Like: Let The Right One In

October 29, 2008

Let The Right One In is a small Swedish movie that has just come out in New York and Los Angeles and lots of other cities soon.

It’s a hauntingly beautiful story about two 12 year olds that fall in love.

One of them happens to be a vampire.

Devoid of a lot of the Anne Rice nonsense (aristocratic vampires drinking blood from wine glasses and looking pompus) and the modernization (buffy, true blood,etc… which I like), the story is told with a vivid sense of realism and quiet grace. Which is not to call it a boring movie. Not in the slightest. I has great moments of tension and an incredible treatment of its violence. I think it’s my favorite film I’ve seen this year and maybe the best horror movie I’ve ever seen. Though it feels weird calling it that. I…

Actually… the less said the better.

Please if you have a chance to go see Let The Right One In, I suggest you see it.


Don’t Like: Heroin, Black Tar, Golden Triangle, Ammonium Chloride, Poppy, Etc, Etc.

October 28, 2008

As I continue my massive research project, here’s a few tidbits about heroin’s chemical make-up, history and the golden triangle.

Chemistry: (Via Wiki)

Heroin (INN: diacetylmorphine, BAN: diamorphine) is a semi-synthetic opioid synthesized from morphine, a derivative of the opium poppy. It is the 3,6-diacetyl ester of morphine (hence diacetylmorphine). The white crystalline form is commonly the hydrochloride salt diacetylmorphine hydrochloride, however heroin freebase may also appear as a white powder.

As with other opiates, heroin is used both as a pain-killer and a recreational drug. Frequent administration quickly leads to tolerance and dependence and has a very high potential for addiction. If sustained use of heroin for as little as three days is stopped abruptly, withdrawal symptoms can appear. This is much quicker than other common opioids such as oxycodone and hydrocodone.[1][2]

One of the most common methods of heroin use is via intravenous injection (colloquially termed “shooting up”). When taken orally, heroin undergoes extensive first-pass metabolism via deacetylation, making it a prodrug for the systemic delivery of morphine.[3] When the drug is injected, however, it avoids this first-pass effect, very rapidly crossing the blood-brain barrier due to the presence of the acetyl groups, which render it much more lipid-soluble than morphine itself.[4] Once in the brain, it is deacetylated into 3- and 6-monoacetylmorphine and morphine which bind to μ-opioid receptors, resulting in intense euphoria, decreased pain perception and anxiolytic effects (relief of anxiety).

Internationally, heroin is controlled under Schedules I and IV of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.[5] It is illegal to manufacture, possess, or sell heroin in Belgium, Denmark, Germany, India, the Netherlands, the United States, Australia, Canada, Ireland, United Kingdom and Swaziland. However, under the name diamorphine, heroin is a legal prescription drug in the United Kingdom. In the Netherlands, heroin is available for prescription as the generic drug diacetylmorphine to long-term heroin addicts. Popular street names for heroin include black tar, junk, skag, horse, chiva, “H”, “Boy”, and others.

History:

The opium poppy was cultivated in lower Mesopotamia as long ago as 3400 BC.[6] The chemical analysis of opium in the 19th century revealed that most of its activity could be ascribed to two ingredients, codeine and morphine.

Heroin was first synthesized in 1874 by C. R. Alder Wright, an English chemist working at St. Mary’s Hospital Medical School in London, England. He had been experimenting with combining morphine with various acids. He boiled anhydrous morphine alkaloid with acetic anhydride over a stove for several hours and produced a more potent, acetylated form of morphine, now called diacetylmorphine. The compound was sent to F. M. Pierce of Owens College in Manchester for analysis, who reported the following to Wright:

Doses … were subcutaneously injected into young dogs and rabbits … with the following general results … great prostration, fear, and sleepiness speedily following the administration, the eyes being sensitive, and pupils constrict, considerable salivation being produced in dogs, and slight tendency to vomiting in some cases, but no actual emesis. Respiration was at first quickened, but subsequently reduced, and the heart’s action was diminished, and rendered irregular. Marked want of coordinating power over the muscular movements, and loss of power in the pelvis and hind limbs, together with a diminution of temperature in the rectum of about 4° (rectal failure).[7]

Wright’s invention, however, did not lead to any further developments, and heroin only became popular after it was independently re-synthesized 23 years later by another chemist, Felix Hoffmann. Hoffmann, working at the Bayer pharmaceutical company in Elberfeld, Germany, was instructed by his supervisor Heinrich Dreser to acetylate morphine with the objective of producing codeine, a constituent of the opium poppy, similar to morphine pharmacologically but less potent and less addictive. But instead of producing codeine, the experiment produced an acetylated form of morphine that was actually 1.5-2 times more potent than morphine itself. Bayer would name the substance “heroin”, probably from the word heroisch, German for heroic, because in field studies people using the medicine felt “heroic”.[8]

From 1898 through to 1910 heroin was marketed as a non-addictive morphine substitute and cough suppressant. Bayer marketed heroin as a cure for morphine addiction before it was discovered that heroin is rapidly metabolized into morphine, and as such, “heroin” was basically only a quicker acting form of morphine. The company was somewhat embarrassed by this new finding and it became a historical blunder for Bayer.[9]

As with aspirin, Bayer lost some of its trademark rights to heroin under the 1919 Treaty of Versailles following the German defeat in World War I.[10]

In the U.S.A the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act was passed in 1914 to control the sale and distribution of heroin and other opiates. The law did allow heroin to be prescribed and sold for medical purposes. In particular, recreational users could often still be legally supplied with heroin and use it. In 1924, the United States Congress passed additional legislation banning the sale, importation or manufacture of heroin in the United States. It is now a Schedule I substance, and is thus illegal in the United States.

Production and trafficking:

Manufacturing

Heroin is produced for the black market by refining opium. The first step of this process involves isolation of morphine from opium. This crude morphine is then acetylated by heating with acetic anhydride. Purification of the obtained crude heroin and conversion to the hydrochloride salt results in a water-soluble form of the drug that is a white or yellowish powder.

Crude opium is carefully dissolved in hot water but the resulting hot soup is not boiled. Mechanical impurities – twigs – are scooped together with the foam. The mixture is then made alkaline by gradual addition of lime. Lime causes a number of unwelcome components present in opium to precipitate out of the solution. (The impurities include inactive alkaloids, resins, proteins). The precipitate is removed by filtration through a cloth, washed with additional water and discarded. The filtrates containing the water-soluble calcium salt of morphine (calcium morphinate) are then acidified by careful addition of ammonium chloride. This causes freebase morphine to precipitate. The morphine precipitate is collected by filtration and dried before the next step. The crude morphine (which makes only about 10% of the weight of opium) is then heated together with acetic anhydride at 85 °C (185 °F) for six hours. The reaction mixture is then cooled, diluted with water, made alkaline with sodium carbonate, and the precipitated crude heroin is filtered and washed with water. This crude water-insoluble freebase product (which by itself is usable, for smoking) is further purified and decolourised by dissolution in hot alcohol, filtration with activated charcoal and concentration of the filtrates. The concentrated solution is then acidified with hydrochloric acid, diluted with ether, and the precipitated heroin hydrochloride is collected by filtration. This precipitate is the so-called “no. 4 heroin”, commonly known as “china white”. Heroin freebase cut with a small amount of caffeine (to help vaporise it more efficiently), typically brown in appearance, is known as called “no. 3 heroin”. These two forms of heroin are the standard products exported to the Western market. Heroin no. 3 predominates on the European market, where heroin no. 4 is relatively uncommon. Another form of heroin is “black tar” which is common in the western United States and is produced in Mexico.

The initial stage of opium refining—the isolation of morphine—is relatively easy to perform in rudimentary settings – even by substituting suitable fertilizers for pure chemical reagents. However, the later steps (acetylation, purification, and conversion to the hydrochloride salt) are more involved—they use large quantities of chemicals and solvents and they require both skill and patience. The final step is particularly tricky as the highly flammable ether can easily ignite during positive-pressure filtration (the explosion of vapor-air mixture can obliterate the refinery). If the ether does ignite, the result is a catastrophic explosion.


Like: That I had a dream I was in the movie “The Relic” last night

October 24, 2008

Remember this craptasticular movie?

In retrospect it plays pretty awesome nowadays. My favorite being madsen’s detective and his superstitous “bad luck” fears. It was hilarious at the time for my disbelief and even better now.

So I had a dream last night and it was TOTALLY The Relic. I don’t know why. I haven’t thought about the movie in years. But Michael Madsen was there and….

AHAHAHAHA

I just looked up the movie again and realized that wasn’t Michael Madsen at all, but in stead a skinny Tom Sizemore.

Anyshit, Penelope Ann Miller was there too and we were going around the museum and for some reazon it wasn’t even scary. It was just awesome. The monster (wiki identifies as “KATHOGA”) was just running around killing people and I just remember laughing cause it was so lame.

Why? Am I some kind of desensitized jerk?

Nope.

BECAUSE I KNEW I WAS DREAMING THE MOVIE THE RELIC.

Either that or I was dreaming myself watching the movie.

Awesome.


Don’t Like: Metacritic

October 23, 2008

So here’s what metacritic is if you don’t know: It’s a website that takes reviews (including ones that don’t give any kind of “rating”) and finds the average scores of those ratings and positive/negative sentiments to give the most average and fair score to that film/album/dvd/show/what have you.

Sounds perfectly fair, right?

Except the system has a lot of problems. I don’t know how they put it all together but many of the results are… suspect. I think it may have to do with how each medium approaches its criticism but let’s get specific.

The chief offender is easily, easily, easily music.

Here’s the top 16 for 2008:

1 What Does It All Mean? 1983-2006 Retrospective by Steinski 2008 90
2 London Zoo by The Bug 2008 90
3 Fed by Plush 2008 89
4 For Emma, Forever Ago by Bon Iver 2008 89
5 Dear Science, by TV On The Radio 2008 88
6 Fleet Foxes by Fleet Foxes 2008 87
7 Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!! by Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds 2008 87
8 Robyn by Robyn 2008 86
9 Hercules And Love Affair by Hercules And Love Affair 2008 86
10 Fortress by Protest The Hero 2008 86
11 Rook by Shearwater 2008 85
12 Life…The Best Game In Town by Harvey Milk 2008 85
13 Third by Portishead 2008 85
14 Stay Positive by The Hold Steady 2008 85
15 Laulu Laakson Kukista by Paavoharju 2008 85
16 Harps And Angels by Randy Newman 2008 85

Now I like music. A lot. I like a lot of weird shit. I went to metafilter to specifically see if there was anything I didn’t know about which was pretty good. I do this about every 6 months or so. And this time I was like “that’s it, I’ve had it.” The top twelve on this list are pure balls. Seriously I in depth listened to all of them and there wasn’t anything good. The only things I kind of liked were stuff after that and things I already had like Portishead, The Hold Steady. Look, music is ultra super subjective. Moreso than the other mainstream artforms. It just is. And trying to critically rate it all just doesn’t work in the metacritic system. Look across the board,  everything gets the “green light” rating of being good. Unlike the other mediums where getting something in the green is rare. Plus it tends to overskew bad metal bands that get big love from metal magazines. Don’t get me wrong, I likes me some metals but damn Protest the Hero sucks. Bah, it makes me too angry.

Their movie scores are much less offensive, but often your favorite movie can get lost in the shuffle. Strongly mixed critical reactions are often a symbol of brave filmmaking. My favorite film so far this year “Towelhead” rated a 57. Why? Because I imagine it was so hard/uncomfortable for some critics to watch. And that becomes a huge detriment for this intensely brave and well-made movie which is tackling societal taboos and the mixed messages we send young girls. Show me a “universally adored” movie and I’ll show you a Titanic. Yeah, you go back and watch that piece of poop recently? God that was bad.

Oddly enough there is one form of media where metacritic system excels.

Video games?!?!?! Yup. Their culminations of reviews are surprisingly spot on. Universal adortation of video game is easily possible because gamers are such a specific audience. Everyone who goes to a movie doesn’t understand mise en scene. But everyone who plays video games frequently gets the subtleties of game play. So metacritic works so well for my gaming purchases purpose. Just fantastic stuff.

*shit, sorry all. I like TV on the Radio a lot. I should have mentioned that but forgot. I stand by the rest.

**double shit, I like Nick Cave and the bad seeds too.

***i more though the bug, plush, robyn, hercules and the love affair, protest the hero, and shearwater really, really, REALLY sucked.


Don’t Like: Katy Perry

October 21, 2008

For obvious reasons:

-She’s a dumb pop star with dumb pop star songs instead of being a smart pop star with good pop star songs

-Despite her insistence she comes off as pretty homophobic

-She spells her name “katy”

-Her production team is the people who brought you Avril Lavigne, Korn’s post-adidas sell-out phase, Britney Spears, and the awful Liz Phair mainstream makeover phase.

For not so obvious reasons:

-she’s let her fame get to her head.

-for example, she demands her assistants track down old bottles of crystal pepsi so she can both drink and bathe in it.

-When asked if there was anyone she would want to play with in concert she said “Jimi Hendrix”

-she doesn’t like Airedale terriers

-she once ran over a homeless man and didn’t stop

-and she is TOTALLY encroaching on Zooey Deschanel’s look (who is awesome):

Katy:

Zooey:


Like: Watchmen Babies in V for Vacation!

October 20, 2008

The more you know about watchmen, the more you know about comics, the more you know about the simpsons, and the more you know about I dunno, media socialization… then the funnier this is.

This makes me laugh every time I see it.


Don’t Like: When someone walks around introducing a new person around the office, then they get to me and realize they have no idea what I do

October 20, 2008

Granted I have a lot of responsibilities that span different departments.

But whatever. I’m just going to be working directly with this person and need information from them constantly.