Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Chopper: The Real Story




This is a brand new book that just came out from Gestalten. Marie bought it for me for christmas. It's fucking awesome. I want to go right back to page 1 and read it all over again.

Oversize book. Nice paper stock. Very well produced. Good finishing details. Great layout. It's a functional and aesthetic accomplishment. Just excellent art direction all round.

The book charts the history of the chopper from bob-jobs and proto-choppers, through the legit 60's chopper craze, the fall of choppers, the rise of the shitty big tire custom crap, the fall of that crap, and the reinvigoration of the classic chopper scene today. Paul D'Orleans captures the full cycle (pun intended). And it's a glorious cycle indeed.

Paul is well-spoken and articulate, but definitely down to earth, too. He keeps the book flowing very well. But I have one gripe: the editor sucked. I caught at LEAST 8 typos in the book. Obviously it doesn't ruin the book, but they're unnecessary. Didn't someone read the damn thing from cover to cover before it got printed? Anyway...

This is a beautiful and informative book packed with great photos and information. If you ride a motorcycle you should own this book.


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Best of 2014

Tally this year is 52 films and 25 books and comics. More literature, but only half the amount of movies I've watching in the past. That's just how it goes. Been really busy with Temple of Void, I guess. Didn't really stay current. Almost everything I watched was released prior to 2014. Quality over quantity.


Top 10 films:
Eyes Wide Shut
Papillon
The Great Escape
Godfather Part II
The Wicker Man
Purple Noon
Le Trou
Chef
Grand Budapest Hotel
The Lords of Salem



Top 5 motorcycle flicks:
Hell's Angels on Wheels
Hell's Angels '69
Angels Hard as they Come
Born Losers
The Pink Angels



Top 5 documentaries:
Upside Down: The Creation Records Story
Jimi Hendrix: Hear My Train A' Comin'
1
Super Duper Alice Cooper
Design is One



Top 10 books:
Burning Rubber
The Chopper: The Real Story
The Exorcist
Conan of Cimmeria: Volume 6
Into Thin Air
I am Jackie Chan
Misery Obscura
People Who Eat Darkness
Jackie Stewart: World Champion
Meat is for Pussies
Of Dice and Men



Top 10 Albums/EPs:
Bloodbath: Grand Morbid Funeral
Black Anvil: Hail Death
Convent Guilt: Guns for Hire
Irkallian Oracle: Grave Ekstasis
Autopsy: Tourniquets, Hacksaws and Graves
Triptykon: Melana Chasmata
Necros Christos: Nine Graves
Alcest: Shelter
Lie in Ruins: Towards Divine Death
Conan: Blood Eagle

Monday, December 29, 2014

1


Marie bought me "1" on blu-ray for x-mas. It's a new documentary on Formula One racing.

On the one hand there are a lot of good things about this doc. But on the other hand, I had a couple bones to pick.

The good: Very high production value. Dynamic editing. Interviews from many of the greats. Good archival footage. Music is legit. It's narrated by Michael Fassbender.

The bad: The movie seemed like it was just taking you from one crash to the next with filler content in between. We know there are a lot of crashes (and deaths in the old days), but this was overkill (pun intended). The thread seemed to follow crashes and how they improved safety over the years. But that's not really a good focal point for an F1 doc. How about...the cars, the drivers, the glamour, the teams, the personalities, the technology? I'd like to see that a lot more. Also, it took you from the inception through about 1996. For a movie made in 2012 why did it stop in 1996?

So I didn't think it was a good movie to show someone who's not all that familiar with F1. I enjoyed it. It was fast-paced and well-made. I just thought the focus was too sensational and it would have been much better served if they had focused on something other than accidents.

Still recommended, just with a bit of caution. If you love F1, watch it. :)

Purple Noon


Had the rare treat of watching a movie with my wife these days. We settled on Purple Noon. One of my DVDs I've been meaning to re-watch. It has Alain Delon, it's from 1960, and it's based on the novel "The Talented Mr. Ripley." Marie was down.

Of course it's super good. The story is superb, the acting is excellent, wardrobe is amazing, and the editing was great. The movie knocks it outta the park.

I dug the US adaptation of the book, too. But this one edges it out, to be honest. It's enveloping.

I put the book in my Amazon cart. Something to read down the line.

Highly recommended.

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Great Escape


Seriously, how amazing is this movie? I just added the original book to my Amazon cart. I'm sure I'll read that...after I read Papillon. ;)

I got the Blu-Ray for x-mas last year and I finally got around to watching it as well as checking out the extras. As I'm sure you know, The Great Escape is based on a true story. Although Sturges obviously took some liberties for the sake of the silver screen, it's still actually very accurate. The shit in the movie that they do...it's fucking amazing but it was pulled off by the soldiers in the camp. It's incredible.

Just like Papillon, movies from the 60's sure make prison and war look awfully fucking romantic and bad-ass. Like it wasn't anything to be in a prison camp or stuck in the cooler for a month. Ain't no thang. Well, when you're Steve McQueen everything looks pretty effortless...so...

All-star cast. Three hours of suspense. If you haven't seen it, seriously bro, get on it.

Great cinematography. Good editing. Very classic score for the era. It's perfect for what it is.

Except for the accents...yeah...some pretty fucking bad accents going on here. But we can ignore that.

Essential.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Black Six


Here's an interesting one. The Black Six. Part blaxploitation, part biker flick.

We watched this for the last Motorcycle Movie Night and it got some surprisingly good feedback. Some people said it was the best biker movie they'd seen yet. Personally, it's nowhere near the best, but I get what they're saying. See, a common thread in biker movies is a complete lack of plot. But The Black Six had a very cohesive, linear plot. It made perfect sense, which is something you never say when watching a movie like this. So in that regard it's one of the 2 or 3 we've ever seen that actually made sense.

But that didn't make it great.

It stars six black american football athletes. So right there you know the acting is just as bad as any other 60's biker flick. Their supporting cast are just as terrible. So much either wooden or ham acting...oh man. But that's the charm, right?

Great intro music. It's a blaxploitation wah-wah fest ala Shaft. Super good. The Black Six all ride Triumphs, too. Which is sometimes comical given how large a couple of these lads are.

HERE BE SPOILERS:
The movie is about a black dude dating a white chick in a little hillbilly town. White chick's brother is a redneck and his motorcycle gang buddies kill the black dude. The black dude's brother is in the Black Six. They come back to town and settle the score with the rednecks who killed his brother.
------End of spoilers. Like anyone cares if I spoil a blaxploitation biker flick-----

I really liked how CHILL The Black Six were. Due to their non-acting background they just couldn't really inject any dynamism or drama into their roles, so they come off super laid back. It's actually pretty awesome. The complete opposite of white guy bikers. Now, part of this laid back attitude is certainly intended because they're just smooooooth. But part of it is a consequence of not being able to act. It's great, though.

Of all the bikers we've seen in movies this is definitely the gang you'd wanna hang out with.

As far as biker cliches go it was missing swastikas and rape. But it had an interesting take on incompetent local fuzz. It had bar fights, racism, and biker gangs 'terrorizing' a small town. Decent amount of open road scenes. No love in in the desert, though. Still, it was definitely a legit biker flick. But unlike any you've seen. Different perspective.

Anyway, this was a good take on the genre. Keep the shiny side up...



Fuzz: The Sound that Revolutionized the World


Eric told me about this documentary. It's about guitar pedals. He neglected to tell me the documentary is shitty.

I watched it over a couple lunch breaks at work, hoping there would be this ONE sequence that made the whole thing worthwhile. It never came. It's pretty much a dude interviewing some pedal makers with a camcorder. It doesn't appear to be edited in any logical order.

If I were in prison I'd probably find some other shit to do before resigning myself to watching this movie. Maybe go cornrow some dude's hair.

J Mascis...that guy is a fucking human sloth. Look at this random clip on youtube.


Monday, December 15, 2014

Top 10 Albums of 2014



These are my top 10 albums/EPs of 2014 from 1 to 10. I had to update the list since originally posting it. How could I have missed Convent Guilt?



Bloodbath – Grand Morbid Funeral




Black Anvil – Hail Death





Convent Guilt – Guns for Hire






Irkallian Oracle – Grave Ekstasis




Autopsy – Tourniquets, Hacksaws and Graves




Triptykon – Melana Chasmata




Necros Christos – Nine Graves



Alcest – Shelter





Life in Ruins – Towards Divine Death







Conan – Blood Eagle












Tuesday, December 9, 2014

How to Tell if Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You


I wanted to buy this for Marie last year for x-mas but it appeared to be out of print. I could only find it on the Canadian Amazon, but shipping was the same price as the book or something along those lines... Anyway, I was in the airport at Minneapolis last month and I saw it as I was browsing through their bookstore. I picked it up and it was Marie's gift from my travels. I'm sure you think that's super exciting.

The Oatmeal is funny as FUCK. And if you own a cat this book will have you crying in laughter. It's so goddamn spot on.

If you have a cat you will like this. Plain and simple.



Breath of the Gods


Marie wanted to watch this documentary on the beginnings of yoga in the Western World. And we did. Reflecting on it we both agreed it was interesting but honestly not a very good documentary from an artistic point of view.

This is a doc made by a German dude (or maybe he's Austrian, I don't know) who gets into yoga through his wife. He really digs it so he decides to track down some pupils and descendants of T. Krishnamacharya, the legendary Indian yogi who brought yoga to the West. He interviews them about what it was like back in the 30's and 40's and that's about it. It's honestly more like a well-edited holiday video than a legitimate documentary.

Whether you're just curious about yoga or you're diehard about it, it's definitely worth watching because you'll probably nerd out on it. But it won't win any fucking awards for artistic merit. There are better movies to watch.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Morbid Tales



Finally, the long awaited follow up to Mark Rudolph's awesome book about Mercyful Fate: Satan is Alive. Here we have a tribute to the incredible life and works of Tom G. Warrior and Celtic Frost.

I loved the first book. And now Mark's curated a new installment. A BETTER installment. The premise of the first one was to interpret lyrics in comic book form. really cool idea. But Morbid Tales is looser. It's more about interpreting Tom's life in comic form. Anything goes. It's fucking bad ass.

Mark teamed up with Corpseflower Records to put this one out, and he's upped the ante by compiling a 12" vinyl tribute to Celtic Frost, too. That's not out yet, but it's on its way. All the songs are recorded and it's just a matter of getting it mastered and then pressed. It's got the likes of Evoken, Acid Witch, Municipal Waste, Phil Anselmo with Childbite, Scott Kelly and more. Mark even asked Temple of Void to be on the record and we jumped at it! We recorded "Os Abysmi Vel Daath" and can't wait to hear that on wax alongside the other great covers.

But I digress. This post is about the book at hand. The format is the same. Similar paper stock, size, binding, etc. All top class. A lot of the contributors are carryovers from the first book, plus some new ones. I like the stories and comments by 'famous' metalheads that punctuate the comic. It flows really well. It's relatable. It's imaginative. It's a good read. I don't have any gripes with this, man. Seriously. I actually think it tops Satan is Alive, which is a hard thing to do. But I think the artists' imaginations really took flight in this book in a way they couldn't have with the first one because they were interpreting songs. This time they got to go wild and put their own spins on things.

The opening story with Crowley, Venom, and Conan on his throne...fucking brilliant. Worth the price of the book alone. Rudolph's contributions are my personal favorites. Shagrat's is my second favorite. Detroit really represents well with cool drawings by Mike Erdody, Shawn Knight, Slasher Dave, Kelly Larson, and Jason Outcast.

Needless to say I really dug this book and look forward to the third installment, whenever that may come...

Essential purchase.



Saturday, December 6, 2014

Hell's Bloody Devils


Watch this trailer. Seriously. I'll wait...



Now tell me what kind of movie this is. A biker flick, you say? Ohhhhh no. That's a cunning ruse to suck you in. Quite literally all of the biker action is in the three minute trailer. There isn't a roar of a bike anywhere else in this whole film. They just marketed it as such. We kicked off this season's Motorcycle Movie Night with this flick and the Flying Skülls were pissed! Well, it was actually pretty freakin entertaining regardless of the lack of bikers. But this is a biker movie night, not a generic grindhouse night. There are standards that need to be upheld!

Needless to say I was quite disappointed that this wasn't actually a biker flick. And if you removed the bikers from the film it would have actually made a little more sense. What kind of flick is it? It's fucking confused. Part James Bond, part cop movie, part gangster movie, and part pseudo-biker. It's all very strange and none of it is woven together with any inkling of skill.

We had a hard time figuring out who was who or what was honestly going on. There are neo-Nazis counterfeiting money, Israeli spies out to get the Nazis, undercover cops, gangsters and lots of hot chicks. I'll give it that. Lots of hot mommas.

Oh yeah, and lots of Fords. They seemed to have struck up a deal with Ford for gratuitous product placement. Cool shit.

The thing that made most people's night was the fact that there's a cameo by the real deal Colonel Sanders from KFC. It happens for no reason whatsoever. Again, keen marketing ploy I assume.

I'm bashing this film cuz it's totally misleading. BUT we've definitely seen worse biker flicks. So where it lacks in bikers, it makes up in good ol' fashioned entertainment.


Hitchhiking must have been so fucking awesome in the 60's and 70s. 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Black Gestapo


I ended up with a copy of the Black Gestapo because it was a double feature on a grindhouse disc I bought with the Black Six. I picked it up for the latter, which is a film I'll screen this season for Motorcycle Movie Night.

What can I say about the Black Gestapo? It's from 75, the cars are awesome, the score is filled with wah-pedals, and there's a really hot chick in it. The production and acting are terrible, lighting and sound are crap, it's just a shit movie. But I was somewhat entertained by it all nonetheless. I could never recommend that anyone spend time to watch it...but I was alright with it. I'm sitting at home waiting to go to the hospital for a procedure, so I needed to kill some time.

Oh yeah, the poster is rad.


It's about white gangsters extorting the black citizens of Watts. So a black people's army fights back against the whites. But then the black soldiers just start extorting the black citizens even worse than the whites did. Wah-pedals, Cadillacs, guns, karate, and afros ensue. White people die. Black people die. There's a whole lot of fightin' goin' on. Yeah...

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Time Zero


I came across this flick on Netflix. It's a documentary about the last year of Polaroid film. Seemed like a light flick I could check out so I did...

The doc interviews a variety of photographers and artists who are heavy Polaroid users. One of them being none other than John Waters. I don't dig his films but the dude is freakin entertaining. The whole premise of the film is that Polaroid is shutting its doors, there are people who love the film, so what the fuck are they gonna do now that it's gone?

Well, I won't tell you because that wouldn't be very sporting of me. But it's an interesting look at the corporation, the people who love the film, and what fruit is born from that love.

The doc is well done. The biggest takeaway for me on any film like this is always the passion of the artists involved. It's always profoundly powerful when people are moved to tears, to action, and sometimes to risk their lives for the sake of art and expression. Very cool, man.

Good doc.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Project A



I just read Jackie Chan's bio. It got me in the mood for some Jackie Chan action so I put in a flick I haven't seen in 25 years...Project A. And boy was it good!

At first I was buuuuuuuuumed cuz it was fucking dubbed. It was a cheap DVD and I didn't even think twice. So yeah, that kinda sucked. But once I got over the initial shock I got right back into it like I was 10 years old again.

Project A is set in late 18th century Hong Kong and it's about pirates. So right off the bat you know this isn't your run of the mill kung fu flick. By this time Jackie had gained clout and was starting to make the films HE wanted to make. This is golden era Jackie Chan: he wrote, directed and starred in it, and his co-stars were his old buddies from the Chinese Opera Theatre...Samo Hung and Yuen Biao.

It's full of physical humor ala Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. Jackie does some BIG stunts and so does his incredible cast. Three quarters of the film is pretty much punching, kicking, and jumping. It's fucking amazing. The physicality of his films are unparalleled. He's a true inspiration. Mad respect.

If you like kung fu and you have a sense of humor then you can't go wrong with this. It's awesome. Even when it's dubbed.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Of Dice and Men


Chillin' in the hotel in Orange County. Beautiful weather outside. I bet it's 20 degrees in Detroit right now. I'm in a t-shirt. Just sayin'...

I started this book a little while ago and read the final two thirds on the plane ride over from Minneapolis. I had a baby shitting its pants next to me and then getting breastfed. It wasn't ideal so I immersed myself in clerics, orcs, balrogs, and polyhedral dice for the majority of the flight.

Of Dice and Men is, as the subtitle describes, "the story of dungeons & dragons and the people who play it." The author attempts to write a book that is high level enough to appeal to the uninitiated, yet peppered with enough nerdisms to give any dork a nerdgasm. I straddled the fence. I was interested in the anthropological and historical aspects of D&D, but I also have always wanted to play it.

As a youth I stared in fascination at the miniatures set up at my local Games Workshop stores. I was super into Lego as a child, read find-your-fate fantasy novels, and got into heavy metal early on, but I never made the full leap to D&D. I owned Hero Quest and Space Crusade, but I was a one man gamer. I had no idea how to play either game so I just made it up in my head (much like D&D). But I was alone. I never had that mentor or older nerd to initiate me into gaming proper. So I just hung around the periphery of the gaming scene.

Anyway, this book is about the genesis of D&D, its rise to fame, infamy, its fall, and its rise again. The tome looks at the politics involved, the relationships formed and dissolved, and the cultural legacy. It's an impressive story to say the least. Inspirational.

If you have a casual (or serious) interest in D&D then you'll enjoy this book. Hell, even if you literally don't know anything about it, this is still a good read. But I'm not gonna oversell it. It's not the greatest thing since twenty sided dice. But it's good. Check it out. Find your fate...






Tuesday, November 11, 2014

I am Jackie Chan: My Life in Action


I picked this book up for $2 at a local record store. Unexpected but very welcome find.

As a huge Jackie Chan fan since the 80's I was excited to delve into his history. Find out where he came from and how he got to be the most amazing martial artist the silver screen has ever known. The bio delivers the goods. I'd say a good fifty percent of the book is all pre-movie stuff. It's all about Jackie growing up in a Chinese Opera School. He meets the likes of Samo Hung and Yuen Biao, and develops life-long friendships and partnerships with them.

You learn about Jackie's parents, his upbringing, his first loves, his friends, and then his whole life as the biggest celebrity in Asia. The failures and successes, the Triads, Jackie's unwavering spirit and determination, and his generosity. It's all there. As well as his many injuries and hospital visits.

I love books that have super short chapters. This one is written with an average of 3 or 4 pages per chapter. It makes for a quick read. You fly through it from stunt to stunt.

I've got the Project A DVD sitting on the shelf. This has definitely motivated me to move that right up to the top of my queue. It's been a loooooong time since I've seen that. I went through a "let's see what Jackie Chan films are on Netflix" phase a couple years ago. I watched a bunch that I hadn't seen since I was 9 or 10. Some should stay hidden, and some are just straight up classics. I NEED to see Police Story again. Pronto. Pickle and I watched that movie over and over and over again as youths. Best action movie of all time. Bar none.


Monday, November 10, 2014

Design is One


Design is One is a documentary about Massimo and Lella Vignelli. You don't know them but you definitely know their art. Everything from the NY MTA wayfinding signage to the American Airlines logo to the Bloomingdale's logo. Ducati, Ford, JCPenny, United Colors of Benetton, Knoll...the list is endless. Their influence is profound. It's shocking.

They design anything and everything from clothes to furniture to buildings to logos to corporate identities to housewares to whatever.

If you saw the Helvetica documentary you were probably amused by Massimo's interviews. He's very passionate and very straightforward, but without being a dick. He's opinionated, but approachable. Funny dude. Talented as fuck.

So, this is a doc focusing on their design impact. I recommend it to anyone who cares about aesthetics. Period.

Go stream it on Netflix.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Nightbreed


I've waited 25 years for this! The Director's Cut of Nightbreed is finally here.

I pre-ordered this blu-ray as soon as I was aware of it and watched it as soon as it was delivered. Nightbreed came out in 1990 and mesmerized my ten year old brain. I loved it. I related to it. I played the video game on Commie 64. And looking at that now...man, kids today have no idea. But I digress...


The movie was based on Clive Barker's book, "Cabal." He had just directed two very successful Hellraiser flicks and this was his next movie. But this was different. This was a story that placed humanity as the devil. The humans were evil. The "monsters" were sympathetic. The "monsters" were the good guys. It flipped everything upside down. But that didn't jive with the suits in Hollywood. They "couldn't" market Clive's original artistic intent, they needed to cut the film and sell it as a slasher to make money. So they brutalized Barker's vision and fucked his film over royally. Twenty-five years later, and now the film has a proper release that's much closer to Clive's original intent. There are 40 new minutes of footage. Some major sub-plots have been reinstated that totally change the complexion and denouement of the film. It's a huge fucking difference.

As a ten year old I didn't know any of this and I loved the movie for what it was. But now it's a lot sweeter to bask in the nostalgia, but with an even BETTER version than the one I remember.

The new Director's Cut blu-ray has over an hour and a half of documentary footage on the disc plus an intro to the film by Clive.

There's actually a three disc version I just found out about. That version has even more extras including 20 more minutes of footage. Probably from the "Cabal Cut" that's floating out there. So if you're hardcore enough...track down that version.

If you like 80's horror then this is the jam.

Conan of Cimmeria: Volume 6


I picked up this original paperback from a great local bookstore on Woodward. For all the Conan I've read, it's always been in comic form and never the original short stories. So I finally started reading the stories as told by Robert E. Howard in all their black and white glory. They're great. No shock there.

Great diction. Good pace. Immersive. Very enjoyable read. I look forward to buying that big-ass anthology...

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Flow in the Office


Kaizen: Japanese for "incremental continuos improvement" or more specifically "good change."

I started learning about Kaizen at work a good six years ago or so. I've been very interested in the Japanese process ever since. I try to apply the process to my work life and home life in the hopes of bettering both. However, since it was born from Toyota's Total Productive Maintenance concept in regards to manufacturing cars, it's always been very manufacturing-oriented. If your job is mostly computer-oriented and you follow a digital task flow, then you have to take the abstract theories and figure out how to apply them to your specific office needs. I don't work on the shop floor, I don't produce widgets, and I don't work in a warehouse environment. So how do I apply a lean process flow to my team at work?

Well, that's why I bought this book. I've always wanted an office-centric take on Kaizen because all of my Kaizen initiatives (not matter how big or small) are always adapted by myself or my team. It's organic. I wanted to see if a book solely about office Kaizen would unlock some secret mysteries I hadn't thought of!

Nope.

The book was a good primer on Kaizen but I pretty much knew everything they covered. I'd definitely suggest it to Kaizen office n00bs, but it's not going to be revelatory to anyone with a solid lean manufacturing background. I took notes on my phone on a couple topics that caught my attention and I plan on bringing them up to some coworkers. So it wasn't devoid of value to me.

It's an easy read. It's a quick read. Recommended as an introductory to office Kaizen.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Papillon


Marie bought me a couple McQueen blu-rays last Christmas. I was very stoked to get the Great Escape and Papillon. Both tremendous films. I hit up Starbucks last night and popped in the three hour Papillon for another viewing. 

God damn, it's good. Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman star as two French prisoners sent to a penal colony in French Guyana in the 30's. It's based on an autobiography that has come under much criticism for its authenticity and dubious content. "Papillon", the author, allegedly embellished much of it, straight up stole other prisoners' stories and claimed them as his own, and threw in a dash of what actually happened to him. The result was a wildly successful novel/bio about a wrongly-convited man who escaped from the unescapable. An innocent man fucked by the shitty French penal system. But an innocent man who beat the shitty French penal system, escaped, and lived for a couple decades as a free man and a hero. Vive la France. 

Dustin Hoffman plays a famous counterfeiter and does an excellent job. McQeen is Papillon and is somewhat upstaged by Hoffman if you ask me. But McQueen is still super cool. Probably one of his best moments. This flick is like the 1973 version of Mesrine. If you liked that (which you better have fucking liked) then watch this. This is the clear ancestor and grand-daddy of Mesrine. It's killer, man. So damn good. 

The score does a good job heightening the action, the cinematography is particularly good, and the editing is well-paced and dramatic. It's a very artistic film with plenty of integrity. It really stands the test of time. Hollywood could never churn out a three hour flick like this nowadays. Schaffner does a great job exploiting every last minute of film stock. 

I loved this. Just bought the novel on Amazon for $2 and I'm gonna watch the extras shortly.

My favorite prison break movies are all French. Mesrine, Papillon, and Le Trou. Go figure.


Super Duper Alice Cooper


Alice Cooper is one of those acts who has never grown out of favor with me. I've been a huge fan since '90. That sounds crazy but that's about when Trash came out and that was THE album that got me into him. Then Hey Stoopid came out in '91 and I was singing about "meet my libido, he's such a psycho" and I had no idea what the fuck that meant. I just knew the chorus was about Frankenstein's monster and that was cool when you're 10 or 11.

Anyway, Alice Cooper rules hard and I've been a fan for 25 years now. Of course I'm gonna buy the new doc that Sam Dunn just put out. He's the Canadian hesher responsible for Iron Maiden Flight 666, Metal: A Headbanger's Journey, and Global Metal (all of which I also own). It's all good shit.

This year at work our theme is Nightmares and my team is doing Alice Cooper "Welcome to My Nightmare" as the theme. I watched this flick to help get some ideas for whatever we come up with. I like the idea of dropping panties from a helicopter. I'll have to recreate that at work somehow...

Getting back to the doc...
There are no talking heads. All interviews are done off camera. It's just VO's from the people who were there on top of archival footage. It's woven together in more of a present-tense format instead of a retrospective format. The doc starts with Vincent in high school and ends in 1986, 18 years after "I'm Eighteen." It's somewhat of a rise and fall and rise again story.

I definitely learned a lot. I wonder if Alice has a bio? I should get that if he does...

This doc is good but it didn't get me as psyched as I expected. Flight 666 makes the hair on your arms stand up. Every time. It's electric. It's just more kinetic. For being as crazy as Cooper is, this doc is somehow mellow and subdued. It could have done with some sort of jolt in the storytelling. Maybe some other more animated VO's. It's just kind of mellow. Probably because Alice is in his 60's and he's told these stories a million times.

I'd watch this on Netflix when it comes out unless you're a diehard then go ahead and get the blu-ray.

Word.


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Krautrock: the Rebirth of Germany


Can't remember how I got onto the subject of Kraturock but for some reason I looked up Amon Düül II on YouTube. I think I was reading Iron Fist or Decibel or some shit like that. Anyway, I checked out the aforementioned Germans and really dug it. Far out shit like Kraftwerk meets Hawkwind. Perfect combo! Totally bizarre. So I thought it was about time I checked out more Krautrock proper. I've dug Kraftwerk for years now. I fuckin love em. But I need to dig deeper.

I ran past Flipside on Tuesday and picked up a couple Tangerine Dream LP's from Uberti. Dig.

Then I gave Henry Pardike a holler and asked him for some recommendations as he's a musical oracle. He passed along a link to this documentary that focuses on the big name bands like Tangerine Dream, Can, Neu!, Kraftwerk, Amon Düül II and Faust, etc. I watched it at lunch today.

If your'e a total n00b to the scene like I am, this is a decent place to start. It's even got some Iggy Pop interview footage in it so you can't bitch about your 58 minutes too much.

I'm looking forward to getting some more LPs from this genre, but it's definitely going to be hit or miss. All these bands are very experimental. Very temperamental. So you'll have to do your research to find out what era of each band is good and what is just a couple krauts banging some saucepans together, fiddling with a random tone generator and calling it music. I think Tangerine Dream alone have over 100 albums...

You should watch this if you don't know anything about Krautrock. Hell, even if you do you'll still find it interesting.


Monday, September 22, 2014

Cutie and the Boxer


Marie and I both wanted to check this out, so she made some popcorn and we watched it last night.

An Oscar nominated doc about an old artistic Japanese couple? You know that's my shit. If that doesn't sound like it'd be your jam then stay away. This is what it is.

The most incredible part is how spirited and vital the 80 year old Ushio Shinohara is. The dude is a machine! Very inspiring. Looks like a life of drinking and shirking fathering responsibilities keeps one young in mind and young in body. Righteous.




Friday, September 19, 2014

Into Thin Air


I think I got this at a garage sale in Ferndale a couple years ago. I dig documentaries and I loved Into the Wild, so I figured this would be a good bet.

As luck would have it, I was right. I loved every minute of this story. Read it in three days. Very compelling stuff.

Jon Krakauer is a journalist who was sent to summit Everest in '96 and write about it for a magazine he worked for. An avid climber since he was a young man, he'd always wanted the opportunity to climb Everest. And at up to 65k for a guided ascent, it sure as hell wasn't cheap. So here was a chance to do it and get paid at the same time. Killer! Literally.

The '96 season lead to numerous deaths on Everest, and Jon was there right in the thick of it. Lucky to be alive himself, he documented his story in this nail-biting and foreboding book. It makes for a thrilling and sad read. He pissed off some of the friends and loved ones with his original article, and no doubt he may have pissed off more with this book. But it is what it is. One man's recollection of the events on the face of the tallest mountain in the world. 29,000 ft above sea level. Shit's crazy, man.

If you like any sort of human endurance stories, tales about surmounting the impossible, tales of heroism and things of that nature...this is your jam. Check it out.


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Henry and Glenn Forever and Ever. #3.


Henry and Glenn #3. Same as the rest. None are ever as good as #1. But I still feel compelled to buy em. It's Henry and Glenn for god's sake. I just don't like the other artists' interpretations. Tom Neely's is the best by a mile.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Weekend of a Champion


One of my coworkers told me about this one. Jackie Stewart hanging out with Roman Polanski in Monaco in 71. What's not to love?!

Polanski was a big F1 fan at the time so he produced this flick. It's fly-on-the-wall footage surrounding the three days of practice / qualifying / racing at the 71 Monaco GP. It's pretty much all Jackie Stewart. You get an all access view of what it was like to be around him at the time. Having dinner with the likes of Graham Hill and Ringo Starr. Surrounded by HOT ASS SEVENTIES CHICKS. Everywhere, man.

Jackie did quite alright marrying Helen, that's for sure.


Anyway, if you dig racing you should definitely watch this. If not, I wouldn't check it out cuz I think it's too technical and potentially alienating if you don't care about F1. I thought it was pretty freakin cool. A great glimpse at a bygone era.

Scottish beast.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Misery Obscura



I love this book. I bought it as soon as it dropped but it deserved a re-reading. 160 odd pages of photos and stories by Eerie Von. It's great shit, man. It really is.

The thing that really impressed me the first time around was the quality of the book. The design is really freakin nice. A lot of time and effort went into this book. Great production value and finishing techniques.

Anyway, I read it again. I stared at the cool old pics of James and Kirk, of the Misfits and Samhain back in the day. Killer Danzig shots in the studio and behind the scenes. It's all there. But the best part is really just reading Eerie retell his tales of yore. About making Danzig laugh. Lyle Preslar. The whole 9 yards, man.

If you're fiend this is mandatory. I ended up buying an original print off of Eerie for Pickle one x-mas.

And if you're not a fiend...what the fuck's wrong with you?



Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Lavell Crawford: Can a brother get some love?


Got introduced to Lavell Crawford many years ago on BET. Dude was funny as fuuuuuck. In a sense he's a physical comedian...but he only uses his face. Just look at it. Alllll of it. The dude has gotta be like 400 lbs.

Anyway, years ago Marie and I got the chance to see him live. He performed at the Royal Oak Music Theatre. It wasn't exactly a sold out show. Maybe that's why we haven't seen him return. But it was early-ish in his career, so...

90% black crowd. My face HURT from laughing so hard. I was in pain. The dude was hilarious.

Pickle told me about this 90 minute video streaming on Netflix. Do yourself a favor and stream this shit. Lavell is king.


Lavell and his wife.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Conan and the Midnight God


Picked up another Conan TPB. This is part of the Nemedian Chronicles, but it's not part of the Dark Horse volumes I've been collecting. This is a collection of five issues unto themselves.

This was a classic tale. Actually a pretty good introduction to Conan for the uninitiated. He battles necromancers and snake monsters. He decapitates. He avenges someone's death. And he bangs a hot chick, in this case it happens to be his wife. For Conan is 45 now and King of Acquillonia.

On that note, things are a bit different. Conan is a King and as such he's part of the powers that he's typically fought against. Seems a bit weird for him to be King, to be honest. But at 45, what ya gonna do. You have to settle down at some point. Might as well be a revered ruler of a nation and live in a sweet castle.

The art has its ups and downs. Sometimes the computer colorization gets on my nerves. Looks a bit too Photoshopped for me. At other times the perspectives are just plain wrong or it doesn't look like he's actually holding a sword (it looks like he's making a fist and someone drew in a sword afterwards). But I can live with it.

The story has a good arc and it's non-stop action. Gets pretty dark and oppressive at times. It's a good yarn. Recommended.


Henry and Glenn Forever and Ever. #4


Three stories. The Tom Neely one is good. Obviously. The others, not so much. I need to grab a copy of issue 3.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

the Wicker Man


The sun went down and I grabbed Marie to watch it with me for her first time. I've seen it a bunch of times and love it. I pick up new details each time. More dialogue, more nuances.

I think the acting is even better than I remembered, too. Subtle and convincing.

The air of conspiracy is harrowing. The pagan gods vs Christian god is interesting. The film does a good job at holding up a mirror to the absurdities of all religions, pantheistic as well as monotheistic. It's truly a great horror film. No monsters. No blood. Just the most evil creature of all...mankind. Mankind and superstitions. Fuckin a. A nightmarish combination if ever there was one.

The way the film is told through music is actually pretty cool. It's only as campy as you let it be. If you absorb yourself in Summerisle...it's just part of the story. Part of the village. It's an interesting storytelling technique to employ for a horror film especially.

Marie was digging it until the final chapter. The actual wicker man sacrifice. Just too grounded in reality for her these days. Torture and religious persecution and whatnot. It's pretty grim. Very well acted, though.

I still love it. The Wicker Man is a very unique, haunting, horror film. Just how I like em.

How he didn't succumb to her seduction is beyond me.

Eyes Wide Shut and the Wicker Man: creepy masks, creepy films.


Friday, August 22, 2014

Eyes Wide Shut


Marie left for the night so I had quite a few hours to myself. I decided to watch one of the 3-ish hour movies I have on deck. Papillion, the Great Escape, and Eyes Wide Shut. I ended up with the latter because I was in the mood for something dark. And nobody does "dark" better than Kubrick.

It's not a common opinion to hold, but Eyes Wide Shut is my favorite Kubrick film and one of my absolute all time favorite films, period. Ever. In the world.

I bought a Starbucks, waited for dark, and popped in the disc. I have the double-disc Director's cut. It's fucking brilliant.

I saw this in the theatre and it's a film I definitely like to revisit periodically. It blows me away every time. Tonight was no exception. I grow fonder of it with each viewing, same with Taxi Driver.

Tom Cruise is a dude who's ruined his career and credibility with his Scientology nonsense. But when I watched this flick I didn't see Tom Cruise. I saw Dr. Bill. Cruise's idiocy went right out the window (thankfully) and I was instantly absorbed into Kubrick's world. Cruise does a phenomenal job portraying his character, and moreover portraying a Man. I liken it to Bill Murray's performance in Lost in Translation. Those two examples are just amazing representations of a man's psyche. It's an instant connection and self-recognition when you watch both actors in those flicks.

Manliness aside...the score is exceptional. It's beyond creepy. It's beyond tense.

Colors are lush. Editing is great. Definitely some Hitchcockian nods to both. I see some Vertigo in the color for sure. And just general Hitchocockian approach to psychological visual story-telling.

I have the screen-play. Picked it up at a garage sale. I need to read that still.

Anyway, Eyes Wide Shut is a masterpiece of suspense. It's a fucking masterpiece.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Pumping Iron


I just watched Pumping Iron. I'd never actually seen it the whole way through, just clips here and there.

It's a really cool snapshot in time as it follows the 1975 Mr. Olympia competition. It's a pretty superficial documentary that is more like a band's tour diary than anything else. You don't really get into anyone's psyche. It's just light-hearted banter between various body-builders. You actually don't learn very much at all. So from that perspective it's a failure. But on the flipside...it is entertaining. So you gotta give it that. It'd be worth it for Arnold's "cumming" monologue alone.

Arnold comes across like a bit of an arrogant douche. No surprise there. Ferigno comes across as a simple child.

The best part about it is the motivation factor. You watch it and you want to lift hard. That's all there is to it. It's a 90 minute pep talk. It'll be fresh in my mind when I hit the gym tomorrow.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

People Who Eat Darkness


Who isn’t fascinated with Japan? The place is fucking insane. I’d love to go one day and soak in the soba noodles, bask in the glory of neon lights, sex toy vending machines, and bosozoku. I want to feel girls’ boobs on the subway on my way to the tearoom filled with cats. One day…

Anyway, I can’t remember how I came across People Who Eat Darkness. GQ maybe? Or a recommendation on Amazon? Regardless, I just read through 450 pages pretty freakin fast. I  inhaled the book in a matter of days. It was gripping stuff. It’s a true story about a young, hot, English woman who goes missing in Japan. 

The author was an expat reporter who covered the case from day one. He cobbles together years of personal interviews and experience to bring this story to life. It’s a pretty well-rounded book covered many aspects of the girl, her family, and her assailant. I don’t want to go into much detail cuz that’d spoil things. It’s a mystery, a hunt, a court case, an ethical nightmare, and a variety of twists and turns. 

The Japanese are so bizarre. So über nationalistic, so introverted, so polite, yet so unique, extroverted, and fucking bananas at the same time. They’re uptight and they’re over the top. It makes perfect sense. It’s the same logic in Detroit. The city sucks so bad that it compels people to try that much harder to be awesome and kick ass. The shittiness fuels the awesomeness. Great adversity builds character and innovation. Japan is the same. It’s so repressed, so stoic, so culturally codified that the only logical reaction is to take every form of rebellion to the extreme. It’s the land of tentacle porn. 

I’m getting off topic. I don’t read a lot of true crime cuz I genuinely don’t like dwelling on something heinous that actually happened to someone. I’d prefer if it was fictional. But I took a chance on this. And I don’t regret it. It ruled. 

Learn about salarymen and hostesses. Learn about the Japanese judicial system. And see how the actions of one man can have a radical, irreversible impact on the lives of many. For the worse. 

If you read one true crime murder mystery this year…this is the one.



Thursday, August 7, 2014

Meat is for Pussies


JJ, you gotta love him. You don't always have to believe him, but you gotta dig his stories. You've probably read Evolution of a Cro-magnon, JJ's bio. If not, go do it! Order that shit now!

Meat is for Pussies is exactly what it says it is; a book on getting fit, kicking ass, and taking names.

JJ lays out his argument for eliminating animal products from your life. He's 54 and is constantly doing Ironmans and triathlons, etc. The dude is in great shape and he's been vegan for most of his life.

This book is engrossing. It reads just like his bio. It's blunt. And it's pretty lowbrow, let's be straight. It's an honest book that dispels common myths about eating meat, protein, and whatnot. He interviews and cites a plethora of different vegans throughout the book. They come from all walks of life. They all have their own stories and achievements to tell.

He lays out fitness plans, there's a cookbook aspect to it, and there's a scientific aspect. He has some pretty generic quotes from the likes of Thoreau and Einstein peppered through the book. Nothing very deep or unique as far as that goes.

But the important thing is that it works. The book makes you question your choices. You can't deny what he's saying and it motivates you. It's the good kick in the ass that you need. It's funny, but it also makes you stop and order 9 grain bread with Earth Balance spread instead of white bread with butter.

It's going to stick with me for a while. I'm already changing my habits. I strongly suggest you read this book. At the very least you'll find it a quick, funny, entertaining read. But hopefully it affects you on a deeper level and you stop and think before you buy some processed food shit or cook a chicken.

Meat is for pussies.