Day: September 16, 2016

To do in San Francisco this weekend: the first-even roguelike celebration

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Noah writes, “This weekend a group of roguelike enthusiasts and developers are getting together for the first ever Roguelike Celebration. It’ll feature talks from developers of the game that spawned the genre – rogue – as well as the creators of Dwarf Fortress, Kingdom of Loathing, ADOM, Tracery and lots more.
It’ll take place all day on the 17th and will be streamed live on Twitch.tv for those who can’t make it in person.” (Image: Deon-23, Mike Mayday, public domain)

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This woman is allergic to water

Water

Rachel Warwick suffers from aquagenic urticaria, an immune reaction to contact with water. According to the BBC, it “is like being stung by a bush of particularly pernicious nettles, combined with the malaise of hay fever, every single day.” From the BBC:

It’s a world where relaxing baths are the stuff of nightmares and snorkelling in tropical seas is as appealing as rubbing yourself with bleach. “Those things are my idea of hell,” she says.

Any contact with water whatsoever – even her own sweat – leaves Rachel with a painful, swollen and intensely itchy rash which can last for several hours. “The reaction makes me feel as if I’ve run a marathon. I feel really tired afterwards so I have to go and sit down for quite a while,” she says. “It’s horrible, but if I cry my face swells up”…

Right from the beginning, aquagenic urticaria was as baffling to scientists as it is to the rest of us. Technically, the condition isn’t actually an allergy at all, since it’s likely caused by an immune reaction to something within the body, rather than an over-reaction to something foreign, such as pollen or peanuts.
The earliest theory to explain how it works is that water is interacting with the outermost layer of skin, which consists mostly of dead skin cells, or the oily substance which keeps skin moist. Contact with water may cause these components to release toxic compounds, which in turn leads to an immune reaction.

Others have suggested that water may simply dissolve chemicals in the layer of dead skin, allowing them to penetrate deeper where they can cause an immune reaction.

Indeed, treating the skin with chemical solvents – which allow more water into this layer – before exposure makes the reaction worse. But when the upper layer of skin is removed completely, the reaction goes ahead as normal.

Perhaps the most left-field idea is that it’s caused by pressure changes, which accidentally set off the immune alarm as water leaves the skin by osmosis.

The woman who is allergic to water(BBC)

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How low will America’s tabloids stoop to derail Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign?

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Just look at this week’s ‘National Enquirer’ cover, breathlessly billed as “The story that will doom Hillary.”

Under the heading “World Exclusive,” the headline screams: “Bill Groped Me On Campaign Jet – and Hillary Did Nothing!”

Campaign flight attendant Cristy Zercher is horrified that Bill Clinton allegedly hugged her from behind and placed a hand on her breast. On another occasion she claims to have opened the plane’s toilet door to find Bill standing with his fly unzipped, though exposing nothing.

The cover photo of Hillary Clinton’s campaign plane leaves no doubt that Hillary is sex-fiend Bill’s enabler-in-chief.

I almost hate to mention it, but there are just one or two minor details of this ground-breaking story that I’d like to take issue with.

Like the fact that this “world exclusive” first appeared in the ‘Star’ tabloid in March 1998. That Zercher’s harassment allegedly occurred on Bill Clinton’s campaign plane 24 years ago – not on Hillary’s current campaign jet. And even Zercher confessed that the reason Hillary “did nothing” was because she was asleep at the time of the alleged incident. Let’s note that much of Zercher’s new “world exclusive interview” appeared word-for-word 18 years ago. We’re not supposed to recall that Zercher was interviewed by the Washington Post in July 1994 and never mentioned being harassed by Bill Clinton, saying only that he had flirted with her. Is it churlish to point out that TV news show ‘Inside Edition’ ran a two-night special on Zercher’s claims in April 1998, and revealed that she not only flunked a lie detector test, but “failed miserably,” according to show spokesperson Jan Murray. There are a long list of women who have claimed that the former president sexually assaulted or harassed them, but why resuscitate Zercher’s threadbare claims now? To smear Hillary Clinton by making it appear to have taken place on her campaign jet. Tabloid reporting at its best, no doubt.

The ‘Enquirer’ continues its Trump-loving vendetta against the Clintons with its Page Two story: “Hillary Brain Cancer Drama!” Hillary was spotted last week apparently wearing some kind of earpiece during a presidential TV debate. It’s been the subject of widespread speculation and heated denial by the Clinton campaign, but for the ‘Enquirer’ it’s proof positive that Hillary has been “spoon-fed lies live on national TV because of ‘memory lapses.’” And to the ‘Enquirer’ medical team, that can only mean cancer. Well, it stands to reason: why would anyone wear an earpiece if they didn’t have cancer. Right? though I’m intrigued: why does the ‘Enquirer’ believe that Clinton’s back-stage aides are feeding her “lies?” That’s fair and balanced reporting at its best.

“Queen Kate’s having Twin Girls!” yells the cover of the ‘Globe,’ which continues to forget that Kate Middleton is not a queen, not even a princess, but a mere Duchess. Kate is reportedly “three months pregnant and William is naming one of them Diana!” This report has been circulating in the tabloid world since April, which means that Kate has been three …read more

Kenneth Anger and Brian Butler occult theatrical extravaganza in L.A. on Sunday

Brian IMG_2380

On Sunday, pioneering underground filmmaker Kenneth Anger and occultist/artist/musician Brian Butler are staging their performance piece Technicolor Skull at The Regent in Los Angeles. From the event announcement:

Unleashing a 60,000 watt sound system and several tons of equipment for this special hometown performance, the duo are at the pinnacle of their powers and look forward to reestablishing dominion over these and other united states.

Artistic contemporaries and longtime friends, Kenneth Anger and Brian Butler work in a wide variety of mediums, though none perhaps more visibly than light and sound. The Regent is proud to host these two visionary artists in person to perform the newest installment of their radical project Kenneth Anger & Brian Butler’s Technicolor Skull. Both artists are continually pushing the limits of their aesthetic and creative capacities towards exceeding characteristically human capabilities. To witness this in a live setting is to experience one of the most important discoveries of the twentieth century.

kenneth anger - technicolor skull - donaufestival 2008 - 30-04

Brian IMG_2380

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Now you can order the Echo Dot from any web browser

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When Amazon released the Echo Dot, the mini-me version of the Echo, the only way you could by it was through an Amazon Echo. It was $90 and almost always on backorder. But Amazon just announced the 2nd Generation Echo Dot, and it’s available to anyone for $50. After seeing how much my parents use and enjoy their Echo ($179), I was about to buy one, but the Dot is a lot cheaper and it seems to do everything the Echo can do. The thing it doesn’t have is the Echo’s full size speaker, but you can connect a speaker to the Dot via Bluetooth or auxiliary cable. I just preordered one.

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NYPD: We can't tell you how much cash we seize because it would break our computers

Image: Wikipedia

New York City councilmember Ritchie Torres wants to know how much cash NYPD seizes every from citizens every year using using civil asset forfeiture, so he introduced legislation requiring annual reports from NYPD. But NYPD said at a hearing that the bill shouldn’t be allowed to pass because NYPD’s computers will crash if they attempt to generate the reports. Sounds legit!

Via Village Voice

“Attempts to perform the types of searches envisioned in the bill will lead to system crashes and significant delays during the intake and release process,” said Assistant Deputy Commissioner Robert Messner, while testifying in front of the council’s Public Safety Committee. “The only way the department could possibly comply with the bill would be a manual count of over half a million invoices each year.”

When asked by councilmember Dan Garodnick whether the NYPD had come to the hearing with any sort of accounting for how much money it has seized from New Yorkers this past year, the NYPD higher-ups testifying simply answered “no.”

[via]

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Cat Rackham comics are as miserable as they are wonderfully addictive

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Cat Rackham

by Steve Wolfhard

Koyama Press

2016, 124 pages, 7.3 x 10.1 x 0.6 inches (hardcover)

$20 Buy a copy on Amazon

Cat Rackham is an anxious, scruffy, navel-gazing kitty who sometimes likes adventures. But mostly he likes to stare. And sleep. And stare some more. An existential Ziggy, if you will. He has a couple of friends, but he is usually by himself. He doesn’t have good luck, and his stories don’t have especially happy endings, but they’re weirdly charming and, dare I say, humorous. Cat Rackham used to have his own web comic series, created by Adventure Time storyboard artist Steve Wolfhard, until it disappeared for no apparent reason. Fortunately, Koyama Press has just released Cat Rackham, a collection of these comics that are as miserable as they are wonderfully addictive.

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Muckrock and Motherboard launch $2,000 Thiel Fellowship to FOIA the crap out of Peter Thiel

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Muckrock today announced a $1,000 grant for projects to increase public understanding of noted Donald Trump supporter and anti-Gawker-lawsuit-funder Peter Thiel. Motherboard matched the Muckrock reporting grant funds, and now the grant is $2,000.

Apply to MuckRock’s Thiel Fellowship here.

“Applications are on a rolling basis with the first deadline of October 1, 2016. Applicants should email the following to info@muckrock.com with the subject line’MuckRock Thiel Fellowship,’” says the announcement.

From Muckrock’s Michael Morisy:

Peter Thiel – co-founder of both PayPal and Palantir and an early Facebook investor – has profoundly reshaped industry after industry and, ultimately, remade the world to fit his radical vision of the future. Unfortunately, despite his impact in industries ranging from digital payments and mass government surveillance to radical life extension and seasteading, the media has done relatively little reporting on the details of his companies, often leaving the public in the dark on his contributions to society.

But maybe you can change that.

With MuckRock’s Thiel Fellowship, we want to help journalists and researchers better understand this pivotal figure’s work and share what they learn with the world.

MuckRock is offering a grant of 250 requests (a $1,000 value), plus our invaluable FOIA expertise, to between one and three inaugural Thiel Fellows who propose projects that help the public better understand organizations or areas of research and public policy connected with Thiel. Even better, Motherboard has agreed to double that, providing an additional $1,000 to fund FOIA request fees, research, potential stipends, or other related costs of the fellowship.

Maybe your proposal will look into the adoption of Palantir by local governments — often the result of no-bid contracts based on confidential presentations. Maybe it will shed light on Palantir’s federal work: Private contractors make up about 70% of the United State’s intelligence budget, but the work they do is often under appreciated by the public.

Or maybe you think that the public could benefit from better understanding of Thiel’s bold, nuanced vision of free speech.

“I want to help the CPJ defend the rights of online journalists,” Thiel has previously stated, announcing his substantial support for the Committee for the Protection of Journalists. That support overlapped with the time PayPal famously froze WikiLeak’s account at the request of lawmakers, and before he was revealed to have secretly bankrolled a series of lawsuits to bankrupt the independent publisher Gawker, an act he called “one of my greater philanthropic things that I’ve done.”

And Thiel could become an even more important force in the American way of life: The Huffington Post reported that he is being considered for a Supreme Court spot by the Donald Trump campaign, although he has since denied the report.

Prospective fellows could also help bring greater appreciation, attention, and understanding to a number of other fields that Thiel has shown interest in, from life extension to the creation of new nations at sea.

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Listen: Hacker Anthropologist Biella Coleman on the free software movement and big business

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Gabriella Coleman, the anthropologist whose first book, Coding Freedom, explained hacking culture better than any book before or since; and whose second book, Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy, told the inside story of Anonymous with technical and social brilliance, appeared on the Theory of Everything podcast (MP3) to discuss the ways that free software hackers and the more business-friendly open source world have fought, reconciled and fought again.
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Julian Assange volunteers to be imprisoned in the USA if Obama gives Chelsea Manning clemency

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Wikileaks has tweeted an offer for founder Julian Assange to leave the Ecuadorean embassy where he has been a political asylum seeker since 2012, and turn himself in for a US jail sentence, if President Obama grants clemency Chelsea Manning, who is serving a 35-year sentence for providing documents to Wikileaks while serving in the US Army.
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US religion is worth $1.2T/year, more than America's 10 biggest tech companies, combined

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The largely tax-free religion industry is one of the biggest in America, worth $1.2 trillion/year, a number that includes religious “healthcare facilities, schools, daycare and charities; media; businesses with faith backgrounds; the kosher and halal food markets; social and philanthropic programmes; and staff and overheads for congregations.”

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What's going on in the brains of people who don't need much sleep?

Sleep

Many people claim that they don’t need much sleep, insisting that even five hours a night is enough shuteye for them to feel rested. According to new scientific research, “habitual short sleepers” may actually be handling the brain tasks that most of us deal with during the night, like memory consolidation. From Medical Xpress:

Both groups of short sleepers exhibited connectivity patterns more typical of sleep than wakefulness while in the MRI scanner. (University of Utah radiologist Jeff) Anderson says that although people are instructed to stay awake while in the scanner, some short sleepers may have briefly drifted off, even those who denied dysfunction. “People are notoriously poor at knowing whether they’ve fallen asleep for a minute or two,” he says. For the short sleepers who deny dysfunction, one hypothesis is that their wake-up brain systems are perpetually in over-drive. “This leaves open the possibility that, in a boring fMRI scanner they have nothing to do to keep them awake and thus fall asleep,” says (Utah neurologist Chirstopher) Jones. This hypothesis has public safety implications, according to Curtis. “Other boring situations, like driving an automobile at night without adequate visual or auditory stimulation, may also put short sleepers at risk of drowsiness or even falling asleep behind the wheel,” he says.

Looking specifically at differences in connectivity between brain regions, the researchers found that short sleepers who denied dysfunction showed enhanced connectivity between sensory cortices, which process external sensory information, and the hippocampus, a region associated with memory. “That’s tantalizing because it suggests that maybe one of the things the short sleepers are doing in the scanner is performing memory consolidation more efficiently than non-short sleepers,” Anderson says. In other words, some short sleepers may be able to perform sleep-like memory consolidation and brain tasks throughout the day, reducing their need for sleep at night. Or they may be falling asleep during the day under low-stimulation conditions, often without realizing it.

The next phase of the team’s research, to be conducted at the University of Utah, will directly test whether short sleepers who deny dysfunction are actually doing fine. “Most people who are deprived of sleep show cognitive impairment similar to being intoxicated,” Williams says.

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Republican election officials block restrictions on foreign spending in US elections

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Once I got my green card this year, I was allowed to make the same campaign contributions as any US citizen: $2700 per candidate. But thanks to the three Republican members of the Federal Election Commission, who refused to even allow an agenda item to begin discussions to commence planning for limits on wholly-foreign-owned corporations making unlimited donations to super PACs, offshore oligarchs living abroad can go on spending tens of millions to influence the outcome of US elections.

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Xiaomi phones are pre-backdoored; your apps can be silently overwritten

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Thijs Broenink audited the AnalyticsCore.apk app that ships pre-installed on all Xiaomi phones (Xiaomi has their own Android fork with a different set of preinstalled apps) and discovered that the app, which seemingly serves no useful purpose, allows the manufacturer to silently install other code on your phone, with unlimited privileges and access.
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127,891 people have signed a petition to keep kratom legal

Image: Wikipedia

Kratom is a mildly psychoactive plant that has been used in Asia for centuries to treat pain, fatigue, depression,and anxiety. In the US it has shown promise as a way to help people who are addicted to opiates. The DEA recently announced that it is going to make kratom a Schedule I drug, which will make it very difficult for researchers to study any potential medical uses it might have.

From The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association:

In Southeast Asia, kratom has long been used for the management of pain and opium withdrawal. In the West, kratom is increasingly being used by individuals for the self-management of pain or withdrawal from opioid drugs such as heroin and prescription pain relievers. It is these aspects of kratom pharmacology that have received the most scientific attention. Although to our knowledge, no well-controlled clinical studies on the effects of kratom on humans have been published, there is evidence that kratom, kratom extracts, and molecules isolated from kratom can alleviate various forms of pain in animal models.

In response to the DEA’s decision, 127,891 people have signed a White House petition to keep kratom off Schedule I. The White House is now required to respond within 60 days.

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127,891 people have signed a petition to keep kratom legal

Image: Wikipedia

Kratom is a mildly psychoactive plant that has been used in Asia for centuries to treat pain, fatigue, depression,and anxiety. In the US it has shown promise as a way to help people who are addicted to opiates. The DEA recently announced that it is going to make kratom a Schedule I drug, which will make it very difficult for researchers to study any potential medical uses it might have.

From The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association:

In Southeast Asia, kratom has long been used for the management of pain and opium withdrawal. In the West, kratom is increasingly being used by individuals for the self-management of pain or withdrawal from opioid drugs such as heroin and prescription pain relievers. It is these aspects of kratom pharmacology that have received the most scientific attention. Although to our knowledge, no well-controlled clinical studies on the effects of kratom on humans have been published, there is evidence that kratom, kratom extracts, and molecules isolated from kratom can alleviate various forms of pain in animal models.

In response to the DEA’s decision, 127,891 people have signed a White House petition to keep kratom off Schedule I. The White House is now required to respond within 60 days.

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Tommy Chong asks Obama to pardon him for his bullshit drug paraphernalia bust

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Lou Cabron writes, “Tommy Chong has a funny monologue about his 2003 arrest. When federal agents bang on his door and ask if he has any drugs, he says ‘Of course I do! I’m Tommy Chong!’ But that’s just his way of making a point — that they didn’t have a warrant for drugs. Their warrant allowed them to search for glass pipes. (Yes, they actually had a warrant to search for glass.)
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Engineer designs tools to perform DIY operation on himself

Image: Wikipedia

Fifteen years ago Graham Smith of Liverpool had a bowel operation. The internal nylon stitches in his abdomen caused him pain. “For 15 years I have been hunched over and leaning to the left,” he told The BBC. In 2011, Smith, a specialist engineer, told his hospital that he could actually see the stitches as “a small lump of nylon protruding from my abdomen.” Eventually the hospital agreed to remove the stitches, but it cancelled the operation twice. Frustrated, Smith decided to design his own titanium operating tools and he performed the surgery on himself.

From The Telegraph:

“I didn’t make the decision lightly – I was desperate, but I had to take control of it and I was not prepared to sit and die on a waiting list.

“I’m a specialist engineer. I do jobs people can’t do, but I’m not a surgeon so don’t try this at at home.

“There was a bit of blood and it stung a bit but I was confident in what I was doing.”

A spokesman for the Royal College of Surgeons told The Telegraph that DIY surgery was not advisable.

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Trump's supposedly going to denounce birtherism. Will the media wash his hands for him?

Illo: Rob Beschizza

Millionaire presidential candidate Donald Trump was a vocal birther—someone who insinuates Barack Obama was not born in the United States—until at least 2014. Today, he’s supposedly going to denounce this position for good, following some recent equivocation on his part.

Adds Trump: “We have to keep the suspense going.”

This sort of statement enrages liberals because it reminds them of how easily Trump manipulates the political media’s hunger for a horse race—especially now he’s neck and neck with rival Hillary Clinton in national polls and there’s no sign of them realizing he understands them better than they understand him.

The fear today is of equivocating headlines such as “Trump, Clinton trade accusations on Birtherism,” allowing him the plain lie of a she-did-it-first controversy.

But days of Trump benefiting from a smarmy rehabilitation narrative, when the most nakedly racist dogwhistle in American politics is still glistening with his saliva, is what’s almost too much to bear. Here’s Josh Marshall:

Accusing his opponent of whatever he is accused of is one of the three key tools in Trump’s media arsenal, used over and over again to amazing effect (the others: “I’ll tell you tomorrow” and “Something’s going on.”) Journos are defensively, cynically attached to a supposedly objective voice from nowhere that conceals editorial judgment in the framing of subject matter, and Trump’s been doing well since Hillary switched her focus to the “Romney moderates” most influenced by it.

Right-wing provocateurs are eager to help the media avoid contaminating balance with facts–the emerging term “post-factual” (cf Post-truth) describes both the mainstream journalistic practices they’ve lucked into and the world they hope to emerge from them.

Slate collects all of Trump’s birther quotes in once place, for whatever they’re worth.

Made in America? @BarackObama called his ‘birthplace’ Hawaii “here in Asia.” http://t.co/dQka2PIr

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 18, 2011

Let’s take a closer look at that birth certificate. @BarackObama was described in 2003 as being “born in Kenya.” http://t.co/vfqJesJL

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 18, 2012

.@BarackObama is practically begging @MittRomney to disavow the place of birth movement, he is afraid of it and (cont) http://t.co/eHvjlV0S

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 29, 2012

I want to see @BarackObama‘s college records to see how he listed his place of birth in the application.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 30, 2012

In his own words, @BarackObama “was born in Kenya, and raised in Indonesia and Hawaii.” This statement was made, (cont) http://t.co/nIsSypv9

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 30, 2012

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Boing Boing's summer best-seller: The Twisty Glass Blunt

We love the Twisty Glass Blunt, and apparently so do our readers. When you’re ready to kick back and light one up, the last thing you want to do is fuss with rolling papers. And that’s why we are bringing back The Twisty Glass Blunt — Boing Boing’s most popular item of the summer.

Now we have to be honest with you. Because this product was so popular the first time around, you should expect a longer than normal shipping time to receive your device. The creators literally had to fly to China and open up a new factory because so many Twisty’s were sold.

The Twisty Glass Blunt is made out of a 2mm thick German-engineered glass tube and inner corkscrew. At 5mm in length, it’s totally portable, and comes with a microfiber bag so you can take it with you wherever you go. Plus, now you can pair your Twisty with this nostalgic Pokeball grinder for just $13.95.

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The Twisty Glass Blunt is now $34.99 in the Boing Boing store.

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The most famous movie score temp track swipe of all time

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https://twitter.com/SoundsLikeTemp/status/775399453226184705

Films (especially Marvel superhero ones) have unremarkable musical scores for many reasons, but the most remarkable is because scenes tend to be emotionally (and technically) fitted to “temp tracks”—themes taken from other movies as placeholders while the official score is composed. The result: derivative music that imposes another film’s emotional landscape onto a newer work, resulting in that characteristic low-risk Hollywood mix of blandness and spectacle.
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