Yiannis Bellis: Greek American Artist

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Miss Breaking Bad? Try “True Detective” on HBO

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A southern noir serial killer murder mystery, following an odd couple of detectives who disagree about road trip philosophizing, and a story told by unreliable narrators, in two timelines, with meth dealers, satanists and some literary references, for good measure. So goes my attempt to sum up HBO’s True Detective in one sentence. It’s probably more useful to say that it’s a very good show.

Or more correctly, the first four of its eight-episode run have been very good. It is at once eerie, funny, occasionally frightening, a little obnoxious, strange and entertaining.

Our protagonists are two detectives, Marty Hart (Woody Harrelson) and Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey), and the plot follows two mysteries, separated by 17 years. In 1995, Hart and Cohle team up to track down a serial killer with a penchant for occult spectacle, and the deeper they get into the case the more each man unravels.

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Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey play a pair of odd detectives in this southern noir serial killer murder mystery show

In 2012, Hart and Cohle, badgeless and battered, are interviewed separately about the events of 1995, and about each other. Two new detectives are investigating a new murder with similarities to the original case, but it’s obvious that they’re interested in more than comparing notes. The modern mystery is twofold: what happened to destroy Hart and Cohle, and what’s going on with this new investigation?

But neither Hart nor Cohle want to co-operate, exactly, and between their personalities, personal demons and the sticky plot, it becomes slowly clear they aren’t trustworthy narrators. Hart pretends to be a regular family man, abiding by the world’s boundaries. Cohle, who’s also a bundle of contradictions, has hallucinatory visions from a past of drug abuse and is obsessively self-controlled – even with his binge drinking, if that makes any sense. One plays dumb and the other plays smart. With each of them telling skewed stories, and the 1995 hunt slipping into the surreal, it becomes clear that there’s probably only one “true detective” meant to piece this puzzle together, and that detective is you.

And it’s great fun. McConaughey outdoes himself (again) at playing a captivating weirdo, and he makes his unlikely character convincing in all kinds of ways. His bleak, sometimes annoying proclamations (“We are things that labor under the illusion of having a self.”) are redeemed by brilliantly deadpan cracks (Hart suggests an evangelical tent congregation has moved, Cohle quips: “Tents usually do.”) and he plays a functional addict – hyper-self-aware and painfully tense – extremely well.

Harrelson, meanwhile, gets amusingly and understandably fed up with Cohle (“Let’s make the car a place of silent reflection”), even as he undermines his straight-man act. The banter is uneven and can verge on melodramatic, but Cohle’s witticisms and sheer awkwardness, along with Hart’s quiet moments of exasperation, usually make up for the flaws.

And like Cohle, the show itself can be delightfully and creepily weird. Director Cary Fukunaga lingers on bizarre bits of Louisiana’s landscape and finds clever ways to play with perception. (In one still scene, a ship, of which only the top half is visible behind a hill, slowly moves in the background, creating the illusion of the background moving past the foreground.) T Bone Burnett, master of Americana, provides all the right music: eerie drums in a desolate church, rangy guitar on the road and terrifying God-knows-what for a distant shot of a man in his underwear wandering the swamp with a machete.

True Detective may fail to reach the high bar its set itself – I didn’t even get to the allusions to Ambrose Bierce and Joseph Conrad – but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth watching. This story is a one-off for the writer, director and cast; no matter what, Cohle and Hart aren’t coming back after episode eight. Anything could happen.

But the show is really worth it for the tricky storytelling, the careful details and the strong performances (including from Michelle Monaghan, who does a lot with little as Hart’s wife). Don’t get me wrong, True Detective is grim, dark and occasionally pompous, but it earns every minute of the time you invest in it.

Orginal article here

pharmcorn

New era of super-produce may be upon us

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In a windowless basement room decorated with photographs of farmers clutching freshly harvested vegetables, three polo-shirt-and-slacks-clad Monsanto execu­tives, all men, wait for a special lunch. A server arrives and sets in front of each a caprese-like salad—tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, lettuce—and one of the execs, David Stark, rolls his desk chair forward, raises a fork dramatically, and skewers a leaf. He takes a big, showy bite. The other two men, Robb Fraley and Kenny Avery, also tuck in. The room fills with loud, intent, wet chewing sounds.

Eventually, Stark looks up. “Nice crisp texture, which people like, and a pretty good taste,” he says.

“It’s probably better than what I get out of Schnucks,” Fraley responds. He’s talking about a grocery chain local to St. Louis, where Monsanto is headquartered. Avery seems happy; he just keeps eating.

The men poke, prod, and chew the next course with even more vigor: salmon with a relish of red, yellow, and orange bell pepper and a side of broccoli. “The lettuce is my favorite,” Stark says afterward. Fraley concludes that the pepper “changes the game if you think about fresh produce.”

Changing the agricultural game is what Monsanto does. The company whose name is synonymous with Big Ag has revolutionized the way we grow food—for better or worse. Activists revile it for such mustache-twirling practices as suing farmers who regrow licensed seeds or filling the world with Roundup-resistant super­weeds. Then there’s Monsanto’s reputation—scorned by some, celebrated by others—as the foremost purveyor of genetically modified commodity crops like corn and soybeans with DNA edited in from elsewhere, designed to have qualities nature didn’t quite think of.

So it’s not particularly surprising that the company is introducing novel strains of familiar food crops, invented at Monsanto and endowed by their creators with powers and abilities far beyond what you usually see in the produce section. The lettuce is sweeter and crunchier than romaine and has the stay-fresh quality of iceberg. The peppers come in miniature, single-serving sizes to reduce leftovers. The broccoli has three times the usual amount of glucoraphanin, a compound that helps boost antioxidant levels. Stark’s department, the global trade division, came up with all of them.

“Grocery stores are looking in the produce aisle for something that pops, that feels different,” Avery says. “And consumers are looking for the same thing.” If the team is right, they’ll know soon enough. Frescada lettuce, BellaFina peppers, and Bene­forté broccoli—cheery brand names trademarked to an all-but-anonymous Mon­santo subsidiary called Seminis—are rolling out at supermarkets across the US.

But here’s the twist: The lettuce, peppers, and broccoli—plus a melon and an onion, with a watermelon soon to follow—aren’t genetically modified at all. Monsanto created all these veggies using good old-fashioned crossbreeding, the same tech­nology that farmers have been using to optimize crops for millennia. That doesn’t mean they are low tech, exactly. Stark’s division is drawing on Monsanto’s accumulated scientific know-how to create vegetables that have all the advantages of genetically modified organisms without any of the Frankenfoods ick factor.

And that’s a serious business advantage. Despite a gaping lack of evidence that genetically modified food crops harm human health, consumers have shown a marked resistance to purchasing GM produce (even as they happily consume pro­ducts derived from genetically modified commodity crops). Stores like Whole Foods are planning to add GMO disclosures to their labels in a few years. State laws may mandate it even sooner.

But those requirements won’t apply to Monsanto’s new superveggies. They may be born in a lab, but technically they’re every bit as natural as what you’d get at a farmers’ market. Keep them away from pesticides and transport them less than 100 miles and you could call them organic and locavore too.

Please read the full article here  WIRED.com

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A case of the “Mondays”

Well, it’s Monday…the Winter Olympics are on, football season is over, “The LEGO Movie” is number one at the box office. Nothing out of the ordinary…unless you scan the web! Holy shit….what the hell is Bruce Jenner doing to himself?! Shia LaBeouf cruisin’ Berlin wearing a paper bag. Bode Miller whining about mother nature at Sochi (what’s the matter Bode? Someone have a case of the “Mondays”?) Listen, I can’t do what he does but it seems when the expectations are high..well….let Bode explain: “I think I skied well enough to win, but it just doesn’t happen sometimes.” It just doesn’t happen sometimes? No kidding. At least he doesn’t look like Bruce Jenner, who should borrow Shia LaBeouf’s paper bag.   All teasing aside, I wish I was famous! – THE 4519

Lego-Movie      Bode_Miller_Ski

"I am not famous!" -Shia (from the Transformers Movies)

“I am not famous!” -Shia (from the Transformers Movies)