How ill was the Sherm ? pt. II

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So I’m watching Soul Train re-runs with the kids on Saturday morning, which is pretty normal.  It’s an episode from the early 90’s (not prime period), and Stacy Lattisaw is the guest.  I’m getting pretty bored by her robotic-smooth-electro-ballads, when the following occurs:

This must have been his “Party All the Time” moment. *  But in general, there is so much to love:

- those glasses

- the general manically funky moves that only le Sherm can do

- the fact he obviously give not shit one about even appearing to lip sync

Anyway, just wanted to share.  It certainly was the random non-cable highlight of the month.  More Sherm here.

 

* (The only musical thing I knew about Sherm was his unreleased album with Jon Anderson from Yes!)

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Choose-your-own synopsis

 

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Summary Bug has stumbled on a rare type of computational comedy.  Apparently, a random glitch on the Netflix app has caused certain summaries to “blend together“.  The results end up looking like a good Madlib.  Will a new form of entertainment be born from these irregular pairings !?!

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I doubt it, but most of these synopsis look better than the originals…

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(super-ewww)

pic3(hard times for Goofy family…)

pic5 (this would actually explain Creed better than reality could…)

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Anyway, keep checking, they keep getting better and better.  Hopefully Netflix won’t fix this issue anytime soon…

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Earthbound and down

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I was recently reminded, (in a rather cruel way) of how engaging and meaningful the ideas of the science-fiction genre are.  When most Hollywood movies seem to be a remake or a comic book, we can often look to sci-fi for the fantastically visual and cerebrally interesting.

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Case in point: the new Jonathan Glazer film Under the Skin.  It is optically wonderful as well as meditative and desolate (both visually and emotionally).  There are some uncomfortable moments that are not visceral but situational.  Scarlett Johansson, taking a break from the blockbusters, plays the alien man-stalker.  She tries to pick up single men in order to take them to a dark place where some mystical alien goo engulfs them.  But things change and roles are reversed.  That’s pretty much the movie….

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Except of course for how it feels.  Lonely, desolate, and alien, Under the Skin has the pacing of an 60’s art-house film, and the creepiness of a Twilight Zone episode.  The sound design is fantastic, and probably responsible for a large part of the uneasiness rampant in this film. Glazer has a style of his own (that certainly owes something to Kubrick, Lynch, and even Antonioni).  It is a singular film experience and one I would wholeheartedly recommend.

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But when thinking back to the merits of the sci-fi genre; the most impressive factor of Under the Skin is that it appears to be emotive-based science fiction as opposed to idea-based science fiction.  Nothing is revealed to us about this alien huntress, we as viewers are left to experience our world through her.  One of the most revealing scenes is when the protagonist gets utterly distorted in that crucible of late-20th century labyrinths: the mall. This alien can do few things well in this world  She has trouble talking to the men she hunts and no sense of working human groups and relationships. One sci-fi trademark notably absent from this film is any sort of advanced technology.  It is alluded to, but only by circles, colors and sounds.  Instead the movie relies on an impressionistic palette of displacement and isolation.

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Highly discuss-able and visually stunning, Under the Skin, is a fantastic cinematic anomaly, as well as another promising step on the continuously interesting path for Glazer.

 

 

 

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Generic Brand Video

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Before proceeding please watch the following:

 

Incredible no?  There they are, all the visual tricks big advertisers use in their media onslaught.  Very well done, and based on a piece by poet Kendra Eash.

What’s strange to me is how to process this.  I first saw this clip as a pre-feature at my local Arthouse cinema.  At that time it seemed like some sort of McLuhan-esque tome to how easily advertising can deceive through familiar images.  In other words, I read it as subversive.

It is actually an ad for Dissolve, who provide: “royalty-free stock images for designers and storyteller“.  I’m curious how effective this is for them.  They have done an amazing job of showing how these random images that are imbued with sentiment can work, but in another way, have pulled the curtain ALL the way back. Basically, they’ve showed us how the magic trick works before we’ve seen it.

I think the video IS subversive because it shows how meaningless all these cultural and emotional triggers are.  But if they are trying to get business, aren’t they shooting themselves in the foot?

 

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Comment all you want, I really don’t have an answer, (but the video is so well done….)

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Anders Petersen

anders1Gritty, grainy, and ever-so-real: welcome to the photos of Anders Petersen.

anders3I have seen the work of Swedish photographer, Anders Petersen before (you have too, see below), but until I came across this latest overview of his work:  (Anders Petersen ) I did not fully understand the depth and range of his photographic canon.

His most famous work is the Cafe Lehmitz photos.  The patrons of this Hamburg bar seem both charismatically hostile and human.  Petersen took pictures here for nearly three years and slept in the kitchen, so that might explain the level of intimacy he established with its regulars.

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Here’s two regulars you might have seen before: Rose and Lilly.

anders6Yup, it’s the Rain Dogs cover.

It’s fitting that Waits was drawn to this image.  Petersen’s gritty world of prostitutes, drug addicts and general fringe-dwellers resonates with the same seedy energy and humanity of the early Asylum-Era Waits material.  But again, that’s just one piece of Petersen’s work.

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To me, it’s encounters that matter, pictures are much less important.” – Anders Petersen

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anders9(the above photo really illustrated the power of the unspoken in photography…)

 

 

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True to the game (of architectural appreciation)

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In recent times, Ice Cube has parlayed his many talents into his own media empire.  Like him or hate him, you must admit he’s come a long way from his South Central origins. Did you know he also does architecture videos?  Great ones. (Can this please be a comprehensive series?)

This is going green 1949 style, bitch!

 

* Maximum propage to Dangerous Minds for this day-maker!

 

 

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Mungo Thomson

Working knowledge of current trends in conceptual art is not a strong point for me.  I know it can be good, bad and ugly.  The good part seems best exemplified by Los Angeles-based artist Mungo Thomson. My new acquaintance with his work came via this book : Time People Money Crickets.

Perhaps it is the variety of 20th century subject matter that attracts me to his work: (Dylan, Chuck Jones and Jack T. Chick), or the way Thomson varies the subtext of such familiar things.  As Martin Herbert says in the book:  “That by pointing to the margins he’s talking about the existent breadth of a spectrum: of experience, of culture.”

 

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Take the above, for instance: Yes, it’s truly that much time, only the Bob has been removed.  It’s about the audience and thirty years of the sound they make. (If you have a Real Media player, you should be able to hear it here.)

 

 

The American Desert (For Chuck Jones):  Again, what’s taken away is Coyote and Roadrunner.  What you are left with is the truly beautiful, abstract byways of the great Chuck Jones.

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Acoustic Partition:  Of course these thing should be giant accordions!  Why didn’t anyone think of this sooner?

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Coat Check Chimes:  For the 2008 Whitney Biennial, Thomson made a random enormous musical instrument that still allowed the function of coat-checking to commence.  (I hope they kept this.)

 

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Everything Has Been Recorded: In the style of the evangelical comics of Jack Chick, Thomson hems a comic from his old journals.  He left these at various airports!

Here’s a panel, that encapsulates (to me) the spirit of his work:

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True/False Wrap-Up

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Another fantastic time was had by yours truly at the True/False Film festival this year. I saw many enlightening documentaries, as well taking a mini culinary tour of Columbia Mo. (catfish, bbq, etc.).  I cannot recommend this festival enough, here’s my highlights:

20,000 days on earth / Dir. Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard

Portrait of the artist as a very fancy man.  Stylistically, there’s not another music doc like this, however watching Cave drive his luxury sedan to his shrink to discuss his father wasn’t quite what I had in mind.  Worth it for the Warren Ellis appearances.

Rich Hill / Dir. Andrew Droz Palermo & Tracy Droz Tragos

Poor, white and rural, but to the filmmakers credit (they grew up in Rich Hill) it avoids judgement.  There are moments of staggering beauty in this otherwise bleak tale about being a kid and having no options.

Tim’s Vermeer / Dir. Teller

Someone said at the screening I was at (after Tim himself came out) that he was the most inspiring person they had ever seen on-screen.  I couldn’t agree more.  Tim’s superhuman will to discover leads to an answer we haven’t known for 350 years.

Jodorowsky’s Dune / Dir. Frank Pavich

Jodorowsky had one criteria for anyone working on his Dune adaptation.  THEY MUST BE A SPIRIT WARRIOR!  Film as a vision quest, as well as the ultimate “what if?” for the science-fiction world.

Particle Fever / Dir. Mark Levinson

I think just explaining particle physics is pretty impressive.  Here is everything you wanted to know about the Large Hadron Collider in France.  Amazingly, the point of this 7.5 billion-dollar operation is to “make sure they’re on the right track“!  A fascinating look at how science and hypothesis interact.

The Joycean Society / Dir. Dora Garcia

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Uber-smarties meet in Zürich to discuss Finnegans Wake, which they’ve been doing since the 80’s.  The movie is about an hour-long and they only cover a page and half! Finnegans Wake knowledge is not required, but you’ll probably be infected after seeing this.

Here’s a link to the 2012 wrap-up, should you need more to watch…

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Polyfauna

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I know I don’t usually cover smartphone apps, but I do cover Radiohead: hence let’s talk about Polyfauna.

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Polyfauna is Radiohead’s (in conjuncture with Stanley Donwood and  Universal Everything) first foray into the app world.  Basically, the user is dropped into an expansive landscape (complete with 8-bit rain) where you can wander rather aimlessly.  Drawing on the screen creates a spiked-centipede creature or other geometric abstraction. Follow the red dot and you’re in a different environment.  Each environment plays an extended loop that constitutes some minor portion of “Bloom“.  Pretend the liner notes from Kid A came alive, and you have some idea of what you’re in for.

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The enjoyment factor: variable (depending on your current conscious state while operating).  The execution: perfect (what I would imagine a Radiohead electro-dream world to be).  But my favorite part is its purpose: none.

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Radiohead has always been good at using their elevated platform as artists to challenge, or at least subvert typical business models, musical expectations, etc.  But this is truly just arty. They could have easily evolved this into a more robust app (like Bjork’s Biophilia) with many more bells and whistle, or things to purchase, or even a simple directive purpose.  But they didn’t.  They just put it out there, it’s free, it’s goofy and wonderful, and it makes me appreciate them even more…

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Best Reissues of 2013

(Again, no real order.  See last year’s here.)

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Lee Hazlewood / There’s a Dream I’ve Been Saving

First off: most fantastic packaging EVER.  The level of quality Light in the Attic put into this is beyond amazing.  Cowboy in Sweden and Requiem for an Almost Lady are two of the best Hazlewood album crop, both are included here along with: the Ann-Margret album, 40, two discs worth of the LHI music stable, and the strangely-non-mustached-Lee in the “movie”: Cowboy in Sweden.

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The Fall / 5 Albums

A budget package of the Fall’s late 80’s output.  While current criticisms cites the early Warner Fall albums (Nation’s Saving Grace, Wonderful and Frightening) as the keepers, there are so many buried treasure on Kurious Oranj and the Frenz Experiment (Cab It Up, New Big Prinz, Carry Bag Man, Athlete Cured, the Steak Place (!?!) to name a few).  Plus you get a half-live album, all the singles and b-sides of the era, and a whole disc of Hit the North mixes (that works far better than it should).

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Ilaiyaraaja / Ilectro!

Finders Keepers has been doing a terrific job of giving Ilaiyaraaja his due.  This collection of dancefloor-friendly soundtrack cuts from 80’s is unlike anything you’ve ever heard.    Think of Bollywood breakdance music that changes rhythm, tone and instrumentation every 40 seconds.  Confusingly adventurous and so fun.

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Bob Dylan / Another Self Portrait

In 1972 I was probably still bumping Sesame Street Disco, so I didn’t really have time to get up in arms over the original Self-Portrait.  If (for some odd reason) we ever wanted to take stock of Dylan’s majesty, let’s remember this is an album of outtakes from one of his crappiest albums, and its probably on 9 out of 10 Best of Lists.

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Roky Erickson / The Evil One * Don’t Slander Me * Gremlins Have Pictures

Many times reissues become attractive because of extra cuts, demo recordings and other value-added selling points.  These 3 Roky albums have no extras, and it matters so little.  First off, the Evil One is a near perfect album of unhinged chaos and genius, it still gives me goosebumps.  It’s also great having terrific-sounding versions of the other two.  All come with super-copious linear notes that provide more details to the Roky story we all thought we knew.

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Francoise Hardy / Midnight Blues

Everybody’s favorite ye-ye girl gets deeper.  Singing in English, this collection collects tracks from 1968-72.  Even if the lyrics are light, the arrangements are incredible.  Comparable to what Mickie Most did for Donovan, in terms of turning an ok song into an immaculate cut.

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Various Artists / Good God! Apocryphal Hymns

Numero (as usual) had many noteworthy releases this year, but this was my favorite.  A collection of private-press gospel records doesn’t sound that exciting, but the sheer variety within is incredible.  From the seemingly broken drum machine of Otis G. Johnson’s “Walk with Jesus” to the stoney-basement vibe of the Sprititual Harmonizer “God’s Love“, this proves real people are the funkiest of all…

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Mountain Goats / All Hail West Texas

The fidelity is the same cassette quality as before, but I totally forgot how fun, honest and heartfelt these songs are.  MANY bands tried this formula in the 90’s but this is one of the best examples of home-recorded, end-of-the-century blasts of localized ennui.

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Miles Davis Quintet / Live In Europe 1969

This is the In A Silent Way Miles band, the Third Great Quintet, and there are only a few shows with this line up.  Late-period-electric-Miles is a universe unto itself, so let’s call this one of the larger moons of Saturn.  I guess the best thing I can say about this music is that it NEVER feels familiar, it’s dense, sometimes overwhelming, but never boring…

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Townes Van Zandt / Sunshine Boy: The Unheard Studio Sessions

I have to admit, I don’t really like the TVZ studio albums, they’re overproduced and bury the majesty of his songs in unnecessary over-production.  Little of that is here.  Instead we get some sparse out-takes, and most-importantly: the demo versions that trump many of the originals.

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