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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Bummerman Candyland

The imagery from Children of Men, last night's movie outing, is still haunting me. Reminiscent of Cuaron's earlier masterpiece, Y Tu Mama Tambien, when the screen pans across a desperate widow or a grieving mother on the side of the road, the camera lingers. You realize that the real story is there in that face. The main actors play out their narrative and take you through a world, but it's the environment in which the plot unfolds that is really the point. And that environment is incredibly immersive. As with the best of cautionary science fiction, Children of Men completely pulls you into its nightmare dystopia.

While Y Tu Mama Tambien was a brilliant parable about Mexico on the brink of a major political crisis, looking to its youth for the next generation of leadership; Children of Men operates as a meditation on the sanctity of human life and how society recklessly disregards that sanctity in the name of politics or personal gain. Cauron's first challenge is to create a plausible future world where the birth of a child could be the most sacred thing imaginable. Without spoiling the nuances of the film for you, I'll say that Cauron succeeds admirably. I was drawn in so completely, that I caught myself completely blown away when that miracle actually happens.

Thus entranced, Cauron next succeeds in getting the audience to identify with Clive Owen's character: An honorable man with a tragic past, who is now comfortably insulated... A man who has lost his faith in ideals... A man that numbs himself to the horrific state of the world with a steady flow of alcohol. This is the character (symbolic of all of us) that needs to be shocked into understanding that life is pointless if you've lost your faith in everything. We need to believe, we need to hope, we need to act toward some kind of goal rooted in principle. We need (as Michael Caine's brilliantly portrayed stoner hippy character points out) praxis. This point is hammered home so forcefully, that I felt a bit staggered afterwards. I felt my own commitment to social justice issues challenged. I felt disgusted by the horrors that lurk just around the corner if our world doesn't pay heed to the warning signs.

Cuaron injects a healthy dose of mystical Catholic imagery into the pic. Scenes that happen in mangers for no apparent reason, a joking reference to virgin birth, sacrifice and betrayal both in biblical proportions. This bothers me slightly because (to some extent) it's the Catholic Church that encourages overpopulation, which leads to the devaluation of human life that the film so effectively rails against. The imagery that sticks, and rings hauntingly true, isn't the Catholic crap though... it's the scenes of refugees. They recall Nazi concentration camps, our own internment of Japanese during WWII, Abu Ghraib, Guantanimo, and how we've already begun signing away our liberty to the forces of fascist fear-mongering.

While I wasn't wild about the musical direction, the film does effectively mine English peacenik folk-rock from the 60's and 70's. And (probably because of their anti-war anthems) the film pays brief (but startlingly obvious) visual homage to the cover of Pink Floyd's Animals album. I suppose if you set the film in England, you have to use English music. At the end of the final credits song, you actually hear the singer say "stop all the killing!" While this is obviously the point of the film, I would have preferred a more subtle approach.

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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Pre Holiday Fun

Olaiya and I hosted our first large-scale movie night at the newly-designed crib. We had five guests over, plus the two of us, for seven total (plus Lulu the Cat.) It was surprisingly accommodating (and I'm now reasonably sure than none of those five guests suffer from claustrophobia.)

O served up some fine grub, including her now famous bleu cheese and grannysmith grilled sandwiches. There were peach mimosas and apple lambic. There was good cheer.

And then, Bummerman showed up.

The evening's screening was Hustle and Flow, and I'm here to tell you, it's crap. Pure, unredeemed suckitude. Well, Terrence Howard nails a Memphis accent, and the movie gets verisimilitude points for making everyone gross and sweaty throughout the Tennessee Summer. But other than that, it sucks. The most disappointing part of the film is that Howard's character, a down-and-out pimp looking to change his fortune by learning to record his musical impulses, has nothing interesting to say. Is Southern rap a great thing... yes. Cee-Lo Green is a soul machine. Outkast are ridiculously talented and interesting. Ludakris is a crossover hit as an actor. Clearly there is something behind the phenomenon of the "dutty south." But Hustle and Flow completely misses it.

This film purports to honor the African American tradition of the blues, but actually just celebrates composing parking lot anthems in order to strike it rich. The music and the meaning behind all of it is just pathetic. Adding to the sleazy feeling is the completely whitewashed misogyny. Just because Howard doesn't actually physically beat any of his hos is no reason to canonize him. But that's how the film feels... like we should give him a pass on being a pimp because he's such a good guy down deep... which is kind of like saying we should give the movie a pass on being insipid because it's about the souls of (poor southern) black folk. Bummerman says, "NO FREE PASSES." Your movie blows, John Singleton. And as for the Oscars, Dolly Parton still got robbed.

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

I Miss My Mommy...

Because she's the only person I know who would watch this trailer and be as excited about it as I am. Because she's unphased by fantasy violence... she's the kind of sick mind that liked Once Upon a Time in Mexico and Sin City even more than I did. And because this looks like a fantasy artist's wetdream. I hope they turn every Frank Miller comic ever written into a movie.


Sunday, December 17, 2006

Pirate Lore

So I was looking at some Installation Notes that come included with just about every game that one might download these days from the Internets. Typically, these notes say something like: "Thanks for keeping the scene real people. A big shout out to my hackerz at Procyon! No matter what the corporate douches do, we'll always be one step ahead. Power to the people!" Since I love reading messages like that, I make sure always to read the release notes. The last one I downloaded, however, had a slightly different message built in. I submit it, unedited, to the Stave It Off audience for educational purposes only.

hi fags!
Ok lemme guess, already done playing Barnyard? Who isn't,what a pile of shit! But here is the game you all been waiting for!! (not)
by Ok, fucking awesome game, it's a so called First-Person Action RPG!No, not an 'RPG' like the ones who they use at war, those are cool.'RPG' games are for people with NO LIFE AT ALL. Like WOW, that'ssome RPG for lowlife nerds who are spending days (orly, yrly!) onmaking a character grow in its world. So this is basicly the sameshit, but then offline, yay!
This game features 'quests' where nerds can discover new thingswhich also excist in real life, such as a vagina, orgasms, andother lowlifes inside the game.
Nerd behind the computer says:'OMG WTF!!!)@)! is a VAGINA? ORGASM? LOWLIFES?'
Little lesson for our friendly nerd behind the computer:Ok here it is, you ARE a lowlife, DONT have a vagina, and yoursort of people's word for an ORASM is 'monsterkill'. Yes, that'sright, a monsterkill will be the most close-to-real-sexual-orgasm-experiencethe avarage game nerd will ever get.
So back to the game, you'll develop a character in single player, and upgrade skills, like 'fighting' skills! HOWEVER! PLEASE DO NOT TRY THESE FIGHTING SKILLS IN REAL LIFE SINCE POOR GAMER NERDS _WILL_ LOSE EVERY FIGHT THEY GET IN TO!
Ok when you totally 'pwned' the single player of this game, it'stime for a more sexual experience, ONLINE MODE. Now you canenjoy this game in an oral way using teamspeak while 'monsterkilling'one another. Example of what you will hear on teamspeak:
Few minuts later... the pro-gamer is crying behind his teamspeak
Ok, now you know what an orgasm looks like for normal people.Normal people most often get orgasms of fucking someone else of the different sex. However, gamer-nerds will never get such experience. You know what you are...
---------------------------------------------------------------------Don't wanna get your entire monitor covered in shit, or be calleda lowlife or gamenerd? Simple solution: stop playing games, and sure as hell DONT leech this game, it's dangerous. You'll never get laid (again) if you leech it.

+----------- - - - - ---+ ----- [ Always remember .:::::::: ] ----- +--- - - - - -----------+We are the result of your laws. We are the result of your democracy. We are the result of your corruption.


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Projects Re-energized

So last weekend I downloaded some sweet freeware that allowed me to rip an editable wav audio track right out of a downloaded movie. I didn't realize how easy this was, or how useful, until now.

I've extracted the whole audio track from a Justice League cartoon... the same cartoon that I painstakingly transcribed a script for, and rerecorded all the spoken lines for (using voices of various friends that volunteered to look silly.) The biggest problem I had, after recording the lines, was figuring out how to synch them all up perfectly, and then how to remaster the cartoon with the new audio track. By using the original soundtrack as a reference in my multitrack audio recording suite, I believe I can now do that easily! Which means I might have a watchable Justice League cartoon (with characters now voiced by Stave It Off diehards Diane, Mel, Alex, Clay, etc.) in time for the next movie night. We'll see. The hardest part will be redoing the ambient music and sound effects (unless I opt to forego them or try to salvage them from the original soundtrack.)


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Composition 101

I'm a big fan of acoustic guitar composition. The current Audio Snack is a slice of excellence in the tradition of Gastr del Sol (and Jim O'Rourke's subsequent solo work) and Bill Frisell. Idyll Swords combine frenetic bluegrass and middle-eastern fingerpicking with folksy slides and a marriage of jazz and neoclassical sensibilities. When I listen to their track Steep Creek, I try to separate the two guitars in my ears and see how they compliment each other. A more accomplished musician would probably find it less compelling, but I sit in complete awe as I try to imagine composing such a track. There are times when one of the guitars is playing a simple background chord progression, but other times when both guitars seem to soar upwards in an increasingly complex double helix of complimentary melody. It's almost religious.



Olaiya and her buddy, Sarah from Wichita, have been busy rolling around on the floor laughing each time I say something like this with a straight face: "Honey, the goblin turned purple because I cast a Soul Trap spell on him, allowing me to trap his immortal soul into a soul gem, which I can later use to power my various magical staves and swords... you see each time I swing this enchanted Elfin Sword of Heavenly Fire, it uses up a certain amount of mana charge, and I have to replenish it with the trapped souls of various beasts and monsters."

But no more will I utter such phrases, because I have finally kicked Oblivion's ass. Mankor Camaron and his evil pagan god-master Mehrunes Dagon (who sought to cleanse our earthly realm with extradimensional fire-demons) have been pwned. I immediately uninstalled the game. I ceremoniously burned all my game notes and can now celebrate my intoxicating emancipation. Niggling questions: will I ever regret not finishing all the side quests? Will I regret never figuring out what kind of anagrams I can make with those ridiculous names? Will I now have time to begin, and finish, a worthwhile (blog-documented) project?

The first domino has fallen... now I just have to set up a bunch more dominos so something cool will happen.


Thursday, December 07, 2006

Blog Insecurity

Last Plane to Jakarta is halfway through publishing 30 poems about his favorite Black Metal Band (all of which are better than anything I've ever written.) Defective Yeti is serializing his progress as he finally wades through all 500+ pages of Moby Dick. And Tormented By Demons recently implied that I never finish anything, other than an occasional critique.

The blogosphere is collectively telling me that I must embark on some meaningful project!

But, lacking inspiration right now, WTF shall I do? Lately I've been squandering my time maniacally scrambling to finish a videogame that I started a month ago. I can't believe I haven't beaten the damn thing so that I can delete it and never think about it again... It's just so colossally huge, and breathtakingly realized. Stupid Oblivion game... Thinks it's so tough... I'm going to kick its ass, and then I'll go start some mindbogglingly ambitious, blog-documented project that'll blow everyone's socks off. Yeah, that's exactly what I'll do.

I'm just not sure what it'll be yet. One possible wisp of inspiration: my mum and da just sent me another surprisingly generous present... a digital video camera! Now I just have to figure out how to use it, get a firewire port for my computer, and learn how to import, edit, record sound over, and export my home movie as an .avi or .mpeg, and then learn how to post on YouTube! Simple as pie.

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Apartment Virtual Tour

Prompted by Ned's request for photo representation of the apartment remodel, here's the sweet new digs:

Walk through the bottleneck entryway and you'll encounter the new lounge-tastic sleeping apparatus. Note how the artwork above is now actually framed! (And why yes, that is a Joe Wartes original! How kind of you to ask.)

Bed occasionally comes with built-in Olaiya feature.

Scanning to your left, see the spacious and airy dining nook. The chairs stack on the table top in case the kitchen overflows with molten lava! And see how the mischievous Patrick Avery original painting, "Hamlet" looks upon the room? Haunting!

Can you find the Hippo in this picture?

And finally, a bit further to your left... Olaiya's decadently designed study. Observe how the modern storage solutions (also called shelves) are relegated to the periphery of the room to maximize usable floor space! Genius! And I do believe you can see the bottom of the Cher Martin original painting, cleverly chosen to tie the various shades of wood in the room together.

You're damn right that new chair is comfy!


Monday, December 04, 2006

Misogyny Double Standard

As a devout fan of hiphop music, I have made allowances for what kinds of lyrics offend me. I can listen to Kool Keith's song BukBuk or Ghost Face Killah's Shakey Dog (which both engage in animated gangsta violence storytelling) and I write it off as satire and/or social commentary. I can listen to Cypress Hill deify cannabus, or Snoop Dogg discuss how women should not take it personally when he uses them like prostitutes. At this point in my life, none of that stuff really bothers me. And maybe, like watching violent James Bond movies, I actually enjoy it as a form of escape.

But the two tracks on the listening station right now give me pause. I like both songs aesthetically very much. However, both Southland's Shining Sun and Smart Went Crazy's I Liked You Better use the word "whore" in reference to a woman that has pissed off the songwriter. I don't know why (maybe because these songwriters seem like middle-class white guys that I relate to) but this actually bothers me. Neither song advocates violence, but they both casually use the term "whore". I think it's actually the way the term is just tossed in that bothers me the most. Maybe if the song was an over-the-top diatribe about a woman's profligate ways, it would be better. I don't know. For the three of you readers who actually listen to music, what do you think?

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