Zombie apocalypse has become the go-to genre to tell a story about the breakdown of civilisation. 2009's La Horde
blends the gangster film and the zombie film and achieves both the satisfying pulp idea of "Gangsters vs. Zombies" and uses the situation to show, somewhat broadly, the breakdown of social order for which the zombies may just be a poetic coincidence.
The film begins with Ouesse (Jean-Pierre Matins), a cop, reluctantly getting talked into going after the gang who kidnapped another cop. The plan is a very off the books rescue and vengeance killing.
So from the beginning, you have cops acting like criminals. Unfortunately for them, it all goes sour and they're taken hostage by the gang headed by Adewale (Eriq Ebouaney) who coolly executes one of the cops when none of them responds to questioning.
In the middle of all this, zombies, who are of the fast moving variety, are appearing in the building and after an initial, bloody fight, the remaining few cops and gangsters realise they need to work together in order to survive.
Now the cops aren't just acting like criminals--the whole world has suddenly changed outside and the distinction between cop and gangster is completely gone. One of the injured cops even asks a gangster for some cocaine to help him with the pain of his injury.
Later they run into an older tenant, Rene (Yves Pignot), who's an army veteran from one of the French wars in Indochina who seems to be taking a sadistic delight in the memories evoked by killing zombies. He takes the blurring of civilised lines further in a reminder of just how uncivilised even the most venerable citizens of this civilisation can be.
The only person who keeps her eye on the ball is Aurore (Claude Perron), the only female character in the film, who was the lover of one of the people Adewale's gang executed. She resists agreeing to the truce and while everyone else seems to be bonding due to the shared trauma, she keeps tight hold to her vendetta. The film nicely avoids passing explicit judgement on Aurore and the audience is left to decide for themselves if it's better to recognise the common humanity of our foes or if keeping a purity of purpose prevents one from falling into aimless chaos. Twitter Sonnet #926An artificial cherry graced the hill.
A guiding crimson masked the water sky.
Imploding stars of indigo and will;
A maple copse collates the bold and shy.
The same visage reflects from plastic glass.
In pockets full there's candy money stocks.
You can't now barter with your Easter grass.
Much faster than his wings are ostrich socks.
Determined eyes descend along the nose.
Beloved by bakers' flour gills concede.
Unseen, the feral trees' temptation grows.
A sea of batter's better than a seed.
A flying hat was seen upturning carts.
The coach, the box, the purse; they're all Black Bart's.
Current Music: "Nice Work if You can Get It" - Thelonious Monk
Michael Myers is like an invader from another reality. In John Carpenter's 1978 original Halloween
, the man escapes from an asylum and sets about killing teenage girls. Performances from Jamie Lee Curtis and Donald Pleasence as well as a restrained directorial approach by Carpenter make this film a nice portrait of lives horrifically disrupted by a human being who displays inhuman behaviour. I realise that sounds pretty mild and, yeah, I guess I'd say this is a surprisingly low key horror film.
I don't think that's merely because the stakes have risen so much in recent years for horror movies in terms of gore and shock value. There are plenty of 70s giallo and exploitation horror films that stack up well enough to a violent horror film to-day. This may be because Halloween
was intended for a more mainstream audience. The only piece of back story we get for Michael is a prologue where Michael as a prepubescent child murders his sister in a really unconvincingly shot stabbing sequence.
Carpenter has said, and recently reiterated when speaking disparagingly of Rob Zombie's remake of the film
, that he intended Myers to be "a force of nature" without the psychological motives typically given to killers in such films. A classroom scene where Jamie Lee Curtis' character, Laurie, listens to a lecture about religious and secular views on fate as an insurmountable, determining force supports this view, especially as it's accompanied by a nicely spooky shot from Laurie's point of view of Michael across the street, watching her.
That mask, too, as I talked about a couple weeks ago in connexion to Donald Trump, has this wonderfully eerie, prototypical man quality, this theoretical blank page that frustrates the instinct of an adult human to find a like creature on the other side of a discourse.
But there's so much that's hard to believe was accidental that suggest things about Michael's psychological issues. The fact that his first murder victim is his sister, who he finds topless right after she's had sex, or the fact that he consistently targets teenagers who are expressing their sexuality, or in the case of Anne (Nancy Kyes), just has the nerve to be topless where he can spy on her.
One might argue that this is meant to be less about Michael's motives than it is about creating a situation of physical and moral vulnerability for the characters. The preoccupation with sex as forbidden expressed by the forces of fate as Michael's assaults. It's really hard to disentangle the effect from interpretations of cause, though. If he quacks like a duck, and murders fornicators like a duck, he's probably a psycho puritanical duck.
I found myself wondering at connexions drawn between Laurie and Michael, too. Although it's really apparent she's not wearing a bra--this may just be a 70s thing--Laurie is established as more chaste than her friends, not even wanting to think about asking a boy out on a date. This gets us to the standard slasher film setup where the survivor girl is rewarded for her sexual virtue but an extension of that reasoning is that Laurie is on some level in agreement with Michael's worldview. A connexion between the two seems further emphasised by that fact that Laurie's the only person who takes Michael's knife from him--twice--and uses it against him. But the weirdest thing is the poster of James Ensor in Laurie's bedroom.
James Ensor painted things like this:
Not the typical painter a teenage girl would have a poster of on her wall. But you would think the atypical teenage girl who did like James Ensor would have a more extravagant example of Ensor's work on her wall. So with this poster it seems less like Carpenter is trying to say something about Laurie as he is just trying to send a clue out to the audience on how to read the film itself. The uncanny, masked and skull faces in Ensor's painters are freer to exist without circumstances that apply motives to them. Their strangeness asserts itself as strangeness, striking in their mystery. And yet, Carpenter's trapped by the inevitable logic in the scene--Laurie has
put a poster of Ensor on her wall. It contributes to a feeling of spiritual connexion between her and Michael. The effect of this connexion, I suppose, adds weight to an impression of disapproval towards open sexual expression.
Current Music: "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues" - Bob Dylan
The busted open skull of a loved one was also a subject broached in Saturday's Ash vs. Evil Dead
, though I actually watched it after Sunday's new Walking Dead
. It's an interesting contrast. Why does it work better on Ash vs. Evil Dead
? I realise I'm coming from a premise not many people might agree with, at least if comparing the ratings of the two shows says anything. Spoilers after the screenshot
The new Ash vs. Evil Dead
episode, "DUI", written by Ivan Raimi, follows up from last week's which ended with Ash's father, played by Lee Majors, getting hit by Ash's possessed car, his brains graphically exposed. In this episode, we even see one of his eyes lodged in the car grill.
The colourful lighting and the less realistic physics to the violence gives Ash vs. Evil Dead
a more cartoonish feel. I do think this is a problem--it drifts into the territory that diminished Hercules: The Legendary Journeys
and Xena: Warrior Princess
, the feeling that everything's sort of in a Loony Tunes reality and nothing that happens carries emotional weight. But the sudden death of Ash's father helped divert the show from the impression it was starting to give that certain characters are effectively immortal--this is the main problem with Pablo and Kelly. A big part of what made the Evil Dead
movies work was the feeling that the Deadites could basically kill or possess someone at any time, in a seemingly infinite variety of ways, and their motives were mysterious beyond pure malevolence.
I think the main reason this part of the new Ash vs. Evil Dead
worked so well is because, once again, of Bruce Campbell and the character he's created with Ash. His emotional reaction to his father's death is pointedly subdued. He seems upset but of course, after all he's experienced, he'd have trouble truly accessing his grief. This is normal for him, as he tells Pablo.
I found the showdown with the car much too cartoonish. But I found myself imagining an Evil Dead
cross-over. Someone like Ash would probably be a good step towards the much needed diversity in ideas on Walking Dead
. Just hearing Ash call Negan a primitive screwhead would be worth it.
Current Music: "Anatomy of a Murder" - Duke Ellington
It's been over six months since the season finale of The Walking Dead
left us with the daft premise of this season's première; the new villain, Negan, ruler of a feudal network of tributary settlements, captures our heroes, the people who've been systematically killing Negan's people, and decides only to kill one or two of them instead of all of them. How well do you think it would have worked if, when the U.S. tracked down Osama Bin Laden, Obama decided to see if he could get Bin Laden to work for us by killing his friends? Perhaps because he was aware of how far-fetched this idea is, writer Scott M. Gimple carefully tries to create a situation in this episode to explain why Negan thinks he can do what he's doing. But Gimple ended up making something that seemed like twenty minutes worth of story dragged out for forty five minutes with ultraviolence thrown in.Spoilers after the screenshot
It's twenty five minutes, around halfway through the episode, that we finally get the answer to who Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) killed--well, half the answer. He kills Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) first and then a little later he kills Glenn (Steven Yeun) after Daryl (Norman Reedus) acts up. I hear Glenn is who died here in the comics (I haven't read them myself) and Abraham had been killed some time earlier so both of these make sense in steering the show's course back to the comics. In terms of the show, Glenn really ought to have died earlier in season six when he very improbably survived the zombie horde around the dumpster. After all the feelings surrounding his presumed death it's weird when his actual death comes the show doesn't deem it worth dwelling on how the other characters deal with it. By not revealing to us who was killed in the beginning, the show takes us out of Rick's (Andrew Lincoln) point of view and we're led outside the show as we realise the suspense is like a trivia game show: name the character who was killed at the beginning of Walking Dead
season 4! And then there's the focus on Negan's endless strutting. How much better this time could have been spent.
And I get it--this is the show trying to show us how someone like Negan psychologically beats someone like Rick into submission. But, much as Ramsay Bolton cutting off Theon's genitals didn't really make sense as far as making Theon his slave, how Negan thinks Rick isn't forever going to be hatching a scheme to get revenge on him is beyond me. In both cases, the antagonist seems to go to great pains to prove there's nothing for the victim to lose by killing him. Well, I guess in Negan's case he does still have some of Rick's friends to use as leverage, but still, this is not how you rule an empire. My professor for a class I'm taking on early English Drama brought up a few weeks ago, when discussing The Jew of Malta
, that people often quote Machiavelli's advice to rulers that it's better to be feared than loved. But they often forget the rest of Machiavelli's advice:Nevertheless a prince ought to inspire fear in such a way that, if he does not win love, he avoids hatred; because he can endure very well being feared whilst he is not hated
I increasingly get the impression that writers don't have the imagination to see why ruthlessness does not equal power. As Machiavelli also says, a little cruelty might be expected in a new ruler but obviously Negan has an established army and kingdom he's presumably built over a long time. He wouldn't have gotten this far by being this stupid.
I do still like the concept of Negan. And I look forward to seeing the plot with Carol and Morgan next week. I just wish the makers of the show would see the potential in exploring other aspects of human nature in this environment beyond this one-upsmanship machismo.Twitter Sonnet #925Eclipsing flowers fought in devil's masques.
Vertical light encased the wings of veins.
Unbidden barley brings us mem'ry's flasks.
Assembled keys contain the semblant pains.
Suspicious sweaters extra elbows jab.
Pullovers vacant recant bodies gone.
In hallways grey and black the spiders grab.
A syrup spreads across envisioned dawn.
The olive stomach held an oil thumb.
Across the boulder belts betook its weight.
Anonymous, the sheets are ghosts too dumb.
The echoed lesson parsed the lengthened fate.
The wild metal bees renew a debt.
The spiralled clouds reproved the boiled bet.
Current Music: "Sweet Virginia" - The Rolling Stones
So Ezra has finally explained the plot behind the prequels in the new Star Wars: Rebels
. In yet another episode that harkens back to the Clone Wars
series Disney really obviously shouldn't have cancelled, all the male protagonists leave Hera and Sabine on the Ghost
to explore and loot a ruined Separatist base where a group of battle droids are surprisingly still active. It's exciting to see all this Clone Wars
stuff and the sense of layered time is nice but the mechanics of the plot aren't great and Ezra comes off as even more annoying than usual.
A droid general in charge of this lost group of Separatist droids captures the Ghost
crew and then forces them to try and rescue Zeb in an effort to prove who had the better strategy, the Republic or the Separatists.
Ezra eventually explains how the Empire is in fact what used to be the Republic so therefore the Ghost
crew and the droids are on the same side. Apparently this fact had eluded everyone for fifteen years. Anyway, it's fun to see battle droids versus the Empire.
Working together, they come up with the brilliant strategy of having the Jedi swatting droid blaster bolts into the Imperial forces, combining the droid firepower with the Jedi's greater accuracy. Of course, they could skip a step by simply having the Jedi shooting the guns themselves, but whatever. At least this way everyone gets to be involved.
I have to admit, I do find those battle droids pretty amusing. They just can't get any respect. I loved how the stormtroopers just talked right over the group that tries to parley with them.
Current Music: "Neighbourhood Bully" - Bob Dylan
|» Class Quota|
For years, fans have wanted a Doctor Who spin-off set in London about a gay couple, a human and a non-human. But instead of the Madame Vastra and Jenny series everyone wanted, to-day we got the première of Class, a spin-off series based on the unpopular Coal Hill School subplots from the Twelfth Doctor's first season. It might not be fair to judge from just the first episode but, judging by the fact that the first two episodes were shown to-day and I couldn't work up the energy to watch the second, it's not very good.
Is that too glib? I don't think anything's too glib for this show which had one character mention in conversation with another that they'd just failed the Bechdel test by mentioning a boy. This is a conversation between Tanya (Vivian Oparah) and April (Sophie Hopkins) and although April doesn't seem to understand at first what Tanya's talking about she says Tanya's funny. This is more comprehension than most characters seem to have when one of the primary characters says something really obviously smug and insulting or flirtatious, as when Tanya rambles a bit about how normal it is for her to be talking to a boy on Skype and he doesn't seem to notice her intensely transparent awkwardness. And the characters can't seem to speak without uttering grating Chandler Bing-isms
This is an intensely self-conscious show, which I suppose directly mentioning the Bechdel Test demonstrates. There's also the fact that the cast looks like they could summon Captain Planet if they combined their power rings.
We've come full circle. In the atmosphere of late 1980s "We are the World" optimism, putting together a group of improbably diverse friends seemed like a great way to promote empathy and recognise our common humanity. But by the late 90s, this looked like painfully awkward pandering that required the writers ignore many of the realities about cultural assimilation for an artificial Happy Land. Now the demand for representation is so great that those who demand it may full well know how artificial it is but consider the benefits of equal representation greater than any artificiality it might entail. I realised, though, the show harkens back to an older hopeful representation of diversity than Captain Planet--all the characters actually work out as pretty solid analogues of the original Star Trek bridge crew.
April (Sophie Hopkins) the Captain Kirk of Class
The leader of the bunch, this is the only white heterosexual apart from possibly Miss Quill. Like Kirk, April does things which would in real life be counterproductive and anti-social but which in the context of the show somehow makes her really endearing, like when she's trying to warn everyone at prom about their impending doom but takes a moment to snap at them about how they'd pay attention to her if she was a commentator on Instagram telling them they looked fat.
Charlie (Greg Austin), the Spock of Class
An alien who finds he has trouble understanding the emotional responses of humans sometimes, frequently leading to adorable misunderstandings. He and April quickly establish a close bond but, since he's gay, like Kirk and Spock they'll probably never hook up romantically. Or will they . . . ? In the 1960s, audiences would have been offended by the idea of Kirk and Spock getting together, and to-day's audiences would be offended by April and Charlie getting together. And yet, such fertile grounds for slash fiction.
Matteusz (Jordan Renzo), the Chekov of Class
Where Chekov idolised Spock, Class takes it further by actually making them a couple. We don't learn much about Matteusz in the first episode--I'm not entirely sure he's Russian. His accent sounds Russian to me but Matteusz comes up as a Scandinavian name in Google.
Tanya (Vivian Oparah), the Uhura of Class
A beautiful young black woman with impressive technical skills. Her mother seems to be Jamaican and very conservative; we don't learn much else about her.
Miss Quill (Katherine Kelly), the Doctor McCoy of Class
The only character I liked, she's older than the other characters and poses as their teacher. Irascible and unafraid to insult them for acting like the morons they are. I'm still not sure if she's supposed to be able to hear them when they talk in their normal voices in the classroom or not.
The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), the Scotty of Class
Well, I like this guy, too, on his own show. He's a deus ex machina here and doesn't do much but wave his screwdriver around, mostly just serving to remind me how much I'd rather have a season of Doctor Who this year than this spin-off.
Ram Singh (Fady Elsayed), the Sulu of Class
In the U.S., people who are called Oriental in Britain are called Asian and in Britain, Ram Singh, apparently from Pakistan or India, would be called Asian. Like most stock Indian British characters, he's really good at football. His girlfriend is also Indian, I think, which is probably why she's killed off so quickly. She fails to make an impression, so much so that when Ram Singh later says he'll never get over what happened this night it took me a moment to remember what he was talking about.
So, wait, you're saying, there's no Oriental character? No-one with ancestry from Japan or China or Korea? Ha! When was the last time we had such character on Doctor Who? The Talons of Weng-Chiang? Tsk. Class! You're so regressive! Muahahahaa! Better luck next time. Why not try something really crazy, like include a character from . . . Ireland?!
I will say this, it's the torquoisest show I've seen in years.
|» Dreams and Costumes|
I had a really vivid dream last night--I was living in a nice home on top of a tall, human-made cliff of stones by the sea--the cliff looked like old Roman walls. The house looked a bit like James Mason's house from the end of North by North West. I was very conscious of the fact that I could only live there because several people had been murdered. I had a tin bath tub filled with water and a young man lay at the bottom of the tub looking up. There was a snail and an a hairless kitten the size of the snail crawling about on the edge of the tub. I had another dream, too, but I can't remember it. |
I blame the NyQuil. But at least I didn't feel as sick to-day. I wish I could say the same for half the people at the university. Everyone got sick and of course everyone just had to deal with it and go to school anyway. I bet the Halloween candy I've been eating lately hadn't helped either. I've been sort of toying with the idea of dressing up for Halloween this year, especially since I have class that day. But I don't think I can afford to do it properly. It occurred to me I have almost everything I'd need to dress as Dirk Bogarde from the end of Death in Venice--I have the hat, slacks, and tie, but I'd have to get new shoes, a detachable shirt collar, and a new vest. Plus I'd have to dye my hair and get a good false moustache. If I can't do it right I just don't want to do it at all. Maybe I can think of something simpler.
Twitter Sonnet #924
In treble jalapenos eyes assess.
Important shears alert the hair to fate.
When fortune says, "Neighbours, do not redress,"
There's buckets bound for space to fill and rate.
In cases wet with primitive white paint
A dousing wand erupts in snakes for show.
Graffiti won't select a god or saint.
The shoes were tied without the sneezing blow.
The speaking parts put up atop the bridge.
Hallucinations short the circuit's site.
The number parsed in feet along the ridge.
They bivouacked beyond the callous blight.
The wheels in solid colours pass the ice.
A single moon orbits the fountain twice.
|» Tied to the Platter|
Someone who is loved a great deal early on knows a pretty high threshold of love and may be forever unsatisfied with less. At least one woman goes mad in 1962's Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, a lusciously shot movie about two sisters bound in repressed bitterness after the emotional highs of stardom. With great performances by both Joan Crawford and Bette Davis, it's a beautifully grotesque portrait of human needs growing uncontrollably beyond the bounds of decency.
While both women are great in the film, the cake really has to go to Bette Davis who completely commits to Baby Jane Hudson. The film opens with Baby Jane as a child star in a vaudeville act and it's a little hard to understand her appeal. Director Robert Aldrich takes pains to establish her show is sold out and that people genuinely seem to love her, otherwise it would seem a joke that this kid with her loud, one note delivery is on the stage.
There was a sort of big, talentless performance style in children that genuinely seemed to entertain audiences--maybe it was funny because of how bad it was but if one looks at films starring young Jackie Cooper or Bobby Driscoll one wonders not only why they were popular but how anyone thought they could carry films to begin with. On the other hand, there were some genuinely talented popular child actors like Mickey Rooney or Freddie Bartholomew. No accounting for taste, I suppose, but in any case audiences of the Baby Jane style of child acting could probably be seen to-day in people who like watching school plays just to see how badly the kids do.
Which of course makes it all the more pathetic that Jane considers those her glory days. The film gives us a brief glimpse into the sisters' lives in the 1930s where, despite clips from successful 1930s Bette Davis movies being used, the studio heads find Jane's performance style totally inadequate for an adult. Her sister Blanche (Joan Crawford), who had before dwelt unhappily in her sister's shadow, is by the 1930s recognised as the greater talent and box office draw.
But most of the movie takes place in 1962 when Blanche and Jane live together alone in a massive house beautifully cluttered with antiques and shadows, which perfectly reflects the personalities of the two women.
The way the film constructs the resentment and obligation that keeps the women locked together is fascinating. Jane resents Blanche both because Blanche became more successful and because Jane feels responsible for hitting Blanche with a car, paralysing her from the waist down. Blanche was told as a child by their mother (Anne Barton) to be kinder to Jane than Jane was to her when Jane was on top so Blanche is bound by a deep sense of moral obligation.
Blanche carries this tolerance so far that she's reluctant to address increasingly vicious behaviour from Jane, who, Blanche learns, has been hiding her mail and has served her a dead rat and her pet dead bird for lunch.
Jane is peculiarly amazing in her garish makeup, performing for herself and then a hired pianist, her madness bringing her to revive that one-note childhood performance, curtseying and singing tunelessly with no expectation that she's not absolutely charming.
|» The Mask of Joan|
Lucy had just gotten the freedom and the husband she wanted but unfortunately she had to murder him and his mistress with an ax. Evidently she had a good lawyer because she spends 20 years in an asylum instead of life in prison in 1964's Strait-Jacket. At times a little too broad and with a twist ending visible from a considerable distance, this film written by Robert Bloch has a magnetic performance from Joan Crawford as Lucy and features an interesting commentary on what kinds of behaviour were considered acceptable for women.
After a loveless marriage to someone foisted on her by her parents, Lucy's finally able to marry a guy she likes--one considerably younger than her played by Lee Majors. Majors isn't credited because she chops his head off before he can stick around long enough. The film jumps over Lucy's time in the asylum to when she's released twenty years later and joins her daughter, Carol (Diane Baker), on the family farm.
Carol had witnessed her father's indiscretion and his decapitation but seems to have no reluctance about welcoming her mother home. She even, oddly enough, wants Lucy to dress like she did before going to the asylum, something which really seems to disturb Lucy. I couldn't help thinking of Vertigo and Scottie forcing Judy to get the makeover that makes her look like she did when she was an accomplice to a murder.
Carol even saved Lucy's noisy dangling bracelets and in addition to being ready to wield an ax to take revenge, Crawford's character was strikingly assertive in her brash, high contrast wardrobe.
Bloch makes a none-too-subtle point when Carol visits her boyfriend Michael's (John Anthony Hayes) home and his father (Howard St. John) flirts unabashedly with Carol. Everyone passes it off as a joke but this is followed by a scene where Michael visits Carol's home and the two young people become uncomfortable when Lucy flirts with Michael.
A series of new murders begin to occur and all signs point to Lucy. The film destabilises point of view a little bit so that even though it's mostly shot from Lucy's perspective, we don't know for sure if she's guilty of the killings. And neither does she so this in itself brings us further into her perspective. The climax of the film is a fascinatingly bizarre scene--the revelation of the killer's identity is pretty obvious but the scene where the revelation takes place is both a very explicit commentary on assigned identities and an effectively creepy set of images.
|» Two Dreams|
I feel like it's been a while since I wrote about my dreams. Last night I dreamt I was trapped in a trolley, like the San Diego red trolleys, travelling endlessly over vast green fields. I could see two other trolleys on other tracks that were gradually diverging from the course of my trolley's track.|
I woke up and when I went back to sleep I dreamt a new movie was coming out featuring Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne but it was a romantic comedy. There was a triangle between him, Selena Kyle, and the version of Rachel Dawes played by Katie Holmes, who is revealed to have been a different person from the Rachel played by Maggie Gyllenhaal in The Dark Knight. Bruce has some kind of goofy science experiment cooked up and at one point Selena and Rachel are in baroque costumes and sing the "Poor Fool, He Makes Me Laugh" song from Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera.
Twitter Sonnet #923
Venetian pounds in bloodless cubes embark.
In merchantmen, in courses winding long.
Gibraltar watched the vacant corsair's lark.
In holds the eyes of guests are numbered strong.
In orlop gloom, a stumbling slops collapsed.
Too bright, a candle jitters out the glass.
A froth impressed a thought outside relapsed.
Neglected hulls careened with briny mass.
The storming curtains lick forsaken rails.
Barrage of ice incites the yards to shake.
A spray o'ertakes the night in punished gales.
The rocks align to fell what sea would take.
But careless frigates sway and dip through rolls.
Her arms extend from masts 'neath pallid gulls.