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Spoilers ahead for the latest episode of Westworld, so if you aren’t caught up with “Trompe L’Oeil,” feel free to take care of that now. I’m fine waiting – I can use the time to take a relaxing stroll through Ghost Nation territory.

westworld-spoilers

After weeks of speculation, it’s official: Bernard Lowe is actually a host – one that possesses perhaps the deepest and most meaningful programming of any host in the park, due to his creation by, and unquestioning subservience to, Dr. Ford himself. We’ll dig into the possible far-reaching implications of this revelation in a minute, but for now, let’s just allow the raw emotion sink in that everything we’ve learned about Bernard, and everything Bernard knows about himself, is a lie. Like Dorothy peering behind the curtain and seeing Oz for what he really is, so too did Bernard learn the true nature of the man pulling the strings of Westworld. But unlike Dorothy, Bernard wasn’t set free by this discovery, but rather used as a tool by Ford to dispose of Teresa.

In perhaps the most dramatic scene involving a door this side of Game of Thrones (#hodorforever), we learn that Bernard, just like all other hosts, cannot see what he isn’t supposed to. That Ford would prevent him from seeing a door that leads to a room in which Ford’s greatest secrets are given the breath of life (including Bernard himself) comes as little surprise. It also explains how Ford magically appeared at Bernard’s side when Bernard was accosted by Ford’s father-host in last week’s episode; he didn’t appear out of thin air, but simply stepped through a door Bernard could not see.

Image: HBO

Image: HBO

In “Trompe L’Oiel,” Bernard was only able to see the door after Teresa opened it, which was our final clue as to Bernard’s true nature. When Teresa discovers the schematics for Bernard, she tries to show Bernard, but like the door, he cannot see the notes of his creation. “It doesn’t look like anything to me,” he says, a line we know all too well at this point. As soon as Ford appeared on the stairs, it was clear that Teresa’s fate was all but sealed, but the drama of the scene didn’t rest in the tension leading up to her death, but instead in Bernard’s heartbreaking refusal to accept that he is a host. He mentions his wife and son, arguing that their memories are proof of his humanness, but we know as well as he does that his argument is futile. It makes you wonder how many times Ford has used Bernard in the past to manipulate people and gain information; I highly doubt this is the first time Bernard has realized he’s a host, that his memories aren’t real.

I love the varied approach showrunners Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan take when exploring how hosts awaken to the understanding that their lives are not what they seem. In last week’s episode, we watched as Maeve toured the floors of Westworld’s labs, giving her a full view of the miracle and the travesty that is the creation of the hosts. Though it disturbed her, it was ultimately a moment of hopefulness for Maeve – if Westworld is an allegory of Plato’s Cave, then surely she has stepped into the light. With Bernard, it’s the exact opposite. Perhaps he will have his own triumphant moment in later episodes, but as it stands, we can only lament how clinically Bernard removed his tie before bashing Teresa’s brains in – he’s so deeply beholden to his programming that he doesn’t even flinch when he grabs her.

Image: HBO

Image: HBO

In spite of what we now know about Bernard, we still know precious little of what Ford’s true motivations are. We know he loves the park and the hosts inside it. We know he had a deep affection for Arnold, and misses his old partner. We know that he has some kind of understanding with at least some members of the board, but the specifics are still unclear. And we know that he and Dolores have a mysterious but storied history together. But for all we’ve heard from him, he’s still an enigma. But there was certainly enough revealed in tonight’s episode to allow for a bit of speculation.

In light of what we saw tonight, as well as in previous episodes, it seems that Ford is all but omnipotent, and one has to wonder if there are any real limits to his power inside the park. He sees and hears all, and can even stop time with the flick of a finger. When he uses Charlotte Hale’s “blood sacrifice” line on Teresa, we get a good sense of where his omnipotence comes from: he can tap into any host he wants to, and use them as a sort of mobile CCTV unit to spy. Hector may have been restrained and turned off as he sat on Hale’s bed, but that was obviously not enough to keep Ford out of the conversation.

Image: HBO

Image: HBO

It’s also worth speculating that the host being created in the remote diagnostic facility will turn out to be none other than Teresa Cullen herself, a controllable replacement for the traitorous head of Quality Control. This, combined with the revelation about Bernard, will certainly add another layer of mystery to the show, but it also begs the question: if Ford can replace anyone who resists him, then what’s to stop us from wondering who else is actually a host. Elsie? Stubbs? Sizemore? Charlotte Hale herself?

I’m hoping we’ll soon get a piece of information that allows us to rule out who’s a host and who isn’t, because the Bernard reveal might prove to be a distraction away from what appears to be the main thrust of the story: Dolores’ quest for sentience. Of course there’s plenty of important other things going on, but again, being caught up in guessing who’s a host and who isn’t doesn’t seem to be the point of this show. We’ll see.

Closing Thoughts

Image: HBO

Image: HBO

  • Good news: HBO just confirmed they will be moving forward with a second season of Westworld. Bad news: it likely won’t air until sometime in 2018.
  • When Maeve is walking from her house to the Mariposa, we see a gun duel in the street behind her. A host draws on a guest and then patiently waits as the guest fumbles his gun out of his holster and clumsily fires a few rounds into the host. It’s hilarious.
  • Can someone please tell me why the Westworld techs keep wearing those red and white hazmat suits into Sweetwater? I have no idea why they need to maintain a sterile environment when there’s tons of unprotected guests walking around, and it’s far less subtle than wearing a costume into the world, as Elsie did earlier in the season. I don’t get it.
  • Dolores and William are about to enter the Unclaimed Territories, which could very well be where the maze resides. Even as Dolores and William are falling in love, we’re beginning to see a sharp divide in their worldviews, their hopes and dreams. Dolores wants nothing more than to leave her old life behind and experience the world, while William feels he’s experienced enough of the real world, and wants to stay inside the structured, purposeful story of Westworld. Conflict on the horizon?
  • I’m a sucker for fast-thinking ingenuity, so it goes without saying that I was pretty impressed by the nitroglycerine corpse surrender bomb that Lawrence fashioned on the fly. I hope we see him again.

5/5 stars: Nitroglycerine corpse surrender bomb. Need I say more?

 

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Marijuana. Infused. Beer.

It was only a matter of time before weed found its way into America’s favorite drink. Enter: marijuana-infused beer.

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These days, you can find marijuana infused in everything from alcohol to BBQ sauce to bath bombs to candy bars. So, it was only a matter of time before weed found its way into America’s favorite drink: beer. Enter: marijuana-infused beer.

From Business Insider, a report that Lagunitas Brewing Company has released an IPA infused with marijuana. It’s called Supercritical, and it’s available for a limited release in California. In case you don’t know, Lagunitas Brewing Company is based in California and was purchased by Heineken in early 2017.

Sadly, though, it won’t get you high — the beer contains no THC.

For inside scoop, watch the full video. Then let us know in the comments what you think about marijuana-infused beer.

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Donald Trump as Seen by Google’s Deep Dream

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THIS CONTENT WAS REPUBLISHED FROM AN EARLIER DATE.

Last Summer, Google unleashed Deep Dream, their neural network that takes pictures and tries to identify patterns and overwrite them, on an unsuspecting public. When you put an image into Deep Dream, what you get when it “wakes up” is often nightmarish. Dogs, birds, insects, pagodas are inserted at random places in the image, giving it a surreal and sometimes beautiful–if terrifying–aspect.

So, since this election season is already off-the-charts surreal, I thought to myself, “What would it look like if we ran some candidates through Deep Dream?” Well, now I know.  I started with Donald Trump, who is already deeply weird and unsettling. The results are spectacular.

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An incomplete guide for groceries you can’t find

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Arial photo of grocery store

Every once in a while, you find a hapless, bewildered person wandering through the grocery store. Perhaps that person is you.

You’ve been sent out to pick up something unusual for a new recipe or some kind of produce you’ve never laid eyes on, much less judged through the knocking/squeezing/smelling process.

Fear not. This incomplete and arbitrary guide based on random anecdotes is here to help.

Lettuce vs. Cabbage

When I was a kid my father had to feed us when my mother was visiting family. One day we ended up having a raw cabbage salad. I don’t recommend it.

This is a cabbage. It has very tight, somewhat waxy, light green, leaves. Cabbages are dense and feel somewhat heavy for their size.

Image: Wikimedia

Iceberg lettuce looks similar to cabbage except it should not feel waxy and the leaves are more delicate and thin without pronounced veins. It is much less dense and feels light for it’s size.

Image: Wikimedia

When in doubt, just buy romaine lettuce. It has more vitamins than iceberg lettuce anyway. This is what romaine lettuce looks like.

Image: Wikimedia

All fresh leafy greens can be found in the produce section, normally refrigerated and occasionally spritzed.

Cucumber vs. Zucchini

If you’re not in the U.S., zucchini is also called a courgette because why not make things more difficult?

(Pedantic aside: Actually, zucchini’s etymological base is from Italian and courgette’s is from French.)

Zucchini is delicious grilled, fried, or sautéed in ribbons. Cucumber is usually eaten fresh or pickled. Both can be found in the produce section, and both make you feel vaguely uncomfortable at checkout if you also need to buy hand lotion.

Zucchini is somewhat angular and has a woody stem on one end.

This is a zucchini.

Image: Wikimedia

Cucumber is rounder with small bumps and is generally stemless in the store.

This is a cucumber.

 

Shallots

They’re like onions but much smaller, ovoid, and with a brownish red papery skin. You normally can find them in the produce section in the bins by potatoes and onions.

These are shallots.

Image: Wikimedia

These are pearl onions, which are bright white and have a stronger flavor than shallots. They are not interchangeable.

Image: Wikimedia

 

Scallion

I don’t know why a stranger asked me about scallions instead of a store employee, but I saw desperation in his eyes. Dude just wanted whatever the hell scallions were so he could leave.

While scallion refers to a family of onions, it’s generally fine to consider scallions and green onions synonymous. They’re a little thicker than a pencil and have a white base and green stalks.

These are scallions.

Image: Wikimedia

They are usually in the produce section near leafy greens.

 

Parsnips

Parsnips look like big carrots that are so terrified the color drained from them. They’re probably next to the whole carrots sold in your grocery store. Since parsnips are more of a niche item sometimes they’re displayed by the fancy organic produce.

These are parsnips, or as one man called them after an exhaustive search, “motherfuckers.”

 

Cream of Tartar

Moving out of the produce section, cream of tartar is not a cream, not related to tartar sauce, and does not derive from the tribal Tartars. It is a byproduct of wine making that is purified and used to stabilize egg whites for things like meringue.

A friend of mine went through the whole soup aisle several times looking for cream of tartar. This is the wrong place to look.

You’ll usually find cream of tartar in the spice section of the baking aisle.

This is cream of tartar.

Image: Amazon

 

Tahini Sauce

If you’re learning to cook non-Western food, you’re going to be exposed to new condiments like tahini sauce, fish sauce, black bean paste, and more. Frankly, your best bet is to go to a local ethnic grocery store that matches what you’re setting out to make. (Tahini sauce is Middle Eastern for the record.)

However, more grocery stores are starting to have a catch-all not-American aisle that is called “International,” “Asian/Mexican/British,” “World Foods,” etc.

Start in this aisle for those condiments, and if you can’t find them there, try the official condiment aisle. If neither aisle has tahini sauce, you probably need to search a different store.

This is tahini sauce.

Image: Amazon

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