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whither the great american...

i came across this story during one of my regular perusals of boing boing and it got me to thinking. actually, i'd been thinking about this for a while, but i just never got around to doing the blog post about it. whatever happened to that american institution (not to say that they don't exist elsewhere, but the most (in)famous examples are american), the serial killer.

this actually occurred to me several months ago, while re-watching david fincher's criminally underrated "zodiac". when the heck was the last time you heard about a serial killer? (assuming you don't count the link just mentioned. -ed.)

it used to seem like there were serial killers lurking on every corner. john wayne gacy, ted bundy, henry lee lucas... these monsters were waiting to prey on the unsuspecting, waiting to subject them to unspeakable horrors, before disposing of them in some callous way, leaving families to grieve and a morbid public to wonder who could do such a thing. throughout the 70s, 80s and even part of the 90s, we all lived in fear of the sadistic stranger who wanted to take our lives for no reason other than the fact that he (overwhelmingly, they were male) desired to inflict pain and reel in the power over another.

i had a tangential experience with this when i was living in halifax. when i was in my late teens/ early 20s, there were a series of disappearances of young women who looked a little uncomfortably like me, as a friend once pointed out. some said that those of us claiming a serial killer was on the loose were being paranoid. of course, there are those now who suspect we might have been onto something.

then, all of a sudden,post-jeffrey dahmer, the serial killer faded from view. no longer did we fear the silent predator in the night. oh no. the new fear was the mass murderer, the terrorist, the person who is not content to pick off strangers one by one, but who makes a frightening statement by killing and injuring hundreds, even thousands, at once.

when and why did this shift happen? was it because our fear of seeming like prey as individuals has been replaced by a fear of seeming like a faceless cog in a larger machine? now the monsters who keep us awake at night are the timothy mcveighs, the seemingly endless parade of schoolground killers, the foreign terrorists, who, rather than observing and choosing the individual victim, seeks to kill en masse as many of his kind (they are still overwhelmingly male) as he can.

the serial killer is terrifying to us because he strips away the veneer of humanity we embrace and shows that we can still be the predator, eyes facing forward to allow us to triangulate the distance from our prey all the better, that we are still an animal barely evolved from the jungles that spawned us.

the mass murderer, however, is uniquely human. the capacity to want to destroy not only our prey, but huge groups of people at once is something that only the human being can understand. and perhaps that is what allows them to eclipse the terror of the serial killer.

lonnie david franklin is not merely a slave to baser instincts, likely to spend the remainder of his life rotting in a cell and having people think that because he has access to cable television, he is living a privileged existence. he is an anachronism. and the fact that his case has received so little attention outside of los angeles is evident that we no longer fear the animal that lurks in us. we fear the human that we have become.

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making faces :: fall for all, part 2 [a seasonal colour analysis experiment]

well, installment one was the easy part: coming up with autumn looks for the autumn seasons. now we move into seasonal colour types that aren't as well-aligned with the typical autumn palette. first up, we deal with the winter seasons: dark, true and bright.

in colour analysis, each "parent" season- spring, summer, autumn, winter- overlap with each other season in one colour dimension- hue [warm/ cool], value [light/ dark] and chroma [saturated/ muted]. autumn is warm, dark and muted [relatively speaking], whereas winter is cool, dark and saturated. so you can see that the points of crossover in palettes, the places where you can emphasize autumn's attributes, is in the darker shades.

it's unsurprising that as fall transitions into winter, you get the darkest shades of all. we've seen the warmer equivalent in the dark autumn look from last time, so from there, as with all neutral seasons, we move from the warmer to the cooler cognate...


do you not know what you do not not know?

i've been meaning to get back on the blogging bandwagon for ages but i've been lousy at focusing. i mean, i'm never great at focusing but it's been particularly bad lately. i've also made the horrific mistake of following the news too closely, not just in the last few weeks but in the past several months. i realize now that that isn't healthy. [no pun intended.] my head has been so wrapped up in politics that shifts from moment to moment, half-baked debates about social policy, trying to track what's happening behind the smoke and mirrors of the biggest news stories because we all know that those are the things that are really going to affect how we live. there are few things worse for anxiety than knowing that your dark fears about the chaos of the world are actually pretty close to the truth; and the thrill that comes from being able to say "i told you so" is remarkably short-lived.

however, it's pretty much impossible to deny that we'r…

making faces :: bette davis lips

the inscription on bette davis' grave reads "she did it the hard way", which should tell you something about the kind of life she led. indeed, she was known as a fighter, taking on studio executives at a time when that simply wasn't done, unless you "never wanted to work in this town again". even when she lost a legal battle against warner brothers that forced her to see out her contract, she was able to parlay her return to the screen into better roles that secured her legacy as one of the greatest icons of the screen. she was the first woman ever to garner ten nominations for best actress at the academy awards and the first woman ever to be president of the academy of motion picture arts and sciences [the people who give out the awards].

that bette davis ever became a movie star, let alone one of the biggest movie stars in the world, is kind of remarkable. after all, she wasn't conventionally beautiful, although her face was certainly unforgettable. …