Monday, December 30, 2013

Happy New Year & Fuck "New York, New York"

Not to sound like an old bastard, but in my opinion, it's a crime against humanity when anything but Auld Lang Syne is sung after the ball drops at 12 am. Get out of here with this "New York, New York" shit, that's weak sauce. Here's my favorite version of Burns's poem that I listen to every New Year's at the strike of 12. It's from a Big Country concert shot at the Barrowlands in Glasgow in the early 80s. The performance beforehand is epic, however the best part comes at the very end when the band is finished playing. I still get chills when I hear the crowd singing at the end of the video.

2nd place goes to Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians.
Have a Happy Hogmanay!

Room 237

I watched a documentary on the Shining. Specifically, it's just about people's thematic interpretations of the flick.

There are a few different people who put forth some interesting ideas. However, none of them really present anything terribly convincing as far as I'm concerned. People see what they're most familiar with. With something as interpretative and esoteric as Kubrick symbology you're bound to come up with some wild shit. And it can't all be right. In fact, almost all of it will turn out to be wrong.

It's not about the holocaust, the manifest destiny, sexual ghosts, AND the moon landing. So what is it about?

I think there are some neat things that are pointed out in this documentary, but without Kubrick weighing in (from beyond the grave) then it's hard to really give credence to anything that's said.

The most provocative and interesting portion is the whole "Kubrick faked the moon landing footage and this is a confession" suggestion. That's the biggest pill to swallow, but probably the one with the most evidence.

Most of these people just string together two or three things and call it a theory. It's pretty fucking loose if you ask me. Especially the chick who's going on about Minotaurs. She's grasping at straws.

Honestly, I haven't seen the Shining in over 15 years. I need to watch it again. That's all I know. It scared the crap outta me at the time. Beyond creepy.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

the Wild Rebels

I missed the second installment of Motorcycle Movie Night this year so I decided to catch up and watch the Wild Rebels at home tonight.

It's from 1967 and it's a hodgepodge of genres. One exec posits that the kids today are into stock car racing, another must mention biker flicks, a third chimes in that gangster/robbery flicks are big business, and a fourth proposes that the protagonist carry a guitar and break into song from time to time to win over the lady viewers. And so Wild Rebels is born from the boardroom.

I imagine it went something like that. Then 15 days later the movie was in the can.

It's all of those genres but none of them. The biker element is the most prevalent for sure, but it's sort of sullied by the cross-pollination that's going on. Wild Rebels is definitely no Wild Angels. No, sir!

But the three-man biker gang (plus obligatory mama) is called the Satan's Angels, and their president is pretty cool. The prez has a unique vibe. His presentation and the fact there's so few locations and actors make it almost feel like a play at times. Wild rebels, on Broadway!

It's definitely worth seeing, as I'm pretty much going to see every single classic biker flick ever made. I genuinely don't think that's too tall a task. There's a finite amount from the 60's and 70's. And I'll watch em all.

It has some funny moments. Obligatory terrible continuity. Paper-thin script. Shitty effects. Crap lighting. No boobs.

But the dialogue is righteous, man. It's outta sight. The way these cats jive,'ll blow your mind cuz you're so square you're shaped like a box.

Stream the whole movie on youtube via the link above.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Best Music of 2013

What can I say? 2013 was a great year for music. Not in the sense that there were one or two life changing, amazing albums, but in that there were albums that were consistently good to great released throughout the year. Sure, there were some underwhelming releases (Cut Copy and Sebastian Tellier come to mind), but for the most part it was a amazing year for really good albums. Listed below you will find my convoluted and biased list for the best music of 2013. Hope you enjoy!

(I've created a mix of my favorite tracks here, stream it from your phone or computer and dig it now!)


1 a. Arctic Monkeys: AM - Wow. I've listened to this band since their debut (I mean how could you not?) and although I've always enjoyed their music, this is the first release I've loved. It's great from start to finish. The backup falsetto vocals by the drummer add so much. Great, great album.

1 b. CHVRCHES: The Bones of What YouBelieve - Anybody who knows me knows that I have a huge soft spot in my heart for anything that hails from Scotland. Hell, I'm unabashedly a huge Big Country fan. People who know me even better know I love synth pop from the 80s. So it makes complete sense that Chvrches is my favorite release from the last couple years. A perfect release in many ways.

Savages: Silence Yourself - Easily the best live show I've seen this year, maybe one of the best bands I've ever seen live. In a write up I did earlier this year I made reference to them as not being the best musicians...I couldn't have been more wrong. All of these ladies fucking crushed it on stage. They play angry.

The National: Trouble Will Find Me - To me, this in their best album since Boxer, a return to form. If there weren't so many incredible albums this year, this would have been my number one.

Vampire Weekend: Modern Vampires of the City - If there's one song that will bring me close to tears when I've had too much to drink this year, it's Unbelievers.

Daft Punk: Random Access Memories - Not my favorite release for sure from one of my favorite DJs of all time, but a great release based on some amazing singles. (For what it's worth, my wife says I'm way underselling this one)

My Bloody Valentine: mbv - Duh.

Rival Schools: Found - As a hardcore kid at heart, it's pretty easy for me to throw any Walter Schreifels' project on a list and call it a day. But I really, really like this record and it's not just an obligatory nod to my past. It's a good album. I never loved United By Fate, but I really enjoy Found. Feels like a great album that was recorded early 00s and still has enough staying power to listen to today. 

Merchandise: Totale Nite - This s a band that borrows elements from all the genres I love (80s, shoegaze, post punk, etc...) Love this guy's voice, one of the most underrated they were hardcore kids.

Wavves: Afraid of Heights - The soundtrack to my summer.

Deafheaven: Sunbather - The album is brilliant. To qualify this album as the best metal album of the year is doing it a disservice, one of the best albums of the year. I know that's a little redundant seeing as this is my best of list!

Run the Jewels: s/t - It only took like 10 years for rap to become relevant (to me at least) again! A fun album that represents the L.B.B. for sure.

Washed Out: Paracosm - Didn't appreciate this album until I heard it live. The sound guys had sooo much trouble during their set, so much so that the band played for a couple minutes straight with no music coming through the PA. Eventually, the band noticed and it was a great site to see Ernest Greene/Tyler Florence get a little pissed and embarrassed while still trying to embrace the chillwave vibe. Regardless, a solid album that reminds me of summer.

Arcade Fire: Reflektor - Can't say much more about these guys that hasn't already been said by everybody else, so I'm not going to say anything.

A$AP Rocky: Long.Live.A$Ap - This dude's young and I can't think of many MCs that are better lyrically than Rocky at this point. Most impressive rap album I've heard in 20.

Rogue Wave: Nightingale Floors - Solid album by a consistent band, the gem of the album is the cover of Nearly Lost You.

Foxygen: We are the 21st Century Ambassadors... - Stand out track is San Francisco, it would be right at home on any Wes Anderson sound track.

Phoenix: Bankrupt! - How does a band consistently churn out great releases year after year? Money in the bank.

Yuck: Glow and Behold - This one came out of left field for me, I've listened to Yuck before and never gave them much thought. But I love this album. When tracks from this album started popping up on my iPhone, I kept thinking it was a song I forgot about by the Boo Radleys or Teenage Fanclub. I can't think of much higher praise than that.

Kayne West: Yeezus - Really for me, this album is all about Bound 2. The rest of the album is too angry for this white boy. Kanye's the one guy who's got an edge lyrically on Rocky.

Tegan and Sara: Heartthrob - I am embarrassed to say Closer was my favorite pop song of the year...that is, until I heard the new Chvrches album. The album has no place on my list but I loved this song at one point.

Honorable Mention: Noctum: Final Sacrifice, Julianna Barwick: Nepenthe, The Haxan Cloak: Excavation.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

the Last Emperor

I've been meaning to watch this since...oh...1987.

Hot on the heels of the book I just read on Confucius, I streamed Bertolucci's epic about the last emperor of China. I need to rest my knee after surgery a lot, so this gave me almost three hours of couch time.

At first I almost turned it off. It's set exclusively in Asia yet everyone spoke English. It was driving me fucking nuts. I think Bertolucci sold out big time, and really lost a huge part of the experience by making everyone speak English. Especially because they speak English with Chinese accents, like that's more believable. It still throws everything off. But I stuck with it because it was Bertolucci, so I figured I'd see what all the hype was about. And rest my leg.

It was a history lesson that tied into the book I just finished. So from a "get your world history knowledge from movies" perspective, it was good.

China's history is fucked up, man. For a country with so many innovators, they've suffocated themselves in groupthink from day one. I don't know how those individuals, those innovators, ever got a voice with so much conformity. We see where it got them. But the film underscores how the last century of Chinese evolution was potentiality the most wasted opportunity for growth. They've fucked themselves with conformity for far too long. I think the next century will be China's time to finally blossom as a nation of individuals.

I think China's fascinating and I'd like to go some time. Can burn em for the sins of their past. They've suffered under the hands of the Japanese and they've strangled themselves enough.

Anyway, the film was alright. It didn't blow my mind. Peter O'Toole (R.I.P.) was the best thing about the flick. I also really liked the governor at the prison camp. He played his roll well.

I don't know what else to say. English guy reviewing Italian movie about Asians thinks lone Englishman is the best thing about the movie. Whatever.

Oh, favorite era was the post-flapper-pre-WWII era. That little spell when everyone just looked fucking suave and perfect. If I had a time-machine I'd make a stop in China circa 1934. And in London. And in New York. And Paris. And Detroit and Chicago...yeah. That'd be great.

The last emperor had a bum life.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Confucianism / World Religions

Just read a book on Confucianism that I picked up from a garage sale this summer. I started picking at  it early in the week when I was laid up from surgery.

This is a high level introduction to Confucianism. Origin, belief, organization, ritual, history, etc. I found the last two chapters most interesting because they were more about the last 100 years in China. Confucius's teachings and China's strict adherence to them really connect a lot of dots for me. China has certain attributes deep-rooted in their culture and now I understand where those attributes come from. It all stems back 2500 years.

It's interesting to read about China's adoption and rejection of this central aspect of China's history. It puts contemporary China in perspective for those of us who don't really know about the fabric that underpins their cultural make-up. A little more light has been shed. A little more understanding has been established.

I definitely found this book educational. Is it a riveting read? No. But I work with Chinese colleagues and I'm interested in Chinese philosophy, so it certainly enhanced my understanding of both.

Confucius seemed like a good bloke with good ideas. But like many wise men; foolish men took his teachings and ruined them. When you adhere to something without progressing for hundreds or thousands of'll turn to shit. I'm sure if Confucius was still around he'd be evolving continually, not stagnating like his followers. Preserving him in amber. Fuck that.

Sunday, December 15, 2013


Watching Lawrence of Arabia as a kid helped grow my love for film and British history.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Walking Dead: Vol 19

This was a good one! Fucking action packed. Just when I thought it was a bridge to another cliff-hanger, no, they still brought the goods. Exciting read for sure.

Once again, very stoked to see how this plays out. I really dig Jesus and King Ezekiel. Two really cool characters. When Ezekiel was explaining his relationship with his pet tiger, Shiva, it almost brought a tear to my eye. I can relate, brother.

Of course there was the obligatory moment when I wasn't sure if a character or two were male of female. But that happens every book because TWD is the best book out there with the worst art. Sorry, it could be so much better.

Very satisfying read, though.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Event Horizon

I've been meaning to watch this again. I hadn't seen it since it came out in the theater in 97. I always remembered it as a good, legit sci-fi flick. Scary to boot. Turns out that my memory was a bit off.

The movie definitely borrows from Hackers when it come to the laws of plausibility and the presentation of all things scientific or computer-oriented. Hackers had the Prodigy and Event Horizon has Crystal Method. Where as both movies are cheesy...I don't really find any redeeming qualities to Event Horizon. Where as I take a perverse pleasure in watching Hackers over and over again.

Event Horizon has a crap, cheesy script. The effects are mediocre. The plot is thin. The ships borrow heavily from H.R. Giger.

But the flashbacks into Hell are pretty gnarly. I remember seeing some stills in Fangoria. Real cool shit, even today.

Stay away, though. I've just saved you the 90 minutes. It's not as cool as it seemed when you were 17.

Best of 2013

I read a shockingly small amount of books this year. I was reading a lot of periodicals, and with tearing my ACL, getting surgery, starting a new band, buying and selling houses, etc...I just haven't had that much freakin time for film and books! Anyway, here are my lists. Honestly a bit anti-climactic for 2013.

Top 5 books I read in 2013:
Richard Branson: Losing My Virginity
The Conqueror Worms
Panther Baby
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
The 4-Hour Work-Week

Top 5 comics I read in 2013:
Sláine: The Horned God
Criminal: The Deluxe Edition Volume 2
Abandon the Old in Tokyo
Black Blizzard

Top 5 documentaries I watched in 2013:
Searching for Sugarman
The Four Year Plan
The Story of Film
Truth in 24 II

Top 5 Biker Movies I watched in 2013:
The Loveless
The Hard Ride
Chrome & Hot Leather
The PeaceKillers
Run, Angel, Run

Top 5 movies I watched in 2013:
The Skin I Live In
Lost in Translation
Mr. Nice
The Loveless

Top 10 albums I got in 2013:
Anathema: Weather Systems
Autopsy: The Headless Ritual (best DM album. best artwork!)
Chelsea Wolfe: Pain is Beauty
Vastum: Patricidal Lust
R.A. The Rugged Man: Legends Never Die
Rhymefest: El Che
Zodiac: A Hiding Place
Saprogenic: Expanding Towards Collapsed Lungs
Watain: The Wild Hunt
Hope Sandoval & the Warm Inventions: Through the Devil Softly

If you take anything away from this whole list, make it the top 5 albums I listed as well as the top 5 comics. 

Song of the year:
Anathema: Untouchable Parts 1 AND 2.

Thursday, December 12, 2013


Here's a creepy flick that I haven't watched in almost a decade.

I saw Caché at the DFT in 04 with Marie. Must have been one of the first few flicks we saw together. It blew me away and I bought the DVD. I raved about it at the time. Since then, Haneke's "Funny Games" (both versions) have also blown me away. The guy is phenomenal.

So, I continue my DVD binge as I'm laid up this week. I popped this in last night. I must admit, it lost some of its luster upon second viewing because it's all about thing being "hidden," and once you've seen it once then it's not quite as hidden anymore. I think I took away different aspects of the film on its second viewing though.

First off, I've you've seen Funny Games and liked it then that's about the only testimonial you'd need to watch this. If you haven't...go watch Funny Games. Then pop this in. It's a psychological thriller. Somewhat Hitchocockian. But with a fucking menace and unease that underpins the entire film. The whole vibe makes you feel uneasy from the first frame through the last. Voyeurism is kinda terrifying. It's a very human fear, and Haneke exploits that fear for the whole two hours.

If you need resolutions, if you need everything buttoned up then stay away. This flick is far more focused on theme and internal struggle than plot and external struggle. It's all relevant, and it's all considered, but dare I say this is a bit more Japanese in its construction. At least, that's my view on Haneke's focus.

Check out the trailer above. See this film. It's a silent powerhouse.

Monday, December 9, 2013


I started watching Captain America. I got 45 minutes into it and just turned it off. CGI strikes again. I just couldn't handle it. So what'd I do? Put on a fucking documentary about Master Sommeliers. The obvious choice.

It popped up on Netflix and I gave it a whirl. 90 minute doc following the lives of a few young dudes prepping for their Master Sommelier exam. It's the typical documentary formula for any situation like this. Interview the people, their families, watch them study for the exam, blah blah blah.

It actually blew my mind how intense the test was. The sheer depth of knowledge is pretty staggering. Very impressive.

If you need to kill 90 minutes and want some light viewing...give this a shot. I dug it.

The interesting thing about sommeliers and wine criticism in general, is how varied the answers can be. How varied the critiques can be. One would imagine that if you're a master of anything there shouldn't be much debate about it. It's black and white, right or wrong. It's this wine or it's that wine. We're not talking about appreciation, we're talking about identification. I think there's a weird blurring of the lines with sommeliers; on the one hand it's a hard skill, but on the other hand it's artistic. So it's hard to quantify or test the artistry. I dunno.

I was drinking Gatorade when I watched it. Whatever. It's better than Captain America.

A Band Called Death

I ended up watching two movies tonight. I just checked out A Band Called Death.

I picked up their long-unreleased album as soon as it dropped in '09. I had never heard of the single before, never heard of the band. But I heard one track online and loved it. As a forgotten black proto-punk band from Detroit it was obviously something that piqued my interest.

The album is honestly amazing. The production is crystal clear, but it's from the early 70's so it's not over-produced. It's just high fidelity. High energy. The songs are imaginative. They're visceral. They sound like the Bad Brains...but more expansive. It's genius shit.

So fast forward to 2013. I watch the documentary. It's insightful. It gives a total picture of the band from their inception, through their demise, and into their adult years. It's obvious why they were lost for so long. They didn't do shit when they were around. At least judging by this doc' it appears they were a garage band who never made it past the garage. No mention of shows or anything. They just got into the studio, laid down this album, and got rejected by every label under the sun due to their controversial moniker. Even faced with the option of taking 20k (back then) to change their name and sign a deal...they didn't.

It's kinda crazy that this dude's kid finds out his dad was in a punk band from the internet. It was such a closed chapter in his dad's history that he had never even mentioned it. Cool to see the Livewire Board and peeps I know get a mention on screen. Pops, Minicucci, etc. But anyway...the doc. It's good. It's genuine. It's not amazing. But it's definitely worth watching. Death were amazing.

I've only heard horrible things about their current live shows, though. And from what I saw on the doc...yeah, you don't really need to see em live. They've certainly mellowed as the decades marched on. Stick to the album. Watch the doc. It's streaming on Netflix.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Jackie Brown

Day two, movie two. Since I'm still sitting on my ass feeling weird due to Percocet, I might as well watch more films.

I've had Jackie Brown in my Netflix queue for a long time. This is the Tarantino film I've seen the least. I hadn't seen this for over a decade and wanted to revisit it. So revisit it I did.

It stands out to me. Feels far less stylized and Tarantino-esque than his other flicks. He's nodding to the blaxploitation genre, but he's not. It stars Pam Grier, but it doesn't ham it up like a throw back to her films from the 70's. It's like a very sober version of Pulp Fiction. Almost reactionary to the flamboyance of Pulp Fiction. Like any Tarantino's unique. Uniquely Quentin, and unique in the truest sense of the word.

Samuel L. Jackson kicks out another incredible performance. Obviously. Quentin can write for Jackson better than anyone can. They're made for each other.

I'm getting tired. So...yeah, you've seen this flick. It was good to watch it again. A good refresher for a good film. I wonder what I'll watch tomorrow.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Black Sunday (aka Mask of Satan)

It's been a while since I've posted on here. Been so busy with Temple of Void, work, and buying and selling freakin houses! And now I'm laid up due to my ACL surgery, so I've got some time to watch and read.

Tonight I watched Mario Bava's "Black Sunday." 1960 Italian horror. Particularly good cinematography. The edge lighting was exceptional. Such great lighting from beginning to end. Just take a look at the trailer. Beautiful.

It's a flick about vampires and Satanic possession. There are some gnarly scenes for the time, to be honest. It was a great money-maker for A.I.P. No shock there.

Is it good? Ehhh, kinda. This isn't really my genre, but I found it pretty entertaining no less. If you dig this sort of campy, derivative mid-century Italian horror...have at it! I thought it looked awesome.