Let Us Spray

While the geeks cream their jeans waiting for the iPhone, I’m waiting (much longer) for PT-141. And that ain’t a patrol boat:

“With PT-141, you feel good, not only sexually aroused,” reported anonymous patient 007, a participant in a Phase 2 trial, “you feel younger and more energetic.” Said another patient: “It helped the libido. So you have the urge and the desire. . . . You get this humming feeling; you’re ready to take your pants off and go.”

Not that I need any help, mind you…

Man Out of Time

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Cleaning up some old bookmarks I decided to pay UBUWEB a visit and came across Orson Welles: The One Man Band, a 1995 documentary by Vassill Silovic that features fascinating bits and pieces from the numerous projects Welles started but never finished in his later years. It’s 90 minutes long, but if you’re like me it’s completely fascinating. One can only wonder what Welles would have done in the age of digital video, when the costs would have dropped immensely. Of particular interest to me are his readings from Moby Dick. Has Melville ever sounded this good?

Herzog’s New Film

Went to a sneak preview last night of Werner Herzog’s first big-budget Hollywood film, “Rescue Dawn,” about Dieter Dengler (Christian Bale), a US pilot shot down over Laos and how he escapes internment. My review will come later, but in the meantime my friend Jon has pointed out this New Yorker profile on making the film from about a year ago. Apparently, Herzog (with whom I share a birthday) likes to do things his way:

The fact that Herzog has been making films for more than forty years, many of them acclaimed as works of unnerving originality, didn’t shake the collective judgment that he was doing it all wrong. The mood on the set was toxic. Josef Lieck, the first assistant director, who has worked with Wim Wenders, said, “For a man of his age, it’s a very . . . raw talent. It’s more like an eighteen-year-old running into the forest.” A costume designer complained, “He doesn’t know basic things about filmmaking, things that simply make it easier to tell a story. He thinks that these things will undermine his vision, but they won’t.” Harry Knapp, an assistant director, said, “There is a silent war on the set. We’re all in a state of shock.” Herzog, for his part, politely ignored the crew’s complaints. Zeitlinger explained, “When making a film, Werner tries to pretend as if nobody is around but him and the actors.”

That the film is very suspenseful and gripping shows how much all the crew’s opinion really mattered. The article is long, but a hoot.

The Death of the Record Industry

Rolling Stone has an article up about Who Killed the Record Industry. Answer: the companies themselves.

So who killed the record industry as we knew it? “The record companies have created this situation themselves,” says Simon Wright, CEO of Virgin Entertainment Group, which operates Virgin Megastores. While there are factors outside of the labels’ control — from the rise of the Internet to the popularity of video games and DVDs — many in the industry see the last seven years as a series of botched opportunities. And among the biggest, they say, was the labels’ failure to address online piracy at the beginning by making peace with the first file-sharing service, Napster. “They left billions and billions of dollars on the table by suing Napster — that was the moment that the labels killed themselves,” says Jeff Kwatinetz, CEO of management company the Firm. “The record business had an unbelievable opportunity there. They were all using the same service. It was as if everybody was listening to the same radio station. Then Napster shut down, and all those 30 or 40 million people went to other [file-sharing services].”

I would also add a few other factors:
1) Getting rid of singles, and forcing people to buy an album for one song. Another reason people started grabbing MP3s.
2) Never dropping the price on CDs, but instead jacking it up to about $18. A crime.
3) Shameless CEO salaries.
4) Being Lowest Common Denominator about everything.
Also, why don’t record companies sell CDs for cheap at concerts? That’s a major audience who are ready to impulse buy. I’m sure there’s some stizoopid legal reason for this, but I’ve always seen this as a missed opportunity.

The Town of Bedrock aka the Garden of Eden

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BlueGrassRoots goes to check out the idiocy of the Creationist Museum, one more blot on an already sullied American reputation.

Early in the museum, the visitor is given advice on the proper mind frame to have for your visit: “Don’t think, just listen and believe”. As you can see in the picture below, Human Reason is the enemy and God’s Word is the hero. Descartes represents Human Reason, saying “I think, therefore I am”. But God tells us there no need to waste your beautiful mind, for God says “I am that I am”.

Insert Popeye joke here. Really the whole “museum” is just one more version of the traveling revivalist show, with dioramas from Eden to the awfulness of today, full of drugs, pedophelia, and Ted Haggard. Just this time there’s dinosaurs (for the kids!)

Simon and Simon: Ballard, Eno, and more


Simon Sellars interviews Simon Reynolds about J.G. Ballard

One of my fantasy projects that I toyed with for a while was a book on Ballard and Eno. They do seem of a type in some ways and they are patron saints of postpunk to an extent. But the project founders immediately owing to the fact that they are so eloquent about what they do and such brilliant writers, that there’d be zero role for any critic or commentator. There’d be very little to mediate or interpret, as they’ve said it all, so much better. They know what they are doing. I suppose you could historicize them, contextualise them. Ballard with the milieu he emerged out of in the Sixties, which was based around the ICA, right? And Eno with the UK art schools.

In some ways the affinity seems as much temperamental as anything ideas-based. There’s this wonderful Englishness. You imagine they would get on like a house on fire, trading ideas over whisky and soda in the Shepperton living room. One thing they both do is take ideas from science and set them loose in culture, find applications. Ballard is like a British McLuhan, except much better because he’s a far better writer, and a better thinker too – more original, more convincing. Eno is almost like a British Barthes, in some ways.

Arts Article: Lit Moon’s Midnight Sun Festival

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ONSTAGE: Taking the Finnish line – Lit Moon presents four theater words from Finland
Ted Mills, NEWS-PRESS CORRESPONDENT
June 8, 2007 8:12 AM

Norway had Ibsen. Sweden had Strinberg. But more than that, those countries had promoters of their most famous playwrights in the English-speaking world.
But what about Finland? Enter Mikko Viherjuuri, a Finnish playwright, director and man with a mission. Also enter Lit Moon Theatre Company founder John Blondell, who was ready to listen. Now, they’re about to give Finnish theater some exposure with Lit Moon’s Midnight Sun Festival, opening tonight.

Continue reading Arts Article: Lit Moon’s Midnight Sun Festival