I saw these amazing space-travel posters on a friend of mine’s Facebook feed and knew that I had to spread the word a bit further. They can be found on the NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory website and there are fourteen of them. ‘As you look through these images of imaginative travel destinations, remember that you can be an architect of the future.’

There’s a bit more on the design of each poster available here. The NASA design team took inspiration from the iconic WPA posters from the late 30s and 40s. Despite the retro feel, these posters were created and released earlier this year.

And the best part? They are available to download and print FOR FREE! How generous is that? I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely getting a couple of these printed and framed for my walls. View and download them here.

mars-small

grand_tour-small

earth-small

venus-small

nightlife-small

Last week I DJed for the Louise Kennedy AW16 fashion show in her stunning atelier on Merrion Square. When compiling the playlist I rediscovered some overlooked gems in my music collection and found some new ones on iTunes. ‘Feel Like I Do’ by Disclosure fell into the former category – it was first released in June and I bought it when it came out. It didn’t make the cut for the show but I’ve been playing it at home for the last few days. It’s perfect for the end of our Indian summer; laid back, with a feel-good groove and gorgeous vocals.

The vocal is sampled from an Al Green song, ‘I’m Still In Love With You’. Disclosure asked permission to use it and when Al Green heard the track he gave them the original vocal recordings to use, a stamp of approval if ever there was one!

 

 

As an Irish girl with no interest in sport of any kind I had never heard of OJ Simpson until 1995, but on holiday on the west coast that summer it was a conversation that was impossible to avoid. I watched American Crime Story earlier this year, the dramatisation of the trial starring Sarah Paulson, Courtney B. Vance and Cuba Gooding Junior. While the performances were excellent I found the pace very slow. When I read early reports of the documentary miniseries OJ Simpson: Made In America I knew it was much more up my street.

OJ Simpson: Made In America was broadcast by ESPN in June in five parts totalling eight hours. The first two and a half hours chronicle OJ’s glory years: football in USC in late 60s including what became known as ‘The Run’, a 1967 match against UCLA, his acting career and subsequent fame. Adored by the public and by his friends, he was charismatic, handsome, charming and funny: ‘everybody’s best friend.’

It was in his relationship with Nicole that his dark side surfaced. He met her in a nightclub when she was just eighteen. He was married but they started an affair, then OJ divorced his wife and married Nicole. True to form he continued having affairs yet he was incredibly jealous of Nicole, often becoming violent and verbally abusive. A couple of Nicole’s phone calls to 911 are played in the documentary and she is clearly terrified as OJ rages in the background.

In tandem with OJ’s story the documentary shows the history of black people in Los Angeles: Watt’s Riots, Rodney King, 1992 Los Angeles Riots, police brutality and racial profiling. It’s impossible to talk about OJ without seeing his trial in this wider context.

The murder is only covered in part three of the documentary. Despite extensive coverage of the police chase and the trial, the viewer still gets details not previously widely known. For example, his manager confirms that OJ quit taking his arthritis medication for two weeks during the trial so that when he tried on the gloves his knuckles were swollen and he couldn’t bend his hands. Halfway through the fourth episode, prosecution team member Bill Hodgman outlines exactly how he believes Simpson committed the murders and he paints a vivid and compelling picture.

The trial became about race and OJ became a symbol of civil rights injustice, when in fact he turned his back on the African-American community throughout his life. When he was asked to become an activist he refused, he married a white woman, he socialised with white people and lived in Brentwood, a predominantly white and very affluent suburb of LA. OJ often said, ‘I’m not black, I’m OJ’, believing that his celebrity transcended race.

The interesting thing is that when discussing the verdict both jury members and onlookers viewed his exoneration as payback for how black people were treated in America, ‘for Rodney King’. Almost nobody discusses his guilt or innocence, as if that was such a secondary issue it wasn’t worth mentioning. To this day no-one else has been tried for the murders of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman. And OJ has on numerous occasions outright confessed or alluded to the fact that he did commit the murders.

The final part of the documentary focusses on OJ’s life after his criminal acquittal and the civil trial where Fred Goldman finally got his day in court when OJ was found guilty. It is a sleazy and sordid mess, involving drugs, alcohol, sex and bad rap music, and it culminated in his 2007 arrest for robbery in Las Vegas. Thirteen years to the day after he was acquitted for the double murder he was found guilty of robbery, then sentenced to thirty-three years in jail.

The documentary is comprehensive with interviews with all the key players during the trial including Marcia Clark, Mark Fuhrman, Carl E. Douglas, Gil Garcetti, Barry Scheck (now director of the Innocence Project), and family members Denise and Tanya Brown and Fred Goldman, as well as colleagues and friends of OJ’s.

As regular readers of this blog know, I’m a huge fan of documentary filmmaking. OJ: Made in America is one of the best I have ever seen, a meticulously researched and riveting piece of investigative journalism which deserves a huge audience.

De La Soul released their first album in eleven years last Friday, De La Soul and the Anonymous Nobody. The first single from the album dropped in June, a collaboration with Snoop Dogg called ‘Pain’.

There are a lot of guest stars including Jill Scott, Estelle, Little Dragon and Damon Albarn. The album sounds fairly eclectic ranging from straight up R&B (Usher) to gangsta rap (2Chainz) and chilled out 90s throwback vibes (Snoop Dogg). I personally love the new wave collaboration with David Byrne, ‘Snoopies’.

The band also released a half hour long documentary about the album detailing the Kickstarter funding for the project. They had set a goal for themselves of $110,000 but the fans were so excited that just 11,000 people raised $600,000 in a few hours. Not many bands can retain a fan base so rabid that they would fund an album after eleven years of silence but De La Soul have a very special place in hip hop.

McMansion: mass produced mansion; generally used to denote a new, or recent, multi-story house of no clear architectural style, which prizes superficial appearance, and sheer size, over quality.

The McMansion Hell blog is a recent discovery of mine and it has provided me with much amusement. It’s written by an American woman named Kate who grew up in North Carolina and now lives in Baltimore, Maryland. In her own words: ‘I love to hate shitty and bloated houses with a passion. I’m always seeing what monstrosities are for sale all around the US. Bonus points for dated-ness and McMansion architectural faux pas. These are all houses that are currently on the market, rather than just rehashing the same 50 McMansion pics from Google Images.’

What turns a big house into a McMansion? Kate provides a definition here. She finds much to ridicule in current American architecture and she sure as hell knows what she’s talking about. My favourite parts of the blog are the captions she uses in photographs; always edifying, always funny.

Some examples below. Click on the locations to be taken to the original post on the McMansion Hell blog. Enjoy!

 

Emma Cline is just twenty-seven and already the recipient of a three book deal worth $2 million after a bidding war between twelve publishers. That’s the kind of thing that rarely happens these days, and even when it does it’s no guarantee of quality or originality (I’m looking at you Garth Risk Hallberg, AKA the stark naked emperor). Thankfully in Cline’s case, both the advance and the accompanying hype surrounding her debut novel The Girls are very much deserved.

Evie Boyd is a middle-aged woman in between jobs who is taking a break and staying in her friend’s house. She seems as if she is on the periphery of life, working as a carer, ‘cultivating a genteel invisibility in sexless clothes, my face blurred with the pleasant ambiguous expression of a lawn ornament.’ Her friend’s teenage son Julian shows up unexpectedly one night together with his girlfriend Sasha, disrupting Evie’s solitude. Julian knows about Evie’s past, her time in a cult in the late 1960s in California, and over the next few days prompted by Julian’s lurid interest, Evie begins to reflect on what happened.

In 1969 Evie is fourteen, alienated and lonely, blossoming sexually, and scarily impressionable. She is captivated by Suzanne, a glamorously cool older girl who lives in a commune with a guru and his band of followers. The commune is a fictionalised version of the Manson Family, and the charismatic leader Russell, with his long hair, buckskin shirt and failed music career, is based on Charles Manson. Evie is gradually drawn deeper into the cult, taking drugs and partying, sleeping with Russell, until she lives full-time at the ranch and is embroiled in increasingly dangerous behaviour, rolling towards the inevitable conclusion (a murder based on the infamous Tate-LaBianca killings).

A cold cynic might say that basing the novel on the Manson murders is a smart commercial move. Manson still holds a certain level of fascination and this handy reference point may have proved irresistible to publishers. However Cline’s writing is what makes this a memorable book. Her ability to conjure up the emotional turmoil and insecurity of a fourteen year old girl is masterful, and at times the perfectly observed detail in her writing creates an intensely visual experience. No wonder the film rights were snapped up before publication.

The Girls is an accomplished debut novel, all the more so given Cline’s young age. In a business where most published writers under the age of thirty are viewed with deep suspicion, she has set herself up for an already lauded and interesting career.

 

Chances are that even if you’re not a jazz fan you’ll have heard the above song, ‘My Funny Valentine’ as sung by Chet Baker. He’s the subject of a new biopic Born to be Blue starring Ethan Hawke which I saw in The Lighthouse last weekend. I read Deep In A Dream by James Gavin years ago so I was familiar with Baker’s story: a trumpet player who exemplified West Coast cool jazz as opposed to the harder, more experimental East Coast players like Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie, a guy with James Dean good looks that he famously ruined with hard living, and who died when he was just fifty-eight, falling out of a hotel window high on coke and heroin.

The film is factual in some respects. Yes, Baker’s life took a tragic turn at the age of twenty-seven when he discovered heroin. It’s true that his teeth were kicked out in a fight, so he had to learn to play again with dentures, a grisly process depicted in detail in the film. (I went to see this with my Dad who is a sax player and who has had problems with his teeth in the past, so he easily related to Chet. He couldn’t watch the scenes of Chet practising, gums bleeding, obviously in tremendous physical pain, but also desperate to play again.) Yes, Chet was imprisoned for drug use in Italy and America, and he fucked up his romantic relationships due to his addiction, although Jane (played by Carmen Ejogo) is a composite character.

Other elements are clearly fictional. The shots of Baker playing trumpet in the surf, on top of a caravan, resting on the roof of a snow covered shed, in corn fields, on the edge of a cliff, in the bath, struck me as being the kind of romantic notions a director might have about a musician. (What serious trumpet player brings his horn into the sea? Sea salt + brass = disaster!) While the individual shots are beautifully composed, the montage gets a little cheesy.

The film is stylised, with flashbacks in black and white and then returning to colour to show the events of 1966, the year Chet lost his teeth, had to learn to play again and made his comeback playing in Birdland. Ethan Hawke is excellent as Baker, conveying his charm, vulnerability and insecurity. Apparently Hawke was first approached about playing Baker fifteen years ago and he has obviously done his homework since. He learned how to play trumpet for the film and also wore dentures to correctly portray Baker’s mumble.

Fittingly Born to be Blue struck me like a jazz tune, an interpretation of Chet’s life rather than factually rigorous. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

 

As I mentioned last month I was pretty ill with the flu for a few weeks, lying flat on my back in bed and getting huge mileage out of my Netflix subscription. Although the weather this weekend is supposed to be spectacular and you’ll probably be outside soaking up the sun, here’s a quick round-up which you can bookmark for when the rain inevitably returns.

Stranger Things
At this stage you can’t have failed to hear about Netflix’s new hit. Paying homage to classic 80s sci-fi, Stranger Things follows a group of boys whose best friend disappears and who simultaneously find a mysterious girl named Eleven or ‘El’ who needs their protection. It has spawned much discussion online from a thorough run-down of every film reference (spoilers in that article), to criticism of the series’ depiction of women. Netflix have even announced that an official soundtrack is on the way due to popular demand. It’s a bona fide TV phenomenon which I enjoyed but I’m not a rabid fan in the way so many others are.

 

Fargo
Both seasons of Fargo are now available to watch and I can’t recommend it highly enough. Set in the same fictional world as the Coen Brothers eponymous 1996 film, Fargo is an anthology TV series, with a different cast and different plot set in a different era every season. Season one stars Billy Bob Thornton (in a career best performance), Mark Freeman, Colin Hanks and Allison Tolman and is set in 2006. Thornton plays Lorne Malvo, a hitman travelling through Bemidji, Minnesota, who causes chaos when he interacts with local residents. Season two is set in 1979 and stars Kirsten Dunst, Patrick Wilson, Ted Danson and Jesse Plemons. Dunst plays beautician Peggy Blumquist who covers up a hit and run accident involving one of the town’s most notorious criminals which leads to carnage. Both seasons were hugely praised and season three is due to premiere next year. If you haven’t seen it, get on it immediately.

 

3 1/2 Minutes, 10 Bullets
Marc Silver directed this documentary about the 2012 shooting of teenager Jordan Davis by Michael Dunn over an altercation about loud music. (Do I have to even say that this happened in the USA or did you assume that already?) It’s a brilliant documentary with interviews with Davis’ family, the witnesses to the crime and Dunn himself, and containing footage from the subsequent trial. Gun control in America is an oxymoron – as far as I can see there’s barely any control at all – and this documentary highlights the reasons why.

 

Tallulah
Tallulah debuted last weekend, and I had looked forward to it as it stars one of my favourite actresses, Alison Janney. Tallulah (Ellen Page) rescues a baby from an irresponsible mother (Tammy Blanchard) and pretends the child is her own, using the baby to form a relationship with her ex-boyfriend’s mother, Margo (Janney). I had such high hopes for this film, remembering the great chemistry the two actresses had in Juno. Unfortunately it didn’t live up to my hopes and I think the script was at fault. Both leads did their best but ultimately it seemed flimsy and predictable.

 

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
After so much drama I want some light relief and so a mate recommended Crazy Ex-Girlfriend starring Rachel Bloom as Rebecca Bunch. Bunch is stressed out and about to burn out in her job as a corporate attorney in New York. After a chance encounter with her ex-boyfriend Josh Chan she decides on a whim to move to his town, West Covina in California. I was hesitant about watching the show for two reasons: firstly, American comedy doesn’t make me laugh a lot of the time, and secondly, the show has a couple of musical numbers per episode (nooooooo!). However I did end up watching the entire season and although the musical numbers do get a bit tiresome there are some absolute gems and Rachel Bloom is just brilliant.

Christine and the Queens seem to have come out of nowhere in the last couple of months, generating huge hype with performances on Jools Holland and Graham Norton, some well-received festival gigs and album Chaleur Humaine  reaching number one on the Irish album charts in July. In fact Christine released her first EP five years ago and is  a well-established star in her native France. Chaleur Humaine was originally released in France in 2014 but has been slightly retweaked for its international release, with some new English language songs and some of the original French lyrics translated.

Christine (real name, Heloïse Letissier) is an interesting pop star. She describes herself as pan-sexual, she is interested in gender identity, dance and performance art, and the ‘queens’ part of her stage name is in tribute to a group of inspirational drag queens she met in London when she lived there in 2010.

When interviewed she is thoughtful and intelligent with a feminist sensibility, telling Dazed Digital that her first song ‘iT’ was about ‘wanting to have a dick in order to have an easier life’, and explaining to TIME magazine that, ‘My songs exist already with the beats and the bass lines, [but] because I’m going into the studio with a sound guy, everything changes for people—they assume the guy did the production… The real fight will be when girls will be able to do what Kanye West does. Kanye West is never questioned as an artist and is working with, like, 10 producers at the same time.’

The album is definitely worth buying, not just for lead single ‘Tilted’ which you’re bound to have heard on radio recently. I also love her live version of ‘Pump Up The Jam’, the classic Technotronic tune. Check it out.

 

 

(No posts for almost a month! Swine flu will do that to you, I guess. Yep, that’s right, swine Jaysus flu. I tried to deal with it by myself for two weeks and then admitted defeat and went to the doctor whereupon I was scolded, told I was a lot more sick than I thought, and put on various forms of medication. I very rarely get ill but when I do, it appears to be along the lines of ‘go big or go home’. Nearly better now though. And back to the matter at hand…)

I have never been a tech-fetishist. For me phones and computers are just devices that make life easier, like washing machines or hoovers. I don’t much care what they look like as long as they can do the basic job effectively. I have never owned an iPhone because the battery life sucks and the cameras on Androids are way better, and paying hundreds of extra euro for an Apple symbol just seems silly.

So for me, the massive outpouring of grief that happened when Steve Jobs died was bizarre. I found it hard to understand why people felt such a personal connection to a product and I didn’t get why people thought he was a genius. People like Steve Wozniak seemed to be the technical innovators. Jobs didn’t code, he didn’t design and he wasn’t an engineer. To me Jobs was just a savvy marketeer.

I watched two films to try and get more of a handle on why he was perceived as one of the greatest minds of his generation: Steve Jobs starring Michael Fassbender and directed by Danny Boyle, and Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine, a documentary directed by Alex Gibney.

The film takes a three-act structure, with each act taking place before a huge product launch. It’s a great construct which enables us to see the kind of pressure Jobs put himself and everyone else under. At one point Steve Wozniak (played by Seth Rogen) questions what Jobs has really contributed to computing history and Jobs replies that he is the conductor of the orchestra and people like Wozniak are the musicians. It’s an interesting answer to my original question. Fassbender was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance and he is brilliant in the film, and the script by Aaron Sorkin is excellent.

The documentary is another feather in Alex Gibney’s cap, and provides a more rounded look at Jobs, containing interviews with most of the key figures in his life. He comes across as a fairly horrible individual. An early anecdote shows him ripping off a friend, claiming they got paid a tiny amount of money for a project when in fact Jobs just took the lion’s share for no reason other than greed. His rejection of his daughter Lisa is well documented, allowing her and her mother to live on welfare while he earned millions. He often publicly humiliated his employees and rarely gave praise. Excuses are made during the documentary, such as the fact that he never got over being adopted, or he was such a genius that his failings should be tolerated. I don’t buy this for a second and I certainly didn’t come away from the documentary filled with warm fuzzy feelings about Jobs.

Both films are well worth a watch, but they haven’t really changed my mind. Jobs was probably one of the best marketeers the world has ever known, but Wozniak emerges as the true genius. I suppose it’s emblematic of our culture that the promoter is deified rather than the revolutionary.

 

 

The Multiverse

is a blog from an Irish writer and DJ which takes in a wide range of subject matter as follows: Monday’s blogs are related to literature and writing; Tuesday is fashion, style and beauty; Wednesday is music; Thursday is TV and cinema; and Friday is a miscellany.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,530 other followers

Instagrammage

DJing today in the RDS for the Saastock Conference. :) #saastock16 Thank you @lancomeofficial for making my holy grail foundation. Pale enough for a ghost like me with SPF 50 to boot! I am a very happy girl. #teintidoleultra DJing at the @1louisekennedy shows today. Clothes, hair, makeup, styling, everything is perfection! @thaliaheffernan and January almost ready to go! #Dublin #DJlife Lovely evening at the Oyster Festival launch. This is the perfect quote on the back of a shuckers tshirt!  #oysterfestival #Dublin  #cliffhouse I guess the kid smoking a bowl on the left is really going to appreciate the Haribo when the munchies kick in. #vintagetin #haribo #munchies The stack waiting to be read beside my bed. Early night for me!

Tweetage

Like The Multiverse on Facebook

Bloglovin’

bloglovin

I’m on Networked Blogs