I spent the entirety of the hurricane holed up in my 1.5-bedroom apartment with my girlfriend, her brother, his wife, my two 80-year-old grandmothers and my dog. I am not yet sure how it is that I did not go absolutely insane, but I managed it. I ended up watching more movies than I had in a while, all of them somehow oriented around action: G.I. Joe, Star Trek, The Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Prince of Persia, Highlander and Big Trouble in Little China. I had never hidden to fact that I enjoy action films more than any other genre -- yes, that is including lugubrious black-and-white French affairs where men and women smoke while not making eye contact -- but apparently my tolerance for them is utterly bottomless.
I've been watching History's ufology/ancient astronaut series Ancient Aliens -- the show where every "expert" interviewed has a book called ______ of the Gods -- and it has just been the most entertaining thing. Mainly because every interview plays out almost exactly like this:
Most web videos you see in the 16-bit style tend to use the SNES as their basis for the visuals. This is, usually, because the SNES was the superior system as far as visual quality was concerned. This leaves us Genesis owners in the dust, even after
we I finally acknowledged the superiority of the competing system fifteen years down the line. So it's really nice to see the Sonic, Streets of Rage references and general Sega feel in Mykola Dosenko's video for Samo Sound Boy's "Shuffle Code"
One of the first serious, popular looks at Philip K. Dick's work was this Rolling Stone profile from 1973. It was even featured on the cover, right under the cover article on Rod Stewart. Besides the reporting, the article featured this beautiful splash page. The scattered pills, the yin-yang necklace, the nightmarish file cabinet and that it's-not-there-it's-not-there-it's-not-there glance on PKD really make it for me.
I am a single season away from finishing the entire run of Seinfeld. I am prone to turning on a television show while hangin' out (my epic run of nine season of Criminal Intent, for instance) and Seinfeld turned out to be a particularly quick watch. I also realized that somehow I have managed to actually have seen all of it previously, even though I can't really recall ever sitting down and watching the show.
Anyhow, I'm pretty glad I watched it this way because it nearly rivals Arrested Development in the amount of visual callbacks, and they're all more enjoyable when you're not squinting and wondering "is that... I think I saw before..." rather than being sure and just, well, enjoying them. Considering I have the memory for something like that, I hope to someday being able to make something like this:
Every moving-image format has its own way of imparting itself onto the film it used to display. For instance, film has an evident grain, digital video can have compression artifacts. Due to the way magnetic tape displays video, it doesn't naturally freeze to a single image, like pausing a DVD or freezing onto a single film frame. Rather, it shows a blurry, interlaced moment (of course, if you want to be pedantic, it is possible to have a high-quality VCR that can freeze individual frames, but this isn't the general experience of watching a video tape.) Andy Denzler paints these moments.
Couple Sharing Bed
There's an intimacy to these paintings that otherwise wouldn't be there if it wasn't for the distortion of the video tape. These aren't moments from a film, but private ones, from private tapes, never meant to be seen by others not due to the content, but because they wouldn't be of any use to an outsider. They're like a brief window into someone else's life: a peek through the window into someone else's moments.
In to the Blackwoods II
Also, there is an air of purpose around them all. Why were these moments recorded? The fact that they were, in the fiction of the painting, implies a narrative. The framing of them as moments from a VHS tape means they are part of a larger span of time, a number of moments of which -- I am not 100% on how video tape works, despite reading up on it -- are seen here in a single painting.
Fabian's "Last Flight" has been really hitting all the right spots for me lately. It's feel, of all things, nostalgic -- reminiscent of the 90s techno-pop I heard on the radio as a kid. The production, however, is pure 2011, with all the retro-modern trappings of today's electronica.
I saw Austra open for Cold Cave the other day and, as it happens once in a blue moon, was delightfully surprised by an opening band of whom I had never heard before. The band consists of a young woman doing vocals, two backup singers, a guitarist, keyboardist and live drummer.
Austra, sans third vocalist and drummer
The three on vox appear to have been raised on a steady diet of Stevie Nicks and the Cocteau Twins: ethereal vocals and ghostly dance steps abound. They were overtly (almost pretentiously) strange, but the endearing sultriness of the act won me over. The enthusiasm of their fans -- they danced! At a show in New York! -- was delightful as well. They're playing live again soon, and I intend to catch them. Someone quite fortunately took footage of the show I attended, so here are Austra performing "Young and Gay":
...and for better sound quality, here is their video for their single and crowd-please "Lose It":
Meanwhile, at Google Reader, Josh shared a link with an image of the amazing stage design for French fencer Charlotte's stage in Samurai Shodown 2 for the NeoGeo. In high school, I may have played the Samurai Shodown games more than any other, save for possibly the Kings of Fighters. Basically, I was an enormous NeoGeo fanboy from the moment I realized that even my Pentium 2 could emulate the system at full-speed. I would leave my dial-up connection on while I was in school and between download managers and some hope, I would have a game ready to play by the time I got home. Then I would proceed to intermittently play it, read FAQs, and find websites that explained the surprisingly involved storylines that NeoGeo fighters usually had. I was, uh, pretty much this guy:
Like Charlotte's stage struck the author above, the music for Charlotte's stage in Samurai Shodown IV, titled "Continuation of the Woman from Far Away" (the game is Samurai Shodown, after all) always stood out for me . I can remember losing more than one match just because I was so caught up listening. It's not just downtempo, it's also full of silences, which is very rare for a video game, much less a 90s fighter.
Before I read PKD or Gibson or Ellis or Stephenson or any weird-ass author I can refer to as my favorite, there was William Sleator. I remember obtaining the first novel of his I read -- Interstellar Pig -- through one of those order-by-mail school book clubs. After that, I exhausted my local library's surprisingly well-stocked collection of his novels. Well, not that surprisingly; two of the librarians (the ones I would go there to hang out with) were pretty big on SF.
His novels were really unlike most young adult SF I'd read until that point. They were brutal: things changed for the young men and women involved, and they didn't always change for the best. People fought, people died, entire lives were altered by the choices of kids not who weren't too different from me. Endings weren't necessarily happy, and a moral ambiguity penetrated every action. In his 1974 Baby's-First-Kafka novel House of Stairs, a group of children were practically tortured with no savior in sight, left to suffer or escape by their own device. There was an independence to his novels that no other author could capture for me. For better or worse, nothing could stop a Sleator protagonist except themselves.
William Sleator died two days ago, at 66. But his books will live on and hopefully inspire more kids toward science and independence.