Tuesday, November 25, 2014

AND YOU THOUGHT BAND AID WAS BAD...

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you perhaps the single most embarrassing "benefit" song to sweep through our culture in the churning wake of the UK's "Do They Know It's Christmas" and the USA's "We Are The World"... the insipid "Tears Are Not Enough", by a veritable smorgasbord of Canadian recording artists going by the group name (ugh) Northern Lights. You have to hear - and see - this thing to believe how awful it is...


Proof positive that the very ripest cheese in the world is produced right here in the New World!

The amazing paradox of "Tears Are Not Enough" is, of course, the fact that the individual talents who took part in it include some of the most critically acclaimed singers and songwriters ever to dent vinyl. This is underscored by the coincidence that arguably the most talented individuals included provide the most cringe-worthy moments (I'm looking at you, Neil and Joni!).

What is it about "cause" music that makes it so fucking awful? Is it because these songs are so mired in the historical moment that they're bound to seem dated in fairly short order? I'm guessing that must at least play some part in it. Although, on the other hand, none of the performers here were producing their best work in 1985.

Yes, you won't find too many people claiming 1985 as an artistic high-water mark in any of the arts. It was a miserable year, creatively speaking, wherever you turned. The movies sucked, TV sucked, the music sucked... in the mainstream, in particular. Hell, even superhero comic books began a long slide towards mercenary mediocrity - a long, hard drop from an early-80's boom - 'round about that time.

So yes, the mid-80's sucked. But "Tears Are Not Enough" sucked so hard, those of us upon whom MuchMusic used to inflict it used to wonder whether it actually caused more harm than good. Like, maybe someone was planning on giving money to help starving Africans, but then they saw this video, and said: "Fuck it."

We can only pray to God that this is not, in fact, what took place.

Monday, November 24, 2014

MEDIAVORE:FILM ~ SPIDER LABYRINTH (1988)

SPIDER LABYRINTH (1988)

Do you like your Italian horror movies full of vertiginous angles, vivid primary colors, and improbably hot Italian actresses? You say you’re a fan of gratuitous toplessness, piss-poor English dubbing, and bizarre sub-plots that lead absolutely nowhere at a breakneck pace? Do you prefer an "American" hero is a hairy-necked, oblivious dullard that is completely ineffectual at preventing people from dropping like flies all around him? Are you a fan of cheap-shot “jump” scares accompanied by orchestral stings so incongruously loud that your ears ring for weeks, afterwards? Do you dig giant, vaguely Lovecraftian spiders and vicious, hissing, seemingly indestructible vampiric Bonobo apes? Then by all means, drop whatever it is you're doing right now and watch Spider Labyrinth with me, right fucking now?

THE ESSENCE OF WITTGENSTEIN'S TRACTATUS LOGICO-PHILOSOPHICUS


One of the most ambitious and influential philosophical works of the 20th century is Ludwig Wittgenstein's monumental (though relatively short) Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, which set out to do nothing less than "identify the relationship between language and reality" and "define the limits of science". 

One of the things I personally appreciate about this work is its elegant structure. Instead of tangling the reader's brain in syllogistic knots - or confounding it with epic bursts of neo-logorrhea - Wittgenstein chooses to present his seven basic propositions clearly and succinctly, elaborating upon them only sparingly, and only when absolutely necessary. He even presents his famous seventh proposition without any further clarification at all, which, considering what it states, is a perfect choice.

Back in the late 1980's, when I was a philosophy student at Mount Allison University, Professor Gordon Treash once suggested to us that any philosopher who couldn't summarize his work on the back of a napkin was not worth studying. I present to you now a very handy summary of Wittgenstein's Tractatus that was handed down to me some time ago, and it uses a non-standard translation of some of the phrases that I think help give a certain edge to his thought, particularly when perused as comparison to and in contrast with the more popular, standard translations. 

Using a fine felt tipped pen on a fully unfolded napkin, you should just about be able to pull it off.
1 ~ The world is everything that is the case.
2 ~ What is the case, the fact, is the existence of atomic facts.
3 ~ The logical picture of the facts is the thought.
4 ~ The thought is the significant of the proposition.
5 ~ Propositions are truth-functions of elementary propositions. (An elementary proposition is a truth-function of itself)
5.6 ~ The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.
6 ~ The general form of truth function is: [underp, underE, N(underE)]
This is the general form of proposition.
6.1 ~ The propositions of logic are tautologies.
6.2 ~ Mathematics is a logical method. The propositions of mathematics are equations, and therefore pseudo-propositions.
6.22 ~ The logic of the world which the propositions of logic show are tautologies, mathematics shows in equations.
6.4 ~ All propositions are of equal value.
6.42 ~ Hence also there can be no ethical propositions. Propositions together cannot express anything higher.
6.421 ~ It is clear that ethics cannot be expressed. Ethics are transcendental. (Ethics and aesthetics are one).
6.5 ~ For an answer which cannot be expressed the question too cannot be expressed. The riddle does not exist. If a question can be put at all, then it can also be answered.
7 ~ Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must remain silent.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

MEDIAVORE:FILM ~ ETHEREAL CHRYSALIS


In May of this year, I was fortunate to be present on opening night at Toronto's Art for Peace exhibit, a ground-breaking showcase for the works of many fine Canadian and international artists, all working in a loosely defined genre often referred to as "Fantastic Art". My somewhat lengthy overview of that event can be read here.

One of the people I had the pleasure of meeting that night was Montreal video artist Syl Disjonk, who was there to help his friend, associate, and fellow artist Jean Pronovost set up some large pieces, including a sculpture of a vengeful Sphinx murdering a bloated businessman by shoving fistfuls of gold coins into his fat, gaping gob - a piece that was widely recognized by all present as one of the exhibition's high points.

Late in the evening, when the crowds began to thin, I got a chance to spend some quality time with the remarkably personable Syl and Jean, chatting about their work as well as our shared interests, which included Quebecois pop culture, progressive metal pioneers Voivod, and, of course, our love of all things Lovecraft.

Syl, I learned, had recently completed a short film called Ethereal Chrysalis, which he described to me as "a surrealist Lovecraftian mind-fuck", or words to that effect. After visiting the short's website, I was intrigued. Then I saw the film, and to say that it did not disappoint would be a massive understatement.

This movie is just pure, balls-out bonkers from start to finish. It begins with Syl ripping his own face off and inviting you to step inside his head, where a labyrinthine series of paranoid tableaux unfold. These evocative hellscapes are bursting with subliminal elements and psycho-mystical symbolism. Carrying an armload of unidentifiable carrion, Syl discovers a ladder leading up to the head of a giant version of himself. He climbs the ladder and is almost instantly trapped by a sinister “psychic alchemist” who draws out some of Syl’s life essence, using it to transform into a slimy penis/eel/tentacle that flies into a black hole only to be reborn as a half-turtle, half-crustacean war-beast, forcing Syl to retaliate by tearing off his own head, hurling it at the monster, and trapping it in a bloody cocoon of crusty scabs.

And that's when things really get weird.

Until recently, Ethereal Chrysalis was making the festival rounds, which means that it wasn't available to watch online. Festivals frown on giving screen time to work that people can watch on their iPhones while taking a dump in the office shitter, you see. But now, after earning plaudits and awards all around the world, Syl has decided that the time is right to unleash his movie on an unsuspecting world via that most democratic of all video sharing sites, Youtube. 

And so, without further ado, I proudly present my friend Syl Disjonk's film, Ethereal Chrysalis, to the Daily Dirt Diaspora readership. I urge you to watch it and, if you like it, to share it with your friends. It's a twisted little masterpiece - an obvious labor of love - and attention must be paid.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

MEDIAVORE:TV ~ OVER THE GARDEN WALL


Reading the Wikipedia page for Patrick McHale's latest animated series, Over the Garden Wall, I am struck near dumb by the almost universal lack of critical acknowledgment that this magnificent accomplishment in animated narrative is receiving. 

I will be brief. This series deserves every single award given to animation, fantasy, storytelling, music and what have you that there are out there to win. This is a singular achievement, certainly bound to become a timeless classic, forever cherished as long as there are human beings with beating hearts in their chests, more than a handful of brain cells to rub together, and some kind of medium via which it may be experienced. 

If you have yet to watch it, kindly do so NOW. Also, be sure to share it with everyone you love. If this show's creators were to ask me to provide a blurb for the DVD packaging, it would be this: "Legit and bona fide!"

The Powers That Be seem to have something against it for some utterly mysterious reason. Perhaps, in time, that will become part of what makes it so incredibly special.

Friday, November 14, 2014

MONSTER MAYHEM THURSDAYS - PRINCE STOLAS OF HELL

This is my depiction of Prince Stolas, described by Wikipedia as "a Great Prince of Hell", who "commands twenty-six legions of demons, and teaches astronomy and the knowledge of poisonous plants, herbs and precious stones. He is also known as Stolos and Solas. He is depicted as either being a crowned owl with long legs, a raven, or a man.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

MEDIAVORE:TV ~ SNUFF BOX

Premiering on BBC3 in February of 2006, at the tail end of the glorious, decade-long New Comedy tidal wave that swept across the UK, Matt Berry and Rich Fulcher's semi-sketch, semi-narrative, pitch-black TV comic oddity Snuff Box represents either the crest or the trough of that wave... depending on who you ask.


Here's the set-up, such as it is: The couldn't-be-more-British Berry - a whiskey-loving scoundrel with a rapist wit (no, really) and a silky smooth baritone vox - is employed as High Executioner to the King of England. He also may or may not be a direct descendant of Jack the RipperFulcher - a moon-faced, socially awkward American with poor hand-eye coordination and a penchant for profoundly inappropriate bursts of surreal profanity - has somehow weaseled his way into a position as Berry's assistant, not to mention adjunct membership in the posh Hangman Gentleman's Club where much of the series takes place.

Although the two men couldn't be more different, the way they play off each other serves as both an excellent example and a postmodernist deconstruction of the stereotypical Brits-versus-Yanks dynamic.

For instance, while Berry clearly sees himself as an alpha-type upholder of certain manly virtues, he is also a broken human wreck. Whether he's being bested at fisticuffs by a mincing Negro tailor, pompously failing miserably on a trivia-based game show, or violently bullying old ladies and small dogs, we sense in Berry a certain resigned nihilism, nourished perhaps by a deep current of post-Edwardian melancholy at the loss of Empire... like James Bond with a gammy leg and acute alcoholic hepatitis.

Fulcher is equally monstrous, but for entirely different reasons. A rampaging Id to Berry's unctuous Super-Ego, Fulcher is a virtual whirlwind of bewildered frustration, a middle-aged man-child of apocalyptic ignorance whose gross incompetence is so incomprehensibly profound that Berry's mediocrity shines like gold in comparison. Hence their undeniable chemistry.

To the extent that Snuff Box is known at all, it's mostly through a couple of set pieces - unrelated to the overriding story arc - that became viral videos, chief among these being the brutal "Boyfriend" sketches...


...and the comparatively delightful "Rapper with a Baby" sketch.


This is unfortunate, because although the above sketches are very funny, they barely hint at the ice-cold, pitch-black perfection of the show from which they've been excised. There are moments in Snuff Box, such as a Mac versus PC argument that takes place literally on the gallows, that border on the Satanic.

In case you're wondering, that is as unqualified a recommendation as you're ever likely to get out of yours truly.

So go out and buy Snuff Box, which is now available on DVD in North America with a bunch of excellent extras, including a CD of Matt Berry's wonderful music created especially for the series. If you don't like it, you can always just donate it to the nearest orphanage. What with the population crisis getting so out of hand, God only knows we could use a few more serial killers around.

MEDIAVORE:TV ~ TOO MANY COOKS

Anyone and everyone who might ever wander onto this blog owes it to him-or-herself to check out Too Many Cooks, a short film that recently debuted on Cartoon Channel's [adult swim] programming block. It's a work of absolute demented genius on so many levels, I'm not even going to bother trying to catalogue them all. Just let it wash over you, and enjoy.


Friday, October 31, 2014

QUOTE OF THE DAY - FRIDAY, OCTOBER 31, 2014

“The allotted function of Art is not, as is often assumed, to put across ideas, to propagate thoughts, to serve as an example. The aim of art is to prepare a person for death, to plough and harrow his soul, rendering it capable of turning to good.”

- Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky.

MATT'S LOST MONEY SITUATION

My good friend Matt Pollack lost a large sum of money when a hidden stash of cash slid down the back of the chimney in his apartment. He and his Run Run It's Him partner-in-film Jamie Popowich filmed Matt's subsequent (somewhat ludicrous) preparations and attempts at retrieval, turning it into a short film of sorts, entitled The Lost Money Situation. You can watch it at the link, for free. You can also download Run Run It's Him from the above link, but you have to pay for it (a review is forthcoming). Enjoy!