?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous 15 | Next 15

Feb. 9th, 2011

Academic

Fic: 'Every Phone in Dublin' (8/25)


Title: Every Phone in Dublin
Fandom: The Matrix
Characters: Mouse/Zephyr (OC)
Word Count: 945
Prompt: From fanfic25, 5/17: 'Find'.
Notes: None
Summary: "It is later that night, when every other topic has been exhausted, that Mouse asks Zephyr where he was from."Collapse )

Feb. 7th, 2011

Academic

Hey, look, a journal.

     So, some of you may have been wondering where I've been for a while. Well.

Agitato.Collapse )

Staccato.Collapse )

     The weirdest part of this is that the crazy hasn't just been localised to my immediate vicinity. For the last week or so, Wellington has felt strange, like a powder keg that's just waiting to go off. Everyone seems to be on the brink of snapping. If it continues, I predict random and senseless violence will start flaring up. The nights have been darker, and the darkness has been palpable. It's like Gotham City after the Joker starts wreaking havoc, or New York City in 'Watchmen'. The whole world feels dangerous, like the lunatics are in charge and the only people you ever see, or worse - something is turning everybody, no matter how sane, that bit closer to the edge. Caleb was feeling closed in a few nights ago, and there was very little to help him. Relationships are crumbling like dry sandcastles, relationships that were meant to be solid. Priorities are reversed.
     If this sounds scary, it should. I'm actually a little nervous in this city at the moment. I'm glad most of you are out of it.

     I was having a discussion with a good friend about an innocuous topic, and he disagreed with me. It wasn't important, something about his reasons for joining a club, and we disagreed. My friend, and suddenly all I wanted to do was punch him in the face.

Jan. 25th, 2011

Academic

Music Videos #30: In Which There's Tears Before Bedtime

1. Ratatat, 'Drugs'
Directed by: Carl Burgess
From the 2010 album LP4
Watch at YouTube

There's something a little weird going on in this video. I'm not sure precisely how to describe it, but it's similar to that feeling I get when I have to type a word repeatedly in rapid succession: after a while it begins to look as though it's spelled wrong. About a minute into this video, something strange happens - the faces of the actors temporarily look disproportionate, like their mouths are too wide or something. It may be in my head. And then, when that subsides, the video piles weird on weird: against the not-entirely-unpleasant synthesised droning of the song, we see extreme close-ups of extreme emotion. The actors are angry or crying. Beneath the obvious inspiration of a day at the studio for stock photography, there's something hidden away here: something almost sinister, Stepford Wives-ish. An exploration of the too too perfect.

2. Godley & Creme, 'Cry'
Directed by: Kevin Godley and Lol Creme
From the 1985 album The History Mix Vol. 1
Watch at YouTube

This video struck the well of morphing technology long before Michael Jackson's 'Black or White' did, and to much more impressive effect. Here's a very simple idea for a very simple song, and yet they're both so satisfying simply through sheer repetition. The song tells us 'You don't know how to ease my pain', and we're told through the lyrics and through the people staring at us, delivering the words with such impassioned faces that we can't help but feel it. The fact that the actor who really is crying is overacting a little doesn't harm the video in any way - it's as though everyone has turned the emotion up to eleven anyway. We really do feel it, even from the Mr. T lookalike. And this song was directly responsible for the Flight of the Conchords song 'I'm Not Crying'. What more could you ask for?

3. St. Vincent, 'Actor Out of Work'
Directed by: Ian Kibbey and Corey Creasey
From the 2009 album Actor
Watch at YouTube

I found that this video shot straight to the top three favourites for 2009 - mostly because I'm an occasional actor and have been in audition like this. They're quite intense, and when you find yourself stuck in a room with a dozen people forcing themselves to tear up in various ways, it tends to heighten the emotion. This is why these two-and-a-half minutes are so powerful: because we're very close to the emotion, even though we know it's fake. The music soars with a wonderful backing vocal as we get closer and closer to the brink of the horrible emotion, and Annie sits there, almost mocking us with the lyrics. 'You're an actor out of work' is a literal line, and yet has a ring of subtext to it: someone who she used to love is manipulating her, and these auditions are really just a way of proving it.
Academic

Here comes the rain again.

     Keen viewers may notice that that last time I posted here, it was raining quite intensely on the morning of my sister's wedding (I still feel vaguely Godfather-ish whenever I use that phrase  "You come here, on the day of my only sister's wedding..."). Well, that went away for all of about an hour, and then returned at the beginning of the reception. It then kept up, without stopping, for thirty hours. It's nowhere near as bad as Australia's ordeal, but there has been some impressive flooding around the country and in the Hawke's Bay we managed to get seven inches of rain in twenty-four hours.

     But, the wedding. I realised that there was no way I was going to be able to use any of the venues I'd originally anticipated for the photography (I took a trek out at ten a.m., five hours before the ceremony, to have a look at the most covered one, a park. Five seconds after getting out of the car, my sneakers had completely soaked through and by the time I got as far as the location itself, the field had sodden my jeans from the knees down. I'm lucky I wasn't wearing my suit). This meant that my father and I were going to have to locate a new one, and fast.

     The day was quite easily the longest day of work I've ever experienced - thirteen hours all told. I jaunted back and forth between the bride getting hair and make-up done to the groom having a last drink of freedom to the bride getting into her dress and my mother crying and my brother teaching my father how to tie a full Windsor knot. The ceremony was short and, with my eyes behind the camera all the time, all I really remember is the actual snapshots. I honestly don't recall hearing the vows, which is a bit of a shame.

     At the reception, after the bridal shots were taken, I was seated with three cousins and their significant others, making me the only person at the table without a plus-one (Caleb, being a vegan, couldn't be slotted into the dinner at such short notice after my fiance and I split). Two of the three were planning weddings, and thus were remarking on the choices that had been made. My new brother-in-law's family are hardly speechmakers, the groom's father being one of those people that you don't want to converse with: equal parts inappropriate and downright strange, with a broad streak of thinking he's funny. The best man, it seems, hadn't actually prepared a speech. But aside from that, the reception got the approval from the soon-to-be married couples. And, of course, as the night was winding down, the third couple got engaged. I'm pretty sure that suggesting to Caleb that we tie the knot 'because everyone else is' might not go down well.

     The morning rush, and the stresses of redesigning a wedding shoot with no time, meant that I crammed an entire evening's worth of drinking into about two hours. But to be honest, my father and I had managed to finagle a rather cool-looking location that we could drive the vintage Fords into, was under shelter, had some interesting backdrops, and gave the whole thing a Bugsy Malone slash industrial look.

     And that's why my sister's wedding photography took place in a kiwifruit packhouse.

Jan. 22nd, 2011

Academic

Eep.

     So, it's my sister's wedding today, and I'm photographing. It's also pouring with rain.

     Well, there go all the locations I had considered shooting in.
Academic

Music Videos #29: In Which a Fight Breaks Out.


I wanted to wait until I found the name of a particular music video. I wasn't expecting it to take three weeks of frantic searching. I was watching New Zealand's music channel at 11 p.m., muted in the background while I took dictation for the speech my father's giving at my sister's wedding (which officially happens today), and I saw the familiar video. So:

1) Kids of 88, 'Just a Little Bit'
Directed by: Tim van Dammen
From the 2010 album Sugarpills
Watch at YouTube

I'm not necessarily a big fan of these guys; they've always struck me as a bit of a hipster-dance-anthem band, much as that implies an oxymoron, but I'm actually quite fond of the video for this song. It's not perfect, though. These guys are part of a host of similar sounding KIwi bands that have a thing for unnecessary 1980s visual effects, and the weird stereovision effect they have going on is pretty bad. Unless it's meant to be available in 3-D... [EDIT: I got out my red-blue 3D glasses and checked. No, it is not.] But the style of the video itself, all fight-scene with overt sexual undertones, is pretty cool. It includes the actual sounds of gasping from the track itself and exploits them in both the ways they could be seen. Plus, this video gets bonus points for presenting a rather interesting display of alternative sexualities - I may be overstating it, but that's no mean feat for a band to do here.

2) Operator Please, 'Leave It Alone'
Directed by: Duncan Skiles
From the 2007 album Yes Yes Vindictive
Watch at YouTube

These guys, on the other hand, I'm quite fond of. And it's partly this ridiculously cheery homage to Reservoir Dogs-style fight scenes that earned their place in my list of favourite Aussie exports. The whole 'paint as blood' thing has been done before, but never have I seen it done with quite this level of tongue-in-cheek fun and vibrancy that the idea so obviously requires. The fight sequences are surprisingly good, considering that I doubt any of the band members are trained stuntmen, the style (including a few wicked slow motion shots) is brilliant, and there are a few moments in amid the brightness and the paint splatter that are impressively gory. Limbs will go flying, and you may find yourself put off your food. But, oh, it will be worth it.

3) Jonathan Boulet, 'North to South East to You'
Directed by: Special Problems
From the 2010 album Jonathan Boulet
Watch at YouTube

Ah, the wall of death. I've never seen it look so... serene. I saw this video about eight months ago, then promptly forgot the name of the artist, the name of the song, and all of the lyrics. All I had was the description 'a bunch of indie boys colliding into each other in front of a grey screen'. And while that's a relatively concise description, it doesn't go any way towards explaining how this video makes me feel. So I'll try it another way. This song has a drumbeat that feels like I should be running, it has a vocal line that makes me feel like I should be sitting in a forest, and it has a distorted piano piece that makes me feel like I should be waiting for a train. It has a video that runs almost to monochromatism, and this lack of colour sharpens the movement, so the slow motion of the running, the deliberate scuff of the worn sneakers on the floor (a shot that still lingers with me), and the final, gratifying thud of the eventual crashes all resonate with me very, very deeply. There's also something to be said about the editing: in the mass groups scenes, some of the runners are female, but the collisions are between (as far as I can tell) only males. The violence in the actual actions are turned by the slow motion into a kind of embrace, particularly when the runners are cut off before they make contact with one another. And then the editing picks up, in time with the tempo of the song, and starts playing with direction. The slow motion that made the boys embrace now makes them weightless, and they almost start to fly. And that's the feeling that running, sitting in forests, and waiting for trains should always give me. A feeling of disattachment, a feeling of weightlessness.


Jan. 1st, 2011

Mouse

Music Videos #28: In Which I Dust Off the Memes for New Year.

1) Brandon Flowers, 'Crossfire'
Director: Nash Edgerton
From the 2010 album Flamingo
Watch at YouTube

In an unusual twist on the 'damsel in distress' routine, our lead singer from The Killers is here tied to a chair and strung upside-down in a straightjacket. What he's done wrong, we may never know, but it certainly seems to involve a lot of ninjas dancing around and looking vaguely threatening. It also involves being rescued by a very tired-looking Charlize Theron (maybe she looks so tired because Brandon keeps getting kidnapped by ninjas?) Although she keeps busting through doors and Brandon keeps smiling with relief as she cuts the ties around his wrists and the pyrotechnics flail madly, there's a little bit of uncertainty going on here, especially in the look they give each other as they drive off into the sunset in a beaten-up pick-up truck. The song is also a little bit weird in this way: it should be a soaring emotion-driven piece that reminds us of why we liked The Killers, but buried in the back of it is a tiny quiet doubt that occasionally surfaces - are we doing the right thing? Are we talking to the right people? Are we pretty sure we'll be rescued?

2) Cosmo Jarvis, 'Gay Pirates'
Director: Cosmo Jarvis
Unreleased
Watch at YouTube

Okay, so our New Year's party revolved around this song, mostly because it's a good shanty with a massive drumbeat. You can stomp to it. But the video itself is brilliantly put together. It's partly because it's a one-take, partly because it's got some good man-on-man action (with two straight dudes, even!), but mostly because it's the right kind of poor theatre aesthetic that really pleases me. Everything about this song feels well-worn and comfortable. Jarvis stated that the song was partly written to get homophobes dancing along to something before they realise what it is they're dancing along to, beyond the point where they're able to stop themselves easily. It's right there in the video, too: this song is, without doubt, a tragedy. But it's sneaked away by the triumphant return of our pirate heros, somehow still alive after walking the plank. It feels... right, somehow. It's a song that will break your heart if you listen to it closely, with a video that'll pull you right back from the brink of depression, and it all feels perfectly put together.

3) Gob, 'I Hear You Calling'
Director: Unknown
From the 2001 album The World According to Gob
Watch at YouTube

Okay, seriously, screw Michael Jackson's 'Thriller'. It consistently scores number one on lists of 'greatest music video of all time' (what, seriously? Being thirteen minutes long doesn't make it gob-smacking (sorry, that was awful) - just look at any Green Day video. In fact, the only thing that sets it apart is a wicked solo by Vincent Price, and Sir Ian McKellen just did a live performance with the Scissor Sisters, so it's beaten there too, I'm afraid. The worst thing that video has to answer for, though, is this one. 'I Hear You Calling' was the biggest hit this band had (in Canada), and it sounded in 2001 like the Foo Fighters did in 1994. This video retreads the boards of Michael Jackson's video with uncanny precision - bursting out of the ground? Check. 'Thriller' dance? Check. 'Twist' ending? Check. The only things it really adds are zombie cheerleaders, and zombie playing soccer. Yeah, that's right. The filming isn't half bad, but the effects, the song, the plot and everything else are appalling. You know what? Don't waste your time. Watch Dawn of the Dead instead.

Dec. 31st, 2010

Academic

The Epic Haul!

     Boy, I need a pick-me-up.

     It doesn't help that my romantic life is a melting pot of recriminations and I-don't-know-what-I'm-meant-to-do-here. Right now, I really want to be hugged and told it's going to be alright, but that'll only make me feel more entitled. Speaking of entitled, it's probably bad form to make a post detailing what I got for Christmas, but I have a stack of goodies here and I'll be darned if that and a glass of fine scotch won't make me feel better.

     I didn't see my parents until nearly a month after my birthday, so there were a few gifts waiting for me when I arrived in the Hawke's Bay. musicforwolves certainly looks dashing in his 'I am Full of Music' T-shirt from Questionable Content, but not nearly as good as he looks in the one that simply reads 'TEH'. Meanwhile, he'll read from the collected poems of Dorothy Parker, listen to Radiohead's Amnesiac, and watch The Matrix (again).

After Christmas, however, musicforwolves might be a bit busier. He will have to eat gummi bears, rocky road and mango-centred chocolates while making ice cubes shaped like the freakin' Titanic. He could be wearing his Last Exit to Nowhere T-shirt Collapse ) 
or the boxers that came with it. He'll do the dishes with a new teatowel while doing 1,001 NYT crosswords and listening to Bach, Rhian Sheehan, and more freakin' Radiohead. Ther's a spherical jigsaw puzzle sitting on the table, but musicforwolves has been distracted by North By Northwest and the seventh season of Scrubs. If that weren't enough, he's got forty bucks to spend on DVD rentals and Glenn Colquhoun, Pablo Neruda, George Orwell, Jamie Oliver and Anton Chekhov to read. There's a copy of Rolling Stone, counting down the top 100 Beatles songs, and an issue of Empire magazine, and two of Black&White photography magazine too. And if he stays in the Hawke's Bay much longer, he'll start sending postcards with Penguin books' original covers on the back.

All this... stuff. Add to that Yuletide and the various creative gifts I've been in the wrong cities to receive. I need to sit down.


Tags:

Dec. 28th, 2010

Graffiti

Massive Yuletide Recommendation Post!


     I'm supposed to be researching for the Christmas fanfic gifts I'm sending out, but I was also told to write one of these, so I have spent the better part of three hours skimming the entire Yuletide 2010 archive to find twelve pieces that I can crow about:

On the twelfth day of Yuletide, some fanfic came to me:

12) Cryptic Cases: Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Equitable Agency, written for the obvious fandom. There is very little I can say about this that isn't listed in the multiple comments listed at the bottom, but suffice to say that when I was a kid, Donald J. Sobol had written cases that (when they weren't subsequently proven by tvtropes to be incorrect) were just the right side of solvable. The two cases written here absolutely stumped me, and while I don't know enough to comment on the second solution, the first made me wonder where my observational skills went. It also neatly transplants the characters into their mid-twenties, figuring out that life isn't ever quite the same as it was in high school; just similar enough to recognise.

11) Great Commercials: I'm recovering from my traditional Christmas head cold, but I had to read all 2,300 words of Meta Yuletide Fic (The Fic You Wish Your Fic Smelled Like) aloud in my suavest voice. Which will ruin me, but I. Don't. Care. This is, while perhaps too obviously self-aware, brilliant. All the links work. Some of them even broke my brain. And it is written in the most fantastic impersonation of the Old Spice Guy that I think I've ever heard come from the mouth of someone who isn't the Old Spice Guy. I heartily recommend it to everyone who just wants to laugh hysterically for quite some time. Also, if you haven't had the experience of Care Bears BDSM fic, there's a link at the bottom of Meta Yuletide Fic. You're welcome.

10) Bronte Poems: I Am Acton Bell's Metaphorical Manhood, in the Hark! A Vagrant fandom, has forty-seven comments and a list of kudos that extends for nine lines of text. If you haven't read it, do so now. The first line of this fic is "Anne fucking hates the whole pseudonym thing." so you know it's going to be good.

9) Mystic Cities: Cities and the Dead. 0. The creation of a new one of Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities came to me unexpectedly, and I was almost unsure whether or not to proceed with it, after an experience of mine. I recently attended a performance of John Cage's 'Musicircus', where a number of musicians perform different pieces simultaneously. It was not good. (Neither is the awkward shift between hard and soft 's' sounds in the name. But anyway.) I'm glad I kept reading when I discovered what the city of Kethya was like, as it sounds melodious, beautiful, and utterly, utterly horrifying. For that reason, it's my second-favourite non-existent location.

8) Hulkling/Wiccan: One of my favourite Young Avengers fics this year, Relative Terms (or, Not Exactly Christmas Elves) runs the gamut from impossibly sweet to the best kind of ridiculous crackfic ever. "He averted his eyes and scratched the back of his neck, holding the tome out to Billy with one hand. "Happy early Hannukah."" This kind of sentence is so in-character that it makes my heart hurt just a little bit.

7) Danish Royals: Hamlet/Rosencrantz. 'Huh,' I thought, opening By These Pickers and Stealers in a new tab. 'I'm not sure how that'll work.' The answer is 'very well'. It's totally in keeping with the entirety of Hamlet, and tells the brief tale of a rather tempestuous relationship between the two men with a straight face and an occasional brandishing of the source material. I'm hooked, and slightly less inclined to slash the entire play now, which if you know me well will prove somewhat of a relief. Time will tell. Here's a quick sample: "It had been a dreaming sort of world, one to be half forgotten once the day returned."

Whoo, halfway! Let's break into some more obscure stuff that could do with more love:

6) Writing Ravens: The diction in Tea and Conundrums is perfectly spot-on (unlike the stuff in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (Abridged), which is good in a very different kind of way). It sets up, much like Lewis Carroll might have done, a quite perfect conundrum to be solved, filled with logical quandaries and a broad sense of surrealism. The first few lines, particularly, set up a pun that would have been music to the ears of an absurdist and master of language like Carroll.

5) Zombies Slash!: Explicit Zombieland fic: not something I thought I'd ever encounter. But the Tallahassee/Columbus slash in Impromptu is the Best Kind of Fun is not only well-written and in character, it's surprisingly HOT (considering I'm not generally a fan of significant age differences). I think what the author has done is make Columbus seem more adult, and Tallahassee more free and adolescent, which eases my discomfort at the general thing. It perhaps could have had a quick beta for spelling errors that spell-check won't notice (grammar fiends, be warned!) but overall, this is surprisingly good, as long as I try not to think too carefully about it.
Note: There's a lot of warnings that should be attached to the aforementioned piece, not least an incredibly trigger-happy dom/sub thing going on. Be prepared.

4) Thought-speak Friends: I thought the characterisation of the Animorphs fic Home(work) was quite impressive, but it's not that that is causing me to recommend this fic as much as I can. It's that this fic employs a very clever literary analysis of a poem by Tennyson to broaden the characters of Jake and Tobias. It's almost a pre-slash thing, but done so subtly and smoothly that I'm no longer sure if I'm reading too much into this writing or actually seeing what the author intended. In any case, it's sweet and a little heartbreaking. If you're a fan of it, or even read the first few books when you were a like, you might like to have a look at this.

3) Kisses:  Being Human fans! Humans in general! Track down Three Kisses, which is an excellent piece about what happens when a Jewish werewolf discovers Christmas. Or at least, that's as close to a summary as I'm willing to give. Put another way, there's three people with mistletoe, right? Which means there's three possible two-person kissing combinations. There's the ghost with the werewolf, the ghost with the vampire, and the vampire with the were... ooh. If Twilight had included this, I would have been one of the people camped out in my living room every time a new book came out. Curse heteronormativity! Anyway... Three Kisses is also wickedly, wickedly funny, right down to the last italicised lines.

2) Hacker Guys: I know, it's probably bad form to pimp the gift I received, but when I was informed that it was still on the list of fics without comments (I needed time to process mine) I had to spring into action. Mouse used to have a life before he was released from The Matrix, but what was it? I have my own answer to that, but the author of Le Chat, Le Chat! gives me a run for my money with this wonderfully written piece. I won't say anything more about it, as I have already pummeled my author with an incoherent rant of praise, but please give my author the Yuletide they deserve!

and a Swedish Danish Finnish Fic of Glee!: Not the TV show, but rather the emotion, just in case you were concerned. I'm referring instead to Scandinavia and the World, and the excellent fic A Very Scandinavian Valentine's Day, about which I'll simply have to quote from my favourite canon relationship in this webcomic: Finland/Sister Sweden.

"She stood back up and began circling him, watching as he tried to keep his eyes on her without moving too obviously." That is quite possibly the perfect ending to my Yuletide season.
Tags:

Dec. 22nd, 2010

Academic

Nurgh. -howls-

    Okay, my head is splitting and it's only the bloody 22nd. It doesn't help that Christmas seems out to attack me this year: today I got four paper cuts wrapping presents for the entire family, have candle wax and pine sap in my eyes, rendering me bloodshot and looking like I haven't slept, and have my new Questionable Content shirt dusted with glitter from decking the damn tree. None of my favourite carols have been any help in this situation, and I would make eggnog and drink myself to death on it, but we don't have any cinnamon. Fiance arrives tomorrow, but I'm unlikely to be available, having just been invited to a Christmas party. Is it a bad sign that I'm more willing to attend this party and get a bit drunk than see the person I'm considering spending the rest of my life with?

     Gah, holidays; I don't know.

     Good stuff: I got birthday presents! Collected works of Dorothy Parker, a Radiohead album, some new Chuck Taylors (which you have to see to believe - I know you lot in the States get all the fancy colours, but it's not that easy in Hicksville), two new T-shirts. I'm actually feeling quite good about that.

     Have seen the family, and that's all very nice. We're more preoccupied with my sister's wedding in January than with Christmas, so it'll be a small one this year. Still, tell that to the paper cuts.

     My brother used up the family's bandwidth when he turned his computer on for the first time in a month and Steam updated everything all at once, so I'm at dial-up speed for an undetermined amount of time. No YouTube videos, so my review won't go out until later. No gmail chat, unless I'm patient and hover over the 'refresh' button. I barely got my Yuletide to load, but that's happened so I'm quite pleased with this incredibly slow machine.
     My parents recorded a six-part documentary about Monty Python, so I sat down to watch the fourth episode tonight. Five minutes in, the disc stopped reading. I reloaded the disc; this time it wouldn't even start playing at all, just sat there making grindy noises. I tried my brother's PlayStation (spending five minutes finding all the cables): repeated whirring noises this time, but no Python. This computer wouldn't read the disc either. It opted for occasional clicking noises and pretending to forget I was waiting for it to do something. This is unbelievably frustrating.

     Last night was the full moon. If it weren't for the cloud cover, tonight I'd be howling at it.
Tags:

Dec. 19th, 2010

Academic

Save me, America!

So, I'm writing for Yuletide, and I don't want to do anything that'll send my reader to the thesaurus. So I'm brewing tea. Specifically, a character is brewing tea, and I'm trying to figure out what term to use.

I know from experience that tea in America, especially if you're doing it in an office, is likely to be in a teabag. That's not the problem, though. It's when you go to turn on the... thing that boils water. Here, I'd refer to it as the jug, but kettle is common too.

So, anybody that can help: what do *you* use to boil water?


Dec. 16th, 2010

Academic

Radiohead - An Ongoing Experiment - Part 2

     An anagram of the words 'In Rainbows OK Computer' is 'Combination Super-work'.

     Human beings have minds which are designed to interpret patterns. We can't help it: present anybody with two dots and a line in a particular pattern and we will perceive it as a face. It's why theories like a synchronicity between a film and an album, or a connection between two albums recorded ten years apart, or even thirty years apart, sound so plausible. Show me three moments where the music does something appropriate as Dorothy Gale goes to Oz, and I will have to concentrate hard and be quite clear-headed to ignore the five hundred times where there is no such correlation. Which is why this Radiohead experiment is quite curious. It's similar to the 'Dark Side of the Rainbow', but different in important ways. And in order to approach this with something considering fairness, I'll need to try to pick it apart at every level, to avoid that moment where I listen to the playlist, hear three working moments and disregard all the problems.

     The difference between this project and 'Dark Side of the Rainbow' is that whereas the latter is a case of synchronicity between two different objects, played simultaneously, this experiment is about a reconstruction. In other words, the scope for 'moments where it works' is much greater as, short of total discord, almost every track could work in tandem with the one that precedes it.

     Here's the playlist, as compiled by puddlegum.net:

1) Airbag (OK Computer, track 1)
2) 15 Step (In Rainbows, track 1)
3) Paranoid Android (O, 2)
4) Bodysnatchers (I, 2)
5) Subterranean Homesick Alien (O, 3)
6) Nude (I, 3)
7) Exit Music (For a Film) (O, 4)
8) Weird Fishes/Arpeggi (I, 4)
9) Let Down (O, 5)
10) All I Need (I, 5)

11) Karma Police (O, 6)
12) Fitter Happier (O, 7)

13) Faust Arp (I, 6)
14) Electioneering (O, 8)
15) Reckoner (I, 7)
16) Climbing Up the Walls (O, 9)
17) House of Cards (I, 8)
18) No Surprises (O, 10)
19) Jigsaw Falling Into Place (I, 9)
20) Lucky (O, 11)
21) Videotape (I, 10)
22) The Tourist (O, 12)

     I just noticed that the initials of the two albums are effectively 1 and 0. See, it's starting already.

     Now, I could probably concede that the playlist starts with a good kind of structure: alternate between albums, starting with OK Computer as the first to be released. And, if I had a gun to my head, I could probably see the logic behind stopping this pattern at number ten, especially with all the appearances of the number up until that point. It also allows us to divide In Rainbows neatly in half; five and five. What the problem created by this course of action is, though, is that it makes those pesky two songs in the middle stick out like a sore thumb. The playlist begins and ends with OK Computer tracks, because for some reason we start each half with a track from different albums. What the playlist effectively is is two halves of songs, each half beginning and ending with OK Computer, but each half is eleven songs, not ten. The whole arrangement seems arbitrary, and it's because OK Computer has twelve tracks. There doesn't seem to be the same amount of logic as there would be if each album were an even ten tracks long.

     Maybe there's something in the songs themselves. I'll need a lazy afternoon and a few cups of tea - the tenth message that Radiohead left before the release of In Rainbows was a photo of the band in the studio drinking tea.
Tags:

Dec. 14th, 2010

Academic

Radiohead - An Ongoing Experiment

     I'm a big fan of musical conspiracy theories. I like listening to songs backward, sometimes just for the hell of it. I leaped at the 'Dark Side of the Rainbow' bandwagon like it was made of tiramisu (that bandwagon refers to the conspiracy theory that Pink Floyd's album The Dark Side of the Moon makes an astounding soundtrack to The Wizard of Oz, if you start the album at the precise moment that Leo, the MGM lion, roars for the third time before the opening credits). And yet, this sort of this has always struck a troubling chord with me. The origins of 'Dark Side of the Rainbow' are mysterious to the point that describing them as 'unknown' is almost correct, but when one thinks about it, how could something like that start? Stoner A wants to watch a musical, Stoner B wants to listen to the Floyd, but the turntable and the VHS player are in the same room, and all of a sudden both their eyes light up (or glaze over, whichever is more appropriate)?
     The problem with these kind of theories is that they require a coincidence beyond anything imaginable. If the connection between Pink Floyd and Judy Garland is as evident as some commentators seem to think, then there should presumably be more clues to suggest that. I have tried to test that conspiracy theory, and beyond a few eerie coincidences, very little exists to evidence such a connection. Yeah, the first time you listen to the album (the length of the film is about 2 and 2/3 the length of the album) there are a number of times when you think 'there could be something to this' but that also involves ignoring the massive number of times when no such synchronicities occur. What I'm about to test, however, is somewhat different and, if the stories are correct, actually deliberate.

     I love Radiohead's music, but a few things have always bothered me. The opening track of 1997's OK Computer is named 'Airbag', and ends with four electronic beats, a 'pip-pip-pip-pip' that sounds like it's counting into something. And then? Nothing. The next track, 'Paranoid Android' has absolutely no connection to those four beats, as though there was always meant to be something there that never quite happened. And this theory answers that.
     Ten years after the release of OK Computer (1997), Radiohead released In Rainbows (10/10/07). They gave ten days warning of the release of the latter album, and released a number of messages in the days prior to the release of the album: most of them semaphore characters revealing messages which emphasised the letter X. Both 'OK Computer' and 'In Rainbows' contain ten letters. There are ten tracks on In Rainbows, the cover spaces the word 'RADIOHEAD' so that the 'IO' is distinct from the rest of the word, and the working title for OK Computer was 'Ones and Zeroes'. In other words, it's possible to read a connection between the two albums centred around the number ten.
     The good folks over at puddlegum.net organised the two albums into two halves of ten songs, alternating between songs from OK Computer and In Rainbows (with a two-song divider that contained the songs from the middle of the first album, 'Karma Police' and 'Fitter Happier'). Why this precise arrangement, it's unclear, but supposedly the two albums can be rolled into one mammoth album that reads as a coherent whole.

     So, let's give it a shot. I've got both albums here, and the apparent ordering of the songs. Let's go.
Tags: ,
Academic

Music Videos #27: In Which There Are Jellyfish.


1) Scissor Sisters, 'Comfortably Numb'
Director: unknown
From the 2004 album Scissor Sisters
www.youtube.com/watch

I've never been a particularly big fan of the Scissor Sisters, in the same way that I've never been a big fan of most music from the 1980s: I'll groove a bit if they come on, and will probably know most of the lyrics by osmosis, but I won't go out and purchase albums, or watch them if there's anything else going on. That said, I took an interest in their cover of the Pink Floyd classic, and this music video, as they've taken the old drug-trip anthem and updated it for a generation that takes all of their drugs in pill form (it's the future, apparently, people!). The video was conceived as a simple representation of a drug trip, and despite it being a little alarming and artificial, it succeeds on some levels - the Busby Berkeley element of some of the shots, particularly with the jellyfish bouncing around them, certainly seem to suggest some kind of E trip. But I can't help but feel that this video isn't quite refined enough to demonstrate precisely what it wants to. The eels are an element of bad trip that isn't carried beyond this one moment or, in fact, ever mentioned again. It all feels somewhat incomplete.

2) Chemical Brothers feat. Richard Ashcroft, 'The Test'
Directors: Dom & Nic
From the 2002 album Come With Us
www.youtube.com/watch

In this video, however, the whole concept is brought off perfectly. The imagery all the way through is utterly surreal, but whether it's actually representing a drug trip is debatable. It certainly uses a lot of the visual cues of the drug trip - the vapour trails left by the protagonist's hand as it sweeps in an arc over her head; the girl in the red jacket and what makes her so special; and the use of high shutter speeds to get a real sense of definition throughout the video: all of these are used to make the scene feel so otherworldly. In the opening shot, we feel as weightless as the girl, calm despite the fact that she's floating underwater for what feels like a long time. Out of the darkness sweeps a whale, coursing past her like a limousine but seeming just as weightless as everything else. Then, sliding up past her in effervescent glory, a troupe of jellyfish buzz like neon signs, their colours switching in time with the beat of the song. The great animation of the jellyfish (much better than the Scissor Sisters video) is the highlight of this sequence: demonstrating the amount of care that went into this very impressive video.

3) Gorillaz, 'On Melancholy Hill'
Director: Jamie Hewlett
From the 2010 album Plastic Beach
www.youtube.com/watch

I was surprised to hear the kick of the steel drum a few seconds into this song: from the style of the opening of the video, and what I've grown accustomed to from the Gorillaz (a large number of their music videos are episodic), I was expecting the track to be dark and tormented and the video to be much the same. It seemed similar to 'El Manana', where a flying island gets destroyed by fighter helicopters. So it was somewhat of a relief to watch us duck beneath the waves and enter a delightfully malevolent world where hosts of adorable jellyfish meet their untimely (if amusing) end. There are cyborgs and submarines shaped like sharks, and a rather nauseating bit where one character spits out a full-sized octopus (which is still cute). Lou Reed and Snoop Dogg make cartoon cameos, as the pilots of their own craft, and one appears to be based on the Catbus. It's all quite confusing, as the music videos by this band tend to subscribe to 'Rule of Cool' above all else, but everyone makes an appearance and there's a shot at the end of what I can only assume is the location for the next video. It just feels like fun.

EDIT: Yeah, it's the location for the next video, 'Rhinestone Eyes'.

Dec. 11th, 2010

Academic

My vegetarian friends are probably right.


     So, you know what sucks? Food poisoning.Collapse )     My system of dealing with sickness is divided between stoic discipline (which surprises some people) and utter childish terror, with almost no space between the two. So I struggled valiantly through the food poisoning in true Kiwi bloke style, lying around and watching bad TV, occasionally getting to my feet and wandering to the bathroom. It got to the point, though, where I realised that I hadn't eaten anything of substance for eight hours and wasn't really strong enough to do anything to redress the issue. So I called Boyfriend, who had offered to do anything I needed if it got really bad, and made some weak helpless noises over the phone. Boyfriend earned some major points by getting a taxi to the emergency room, and sitting in the waiting room with me for three hours, stroking my hair and making soothing noises. Considering he had to be at work the next morning, and by the time he got home it was 4 a.m., he deserves all the love I can give him right now, although he insists that it's not worth making a big deal about.

     The last 48 hours have involved my stomach trying to get back to normal, although I'm more hydrated and a fair bit stronger - I went for a walk to deal with everything I left undone two days ago. Tomorrow I start a campaign (my first time as GM; I'm not-so-secretly terrified) and have a radio show, as well as Fiancee's work drinks. So who knows what I'll be like after that?

Previous 15 | Next 15