[movies] How the Death of Mid-Budget Cinema Left a Generation of Iconic Filmmakers MIA … ‘Francis Ford Coppola made four of the finest films in motion picture history, but he can’t get a movie produced anymore; after a ten-year exile, he made three films between 2007 and 2011 that were basically self-financed (via his lucrative wine-making business). “You try to go to a producer today and say you want to make a film that hasn’t been made before; they will throw you out because they want the same film that works, that makes money,” he said at the Marrakech International Film Festival.’
[politics] Revealed: how Nigel Farage and Ukip begged for Enoch Powell’s support … What a suprise – it turns out Enoch Powell is one of Nigel Farage’s heroes … ‘Mr Farage, the Ukip leader, was branded “a pound shop Enoch Powell” by Russell Brand, a comedian, during a debate on the BBC’s Questiontime programme on Thursday night. The links between Mr Farage, Ukip and Mr Powell have been unearthed by The Daily Telegraph in letters to Mr Powell held in a university archive.’
[books] Chris Morris interviews Bret Easton Ellis … ‘Who says Americans can’t write books? Well, my school teacher for one did but she was wrong and she’s dead now, and as if to dance on her grave this American is all book. His name is Brett Easton-Ellis, he’s from New York. Now I want you to imagine a book over 6 feet tall, it looks like a man, then imagine that book takes you aside throws open its arms and sprays words all over your face. It makes you laugh, it makes you cringe with raw satire like guts.’
[people] An Investigation into the Weirdest Ronald Reagan Photo You’ve Probably Never Seen … ‘I like trifling historical mysteries, and this obscure, bizarre photo of a famous man—this image utterly devoid of context—fits the bill. Who shot it? Where? What were the circumstances of the occasion? And who is the boy? I talked to Krassner first. I’d been looking for an excuse to interview him; how many people do you know that rode the bus with the Merry Pranksters, edited Lenny Bruce, and claims to have coined the term soft-core pornography?’
[herzog] Werner Herzog Discusses His Unique Career … ‘Actually, I was completely stoned once with the composer Florian Fricke in Popol Vuh. I was at his home and he had pancakes and marmalade. And I smeared the marmalade and he started chuckling and chuckling. And I ate it and it tasted very well and I wanted another one and took another good amount of the marmalade and the marmalade had weed in it. He didn’t even tell me. I was so stoned that it took me an hour to find my home in Munich. I circled the block for a full hour until finding my place. So I have had the experience.’
Q: Do you think much about what your legacy will be?
King: No, not very much. For one, it’s out of my control. Only two things happen to writers when they die: Either their work survives, or it becomes forgotten. Someone will turn up an old box and say, “Who’s this guy Irving Wallace?” There’s no rhyme or reason to it. Ask kids in high school, “Who is Somerset Maugham?” They’re not going to know. He wrote books that were bestsellers in their time. But he’s well-forgotten now, whereas Agatha Christie has never been more popular. She just goes from one generation to another. She’s not as good a writer as Maugham, and she certainly didn’t try to do anything other than entertain people. So I don’t know what will happen.
[space] Buzz Aldrin’s Reddit AMA Was Pretty Badass … ‘When one user mentioned that there was no Plan B to get him off the moon and asked what his plan if he’d been simply left to die, Aldrin cooly responded: “To continue trying to fix the problem until the lack of oxygen caused us go to sleep.”’
[net] What happens when you accidentally become internet famous? … ‘Fist clenched, a look of pure determination on his face, Success Kid is the boy who can do it all. You may have seen his face posted when someone’s particularly proud of an achievement. Success Kid’s real name is Sam Griner and the photo is one of many his mother Laney, a photographer, took of her son and posted on her Flickr page. She still remembers the day and the moment she snapped this picture…’
I can’t pin down exactly what she did with what ingredients. I can’t even be sure that she really did the things I think she did. All I have, really, are pieces of circumstantial evidence and hunches that have coalesced over the years. In my narrative of suspicions, she preferred to use vitamin A (which can cause sleepiness, blurred vision, and nausea, among other things), then she used laxatives, and then, as she got older and lazier, she moved on to prescription drugs.
Grandma never cooked the same thing twice, and her creations were greasy beyond belief and usually really weird. For example: chicken baked with apricots and canned tomatoes, or mixed-up ground meats with prunes, or pickled things. She was infamous at the local grocery store. They saved the shark livers for her.
[funny] Sacha Baron Cohen tipped for Emmys for tragi-comedy character ‘Russell Brand’ … ‘One independently minded Guardian book reviewer aside, the entire staff of both The Guardian and the BBC were taken in by the Russell Brand character. He was granted audiences with news editors, publishers and TV producers. His opinion was sought out by Parliamentary Select Committees and quangos set up to combat drug addiction and over crowding in prisons. He regularly held court on issues of politics, economics and global warming, with people far more knowledgable and experienced than himself. And yet, incredibly, everyone was taken in.’
[books] Malcolm Gladwells David and Goliath Fairy Tales … a strong, convincing critique of Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book … ‘The inveterate simplicity of Gladwell’s stories comes not only from a resistance to complexity, but also from a denial of tragedy. This neglect of tragic choices is not just a defect in presentation, though it helps to confer upon his books their peculiar inimitable blandness. Suppressing tragedy is also a refusal to think honestly about power. Václav Havel, who became president of his country after the collapse of the communist tyranny against which he had fought, spoke of “the power of the powerless,” but unlike Gladwell—who nowhere mentions the Czech dissident, perhaps because he was not a social scientist—Havel never underplayed the power of the powerful. He knew that Goliath was genuine and dangerous, not a timorous midget in disguise. In contrast, Gladwell would have us believe that power is a kind of illusion or confidence trick, a misinterpretation. This is a desperately dangerous view to apply in practice. For Tibetans facing becoming a minority in their own country, for Christians in Egypt and Syria, for Bahá′í in Iran, and for other imperiled groups, the power of the powerful could be potentially fatal.’
[tags: Life, People, UK][permalink][Comments Off on 26 Times Waitrose Outright Ruined The Lives Of Decent People (Buzzfeed)]
September 24, 2014
[books] Ten things you should know about HP Lovecraft … ‘Lovecraft died of cancer of the small intestine in 1937. In keeping with his lifelong fascination with science, he kept a detailed diary of his eventually mortal illness. When he died, Lovecraft was buried in Swan Point Cemetery and listed on his mother’s family’s monument. This wasn’t enough for Lovecraft’s fans: in 1977, a group funded and installed a separate headstone. In 1997, a particularly avid fan attempted to dig up Lovecraft’s corpse under the headstone, but gave up after finding nothing from digging three feet.’
[funny] Werner Herzog’s Note To His Cleaning Lady … ‘I have conquered volcanoes and visited the bitter depths of the earth’s oceans. Nothing I have witnessed, from lava to crustacean, assailed me liked the caked debris haunting that small plastic soap hammock in the smaller of the bathrooms. Nausea is not a sufficient word.’
[books] Don Estelle: Sing Lofty (Thoughts of a Gemini) – An important and definitive guide … Scary Duck reads Don Estelle’s autobiography so we don’t have to … ‘If there’s one thing that stands out from Sing Lofty it’s this: Despite his prodigious singing voice, he was certainly no writer. And this comes out in his haphazard style, swinging from one subject to the next, recalling his exact mortgage payment at the time of the Suez Crisis and the name, address and post code of every booking he ever had, to his (probably righteous) rage at his lack of TV work after It Ain’t Half Hot Mum finished. If there’s an alternative title for this book, it’ll be Modern Life Is Shit… ‘
Holdengräber reminded him of the dictum, attributed to Blaise Pascal, that opens Lessons of Darkness, Herzog’s 1992 documentary: “The collapse of the stellar universe will occur – like creation – in grandiose splendour.”
Herzog repeated it. He said, “Actually, Pascal didn’t write that. I wrote that.”
Holdengräber said: “But it sounds so very like Pascal.”
“Pascal should have written it,” Herzog said, of the 17th-century philosopher. “That’s why I signed his name.”
[comics] The Unlikely Rise, Fall, And Rise Again Of “Viz” Comic … profile of Viz from Buzzfeed … ‘Some of the best-loved characters have changed in line with society. Student Grant, a nerdy university stereotype, began to feel outdated. (“They’re customers now,” says Dury.) Roger Mellie was just a sweary TV presenter; now he’s a way to satirise recent media scandals (at the time of writing Ian Botham’s Twitter account has recently posted a picture of an erect penis, and Thorp and Dury are going to have Roger’s do the same). Others remain a constant: Sid the Sexist is still yet to lose his virginity, and Fru ‘T’ Bunn remains a sketch about a baker who makes his own sex dolls…’
[books] Against the Tide … Review of a book profiling the late Mary Whitehouse via her archive of letters … ‘Reading Mary Whitehouse’s letters is like digesting a scrambled Charlie Brooker. Dr Who is “teatime brutality for tots”. The World at War has too much genocide in it. Complaining of Chuck Berry’s performance of “My Ding-a-Ling” on Top of the Pops in 1972, she elicited the observation that the song began “with such a clear account of the contraption in question including bells”, that although the possibility of a double entendre was recognised, the BBC felt it was unlikely to “disturb or emotionally agitate its listeners”. But of course Whitehouse was permanently agitated. In editing this material from her archive, Ben Thompson not only works hard to salvage entertainment from some tedious cultural jeremiads, he also – and more interestingly – tries to make some sense of them…’
[tags: People, TV][permalink][Comments Off on “The World at War has too much genocide in it.”]
I am not afraid of clowns. But there’s something that happens when you walk into the forgettable bathroom of a hotel lobby and meet a fully made-up clown standing by the sink, reflection staring back at you with the Kubrickian blankness of a greasepaint grimace.
I almost wet my pants.
Media seminar fresh in my head, I choke the gasp in my throat and try to smile. While I am going for “warm and effusive,” I’m sure my face is more a pained amalgamation of terror. I can only hope that she thinks I’m trying to be polite. I’m sure she gets it all the time.
But. There are reasons people can find clowns to be so unsettling. That makeup: white face; huge, red mouth; drawn-on smile; eyebrows that kiss the hairline. “When it’s up close, it’s the visual equivalent of being screamed at,” explains Jaron Aviv Hollander, the co-founder and artistic director of the Kinetic Arts Center in Oakland. And it’s all the big top’s fault: When a clown is standing in one of three or more rings and playing to a huge crowd, the audience needs to be able to read familiar facial landmarks in order to get the bit.
[politics] ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ – the two faces of Michael Gove … intriguing profile of the recently demoted Tory minister … ‘As brokering replaced bombing in Northern Ireland, most people in Britain were relieved, but Gove pamphleteered for an alternative strategy of “resolute security action”. He retained an anachronistic feeling for “Greater Britain”. After 9/11 he sometimes wrapped up fervent support for Blair-Bush crusades in the modern parlance of liberal interventionism, and sometimes lapsed into an older discourse. In one sweeping column, he hailed the 1704 capture of Gibraltar “as an opening chapter in democracy’s vindication”, noted “profound echoes” with today’s struggles against autocrats in the Muslim world, and even suggested that “far-sighted” Spaniards might learn to see Britain’s Iberian outpost as the rock on which western success was built. Columnists are employed to grab interest rather than decide things, but Gove’s stridency on world affairs survived his 2005 move into parliament…’
Nixon was president, Watergate was still a third-rate burglary, and Tom and I were left feeling anxious, paranoid, and bored. We were both admirers of Mailer—the tough little reefer smoker, contrarian wordsmith, libertarian politico, and no-nonsense ladies’ man—so the story about the Voyage Beyond Apollo stirred our interest.
“They’ve cleverly organized this thing on a ship, you dig, that way no one can crash it,” mused Forcade. He theorized that the cruise was just a cover for an elite conclave conspiring to jettison Earth once they’d totally ravaged it, and establish an exclusive colony for the rich and powerful in space. Everyone else would be left to fight over dwindling resources and perish in the terrestrial ruins. “Mailer is either in on the scam or they’ve suckered him into it. We have got to get on board that ship,” Tom said, “find out what these motherfuckers are up to, blow their cover, and rescue Mailer before it’s too late.”
Under the influence of a fresh shipment of Tom’s Columbian import, I thought it seemed like an entirely reasonable plan…
[tags: Apollo, People, Space][permalink][Comments Off on A Stowaway to the Thanatosphere: My Voyage Beyond Apollo with Norman Mailer, Rex Weiner]
July 13, 2014
[movies] A Whole Bunch Of People On Facebook Thought Steven Spielberg Killed A Real Dinosaur … ‘Internet humourist Jay Branscomb posted it on Facebook with the caption: “Disgraceful photo of recreational hunter happily posing next to a triceratops he just slaughtered. Please share so the world can name and shame this despicable man.” A lot of people didn’t get the joke, and thought Spielberg really had shot a dinosaur. This person called him an “inhumane prick”…’
[books] 30 Writers Other Writers Loved To Hate … ‘Saint David Foster Wallace: a generation trying to read him feels smart about themselves which is part of the whole bullshit package.’ — Bret Easton Ellis on David Foster Wallace.
[savile] David Hare on Jimmy Savile: biography of the man who ‘groomed a nation’ … ‘In his own words: “I am a man what knows everything but says nothing.” As he moved to consolidate his position and to work for the knighthood that he believed would make him untouchable, he took to raising vast sums of money for charity, most especially for a spinal injuries unit at Stoke Mandeville. His first question on arriving in any town was to ask where the hospital was. This was not just because a hospital offered sexual pickings and a captive audience for his ceaseless self-glorying monologues. Nor was it wholly because he needed the immunity that came from apparent respectability. Most important of all, he believed that the day would come when he would have to offer his good works as some mitigation against a final reckoning.’
[crime] Pablo Escobar’s hippos: A growing problem … a strange legacy of the the late Colombian drug lord … ‘[Carlos] Valderrama, whose job until recently included watching over the hippos in the Magdalena, has seen animals up to 250km (155 miles) away from Hacienda Napoles. Fishermen are terrified of the three-tonne herbivores, he says. At night, the animals roam the countryside, wandering into ranches, eating crops and occasionally crushing small cows.’
I have never felt so strongly the presence of two contrasting characters as when I interviewed Harris. For much of the interview he performed, just as he did in court – he sang, he laughed in that exaggerated way, he whispered in that exaggerated way, he drew me a miniature flick cartoon book. Then, when he wasn’t performing, he was miserable as sin.
Whereas Clifford and Savile never appeared to question their essential goodness as men and altruists, Harris hated himself. He talked about what a useless father he’d been – selfish, paying more attention to strangers than to his wife and daughter, chasing his own dreams and desires, ignoring those of his family. He had recently written an autobiography and it had forced him to reassess his life. “You start writing it by thinking what a great guy I am. I’ve done this, that and the other. Then you suddenly think it’s all been inward focussing, only me, me, me, me, me, me, me, and people who are really close …” I never began to suspect why he was so tortured. At the time he came across as a man with humility, in touch with his flaws. But in retrospect, I think even here he was indulging himself – only this time, it was his guilt rather than his libido
[tags: Crime, People][permalink][Comments Off on Simon Hattenstone On Rolf Harris, Jimmy Savile and Max Clifford]
[tags: People, Press][permalink][Comments Off on Buzzfeed: The 17 Most Furious People In Local Newspapers]
June 19, 2014
[life] Has David Birnbaum solved the mystery of existence?… engrossing profile of “outsider thinker” David Birnbaum … ‘There is no shortage of people who would say no, at least in Birnbaum’s case. His work, said a commenter on the Chronicle’s website, “reads like L Ron Hubbard had drunken sex one night with Ayn Rand and produced this bastard thought-child”. One scholar who became professionally involved with Birnbaum described the experience as “unsettling, unfortunate and, to my knowledge, unprecedented in academic circles”. Another just called him “toxic”. But then again – as Birnbaum pointed out to me, more than once, during the weeks I spent trying to figure out exactly what he was up to – just suppose that a scrappy, philosophically unqualified Jewish guy from Queens really had cracked the cosmic code, embarrassing the ivory-tower elites: well, isn’t this exactly the kind of defensive response you’d expect?’
[comics] Neil Tennant’s FURY… a fascinating look at a 1977 Marvel comic edited by Neil Tennant from the Pet Shop Boys … ‘The covers of Fury were also similar to the ones Battle had been running. Powerful images with a punchy message. None punchier than the brilliant one shown at the top of this post by Carlos Ezquerra. The artist had produced many similarly strong images for Battle’s covers so it was quite a coup for Marvel UK to commission him for Fury. Unfortunately, the company were not given a budget by their American owners to produce British strips so although Fury looked like a traditional UK war comic on the outside, the interiors were a different matter…’
[life] Tweet … Channelling Allen Ginsberg in 2014 … ‘I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by brevity, over-connectedness, emotionally starving for attention, dragging themselves through virtual communities at 3 am, surrounded by stale pizza and neglected dreams, looking for angry meaning, any meaning…’
[ukip] Ukip founder Alan Sked: ‘The party has become a Frankenstein’s monster’ … a fascinating interview with UKIP’s founder… ‘Sked recalls, too, the letters of complaint he received from Salisbury, when Farage stood for Ukip in 1997’s general election. “I remember one that said, ‘I’m very glad your candidate believes in education, but until he learns to spell it, I’m not voting for him.’ That’s the kind of person people are voting for when they vote Ukip. Why does anyone have time for this creature? He’s a dimwitted racist.”‘
[tags: People, Politics][permalink][Comments Off on “Why does anyone have time for this creature? He’s a dimwitted racist.”]
[comics] “Kid… Comics Will Break Your Heart” … Jack Kirby by Dylan Horrocks … ‘In the 1980s, Romberger met Kirby at a convention in New York. Kirby kindly looked at Romberger’s work and then gave him a piece of advice: “Kid, you’re one of the best. But put your work in galleries. Don’t do comics. Comics will break your heart.”’
I thought about the break-in, his absences, the dead sister, the fingerprinting . . . but what did it all add up to? Was he a victim of circumstance—or a serial killer? Was I his next target? I became obsessed with getting answers. Then I searched the most obvious place of all: Google. I typed in the name “Dino Smith,” and a couple of clicks later, there it was. His mug shot, on the America’s Most Wanted Website. He was a suspect in the biggest jewel heist in San Francisco history. I gaped at the screen in disbelief, then ran in circles, howling obscenities: “Fuck fuck fucking shit fuck fucker! Holy FUCK!”
[politics] Nigel Farage is just Russell Brand for old people … some thoughts on Nigel Farage … ‘Nigel Farage is a phoney. There is a simple solution to everything that ails the United Kingdom: leave the European Union and, to all intents and purposes, close our borders. Then we shall enjoy a new Golden Age. It is an illusion wrapped in a lie inside a fraud. No such solution presents itself. In the unlikely event Mr Farage got his way almost every problem this country faces would remain intact – and remain as impervious to simple solution.’
[yewtree] Max Clifford: the rise and fall of the UK’s king of spin … Simon Hatterstone on Max Clifford’s downfall … ‘The trial ranged from Greek tragedy to Carry On farce. At times, it felt too strange to be true – or, as the prosecution argued, too strange not to be true. Max’s Angels, as Clifford’s all-female office team are known, attended on a shift basis, one at a time, sitting loyally in the public gallery as their boss was labelled an exhibitionist and an abuser. They were joined by a handful of civilians (largely retired, portly men), there on a regular basis to enjoy the spectacle. Occasionally, eccentrics walked into court: one man took umbrage when asked by the clerk to stop filming; a drunk woman sidled up to me and whispered that she had a story to sell. The air fizzed with schadenfreude.’
[tv] Danny Trejo:I always just kinda say “Yeah, but did your head crawl across the desert on a tortoise?”
[tags: People, TV][permalink][Comments Off on I always just kinda say “Yeah, but did your head crawl across the desert on a tortoise?”]
April 19, 2014
[movies] Irrational Treasure … a look back at the last ten years of Nicolas Cage movies… ‘The main problem with the notion that Cage squandered his post-Oscar momentum on dumb action movies and thereby lost something irretrievable is that Cage’s sellout movies are more consistently entertaining than just about anybody else’s. His inherent absurdity infects and elevates them; Cage’s own expansive persona fills in the gaps in action-movie characters without qualities.’
[books] Capote’s Co-conspirators in “In Cold Blood” … a look at what’s true and untrue in Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood … ‘In his 1988 biography of Capote, Gerald Clarke reveals that the redemptive coda at the end of the book, in which Dewey encounters a friend of Nancy Clutter’s in a cemetery, was fiction: their conversation, which Capote relates in direct quotes, never happened. Even so, Capote is right to suggest that any narrative representation of events is an accumulation of “selected” details, and that the process of selection and arrangement through which a writer converts disparate facts into an absorbing story entails an inevitable measure of artifice.’
[conspiracy] Confessions of a Non–Serial Killer … what it’s like to be part of a conspircacy theory and incorrectly identified as as serial killer… ‘ As I understand it, Penn first decided I was the culprit after analyzing the Zodiac’s messages to the San Francisco Chronicle and determining that the murderer was an artist with the initials HOH, whose crimes formed, on a map, some sort of graphic having to do with a radian (the angle formed by laying a circle’s radius along its circumference, about 57 degrees) and Mt. Diablo, a Bay Area landmark. There is also something about water, whose chemical formula is sometimes written HOH, and my initials (my middle name, which I rarely use even as an initial, is Henry).’