Wes Craven died this evening. Evidently he had brain cancer. He was 76, which still seems far too young for him to die.
Everyone knows him from the Nightmare on Elm Street films. The first in the series was quite good, but eventually Freddy Krueger became too campy, the intensity of the horror lost among cringe-inducing puns.
Less acclaimed but, in my opinion, far superior to the Elm Street series was People Under the Stairs. That film managed to include just about every hot button that comes up in horror films – sick secluded family, racist abuse, incest, child abuse, among them – and combined them all into a film so creepy that, were it not for the fashions involved, still seems very modern in its approach to real horror.
Mostly I will remember Wes Craven for being the architect of a film that absolutely destroyed me when I first saw it. In Last House on the Left, an update of Bergman’s The Virgin Spring, Mari and Phyllis are waylaid during their attempts to find drugs before a concert. Their abductors take them into the woods to torture, rape and eventually murder them. Their murderers end up needing assistance from Mari’s family and Mari’s parents realize the people in their home killed their child and seek violent revenge.
There is a scene in this film where Mari, after she has been raped and mutilated, walks into a lake to clean herself. Once she is out into the lake, her captors shoot her to death and she begins to float, her long hair clinging to the surface of the water, spreading out in a corona around her. Of all the horrible images and acts in this film, that image of Mari in the water is the one that stays with me and there’s no wonder why. Young women floating dead in water is an image that has been with us for centuries. Ophelia instantly comes to mind. So does the Lady of Shallot, though she was in a boat. Most relevant for me is L’Inconnue de la Seine, a beautiful young woman found dead in the Seine in the late 1880s. Her death mask became a collector’s piece and her image now graces all Resusci Annie mannequins used to train people to perform CPR. She was considered an example of perfect female beauty. Her story was told over and over in literature and art and I’ve linked her with Mari in my mind, two lost young girls, killed vilely but washed clean.
Though dubbed an exploitation film, Last House on the Left appalled 1972 moviegoers with its audacious and all-too-real violence, but the movie was far more than just a vehicle for splatter and gore. It tugged at the primal needs of mankind to protect the young and vulnerable among us, and reminded us how quickly the suburban family can become atavistic killers when their own are threatened or harmed. It taps into the very fairy tales that make up our earliest introductions to literature, telling us of little children lured into the woods and those foolhardy enough to walk into danger on their own. In so many ways the film harked back to the gruesome violence of the early, unsanitized Grimm tales that we’d forgotten after so many Disney reinterpretations, tropes that we glossed over because we felt we were far too civilized to share with our children the real danger of following breadcrumbs, or, in Mari and Phyllis’s case, knocking on the witch’s door.
Wes Craven was a genius who understood the primal violence that threatens us and how easily we shed our modernity and squeamishness when we need to protect those we love or seek vengeance against those who harm us.
Wes was also a man who understood so well the tropes of the genre he helped create that he seamlessly subverted them in the Scream series, an almost intolerably self-aware and clever look at how we again all learned the danger of going into the woods – horror movies showed us the danger – but we end up in the woods nonetheless. Knowing rules saved few from the knife.
There is so much more that can be said about Wes Craven but I am going to leave it alone now, and perhaps watch The Serpent and the Rainbow again this week. God speed, Mr Craven.
This entire entry is NSFW. And in some regards, NSFL, but if you’re reading here you’re probably made of stern stuff. But be warned – most of this entry could get you fired if your IT team at work is on the ball.
Peter Tägtgren (of Hypocrisy and Pain fame) teamed up with Til Lindemann from Rammstein in a project called Lindemann and the first single, at first listen, was a paean to sexual frustration and complete misanthropy. I’m always up for that which is sexually uncomfortable and I sort of loathe most of humanity, so “Praise Abort” was up my alley. It was also deeply funny and we need more humor in music, I think. God knows “Praise Abort” would be a complete mental massacre without some humor.
I’ve not followed Peter Tägtgren’s career that closely. When I was but a wee lass, I listened to Hypocrisy from time to time. I checked out Pain on YouTube and the first video that came up was for a song called “Shut Your Mouth.” Tägtgren is obviously not a dude adverse to humor in his music, and the video for “Shut Your Mouth” verges into silliness. But whether or not you like humor in your metal, how can you not like a song with a chorus like “Just wipe your own ass and shut your mouth!”
And because I am a hopelessly shallow woman, I can say that now that I know that Peter Tägtgren is no longer a metallic ringer for Johnny Depp
and is transforming into Christopher Walken, I find him far more interesting and can see myself checking out more Pain once this discussion is completed.
So sorry for the silence on my end. I’ve been writing quite a bit, so much in fact that I have written myself into a corner. Every Cradle Is a Grave came into my life as I was experiencing death and the rage and depression death brings with it. I have written over 20,000 words about the book and, though I am well-known for my wordiness, that is a wholly inappropriate number of words to use to discuss a book. I am self-indulgent but luckily I still have a bit of self-awareness and now I am spending time editing so that I can present my frame of mind regarding the book without substituting my frame of mind for the book. I will have the discussion up early next week.
I will also have another “middle of the road” discussion up either tomorrow or Thursday.
I’ve been immersed in some interesting media and topics this week, one of which turned into a rabbit-hole. I follow the “Unresolved Mysteries” subreddit and a German user posted about a murder I had never heard of and as a result I have been scouring the Internet, reading crappy translations of old German news articles, finding every detail I can about it. In 1998, thirteen year old Tristan Bruebach was murdered in such a sexually specific and audacious manner that I cannot believe I had not heard of this murder before and I also cannot believe this was the sole time the murderer performed such a killing. But against all logic, it seems like that is the case. Seriously, three decades of reading and studying and I have never heard of a murder like this, and there are so many strange details about Tristan, his activities before his murder, and the way he was killed that even seasoned professional criminologists are baffled by the case.
I’ve also been listening to the Michigan band His Name Is Alive almost non-stop. I don’t know how to describe this sort of music and the band has continually evolved since the late 80s so it’s hard to pigeon-hole the effort. The only constant member of the band is Warren Defever, with different musicians and singers coming and going.
A friend of mine in college gave me a mixed tape with “Baby Fish Mouth” on it but it was the early 90s, no iTunes and precious little Internet outside of university labs, and tracking down small, indie bands was harder then. I finally got a copy of the album, Mouth by Mouth, and every song was worthwhile, which seldom ever seems to happen. The singer on this track, Karin Oliver, performed with HNIA for several years but evidently is now an account manager at a marketing firm.
“How Ghosts Affect Relationships” is from the album Livonia, released in 1990. It wasn’t until this album got uploaded to YouTube that I could access it. I don’t know if it’s rare or if it’s just that I wasn’t thorough. This is the best song on the album, I think, and it’s a little musical knife in my heart.
“How Dark Is Your Dark Side” is not the best song on Xmmer, a 2007 album, but I listen to it over and over because I love the singer, Andrea Morici. There is something sweetly hypnotic about her voice on this track. I think she may be the best vocalist to work with Defever.
So that’s where I am. Buried in hyperemotional reactions to a book about antinatalism, searching for information about a savagely murdered child, and listening to experimental rock. See you soon with a short entry about two short story collections that disappointed me sincerely.
Just talking with you guys. “I think the young people enjoy it when I get down verbally, don’t you?”*
–I had a really good entry planned for today but it required a scanner and evidently our scanner is no longer a scanner. Maybe it’s a toaster now. Maybe it’s a small space heater. It is a mystery, but we do know for sure it’s not a device that can capture an image. So Mr. Oddbooks will be purchasing a new scanner this weekend and I will have a nice discussion about death photography up on Monday.
–Think Progress had a very interesting article about how one can consume good content created by horrible people. Roman Polanski and Orson Scott Card are the focus of the article but I see this question come up a lot in regards to black metal, specifically Varg Vikernes. On the other side of the coin that I explore more often is how to ethically handle really morally upsetting content that comes from people who are not bad people – like Peter Sotos’ works. I’d love to know how y’all handle such issues. I can’t see ever giving a single penny of mine to a man like Card, who opposes equal protection under law for roughly 10% of the people in this country, but this article gives a full story of what hinges on the success of the upcoming Ender’s Game movie, issues that go beyond not giving one’s money to a bigoted man.
–There will be some changes coming here on IROB. We are going to begin monetizing the site and it makes me nervous. I’ve built up a respectable body of work over here and I don’t want to taint it but, at the same time, site ads are so ubiquitous at this point that it’s hard to claim they do any harm to a site. The problems arise, I think, when bloggers begin to engage in sponsored content. That doesn’t happen much with book bloggers, unless you consider review copies a form of sponsoring. Which I don’t.
I am also going to start accepting ads from writers who are in the position of having to publicize their own books. The cost for a monthly will be super-cheap. I will be offering ad space once I have a solid track record of posting at least two book discussions a week. I don’t have extraordinary traffic on this site, but I do have a solid readership of people who often buy books as a result of my discussions. At any rate, that is coming up sometime during the summer.
If you guys notice anything amiss with the ads, probably strictly Google Adsense, please let me know. If anything we add screws up your experience on this site, we need to know.
People have mentioned tip jars and subscriptions and the like. I feel more uncomfortable with that than ads. Some people’s blogs are like magazines and worth subscribing to, but this site is me, me only and I don’t ever see having guest or co-bloggers. I’ve also grown disgusted with the antics one sees from uber-feminist-blogger-beggar Melissa McEwan, who routinely berates her readers for money so she can get a living wage from blogging, going so far as to have one of her co-mods tell a woman with five dollars left from her child support moneyto fork it over to help support Melissa, a comfortable, middle-class, childless woman with a husband who supports her. I’m a middle-class childless woman with a husband who supports me and the only time any of you should part with money because of anything I said is when I recommend a book you decide you want to buy. And though I know she is an extreme example, McEwan’s antics (and the antics of others like her who failed to make a viable business plan before making blogging their source of income) have forever tainted the tip jar for me. The fact is that magazines don’t make much money from subscriptions – they make money from ads and it’s a piss-poor business plan to expect readers to pay your wages just because you think it taints you if you take corporate money.
–I got an e-mail from a guy in Croatia who praised IROB, but also told me that when he watched the video for “Ride” by Lana Del Rey, he thought of me. I watched the video and was baffled. I asked Mr. Oddbooks what part of my online persona would make anyone think of me when they watch a video about a biker prostitute with borderline personality and a daddy-complex. He watched the video and he understood immediately what my Croatian admirer meant. Though this is clearly in the Southwest somewhere, like Arizona or Nevada, this is likely how a lot of people look at Texas. Wild landscape with lots of sand, people in fringe wearing boots with shorts, lots of beer bottles, lots of guns. I replied and asked him if he meant the landscape and rather than the girl in the video, but never heard back.
For what it’s worth, here’s the video:
As melodramatic videos go, this one ain’t bad. If I was 18, I bet I’d be all over this. Sadly, the middle-aged me mentally told the pretty, drunk girl in the middle of the desert with a bunch of bikers to take off the war bonnet, put the gun away, and sober up and that would be good step toward not feeling fucking crazy. But the American cinematic and literary experience she’s grooving on was built on the backs of pretty, drunk, fucking crazy people. Where would we be as a country without attractive people who are out of their minds. So thanks, Croatian Man, for leading me to this video. It was a hoot, of sorts.
*Though I in no way resemble Lana Del Rey’s daddy-biker girl in this video, I was told frequently in my teens that I reminded people of Jordan from Real Genius, which is the movie from which this quote originates. I’m way fatter now and talk a little bit slower but my neuroses are far more Jordan-eqsue than the languid lunacy Lana Del Rey brings to the table. But ending up with the dorky genius was a far better fate for me than wearing a white dress and screaming at bikers. Mileage, as always, varies.
I used to be a fan of black metal, and I guess I still am, but now it’s more appropriate to say I’m a fan of specific black metal bands. It always helps to be specific, I think.
So in the spirit of specificity, let me tell you I rather like Ulver. I think even more specifically, it’s safe to say I like Garm, the former singer for Ulver. I love his voice, and I like the idea that if Mr Oddbooks were to start lifting weights again and decided to get some ink, he and Garm could pass for brothers. Maybe cousins.
At any rate, Ulver’s 2000 release, Perdition City, is in my top ten albums of all time. And the best song on that album is “Porn Piece or the Scars of Cold Kisses.” At 4:00 one morning, I wanted to listen to it in bed, but iTunes was having “issues.” I was forced to go to YouTube, which was not as an appalling a choice as you might think because it just so happens that there is a fan video for “Porn Piece or the Scars of Cold Kisses” that is my favorite fan video ever. Yeah, the video is stretched and skewed but ultimately, the video is very, very good. I don’t think I could ever have thought of “Porn Piece” and Lost Highway as two media elements that went together, but that’s the beauty of this kind of thing, I suspect. Also, I tend to think that imposing one’s will on popular culture is all that’s left to us people who can’t sleep and yet can’t concentrate on anything productive.
So beautiful. “On the stairs, before I left, one of the girls had surprisingly given me a kiss. Stung in the cold long after.”
But it was Youtube at 4:00 in the morning. It couldn’t end in a great mashup of an achingly beautiful song. It never does.
It never does.
You know how Youtube has all the related videos over to the right in one endless and godless lineup?
I looked at those related videos. I learned something. I learned that David Lynch released an album late in 2011. It is called Crazy Clown Time.
I’ll let that soak in for minute.
And it sounds exactly like you think it would and you should not listen to this before the sun comes up. You should not listen to this as your Garm-like husband sleeps with his hands closed across his chest, an elderly cat at his feet, your house quiet, your neighborhood dead. You should not listen to this song even now, but you probably will because the curiosity will force you.
Here it is. The thing that currently haunts me.
I just don’t know. Words fail me. That was horrible. I kind of want to cry.
But because he is David Lynch, in the midst of the grotesque, there is also something truly beautiful. “Pinky’s Dream” is slightly jittery and mildly horrible, but still has lovely moments
But like much of Lynch’s body of work, you have to make a conscious choice: do you focus on the lovely or the grotesque? Do you focus on Isabella’s lips and her accent or Dennis Hopper and his fucking nitrous mask?
I think my off-topic entries I had previously called “Media Dump” will now be called “This Is Not An Odd Book Discussion.” My media dumps were really just media trickles. Better call them what they are: “This Is Not an Odd Book Discussion.”
With that out of the way, let’s talk about a mild but still unsettling musical experience I had recently. I was listening to “Diane” by Hüsker Dü and though I have known of and played this song since I was 16, there was something new to it. I could hear something in it I had not heard before. I am not a person who has a wide musical vocabulary so bear with me if what I am saying sounds amateurish and if you have a better explanation for what I am trying to say, please speak up.
The weird feeling of hearing something new focused around Bob Mould’s guitar work. The clearest example of the part that started niggling the back of my head happened around 0:22 – 0:33. His guitar work is sort of shrill and desperate. You hear those chords throughout the song.
Because I have a touch of OCD in my genetic makeup, once that feeling that I was remembering something hit me, I had to listen to the song over and over until Mr Oddbooks begged me to give it a rest because some people have to get up in the morning, dammit.
And I was lucky he was so desperate for sleep because putting it aside for a day or so enabled my brain to clear and it became apparent what I was thinking of when I was listening to “Diane.” It was a song I have already and recently discussed, “We Are Water” by Health.
I do not know what the instrument is that makes the upsurge of noise that occurs at 0:41-0:46 and again at 2:06-2:13. And the tempo is not even similar to Mould’s guitar work in “Diane.” But there is something about that shrill noise from both songs that caused me to link the songs in my brain.
But then the obviousness of it settled in. I said in my last discussion of “We Are Water” that the surge of noise I delineated above reminds me of screams after seeing the video. Mould’s guitar work is shrill, a sort of on-edge sound that I now also associate with screams because “Diane” was written about a woman, Diane Edwards, who was killed in 1980. She was a waitress in St. Paul, MN, and she was 19 when a man named Joseph Ture abducted, raped and murdered her.
Having heard that jangling noise in “We Are Water” and associating it with screaming after seeing the video of the young woman or man being chased down by a demented killer, I think I had that association of discordant noise as a female scream implanted in my head. And now all of Bob Mould’s guitar work in “Diane” sounds like screams, too.
I wanted this to be a synchronous event. I wanted there there be more coincidence to it than there was. Eric Wareheim (yes, that Eric Wareheim) directed the video for “We Are Water” and was once in a sort of punk band himself. I looked him up, certain he was born in Minnesota and had grown up on Hüsker Dü. Perhaps he felt the same sense of being screamed at as he listened to both songs and had “Diane” in his mind when he created the video.
No luck. He’s from Pennsylvania. It’s all just in my brain. As usual. I bet people reading this and listening to the songs at the appropriate places will not hear a damn thing I did. And that’s cool. I often go through these weird musings wherein I see connections that a normal person does not hear. I’m used to it. And really, given that “Diane” is about a murder victim, had I any sensitivity, I should have heard the screams before. Regardless, I can’t listen to these songs again for a while because now I hear a real woman screaming at me and I have enough really horrible stuff going through my head at the moment.
So, dear readers, are there any songs that began to fuck you up in ways you didn’t expect when you first heard the song? What’s your version of suddenly hearing a woman screaming in a guitar part in a song you had heard for years?
I am not a big fan of most modern R&B, and hip hop has never been my bag. I’m sure that doesn’t come as a huge surprise, given that I am a middle-aged white woman from Texas. But also bear in mind that I detest most pop and cannot bear country music that does not involve people named Cash or Carter. So it all sort of evens out.
But despite not being a fan of R&B and hip hop, I rather like Erikah Badu. She and I are age peers and we both grew up in the same area, though in completely different worlds. She went to the Booker T. Washington Magnet School for arts, which is a big damn deal. The school has produced singers like Edie Brickell and Norah Jones. There was something amazing about her voice, a reminder of Lady Day that was not forced and hackneyed like so many singers whose only claim to talent is an ability to emulate Billie Holiday. I also liked her style. Her poreless skin, her interesting head wraps, the graceful way she moved her arms as she sang. Even if I had little cultural allegiance to what it is that Erikah Badu represented, she certainly seemed special in her talents.
And she writes and sings songs like this:
You need to call Tyrone. But you can’t use my phone. I love this song.
My favorite song of hers is “On and On”:
I am lyrically oriented in music. And while some of these lyrics appeal to me, I found them difficult to pin down. Like the sections where the singer is discussing being born under water with three dollars and six dimes. Somewhat puzzling was the chorus:
“If we were made in his image then call us by our names.
Most intellects do not believe in god but they fear us just the same.”
I always took this as a demand for respect – call us by own names, the real names that some black people take on when they achieve a level of spiritual and social awareness. But intriguing was the idea of “fear us.” Not fear him. This was not just Badu addressing the intellectual speciousness of some who claim atheism while still superstitiously fearing God, because she very clearly says those who may not believe in god (lower case) fear us. Interesting.
“On and On” came out in 1997, before the Internet was overrun with lyrics sites and places where people pontificate song meanings, so I never really pursued my ponderings. But I heard the song on the radio coming home last week and my questions rose again. I’m in another insomnia cycle, so at 4:00 one morning, me and my smart phone got to the bottom of my bafflement.
I have taken a very shallow dip into a very large and deep pool so my discussion and analysis may be incorrect, and I welcome anyone with a deeper knowledge to correct me if they read anything wrong here. The Nation of Gods and Earths began when a man named Clarence 13X, who had studied with Malcolm X, left the Nation of Islam because he held differing opinions about the nature of Islamic godhead. I think it is a mistake to consider Nation of Gods and Earths to be an offshoot of the Nation of Islam, though some may consider them a sect. From what I managed to glean from various sites, Nation of Gods and Earths is far less dogmatic than Nation of Islam, asserting that Nation of Gods and Earths is less a religion than a natural way of life. Allah is God, or possibly god, but each follower is in his or her own sense a god as well.
The term Five Percenters comes from the idea in Nation of Gods and Earths that in the black community, 10% of the people know the truth of the world and how it works but hide this truth for their own personal gain, 85% have no idea how the world works and through their ignorance are manipulated by the 10%, and 5%, the members of Nation of Gods and Earths, know the truth and share their knowledge. Some of the truth that the Five Percenters share stems from Afrocentrism, the notion that all life began from black people. The descendents of these creators of the world are gods themselves. Southern Baptist refugee that I am, this reminded me of Thomas in the Bible, insisting that the light of Jesus is within us all, and that the only true path to salvation is to find the god that has always been within us.
But to me the most interesting Judeo-Christian corollary found in Nation of Gods and Earths are Supreme Mathematics and Supreme Alphabet. Supreme Mathematics, not unlike the Kabballah, teaches that within numbers there are specific concepts and essential universal truths (and realize this is a gross generalization of both concepts). For example, in Supreme Mathematics, the number seven equates the concept of god. That puts Erikah Badu’s decision to name her first son Seven into a whole different perspective and not just one of those wacky names that celebrities often give their kids. Her son’s name conveys both the notion of Supreme Mathematics as truth as well as Badu’s belief that her son, like all black people, is a god. In all those lists of strange names celebrities give their children, Seven really shouldn’t be lumped in there with Apple, Pilot Inspektor and Audio Science.
And though I hope I make it clear I have only the most basic idea of what it is the Five Percenters believe, the tiny bit I was able to grok made “On and On” much clearer to me.
Obviously “Most intellects do not believe in god but they fear us just the same,” makes a lot more sense. Badu’s belief that black men and women embody the creator concept of their forebears, that they are gods themselves, shines through here. Those who do not believe in god may fear god, and if blacks are gods, then they fear her and those who believe as she does.
I’m still not wholly clear on the lines “I was born under water with three dollars and six dimes. Yeah you may laugh but you did not do your math.”
Obviously she is mentioning Supreme Mathematics here, because “you did not do your math.” And water, outside of the Five Percenters, is a universal symbol of life, from amniotic fluid, to baptism, to just the ancient notion of water as a force of life. But what about the 3 dollars and 6 dimes?
My first idea is that this is a representation of the number 360. 360 degrees implies a circle, a perfect circle, again leading me to the idea of perfection of man and man as god. It also implies experience, a perfect orbit of the Earth around the sun, a 360 degree trip. This section also includes Badu singing the lines, “Na qua 2..3. Damn, y’all feel that? Oh… Qua 2..3. The world keeps turning.” No idea what the Na qua section means because attempts to find out lead me down a rabbit hole, but the idea that the world keeps turning fits in well with the notion of 360 degrees and orbits. (See the comments for this entry – I myself and others misheard the lyrics as the lyric is “Like one two three, damn, y’all feel that, oh one two three.” Which adds a lot to the discussion as feeling the impact of numbers recited feels very Supreme Mathematical. Thanks to those who corrected me!)
But in Supreme Mathematics the number three means understanding, a deep understanding of all knowledge. The number six means equality, but from what I could read, that equality is the equality that the Five Percenters give other people as they explain their beliefs, not the American belief that all people are created equal. Only through knowledge of their role in the world can black people become equal, according to the beliefs of Five Percenters. So it may be the passage of dollars and dimes means a rebirth wherein Badu discovered the Nation of Gods and Earths and came to a perfect understanding and now wants to encourage equality through education.
There is so much more to this than just the little bit I have read and then applied to a song I like. I found a book called The Five Percenters: Islam, Hip-hop and the Gods of New York by Michael Mohammed Knight that I will read probably sooner rather than later. There’s likely an ocean of information out there on this sect.
I just found it deeply interesting that running to ground some interesting lyrics led me to an entire religious sect to which some very famous musicians belong (Ghostface Killah, Badu, Rakim and Busta Rhymes, among others). But then, I had no idea Opus Dei existed until Dan Brown wrote about them. Us Protestants who grew up in the American South were seldom let in on much that was Catholic – we were told even less that was Muslim in nature. This is one of many reasons why I snert in the face of people who reject popular culture as being without merit. You can learn from anything if you are so inclined. Had it not been for a popular song, I’d still be in the dark about the Five Percenters.
So that is this week’s Media dump, a whole religious sect that flew under my white radar for many years that I discovered through a song. I’ve got some other interesting dumps in February, including an odd book zine out of Australia and hopefully Friday I will have up a Jim Goad discussion. If not, look for it Monday.
(And because these days writing about anything is seen as an open endorsement, please be clear that I write about all kinds of things that I don’t believe in. I am an atheist who finds religion interesting. And if you want to discuss this sect in a negative manner, stick to the actual beliefs of the sect that you can verify via research you can share or stick to what I have written. I am so sick of Islam-bashing that if you act the fool and I don’t ban you, I will be very unkind to you, and I hate being unkind. So stay on topic, all you Islamaphobes who came here for Breivik and stayed for my many, obvious charms, namely that I don’t ban you at first sight.)
Increasingly I find myself wanting to share the non-oddbook media I consume or become obsessed with. Some of it is left of center, some if it isn’t, but if it appears that others like posts like this, maybe I’ll do this more often.
I think in addition to simply wanting to share these things that often accompany my odd book journeys (because it is a strange, circuitous route at times that gets me to the bizarre books I read), I hope others share whatever their most recent media obsession is. Nothing like sharing the love.
This week I have been listening to two songs a lot online. One is Nouvelle Vague’s cover of “Love Will Tear Us Apart” by Joy Division:
I love listening to the singer’s voice, hearing touches of her French accent as she turns this song about the frail rage of love into something that seems far sweeter than it ever seemed possible.
Then there’s this song that’s been all over the radio lately:
The song is a little quirky and such, but I like this song mostly because I want to watch him sing. I literally just watch his mouth. I hadn’t realized how common perfectly spaced, uniformly-shaped, completely even, blindingly white teeth had become and how uninteresting they are to look at. The absence of perfect teeth in his mouth is almost sexy. I really like his cuspids. They give his mouth an interesting sort of sneer. If this guy becomes quite famous, I hope he never lets himself become another boring-mouthed Everyman.
And then there’s this. Yep, an analysis of bestiality and pedophilia in The Simpson’s Movie. Yeah, 90% of it borders on being unhinged. But at the same time, when Mr Oddbooks watched the movie I turned to him at one point and asked, “Is Homer gonna fuck that pig? What the hell?” So the author is sort of on to something. And the lunatic deconstruction of the film is, even when it is completely wrong, not entirely unlike some of the writing I have engaged in (:cough:breivik:cough:) so I appreciate the attention to detail. I just have to say that he lost me at Ned Flanders. No one should impugn Ned. Ned is the man. Ned rules. Never bad-mouth Ned.
Generally, when exploring the underbelly of the Internet, I find far more disturbing things than an unsane look at the Simpsons but give me time. I’ve only just started sharing what I find on my phone at 4:00 am when insomnia is ruling my sorry ass. Perhaps next week will be better. But for now I come with pretty French covers, amazing eyeteeth and Masonic hysteria in cartoons.
So, tell me anything you consumed this week that impressed/appalled/fascinated you.
I’ve been a bit busy lately. I know, that sounds weird to read because it is well known that I am the least busy person on the planet. If I run an errand, I need a nap and a diet soda upon waking. But since about December I’ve had a lot of energy. Lots of hobbies, errands, cooking, interacting with Mr. Oddbooks, and absolutely neurotic levels of cleaning have been going on. This burst of energy means my backlog of books to discuss is about to become not so backed or logged.
And it means I want to write here more, even when I don’t have book-related content. I will have book content Monday – a discussion of Wrath James White’s Population Zero – but until I post it, I want to discuss the music/noises I have been obsessed with lately. I’ve been resurrecting old writing of mine, looking at it and seeing if it is worth salvaging. Some of it is and one of the pieces I want to work on is deeply disturbing. When I work on disturbing stories, I cannot listen to my usual music. I find myself listening the most discordant, horrible sounds because my usual tastes may cause me to think of old friends, old activities and I end up reminiscing more than working. I need things that jangle my brain in an anonymous way.
Nothing I share below is new, though some of it is new to me. I’m sharing it anyway because I feel like sharing, dammit. And it’s not like this site is devoted to the latest in media anyway.
I’ve always been very interested in numbers stations. There’s just something very creepy and intense knowing that you may be listening to a coded order for a spy to kill an enemy agent or to take the cyanide pill. Yeah, none of that probably happened, but it’s still unnerving to listen to a form of communication and know you cannot now and will never know what was being communicated. So I’ve been listening to numbers stations recordings.
When that gets tiring, I listen to the Siberian Sounds of Hell. Anyone who has ever listened to Art Bell knows of them. Utter bunk, but distressing noise is distressing noise. I most often listen to a 20 minute loop of this I have on my computer, but this little video gives the “origin story” of these sounds.
And if you were an Art Bell junkie for any length of time, you probably already know of the call Art Bell got from a supposed frantic man who claimed to have worked at Area 51. Tool turned the call into a song called “Faaip De Oiad.” There’s something about this one that sort of messes with me if I listen to it long enough. I have absolutely no idea why.
Then there is this little gem. I found this one several pages back on a Google search for “horrible noise.” I’m not really into noise rock so that may explain why this has been out for two years and I never heard of it until recently. I play this one in a loop for hours as I think. And again, for whatever reason, there is something about this noise that is troubling to me. Much of the this song is distressing, especially the line, “Our bones won’t grow in the dirt.” That was enough on its own to be unsettling, but then I looked up the band and found this video. Now I associate all of the noise surges with screaming and the line about bones has a more sinister meaning. And then there’s the whole story in the video. Is the victim a girl or a boy? How long was he or she held in captivity, because the smeared make-up and dirty socks convey the idea of a lengthy abduction. The madman is in his underwear. Did the victim thwart a sexual attack and flee? Is the camera pan comparing the legs of the running victim and the madman telling us something? How about the manner in which the victim knew the exact place to hit the femoral artery? What does that tell us? Anything? Nothing? In a way this video encapsulates all that is amazing in story-telling – giving enough information to draw us in and leaving out enough so that we are forced to think. This one is gory as hell so if you are easily freaked out by such things, don’t watch.
I never really liked Aphex Twin but this was part of my background noise when writing long before I saw the video.
And then there is the always horrifying “Frankie Teardrop” by Suicide. The screaming, oh the screaming. The relentless drum machine. This is madness in the form of a song.
There’s more but six videos for one entry is more than enough, I think. Please share with me the music that helps you work, the music that terrifies you or the music that fills you with nauseated dread.