Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sunn O))) Monoliths & Dimensions

A new Sunn O))) album always seems to be cause for celebration and on their 7th full-length they won't disappoint hardcore fans and it will no doubt open the doors to some new fans. The usual stripped down bass and guitar rumblings are mixed with other interesting combinations.

The first track ‘Aghartha’ starts off much like any other Sunn O))) album, with nice drones and rumbles, but soon we have some string section overtones creeping in with some haunting spoken word from Atilla Csihar, who sounds strangely reminiscent of the emporer in Return of the Jedi. Soon, the horns and brass build to a satisfying climax, then we go to the second track. Unfortunately the first track is the only one i seem to go back to for repated listens.

‘Big Church’,starts with some pretty predictable cheesy choir, juxtaposed with speaking-in-tongues babble and a tolling bell , but it doesn't seem to be convincing enough for these ears. The choir part could've been so much more damaging if they had worked it out more. They should've listened to some Ligeti for inspiration on that.

Track 3, ’Hunting And Gathering’ grinds away with some classic Sunn O))) primitive riffage mixed with horns and brass arrangements which remind me of Celtic Frost a bit. But again, it doesn't quite do it for me.

Eyvind Kang is the guest arranger on Track 4 ’Alice’, and even though I love Kang as a performer, arranger and composer, this track again falls short of my expectations.

Maybe I was expecting too much because of all the hype surrounding this album, but me thinks they missed the mark on this one.

Personally i enjoyed the Pentemple album that came out a few years ago better than this. How far they can take their drone/doom stylings will be something we'll just have to wait and see about. I think they should add a permanent drummer and perhaps vocalist and make an actual band. Maybe a new version of the band could add the other dimension they need.

Vancouver: The Cultural Vaccuum Pt. 1

Vancouver. I've been back here 1 year now. Canada's most expensive city right now. Why? The fucking Olympics. You know what? Screw the Olympics. Anybody who goes and supports this shit should be shot dead. I can walk down few major streets without running into construction zones, some stupid construction worker telling me I have to cross somewhere else. I'm getting fed up with it. Granville Street looks like a war zone and it has for the last few years, Cambie as well. I want to crush the Olympics and if enough people thought the same way, we may just have something. I seriously hope there's a fucking riot or the games get invaded by a vicious army of Michael Jacksons. My advice is do whatever you can to fuck shit up during the Olympics. They must be stopped. Half the reason out economy sucks is because of it.

I still work at a Yacht Club. And I actually enjoy it. It's summer, I'm keeping a great tan, using my muscles everyday, get off at 3:30 every day, no overtime. I got no complaints. I ask myself daily whether or not I should get back into a design job full-time, working in some box, generating useless ideas for clients with narrow self serving objectives. I think maybe no. I look at the jobs people post on craigslist and it is a complete fucking joke. The design scene out here is at an all-time low, companies are looking for people to do websites and logos in exchange for cases of beer, if you DO find a full-time position, they only want to pay you 12 to 15 dollars and hour and have you do secretarial duties on top of your other stuff. These people and companies are scum and they should be ashamed of themselves for making such a mockery of a highly trained profession. YES. We actually have to go to school for this shit. What I've figured out in the last year is that anyone with any ounce of talent here will simply not make it out here. The odds are against creativity and all for being a sedate little follower. Originality, uniqueness, individuality are bullshit words that are thrown around a lot but I don't see much of it going around. I haven't seen a decent piece of creative come out of this city since I came back. There's some cool stuff being generated by some of the smaller 2 to 3 person shops, but they're probably just scraping by. It's a shame that Vancouver is so goddamn conservative. There is a lot of talent here, but it has little hope of going anywhere. So I think I'm better off working at a Yacht Club for 15 dollars an hour. No stress, no mess.

Something else I need to address is how bad and rude drivers and cyclists are here in Vancouver. First off, in my opinion, all cab drivers should be blown up. They are all assholes who deserve slow death. I'll just give you a few examples of situations I've been in.
a) I'm walking across the street, the light is green, cabby tries to get by, honks his horn and tells me to fuck off, even though I have the right of way
b) Cab drivers coming out of an alley or blind spots without looking both ways, going over the speed limit, almost scaring the shit out of you, and, killing you.
c) Cab drivers soliciting their services at bus stops. Yes, this has actually happened to me. I'm waiting for the B-Libe Bus, Indian cabby drives up and opens his door, looks at me and says "Are you getting in or not?" When I told him "No, I'm waiting for the bus", he tells me to FUCK OFF and drives off, tires screeching. Indian cab drivers think they own the show out here it seems. Well, fuck you.

Drivers in general are assholes, including most cyclists. They always cut you off, they yell insults at you like it's your fault, they screech their tires when they take off if they don't make the turn before you cross the street, etc etc. FUCK YOU. If you can't wait 10 seconds for people to cross, then tough tit, you shit.

Service in Vancouver? You rarely get a smile. You rarely get service at all. What you do get is shit, arguments, you-are-the-gulity-party-not-me looks. I sure do miss Japan that way. Nobody ever fucks with a customer over there. If they do, they usually get canned. Here, it's the norm.

I'll write some more rants about Vancouver as they come to me, but this is it for now.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

BOREDOMS - Super Roots 10

You might as well say that the Boredoms are a full-blown techno group now with real drummers. There seems to be 2 Boredoms, pre-Super Ar and post-Super Ar. This shit has obviously gone on long enough. When are the Boredoms going to put out a real album of substance and not this techno shit.This is not even interesting techno, it's like something you'd hear on a real cheap techno complilation that you'd find in a bargain bin at Zellers. It's just that bad. There is only 1 track and then 4 shitty remixes of the same track that aren't much more interesting than the original. This is a mess. Save your money. This is apparently sold out in Japan already after a week. Kind of cool cover artwork, looks like EYE is learning how to fuck with Illustrator a bit. I haven't seen the package but it's apprently one of them nice cardboard LP type sleeves. I have to listen to WOW 2 about 10 times just to erase the memory of this.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

How to ride the bus for free in Vancouver

BC Transit. Everybody complains about the shitty service, the high fares and the drivers who can't drive to save their life. The top executives give themselves raises and they're making like 200,000 bucks a year, yet they fucking strike every few years. Why should we have to pay $2.50 for a one fucking zone? Just a ride downtown is all I want. Should be free goddamn it. It was $1.50 for a one zone before, and that was still high. The Skytrain is great, there just isn't enough of them. Translink sucks moose cock.

So the solution is easy. Just don't pay. Here's how. The machines on the bus are still not made to accept bills. So just tell them you don't have any change or not the correct change. Just get on the bus like you're some confused tourist and have a 5 or 10 dollar bill ready to put in the machine. The say "Do these things take bills?" with a dumbass look on your face. They cannot turn you down if you have money. I've done this a million times and they never once rejected me.

Here's another thing that I do. During busy times, like rush hour, I just enter through one of the back doors after people get off. They never say anything. I got this idea from watching other people do it. Many people. It's difficult to do this if you're the only one being picked up or there's no one getting off. Like I said, the time to do this is in the morning or around 5 or 6 in the evening. It's especially easy to do this on the longer buses, like the B-Line Buses.

And as you know, it's easy to get on the Skytrain without paying. You just have to check as well as you can to make sure there are none of them pesky Skytrain officers waiting for you at the top. Those guys act all tough and shit like they're the police or something, but they actually have no authority, so if they ask you for ID, just tell them you don't have it. They cannot force you to show it to them.

Fuck paying for the bus. Ride for free baby. Yeah.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Bums N' Hosers: Chinese Food Democracy

I know this album has already been reviewed by a million people already, but I'll add my 2 cents worth anyway. How fuckin' long have fans been waiting for this? How long has Axl Rose pissed around with recording, producing, mixing tweaking, etc? Too long. For an album that is so anticipated and steeped in controversy, why isn't it selling more copies? I think people just got fed up. And when you listen to it, it doesn't sound like anything special. But it IS good. I am actually pleasantly surprised. It's not Appetite For Destruction, Lies, Use Your Illusion, or even Spaghetti Incident. And that's a good thing.

It's quite a mess and that's not necessarily a bad thing. But in my opinion, the G n' R name should not be attached to this, because it's not a band. It's Axl Rose w/ a ton of guests.

There's a few great songs, a few good songs, and a few not so great songs. That's it. Axl's voice still sounds great. Buckethead's on it, and he shreds. My only real complaint is the cover, which is easily the worst cover of the year, if not the decade. Why? Just.... why did he use it? Anyway, it's not an album you need to buy and I think many people are just downloading it anyway, so screw Best Buy. I guess that's why it hasn't been selling as many copies as originally anticipated. Long live G n' R!!! Welcome to the motherf##kin' jungle. Yuk Yuk Yuk.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Beer, Emptiness, Despair

Yeah, I haven't posted anything of substance in awhile. I've been busy keeping my new Blog, THE SHRUNKEN HEAD REPAIR CLINIC™ going at a good pace. Getting some good feedback from it, just have to spend a bit of time trying to get it out there for public worldwide consumption.

I've had nothing much to write about anyway. My life stinks right now, but it could always be much worse, so I shouldn't complain, but I'm going to anyway.

I've been in Vancouver for the last 5 months and still no job, despite plugging away every day, looking at job sites, sending numerous emails, and hounding people on the phone. It's been a long arduous road and not much to show for it other than a few jobs here and there. Doesn't help that sites like shitlist...er, I mean, craigslit, get all these bogus fucking posts from cheap cocksuckers looking for free work or next to nothing pay. A typical ad will be looking for a marketing saavy print and web graphic designer/art director / receptionist / coffee maker who can also do bookwork and spreadsheets in Microcock Excel. For 10 bucks an hour. I just got offered a job doing general clean-up and outside work at Stanley Park for 15 bucks an hour. No stress, good clean air, no ass sniffing invloved.

I swear to shit it must be something in the air out here in Vancouver. People just have their head up their ass most of the time, they're afraid to challenge anything or try anything new. Or even go out. People just do their dumb jobs, and come back home and play wii and watch the tube.

People are worse here than before. Nobody seems to have any get-up-and-go. You have to call people about 60 times before they even acknowledge your existence, especially when it comes to work. Designers out here seem to think they're shit doesn't stink. Why so much attitude and ego in this business? I'll never figure it out. As one of my friends put it, it's a big cultural vacuum here. People are not interested in much but their own boring life. There's more excitement going on in Halifax culturally. At least people are doing things. Here there's a handful of well-rounded creative people, but they are largely ignored. (looooooooong sigh...)

I think I may open a cold beer and wine store. In this so-called economic crisis, you know people are going to be drinking their misery away, so there's sure to be profits there, even if we went into a depression. So maybe I'll just research about how to open up one of 'em. Drink and forget, that's what I say. Fuck the economy.

One good thing is that the wife and I are moving to a much better place with a landlord who has something that's pretty rare these days: human compassion. The cocksucker we're renting from now is pure evil, a typical lazy Chinese landlord who does the bare minimum and charges and arm and a leg. We've written 5 letters in the last 5 months asking that shit be repaired, and very little of it has been done. So we demanded a rent decrease and flat-out refused, so we told him we're leaving. Simple. I know our situation is no the worst of its' kind, but it's pretty bad. Why do landlords have more rights than renters in BC? Why don't more people question these things? I'm trying to get the city inspector over here and try and get this prick in trouble but they haven't even called me back. Anyway, his name is Raymond Hung, his father's name is Henry Hung and his whole family SHOULD be hung up by their genitals. Anyone renting in the Vancouver area reading this should stay well away from this family and their fucking apartments. Mine is 2754 West 4th Avenue, stay away. They own other buildings, but I don't know where. You've been warned.

People are just useless here and it's fucking tiring. Maybe I was in Japan for too long and got used to good service and a friendly smile. Maybe I'm just over exaggerating, but people here just do not give a damn. You're lucky if you even get the right order when you go to a restaurant, let alone that nice smile.

Wake up from your eternal sleep, Vancouver. It's time to stop smoking pot and get in gear.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

The Shrunken Head Repair Clinic

Yes, that's right, I have a new blog and it's titled "The Shrunken Head Repair Clinic" and it's just what the doctor ordered, so go fuckin' visit it or I'll make sure you die a 1,000,000,000 deaths. The address is: here

Saturday, October 18, 2008

New VICE

I love this magazine. It used to suck but it's getting better and better all the time. They're actually using people who can write real articles nowadays as opposed to before, where they would have the odd good article with some funny shit like the Do' & Don'ts thrown in for good measure, but now they're kicking ass.

The new issue contains a whole shitload of interviews with random fucked up people like two coke dealers, an ex-heroin kingpin, 2 mexican squeegee punks, a guy who follows hobs and writes about them, a puppet master, a schizo, a chaos magician, a psychic spy, a lasy who made a documentary about vaginoplasty, a lady urologist, a sperm donor with 46 kids, a test-tube baby guy, Eric Wood from Man is the Bastard/Bastard Noise, a black metal band, a swedish jazz singer who sings weird, Italian hippies that talk to plants, an Orthodox R&B Jew Singer, one of the guys from Monty Python, and 3 couples who were interviewed right after they just had sex. Great issue!

The printing is also getting better, they're using some nice uncoated stock for the inside pages now, which is nice, nice smell too! Can't believe this magazine is still free. I remember picking this magazine up in Halifax in its' humble beginnings when it was still in newspaper format. It sucked balls then, even though it covered some cool underground shit that needed coverage. Now VICE is one of the most interesting, varied and readable magazines on the planet. My only complaint is still the dumb waste of space comics and the shitty album reviews which are not really even reviews. Review some real albums for fuck sake instead of fucking shitty garage bands who no one cares about but hippie VICE readers who smoke too much crack.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

CARCASS: Reek of Putrefaction (re-issue)

So many imitators, but everyone knows the real thing. This is the album that spawned an enitire genre (GORE GRIND) not to mention being one of the the seminal grindcore albums on the Earache Label from British grindcore/death metal legends CARCASS. This has been reissued and is available again in Europe. This WAS reissued by Earache a few years back with an unacceptably bad reproduction of the original cover. Hopefully they will get it right this time. The cover itself is pretty gruesome and it shocked the world at the time and was subsequently banned for future Earache issues of this except Japan's Toy's Factory, who issued the album with complete original artwork in proper format and amazing quality. (Bless the Japanese) I remember seeing the cover of Symphonies of Sickness for the first time and being utterly amazed at how fucked up it was, I'd stare at it in detail for longer than normal lengths of time. If you can get past the sickness, it's actually a very well put together collage, courtesy of Gruesome Graphics. Didn't they win the Olympic bid?

The other funny-as-shit thing is the lyrics. The rumor at the time was that all these dudes were medical students so they lifted a lot of the difficult words out of textbooks.

Available once again after many years out of print, Reek Of Putrefaction is the fourth of the five CARCASS albums to be reissued and is out now as a limited-edition DualDisc (combined CD and DVD) housed in a deluxe digipak with extra artwork. It includes 13 unreleased bonus tracks from the Flesh Ripping Sonic Torment demo, along with part 1 of a mini-documentary series entitled “The Pathologist’s Report” as bonus video material, all specially packaged in a white medical bag which conceals the shocking original cover art. I still don't know why they have to separate the whole documentary into 5 parts, it would've been nice to have it all on one disc. Anyone who doesn't want to buy the shitty Swan Song album will just get that part of the documentary from a torrent download, boys. So stop being so fuckin' stingy.

Anyway, the documentary consists of interviews, filmed in London and Liverpool at the end of 2007, featuring the members of CARCASS exploring their humble beginnings and lifting the lid on the controversy that brought the band to a wider audience.

Carcass has been touring recently too if you're interested. They came to Vancouver, but I skipped out, I was broke for one, and I'm not really interested in "reunion" tours.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Reading, Writing, my Childhood and Metal Up Your Ass

Not sure why, but I was never much of a reader until just a few years ago. I remember a time when I was growing up, say from 6 until maybe 10 that I read some books, but not a lot other than Hardy Boys books, which I remember being great little adventure escapes. The other shit that I fed my mind was mostly comic books. In the early years, it was Archie, Jughead, Richie Rich and Disney to keep me going, and stuff that I would just take from my uncle's shelf at my grandmother's house, stuff that was long forgotten I would imagine, like Treasure Island, Huck Finn and again, a lot of bang bang western shoot-em-up comic digests that were popular during that era.

Then I remember that after I turned about 12 or 13, I started getting into Stephen King and Clive Barker, and a few other notable horror writers. Read almost everything by Stephen King right up until Dark Half. My brother was always reading a hell of a lot more than me, mostly travel shit, National Geographics, Hardy Boys, and James A Michener, never could figure out why he liked Michener. Don't get me wrong, Michener's stuff is definitely well-researched, but he ain't much of a writer. He's just plain boring. He just never did it for me, I'd rather read Penthouse letters anyday.

Comics and magazines were the other things when I was growing up. My old man gave me a buck for my allowance from about 6 until 8 or 9, I can't remember exactly. So every fuckin' Saturday morning, just as my dad was still in a Friday night after work "fuck-this-work-week" half-alcoholic mid-dream haze at about 7 in the morning, I'd be prying 'is fuckin' eyelids open tryin' to get my buck, so I could go blow it on candy and comics. I'd repeat "Dad." 20 seconds or so, he wouldn't respond at all, then a second "DAD", a little louder, then he'd rouse a bit and by about the 4th or 5th time he'd be pissed that I woke him up and mutter something like "Holy Jeeeezus, Mitch, it's fuckin' 7 in the mornin', fuckin' stores aren't even open yet. Didn't matter, just wanted my damn dollar. When my dad finally fumbled outta bed and gave me my dollar bill, I'd be happy as a wedding cock.

After a few years, my weekly allowance got raised to 2 bucks and eventually I stopped prying his eyes open at 7 in the morning and just waited until he sat down with his coffee around 8:00 am, then it got raised to 5, then maybe 10 for a bit, then I started getting too old to get free money from the old man. I had to start going around town askin' people if I could mow their lawns or do odd jobs.

I started getting into metal when I was about 13. This kid down the street bought Motley Crue "Shout At The Devil" and I had to have it too, because it was the heaviest thing I'd heard up to that point. I had a few metal albums around like Twisted Sister and a few other things, but I remember this being the first metal album I listened to on a daily basis. Before that, I'd only had an LP collection of about 20 albums, including Loverboy, Cheap Trick, CCR, Dr. Hook, Alice Cooper, J. Geils Band and some other shit.

Crue was the whole start of the rebellion thing for me, not just the loud obnoxious music, but the attitude and the image of these cats. And that's about the time I just lost interest in reading anything, except for horror comics and metal publications. My grandfather had been working on renovating one of the local grocery stores, so he carted a few magazine racks, a candy rack and a bunch of other crap home. Anyway, I talked him into giving me the magazine rack which i used to proudly display my metal magazine collection, as well as my beaten up issues of MAD, CRACKED, CARToons, FANGORIA, etc. Had pictures of glam rockers, album jackets and gore soaked scenes from splatter films all over my walls, so many that my mother wouldn't dare enter my lair.

So from about 14 to 20, my high school days and college days basically, I hardly read any books at all. Only comics and magazines, the odd horror or sci-fi novel thrown in from time to time. I'd always felt like reading a chore. How I missed out on all those years. So much of the stuff I've read in the last few years has blown my mind and I still don't know how it could've been, that i hadn't taken an avid interest in reading until just awhile back. But I do understand a bit now. Maybe my generation was a sort of pre-hipster culture, or maybe it was where I came from. I mean, fuck. Nobody under 20 reads books anymore. How many do you know? Kids are just not interested in creating anymore, they're just into technology and gadgets and recycling culture. They are not creating anything new. They're just busy getting fucked up on the latest designer drugs, engrossed in TV, video games and crappy pop music.

Anyway, the last few years i've been reading all I can get my hands on, finally discovering all the classics, old and new. I'm not sure what the spark was. I just remember being in a bookstore on day thinking I wanna start reading something again, so I picked up a few non-fiction books, one was Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser and the other Culture Jam by Kalle Lasn of ADBUSTERS fame. They both took me about a month to read. Bu then I suddenly felt hungry for more, so I started Googling the fuck out of writers like Charles Bukowski, Thomas Pynchon, and Roddy Doyle, went and picked up some of their books, devoured them and continued my search. Then I got into some Sci-Fi stuff like Philip K. Dick and Iain Banks that a friend sent me, more Pynchon, Nicholson Baker, some science / physics stuff like the works of Richard Dawkins, Darwin and Stephen Hawkings. I was feeling so good about reading shit again, it was like I had discovered this whole new world that had been out there, but was just too lazy or uninterested to dig deeply into it.

This past year or so has seen me getting heavily into the classics. I managed to read Tolstoy's WAR & PEACE in a month, I want to read more of his, especially the epic classic ANNA KARENINA. I've read books by Somerset Maugham, D.H. Lawrence, Alexander Dumas, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Harumi Murakami, Mordecai Richler, Wayson Choy, Knut Hamsun, Cormac McCarthy, Michel Houlleberg, Voltaire, Henry Miller, etc etc. But it's not enough. I'm craving more. I seem to be a book junkie now where as 5 years ago, I hardly set foot in a bookstore, only when I did, to look at design books or titty books.

So all you young fuckers out there who think reading is a waste of time, think again. Feed your mind good stuff, not a diet of hip hop culture and FRIENDS. It'll do you good.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A lovely banner

I just need to put this on MySpace, so I'm using my blog to host it, no other reason why it's here.

Klipsch 4.1 ProMedia Speakers

Now that I bought a speaker splitter the other day and I have the whole system set up, It's about time I got around to reviewing these speakers.

I used to have a pair of Bose 301 shelf speakers hooked up to a NAD amp and I had a ROTEL CD deck, pretty simple setup, nothing extravagent, bu it did the job. I have to say that these cocksuckers blow those Bose speakers right out of the water. I only had 2 of them hooked up for the last few months, then i just got a splitter for my laptop so i could hook up the other two, and the 2 extra speakers make a big difference. I just have them set up on my coffee table at the moment with the subwoofer on the floor, but they sound great. (I don't have a PC desk yet)

This is one of the first desktop speakers to receive Lucasfilm's THX certification with the ProMedia's output rivaling that of a THX theater sound system. Even thought these are not new anymore and there is now a 5.1 system that probably make these look inferior, these little fuckers put out a staggering 400-watt amplifier, monster subwoofer, and lease-breaking volume levels that will leave you floored. I was anyway. For computer speakers, these are the shit. And I got them for 100 bucks used on craigslist. How lucky is that?

These speakers generate a very clear but thunderous low end that extends effortlessly into the lowest registers. It's rarely boomy, and it clearly reproduced challenging bass details like tympani reverberations. To test that, I listened to John Zorn's "Redbird" and it sounded magnificent. Sound like mallets on skins, rather than the undefined, dull thuds produced by most bottom-heavy speakers.

Even thought the lows and the highs are very flashy, the midrange remains very prominent. The 4.1 generates enough headbanging output that will satisfy hardcore gamers, metalheads and knock the socks off the most anal desktop-theater enthusiasts. Too bad these are discontinued (i think). But you can still get the 5.1 system (I think). These are well worth it if you listen to a lot of music, play a lot of games or watch a lot movies on your desktop computer.

Today is a SPECIAL day!!!!

Today is September 11th. And you now what that means? It's the day Bush conspired to have a couple "hijacked" places crash into the World Trade Centre in NY.

Now that the evidence is gone, witnesses are silenced, and a real thorough independent investigation never happened, it's hard to bring the real criminals to justice. We've been fooled over for so long, no one is willing to accept the real truth about what happened.

You can find tons of links out there debunking the myths surrounding 9/11, so I'm not going to write anymore. You read on and decide.

Watch the 2nd and 3rd part of this movie, ZETGEIST. Actually, watch the whole movie.

http://mindprod.com/politics/bush911insidejob.html
http://www.wanttoknow.info/050908insidejob911
http://www.prisonplanet.com/articles/september2006/070906insidejob.htm
http://www.voxfux.com/archives/00000076.htm
http://www.communitycurrency.org/robin.html

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

BORAT: Touristic Guidings to Minor Nation of U.S. and A. and Touristic Guidings to Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan

Damn. If you think the BORAT film was sick and perverted, then get this book. The movie is pale in comparison. There is something here to offend just about everyone whether it's the barely censored close-up cock shots, intentionally horrible design and printing job or the blatant anti-semitism that's scattered throughout.

Incest, rape, gay rape, prostitution, statues with boners, fingering goats "anoos" (as BORAT puts it), bestiality, stalking women, extremely ugly women spreading their legs, it's all here. Bad taste at it's baddest. A book to share with the whole family this is NOT. If the contents of this book were to have made it into the film, it would've been banned in every country. I'm actually surprised this made it into normal bookstores. This is not just an extension of the movie, this goes far beyond it. I think because of the enormous success of the movie, Sacha Baron Cohen can get away with whatever, and he did.

I don't think the general public is ready for just how wrong and depraved this book is. I love it personally. I don't think I have laughed so hard in years. There is just so much perfection of filth in this book, it's hard to put down. As you turn the pages, you think to yourself it can't get any worse, but it does.

Fans of the movie will want to pick this book up fore sure, but even if you didn't like the film, you might like this. It's 10 times better than the film in my opinion.

SNEEZE Magazine

I just stumbled across this new magazine called Sneeze Magazine. It's a large 22 x 16 format, loose newspaper style skate magazine with interesting photography meant to be taken apart and hung up on your walls. SNEEZE provides news and stories on skateboarding, art, music and culture.

The primary distribution method is via the old style newspaper boxes so it’s available 24/7 to anybody looking for it. The magazine is also distributed in select shops around Asia and North America. The concept is really fresh and I hope it will take off. The goal is to create a destination for the reader by having one box per city in a select location — like a flagship store. And it’s only two bucks.

You can find the Vancouver box at the corner of Water & Abbot Street in Gastown. New York City’s got theirs at Lafayette & Prince Street. Los Angeles location is coming soon.

I have always had a soft spot for large oversize publications, and this is no exception. I remember a very unique oversized fashion / culture magazine called FAD that is no longer published, to my knowledge anyway. I wish it still was.

Go pick up a copy of this and check 'em out online at Sneezemag.com

Indiana Jones 4: Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

The new Indy Jones was quite the ride. Harrison Ford still has it in him, the 'ol fucker. I don't know if it was intentional, Lucas & Spielberg throwing in all the "old man" jokes throughout the film, but I assume it was. Karen Allen is back playing Marion from the first film. Shia LaBeouf plays Indy's son in this movie. Son? Oops, I just spoiled that for you.

The only thing that I didn't like about the film were some of the "cute" C.G. moments like the groundhogs and the monkey scene. I'm sure these scenes were the brainchild of Mr. George "fuckhead" Lucas, who we all now know lost his mine long ago.

Then there's the story itself. Great adventure and breathtaking scenes, as expected in an Indy flick, but the end just went all fuckey ducked, just took me by complete surprise, not knowing anything about the film before seeing it. I'm not going to spoil too much for you, but we seem to have an adventure story which turns into a paranormal sci-fi thing. X-Files meets Indy Jones anyone? Slightly disappointing, but totally unexpected.

If I had to put all the films in the order I like 'em, I'd say Raiders, then Lost Crusade, Crystal Skull, then Temple of Doom the last in order, with CS and TOD being pretty close. Take it or leave it I guess. I don't imagine they'll be another one, but if there is, keep Lucas far away from it.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

America - Land of the retards

This is too warped. A Red Guard in your living room. How culture-obsessed has America really become?

Source: Vice Magazine Steve Schofield takes photographs of Brits obsessed with American popular culture. His fanatical subjects are usually shot sitting in their living rooms or making a cup of tea in their kitchens while dressed up as sci-fi characters, cowboys or Elvis. See selected images from this series of documentary portraiture after the jump... check out more here

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Film Music of Toru Takemitsu

Shit, folks... I've had this boxset for over 2 years now, but I don't believe I ever reviewed it. I'm just sitting here now listening to "The Petrified Forest" (化石の森) and man, this is as good as it gets. Every time I dive into this set, I just pick a volume and track at random, and I'm never dissatisfied with anything I choose to listen to from it. I have to say though, my favorite volumes are 1 and 4, which have a lot of his soundtracks to horror films like Kwaidan and Woman of the Dunes. They're all stand-outs though. I've heard a rumour that a "complete" set of his music for films was released in a massive 20 + CD set, but I've never been able to find any info about it, so I guess it's just rumour or maybe it's scheduled for release at some point in the unknown future. Anyway, this set will definitely get you started.

Toru Takemitsu (1930-1996) was perhaps the greatest Japanese composer of all time. His music "wed the western aesthetics of impressionism and expressionism with the eastern aesthetic of meditation and contemplation. The resulting synthesis was an elegant exploration of musical chromatism, with little or no interest for dynamics." (source)

He also wrote a crapload of excellent film scores, for many famous directors (see below). This Japan-only, 7-volume re-issue box set compiles some of his best and most popular work for film and is very difficult to find here in the west. The original issue of this was a 6-volume set, which became almost impossible to find until a few years ago when the re-issue was released w/ a bonus disc full of excerpts from other scores and interviews w/ Takemitsu himself.

If you're a fan of film soundtracks at all and just plain good composing, you had better track this down. Some of this music will make your hair stand on end, some of it will bring you close to tears, some of it will make you overjoyed. It's all here, so dig into it.

English titles/track listing for the films:

Directed by Masaki Kobayashi
1-1 Kwaidan/Ghost Stories
1-2 Harakiri
1-3 Glowing Autumn
1-4 The Inheritance
1-5 Hymn to a Tired Man
1-6 The Fossil

Directed by Masahiro Shinoda
2-1 The Petrified Forest
2-2 Silence
2-3 With Beauty & Sorrow
2-4 The Assassin
2-5 Samurai Spy
2-6 Ballad of Orin
2-7 Clouds at Sunset

Directed by Nagisa Oshima/Susumu Hani
3-1 Empire of Passion
3-2 The Man Who Left His Will on Film
3-3 Dear Summer Sister
3-4 The Ceremony
3-5 Bad Boys
3-6 A Full Life

Directed by Hiroshi Teshigahara
4-1 The Face of Another
4-2 Summer Soliders
4-3 Pitfall
4-4 Shiroi asa
4-5 Woman in the Dunes
4-6 Jose Torres
4-7 The Ruined Map
4-8 Rikyu

Directed by Akira Kurosawa, Toichiro Narushima, Shiro Toyoda, Mikio Naruse, Shohei Imamura
5-1 Dodesukaden
5-2 Time Within Memory
5-3 Illusion of Blood
5-4 Scattered Clouds
5-5 Black Rain

Directed by Kon Ichikawa, Noboru Nakamura, Hideo Onchi
6-1 Kyoto
6-2 Alone on the Pacific
6-3 Twin Sisters of Kyoto
6-4 Nijuissai no chichi
6-5 The Kii River
6-6 Once a Rainy Day
6-7 The Call of Flesh
6-8 Wonderful Bad Woman
6-9 Shiawase

Bonus Disk
7-1 Beast Alley (Eizo Sugawa)
7-2 Saigo no shinpan (Hiromichi Horikawa)
7-3 Sabita en (Masahisa Sadanaga)
7-4 Under the Blossoming Cherry Trees (Masahiro Shinoda)
7-5 to 7-17 Conversation with Toru Takemitsu

Monday, August 25, 2008

MAO: The Untold Story

I'm not a historian or expert on Chinese history, or even really familiar with the life of Mao. And that's why I picked up this book in the first place, to get a history. Well, I got that all right, and a pretty messed up one at that. Under Mao's rule, it is believed that over 70 million people died during peacetime, most of those his own people. He was willing for half of China to die to achieve military-nuclear superpowerdom. He wanted the bomb. He even scared Stalin in the end, probably causing Stalin's heart attack and subsequent death. Stalin and Hitler look like fairy godfathers in comparison. They preferred to carry out their torture and killing in secret. Mao liked to see people suffer in public. My big burning question is, and Im sure this is on many peopl's minds... Why is he still considered a hero, even today many of the Chinese people regard him as some kind of GOD who "freed" the people.

The authors Jung Chang and Jon Halliday have put out what I think is a pretty well researched and accurate account of the life of this mad bastard. Mao was a man willing to do anything and everything to make his way to the top. He conquered China but that wasn't enough, he wanted to conquer the world and he would've stopped at nothing to do it. Chang and her husband were shocked at what they discovered during the 10 years they spent researching this book. Halliday was able to access Russian archives on China that were inaccessible until recently. Some of his more shocking claims have not been examined by other historians as of yet. Chang travelled several times to China during the course of her research, interviewing many of those who were close to Mao, as well as alleged eyewitnesses to events such as the crossing of Luding Bridge.

People who've read Chang's prior work, WILD SWANS, are familiar with the woman's family history, that both of her parents were victims of Mao's Cultural Revolution, and that her father suffered permanent physical and mental damage from being routinely tortured while he was imprisoned. As a result, there has been much scorn and negative criticism against this book, calling her a fraud, etc etc. In the end, many people concluded that the book is factually and intellectually unreliable. Some people also say that it reads like an anti-communist propaganda book. Maybe, but I don't have a problem with that at all.

Even though he was born into a poor peasant family, Mao didn't give a shit for the welfare of the Chinese peasantry. He avoided work at all costs and pretty much just read books and attended different schools during his childhood, wasting his father's money. Mao became a Communist at the age of 27 for purely pragmatic reasons: a job and income from the Russians. According to the authors, Mao was responsible for the famine resulting from the Great Leap Forward and he actually made it worse by giving the OK to continue to export grain even though it was very clear that China did not have enough grain to feed its own people. Mao killed or tortured pretty much anyone who got in his way or tried to oppose him, whether they were political opponents, personal friends or peasants. Didn't matter. Another claim is that Mao's decisions during the Long March were not really as heroic and ingenious as people have generally believed; Chang and Halliday state that Chiang Kai-shek deliberately "let Mao go" because Chiang Kai-shek's son was being held hostage in the Soviet Union. Communist China was not a funpark to work and live at all during the Chinese Civil War, such as the Jiangxi and Yan'an soviets, were ruled through terror and mass murder. Mao willingly sacrificed thousands of troops simply in order to get rid of individual rivals from within the Communist Party, such as Chang Kuo-tao.

The Crossing of Luding Bridge? Didn't even happen according to Chang and Halliday. No raging battle nor "heroic" crossing against impossible odds like most of the history books have written, it was all Communist propaganda. There was apparently a witness, Li Xiu-zhen, who was still alive at the time this was written. She saw no fighting claims there was no fire on the bridge. That also made it into historical accounts until recent years. Nationalist Kuomintang's battleplans and communiques that indicated the force guarding the bridge had been withdrawn before the Reds even arrived. Another eye witness, a local blacksmith who had witnessed the event said that when the opposing troops were coming towards the Red Army, they pussied out and ran away. Not much of a battle. Other Chinese journalists will also attest that the Luding Bridge battle was greatly exaggerated.

Estimates of the numbers of deaths during this period vary pretty heavily, but Chang and Halliday's estimate is one of the highest. Sinologist Stuart Schram, in a review of the book, noted that the exact number of deaths under Mao's rule "has been estimated by well-informed writers at between 40 and 70 million. In addition to exporting pretty much every crop that China had, causing the greatest famine in history (The Great Leap Forward) Mao also grew mass quantities of opium for export. Most of the food and grain was exportied to Russia to buy nuclear and arms industries: close to 38 million people were starved and slave-driven to death in 1958-61. Chang and Halliday argue that this period accounts for roughly half of the 70 million total. An official estimate by Hu Yaobang in 1980 put the death toll at 20 million, whereas Philip Short in his 2000 book Mao: A Life found 20 to 30 million to be the most credible number. Chang and Halliday's figure is 37.67 million, which historian Stuart Schram indicated that he believes "may well be the most accurate. Professor R. J. Rummel published updated figures on world-wide democide in 2005, stating that he believed Chang and Halliday's estimates to be mostly correct and that he had revised his figures for China under Mao accordingly.

The book is banned in China, because the current Communist regime is fiercely perpetuating the myth of Mao. Today Mao's portrait and his corpse still dominate Tiananmen Square in the heart of Beijing, and the regime declares itself to be Mao's heir.

On of the funniest things I read in this book was that the bastard refused to take a bath for 27 years, he apparently didn't like baths. Maybe that's another reason no one wanted to get near him. Just imagining how hot and humid China is, especially in the summer months, I can only imagine how the fucker smelled.

Read this book and draw your own opinions.