Below ground, and above…

These days I have been all about trying to listen to things forgotten. One thing that I have quite a fondness for (though only so much patience for listening to in quantity) is what I consider occult metal. The first time this label occurred to me was whenever I first heard one of these bands who I feel are more about an evil atmosphere than a musical structure. Of course, that can be construed in a number of ways, but the band that I have in mind is Funereal Moon (the other being the great Arckanum, and, I suppose, Abruptum). I really like the feel of it and the sounds, though sometimes I think it is better music to play when you are doing something else at the same time (or lost in the drink and darkness). Years ago, when I first spotted this strange EP, “grim… evil…” I could tell I had something great before the first listen. I suffered an evil whim and went and picked it up, and I was right. Sometimes musical, sometimes not, but always creepy and distant… I went out and added “Beneath the Cursed Light of a Spectral Moon” and at that point, the tracks “Revelation” and “Funereal Letanies from the Graves” hit heavy rotation on my play lists, making it onto most of my compilations. I stopped hearing them for a couple of years, but went through some this week and, I’ve got to say, it is still great stuff, and now much easier to find now that there is a, um, “best of” CD, “Luciferian Symphonies of Destruction”. Very evil music, some of the best.

Funereal Moon

Funereal Moon, Mexico’s finest evil


Arckanum, one of the all time classic band photos

Ans then I pulled out another good oldie, everyones favorite “one man black metal project from Monaco”, Godkiller. What to say? I think it’s pretty cool, albeit a mixed bag. The music verges between alright and good (sometimes better, “On The Way To The Battlefield – Path To The Unholy Frozen Empire” has really good music and it’s a well named song as it brings the sense of an evil battle about to unfold to mind, and it’s fun), but the vocals are both the highpoint and the lowpoint, depending on my mood. Screams that have a sense of both tiredness and desperation, like a demon in a hole screaming for help with his last few breaths, they are fairly unusual and very prominent. I would also suggest the track “The Final Battle – Blood On My Swordblade” as it is a great mix between 80’s metal and homemade 90’s synth-black metal. In his career, he does stray from that old Black Metal sound, but I would listen to “The End of the World”, which has one of my all-time favorite albums covers or the album that the tracks mentioned above are from, “The Rebirth Of The Middle Ages”, which I would recommend for listening, though it has one of my all-time least favorite album covers.


The End of the World

In other music news, I was listening to one of my favorites today, Silverfish. When I listen to them, I always feel the need to ponder the major label influence. See, I have always been one of those anti-major label folks, as they suck and they make bands suck. But then, and I’m not trying to remove whatever “cred” I may have, two of my favorite bands signed to the majors and released albums that have become their albums of choice for me to listen to the most. The Butthole Surfers and Silverfish. I really loved Silverfish’s records, but once Organ Fan came out (on Columbia!), it blew me away. I was also very surprised to see that my great musical idol from the 80’s, Jim Thrilwell had produced it and though he added a lot of production (as is his way) it is louder and “fuller of the rock” then their earlier work, yet still has all of the hostility that is their trademark… And the song “Jimmy” has probably my favorite bass lines since the Crüe put out Shout at the Devil. So the majors are still bad, but some bands can still pull it off (though it was pretty much the end of Silverfish).

the second sure thing in life…

Yes, I really should be doing taxes now. I know… In July? Our lame accountant was rearranging her business matters so she didn’t get around to doing the taxes for our LLC until this week. I’ve never before filed an extension for personal taxes, so it felt a bit wacky, but no one has come knocking down our door yet. Anyway, we think we may actually get a good bit back, so the 3 plus month wait to file was not pleasing. I know that I may sound like a Constitution party member or something, but that tax code sure seems bloated. I think that it is something like designed obsolescence, only it is designed expertise. It doesn’t need to be that elaborate, but somewhere down the line the powers that be decided that the harder they made it to work with, the more control they would have…

But I digress, isn’t this blog about movies? I have actually been able to get in a good amount of them lately…

We watched Pretty in Pink. Yes, that one. It is always fun and refreshing to watch those mid-80’s John Hughes teen comi-dramas. It was as entertaining as ever, filled with those familiar fresh faces and horridly hard to look at fashion (as the wife pointed out, the fashion may be bad but the prom dress is the worst). God, did we actually spend years in that period? I was (well, would have been) a Senior when most of those came out, luckily they don’t remind me personally of any experience, but they sure do bring to mind the environment. Regardless, it is a darn fun movie. If anyone doesn’t know, it tells the story of: a “geeky” girl who has fallen for some rich boy, the girls best friend “Duckie” who has fallen for her and the rich guys friends who don’t think she’s good enough. So, it’s her after the rich boy, Duckie after her and the rich boys friends against her. Standard high school tale, but quite charming and Harry Dean Stanton is in it, along with a bunch of young actors who were stars for a while.

On a more gritty angle, I took in a movie I’ve been wanting to see for quite a while. Due to subject matter, setting and when it was made, it is hard to not compare Southern Comfort with Deliverance. Sad to say, because it sorely lacks all of what makes Deliverance great. This movie features bad acting, a terrible script and dull cinematography. It comes across like a cheaply made horror movie without any horror. It does have a cast that includes some great second tier actors as in Fred Ward and Powers Booth who really take the film, their acting is most of what makes this watchable… They are two members of a group of Louisiana National Guardsmen who are lost on maneuvers in the swamp when they do wrong by some of the locals. Of course, the locals don’t take kindly to this and then, when those city slickers add wrong upon wrong, things get rather nasty. Featuring a rapidly dwindling bunch of lost Guardsmen, some great locals who have really fun accents and an endless swamp that could all be the same acre, for all that I could tell. It’s not really too good.

But, it was an odd one. It had some good down home music and a fun party, though they were a bit too graphic with the pig slaughter.

And then, finally… I saw Bring me the Head of Alfredo Garcia… Now this is a movie, one of those that I have to think “how have I not seen it before now”. It is a great Peckinpah classic, and I found it to be completely engrossing. When a wealthy Mexican landowner’s daughter is knocked up by old Al Garcia (whom dad considered like a son) he puts a million dollar price tag on his head, literally. One of the groups who sets out in pursuit is a bunch of gringos (including Gig Young) who end up in a shabby bar where they encounter Bennie (an awesome Warren Oates) who is sitting around, drinking and playing piano and always on the lookout for some financial betterment. It turns out that not only does he know Al Garcia, but the guy has some romantic history with his lady friend… and had recently been seen in her company. He jealously confronts her only to hear that Al has died in a car accident.

Then the fun really begins as Bennie heads off in his old red chevy with a gun and his girl and some tequila in a quest to find that corpse and get that head. Of course, you would think with the target already dead, there wouldn’t be much death to come but this is Sam Peckinpah and, as with the Leone westerns which this bears more than a slight resemblance to, this is something to do with death. Quite a bit of it, in fact… generally in slow motion.. As are all the car crashes and near car crashes…

Anyway, Bennie gets drunk and shoots and other folks get drunk and shoot and cars crash and people slowly pinwheel to the ground for the last time and Mexico, once again, looks very unpleasing (but then all I know about it is from movies).

bring me the head...

our hero…

bring me the head...

the prize…

putting the pieces all together

Cancer does seem to be a plague upon our little Earth. The hospitals are filled with people dying from it, the streets are filled with people running for the cure, the labs are filled with scientists looking for the cure (well, supposedly… the only scientist I ever knew who was studying it was convinced there the establishment had no interest in curing “it” at all)… Seemingly to very little avail.

I have always been of the feeling that most of the cancers are caused by the man-made substances that we surround ourselves with: permeating the air with microwaves and electromagnetic fields, filling ourselves with genetically engineered food and laboratory devised food-like chemicals, curing everything with “medicines” and wrapping leeching plastic substances (remember, they are made out of oil) around ourselves… And of course all of the residue that these leave in our environment. All of this must lead to some kind of breakdown of our systems. So many unnatural chemicals and treatments… Yet the cancer that destroys these weakened cells? We never have an idea where it comes from, or how to cure it. Yet test after test shows that the problem is just that, this crap we fill ourselves with and surround ourselves with: the Swedish university’s study about the connection between cell phone use and brain tumors, smoking and cancer, red meat (ok, so that is natural enough) and cancer, and now on the front page an article about how, with the decline of “hormone replacement therapy” there has also been a decline in breast cancer rates?

I just don’t know why more people don’t just put it together. Our foods are filled with substance’s that have been shown to cause cancer in mice, but only in excessive amounts, we have “safe” amounts in our food. If you ingest 20 “safe” helpings of carcinogens a day for 20 years, mightn’t they have a cumulative effect? Why, with all of the science showing the cancer dangers of this stuff, do scientists scoff at people who try and make the connection? Why don’t we look at the thousand’s of tests that show insignificant (or even significant ) cancer links and think of them as a whole, rather than just as individual tests? Wouldn’t it then be obvious that the best cure for a lot of these cases is to keep away from transmitted rays, petroleum products, chemicals and medicines?

The “Cure for Cancer” is not something to be found, it is something to be done (or undone). If you get skin cancer from spending excessive time in the sun, should we cover ourselves with chemicals to prevent that, or just not spend excessive amounts of time in the sun? Oh, well I guess I know the answer to that one.

People’s lifestyles and thoughtlessness about what they are doing is so central to who we are that I don’t think that a lot of people can even begin to contemplate a reality in which the products that they buy are causing them harm, no matter how much the evidence builds. But I can’t really get away from that. I can’t stop thinking that inside my skull, are dozens of television stations, radio stations and phone conversations bouncing around in there. Am I the only one creeped out by that? It means that the Mark and Brian show is always permeating my brain? Ug!

through the night curtains…

Rocking the lil’ bebe to sleep, I find myself more aware then ever of the shining of lights through the windows. It seems that wherever one lives in the city, there always manages to be some bright light that finds its way to your eyes at night, some errant porch light or street lamp. This sort of pollution is just another reason to flee the city (as if the EMF dangers from cell-phone transmitters and Wi-fi aren’t enough)! It reminds me of the glory days of our honeymoon, three weeks spent on the shore of Harvey’s Lake in VT. At night, it was night. It would be so dark that if you woke up in the middle of the night, you could spend some time trying to get your eyes to adjust so you could see your way around the house, but it just wouldn’t work. And dead silent. And it was a 10 minute drive before you could even consider using your cell-phone. Man, we certainly felt at ease there. Relaxed, healthy and just plain content. One day, we’ll find ourselves in such a spot again, for good.

Another advantage of rural VT is the lack of sprawl at the edge of town. We just returned from a trip to a little town about 30 minutes north of here, St Helens. It is an adorable little town of about 10,000. Adorable, that is, once you get to “old town” and don’t stray to far from there. Around that, it’s tract houses and Wal-marts and Quizno’s out at the highway. How does every town of any good size have the same gross sprawl around the edge: Car Dealerships, the exact same restaurants as every other town, endless thoughtlessly designed plywood houses and Wal-marts? There is so little variety in that which people want and buy and eat. It is a sad thing for me that the most memorable thing from my brief drive through the South was that they had Waffle House’s on the highways, and I’d never seen one before. It is a dull and boring aspect of our culture and this drive for homogenization sucks the heart out of our communities.

Maybe it would be better if there were more record stores, but those seem to be vanishing, I imagine to make way for more Starbucks (so that everyone in the world can drink the exact same coffee with never a variation… who cares if they alter traditional drinks, burn their coffee and put way too much sugar in all their drinks. At least everytime you order your watery, burnt, sugared-up nightmare, it will be exactly the same as the last one)!

But I am digressing! I just really wanted to complain about the closing of record stores. You see, Ozone3 just closed. I hadn’t ever shopped there (guilty!), but it was the last in the 15-yearish line of 5 stores that were: Outer Limits, Ooze, Ozone, Ozone UK and Ozone3. Coupled with the closing of Tower Records (I know, not quite the same, but they had such a history and, in 1998 when I started collecting DVD’s, they were about the only place I could find them), Django’s, Ozone UK and this talk of the NW Music Millennium store closing. It is a sad sight. I think of all the stores I frequented in my younger days: Longhair, Dudley’s Route 66, Budget, Bird’s, Crystalship… All are long, long gone. I wonder about the notion that the increase in music downloads is killing the brick and mortar stores? I guess it could be, I buy very little music via download, but most of it I do buy through the internet. I have moved away from buying much music in person (except for the Burnside Street Music Millennium, I love that place), because no one in Portland seems to have a really high quality metal selection, except for Anthem Records .

Oh, and in other news, my “book” page was a silly idea. I decided this because my wife invited me to join, so from now on, any book stuff I come up with will go there… As will the “Books” link in the sidebar. But speaking of books, the Rare Book room got in two of the 3 Lovecraft that I feel I really need to own: first printings of The Dunwich Horror and Tales From the Cthulhu Mythos! It was quite exciting as I ended up buying (at a reasonably good price) the Dunwich Horror, a dust jacket that I’ve been wanting for a long time… The Tales book though… I had never even seen the jacket before, so that was quite exciting, but they put $225 on it, which was a tad more than I was willing to spend. Of course, it sold in barely over a week… Here is what I didn’t manage to acquire…

Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos

something to do with conscience…

There are three kinds of movies that you can rent. Those you are neutral on, those that you end up not wanting to own, and those few that watching them makes you want to buy the DVD. Luckily, most for me fall into the second category… Frequently, if I watch a movie that I really want to own, I no longer have the urge to own it. It makes renting a good edge towards saving some money (well, and lessening clutter). Rarely though, I do stumble upon a movie that as soon as I am done watching it, I feel the need to possess it. Yet it has occurred twice lately. Last month with, of course, The Creeping Flesh and then now, with Solaris. This is a really great film. And not only is a great film in its own right, it is also more so due to how it makes me think of other movies. Its pacing can be so slow, and some of the scenes are so action-free, I couldn’t even imagine being able to shoot them now (I really can’t imagine what the re-make must be like). And it is a very quiet movie, very little excess talk and what talk there is tends towards a philosophical nature. That is also nice, since I can’t stand too much exposition in films. If I can’t figure it out, I can watch it again or just not get it, it’s irritating when they go out of their way to make sure that you’ve picked up on everything. Also, interestingly, it flows seamlessly back and forth from black and white to color and back, and you hardly notice it.

Anyway, it is the story of Kris “the nowhere near a hero, but with a golden age name” Kelvin, a widowed psychiatrist sent to space to evaluate an ongoing mission aboard a space station that has been orbiting the planet Solaris for years. The crew are gone or dead except for two remaining scientists who are descending into a kind of quiet personal insanity. See, the thing is that the planet may be sentient. It seems that it reads their dreams at night and then manifests people out of those, this has led to some interesting effects on the crew and once Kris arrives, it begins for him too. Once this watery world sends along his late wife, the gist of the movie really begins. The science fiction element really is just there as a setting (though I do like the set design of the station), because the film is more a meditation on loss and longing as Kris loses sight of his mission and aims all of his his attention at his relationship with “his wife” who knows she isn’t really his wife and who isn’t really “real” anyway. But it is a very interesting subtle movie, with conflicts between him and the other scientists and him and his “wife” and he and himself as he tries to avoid the truth that he is oh so well aware of…

Solaris Station

my kind of place…

In a more grade-z vein, I’d been been wondering about this Ulli Lommel chap. He seems quite the character and he makes lots of movies, but his movies seem to be nearly universally frowned upon. Now I have seen and appreciated plenty of movies that are frowned upon, so I figured, well they can’t be all bad, not if he keeps making them. Well I finally saw one, and it is literally terrible, not terrible in a way that makes it campy or funny, but terrible like a movie with a dumb script filmed with no budget and production values that would appear to be similar to a porn movie shot on video tape (though with out any porn) or someones first high school zombie movie, but without any special makeup effects or gore. Zombie Nation is a cheap exploitation movie that only hints at scenes of exploitation. Sadly, the story idea had potential, a tough L.A. policeman, Joe, pulls over women at random, arrests them takes them to a furniture warehouse and kills them while his partner sits in the car wondering. And then, thanks to some voodoo stuff, those women come back from the dead seeking revenge! But instead it is a serial killer, zombie vengeance, bad cop movie with no nudity or scenes of violence and a bad script. The police precinct is a warehouse with fake walls, the actors are all terrible and it never seemed like the sound was synced right. A total piece of crap, and I mean that in a negative way, not the like the pieces of crap that I prefer.

American Infidel

One of my greatest personal gains in my two year quest to give our store the best Atheism/Humanism selection in bookland (well, outside of stores specific to that) has been the discovery of Robert G Ingersoll. All of that new stuff we’re selling: God is not Great, The God Delusion, God: The Failed Hypothesis, The End of Faith, Letter to a Christian Nation, Breaking the Spell, Atheist Manifesto and all that great stuff from Promethus Books… It is very exciting and I’m glad that they are selling as well as they are, but personally, I have no reason to read any of them (well, I might try God is not Great, because I do like Christopher Hitchens and the subtitle, “How Religion Poisons Everything”, is awesome to see on the cover of a bestseller)…

Anyway, the best part for me (and the only one I really feel like reading) is Ingersoll. Just this week I found my “holy grail”! I’d been looking for a used copy of “Some Mistakes of Moses” and I found it in it’s best form… A nice copy of his Lectures, published in 1900. A cool old book filled with great witly wisdom. I highly recommend this work! The 19th century intelligentsia wit and the take no prisoners attitude behind his, “Just listen to what you’re saying!” stance is refreshing. It’s not your normal Christian bashing thing, but instead it is a point by point analysis and refutation of the nonsense that is the old testament. Such brilliant lines as:

“Theology is not what we know about god, but what we don’t know about nature.”

“The truth is that Moses was mistaken, and upon that mistake the Christians located their heaven and their hell. The telescope destroyed the firmament, did away with the heaven of the New Testament, rendered the ascension of our Lord and the assumption of his mother infinitely absurd, crumbled to chaos the gates and palaces of the New Jerusalem and in their places gave to man a wilderness of worlds “

Anyway, more on this later, when I’ve finished, but right now, hearing him take on the statements in Genesis with logic and reasoning is laugh out loud funny. The serpent? I know, I’ve never read this bible-thing so maybe it won’t come as such a shocking farce to those better read then I, but Man… The trouble is, he seemed to think that humanity would grow out of this… Which I’m not sure that it will.

Robert Ingersoll

Robert Green Ingersoll

In tuned.

The Wife has started a mission. She is going to make a post everyday for a month! It’s great for me, there’s is nothing I like reading more than what she has to say. Sadly, I am not so focused… Still trying to keep up two a week. That and watching “On Demand”. Speaking of… I was wandering around “on demand” when I discovered the video for Daft Punk’s “Robot Rock”. Well… It’s pretty darn cool. I’ve never heard Daft Punk before but I know their name, in fact I’d always thought they were a late 70’s/early 80’s band. Nope. Regardless, it is a great song! Music that I would think of as Electronica, but performed with drums and guitar… Very fun and exciting, albeit a bit repetitive, but I’ve never minded that. Of course, I grabbed the song from the iTunes store, but I may have to look into more of this.

Robot Rock

Can you go wrong with a double-necked guitar and a motorcycle helmet? I don’t think so…

And to continue with the mp3 project, I have held off on doing more Metal… For one, I want to do that stuff as full albums, which is bit more consuming, and second, I tend to trot about with around 600 of those tunes, so I’m set for the moment. Inspired by the KMD post at Thudfactor I decided to do something that I have planned for years, grab those much loved old rap jams off the lp’s and digitize them. It’s a good thing. Since three quarters of my records are in storage (argh!), I have limited pickings, but I think I brought the best ones along so the first picks in this project are From the Funk to the Back by Kokane (Jesus, how this guy never got more notice… This is one of the best ones out there), Me and Jesus the Pimp in a ’79 Granada Last Night and Breathing Apparatus by The Coup, The Boom (Coming from the smoke filled room) by The Goats, Dumpin’ em in ditches by Spice 1 and, yes, the king track of the all… Public Enemy’s You’re Gonna Get Yours (dub/Terminator X Getaway Version) from this dope EP…

Public Enemy's You're Gonna Get Yours EP

Anyway I’m pretty excited about these kinds of things, I just need a longer headphone to RCA cord so I don’t have to keep scooting the computer 4 feet to the left…

weather, mortality and celluloid

Sadly, a great, nearly unknown, film icon passed away Monday. My good friend Lucy’s grandfather was one of the most prevalent character actors of his day, appearing in something like 300 movies and many TV shows (from It’s a Wonderful Life to The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes remake, though my first knowledge of him was as the judge of the murder trial in Soap) as, generally, a crotchety, officious man of the judge/lawyer/taxman vein. I am still always startled when I see him in one of his always brief appearances in a movie I didn’t know he was in (he claims to have suffered the same shocks). When I had the pleasure of meeting him, I found that he was also a man of great character, someone whose use of the word “dame” seemed completely natural and who proudly spoke his opinion on everything from “actors who fancy themselves directors” to having to pay to watch baseball. He was a dryly witted, classic, old fashioned kind of guy. It seems he lived a good long (quite long) life and had a peaceful death (insomuch…). So I bid a fond farewell to Charles Lane.

For anyone who is interested, the New York Times has a rather nice Obituary

Onward though… None of these movies feature the late Mister Lane, but since I watched them, here they are.

We watched From Here to Eternity. Now from when I’ve seen it before, I recall it being slow to start, but eventually picking up. Well, I would say that the first part still stands but it doesn’t pick up much. Though I must give it credit for Burt Lancaster’s stellar starring work and for its role in restarting Sinatra’s career (leading to the best part of that career). Aside from that, I can do without it. This is the story of the new guy in the company, stationed in Hawaii prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor. It stars Monty Clift who I hold little feelings for… In this, he is an obnoxious bore. A transferred soldier who sticks to his beliefs and refuses to do the one thing that would help him fit in. The movie focuses on the lengths the guys will go to in an attempt to get him to box for the Company! But it is also the tale of two troublesome solders, one a charming eager drunk (who I imagine is what my pops was like in the service) and the other a brooding uneager drunk, their sergeant, some girls and the troubles they have. Sadly, we have the superbit edition. I don’t know if the picture looks great or what, but the packaging is ugly, the static menus are ugly and there are no special features. So skip that, I say.

On to better things. I watched Beowulf and Grendel (the dvd that I settled on in that last trip to Target). Generally I would recommended it as a period action movie. Though it has been many many years since I last read Beowulf, so I don’t know how close it sticks to the general story, it is a nice movie. Beautiful scenery (Iceland), nice costuming, and heck, it is one of those rare Viking movies! The only real trouble with it is that the Vikings are all a bunch of Brits who curse a blue streak with their thick accents, making it seem like you are out to the pub for the night. It may sound like a minor complaint, but the endless stream of modern cursing really seems out of place. Imagine Aragorn calling someone a bitch in Lord of the Rings and you’ll know what I mean. Aside from that, there is the story.

In that sad era when Christianity began its spread through northern Europe, a troll is slain and his son who witnessed the killing comes to wreak revenge. Beowulf and his band of sleepless Geats come to the rescue, only to be played with and teased by the troll Grendel, who has no gripe with any except those who have wronged him. Grendel, while sort of a silly character, reminds one of Leatherface, in his childlike spirit and savagery. He is also seemingly unstoppable and very, very strong. As the Danes fear of this troll mounts, they begin converting to Christianity, thanks to the promises of a crazy wandering priest who talks of safety and heaven. But most of the movie is the Geats spending the days searching for him and the nights in the longhouse waiting for his knocks (or, um something else) upon the door. It is not high in action, but it is nice to see a movie like this not being done in some flashy Hollywood blockbuster special effects vein, but it still took me about 45 minutes to get into. Sadly though, after another 45 minutes, it fades to mawkish melodrama at the end.

Beowulf by Boat

finally, a movie with a longboat…


Vikings in pursuit

and vikings!

And then, in nothing like the vein of Aragorn and those overblown Lord of the Rings movies, we sat down to watch Peter Jackson’s best film, Heavenly Creatures (if you dissent in the name of Braindead/Deadalive, I won’t challenge you on it). Based on a famous New Zealand crime, this film tells the story of two teenage girls whose close friendship becomes, say, a bit too close for their parents taste. Pauline is a shy, reclusive girl from a working class family, Juliet is a more sophisticated worldly girl whose father is a wealthy and respected rector and physicist. She fancies herself a novelist (in fact, in real life she becomes Anne Perry) and the two of them construct an elaborate fantasy world that they try to live within. It is an engrossing story of a friendship that grows without limits and also an escapist shared fantasy that they will go to extreme lengths to keep intact. The movie is very well acted, wonderfully shot, well written, well directed, and the fantasy segments are brilliant in their vision! It keeps fairly close to the actual events, with Pauline’s actual diaries providing what narration there is, and it is filmed in a wonderful little city (very similar to the setting for Braindead/Deadalive).

Those Bloody girls

Help! Mother has tripped!

Then in more reality, yesterday it hit about the old 102 degrees outside. Luckily I had no real reason to go leave the apartment so I spent well under 1 minute outside between dog walkings at 9am and 9 pm. So that was good. It did start getting hot in the old home at about 5pm. But I still feel lucky for missing the direct assault! Something that’s always bothered me… regardless of the reputation for clouds and rain the Pacific Northwest has, summer is really lame! July and August can be unbearably hot and we can easily go 60 days with out any precipitation during that period. Though is it agonizing and sad, I do find that as the years wear on, I am more able to bear with it. Though I still like to complain, think of it as my own little raindance

belt drives make the word go ’round

As always, pondering a way to get more music for less dough, I decided to try something that I hadn’t done for quite a while. Most of “my” music I listen to through the iPod, not in the home. But since I am most attracted to music in the LP format, this means that I have a lot of music that I haven’t heard much. So I’ve decided to expand my listening range by mp3ising some LP’s, which is a chore that I haven’t put much time into for quite a few years. Enough years, in fact, that OS 9 is now far behind me and the program that I used to use for this process, (CDSpinDoctor), is well beyond usable. So I scooted the stereo around a bit and searched around and came up with the program Audacity at Sourceforge. Well, it works very similar to the old CDSpinDoctor and it works well! Since it still is a bit labor intensive, I only did two albums, but they were good choices. Both were bands that I discovered via a free song downloaded out the on the internet, which led to getting a hold of the LP’s. What this tends to lead to is one song heard many times and the other songs heard rarely, or never. Well, now after getting these two great albums on the pod, I feel ready to burn some more!

Of all of these LP’s that I haven’t played (or only rarely), I picked two that I have long been waiting to hear in their entirety Eljudner’s “Daudingekvider” and “Moribund” by Koldbrann. Both are great additions to my mp3 arsenal and it’s great to have them available. What will be next?

In the name of this process I must give proper respect to two organizations, One is Sourceforge. I swear it seems like I get more and more software from them: Audacity, Abiword, Niceplayer, ScrobblePod, FFmpeg… The list goes on. They seem to have a program for every need and it’s a great project! All software should be open source… If only I had enough programming savvy enough to contribute to any of these projects.

And secondly, Northern Silence… not only are they a great label with tons of great stuff, but they are great to deal with. if you, like me, are stuck somewhere outside of Europe you probably know how hard it is to find quality Black Metal around on vinyl. And even with mail order you can have a hard time finding really great stuff… especially on LP. But Torsten has all sorts of baddies! It’s a great label with awesome bands, nice vinyl (hundreds of choices!) and lots of great shirts that not only aren’t available in the USA but they have them in sizes smaller than the elephantine sizes that tend to be available here. Highly recommended!

to the devil with the details…

Because I don’t remember any of them.

Well, maybe some. I’ve watched some movies over the last weekish and wasn’t really left with many impressions.

So first off, as I mentioned in the other blog, we took the baby to her first movie theater for a movie that I had been dying to see. Yes, Hot Fuzz! It was all around great. I really like Shaun of the Dead, so even though this had a terrible name I figured I must give it a chance. And funny it is, in fact, I think I liked it better than Shaun, which was quite a surprise. The story of a London Policeman who is so good it embarrasses everyone else in the department so they transfer him to a small village. The village of the year in fact, with no murders or crime at all (the biggest problem seems to be the “human statue”). Though there do seem to be a lot of strange accidents. Of course, to his wily city eyes, it becomes apparent that something odd is going on and then nearly non-stop action, some great gore, and lots of cursing ensues! It is gorier and nuttier then I would ever have expected for a police comedy and, again, just damned funny. It goes into the “must-buy” column right off. It has a great cast, some good repeats from Shaun with the two leads and Bill Nighy and Martin Freeman, but also with some added excitement from Timothy Dalton (I never saw any of his Bond movies, but he’s brilliant here), Jim Broadbent and Paddy Considine! Anyway, it is constant great fun with lots of foul language, guns, speeding cars, crazy deaths and a robed villain. Highly recommended to anyone of the over-the-top violent comedy school of taste.

And we also watched The Crying Game. I’ve always liked this one. When it first came out, I somehow managed to go to see it without having heard what the big surprise was first, and I was quite surprised. Beyond that though, it is an all around fine movie. The story of a British soldier kidnapped by the IRA, a kidnapping that goes, of course, terribly wrong. Forest Whitaker is great as the soldier and, on the IRA side, Miranda Richardson and Stephen Rea are really good. Rea really takes the film. His character is sort of passively magnetic as he always seems like a man out of place, not really trying to get anywhere but just going about his business and wanting to be left alone, but since his business is the IRA it requires a bit more dedication than a fellow like him may be inclined to give. On the surface it is a great political thriller, with violence and backstabbing and the great IRA angle (I’m drawn to anything about the IRA, well, any freedom fighters trying to kick someone out of their land)… But it really is a romantic drama of the risks and changes one will undertake for love.

So what else? Well, we watched another version of Great Expectations. Though I’ve seen the wonderful 1946 David Lean version a couple of times (and I’ll see it many more), this modern retelling didn’t really remind of the story. Instead it reminded me of a number of other movies, but I don’t recall which. I liked DeNiro in it alright, and though neither one of the two leads do I like, they seemed good for their roles… but I prefer the original story .

I watched the last half of Meet Joe Black. It was actually pretty good, both dramatic and funny. Anthony Hopkins was good as a CEO who has Death come by for an extended visit. That seems to lead to some changes in his life, both business and personal. Death was played by Brad Pitt, who was alright, though annoying (of course, I don’t think I like him anyway [well, he was fine in True Romance], though my wife swears that I do). I thought that the concept was interesting, but it really just made me want to watch the original Death Takes a Holiday.

And, though it is a bit embarrassing, I watched 10 minutes or so of something called Date Movie. Now I have seen some dumb, witless, bad movies, but I didn’t imagine that they actually made movies this bad. Not bad in any good or entertaining way, but bad as in dull, not funny, and really just haphazardly written and thought out. Sort of like listening to the Michael Weiner (AKA, Michael Savage) radio show in that it’s not interesting, funny, smart or witty and even after a few minutes you feel like you’ve already wasted too much time waiting for something humorous, interesting or surprising to happen.

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