Sunday, October 31, 2010

Bad Movie Society - Death Bed: The Bed That Eats

Writer/ director George Barry made Death Bed: The Bed That Eats in 1977 and apparently forgot about it until 2003, when it was re-released. I thought it would be good-bad like a lot of the other horror films I like, but Barry had something else in mind. Yellow digestive foam and skeleton hands aside, Death Bed is a pretty serious film, and creepy at that. Cross Samuel Beckett, Alejandro Jodorowsky, and Evil Dead 2, throw some dust on the film stock, and add a soundtrack of antiquated synth and pulsing percussion, and you have Death Bed. Gratuitous nudity and poor acting merely sweeten the deal. Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Did you hear? Cimmerian

Like any young man in high school, I read hardcore message boards, listened to a little bit of extreme music, and discovered black metal from older people on the internet. I wasn't great at the internet yet, and I just didn't know how to download anything obscure or complete. I drove to Mojo Music and bought three CDs: Gorgoroth's Pentagram, Darkthrone's Sardonic Wrath, and Emperor's In the Nightside Eclipse. It was a home run if I do say so myself. I was the black wizards that day; I crushed the scepter.

Here is a sonic document not many people know about. In 2006, I recorded some black metal with my friend Nick at his home in Champaign. We called ourselves Cimmerian. If I remember correctly, we lost the files or weren't happy with them, and we re-tracked most of the song at ISR the following week (including vocals). My first recording on bass and vocals. I sing the first verse and the chorus, and Nick does the second verse. We had a lot of fun that weekend. 

Of course, we did a corpse paint photoshoot in his garden and living room. Right of passage.

At the time, we were influenced by symphonic black metal and Immortal. Nick wrote all the music. We collab'd on lyrics. The usual topics: white horses, snowy landscapes, hating Jesus, whatever. Happy Halloween! 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Bad Movie Society - The Human Centipede

From the freakish mind of Dutch writer/ director, Tom Six, comes The Human Centipede, a film which rides its unusual premise from start to finish. 

Think of your least favorite centipede. He just crawled out of your drain when you were brushing your teeth. She just ran up the wall and out of sight when you flipped on the basement light. Always lurking, never caught.

Six's human centipede is only three human beings surgically attached ass-to-mouth, ass-to-mouth. The first hour of the film is spent imagining what this thing will look like, and the last forty minutes plays like a slasher. The finest slasher, Halloween, is about Michael Myers chasing Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis), who is slow (but faster than Michael, who still catches up). Not much is different about Human Centipede, but the h.c. is slower than Laurie. Makes sense. The h.c. doesn't behave like an actual centipede at all. Real centipedes aren't slow as shit and don't share digestive tracts. The three components of Six's creation barely get from room to room, and yet they still evade Dr. Heiter (Dieter Laser). The viewer is all like c'monnnnn.

Speaking of Dieter Laser, that dude is a fantastic actor. He is intense, hard, and capable of making some impossibly funny faces. Great villain. He explains the science of the h.c. to his victims stoically, and his pool has a futuristic robot cover. Makes me weak with the hope that one day I will be large and in-charge like Dieter, an owner of my very-own mechanized pool cover. 

You'll like Human Centipede if you like to be grossed out. If you've seen it and want to be grossed out more, you shouldn't worry about a thing because Six is making two more films. Hence, First Sequence. The biggest surprise, maybe, was that Human Centipede looked slick and crisp- maybe even a little too crisp- and wasn't campy. Plus, two women are naked the whole time with minimal gratuitous nudity. Supwitdat? Six is serious about his h.c.. He will never crush it, never trap it in a Kleenex and flush it down the toilet. Never drown it in the shower because he's too scared to trap it in a Kleenex and flush it down the toilet.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Will Needs a Vacation: The Rubicon Season Finale

One of the best things about AMC's new series, Rubicon, is that its creators know the psychological/ conspiracy genre (think THE CONVERSATION) and aren't afraid to pay homage for 13 episodes. Plus, they've created the right context for this genre workout, and it all feels kind of new. 

Critics and friends of mine criticized Rubicon for being slow, and that seems fair, but if you tuned in for the final 3-4 episodes, you know that the show picked up and was really plot-tight and engaging. 
For the most part, Will (James Badge Dale) lives the paranoid life: jetting around NYC with a stack of loose papers, checking owl figurines for bugs, and thinking everyone is out to get him. And as it turns out, almost everyone is out to get him (see: tagline..."not every conspiracy is a theory"), that is, everyone except his artsy-fartsy girlfriend, Andy (Annie Parisse). She's Rubicon's Kramer. She never leaves the apartment, doesn't seem to be employed, and still attracts the opposite sex somehow. Oh wait, she's hot, and Will spies on her from his apartment window. 

Andy makes Will a more interesting character. By living in her art-world and allowing Will to come into it, she creates two lifestyle spheres for Will: his API-paranoid sphere and his sitting-around-doing-nothing-cuz-I'm-at-Andy's sphere. We'll call it his art-sphere. Though the show is "slow," the only time Will actually seems to slow down is when he's in her apartment. Even in his own apartment, he constantly sweeps for bugs and phone taps, grabs for his trusty baseball bat, and cracks open beers to make it look like he's relaxing. Never filmed sleeping at his apartment (to my knowledge).

In the art-sphere, Will can get perspective on his life. He can form a meaningful relationship. And most importantly, he can watch his other sphere from a distance. It is in Andy's apartment that he watches phone tappers come in and do their thing. It is a safe haven for his files (he retrieves them in the season finale) and for his gun. The art-sphere and the paranoid-sphere seem connected, but they don't influence each other.

That is, until the final episode when Katherine Rhumor (Miranda Richardson) returns to her safe haven to find it's Andy's apartment too. Will's spheres collide, the girls assume Will's banging left-and-right, and we have our first fatality. It also marks the first time (tmk) that Andy leaves her apartment. And leaves with a gun in hand, not a paintbrush. 

So what are Rubicon's makers telling us? That we all need to find our inner artist? That we should check our light switches for bugs? That when there's terrorism, our many lives become singular? I don't know, but I hope they answer these questions and more in Season 2, which looks like it will happen despite poor ratings.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Songs from 2010 - Part 3 - I Remember

When critics first described Yeasayer's new album, Odd Blood, they said it sounded like an 80s album. I remember thinking: no way Jose, this stuff tastes like Animal Collective! And I should know because I love the 80s, and my t9 recognizes Neo before I tell it to spell men. Hey what did you think of that Mad Neo episode last night?

Flash-forward to September, and it's me buying Violator by Depeche Mode at a garage sale for $1. I pop my compact disc in for the first time (latest pass), and now I'm thinking that Depeche Mode sounds like Yeasayer. Only it's the other way around. So thank you Yeasayer for making me appreciate Depeche Mode more because Odd Blood is kinda stinky. But this song is great and sounds like "Blue Dress" which has lyrics like "Bluish." In other words, I was right all along.


Friday, October 15, 2010

The Napster Days or: Jackass 3D opens today!

Napster was great. After dialing-up, it would take 45-60 minutes to download one song, and when it was done, I'd get so pumped and play that song to death. So many searches for punk covers and prank calls. Anyway, when we switched computers, I either lost my Napster songs or never bothered looking for them, and all of those jams faded in my memory. But no longer!

Must have been 7th grade when the CKY "Chinese Freestyle" came into my life. It was offensive and crude and I loved it. Memorized it. Recited it amongst friends. And I didn't even know what CKY was. Napster (and Limewire and Kazaa) had bad tagging standards. The bands weren't right or song titles were off, and it's made harvesting my memory for these junior high songs a nightmare. Sometime in college, I remembered a couple of key lines and performed a Google search. Voila! "The Chinese Freestlyle" was back in my life. Way back then, though, "The Chinese Freestyle" was a mythical song that came from this new abyss called the internet, and it was so mysterious and cool. Now I know that Brandon Dicamillo was responsible, and it's a little disappointing, but he's also one of my favorite Jackasses, and I better be able to get someone to come with me to see him in 3D.

Favorite part used to be: everybody in the phone book named Cheng, wanna see my wang? but now it's: you wanna taste my General Tso? I will give it to you now. One of the funnier disses I've heard.

I'm 15!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Show review: Guided By Voices 10/13/2010

If you know me at all, even if only through the internet, you know that I like Guided By Voices a lot. So when I learned that they were reforming the "classic lineup" for a tour, I somehow slept on the first wave of tickets (which promptly sold out), panicked, and then freaked out when they moved the show to a bigger venue, i.e. the Riviera Theater.

And GBV did not disappoint. The gang was all there: Kevin, Greg (outrageous tuxedo), Mitch (so stoked to be there), genius-foil Tobin, and rock-god Robert. 

The "classic lineup" is important because in 4 years (92-96), it released 5 LPs which became indie classics: Propeller, Vampire on Titus, Bee Thousand, Alien Lanes, and Under the Bushes Under The Stars. These records and their accompanying EPs created a ravenous fanbase and spun an endless GBV mythology. There are hundreds and hundreds of GBV songs. Some are difficult listens while others are crystal clear pop tunes. Almost all of them are good. In those days, quality control didn't matter because everything they touched was gold. Here's what they played last night ( think I can remember a setlist?):

From Propeller: Weed King, Quality of Armor, Lethargy, Unleashed! The Large-Hearted Boy, Exit Flagger, 14 Cheerleader Coldfront
From Vampire on Titus. Gleemer
From Bee Thousand. Buzzards and Dreadful Crows, Tractor Rape Chain, Goldheart Mountaintop Queen Directory, Hot Freaks, Smothered in Hugs, Echos Myron, Gold Star for Robot Boy, Awful Bliss, Queen of Cans and Jars, I Am a Scientist
From Alien Lanes. A Salty Salute, Watch Me Jumpstart, Game of Pricks, A Good Flying Bird, Pimple Zoo, Closer You Are, Motor Away, My Valuable Hunting Knife, Striped White Jets, My Son Cool
From UTBUTS. Cut Out Witch, Bright Paper Werewolves, Don't Stop Now
Plus: My Impression Now (from Fast Japanese Cycle), Shocker in Gloomtown (from Grand Hour), Dodging Invisible Rays (from Tigerbomb), Matter Eater Lad and Johnny Appleseed (from Clown Prince of the Menthol Trailer)
and I know I forgot some stuff, but you can tell how much I'm nerding out already, and I won't go any farther.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Songs from 2010 - Part 2- Boy Lilikoi

Jonsi's solo debut, Go, deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as High Violet, Halcyon Digest, and Noose Demo 2010 for AOTY. Not only does Go stand on its own, but for me it also reinvigorates Sigur Ros's brand. Can't wait for whatever Jonsi touches in the future.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Monday, October 4, 2010

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Cat Plaza #1 - p. 8

One of my favorite features of Cat Plaza, and this is my favorite installment. I love Guided By Voices, and you should too. See you on October 13.

Saturday, October 2, 2010