape and The Virgin Spring." Screening the Past (September 1, 2010)

Johnson, Jenna. "Dogtooth: A Lacanian Analysis." (Posted on Youtube: December 20, 2019)

Kogonada. "Nothing at Stake: Roma." (Posted on Vimeo: 2020)

Lee, Kevin B. "Kevin B. Lee’s New Video Essay Explores Mourning with Minari." Hyperallergic (April 14, 2021) ["In a Hyperallergic exclusive, Lee muses on the aftermath of the Atlanta spa shootings and how the media imagines Asian Americans."]

Lessons From the Screenplay. "Get Out - A New Perspective in Horror." (Posted on Youtube: February 27, 2018) ["Get Out takes a situation that is universally relatable and adds a specific and unfamiliar protagonist. In doing so, the film unlocks new ways of creating tension and establishing trust."]

The Shining (USA/UK: Stanley Kubrick, 1980) Dialogic Cinephilia (Ongoing Online Archive)

The Take. "The Incredibles Symbolism: The Power of Family." (Posted on Youtube: December 14, 2016)

Us (USA: Jordan Peele, 2019) Dialogic Cinephilia (Ongoing Online Archive)

You Have Been Watching Films. "Dogtooth - Satire Without Spoon-Feeding." (Posted on Youtube: June 14, 2019)

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

12 Years a Slave (USA: Steve McQueen, 2013)


12 Years a Slave (USA: Steve McQueen, 2013: 133 mins)

Aitkenhead, Decca. "Steve McQueen: My Hidden Shame." The Guardian (January 4, 2014)

Berlatsky, Noah. "How 12 Years a Slave Gets History Right: By Getting It Wrong." The Atlantic (October 28, 2013)

Clark, Ashley. "Alien abductions: 12 Years a Slave and the past as science fiction."  Sight and Sound (April 14, 2015)

Conrath, Ryan. "Interview: Editor Joe Walker on 12 Years a SlaveHungerShame, and More." Bright Lights Film Journal (April 30, 2014)

Karp, Matt. "A Confederacy of Kidnappers." Jacobin (November 4, 2013)

Kellner, Douglas. "The horrors of slavery and modes of representation in Amistad and 12 Years a Slave." Jump Cut #56 (Winter 2014/2015)

Livingston, Jay. "The Revenge Fantasy: Django Unchained vs. 12 Years a Slave." Sociological Images (November 4, 2013)

Mackey, James. "12 Years a Slave: Verso’s essential reading list on slavery and race relations." Verso (October 23, 2014)

Nayman, Adam. "Atrocity Exhibition: 12 Years a Slave." Reverse Shot #33 (2013)

Rich, Frank. "Liberal Echo Chamber." New York (November 3, 2013)

Suebsaeng, Asawin. Henry Louis Gates Jr. Fact-Checks 12 Years a Slave." Mother Jones (October 12, 2013)

Wickman, Forrest. "How Accurate Is 12 Years a Slave?" Slate (October 17, 2013)

Monday, October 25, 2021

Archetypes: Jester/Fool/Trickster

Major Arcana: The Fool
Qualities: Freedom; Lust for Life; Beginnings; Adventure
Element: Air
Planet/Zodiac: Uranus
Symbols: White Rose; Small Bundle; Small Animal; Precipice

Birdman (USA/Canada: Alejandro González Iñárritu, 2014) Dialogic Cinephilia (Ongoing Online Archive)

Cairns, David. "PlayTime: Anatomy of a Gag." Criterion Collection (Posted on Vimeo: November 2014)

Daisies (Czechoslovakia: Vera Chytilová, 1966: 74 mins)

Drain, Heather, et al. "Celine and Julie Go Boating." The Projection Booth #277 (June 28, 2016) ["Jacques Rivette's Celine and Julie Go Boating (1974) tells a story of friendship, adventure, and magic between two women (Juliet Berto and Dominique Labourier) in Paris."]

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (USA: Terry Gilliam, 1998) Dialogic Cinephilia (Ongoing Online Archive)

Ford, Phil and J.F. Martel. "What a Fool Believes: On the Unnumbered Card in the Tarot." Weird Studies #77 (July 8, 2020) ["'What a fool believes he sees, no wise man can reason away.' This line from a Doobie Brothers song is probably one of the most profound in the history of rock-'n'-roll. It is profound for all the reasons (or unreasons) explored in this discussion, which lasers in on just one of the major trumps of the traditional tarot deck, that of the Fool. The Fool is integral to the world, yet stands outside it. The Fool is an idiot but also a sage. The Fool does not know; s/he intuits, improvises a path through the brambles of existence. We intend this episode on the Fool to be the first in an occasional series covering all twenty-two of the major trumps of the Tarot of Marseilles."]

Funny Games (Austria: Michael Haneke, 1997) and (USA/France/UK/Austria/Germany/Italy: Michael Haneke, 2007) Dialogic Cinephilia (Ongoing Online Archive)

Infranaut. "How Capitalism Commodifies Revolution and Sorry to Bother You." (Posted on Youtube: January 10, 2019)  

Kuersten, Erich. "Quilty Makes This World: 12 Tricksters (CinemArchetype #1)." Acidemic (January 12, 2021) 

Marsh, James, et al. "Terry Jones' Monty Python's Life of Brian." CriterionCast #121 (April 5, 2012)

Phillips, Maya. "Sorry to Bother You and the New Black Surrealism." Slate (July 18, 2018) ["Like Get Out and Atlanta, Boots Riley’s gonzo satire realizes the best way to depict black people’s reality is to depart from it."]

Repo Man (USA: Alex Cox, 1984)  Dialogic Cinephilia (Ongoing Online Archive)

Seitz, Matt Zoller. "The Wes Anderson Collection Ch. 8: The Grand Budapest Hotel." (Posted on Vimeo: 2015)

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Halloween 2021 Recommendations: 21st Century Horror

The Devil's Backbone (Guillermo del Toro, 2001) [A subtle exploration of individual and collective trauma. Del Toro is a master of horror and insightful explorer of childhood explorations of the dark side of adulthood.] 

Donnie Darko (Richard Kelly, 2001) [I remember seeing an image of Donnie in the theater with the freaky rabbit head creature in a short review in a paper. The film disappeared quicker than I could get to see it and I was pleased to discover it when it was released on video. It quickly became a cult favorite and one of those films that you can rewatch.]

Trouble Every Day (Claire Denis, 2001) [One of the great pleasures of Claire Denis' unique & powerful films is the coterie of dedicated artists that work in her films (and her ability to attract other similar one time participants). This can be seen in her work with Agnes Godard her long time cinematographer (they met while working for Wim Wenders), to Tindersticks providing the soundtracks, and through the great acting collaborators that artfully manifest as different characters in mutliple films. Denis and her collaborators seem to develop a space for fearless filmmaking that challenges the artists involved and the later audience to (re)conceive the possibilities of different ways of telling stories through films (and in the case of Trouble Every Day -- the hoary conventions of a sanitized and exhausted vampire mythos).]

Save the Green Planet (Jang Joon-Hwan, 2003) [Are you curious about the QAnon believers, this bat shit crazy Korean film is an interesting glimpse into the possible mindset of those that spiral down conspiracy rabbit holes. Great ending ;)]

Shaun of the Dead (Edgar Wright, 2004) [Shaun just wants to rescue his doomed romance, then all hell breaks loose. The start of Wright's brilliant Cornish Trilogy.]

Pan's Labyrinth (Guillermo del Toro, 2006) [A masterpiece touchstone of 21st Century horror and brilliant exploration of the role stories play in our lives during difficult times. One of the best production design and creature creation films! The ending has led to many debates in my film classes.]

The Host (Bong Joon-ho, 2006) [I tell my students this is Little Miss Sunshine's family meets Godzilla.  I would take this over a million Godzilla reboots.]

Let the Right One In (Tomas Alfredson, 2008) [Long, intense discussions about this film at the end of The Kentucky Theater midnight movie screening. That night I had an intense dream about it and woke up to scribble this down  "Be Me, for Awhile" -- Ideological Becoming and Future Objectivity in Let the Right One In."  A great re-imagining of the vampire story and exploration of the monster in all of us.]

Pontypool (Bruce McDonald, 2008) [My tagline would be: The only way to survive is to resist understanding. A great vehicle for Stephen McHattie to do what he does best :) A counter to the mindless hordes of brainless zombie films/TV.]

Hellboy II: The Golden Army (Guillermo del Toro, 2008) [Even when del Toro is paying the bills he hits some great notes. Leaves me crying at the fact that his adaptation At the Mountains of Madness has not come to fruition.]

Polytechnique (Denis Villeneuve, 2009) [An attempt to examine a deeply traumatic, misogynistic, mass shooting in Canada. One of the best attempts to do something like this. Unique narrative.]

The Temptation of St. Tony (Veiko Õunpuu, 2009) [This Estonian films opens with this epigraph: from Dante’s Divine Comedy: “Midway upon the journey of life / I found myself within a forest dark / For the straightforward pathway had been lost.” What does it mean to be a middle manager, losing all sense of morality, in a culture that has long abandoned any scraps of right/wrong.]

Jennifer's Body (Karyn Kusama, 2009) [I fully agree with the theme that crappy, pseudo-independent, boy hair bands are the devil's work ;) Great fun!]

Shutter Island (Martin Scorsese, 2010) [I remember during the last 20 minutes of this film I was wringing my hands so tightly I feared I would break the fingers. A great exploration of consciousness and identity. Don't read about it, see it.] 

The Silence (Baran bo Odar, 2010) [I'm not a fan of serial killers, and I wonder about the obsessive fascination of others about them, although it does seem to be the monstrous archetype for capitalistic individualism. This film really tries to explore the compulsion behind the serial killer and left me wrecked at the end.]

Stake Land (Jim Mickle, 2010) [It is an amazing experience when you watch a favorite film years later and it still has the power to thrill you. Even more frightening in its message and story after 4 years living through a pandemic in reactionary Trump'merica. Just as redemptive in the struggle and journey of the characters. Engaging, intense narrative!]

Martha Marcy May Marlene (Sean Durkin, 2011) [Ostensibly an exploration of the damage a small, controlling cult can wreck on the individual, but I would make the case that it is equally and importantly a parallel exploration (intentionally or unintentionally) of mainstream social strictures. Brilliant!"]

Kill List (Ben Wheatley, 2011) [Wheatley's 'A Field in England' sent me on a pleasurable orgy of tripping imagistic weirdness (that seemed so damn real), so I was worried if 'Kill List' could match that film... it did... intertwining the cliched hit man charcters embroiled in domestic drama into a twisted horror scenario - brilliant, deconstructive film. Combine that with the fully committed, intense, and improvisational acting of the four leads -- yes! You should go into this with as little information as possible....."]

A Cabin in the Woods (Drew Godard, 2011) [My favorite metacinematic film exploring the nature of horror on a societal level while providing a rip-roaring narrative. Another film you should go into completely uninformed.]

Attack the Block (Joe Cornish, 2011) [Good monster/alien invasion film. Place your bets - street kids vs alien invasion.]
You're Next (Adam Wingard, 2011) [Definite flaws, but a candidate for the final girls hall of fame.]

Kiss of the Damned (Xan Cassavettes, 2012) [My favorite 1970s arthouse erotic vampire film - four decades later!]

Berberian Sound Studio (Peter Strickland, 2012) [A fascinating, spooky homage to Italian giallo films, sound effect techniques, and analogue sound."]

American Mary (Jen Soska and Sylvia Soska, 2012) [It is difficult paying for college these days! Not really contemporary horror, more like classic grand guignol (and I say that admiringly). I've heard about the Soska sisters for a couple of years and was going to watch this film during the last Directed by Women global event. I'm very intrigued by how they developed this story of the extreme measures taken by a female medical student to fund her expensive education and her reactions to the abusive patriarchy/authorities of her institution. Also an interesting and disturbing alternative society seems to be developed (Lance's comment near the end is key?) ............ but it seems equally abusive and centered around capitalist relations of money. More questions than answers. Deeply problematic film, but shows a lot of promise - I would like to see what their next film will be.....  This ranks with Abel Ferrara's The Addiction as one of the great academic horror films.]

Only Lovers Left Alive (Jim Jarmusch, 2013) [A great meditation on coming to terms with aging and ones place in the world at that time. Also a great soundtrack, I have it on vinyl (blood red, of course).]

Under the Skin (Johnathan Glazer, 2013) [The first time I watched this I was stymied by my expectations based upon an earlier reading of Faber's novel. I had picked it up during my first trip to Europe and the book entranced me with its social and political allegory told through the reflections/experiences of the protagonist. Maybe it took on an added depth of meaning due to my own feelings of alienness on that trip. My second viewing was approached with an awareness that I need to set aside those expectations and open myself to a new interpretation of the story. I was rewarded with a stunning visual masterpiece of imagistic storytelling - potent and powerful, even if a bit ambiguous.]

A Field in England (Ben Wheatley, 2013) [Mycelium horror. After a series of dreadful/banal film viewings it was a pleasure to be enveloped by Wheatley & crew (love the extras on the DVD that emphasize the collective effort that went into this film) into a strange, distant, and confusing world -- all working to provoke this viewer to ask why, how and could ... and ask those questions multiple times, but always engaged and interested.]

Enemy (Denis Villeneuve, 2013) [Profoundly weird (in the classic sense) -- don't want to say anything else :)]

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (Ana Lily Amirpour, 2014) [Amirpour made a splash with this unique take on the beautifully shot and scored vampire film.]

It Follows (David Robert Mitchell, 20140 [Interesting homage and reworking of the horror films of my youth (esp. John Carpenter). Great concept for the initiation of the horror.]

The Invitation (Karyn Kusama, 2015) [Kusama returns to the heights of her first film Girlfight with this intense, highly-watchable, keep-you-guessing, slow-burn thriller. The less you know about it, the better - seriously, don't even watch the trailer, but definitely check this film out, preferably with some friends over food & drinks ;) The audience I saw it with had a great, loud time and we were literally buzzing afterward! That ending, on the cusp of 2016 - wow.]

Final Girls (Todd Strauss-Schulson, 2015) [A lot of fun for horror fans that like metacinematic explorations of the genre."]

The Lure (Agnieszka Smoczyńska, 2015)   [A horror musical? Yes. Also rescues the mermaid from Disney.]

Crimson Peak (Guillermo del Toro, 2015) [I'm concerned by those that believe this film does not contain enough "horror"]

A Dark Song (Liam Gavin, 2016) [Painstaking attention to the details of traumatic grief, magic rituals, and ... (can't spoil it) brings this effectively written, acted and directed two-hander to life - I was riveted throughout!]

The Neon Demon (Nicholas Winding Refn, 2016) [I drove to see The Neon Demon and stopped into the corporate faux-British pub for a bite/drink beforehand. Made conversation with a stunning bartender in a tartan skirt. In the spirit of the high-fashion, excesses I expected from the film, I asked to try a dram of a high end bourbon (which I had not tried before) and she laughingly told me she would have to get on a ladder to get a new bottle and then proceeded to do so right in front of me. A bit stunned and exhilarated, as little was left to the imagination (this was not me gawking - the tartan skirt was barely covering her), I was for a moment a bit speechless. A few minutes later we struck up a conversation and she discussed her sideline of schilling alcohol samples at regional venues - she asked me if I knew Jay-Z and his new line of 'healthier' alcohol brands (she works for them). She was interesting and engaging, but it was clear her 'beauty' was the skill she used to make a living. I left wondering/wandering about the vagaries of beauty (of those that have it and those that want to use it) and the ways in which society defines it, distributes it, defiles it and discards it. Needless to say I was primed for the film ........... As I left the film - the first song I heard on my car radio was Meghan Trainor's 'Me Too' (a singer and song I was unaware of - the line "If I was you I would want to be me too" was what stuck) and when I changed the channel, almost immediately, Monty Python's Money Programme came on. Obviously this doesn't describe the film - I recommend you see it. Tagline: "Beauty is vicious"]

Train to Busan (Yean Sang-ho, 2016)  [Nice to see a film(maker) rise to the challenge of making something new in the very overworked Zombie sub-genre. An action, thrill ride!]

Raw (Julia Ducourau, 2016) [I decided to watch this during a 24 hr fast - good decision ;)]

31 (Rob Zombie, 2016) [This film... what the fuck, such a mess (the script), but rescued by other aspects of the film, and at times a bit of brilliance.]

Get Out (Jordan Peele, 2017) [A perfect social horror film to cap the Obama era's liberal self-patting.]

The Endless (Aaron Morehead and Justin Benson, 2017) [Both a great cult and cosmic horror film that keeps one engaged throughout without losing an essential ambiguity that allows your mind to fill the open spaces.]

Tigers are Not Afraid (Issa Lopez, 2017) [The setting for this realistic narrative of orphans on the streets is scary enough, then there is the interjection of magical realism which gives it an otherworldly sensibility.]

Suspiria (Luca Guadagnino, 2018) [Remake of Dario Argento's 1977 film. I know this will bother fans of the original, but I think this is the superior film and I was riveted throughout. Great dance scenes, a mindbending ending, and great female cast headed by Tilda Swinton.]

Annihilation (Alex Garland, 2018) [One of the best cosmic horror films. Maybe mycelium horror, depending on your interpretation. Stellar female ensemble playing scientists and soldiers. Visually intense and beautiful.]

Cam (Daniel Goldhaber, 2018) [What could be more frightening to a social media influencer than to have their online, branded identity, hijacked by unknown forces... and they may be even better at it than you in your tireless efforts. Could have been so bad, instead it rises to be a prime film examining our online obsessions about our performative identities.]

A Quiet Place (John Krasinski, 2018) [Unique, highly effective, even some well-earned jump scares - had me squirming at times.]

Tales From the Hood 2 (Darin Scott and Rusty Cundieff, 2018) [Hanging with a friend she chose this film and I had very low expectations. It was better than I expected and had me chuckling and shocked at times.]

Midsommar (Ari Aster, 2018) [I hated the excruciatingly painful Hereditary (maybe that means it was effective?), so I avoided this second film for awhile, then I was in the early days of the pandemic and gave it a try. I thought it was a fascinating exploration of fraught relationships, insular communities, cultural arrogance, predatory academics, masculine posturing, and ... I don't want to give it away. I thought it was brilliant.]

Doctor Sleep (Mike Flanagan, 2018) [What an impossible task, making a sequel based upon two twin masterpieces, Stephen King's novel The Shining and Stanley Kubrick's adaptation. To make matters worse, King hated Kubrick's adaptation, which by many is considered to be a masterpiece of horror filmmaking and might have superseded the original novel. Flanagan engages both versions, while creating his own unique vision. I have much admiration for how this turned out and can see myself revisiting it soon. A classic of psychic vampires and evil places!]

Us (Jordan Peele, 2018) [In two years Peele released two great and successful horror films. I had to watch this a second time to fully grasp the intricacies, mostly because I was distracted the first time, and I was fascinated by the social horror of individuals trapped in a social situation definitely not of their making and the blase comfort of those that, knowingly or unknowingly, benefit from their Omelas-like oppression. Everyone is good in this, but Lupita Nyong'o is stellar! That ending ;)] 

In the Earth (Ben Wheatley, 2021) [Mycelium/cosmic horror - understated, cerebral and trippy (kind of like Wheatley's A Field in England). Martin seemed like a wimp from the beginning, but the man held up through some seriously messed up shit. Made during the intense phase of the COVID-19 pandemic - impressive!]

Censor (Prano Bailey-Bond, 2021) [A rigid, moralistic censor during the heyday of the British video nasties censorship period, sees a film that dislodges painful memories and ... don't want to reveal that ;)]

Grilled Carrots w/ Avocado and Mint

Makes 4 servings

1tsp cumin seeds
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp honey
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 serrano or jalapeno, seeds removed, diced 
1 inch piece ginger, peeled finely grated 
Himalayan Salt
5 good size carrots, halved or quartered, lengthwise
2 avocados, cut into good size chunks
1/2 cup mint leaves

You can do this on a grill - I roasted them in the oven.

Preheat oven 400

Toast cumin seeds, tossing often, until fragrant for 2 mins. Crush coarsely in mortar and pestle (or on a cutting board with flat side of a chef knife)

Transfer to a large bowl. Add lemon juice and honey. Whisk in a 1/4 cup of oil, jalapeno and ginger. Add salt to taste. Let sit while you cook the carrots so ginger & pepper infuse the dressing.

Toss carrots in remaining 2 tbsp. oil and put on a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast under burner 14 - 18 mins (turn over half way).

Let cool for a couple of mins. Toss in bowl with dressing.

Arrange carrots and avocados on a platter. Spoon leftover dressing over it. Top with mint.  

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Embrace of the Serpent (Columbia/Venezuela/Argentina: Ciro Guerra, 2015)


Embrace of the Serpent (Colombia/Venezuela/Argentina: Ciro Guerra, 2015: 125 mins) 

Benton, Michael Dean. "Notes for Embrace of the Serpent (Colombia/Argentina/Venezuela: Ciro Guerra, 2015) - Presentation for International Film Festival: Hispanic Heritage & Latinx Culture 10/19/21." Dialogic Cinephilia (October 19, 2021)

Berghahn, Daniela. "Encounters with Cultural Difference: Cosmopolitanism and Exoticism in Tanna (Martin Butler and Bentley Dean, 2015) and Embrace of the Serpent (Ciro Guerra, 2015)." Alphaville #14 (2018)

Brennan, Collin. "Embrace of the Serpent: A Surreal, Transformative Journey Into the Heart of Darkness." Consequence of Sound (March 10, 2016)

Cadena, Nicolas. "Embrace of the Serpent: Reframing the Colombian Amazon." NACLA (April 8, 2016)

Dahan, Yaron. "Lost in the Jungle: Aguirre, the Wrath of God and Embrace of the Serpent." Notebook (June 20, 2016)

Franco, James. "Embrace of the Serpent Documents a Lost World." IndieWire (February 19, 2016)

Guillén, Michael. "Embrace of the Serpent: An Interview with Ciro Guerra." Cineaste (Spring 2016)

Harvey, Sophia. "The Seven Most Compelling Characters of the Year." No Film School (December 20, 2016)

Holden, Stephen. "Embrace of the Serpent: Where Majesty Meets Monstrosity." The New York Times (February 16, 2016)

Kermode, Mark. "Embrace of the Serpent: You Will Be Transported." The Guardian (June 12, 2016)

Kiang, Jessica. "Cannes Review: Embrace Of The Serpent Is A Soulful, Strange And Stunning Discovery." IndieWire (May 17, 2015)

Like Stories of Old. "Venturing into Sacred Space | Archetype of the Magician." (Posted on Youtube: April 21, 2018) ["In this conclusion of my Archetype Series based on the book King, Warrior, Magician, Lover by Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette, I examine the archetype of the Magician and explore some related concepts such as initiation, ritual process and sacred space." Other sources discussed:  Carol S. Pearson – The Hero Within: Six Archetypes We Live By; Robert Moore – The Archetype of Initiation: Sacred Space, Ritual Process and Personal Transformation; Mircea Eliade - The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion; Victor Turner – The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structure.]

Luna, Maria. "The Films of Ciro Guerra and the Making of Cosmopolitan Spaces in Colombian Cinema." Alphaville #14 (2018)

Mallik, Santasil. "The Native Eye: Re-Embracing the Serpent with 'Chullachaqui.'" Bright Lights Film Journal (June 15, 2017)

Mathiesen, Karl. "Embrace of the Serpent Star: 'My Tribe is Nearly Extinct.'" The Guardian (June 8, 2016) ["Their land was plundered for rubber while they were enslaved or killed. As Embrace of the Serpent tells the shocking story of the tribespeople of Colombia, its star relives a moving screening in the heart of the jungle"]

"No Film School's Top 10 Indie Films of the Year." No Film School (December 22, 2016)

Nord, Liz. "The Most Stunning Cinematography of 2016." No Film School (December 23, 2016)

Ponman, Bruce E. and Rainer W. Bussmann. "Medicinal Plants and the Legacy of Richard E. Schultes." (The William L. Brown Center at the Missouri Botanical Garden: 2012)

Shaw, Deborah. "Falling Into the Embrace of the Serpent." Mediático (July 21, 2016)

"Watch an 80-Minute Talk with the Directors Behind 2016’s Best Foreign Language Film Nominees." The Film Stage (January 14, 2016)

Embrace of the Serpent (Colombia/Argentina/Venezuela: Ciro Guerra, 2015) - Presentation for International Film Festival: Hispanic Heritage & Latinx Culture 10/19/21


A 2015 internationally produced Colombian film directed by Ciro Guerra. It is based upon the field notes & travel diaries of the German ethnologist Theodor Koch-Grünberg (1872 - 1924) and American pioneer of the field of ethnobiology Richard Evans Schultes (1915 - 2001). I originally learned about these explorers in anthropologist/ethnobotanist Wade Davis' intoxicating recounting of his own travels in the Amazon region interspersed with a recounting of Schultes 1940s explorations. It was a favorite book of mine and I have gifted it to two students with interests in the field:

As great as I find Wade Davis' book, it had a fatal flaw, in that it was solely from the viewpoint of the European/American scholar-explorers.  While these explorers were motivated by the quest of knowledge about the people /cultures and fauna/flora of the region, we should recognize that is was in the context of a larger colonizing project. By colonizing, I mean outside powers/forces that invade an area/region in order to profit from or extract the natural resources and human labor.  It should be noted that Davis later addressed these missing perspectives, in his books/research, including Light at the Edge of the World: A Journey Through the Realm of Vanishing Cultures (National Geographic, 2001) and The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World (Anansi Press, 2009). You can also see his lectures online of the importance of ancient wisdom.

I heard about Embrace of the Serpent in 2015, the year of its release, and when I watched the trailer I immediately recognized that the film was following the early explorations of Koch-Grünberg and Schultes, but with the twist of an imagined shamanic character, Karamakate, that accompanies/guides the two explorers in the 1920s and 1940s. 

Santasik Malik, on the film, states: "Ciro Guerra’s Embrace of the Serpent (2016) can be read as a brilliant subversion of the colonising role that the camera plays in appropriating native cultures in favour of Western narratives. The film ... was influenced by the ethnographic accounts of ethnologist Theodor Koch-Grunberg (in 1909) and American biologist Richard Evans Schultes (in 1940), yet it deviates from uncomplicated transliteration of those accounts and weaves in various indigenous narratives to critique the colonialist discourse."

As an African saying illustrates: "Until the lion has a historian, the hunter will always be the hero."  This reminds us that history is a living, ongoing dialogue, and the more ways in which we can see the world through a plurality of narratives and interpretations, the better we will understand the complexities of human interactions. In the film, the shaman Karamakate states that the only way the sick American explorer could heal is to dream, perhaps that is a message to all of us. 

When watching this film, think about how we all construct a sense of our shared reality on this planet and our place in the universe. This is not disparaging in the sense that I am saying that our perceived realities are just fantasy, instead it is an encouragement to open ourselves up to how different cultures, different languages, different places, different identities, different eras, different truths, act as vast unexplored regions in which we can learn about new ways of seeing & being.

The film can challenge our rigid understanding of time as a linear process and Euro-americans fraught relationship with the natural world which they seek to solely control/exploit. Use these two challenges to anchor you during your journey through Embrace of the Serpent.

Lastly, Catherine Grant, writing in Mediático: 

Every so often a special film comes along and slaps us in the face and demands our attention. A film that reminds us why we became and remain academics, critics and teachers. We take on these roles because we love films that teach us about the world we live in, and because we want to share our enthusiasm and that knowledge. Learning and sharing knowledge is one of the central themes of Embrace of the Serpent. ... Embrace of the Serpent is a film that is simple and beautiful, yet also epic, ecological, mystical, cosmic and extra-terrestrial. It presents us with a vision of how broken people can be made whole again. It is visually gorgeous, unusually shot on film in black-and-white by cinematographer David Gallegos. In addition to its visual splendour, it provides an example of the kind of ethical filmmaking which could teach some directors a thing or two.

I look forward to discussing your responses to this film and it will also connect with Iciar Bollain's 2010 film Even the Rain that I am screening tomorrow at 1PM.


I have a sizable archive of resources on Embrace of the Serpent - come up to me afterward if you would like to have it sent to you.

Embrace of the Serpent won many awards, including the Sundance Film Festivals inaugural Sloan Award for Science in Cinema, 7 of the 8 major categories in the Platino Ibero-American Film Awards, and was nominated as Colombia's entry for the best foreign film category at the Oscars (the first time a Colombian film made the final five list).

Yakruna is an invented plant-based drug, it was done out of respect for native cultures in the Amazon basin that use these plants in their rituals.  In Wade Davis' book One River  he relates how Richard Schultes was seeking information about Ayahuasca.

Ciro Guerra says he chose to film in Black and White because he wanted to represent how the indigenous Karamakate (and the indigenous perspective he represents) views everything as interconnected and in order to do that he wanted a similarity of representation.  Santasik Malick, again, explains: 

The reason why director Guerra chose to shoot the film in black and white illustrates the futility of the camera as a Western eye. He learned that the Amazonians have fifty different names for the colour green. Realising the inability of the camera to articulate the varied details, textures, and nuances of greenness, he decided to abandon the idea of shooting it in colour. This strategy invites the audience to fill the frame with their imaginations regarding the greenness of the Amazon, for the director claimed, “what we imagine would certainly be more real than what I could portray.”


Thursday, September 30, 2021

#International Podcast Day 2021

It is #InternationalPodcastDay and I would like to share my favorite podcasts (share yours with the hashtag). These are all easily searchable:

Breaking Points w/ Krystal & Sagar (my go-to political report)

Huberman Lab (essential & accessible neuroscience for a healthy brain & body - changed my life)

Weird Studies (high level discussion of the esoteric works/movements of art & culture - sends me chasing down all kinds of leads)

Creative Codex (a great exploration of artists & creativity)

Joe Rogan Experience (love him or hate him, he has an extraordinary range of people across the discursive spectrum engaging through in-depth conversations)

Your Undivided Attention (associated with the documentary Social Dilemma and The Center for Humane Technology - Tristan Harris examines contemporary concerns regarding social media and the breakdown of civil discourse)

The Evolution of Horror (providing a thematic series on horror in film)

Very Bad Wizards (wide ranging intellectual explorations)

The Magic Lantern (a great conversational exploration of films)

Love That Album (in depth exploration of great albums)

Philosophize This! (I wish Mr. West had been my philosophy professor)

Projections (Mary Wild's and Sarah Kathyrn Cleaver's psychoanalytical journey through film)

The Projection Booth (Mike White's long running and crazily productive, in-depth examination of the far reaches of the cinematic universe, with an incredible group of supporting thinkers and guests with connections to the particular film. I really can't summarize how amazing this podcast is ...)

See Hear (A journey through musical expression and exploration in film)

The Final Girls (British podcast producing multi-episode examinations of current films right when I get interested in them... it is uncanny. Latest examples Cam and Censor.)

Historiansplaining (Challenges the common assumptions of historical knowledge and provide a good corrective to misinformation - especially for those that think they know history)

On Being - (provides me with a wide range of thinkers & activists exploring the spiritual side of life)

On the Media - (essential breakdown of the issues and problems associated with the chattering class in mainstream media)

Film Comment Podcast - (high level discussions with a range of experts and interviews with the filmmakers)

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Cloud Atlas (Germany/USA/Hong Kong/Singapore: Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski, 2012)

 Cloud Atlas (Germany/USA/Hong Kong/Singapore: Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski, 2012: 172 mins)

Cloud Atlas and Bound." Sound on Sight #337 (October 28, 2012)

Darghis, Manohla and A.O. Scott. "Film is Dead? Long Live Movies: How Digital is Changing the Nature of Movies." The New York Times (September 9, 2012)

Ebert, Roger. "Castles in the Sky." Chicago-Sun Times (October 24, 2012)

Guo, Ting. "Cloud Atlas." Journal of Religion & Film 17.2 (October 2013)

Hemon, Aluksander. "Beyond the Matrix: The Wachowskis travel to even more mind-bending realms." The New Yorker (September 10, 2012)

Kane, Brad. "Cloud Atlas One Year Later: Why 2012’s Biggest Flop is Also its Biggest Triumph." Tor (October 23, 2013) 

Kunkel, Benjamin. "Dystopia and the End of Politics." Dissent (Fall 2008)

Like Stories of Old. "The Philosophy of Cloud Atlas: How Beauty Will Save the World." (Posted on Youtube: February 14, 2018) ["The philosophy of Cloud Atlas through the lens of Fyodor DostoevskyJose Saramago, and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn."]

McGrath, Charles. Bending Time, Bending Minds: Cloud Atlas, as Rendered by Tom Tykwer and the Wachowskis The New York Times (October 9, 2012)

Rosilio, Tommy. "Cloud Atlas: Cinematic Liberation from Conformity and Oppression." Film Cred (June 17, 2021) 

Scott, A.O. "Souls Tangled Up in Time." The New York Times (October 25, 2012)

Sheu, C.J. "Cloud Atlas: When the Film Is Better Than the Book." Critics at Large (July 10, 2018)

Sicinski, Michael. "Star Maps: Wachowski/Tykwer/Wachowski’s Cloud Atlas." Cinema-Scope (2012)

Monday, September 13, 2021

Michael Benton: Social media is superficial, only if we let it be

Social media is superficial, only if we let it be.

There was a small time when the ability to communicate with people across vast spaces was a revolutionary thing. We were excited by the ability to engage with others in a way we never dreamed was possible. It was a moment when it seemed the world was going to tip over, perhaps most vividly for me during the 1999 Seattle WTO Protests when we saw the power of the intersectional alliances that had never seemed possible happening in American streets and a burgeoning IndyMedia movement bringing people across the globe together in a way we have only recently begun to see happen again (the young people demanding change in the BLM, Sunrise, LGBTQ, etc... movements). Then 9/11 hit and suddenly our (privileged/limited) world order collapsed in reactionary fear. If only we had instead joined a sympathetic rest-of-the-world in solidarity instead of reactionary, warlike, ignorant fear toward 'others'. Afterward our culture, especially the mediasphere and our built environments, began to collapse into a state of corporate control and political paranoia. I think of that earlier time with nostalgia - both for the dream (it obviously was a fantasy if it collapsed so easily) of what could have been and the sense of immense loss. The world was literally lined up in support of America at that moment and we could have made it a moment of coming together to heal/commune/organize. Our worlds became privatized, locked down, and information began to be controlled again... literally became the "internet of things" instead of what we hoped would be a burgeoning forum of ideas and creativity. At the same time this dominant flow of controlled information became a part of our lives in a way that we never experienced before. When we woke up, for some never waking up, until we went to asleep, and for others never being able to sleep soundly - even if we are not active participants in that mediasphere (because those around us are and none of us are complete hermits).

I don't know what my point is...... just thinking because I am conscious.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

ENG 102: Science and Technology

All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace (BBC: Adam Curtis, 2011) ["A series of films about how humans have been colonized by the machines they have built. Although we don’t realize it, the way we see everything in the world today is through the eyes of the computers. It claims that computers have failed to liberate us and instead have distorted and simplified our view of the world around us."]

Almaaita, Zaynah. "Top 25 Censored News Stories of 2017 - 2018 - #22 Big Pharma’s Biostitutes: Corporate Media Ignore Root Cause of Opioid Crisis." Project Censored (October 2, 2018) ["The beginning of the opioid crisis, Martin reported, goes back to drug manufacturing companies hiring “biostitutes,” a derogatory term for biological scientists hired to misrepresent research or commit fraud in order to protect their employers’ corporate interests. As Martin reported, research by biostitutes was used to make the (misleading) case that opioids could treat pain without the risk of addiction. Purdue Pharma, which manufactures OxyContin, and McKesson, Cardinal Health, and AmerisourceBergen, which distribute that drug and other opioids, suppressed research that showed how addictive opioids are, and they began to push doctors to write more prescriptions on behalf of the “needs” of consumers.  In particular, Papantonio said, distributors targeted the nation’s poorer communities, including industrial cities with high unemployment rates, such as Detroit, and economically-stressed mining communities, as in West Virginia. Such mercenary practices not only impacted the individuals who became addicted, they also ravaged the finances of the targeted cities and counties. As Papantonio told The Empire Files, the opioid crisis has required local government expenditures for everything from new training for emergency medical responders, to the purchase of Naloxone (sold under the brand name Narcan) for treating opioid overdoses, to the expansion of dependency courts to handle the cases of neglected or abused children, and the retooling of jails as de facto rehabilitation centers—all of which have come out of city and county budgets. In his Empire Files interview, Papantonio estimated that the cost for a “typical community” fell between “ninety and two hundred million dollars—that’s just the beginning number.”]

Alter, Adam. "The Rise of Addictive Technology." Radio West (March 5, 2018) ["Marketing professor Adam Alter begins his new book by noting that Steve Jobs didn’t let his own children use an iPad, a product he invented, because he was worried they’d get addicted to it. That’s what Alter’s book is about: our increasing addiction to technology. These days, we aren’t just hooked on substances, like drugs and alcohol. We’re addicted to video games, social media, porn, email, and lots more. Alter joins us to explore the business and psychology of irresistible technologies."]

Amer, Karim, Emma Briant and Brittany Kaiser. "The Weaponization of Data: Cambridge Analytica, Information Warfare & the 2016 Election of Trump." Democracy Now (January 10, 2020) ["We continue our conversation with the directors of The Great Hack, Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer, as well as former Cambridge Analytica employee Brittany Kaiser and propaganda researcher Emma Briant, about Cambridge Analytica’s parent company SCL Group’s history as a defense contractor. “We’re in a state of global information warfare now,” Briant says. “How do we know if our militaries develop technologies and the data that it has gathered on people, for instance, across the Middle East … how do we know when that is turning up in Yemen or when that is being utilized by an authoritarian regime against the human rights of its people or against us? How do we know that it’s not being manipulated by Russia, by Iran, by anybody who’s an enemy, by Saudi Arabia, for example, who SCL were also working with? We have no way of knowing, unless we open up this industry and hold these people properly accountable for what they’re doing.”"]

Anderson, Justin. "Who Will Take on the 21st Century Tech and Media Monopolies?" FAIR (April 10, 2018) ["After decades of regulatory neglect, Big Tech is finally coming under the microscope."]

Arnoff, Kate. "Trump Curbs the Circulation of Science." On the Media (May 31, 2019) ["Last weekend, The New York Times reported on a host of aggressive new obstacles placed by Trump administration to stymie the dissemination of federal climate research. One new rule prevents certain agencies from publishing findings after 2040. A second will omit the National Climate Assessment's "worst case scenario" projection. And finally, a panel of climate deniers will oversee and regulate the release of all federally funded climate research. In this interview, Bob speaks with Kate Aronoff, who recently wrote about these regulations for The Guardian. She explains how these alarming new restrictions fit into the Trump administration's larger pattern of limiting public access to the truth about the climate."]

Ashcroft, Richard, David Healy and Emily Jackson. "Brave New World." The Philosophy Forum (March 2, 2019)  ["In this age of utopian technologies, we can design mechanical limbs for amputees and chemically engineer happiness for depressives. From the fluoride in our water to genetically modified babies, scientific advances pose complex new ethical questions. We explore the major bioethical issues of our time. Is philosophy braced for this brave new world? Are scientists and engineers morally obliged to design a utopia? Or are things best left to ‘nature’? Speakers: Richard Ashcroft, Professor of Bioethics, Queen Mary University of London; David Healy, Professor of Psychiatry, Bangor University; Emily Jackson, Professor of Law, LSE."]

Bailey, Buckey, Rob Bilot and Joe Kiger. "DuPont vs. the World: Chemical Giant Covered Up Health Risks of Teflon Contamination Across Globe." Democracy Now (January 23, 2018) ["“The Devil We Know,” that looks at how former DuPont employees, residents and lawyers took on the chemical giant to expose the danger of the chemical C8, found in Teflon and countless household products—from stain- and water-resistant apparel to microwave popcorn bags to dental floss. The chemical has now been linked to six diseases, including testicular and kidney cancers. We speak with Bucky Bailey, whose mother worked in the Teflon division of a DuPont plant in West Virginia while she was pregnant with him, and who was born with only one nostril and a deformed eye and has undergone more than 30 surgeries to fix the birth defects; Joe Kiger, lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit against DuPont, and a school teacher in Parkersburg, West Virginia, who suffered from liver disease; and Rob Bilott, the attorney that brought DuPont to court."]

Barry, Sarah, et al. "Enzymes." In Our Time (June 1, 2017)  ["Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss enzymes, the proteins that control the speed of chemical reactions in living organisms. Without enzymes, these reactions would take place too slowly to keep organisms alive: with their actions as catalysts, changes which might otherwise take millions of years can happen hundreds of times a second. Some enzymes break down large molecules into smaller ones, like the ones in human intestines, while others use small molecules to build up larger, complex ones, such as those that make DNA. Enzymes also help keep cell growth under control, by regulating the time for cells to live and their time to die, and provide a way for cells to communicate with each other."]

Beck, Ulrich and Bruno Latour. "How To Think About Science (Part 5)." Ideas (February 11, 2015) ["Few people ever apply a name that sticks to an entire social order, but sociologist Ulrich Beck is one of them. In 1986 in Germany he published Risk Society, and the name has become a touchstone in contemporary sociology. Among the attributes of Risk Society is the one he just mentioned: science has become so powerful that it can neither predict nor control its effects. It generates risks too vast to calculate. In the era of nuclear fission, genetic engineering and a changing climate, society itself has become a scientific laboratory. In this episode, Ulrich Beck talks about the place of science in a risk society. Later in the hour you'll hear from another equally influential European thinker, Bruno Latour, the author of We Have Never Been Modern. He will argue that our very future depends on overcoming a false dichotomy between nature and culture."]

Benjamin, Medea and Trevor Timm. "Drone Summit: Killing and Spying by Remote Control." Law and Disorder (July 9, 2012) ["Earlier this year, human rights advocates, robotics technology experts, lawyers, journalists and activists gathered to bring detailed up to date information about the widespread and rapidly expanding deployment of both lethal and surveillance drones, including drone use in the United States. We hear excerpts of 2 presentations delivered at the drone conference in Washington DC titled Drone Summit: Killing and Spying by Remote Control."]

Benjamin, Ruha. "The Social Dimensions of Science, Technology and Medicine." Northwestern Digital Learning Project #12 (June 5, 2019) [" Dr. Ruha Benjamin, a professor of African-American studies at Princeton University and the author of People’s Science: Bodies and Rights on the Stem Cell Frontier and the forthcoming Race After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code. She has studied the social dimensions of science, technology, and medicine for just over 15 years and speaks widely on issues of innovation, equity, health, and justice."]

Berger, John J. Climate Myths: The Campaign Against Climate Science. Berkeley, CA: Northbrae Books, 2013. [Available in the BCTC Library]

Bigger Stronger Faster (USA: Christopher Bell, 2008: 105 mins) ["In America, we define ourselves in the superlative: we are the biggest, strongest, fastest country in the world. Is it any wonder that so many of our heroes are on performance enhancing drugs? Director Christopher Bell explores America’s win-at-all-cost culture by examining how his two brothers became members of the steroid-subculture in an effort to realize their American dream."

Binney, William. "Growing State Surveillance." Democracy Now (April 20, 2012) ["In his first television interview since he resigned from the National Security Agency over its domestic surveillance program, William Binney discusses the NSA’s massive power to spy on Americans and why the FBI raided his home after he became a whistleblower. Binney was a key source for investigative journalist James Bamford’s recent exposé in Wired Magazine about how the NSA is quietly building the largest spy center in the country in Bluffdale, Utah. The Utah spy center will contain near-bottomless databases to store all forms of communication collected by the agency, including private emails, cellphone calls, Google searches and other personal data. Binney served in the NSA for over 30 years, including a time as technical director of the NSA’s World Geopolitical and Military Analysis Reporting Group. Since retiring from the NSA in 2001, he has warned that the NSA’s data-mining program has become so vast that it could “create an Orwellian state.” Today marks the first time Binney has spoken on national television about NSA surveillance. This interview is part of a 5-part special on state surveillance."]

Blase, Martin. "Missing Microbes." Radio West (April 28, 2014) ["Your body is host to about 100 trillion bacterial cells that form your microbiome, the complex ecosystem of microorganisms on which your life depends. Today, our microbiomes are threatened by a loss of species diversity that could be our undoing. In a new book, Dr. Martin Blaser argues that our obsession with hygiene and overuse of antibiotics has bleached our microbiomes, making them weak and making us more susceptible to dangerous new diseases."]

Bonneval, Karine, Paco Calvo and Tom Greaves. "Plants." The Forum for Philosophy (April 2019) ["Philosophers have long assumed that plants are inferior to humans and animals: static, inert, and unreflective. But recent scientific advances suggest that we may have underestimated plants. They can process information, solve problems, and communicate. We explore what plants can teach us about intelligence and agency, and ask whether plants think."]

Bould, Mark. "G: Unfit." Radiolab (July 17, 2019) ["When a law student named Mark Bold came across a Supreme Court decision from the 1920s that allowed for the forced sterilization of people deemed “unfit,” he was shocked to discover that it had never been overturned. His law professors told him the case, Buck v Bell, was nothing to worry about, that the ruling was in a kind of legal limbo and could never be used against people. But he didn’t buy it. In this episode we follow Mark on a journey to one of the darkest consequences of humanity’s attempts to measure the human mind and put people in boxes, following him through history, science fiction and a version of eugenics that’s still very much alive today, and watch as he crusades to restore a dash of moral order to the universe."]

Brea, Jennifer. "Unrest." Film School (October 7, 2017) ["Jennifer Brea is a Harvard PhD student soon to be engaged to the love of her life when she’s struck down by a mysterious fever that leaves her bedridden. She becomes progressively more ill, eventually losing the ability even to sit in a wheelchair, but doctors tell her it’s “all in her head.” Unable to convey the seriousness and depth of her symptoms to her doctor, Jennifer begins a video diary on her iPhone that eventually becomes the feature documentary film Unrest. Once Jennifer is diagnosed with myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), commonly called chronic fatigue syndrome, she and her new husband, Omar, are left to grapple with how to live in the face of a lifelong illness. Refusing to accept the limitations of bedbound life, Jennifer goes on an inspiring virtual voyage around the world where she finds a hidden community of millions confined to their homes and bedrooms by ME. These patients use the internet, Skype and Facebook to connect to each other — and to offer support and understanding. Many ME patients have experienced uncertainty, confusion and even disbelief from the medical community and society as a whole. After all, it’s easy to ignore a disease when patients are too sick to leave their homes. In Unrest, Jennifer shares her pain and the most intimate moments of her life in order to offer hope and visibility to those who suffer alone in dark, silent rooms. Though Jennifer and Omar may have to accept that they will never live the life they originally dreamed about, together they find resilience, strength, and meaning in their community and each other. Director, subject and activist Jennifer Brea joins us to talk about her journey, illness and her determination to make things better for people living with ME."]

Browne, Simone.  Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness. Duke University Press, 2015. ["In Dark Matters Simone Browne locates the conditions of blackness as a key site through which surveillance is practiced, narrated, and resisted. She shows how contemporary surveillance technologies and practices are informed by the long history of racial formation and by the methods of policing black life under slavery, such as branding, runaway slave notices, and lantern laws. Placing surveillance studies into conversation with the archive of transatlantic slavery and its afterlife, Browne draws from black feminist theory, sociology, and cultural studies to analyze texts as diverse as the methods of surveilling blackness she discusses: from the design of the eighteenth-century slave ship Brooks, Jeremy Bentham's Panopticon, and The Book of Negroes, to contemporary art, literature, biometrics, and post-9/11 airport security practices. Surveillance, Browne asserts, is both a discursive and material practice that reifies boundaries, borders, and bodies around racial lines, so much so that the surveillance of blackness has long been, and continues to be, a social and political norm."]

Brynjolfsson, Erik, et al. "On the New Era of AI." Open Source (October 19, 2017) ["The “intelligence explosion” foretold 50 years ago, could be here any minute. Artificial intelligence has now survived the “AI winter” — and is back in public conversation. It’s not just a Silicon Valley buzzword or a subject for speculative fiction, but a real possibility on the tech horizon, with real money backing it. As the machines move beyond just beating their masters’s in games like Chess and Go and start honing in on deep learning, neural networking, and “Big Data” sorting, we’re asking the Big Question: where’s this whole thing going?"]

Greenwald, Glenn. "To Protect Fauci, The Washington Post is Preparing a Hit Piece on the Group Denouncing Gruesome Dog Experimentations." Substack (November 2, 2021) ["For years, the White Coat Waste Project was heralded by The Post as what they are: an activist success story uniting right and left. But now its work imperils a liberal icon."]

Harris, Tristan and Aza Raskin. "Mr. Harris Zooms to Washington." Your Undivided Attention (May 10, 2021) ["Back in January 2020, Tristan Harris went to Washington, D.C. to testify before the U.S. Congress on the harms of social media. A few weeks ago, he returned — virtually — for another hearing, Algorithms and Amplification: How Social Media Platforms’ Design Choices Shape Our Discourse and Our Minds. He testified alongside Dr. Joan Donovan, Research Director at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media Politics and Public Policy and the heads of policy from Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. The senators’ animated questioning demonstrated a deeper understanding of how these companies’ fundamental business models and design properties fuel hate and misinformation, and many of the lawmakers expressed a desire and willingness to take regulatory action. But there’s still room for a more focused conversation. “It’s not about whether they filter out bad content,” says Tristan, “but really whether the entire business model of capturing human performance is a good way to organize society.” In this episode, a follow-up to last year’s “Mr. Harris Goes to Washington,” Tristan and Aza Raskin debrief about what was different this time, and what work lies ahead to pave the way for effective policy."]

Harris, Tristan and Daniel Schmachtenberger. "The Problem of Social Media."  The Joe Rogan Experience #1736 (November 18, 2021) ["Tristan Harris is a former Google design ethicist, co-founder and president of the Center for Humane Technology, and co-host of the Center for Humane Technology’s "Your Undivided Attention" podcast with Aza Raskin. Daniel Schmachtenberger is a founding member of The Consilience Project, aimed at improving public sensemaking and dialogue."]

Harris, Tristan, Frank Luntz and Daniel Schmachtenberger. "The Facebook Files." Your Undivided Attention (September 21, 2021) ["On September 13th, the Wall Street Journal released The Facebook Files, an ongoing investigation of the extent to which Facebook's problems are meticulously known inside the company — all the way up to Mark Zuckerberg. Pollster Frank Luntz invited Tristan Harris along with friend and mentor Daniel Schmachtenberger to discuss the implications in a live webinar. In this bonus episode of Your Undivided Attention, Tristan and Daniel amplify the scope of the public conversation about The Facebook Files beyond the platform, and into its business model, our regulatory structure, and human nature itself."]

Hattar, Samar and Andrew Huberman. "Timing Light, Food, & Exercise for Better Sleep, Energy & Mood." Huberman Lab (October 25, 2021) ["In this episode, Dr. Huberman hosts Dr. Samer Hattar, Chief of the Section on Light and Circadian Rhythms at the National Institute of Mental Health. Dr. Hattar is a world-renowned expert on how viewing light at particular times adjusts our mood, ability to learn, stress and hormone levels, appetite, and mental health. They discuss how to determine and use your individual light sensitivity to determine the optimal sleep-wake cycle for you. They also discuss how to combine your light viewing and waking time with the timing of your food intake and exercise in order to maximize mental and physical functioning. Dr. Hattar is credited with co-discovering the neurons in the eye that set our circadian clocks and regulate mood and appetite. He explains why even a small shift in daylight savings leads to outsized effects on our biking because of the way that our cells and circadian clocks integrate across many days. And he offers precise tools to rapidly adjust to jetlag, shift work, and reset your clock after a late night of work or socializing. This episode is filled with cutting-edge data on the biological mechanisms of human physiology and practical tools for people of all ages."]

 Huberman, Andrew. "ADHD & How Anyone Can Improve Their Focus." Huberman Lab (September 13, 2021) ["In this episode, Dr. Huberman discusses ADHD (Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder): what it is, the common myths, and the biology and psychology of ADHD. He discusses both behavioral and pharmacologic treatments for ADHD and brain-machine interface tools. Dr. Huberman also discusses behavioral training protocols that can improve focus in people with ADHD and those without ADHD and for people of different ages. He discusses the role of dopamine in coordinating ‘default-mode’ and ‘task-related’ neural networks, attentional “blinks” (lapses of attention) and how to overcome them, and the role of actual blinks in time perception and attention. Finally, Dr. Huberman reviews some of the prescription and over-the-counter compounds for increasing focus, such as Adderall, Ritalin, Modafinil and Armodafinil, the racetams, Alpha-GPC and phosphatidylserine and the role of diet for managing ADHD (and the controversies of diet for ADHD).
The role of cell phones/technology in ADHD and ADHD-like challenges with focus are also discussed. Throughout, both basic science and clinical scenarios, as well as applicable tools and resources, are covered."]

---. "Controlling Your Dopamine for Motivation, Focus, and Satisfaction." Huberman Lab (September 27, 2021) ["This episode serves as a sort of “Dopamine Masterclass.” Dr. Huberman discusses the immensely powerful chemical that we all make in our brain and body: dopamine. He describes what it does and the neural circuits involved. He explains dopamine peaks and baselines and the cell biology of dopamine depletion. Dr. Huberman includes 14 tools for how to control your dopamine release for the sake of motivation, focus, avoiding and combating addiction and depression. He explains why dopamine stacking with chemicals and behaviors inevitably leads to states of underwhelm and poor performance. He explains how to achieve sustained increases in baseline dopamine, compounds that injure and protect dopamine neurons, including caffeine, from specific sources. Dr. Huberman describes non-prescription supplements for increasing dopamine—both their benefits and risks—and the synergy of pro-dopamine supplements with those that increase acetylcholine." Huberman recommends two books: Anna Lembke's Dopamine Nation: Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence and Daniel Z. Lieberman's and Michael Long's The Molecule of More: How a Single Chemical in Your Brain Drives Love, Sex, and Creativity—and Will Determine the Fate of the Human.] Race]

---. "Effects of Fasting & Time-Restricted Eating on Fat Loss and Health." Huberman Lab (October 11, 2021) ["In this episode, Dr. Huberman discusses the science and practice of fasting, also called time-restricted feeding. He reviews the data on how limiting food intake to specific portions of every 24-hour cycle (or fasting longer) impacts weight loss, fat loss specifically, liver health, mental focus, muscle, longevity and more. Dr. Huberman explains how “fasted” is contextual and relates to blood glucose levels and their downstream effects, and how the depth of fasting can be adjusted with behaviors such as different types of exercise or with glucose disposal agents. He also discusses the optimal fasting protocol: and both the absolute (non-negotiable) and variable (contextual) features of a fasting/time-restricted-feeding protocol that will allow you to get the most benefits. He also discusses what does and does not break a fast, the effects of fasting on hormones like testosterone and cortisol, and fertility. Dr. Huberman also reviews how different feeding windows of 8 or 10 or 4 hours differentially impact the effects of fasting and why the classic 8 hour feeding window came to be but also might be ideal. He discusses mechanisms and offers tools to discern the optimal fasting duration and timing for you."]

---. "Healthy Eating & Eating Disorders – Anorexia, Bulimia, Binging." Huberman Lab (September 6, 2021) ["In this episode, Dr. Huberman discusses what drives hunger and satiety and the role our brain, stomach, fat and hormones play in regulating hunger and turning off the desire to eat more. He also addresses how protein is assimilated better early in the day than it is later in the day and why those using intermittent fasting might want to shift their feeding window to earlier in the day. Then he delves into the topic of disorders of eating: Anorexia Nervosa, where people starve themselves and Bulimia Nervosa, where people binge and purge their food. Dr. Huberman discusses some common myths about Anorexia, such as the role of media images increasing the rates of Anorexia and the myth of the “perfectionist” anorexic. He also reviews the symptoms and the brain and chemical systems disrupted in this condition. He explains how anorexics become hyperaware of the fat content of foods and develop reflexive habits of fat-hyperawareness. Then Dr. Huberman discusses the most effective treatments ranging from family-based models to those that target the habitual nature of low-fat/calorie food choices. He also discusses new, more experimental clinical trials on MDMA, Psilocybin and Ibogaine for Anorexia and both their promise and risks. Dr. Huberman reviews the latest work on binge eating disorder and brain stimulation, drug treatments and thyroid disruption in Bulimia and why the treatments for Bulimia are so similar to those for ADHD. Finally, he discusses “cheat days,” body dysmorphia and the growing list of novel forms of eating disorders from start to finish. As always, science and science-based tools are discussed."]

---. "How Your Brain Works and Changes." The Huberman Lab #1 (January 4, 2021) ["... an introduction to how the nervous system works to create sensations, perceptions, emotions, thoughts and behaviors, as well as how we can change our nervous system— a phenomenon known as neuroplasticity. The information sets the stage for all Huberman Lab Podcast episodes that follow by covering neurons, synapses, brain chemicals and the rhythms that control our ability to focus, learn and sleep… and more."]

---. "Master Your Sleep & Be More Alert When Awake." The Huberman Lab #2 (January 11, 2021) ["Today’s episode provides a host of information on what makes us sleepy, sleep soundly, and feel awake and alert. It covers a broad range of tools for anyone wishing to improve their sleep and wakeful state. The science and logic for each tool are described."]

---. "Nutrients For Brain Health & Performance." The Huberman Lab #42 (October 18, 2021) ["In this episode, Dr. Huberman describes science-supported nutrients for brain and performance (cognition) and general nervous system health. He describes ten tools for this purpose, including specific amounts and sources for Omega-3 fatty acids, which make up the “structural fat” of neurons (nerve cells) and allow them to function across our lifespan. He also reviews data on creatine, phosphatidylserine, anthocyanins, choline, glutamine and how they each impact brain function in healthy people seeking to reinforce and improve their cognition and in those combatting cognitive decline. Dr. Huberman describes both food-based and supplement-based sources for these compounds and their effective dose ranges based on peer-reviewed literature. Then he reviews the three factors: gut-brain signaling, perceived taste, and learned associations that combine with the metabolic and blood-sugar-elevating effects of food to determine what foods we seek and prefer. Amazingly, it’s not just about what tastes good to us. Next, Dr. Huberman explores how we can leverage the neural circuits of learned food preference toward seeking and enjoying the right foods for brain health and performance. He also reviews new data on non-caloric sweeteners and why consuming them with glucose-elevating foods can be detrimental, in some cases rapidly leading to insulin dysregulation. This episode covers more than ten actionable tools for those seeking to improve and/or maintain brain function. It explains modern neuroscience underlying our sense of taste, our food-seeking preferences, and brain metabolism."]

---. "Understanding and Conquering Depression." The Huberman Lab #34 (August 23, 2021) ["This episode, I explain what major depression is at the biological and psychological level and the various treatments that peer-reviewed studies have revealed can help prevent and treat depression. I explain the three major chemical systems that are altered in depression: norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine. I discuss genetic predispositions to depression and how stress, thyroid hormone and cortisol play a role in many forms of depression. I also discuss inflammation as a common feature of many depression symptoms. I review 8 specific science-supported protocols for treating and avoiding depression, including EPA fatty acids (which have been shown to rival certain prescription treatments), how exercise protects against depression, studies of creatine, adjusting dopamine balance and more. I also discuss the results of ongoing clinical trials for ketamine and psilocybin for depression, how these compounds work and finally, I review how ketogenic diets can help in certain cases of depression, especially treatment-resistant major depression."]

---. "Using Your Nervous System to Enhance Your Immune System." The Huberman Lab #44 (November 1, 2021) ["This episode teaches you a lot about the immune system, immune-brain interactions and offers 12 potential tools for enhancing immune system function. I discuss how our immune system works and science-supported tools we can use to enhance our immune system. I discuss the innate and adaptive immune systems and our various microbiomes-- not just in our gut but also in our nose, eyes and mouth and how to keep them healthy. And I review how specific patterns of breathing and foods maintain a healthy mucosal barrier that is crucial for fighting infections. I discuss how certain neurochemicals called catecholamines enhance our immune system function and how to use specific breathing protocols, types and timing of heat and cold exposure, and, if appropriate, supplementation to activate catecholamines. I also discuss the role and use of serotonin for the sake of accessing the specific types of sleep for recovering from illness, and I discuss how to increase glymphatic "washout" of brain debris during sleep. I also review fever, the vagus nerve and the use of atypical yet highly effective compounds for rhinitis (nasal inflammation)."]

Huberman, Andrew and Matthew Johnson. "Psychedelic Medicine." Huberman Lab (September 20, 2021) ["In this episode, Dr. Huberman discusses medical research on psychedelic compounds with Dr. Matthew Johnson, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. They discuss the biology and medical clinical-trial uses of psilocybin, MDMA, ayahuasca, DMT, and LSD. Dr. Johnson teaches us what the clinical trials in his lab reveal about the potential these compounds hold for the treatment of depression, addiction, trauma, eating disorders, ADHD, and other disorders of the mind. Dr. Johnson describes a typical psychedelic experiment in his laboratory, start to finish, including the conditions for optimal clinical outcomes. And he explains some of the potential hazards and common misconceptions and pitfalls related to psychedelic medicine. Dr. Johnson explains flashbacks, the heightened risks of certain people and age groups using psychedelics, and the evolving legal and pharmaceutical industry landscape surrounding psychedelics. Dr. Johnson also describes how the scientific study of psychedelics is likely to set the trajectory of psychiatric medicine in the years to come. Dr. Johnson is among a small handful of researchers who have pioneered the clinical study of these powerful compounds. He has unprecedented insight into how they can be woven into other psychiatric treatments, changing one’s sense of self and reality."]

Like Stories of Old. "The Problem of Other Minds – How Cinema Explores Consciousness." (Posted on Youtube: May 31, 2018) ["How have films engaged the problem of other minds? In this video essay, I discuss cinematic explorations into consciousness in the context of the cognitive revolution that has challenged many of the basic assumptions about what was for a long time believed to be a uniquely human trait." Uses Frans de Waal's book Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?: "Hailed as a classic, Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? explores the oddities and complexities of animal cognition--in crows, dolphins, parrots, sheep, wasps, bats, chimpanzees, and bonobos--to reveal how smart animals really are, and how we've underestimated their abilities for too long. Did you know that octopuses use coconut shells as tools, that elephants classify humans by gender and language, and that there is a young male chimpanzee at Kyoto University whose flash memory puts that of humans to shame? Fascinating, entertaining, and deeply informed, de Waal's landmark work will convince you to rethink everything you thought you knew about animal--and human--intelligence."]

McNamee, Roger. "Roger McNamee on his quest to stop Facebook." Berkeley Talks (July 30, 2021) ["In episode 120 of Berkeley Talks, longtime venture capitalist Roger McNamee discusses how he, an early investor in Facebook and former adviser to Mark Zuckerberg, came to realize the damage caused by the social media giant and others like it, and how he’s committed to try to stop them. McNamee, author of the New York Times bestseller Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe (2019) spoke with Henry Brady, dean of the Goldman School of Public Policy, in February 2021."]

West, Stephen. "The Frankfurt School - Walter Benjamin, Part 2 - Distraction." Philosophize This! (April 1, 2021) [" of the main things that concerned him was this relationship between technological innovations and the sensory experience and subjectivity of people. You change the technology that surrounds them you change the person. That’s what we’re going to talk about when he’s giving examples he’s going to be referencing things like film and radio and TV, probably all three things that are on their way OUT in our modern world. But the way he thought these affected the individual subject and the political subject can be just as easily applied to different technologies things like the internet, smartphones or self driving cars. When you consider the fact that new technology is introduced faster than it ever has been...and how much influence this technology has in mediating our entire relationship with reality to the point you can almost think of us as cybernetic...maybe the work of Walter Benjamin has never been more relevant than right now. "]