Archive for September, 2011

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Plugs

September 30, 2011

“But what kind of plugs?”, I hear you ask, and the juxtaposition of the word “but” alongside “plugs” sets the minds a-racing. I’m not writing about butt plugs, not today anyway, but what fascinating things they are all the same, reader, don’t you agree? The first time I ever heard about such things was the late 90s and they seemed as obscure as they were hilarious. Then, I thought they were chiefly the preserve of adventurous gay men but a few years later (i.e. when I had decent internet access), I realized the damn things were everywhere, and available in all manner of sizes and colours. Butt plugs. We may yet raise an eyebrow and giggle, but fifteen years from now our kids will be waddling around with these things inside them all the live long day and they’ll scoff disdainfully at us for being too square and uptight to understand the then contemporary fashion. By then, there will probably also be butt plug/smartphone hybrids, albeit ones that people my age will be somewhat hesitant to touch.

No, what I really want to do here is plug, as in promote, some interesting and groovy stuff being done by people I know.

First up is The Geek Zodiac presents The Continuum

You remember The Geek Zodiac? I already plugged it here some time ago. Well, the Geek Zodiac got fairly big, it garnered some attention and momentum and creators James Wright and Josh Eckert decided to expand upon the idea. First of all, Josh revamped the design, doing away with copyrighted borrowed images and creating and adding his own original illustrations. The they started selling t-shirts and mugs with the different designs (see the store at the above link). Finally, James decided to bite the butt-plug and develop an original web comic with the 14 characters created from the Geek Zodiac, written by him and illustrated by Josh. The Continuum has just been launched and what has been shown so far looks pretty darn cool. Give it a look at the link.

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Caged, Underaged

September 23, 2011

At a young age, said the judge, they should be put in a pit with wild dogs. They should be set to puzzle out from their proper clues the one of three doors that does not harbor wild lions. They should be made to run naked in the desert.  – Judge Holden, on the raising of children (Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy)

The kids are alright.

A recent sensationalized media non-story making the rounds in the UK was a report that a social club in Preston, Lancashire (in the north of England) had hosted a mixed martial arts event that at one point featured two 8-year-old boys “cage fighting”. Howls of indignation have since ensued.

Eight-year-old cage fighters on bill at Lancashire fight night

A social club in the north-west of England has been hosting cage fights with children as young as eight.

The Greenlands Labour Club in Preston, Lancashire, hosted a ticket-only fight night that included the eight-year-olds’ bout which lasted 10 minutes.

In video footage, one of the boys who is bare-chested, stands over another child who is on the floor of the cage. A man in the front row can be seen urging one of the children to keep his chin up, as another man raises his arms in the air.

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Grotesque

September 20, 2011

As alluded to in an earlier post, Grotesque came to my attention purely because it was denied a certificate by the BBFC, in a similar fashion to the recently completed The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence). Directed by Kôji Shiraishi, and released in early 2009 in Japan, the otherwise obscure ‘splatter’ film generated some controversy when it fell foul of the British censors in August of the same year. The BBFC rejected the film on the grounds of its “wallowing in the spectacle of sadism (including sexual sadism) for its own sake” and, of course, indirectly granted what would have been a widely unknown, low-budget foreign film the publicity coup of instant notoriety. Shiraishi publicly expressed his pleasure at the decision and admitted the film was a deliberate provocation intended to outrage. However, this minor brouhaha and even the most modest amount of attention are both wholly undeserved regarding what is in fact an utterly terrible film. Grotesque is a woeful piece of shit, even by the loose standards of the so-called ‘splatter’ sub-genre.

A young couple are enjoying their first date together and are walking home after a tentative courting session in a coffee shop when they are both attacked and abducted by a man lying in wait for them. They awake in some kind of makeshift gloomy dungeon, shackled to what look like work benches. Their assailant arrives and plays some classical music before sexually assaulting both his captives, somehow managing to bring both to climax against their will (my guess – Japanese sexuality has been forever warped and mutated en masse by the atomic bombings of 1945). He then proceeds to graphically torture and dismember both his captives using scissors, a hammer and nails, pliers, a chainsaw, scalpels and needles. He’s some kind of demented surgeon, apparently, and can properly tend to the significant physical trauma he inflicts on his victims. The couple eventually awaken chained to hospital beds where the crazy surgeon announces he has had his fun and intends to let them go once their injuries have healed, but he might not be quite finished with them.

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Valhalla Rising

September 17, 2011

In anticipation of the upcoming Drive, I have been on a Nicolas Winding Refn kick.

Made in 2009 and released the following year, Valhalla Rising is an obstinately uncommercial beast. Nicolas Winding Refn’s film, starring Mads Mikkelsen alongside an assortment of lesser-known Scottish actors, strives for a grimly poetic, mystical tone delivered at a portentous pace and largely eschews the unrelenting mayhem promised by the desperate manipulations of the trailer. Mikkelsen is probably still best known to international audiences as the villainous poker expert and bollock-busting bastard, Le Chiffre, in Casino Royale. Although it garnered significant critical attention, likely due to the respective profiles of its director and star, Valhalla Rising was met with strongly divisive opinions and a practically non-existent box-office performance. This film is certainly not for everyone, and is difficult to defend, but here goes an attempt at a tentative argument in its favour.

In what might be Scotland, 1000 AD, a captive Viking is pitted in gladiatorial, mortal combat for the entertainment and enrichment of a Highland clan. He escapes and slaughters his captors with the exception of a young boy who joins him on his journey thereafter and names the mute warrior One-Eye. They encounter a band of Christian warriors who are embarking on a crusade to Jerusalem (about one hundred years before anyone else did, but never mind about that) and are invited to accompany them. The journey doesn’t go as planned, and the group find themselves in an unfamiliar land which isn’t Jerusalem, and which still looks like Scotland, but is probably North America and/or Hell. Despair and madness soon ensue.

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A Quick Glance Back

September 11, 2011

With the ten-year anniversary of the event upon us, I’ve been reading and watching several accounts from different people discussing where they were and what they were doing when they first heard about the infamous attacks carried out by Islamic terrorists on September the 11th, 2001. My own account is fairly inconsequential, of course, but I offer it here as a simple and unsentimental means of marking the date.

In September of 2001 I was working as a cleaner in a children’s hospital in Glasgow. It was a part-time job I had undertaken on weekends whilst attending University and, although I had graduated earlier that year, I had spent the summer with a trip to Mexico and moving flat and hadn’t yet sought suitable full-time employment, instead increasing my hours at the hospital in the meantime. Sometime in the early afternoon of Tuesday, September 11th (the UK being approx. 5 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time), accompanied by my lifelong friend and flatmate (whom I also had the good fortune of working alongside at the time), I was rather lazily preparing some mops and other materials in a cleaning storage cupboard prior to trundling along to a nearby ward. Another domestic (cleaner), a girl in her late teens, suddenly appeared at the open door of the room with wide eyes and excitedly exclaimed, “Saddam Hussein is attacking America!”

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