who is yuyanapaq?

While waiting outside the International City Theatre in Long Beach earlier this year, I noticed a CD case resting innocuously on one of the concrete picnic tables. Curious, I picked it up and gleaned almost nothing from the abstracted, enigmatic covers other than “Yuyanapaq,” which I assumed was an artist’s name, and “Ccollanan Pachacamac”, which I assumed was the album name, and a track listing. The CD was numbered, indicating that it was a limited edition. Looking around, I didn’t see anyone rushing back to the table breathlessly claiming to have left it behind. So I took it in the belief that it had been deliberately left behind by the artist for a stranger to discover and, hopefully, enjoy.

But who is Yunapaq? What was on the CD he left behind? Find out in this two-part interview!


quick review - Captain America: The First Avenger

Insofar as Captain America is its own movie, we can enjoy a retrospective romp in the world of pulp adventures, one that harkens back to the days when heroes were noble defenders of virtue, villains were dastardly monomaniacs, and the line demarking the two was sharp and unambiguous. Chris Evans makes for an eminently likeable hero, idealistic but not cloying, a devoted servant to his country but not a jingoist. In a role that could easily tap into the stereotype of clean-cut heroes, Evans keeps a human sentiment in his turn as a sickly, skinny young Steve Rogers’s transformed into a superhuman. Similarly, fellow cast members like Stanley Tucci, as the sympathetic doctor responsible for the transformation, along with Tommy Lee Jones as a tough-but-fair Colonel and Haley Atwell as the requisite love interest, achieve via performance a depth that often eludes the script. Dominic Cooper also gets a laurel for his part as Tony Stark’s genius dad, Howard. As staged by Joe Johnston, who is no stranger to pulp adventures thanks to his work with the underappreciated The Rocketeer, the result is a mix of fun and genuine heart – one of the more unapologetically enjoyable comic book movies out there.

But the film’s subtitle, The First Avenger, hints at how Marvel’s marketing creep comes close to derailing the Captain’s integrity. It’s bad enough that a framing sequence, involving SHIELD and the omnipresent Samuel L. Jackson, steals the Captain’s spotlight at the story’s most arguably dramatic moment. Worse is how Captain America’s story gets short-changed by Marvel’s obsession with force-feeding audiences what they believe is necessary background information for the forthcoming Avengers film. Just as the film unleashes the superhero in his Nazi-busting efforts, the film’s thoughtfulness changes into a perfunctory summary of events, like an illustrated Wikipedia entry, leading to the moment Marvel can use to beat audiences over the head with yet another reference to The Avengers. In this case, Marvel acts very much like Delilah cutting off Samson’s hair. While the result of their interference isn’t embarrassingly bad like in Iron Man 2, an otherwise strong film is sapped of vitality. To wit: the great rivalry between Captain America and his Nazi nemesis, the Red Skull (an effective Hugo Weaving), along with their conflict throughout World War II feels cursory and rushed. Ditto for the relationship between Rogers and protector-turned-sidekick Bucky Barners (Sebastian Stan).

Another point of annoyance is the film’s insistence on treating objects with fantastical powers as the product of science and not magic, as if trying to persuade audiences – again in anticipation of The Avengers – that putting a Norse god alongside science-fiction heroes – an abuse of Clarke’s Law – isn’t as ridiculous as it is. I wonder, though, if Marvel isn’t trying to rationalize their own sacrifice of good storytelling in favour of extracting more money from audiences…much like their approach to comics.


news from around the world: november 14, 2011

I'm switching these posts to the beginning of the week instead of the end. Happy reading! I've got some quick film reviews coming up.

The kettle really hates the pot's hypocrisy.

David Brooks again, demonstrating why he's a conversative you could actually have a conversation with.

...and Matt Taibi, laying down the smack on Brooks and Romney.

"The ardor for Paterno was obvious, but you couldn’t help but wonder whether the students might be moved to one day show such united passion for those who suffered child sex abuse – the true victims here."

More news from the We're Doomed Dept. Conclusion: humans suck.


news from around the world: november 4, 2011

Lots o' links this week:

An astonishing transformation!

The Superintendent is inspiring. People commenting on the posts are, as is usual for any comment stream for news articles, a reminder of how depressing humanity is.

Strip away Brooks' ideological posturing and glib categorizationg of "Blue" and "Red" inequality, and you're left with the conclusion that inequality in America stems from a constellation of factors, both economic and social. But isn't that obvious?

Now that we've settled that, can we talk about solutions?

...proving yet again that the Israeli government led by Netanyahu is not even remotely serious about peace.

Remember, folks, do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Let's see...Warren Buffett, Bill Gates...the very richest don't seem to mind paying more. Check out the funny video with Bill Nighy.

In other news, the world is stunned by the Vatican's continued failure to confront the child abuse within its organization.


quick review - Midsomer Murders

Note: The following review of this British murder mystery series is based on the first four series. I've just started with series 5.

Based on books by Caroline Graham, a typical episode of Midsomer Murders follows the beats of a slasher film, only one that is dressed up in the respectable Sunday clothes veneer of a British murder mystery. Stories almost invariably leave a body count by murderers with a particularly vicious streak. Yet, unlike slashers in the horror genre, episodes don’t dwell on the gruesome anatomy of the murders or on extended sequences of torture, but on the character dramas that underlie them. Coupled with the quintessential whodunit, through the affable Detective Chief Inspector Barnaby (John Nettles) and his uncouth partner Detective Sergeant Gavin Troy (Daniel Casey), the episodes offer compelling, often lurid, but always human mysteries as dissected by the series’ highly likable police protagonists. The David Lynch-like motif of dread underlying the seemingly idyllic, and occasionally comic, county of Midsomer (a piece of fictional geography) is arguably a distinct feature of the series, delivered straight-up without a hint of surrealistic shenanigans. Most of all, this masterful program, hampered only by a tendency for formula, is a contemporary continuation of Agatha Christie’s work.