Archive for March 31, 2006

Three music items

March 31, 2006

I don’t do as much musicblogging as I expected to when I restarted ADDTF; I suppose that’s because I find it difficult to be pithy when talking about music. (Seriously, get me started on “Once in a Lifetime” by Talking Heads someday. Make sure you have an hour or to kill first, though.) But the glorious synchronicity engine that is the Internet conspired to place three interesting articles in my path over the past few days, so I’m passing them on to you.

First, One Louder does one of its periodic YouTube music video roundups by gathering together a whole bunch of Cocteau Twins clips. The day before I read this post I watched the video for the Twins’ “Pearly Dewdrops’ Drops” on The Alternative, VH1 Classic’s indispensable punk-new wave-indie-altrock video show; damn, was I ever moved by the late-afternoon melancholy and England-in-the-’80s ambiance of that song and that video. I find that songs from that general era and nation fill me with nostalgia for a time and place I never experienced. Honestly, listen to (say) “West End Girls” and tell me that you aren’t suddenly in a flat in London at 4 o’clock in the morning, finishing off a bottle of something and chainsmoking as your makeup runs off. (Yes, I’m a woman in these pangs of nostalgia.) Maybe it’s from my repeated exposure to Hellraiser and the comics of Alan Moore, I don’t know. Anyway, go watch some videos and enjoy some Liz Fraser. (“Song to the Siren”‘s in there too.)

Next is a compelling piece by Willing Davidson of Slate on Dave Chappelle’s Block Party and what it means to have black performers on stage in front of a black audience when their usual audience is predominantly white, and when they’ve been eclipsed in popularity in both communities by unapologetically commercial acts. I’ve thought a lot about hip hop in these terms lately. When I was in college (1996-2000), “good hip hop” was the musical lingua franca, something everyone could agree on. I wouldn’t say I listened to a lot of “conscious” hip hop at that time, to use the term preferred by Davidson, nor was I a backpacker per se, but a steady diet of the Wu Tang Clan and all its solo offshoots, Gravediggaz, Prince Paul, Handsome Boy Modeling School, Dr. Octagon, Kool Keith, the Automator, the Fugees, Lauryn Hill, the Beastie Boys, DJ Shadow, UNKLE, A Tribe Called Quest, Cypress Hill, Tricky, Public Enemy, Massive Attack, Outkast, Portishead, and so forth sustained me and pretty much everybody I knew; few of us felt any motivation to get any more mainstream than The Chronic, Doggystle, and Ready to Die. These days nearly all of those acts and their brethren in the conscious and backpacker schools are relegated to the dustbin of history, and critics devote column after column to Lil’ Jon. I think it’s tough to overestimate the influence that talented and commercial producers like Timbaland and Missy Elliot (brilliant), and Dre and the Neptunes (brilliant about 50% of the time), had in creating that state of affairs, but I find that I barely relate, or listen, to contemporary hip hop at all anymore. Is this just a case of “in my day we listened to real music, not this noise!“? I guess that’s possible. But the thing is, I find that I don’t care, and I also find that that is not an acceptable viewpoint to have in critics’ circles these days. After all (the theory goes), one must be interested in what is popular and therefore relevant. (You see similar arguments being made against comics readers who don’t read a lot of manga, incidentally.) My question is, what is it about hip hop (and manga, I guess) that has enabled popularity to replace quality in terms of the reason why a listener/reader/critic should or should not get into a particular work? Of course the two are not mutually exclusive, but the popularity barometer seems to come up a lot more often than you’ll see someone say “No, seriously, ‘Laffy Taffy’ is every bit as good as ‘Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos.'” And it really is endemic to hip hop fandom and criticism more than anything else–I mean, very rarely do you see any film critics of merit say “Man, quit wasting your time with Cronenberg–Michael Bay’s who the kids are into these days!” Why the condescension toward Dave Chappelle for still really, really liking the first Fugees record, then? (See this comment by Matthew “Fluxblog” Perpetua for a more forceful statement of that same sentiment.)

Finally, here’s something I didn’t expect: Rich Juziak, whose FourFour blog is best known (to me, at least) for its fabulously bitchy weekly recaps of America’s Next Top Model, posted the best thing I’ve ever read about Mariah Carey. She’s an artist about whom I have no feelings to speak of, really, save pity for what the pressures of fame have done to her instrument (why doesn’t anyone notice she can’t sing anymore?) and her dignity (I once remarked that as long as she was married to Tommy Mottola she’d never take her clothes off in her videos; then came the divorce, and bang, the clip for “Honey” made my point better than I ever could). But man, this piece manages to be insightful about her, her work, and the entire music industry in any number of ways. Highly recommended.

Calling all horror fans

March 31, 2006

Talk about your Must Read Blogging!

This weekend and this weekend only, Matt Zoller Seitz, the Newark Star-Ledger critic who’s been posting a killer series of Sopranos Season Six episode critiques, is hosting a horror-themed debate. His opponent is Christopher Kelly, a Fort Worth Star-Telegram critic who recently wrote a lengthy and impassioned piece praising the current cycle of torture-horror movies as not only politically resonant cultural documents, but brilliantly made films as well. Seitz, it seems, disagrees.

As you might have guessed, this is a debate I’ll be following quite closely; I suggest that if you’re at all interested in this genre, you do the same. Grab some popcorn and enjoy!

Carnival of souls

March 28, 2006

When Clive Barker talks, ADDTF listens. (No kidding.–Ed.) And in this massive interview at Barker fansite Revelations, the author-painter-producer-director-etcetera talks about a great many things: the physicality of his paintings, the status of several of his film and television projects (The Midnight Meat Train has been cast; his installment for season two of Masters of Horror is ready to roll), the page count for his “farewell to Pinhead” novel The Scarlet Gospels (3,000 or so), his current comics projects with publisher IDW, the inspiration he’s drawn from Alan Moore and Dave Sim, and the future of his all-ages fantasy series Abarat, which include a Barker-designed tarot deck and a previously unannounced fifth volume. I’m delighted, needless to say. (Link courtesy of Fearfodder.)

Critic Matt Zoller Seitz has posted his analysis of the third episode in season six of The Sopranos, and it’s as good as I’ve already come to expect.

Over on the blog for Anderson Cooper’s CNN show, there’s a post on Bob Larson, an evangelical exorcist. What made me scratch my head about the story is how quickly the term “snake-oil salesman” sprang to mind; would it have if he were a Catholic clergyman?

Speaking of tough questions, why is there a V for Vendetta novelization?

Finally, I’m having trouble getting this link to work, but the water-monster lover in me simply cannot let this go unlinked: Reports indicate that the giant 6 1/2-foot freshwater turtle of Hoan Kiem Lake in Vietnam, a creature believed to be a legend up until the last decade or so and now believed to be the last of its kind, may have been injured. As this primer on the reptile and the legend surrounding it indicates, this is a bit like finding out the Loch Ness Monster is real, alone, and ill. Best wishes for a speedy recovery, big guy. (Hat tip: Justin Aclin.)

Real-life horror

March 26, 2006

A man wielding a shotgun killed six people at a zombie-themed rave called “Better Off Undead” before killing himself when confronted by police. Seattle authorities say this is the worst mass murder the city has seen in 23 years.

Attendees at the rave were made up to look like zombies. No motive for the killings is known beyond the word “NOW,” which the killer spray-painted three times on the sidewalk and a neighbor’s stoop while walking back to the party from his van, gun in hand.

Carnival of souls

March 25, 2006

The only thing more wonderful than the fact that someone built a nuclear bunker inside the Brooklyn Bridge is that no one seems to know who did it. It’s like “Ozymandias” for the Sputnik set.

It was a good week for news of the real-life creepy: Jason Alexander at Infocult also brings word that a flock of crows is attacking people Birds-style in England.

Speaking of The Birds, we can’t be more than a few months away from an announcement that that film is being remade, can we?

***UPDATE*** It’s already begun! (Link courtesy of Steve from The House of Irony.)

Finally, this Bloody Disgusting post about actor Michael Biehn’s involvement in the Quentin Tarantino/Robert Rodriguez horror project Grind House is the first I’ve read that Rodriguez’ half of the two-for-one film will be a zombie movie. Could be interesting, could be not so much.

Woke up this morning, got yourself a blog

March 21, 2006

(SPOILER WARNING: Since I am incredibly sensitive to anything that could possibly be construed as a spoiler for The Sopranos, I’m going to assume you are too and warn you that you should probably NOT read this post if you haven’t already seen the first two episodes of the show’s new season.)

My bleg for substantive ongoing discussions of The Sopranos has turned up somethin’ good, much to my delight. The great Bill Sherman of Pop Culture Gadabout has directed my attention to the blog of Newark Star-Ledger writer Matt Zoller Seitz, who will be tackling the new season episode by episode. (ANOTHER SPOILER WARNING: Seitz’s post on Episode Two contains a spoiler regarding whether or not we will return to the alternate-Tony “Coma World” in future episodes, so be warned.)

Judging from the first two installments, both the posts themselves and the comment threads appended to them will yield impassioned insights into the series, which is without doubt one of the richest texts in television history, despite tedious reverse-snob claims to the contrary. Seitz makes some points with which I disagree (that the show could have-cum-should have ended after its second season; that the pacing of this season’s debut episode’s climactic sequence was botched) and many others I with which I couldn’t agree more (the distinction without a difference that is the split between dreams and Purgatory; the worth of interpreting art, and of art that requires interpretation).

So by all means, check it out. And while you’re at it, take a look at this exhaustive episode guide for The Sopranos‘ first five seasons, written by Seitz’s Star-Ledger colleague Alan Sepinwall. It’s hand both for logistical purposes and for reminding you of why you love this show so much in the first place.

Carnival of souls

March 19, 2006


From Turkey comes news of five inbred Kurdish siblings who walk on all fours due to a genetic condition which scientists say may replicate the movement patterns of early Man. The subject of a BBC2 documentary that aired this past Friday, the siblings are theorized by some scientists to be a case of “backward evolution.” (Hat tip: the Missus.)

Eve Tushnet has got to be one of the least-frequent comicsbloggers around (I’m also looking at you, Jim Henley), but when she does write about the medium, she writes quite well. Witness her discussion of Brian Bendis and Alex Maleev’s masterfully unsettling horror comic Daredevil: Decalogue, one of the overlooked comics pleasures (hell, treasures) of 2005.

Remake fever: Catch it! It appears that with Asian horror and ’70s indie horror all but exhausted, at least one studio is turning back to the classics. According to Bloody Disgusting, classic horror hotbed Universal has added a remake of The Creature from the Black Lagoon to what I imagine will be a slate of updated versions of its seminal black-and-white monster movies, a slate which already includes the Benicio Del Toro-starring revamp of The Wolf Man I mentioned the other day. Needless to say the success of these remakes is dependent on the budget and talent the studio is willing to commit, and like as not they’re simply an attempt to goose amusement-park revenues a la The Pirates of the Carribean (which I understand is pretty good) or The Haunted Mansion and The Country Bears (which I understand aren’t). Still, I feel like these stories, or perhaps more accurately these creatures, have a great deal of potential that a smart movie could easily tap into for a modern audience. King Kong did an excellent job of showing that there’s life in the “monster run amok” genre, a fact that decades of slashers and Satan and torture and rednecks and haunted appliances and dead girls with long black hair might have obscured.

Finally, in honor of The Sopranos 6.2 tonight, here’s an article by Dan Ackman at Slate about Burton Kaplan, the star stoolpigeon at the trial of “mob cops” Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa. As far as illustrations of the workaday sociopathy of the common gangster go, it’s tough to beat.

Bada Bleg

March 17, 2006

As you might have heard, The Sopranos is back on the air. Unfortunately, Slate does not appear to be conducting one of its engrossing round-table discussions of the show this time around. Since this is my favorite television series, well, ever (possible exception: Python), I’m wondering: Has anyone seen any strong reviews, critiques, discussions, what-have-yous online about this season’s first episode, especially ones that appear like they might be ongoing as the season progresses? Please email me and let me know. Thank you!

The Fog

March 17, 2006

Like some nightmare amalgamation of 28 Days Later and Stephen King’s novella The Mist, Richard Fernandez’s brief, chilling look at a lethal bout of London Fog that killed thousands of Londoners in 1952 is probably just what you need to bring a taste of all-too-real horror to this otherwise lovely St. Patrick’s Day.

Carnival of souls

March 16, 2006

Pete Mesling at Fearfodder brings word that pretty much everyone has already heard, I’m sure: Director Eli Roth (whose movies I haven’t seen, though you wouldn’t know it to hear me go on about them) will be helming the film adaptation of Stephen King’s Cell (a book I haven’t read, thanks in large part to the vagaries of the Nassau County library system. When the website says “check shelves,” I foolishly assumed that meant it’d be there on the shelves!).

Jon Hastings at the Forager has really come back from hiatus with a vengeance lately; among his many film-related posts of late, my favorite is this one on why everything you know about acting is wrong.

Found at Bloody Disgusting: My fellow Troma alumnus James Gunn says he has no interest in writing a sequel to his remake of Dawn of the Dead, which at this point is probably my favorite zombie movie, or at least the one I’m inclined to watch most often.

Finally, I think my “werewolves are the next zombies” prediction has just found its tipping point.

Please help my friend win a ton of Mexican food

March 10, 2006

One of my coworkers has a buddy who’s somehow in the running for being voted the Number One Fan of Qdoba, the Mexican food chain (it’s kinda like Baja Fresh or Chipotle or Moe’s, if you know what those are like). If he wins he and a bunch of people he knows get a lot of free food. So can you go and vote for him here, please?

I guess this is what it feels like to use my powers for good, huh?


A Heidi MacDonald Moment

March 10, 2006

Seen on Wednesday within five minutes of exiting the eastbound Queens Midtown Tunnel:

* 1 Perry Ellis billboard featuring art by Adrian Tomine

* 1 MetLife billboard featuring Snoopy and Woodstock

* 1 V for Vendetta movie billboard

* 3 X-Men: The Last Stand movie billboards

We’re gonna make it after all. Just not sure what “it” is.

That gum you like: back in style?

March 7, 2006

Is Twin Peaks headed back to DVD? Looks like it might be… (Hat tip: Shaggy.) It is happening again.

Carnival of souls

March 4, 2006

First, good news: Two of my favorite bloggers are back! Franklin Harris, formerly of Franklin’s Findings, may now be found at his new blog Graphic Novelties, while Jon Hastings has resurrected his hiatus’d blog The Forager. Franklin’s reliably (and wrongheadedly) anti-altcomix take on the comics industry is almost entirely alien to mine, but I find it an interesting read; moreover, he’s one of the best linkbloggers in the biz. Jon, meanwhile, has some kind things to say about my thoughts on torture and extreme violence in art (which can be found here), a propos of which he teases a possible post on The Sopranos in the future. I’m looking forward to it.

Several goings-on to report on the Texas Chain Saw Massacre front. (Golly, I love horror blogging–only here do you get to write sentences like that.) Bloody Disgusting reports that a new double-disc DVD of the original film is on the way, this time from Dark Sky Films. I own the Pioneer version, and while the filmmaker commentary track (which is apparently going to be transfered here in its entirety) is fascinating, the transfer is a mess: In a misguided attempt to play up the “fairy tale” aspect of the film, various colors were superenhanced–the night scenes are blue, the sunset scenes are red, etc.–almost completely negating the dirty, no-frills snuff-film look that makes the movie so striking. I’m curious to find out how this new version looks.

Next, Stacie Ponder at Final Girl links to a short essay on the film by Doug Brunell at Film Threat, detailing his grade-school obsession with what was a movie he hadn’t even seen. You’re not gonna mistake the piece for something from the New Yorker, and it occasionally embraces ideas about horror that have never made any sense to me (things that could actually happen in real life are scarier than things that couldn’t, frex), but it really captures the gravitational pull that the idea of horror, particularly horror movies with the air of the forbidden, can have on children; it also nails a description of the effects seeing The Scariest Movie You’ve Ever Seen can have. I’ve talked about the former phenomenon here, the latter here, and Texas Chain Saw here, if you’re up for further reading.

On the new blog beat, here’s an interesting idea: Horror Haiku, Nick Braccia’s aptly named collection of horror haikus. Being something of a haiku enthusiast myself (I’ve even dabbled in genre work, as a matter of fact!), this is a site for me, that’s for sure.

Because it wouldn’t be ADDTF without Clive Barker news, Pete Mesling at FearFodder brings word (courtesy of Fangoria, someplace) that Clive Barker is preparing to write the third and final Book of the Art (the previous installments being The Great and Secret Show and Everville). Clive actually told me this during my interview with him a few weeks ago, but like a good little employee I kept it to myself. Publish or perish, Collins!

Finally, the Pentagon is working on cybernetically enhanced stealth sharks. Damn you, Pentagon! Are you mad? Just when we’d finally beaten sharks into submission!