When people bemoan the impersonal, cowardly or even misrepresentative ways we flirt online — and how said flirting is now preferred to in-person flirting — they usually also recall the good old days when the pursuant would address the pursued with an extemporaneous witticism, and the two would share a drink at a candlelit counter, staring into one another’s actual eyes, speaking with their actual mouths. But said recollection just doesn’t speak to everyone’s past experiences. The same romantic cowardice we now hide behind was always present, as Hyperallergic points out, in their gallery of a selection of Victorian escort cards. These absurd cards were used by men who simply didn’t want to have to vocalize the fact that they’d like to flirt/bed/whatever someone.
Today’s prevalent gender norms were fascinatingly explored in Ex Machina; there’s a new interview with director Alex Garland at The Daily Dot, addressing exactly how the movie handles gender — and other stuff. But while Garland may have conceived of the film’s central non-human figure, The Verge spoke to the visual effects supervisor who actually built her (or the robotic part that wasn’t played by Alicia Vikander’s face) about the technical aspects of making such a critically perplexing character. (There’s another similarly cool story about the Iron Man suit in Avengers: Age of Ultron.) And, in other Alex Garland news, Natalie Portman is now in talks to join either Tilda Swinton or Julianne Moore (one of whom is also potentially signing on) in the director’s next film, an apocalypse horror flick titled Annihilation.
In the real world, something sci-fi-ish is always likewise happening. Today’s bits of sci-fi include a biomorphic wall in Brooklyn, the potential legal mess made when L.A. schools started handing out iPads to students, and spiders weaving the toughest fibers ever measured after being sprayed with water containing carbon nanotubes. But none of this is quite as weird as James Franco’s article — which was basically a love letter to McDonald’s — published in the Washington Post yesterday. Here’s a much needed response to the ridiculousness. Lastly, to remind you that the past sucked, too, here are some new images from Quentin Tarrantino’s upcoming Western, The Hateful Eight, which follows a group of bounty hunters stuck in a blizzard.