Possession

Dir. Andrzej Zulawski, 1981
My friend Chris came over for his first viewing of Zulawski’s monsterpiece, my third viewing. Chris greatly enjoyed it, as did I, and after hearing the commentary track, I don’t know if I’m closer to really figuring this film out (for example, how to interpret all the Catholicism once you know that Zulawski is an atheist?). I do know that very few American actors would go as far into madness as Sam Neill and Isabelle Adjani do here, especially Adjani, whose wild-eyed looks burn a hole in the screen. (“You have no right to film people’s souls!” she reportedly told Zulawski during filming, “This is psychological pornography!”). When Hollywood actors play “crazy” they’re always winking at the audience and/or worrying what their Pilates instructor might think.
What Chris brought up was the wider geopolitical metaphors of the film, which I have yet to really unravel (but which were still there in La Fidelite, a fact no reviewer that I read seemed to even grasp). Set as it is in a divided Berlin, with gloomy shots of the Wall, and with its whole story about separation, loss, madness, doppelgangers, and an apocalyptic close, Possession is about inner and outer worlds ending in much the same way that Don McKellar’s Last Night does.
Possession (of what? of whom? and to what end?) is probably still way ahead of its time, and is the cinematic equivalent of poking a fresh wound with an infected finger, but it’s one of my favorites.

Burnin’ Down the Clubhouse


On Thursday night, some loonball (rumor has it a disgruntled white-trash ex-tenant) set fire to the clubhouse/swimming pool/billiard room of my mom’s mobile home park. Who knows if the woman wanted to burn down the whole place, or just cause some inconvenience, but she managed to destroy the whole building.


I spent many a day here in my 20s, having a swim, relaxing in the jacuzzi, and sometimes bringing girls over to see what they looked like in bikinis. So yes, happy days there. Who knows how long it will take for the place to be rebuilt. Just in time for summer! I went down on Friday afternoon to have a look and took these snaps. The entire area smelled like Kragen’s Auto Parts.

Paint the Sky With Stars – Enya


Reprise 9 46835-2
1997.11.11

Well, there’s only one reason I borrowed this
from the library, and that was for Enya’s first, and best, fluke hit “Orinoco Flow”. Yeh, but did I listen to the rest of the CD?
After one aborted listen, having to stop after the horrific “Anywhere Is,” I tried again and made it all the way through. Talk about the law of diminishing returns. It’s an example of an artist totally misunderstanding what made her first hit so good. There’s fifteen other tracks here that have the “Enya” sound–smooth multitracked vocals, crushed digital velvet, quasi-Celtic mysticism, slow tempos–but none of the idiosyncracies of “Orinoco Flow.” There’s an erratic rhythm in the verses, a grand pomposity to the use of kettle drums, and the lyrics are mostly onomatopoeia. Who cares if “From Bissau to Palau – in the shade of Avalon/ from Fiji to Tiree and the Isles of Ebony” means anything? It sounds good. And don’t forget the last hanging chord, like a question mark.
The other songs make sure all the ambiguity of “Orinoco Flow” is solved. The chords are sunnier, the songs finish with major chords. The lyrics get dippy. “Sail away, sail away, sail away” conjured up some sort of wanderlust. “Anywhere Is” features a melody programmed by kazoo, and words such as “The moon upon the ocean / is swept around in motion / but without ever knowing / the reason for its flowing / in motion on the ocean” are trite, especially if you know the sing-song way it’s sung.
And if anyone develops a drinking game based around the number of times Enya uses the factory setting “tolling bell” sound (as first heard at the beginning of “Do They Know It’s Christmas”) then the chap who puts this CD on will wind up in the hospital with alcohol poisoning.

One Callous Bastard

Nobody seems to have been shocked too much by this quote from Rummy a week ago. In fact, I had to go hunt it down.

Rumsfeld downplays resistance in Iraq
The attacks are deliberate attempts to kill Americans, but they are not well coordinated by any central leader or group, Rumsfeld said at a Pentagon news conference Wednesday.
“You’ve got to remember that if Washington, D.C., were the size of Baghdad, we would be having something like 215 murders a month,” Rumsfeld said. “There’s going to be violence in a big city.”
About a dozen U.S. servicemen have been killed by hostile fire in Iraq since President Bush declared major combat over on May 1. American military commanders in Iraq say attacks on their forces happen daily, though one commander on Tuesday dismissed the fighting as “militarily insignificant.”

This is up there with his “riots and looting are the kooky mistakes of liberated “free” people” quote. Of course, if this had been the Clinton administration, they’d have been calling for resignations right then. This isn’t just casual murder, this is the beginnings of a quagmire. Plus: The loss of a son or daughter is not “insignificant,” no matter much you fly the “Mission Accomplished” banner, Rummy.

The Perfect Cup of Tea

We’re a bit partial to good ol’ British tea over here at the Compound/Clearinghouse/Deprogramming Center, but these days we use a bit of Asian ingenuity to get our hot water with the perpetual boiler. However this BBC Photo Instruction Page is telling us how to really make a trad cuppa. I’m not too sure I agree with the “milk first” rule, especially because 1) I use tea bags and 2) I’m a bad judge of the future milk/tea ratio. Still, if you’re curious, here’s how you really should do it.

We’re Going to Hack the Chalice!


Many fans of the Atari 2600 console from the ’80s consider Adventure the finest game that company created. Minimal sound effects, moebius mazes, dragons that looked like ducks (and kinda like microscopes when you killed them), a sword that was a big arrow, and mostly…just…silence, made this a mesmerizing winner.
I guess it would have happened sooner or later, but not only are Atari nostalgia geeks making their own games in their own cartridges but some guy has gone and hacked Adventure so it now has more levels, more mazes, more everything. Crazy, man, crazy.
Lastly, some group called Naked Intruder has made a mini-album of industrial metal-type music all from Atari 2600 sounds. (We’d prefer somebody to have a go at something ambient.)
All found at Atari Age

Master Directory Block Rockin’ Beats

Phew. After much futzing with the intricacies of Data Rescue X, I was able to pull everything off the damaged drive I needed. I think the corruption of the MDB occurred because of some event back in August 2001, as I had a lot of mysterious ghost files from that time popping up in duplicate or triplicate (my first attempt at rescuing data garnered me 6.6 GB of files from a 3.1GB HD that was only 1.3GB full). I then used Disk Format in OSX, which allowed me to erase the volume and install a OS9 driver. That done, I used a trial version of Prosoft’s Data Backup to shift all the rescued files over.
I punched my fist in the air like a monkey in a too-tight flightsuit when I booted up off the new disk and the happy Mac face came up, then loaded, then Entourage loaded up where I had left off. Nice. A few minor things don’t work–I lost registration codes for some third party software, and some of my aliases don’t go to where they should–but it’s as if nothing happened. Of course, I just lost a day of work, so time did pass. On the other hand, I didn’t have to take it to the shop to get it fixed. Phew.

Sorted!


You are now looking at my CD collection. With a day spent restoring my crashed drive (see the main page for that story), I spent the down time doing something I’ve been meaning to do since 1996: sort my CD collection into a manageable alphabetical order. I was stuck in the house anyway. I always used to keep my collection in order, but the bigger it got, the lazier I became. Since coming to the Mills Compound in December, this has been on my to-do list. I knew it would take some time, and it did.
Most of my CDs have had their cases tossed and replaced with thin poly bags that hold both booklet and J-card. (You can get them at Bags Unlimited.) So what you are looking at is a fraction of what it could be.
I sorted ’em into alphabetical piles on the floor and took this picture. You can see the piles for B, C, and F are the largest, the reason being my obsession past and present for The Beatles, David Bowie, Beck, Elvis Costello, and The Fall. The P pile should be bigger as an extra three feet of Pizzicato Five CDs were already sorted and on the shelf. The “Various Artists” pilie was big enough to divide into two, and next to that there is the Soundtracks pile, the Jazz pile, the Classical pile, and below that Video Game Soundtracks, and VCD (mostly porn, apparently. Where did that come from?) And do you really care about this?
Anyway, it’s all sorted now and shelved away. At last I know where everything is.

Flags – Breathless


IMME Records IMME-1001
1996.08.01

Second only to Pizzicato Five, Flags was my favorite Shibuya-kei band
back in the rosy days of ’96-’97. Produced by Tetsutaro Sakurai, they were his side project to Cosa Nostra, and featured five girls of different looks and personalities that he used to sing his Todd Rundgren- and Laura Nyro- inspired pop. There was Harry, the spooky, arty one; Aki, the girly one; Maria, the one who sounded like Kahimi Karie; Emiko, the earthy, fun one; and Rio, the slightly older, glamorous one. Or that’s how they seemed to me.
After buying all four of their releases and all six of their singles, I had given up on even finding their rare CD-ROM mini-album combo from 1996, let alone being able to afford it (Japanese collector prices being astronomical). Imagine how I almost choked on my Raisin Bran when I saw this at Tokyo Recohan for something like $7. It was a no-brainer.
I was slightly disappointed to find out that the six songs here are not new, despite the titles I’ve never heard of. They are actually all remixed versions of the songs found on their second album MOR from a month before, with English lyrics instead of Japanese. Some sound like demos–all the sounds I know are in place, but they don’t fit together as well. “Wonderland,” the English version of their best song “Nowhereland” (a song I so loved that I ripped off the title for my movie), is awkward and blocky, one take short of being brilliant (it’s interesting to compare and contrast, of course). It’s like those albums you discover only in your dreams–it sounds like them, but something’s quite off.

The QuickTime movies that accompany the songs are the usual bland Japanese promo variety, with usually one or two set-ups and no imagination of what to do for the entire 5 minutes. Only “Wonderland” gets any sort of treatment, with the band vogue-ing and being subjected to several digital effects. The dancing doesn’t suit the music, though. Mostly the videos prove what I always thought, based on the very few publicity photos I have seen of them: Emiko (left) is the cutie (she also has the best voice). After their 1997 album Cream they vanished into the ether.