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A few hours after Google announced an eerily human sounding smart voice assistant -- and set off panicked discussions about where artificial intelligence may be taking us -- I sat down with famed horror writer and director Leigh Whannell to talk about his new sci-fi thriller, which imagines a future where an AI takes over a man's life. Talk about unsettling. That's the word Whannell, an Australian screenwriter and director best known as part of the creative team behind the successful Saw and Insidious franchises, uses to describe what he looks for in great horror films. And Upgrade is nothing if not unsettling, and I'm not talking about all the gory fight scenes, though there are plenty of those. The movie, which hits theaters on Friday, tells the story of Grey Trace (Logan Marshall-Green), an analog kind of guy who lives in a not-too-distant digital future with smart homes, self-driving cars, tech-enhanced soldiers and hackers offering VR escapism. Grey's perspective on … [Read more...] about Horror director Leigh Whannell takes us from Saw to Upgrade
"Are you sure you're that funny?"That's what I get when I tell people I'm focusing on becoming a professional comedian and comedy writer. It's a valid question. Even if I'm funny enough to captivate a room of drunk friends, can I make a living at it? And by a living, I mean more than just making enough to live in squalor and eat decent pizza. As a kid, I reenacted Monty Python scenes so well my classmates thought I might be secretly British. Friends loved it when I did impressions, down to the angry twitch that took over our fourth grade teacher's eye when the class refused to quiet down. These days, I always manage to get a chuckle from a stoic exec at a company meeting by sneaking sight gags into PowerPoint presentations. When I worked at Lucasfilm, I once snuck a horrible oil painting of a dog playing the ukulele into George Lucas' priceless art collection that hangs on the walls. I didn't get fired, so I figured he got the joke. But there's a big difference between making … [Read more...] about Steve Martin taught me to be funny. Hear the one about whale sounds and sex?
Approaching the container ship in San Francisco Bay, the tugboat looks like a pit bull puppy chasing an eighteen-wheeler. When the vessels are an arm’s length apart, the ship’s mate throws down a line. Now leashed to the ship, the tug can push and pull it around the bay. Big ships can’t easily slow down or maneuver by themselves—they’re meant for going in a straight line. [This article is syndicated from Hakai Magazine, an online publication about science and society in coastal ecosystems. Read more stories like this at hakaimagazine.com. – Ed.] Tugboat crews routinely encounter what few of us will ever see. They easily read a vessel’s size, shape, function, and features, while deciphering at a glance the mysterious numbers, letters, and symbols on a ship’s hull. To non-mariners, the markings look like hieroglyphs. For those in the know, they speak volumes about a particular ship and also about the shipping industry. Oceangoing vessels … [Read more...] about The Secret Language of Ships
In May 2014, I wrote a piece about Amy Kaufman, an entertainment reporter for the Los Angeles Times who’d been uninvited by ABC from press calls and events for The Bachelor because the network disliked the tone of her coverage about the show. The choice to cut Kaufman off was an odd one. As a longtime fan of the franchise, I characterized her work at the time as not quite “glowing,” but noted that she wasn’t tearing anyone to bits, either. As a result of the ban, Kaufman stopped writing about The Bachelor for the Times, but she didn’t stop watching it, or tweeting about it, and just a couple years later, she snagged a publishing deal to write what would become her new book, Bachelor Nation: Inside the World of America’s Favorite Guilty Pleasure. Kaufman is the first author to completely submerge herself into this behemoth of a reality dating empire, which has aired for dozens of seasons and spawned several spin-offs, most notably, the gender-swapped … [Read more...] about ‘There’s Something They Want to Hide’: A Conversation With Bachelor Nation Author Amy Kaufman