31 December 2008

до свидания, 2008

I, for one, won't miss this crappy year one single bit. It will live on in my memory as the year that nothing--not one single God-forsaken thing--went right. Happy New Year, all. And may 2009 be better than its predecessor.

23 December 2008

It's That Man Again

Pimping ain't easy, but somebody's gotta do it. And I can think of very few people who are better suited to the job than Eddie Cantor.

Point of interest: the blonde at Eddie's right smiling impishly at the camera is, I believe, a very young (and probably not very legal) Betty Grable. Personally I think she looks much better here than with the bad 40s hair she had when she became famous, but that's just me.

19 December 2008

Season's Greetings

Here's a friendly Christmas Carol from the good folks over at the Westboro Baptist Church. At this point, these people aren't even offensive any more; in all honesty, they're starting to seem like a caricature of themselves. Do they honestly expect me to believe that Santa Claus (who nobody over the age of ten believes is real) will rape children? On the other hand, they are right about the Christmas Tree being a pagan idol, so I suppose nothing is impossible.

17 December 2008

Eastern Europe, Circa 1943

This is some strange fellow's highly romanticized vision of the Eastern Front.

13 December 2008

The BCS Top 20

This, you will find, is slightly different from the regular BCS poll. There's a meme going around the Classic Film regions of the blogosphere wherein bloggers list their twenty favorite actresses. My BCS ballot will no doubt share a lot of names with the ballots of other bloggers, but I should hope that there will be a few lesser-knowns showing up. I also threw in a few extra tidbits of information (just to make things interesting).

1. Joan Crawford
Favorite Metal band: Iron Maiden
Drink of choice: Double vodka and Cherry Coke
Deepest, darkest secret: Actually doesn't mind wire hangers all that much.

2. Dorothy Sebastian
Favorite Metal band: Judas Priest
Drink of Choice: Jaeger Bombs. Lots of them.
Deepest, darkest secret: Likes to burn things (because the leprechaun tells her to).

3. Bebe Daniels
Favorite Metal band: Black Sabbath
Drink of Choice: Thunderbird
Deepest, darkest secret: Funneled profits from 42nd Street to the IRA.

4. Norma Shearer
Favorite Metal band: Burzum
Drink of choice: Appletini
Deepest, darkest secret: Has been using the same toothbrush for a year and a half.

5. Louise Brooks
Favorite Metal band: Gorgoroth
Drink of choice: Crunk Juice
Deepest, darkest secret: Likes to kick puppies. And kittens.

6. Anita Page
Favorite Metal band: Slayer
Drink of choice: Irish car bomb
Deepest, darkest secret: Is a level 60 Paladin in World of Warcraft.

7. Myrna Loy
Favorite Metal band: Manowar
Drink of choice: Whiskey Boilermaker
Deepest, darkest secret: Accidentally shot herself in the leg in a New York nightclub. She didn't have a permit for her gun, either.

8. Marion Davies
Favorite Metal band: Sleep
Drink of choice: Steel Reserve 211
Deepest, darkest secret: Once tried to hotbox the basement of San Simeon.

9. Constance Bennett
Favorite Metal band: Metallica
Drink of choice: Jack Daniel's
Deepest, darkest secret: Likes to tell orphans that Santa Claus was going to bring them presents but crashed and died on the way.

10. Barbara Stanwyck
Favorite Metal band: Iced Earth
Drink of choice: Southern Comfort
Deepest, darkest secret: Killed JFK and framed Lee Harvey Oswald.

11. Bessie Love
Favorite Metal band: Deicide
Drink of choice: Goldschlager
Deepest, darkest secret: Fixed the 1919 World Series.

12. Fay Wray
Favorite Metal band: Darkthrone
Drink of choice: Monarch Rum
Deepest, darkest secret: Regularly posts on 4chan.

13. Billie Dove
Favorite Metal band: Napalm Death
Drink of choice: Bloody Mary
Deepest, darkest secret: Doesn't rewind her videos when she takes them back to store.

14. Kay Francis
Favorite Metal band: Cannibal Corpse
Drink of choice: Night Train
Deepest, darkest secret: Owns every one of the Saw films on DVD.

15. Joan Blondell
Favorite Metal band: Mayhem
Drink of choice: White Russian
Deepest, darkest secret: Remember Chernobyl? Yeah, that was her.

16. Irene Dunne
Favorite Metal band: Dragonforce
Drink of choice: Peppermint Schnapps
Deepest, darkest secret: Is plotting to kidnap Bear Grylls and keep him in a pit in her basement. "It puts the lotion on its skin..."

17. Jean Arthur
Favorite Metal band: Belphegor
Drink of choice: Stroh, Stroh, and more Stroh
Deepest, darkest secret: Performs in an underground Hip-hop act under the pseudonym "J-Money".

18. Evelyn Brent
Favorite Metal band: Sunn O)))
Drink of choice: Cognac brandy and Robitussin
Deepest, darkest secret: Thinks Terrell Owens is actually an okay guy.

19. Pauline Starke
Favorite Metal band: Pig Destroyer
Drink of choice: The Bloody Aztec
Deepest, darkest secret: Killed Thelma Todd. While dressed as the Easter Bunny.

20. Olive Borden
Favorite Metal band: Candlemass
Drink of choice: The Black Cossack
Deepest, darkest secret: Buys entire boxes of Lucky Charms but only eats the marshmallows (the regular cereal she just throws at random strangers whilst screaming "Where is your God now!?").

This took forever to do. The pictures are from all over creation, but if it's any consolation to you, I used my own space for them.

12 December 2008

Finding his Voice (1929)

Here's a somewhat obscure (but still quite interesting) animated short from 1929. Finding his Voice is the saga of Talkie and Mutie, a pair of anthropomorphous rolls of film. As you might have guessed from their names, Talkie is a talking picture, and Mutie is a silent picture. Mutie wants to know how Talkie got his voice. Talkie explains that a certain Dr. Western (who is, by the by, a thinly-veiled metaphor for Western Electric, who commissioned the film) gave him his voice, and takes Mutie to see the good doctor.

Finding his Voice is interesting for several reasons. First and foremost, it offers the viewer a glance into the technical niceties of the Western Electric sound-on-film process, which was widely used by the Fox Films Corporation in the late 20s and 30s (mind you that this is long before Rupert Murdoch took over and Fox became the mouthpiece of the Antichrist). The sound-on-film process, by the look of it, was downright Byzantine in its intricacy and obsolescence, and--from what I understand--allowed for a somewhat inferior sound quality to the Vitaphone process used by Warner Brothers (it is ironic that the sound in Finding his Voice was apparently recorded via the Vitaphone process).

From a less technical perspective, Finding his Voice also merits attention by virtue of its being one of Max Fleischer's earliest post-Disney efforts, antedating Betty Boop even in her earliest, canine form by about a year or so.

One final detail--the tune which plays at the beginning of the film is, appropriately enough, "Ever Since the Movies Learned to Talk". A bit more information about the song (and even a recording of the song itself!) can be found at Vitaphone Varieties.

10 December 2008

Instant Pathos

I know many who would be moved to tears by this.

05 December 2008

A Skateboarding Parakeet

I seem to be at a loss for interesting things to say at the moment (some would say I've been at a loss for interesting things to say for a little more than a year or so). Here's some mind numbing cuteness to fill the void. ...I like parakeets.

29 November 2008

The Softer Side of Black Metal

Back in October, Hammer of Hate records released a split EP featuring two of Finland's finest--namely, Behexen and Satanic Warmaster. The album features two tracks by each of the bands, and all four are pretty solid offerings. The track that I find most intriguing, however, is Satanic Warmaster's second track, an acoustic version of his song "The Burning Eyes of the Werewolf" (which originally appeared on his debut album, 2001's Strength and Honour). As a pseudo-scholar of the Black Metal genre, I have to say that even though I haven't heard the original version (which is in all likelihood horribly under-produced), I greatly appreciate this acoustic rendition; I feel as though it supports my long-standing logic for liking Black Metal.

Even though I am as strong an advocate of the genre as you are likely to meet, I will readily admit that the Black Metal milieu---if we may call it such--is not without its fair share of foibles (and perhaps even more than that). Among these may be counted the oft-cited poor production values of the majority of Black Metal albums, the abrasive nature of the distorted guitars and the rapid-fire, merciless drumming, the often-times abhorrent ideologies espoused by many figures within the genre (which can range from petulant satanism to militant racism) and the sometimes laughable get-ups which those same figures flaunt.

Yet in spite of all this, I have long maintained that if one is willing to put aside all the peripheral baggage that comes along with the Black Metal label and is willing to simply listen to the notes that are being paid, one will find out that Black Metal is more than just sound and fury. At its most basic level, a Black Metal composition is made or broken by its melody and the ability of that melody to communicate the desired mood (which, contrary to popular belief, is not always raw, unfocused anger).

Although the title of the song might suggest a B-grade Italian horror flick from the 1960s, the acoustic rendition of "Burning Eyes of the Werewolf" nevertheless allows the uninitiated listener to get a feel for the subtleties of Black Metal songwriting. The melody--the most crucial aspect of the song as a whole--suggests several different moods. The melancholy and despair in the intro is apparent, but as the song picks up those give way to something more akin to solemn pride. Is it a masterpiece of songwriting? Hardly. But Satanic Warmaster's brief sojourn into acoustic territory nonetheless merits some interest by virtue of the fact that it allows us a glimpse of the softer side of Black Metal (or, at least, what we may understand to be the closest possible approximation to such a thing).

17 November 2008

Free Associations, Ep. 6: Our Blushing Aqua Teens

Last night I watched Our Blushing Brides--one of those flicks which, for reasons that shouldn't be too hard to figure out, holds a special place in what passes for my heart--for the second time. In case you aren't familiar with the film, Our Blushing Brides is a proto-chick-flick from 1930 centering around the romantic misadventures of three shop girls living together in a cramped New York flat as they try to eke out a living in the early years of the Great Depression. Our heroines are played by the Holy Trinity of Joan Crawford, Dorothy Sebastian and Anita Page.

Beneath all the coats of MGM varnish and gold plating, Our Blushing Brides is, at heart, a cautionary morality tale for the working girls of the era. Connie Blair (Anita Page) and Francine "Frankie" Daniels (Dorothy Sebastian) are fed up with the inglorious drudgery of working for meager wages in a department store, and allow themselves to be swept up away by wealthy heirs, only to wind up broken-hearted (or worse). Meanwhile, Geraldine "Gerry" March (Joan Crawford) keeps to the straight and narrow, good little trooper that she is. I rather enjoy this decidedly blue-collar subtext; it's rather the antithesis of the "princess" ideal that Disney movies and other cultural forces like to ram down the throat of our nation's impressionable youth.

...But I digress.

Prior to watching Our Blushing Brides, I watched a few episodes of the popular animated series Aqua Teen Hunger Force. On the surface, these are two entirely different things that have nothing to do with one another--the proverbial apples and oranges. Yet there certainly is some common ground between the two. I had my suspicions after watching Our Blushing Brides the first time around, and after a side-by-side comparison, it now seems to me that the character dynamic among Gerry, Connie and Frankie is eerily similar to the dynamic among Frylock, Meatwad and Master Shake.

To begin with, Gerry March and Frylock are the moral and responsible corners of their respective triangles. Seemingly motivated by an almost parental affection, they try to point their friends in the right direction, but more often than not their noble efforts meet with failure, with the result that they must bail their friends out of difficult situations. Gerry never shoots lazer beams or thunder bolts from her eyes as Frylock often does, although I suspect that she does possess the ability.

Connie Blair and Meatwad, meanwhile, are the dopey, short-sighted but still essentially good ones. Their gullibility lands them in hot water, particularly in conjunction with their occasional spurts of ambition. Yet once again the point of divergence is the matter of superpowers--that Meatwad is (fittingly) an amorphous wad of meat allows him to take different shapes (most commonly a hot dog or an igloo). As she is unable to metamorphose herself in such a fashion, poor Connie's modus vivendi lies in her less-than-stellar perfume selling skills.

Finally, there comes the matter of Frankie Daniels and Master Shake. Prodigal and avaricious, shiftless and crafty, these two tend to resort to underhanded means and elaborate schemes to get ahead in the world, typically with tragic (or hilarious) results. Yet in spite of all this, one gets the impression that they are still basically good somewhere deep down inside. Neither has any particularly useful super powers, barring their penchant for snarkiness. Frankie is also significantly less malicious toward Connie than Shake is toward Meatwad--as I recall, she never puts Connie (or her cat) in the microwave.

I still don't know who would be the OBB equivalent of Carl, though. Maybe Robert Montgomery.

14 November 2008

Happy Brooksday

For all of you who know (and those of you who don't), today is (or at least would have been) the 102nd birthday of the legendary Louise Brooks, whose haircut is said to have launched a thousand ships. Let's all pour one out for our dead homie. Happy birthday, Lulu; here's a birthday song for you.

13 November 2008

The Art of Grimness, Ep. 9

His dubious right-of-right-wing politics notwithstanding, Robert Fudali (alias Rob Darken) is nevertheless a pretty snazzy dresser. Truth be told, he's also a pretty good musician. Hailing from Wrocław, Poland, Rob Darken is the driving force behind the well-known Black Metal band Graveland.

Though Graveland took many cues from predecessors such as Bathory and Burzum (and who among early Black Metal bands didn't?), Rob Darken injected a certain idiomatic and epic style into his music. Whereas the majority of Scandinavian Black Metal bands concerned themselves with garden-variety Satanism, Graveland set aside the corpse paint and explored the unfamiliar territory of Slavonic Paganism instead (although with the prerequisite anti-Christian hoopla largely intact). Rob Darken's secondary project, Lord Wind, takes that theme one step further and plays a brand of Medieval folkish music.

Along with Kaldrad of Branikald over in Russia, Rob Darken of Graveland has inspired legions of Slavonic Pagan Black Metal acts across Eastern Europe, both ideologically and musically. Among their followers may be counted such notable projects as Kroda, Temnozor, Nokturnal Mortum and Drudkh.

10 November 2008

Bringing Sexy Back

Because contemporary fashions are excessively boring, slutty or some combination of both, here's a glimpse of some respectable sexiness from 1927. In color, no less! Laura La Plante wins the "Hat of the Year" award.

08 November 2008

The Return...

Some of you might have noticed my conspicuous absence from the inter-blogo-net-sphere the past week or so. More of you, I bet, didn't. Either way, the reason was pretty simple--my motherboard decided it had had enough of life, and died. Two weeks and two hundred and fifty dollars later, I have returned to tell the tale. I don't really remember how I managed to pass the time--it's mostly a haze of bad zombie movies, football and telephone arguments (and that whole presidential election thing). Anyhow, everything is settled, and I am ready to resume filling your spare time with my obsessive nonsense.

24 October 2008

Come Again?

And just what are you insinuating, Turner Classic Movies? I know she wasn't the most stable personality in Hollywood, but that's a bit far-fetched, even for me. Then again, who knows what deep, dark secrets those big eyes were hiding?

P.S. Yes, yes, I know she plays a murderer in Strait-Jacket. But doesn't the insertion of biographical short into a block of films about psycho killers seem a bit incongruous to anyone else? ...Maybe not.

22 October 2008

"Oh Lord, this must be Heaven..."

My first conception of Heaven was a graveyard. When I was a child, I lived in the vicinity of several cemeteries, one of which was right next door to the playground where my classmates and I used to go for recess. All that separated the basketball court and the swing set from row after row of marble headstones was a chain-link fence that the more athletic among us would occasionally climb over to retrieve the odd lost basketball. My understanding of death and eschatology was considerably limited, but I figured out fairly early on that the cemetery was where the dead inevitably wound up. In retrospect, that curious arrangement seems a poignant reminder of the thin line that separates life here on Earth from the great beyond.

One of the earliest of my dreams that I can recall with any notable clarity was a dream wherein my parents decided that they wanted to be rid of me. Having been turned out of my home, I wandered outside. A great light now came from the sky, and as I looked up I saw the blue sky part like satin curtains, revealing an idyllic cemetery, the kind one might expect to find in a churchyard on an island off the coast of Britain. What I remember most of my vision-within-a-vision was a monolithic black headstone, in the shape of a cross. For all I knew, it might well have been my own headstone. As I beheld this sight, slack-jawed in wonder, I was overcome by a great sense of longing and, more poignantly, a desire to be there, in that cemetery.

Ever since I had that dream so many years ago, cemeteries have held a profound appeal for me. Whenever I pass one, I always feel an inexplicable desire to go inside and to wander among the headstones, reading the names inscribed upon them and wondering who these departed souls were. One of the more interesting twists of fate in my life is that my first lessons in driving took place in a cemetery.

My conception of Heaven (and indeed of the afterlife in general) has changed greatly over the years. I tend not to think of the afterlife so much as a material place as a state of mind. I think of death and the afterlife as an eternal sleep. If the soul is at peace, its dreams will be peaceful. Heaven, then, is a kingdom of sweet dreams--serene images either remembered from one's life experience or imagined. The comparison of sleep and death is as old as human life itself. Indeed, the connection is present in the very word cemetery, which derives from the Greek κοιμητήριον, meaning "sleeping place."

The only thing I want from life is for my soul to be at peace when I die. I can forgo all the material symbols of success and good life, so long as I can be die a truly peaceful death, and take my place in the cemetery to sleep the eternal sleep and dream eternal dreams.

18 October 2008

Free Associations, Ep. 5

Signing big names to fat contracts like nobody's business.

16 October 2008

And now... Political Commentary

John McCain: True. Grim. Cult.

14 October 2008

Film Stills: The Cell (2000)

In terms of cinematography and art direction, The Cell is probably one of my favorite movies. The creation of a virtual world based on one's conscious and subconscious mind is a concept that I find extremely fascinating, and when the mind in question is that of a madman, the world that results from it is an extraordinary one, indeed. Much of The Cell takes place in the mind of a serial killer, and in the hands of director Tarsem Singh, the scenario is visualized with some truly breathtaking results. Also striking is the contrast between the mind of the madman and the mind of the psychotherapist who tries to cure him. The following stills are just a few examples.

13 October 2008


This definitely looks like a movie I'll want to see. It features two of my favorite plot elements: cloche hats and insane asylums (even if the latter may not, in the end, be that prominent in the mix). I've never thought Angelina Jolie was that attractive (a sentiment that no doubt places me in a very small minority, I know,) but she does look pretty good in period garb. It's also hard to go wrong with John Malkovich.

09 October 2008


When it comes to sports, it should be no secret by now that Football (specifically the American iteration of the game) is the gold standard for me. A few years ago (sometime during 2003 or 2004) Rugby (and to a lesser extent Australian and Association Football) was added to the list. For the longest time, however, I couldn't quite bring myself to get into Baseball, and not for lack of trying. I've been to a couple Baseball games, and while I've typically enjoyed watching the game in the park, watching the game on television was always something of a chore. That might not be the case for long, however.

Ken Burns' excellent documentary on the sport--aptly entitled Baseball, in keeping with Burns' apparent penchant for Laconic titles--is instrumental in my conversion. Though I've only seen the second and third installments of the nine-part series, knowing the history of the sport and it's place in American culture has done wonders for my interest in the game. Burns has a way of presenting the subject matter with an inimitable degree of enthusiasm. I'm convinced he could produce a documentary on stamp collection and somehow make it seem interesting.

Of course, now that I'm attempting to get into the game, I'm faced with the decision of what team to favor. The logical decision would be the Seattle Mariners, as I live in Washington. On the other hand, they do suck. I've decided instead to follow in my late grandfather's footsteps and become a Yankees fan (with the Chicago White Sox at number two). This decision carries with it the bonus of allowing me to antagonize everyone, because everyone hates the Yankees. Before you jump down my throat, I'd like to remind you that I made my decision knowing full well that the Yankees missed the postseason. Yes I decided to like the Yankees when they sucked, not when they were good. How about them apples?

06 October 2008

Singin' in the Rain

Viddy well, old brother, viddy well...

01 October 2008

Rio Rita (1929) vs. Dixiana (1930)

1929's Rio Rita and 1930's Dixiana are two films that are in many respects quite similar. They are both RKO Radio Pictures productions, they are both musicals, they both feature the talents of Bebe Daniels and the comedy duo of Bert Wheeler and Robert Woolsey, and both feature lavish technicolor finales. They are, of course, not without their differences. Both are enjoyable early talking-picture gems in their own right, but which one was better? That's what we're here to find out.

Rio Rita is a film adaptation of the 1927 Ziegfeld stage production of the same name. Plot-wise Rio Rita isn't anything to write home about--a fairly trite love wherein Rita Ferguson (played by Bebe Daniels) is the object of the affections of Jim Stewart, Texas Ranger (played by John Boles, who, sad to say, doesn't kick anyone in the face) and Ravenoff, the local Generalissimo (played by Georges Revenant). I haven't met too many Mexicans named Ferguson and Ravenoff, but that's movie magic for you. The film is is made more interesting, however, by the fact that Ziegfeld himself produced the film, with the result that Rio Rita has all the glitz and glamor you'd expect from a a production bearing the name of the man who masterminded the numerous installments of the Follies.

On the other hand, the Ziegfeld touch also means that Rio Rita features more unnecessary singing and dancing than karaoke night at your local dive bar. Even with a few reels missing, Rio Rita does drag on at times, especially during the musical numbers. Bebe Daniels has a fine singing voice and is certainly easy on the eyes, but her faux-Mexican accent is a tough pill to swallow--she sounds rather like a distaff Speedy Gonzalez.

Not only does the Wheeler and Woolsey subplot ultimately end up being more interesting than the main story but the duo (along with Dorothy Lee) truly seem to carry the movie at times. Still, if nothing else, the technicolor climax is rather a treat to look at. Ultimately, Rio Rita is a lot like the Histories of Polybius--fragmentary, and perhaps more interesting as an historical document than as a great work in and of itself.

Dixiana, meanwhile, takes place in the idyllic antebellum South that never actually existed; New Orleans, specifically. Unnaturally jubilant negro slaves, chivalrous Southern gentlemen and elegant Southen Belles abound. Bebe Daniels plays Dixiana, a circus performer with whom Carl Van Horn (Everett Marshall) and Royal Montague (Ralf Harolde) are both smitten (are you seeing the pattern here?). Van Horn is the son of Pennsylvania Dutchman who has come into the ownership of a plantation, whereas Montague seems to have no raison d'etre beyond simply being an all-purpose scoundrel (there's a word I don't get to use as nearly as I'd like to).

Wheeler and Woolsey reprise their roles as the comic relief, and again wind up being more entertaining than the main plotline of the film, though fortunately by a less expansive margin this time around. Daniels and the rest turn in good to decent performances, with the possible exception of Everett Marshall--sure, he can belt the notes out like there's no tomorrow, but he has a habit of singing out of the corner of his mouth, which has the unfortunate effect of making him look alternately perplexed and constipated. He's also a much better singer than an actor.

I was also a little disappointed by the ending--it had the potential for some serious tragedy, when during Mardi Gras Dixiana puts on Van Horn's costume just moments before he is set to duel with the unscrupulous Montague. I can only imagine what would have happened if, to save the life of her lover, Dixiana were killed in the duel in Van Horn's place. Hell, I would have been just as content if Dixaina were to kill Montague in the duel! But no; this is, after all, a romantic-musical-comedy-drama sort of affair, so a tragic ending is not in the cards (and besides, busting a cap up in a motherfucker is terribly unladylike, even if said motherfucker is a punk-ass bitch of no mean stock). I won't give away what actually does happen, but I don't think you'll be shocked if I tell you that the ending is a happy one.

Although it's blatant, Gone with the wind-esque racism is perhaps hard for a modern audience to swallow, Dixiana is probably the better of the two films. Not only is Bebe Daniels much more believable as a Southern Belle than she is as a Mexican Seniorita, but the musical numbers in Dixiana are by and large better than their Rio Rita equivalents. Where the two films are evenly matched, however, is their technicolor sequences which, though they are of the more primitive two-strip variety, are nonetheless quite charming.

Their respective shortcomings aside, Rio Rita and Dixiana are both significant achievements in cinema history--not only are they among the earliest film musicals, but they are also among the few technicolor efforts of the pre-code era. Were they not entertaining in their own rights, that fact alone would make them worth watching at least once.

26 September 2008

Relevant to my Interests, Ep. 14

For no real reason, here's a picture of Louise Brooks. Although it's not as if one needs a reason, is it?

23 September 2008

Free Associations, Ep. 4

I never would have figured Rosalind Russel as a fan of Drone Doom. Her neighbors must hate her subwoofer.

22 September 2008

Brain Droppings

I've got a few ideas floating around my head, but I don't think any of them would make for a decent post in and of themselves. Because I'm a lazy bastard, it's time to substitute quality for quantity. In the grand tradition of George Carlin, here are a few of my own Brain Droppings.

  • The Discovery Channel has made me paranoid about bedbugs and cockroaches, thanks to the show Verminators. That aside, it's equally horrifying and amusing just how horrifyingly dirty some people choose to live. Whereas I'd probably shit the proverbial brick if I found cockroaches in my apartment, some people have apparently just let them proliferate without doing anything about it. Ick. Los Angeles must be a horrible place.
  • Power Quest is Dragonforce light. Not surprising, considering that the band was formed by Sam Totman, the former keyboardist from Dragonforce. Power Quest songs are virtually identical in form to Dragonforce songs, but without the minutes-long bursts of guitar shredding (a factor which has the effect of making Power Quest a bit more interesting to listen to). Alessio Garavello also has a better voice than Z.P. Theart. The only area where Dragonforce has an edge over Power Quest is, ironically, in the keyboards. Sam Totman features his instrument prominently in Power Quest's songs, which has the unfortunate effect of adding an extra layer of cheesiness to the music. The jury is still out on which band has the goofier name.
  • Vilma Banky was hotter than Pola Negri, but I think that Pola Negri wins in a fight. I base the latter assumption on the fact that Polish Hussars looked cooler than Hungarian Hussars, because the Polish Hussars had wings. ...Shut up, it makes perfect sense.
  • Because the Cowboys/Packers game was so craptastic, I decided to watch the last game at Yankee Stadium last night instead. I'm not much of a baseball fan, except when the Yankees are doing well and I'm surrounded by Red Sox fans (or really just anyone who hates the Yankees). Them I'm a huge Yankees fan.
I've also had the idea of putting together a pod cast, in the manner of internet celebrity Jim Ether (who is also one of my personal heroes). I'm not sure what I'd talk about, though. Probably just more nonsensical shite like this.

21 September 2008

The Art of Grimness, Ep. 8

Marduk is the brainchild of Morgan Steinmeyer Håkansson. The Swedish guitarist convened the band in 1990 with the intention of forming the "most brutal and blasphemous metal act ever". The jury is still out on whether or not Marduk has actually achieved that title, but I will admit that they are among the most intense Black Metal acts in existence. Their style has inspired scores of imitators, almost none of whom have been able to break the Norsecore mold.

Not coincidental to their influence, Marduk is also one of the most popular (and commercially successful) bands in Black Metal. They have toured Europe and South America extensively (as often seems to be the case with Scandinavian Metal bands, however, they have had trouble getting into the United States).

20 September 2008

Life: Complete.

Well, I can die without regrets now. This movie. It was like sex. Except I was having it.

18 September 2008

Play Safe (1936)

When I was but knee-high to a grasshopper I had a VHS of classic cartoons. This tape--along with a bootlegged copy of Dumbo that also contained Disney's rendition of Jack and the Beanstalk--was a cornerstone of my sad, sorry childhood. While most respectable children were outside climbing trees and breaking limbs, I was watching cartoons (and getting fat).

One of the cartoons on my tape was Play Safe, a 1936 production by the legendary Max Fleischer. Play Safe is the story of an anonymous lad who is enamored of trains. When a train goes by his house, the boy runs to have a look but is stopped by his dog, who has ostensibly been placed in charge of the boy. Determined to check out the trains anyhow, the boy ties his dog's leash to a tree. As the helpless dog tries struggles, the boy climbs aboard a train, which begins to move. The boy falls off the train, and is knocked unconscious. Still laying on the railroad tracks, the boy descends into a nightmarish realm of trains the likes of which must have been the invention of Clive Barker and H. R. Giger (well, maybe that's stretching it a bit, but the whole dream sequence is nevertheless pretty freaky). The dog manages to escape the rope and pull the boy off of the tracks, just in time to keep him from being run over by a train (the very thing which the boy loved so dearly!).

One of the things which made the cartoon particularly striking to me back in the day (and which allow it to continue to be striking today) is the use of rotoscoping, a process which Fleischer himself patented in 1915 (back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth). Along with such phantasmagorical details as mountains with faces and trains that scold, the rotoscoping gives the dream sequence an extremely vivid, almost three-dimensional feel, as though one were experiencing the whole cartoon in a dream. Rotoscoping was commonly used in Paramount cartoons of the 1930s and 40s, which allowed them to have a similarly vivid feel.

Play Safe is one of those 1930s cartoons that I mentioned in an earlier post. Give it a watch, and appreciate all the little Fleischerian touches that make it so great.

15 September 2008

Dreaming of the Field of Glory

Over the past week or so, my sleep patterns have been rather out of the ordinary. I've been falling asleep much earlier than I usually do--around 10 PM or midnight, rather than the usual 2 AM or later. Concurrently, I've been waking up uncharacteristically early, usually before dawn, and I've been unable to get back to sleep. I'm less interested, however, in the the physical matters of sleep than I am with what happens in my unconscious mind during those few hours wherein I am asleep.

The past few months have seen a rather strange recurring theme in my dreams--not only am I back in High School, but I'm also specifically in Phys Ed class. Sometimes I'm aware of the abnormality of the situation, while other times I simply go along with the scenario as if it were perfectly ordinary. The finer details are lost in the murk of my subconscious, but I can recall that the dream always seems to take place during the preparations for the daily exercises, while I'm emerging out of the locker room into the gymnasium itself.

Last night I had a more vivid, larger scale version of the dream. Not content with the mundaneness of simple Physical Education, my subconscious saw fit to cast me as a member of my High School football team (i.e. the Shawnee Mission North Indians, whose games I made a point of never attending). Rather than preparing to run laps around the basketball court, I was preparing to take the field (or at least the sideline).

I'm no athlete, and I'll readily admit that (I just did, in fact). Outside of an early Halloween, I've never worn a football uniform--a fact of which I seemed oddly aware in my dream. I also couldn't find a helmet or a decent pair of shoes (the equipment manager was clearly asleep at the wheel). I finally did manage to get all my equipment in order, but I woke up before we actually went out onto the field. Kind of shame, really; I would have liked to have seen how I did. I probably would have looked a lot like this guy:

[Image sauce]

11 September 2008

Free Associations, Ep. 3

Scruples? What are those?

10 September 2008

Well, on the plus side...

...the old gang is finally back together again. No doubt they're tearing across the Elysian Fields in a 1930 Cadillac this very moment, blasting Judas Priest and getting into all manner of shenanigans. Like shooting old man Caesar's precious antique cans and covering Virgil's house with toilet paper. At least that's my conception of cosmic justice.