Anime 101.4 | Yamato Never Dies | This Assignment is Mandatory

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This essay originally appeared in VideoScope #19, Summer 1996. Jesus.

Yes, the ship itself was the “hero” of the series and films, but the story wouldn’t have worked without a compelling human drama. This is a beloved episode from the American iteration of YAMATO dubbed in English, Star Blazers, one of the characters’ most desperate hours from the second television series, Yamato 2.

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Anime 101.3 | YAMATO Teaser | You Know, I Was Never Hard as 宇宙戦艦ヤマト Made Ready to Fire the Wave Gun But Boy I was Breathing Heavy

This truly might be the most pornographic build-up to firing the Wave Gun in the entire series. Or perhaps I’m just weird.

I’d give you my detailed Freudian analysis of this sequence, the pacing, the imagery—but I don’t want to spoil it.

This assignment is optional.

The next: mandatory.

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kanaone2014 Eivør — Pálsdóttir – Trøllabundin

This remarkable song begins as an Islamic hymn, sidesteps into a native American rhythm coupled with vocals tinted with the lilt of a Gaelic lament, warps into pure undefinable vocal performance, then ends soaring. And it’s live. Go here.

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I Am Going to Watch This Video All Day

God. Yesterday a weepy love letter to U fucking 2, today a goddamn cat video. God, Drax, look in the mirror! WHAT HAVE YOU BECOME?!

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Well I’ll Be Godammned and So Will You Too

u2-apple-songs-of-innocence-2014-billboard-650

Confession time.

I share a lot of music on this site: weird mixes, pagan, goth, some classical, metal, ambient, MAIDEN! MAIDEN! MAIDEN! and other stuff too—whatever. But I’ve occasionally bled hints of a terrible secret.

From 1980 to 2000 I was an avowed zealot in the church of U2. I was a believer. Oh man, I believed.

Then, I didn’t. Just like everybody else.

Because U2 no longer seemed vital or alive or that horrible word, relevant. They’d become so big, so rich… so safe. The three albums they released from 2000 to 2009 — All That You Can’t Leave Behind, How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, and No Line on the Horizon — contained “good” music and compositions, but after multiple listens, I, like may long-time believers, shrugged at these albums. Where was the passion, the invention? Yeah, I’ll admit it, I still showed up on release day of all those albums to buy them, a desperate lover hoping for a shred of the frisson of a long ago ecstasy, even transfiguration, only to walk away disappointed, vowing with sour lips, never again.

Oh, I went all the way. I slammed U2 without remorse online. I included U2 in my forthcoming alternate history novel (Heavy) in which they are scheduled for public execution in a world-wide media spectacle. U2 was done.

Then, yesterday happened.

If you are even remotely media savvy you know that the mighty and evil empire known as APPLE rolled out its new fucking iPhone and the tentatively titled “iWatch” yesterday, September 9th, and yeah, Bono and the old boys ripped out onstage and played a new song, yeah, big deal—

Then they announced that their new album, Songs of Innocence, will be downloadable for free on iTunes until October 13.

Even sinister cynical Drax was mildly—mildly—taken aback by the audacity of this. Advance singles are leaked or given away for free all the time, but an entire album by a mega money-maker? Unprecedented. But then cynicism slipped its knife. It probably sucks.

Surprise, relevation, elevation.

Songs of Innocence doesn’t suck.

U2 Songs of Innocence cover

Songs of Innocence is easily U2’s best work in fifteen years.

Confession Time.

I’m probably currently going through some form of male menopause. I cry all the time. No, really: I cry all the time, I cry more than John Boehner. If I feel something intensely, my eyes start to leak. It’s embarrassing. Sheesh. Whatever. But I must tell you, draxfans, all 3 point 2 of you, listening to U2’s Songs of Innocence last night, the tracks of my tears were in danger of flooding the planet.

It doesn’t suck.

I don’t care how it happened. I don’t care which producers or co-writers or musicians they brought in: The New U2 Album Does Not Suck. I do care that it’s tied into the promotion of a world-conquering corporation, yes I do. But at the end of the day, in the dark of the night, it’s only the music that matters.

When the music is good, it allows me to believe again. If only for a little while. To believe in old heroes. And fight another day.

Go to iTunes. Listen for yourself.

New York Times review of U2’s Songs of Innocence

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HELLO, BEAUTIFUL

SuperMoon with Tracks

 

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“And I would have gotten away with it, too— if not for those meddling kids!”

Screen shot 2014-09-08 at 6.59.43 AM

Mlle Ghoul just completed her adventures in Iceland on Instagram.

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Anime 101.2— a draxian list for a friend: Still with Tezuka, in Which We Leap Forward, Then Back, Then Forward Again. It’s all About Karma. PHOENIX (Hi No Tori)

Hi-n-Tori

Phoenix. Firebird. Hi no Tori. Tezuka considered this his masterpiece, his life’s work. This excellent little 3-part OVA (Original Video Animation) from 1986-87 adapted from parts of Tezuka’s original manga is heartbreakingly beautiful and required viewing for all students of Anime 101. Failing to do so will result in immediate expulsion from the program and may have future impact on your credit score, the release of intimate photographs, bank numbers, terrible secrets, etc.

Bottom line: you MUST at least watch the first chapter. Or else.

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“DRAAAAAAAAX!” (a review, a rant)

guardians-of-the-galaxy-david-bautista-drax

So I finally took my son to see the stupid Guardians of the Galaxy movie the other day—and trust me, it is an exceedingly stupid and bad movie for reasons I will explicate shortly—but my son “loved it.” My son is an optimist. He makes the most of everything. If it’s a movie? “AWESOME!” If it’s a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? “AWESOME!”

But even he could feel the vibe as we took our seats.

The stupid movie had opened nearly a month before. We went to a noon showing on a Sunday attended by MAYBE 50-75 people in a theater capable of seating 1,500 and man, those taking their seats were nearly all dads with their kids. No moms. The moms knew what I knew—this film was going to suck. So, call me psychic! I could tell my son was readying himself for a disappointment.

I didn’t want it to go that way. He had already returned to school, but it was Labor Day weekend, he wanted to see the big stupid Marvel Comics Movie, and I was determined he would have a good time.

So I became three things. 1: A liar, 2: The idiot who screams in the movie theater, and 3: The moron who applauds every time something blows up.

Also, I had a card up my sleeve. Drax, man. Drax The Destroyer.

DRAX THE DESTROYER was created by Mike Friedrich and Jim Starlin in the early seventies, and Drax was a pretty bad-ass character for Marvel comics. He dies. Is resurrected. Fashioned into a living weapon of vengeance. It was Drax The Destroyer from whom I drew my chosen surname, NOT Lord Dunsany, NOT Hugo Drax from Moonraker of the James Bond series, NOT the scary-ass power plant in England. Drax The Destroyer. He was green, he was nuts, he was tough as shit.

I thought the pseudonym “Simon Drax” would induce either terror or ridicule. Both reactions suited me fine.

Sitting in the theater watching Guardians of the Galaxy with my son, whenever Drax appeared on screen, I very loudly howled

“DRAAAAAAAAAAX!!!”

My son was a bit embarrassed but still highly amused, and nobody in the scant audience cared. As a matter of fact, every time I screamed “DRAAAAAX!” there were titters of laughter in the dark. And screaming at the screen for a single character is not solely the propriety of the obnoxious moviegoer. Example: Rocky Horror. “BORING!” and “WHERE’S YOUR FUCKING NECK?!” And more: I saw Jim Cameron’s ALIENS ten times in the theater in the summer of 1986, and every time this babe showed up—

Vasquez_aliens

— all the cool guys in the audience screamed

“VASQUEZ!!!!”

My voice was the loudest. At least it seemed that way. Vasquez and ALIENS rocked.

Unsurprisingly, Guardians of the Galaxy did not rock.

I made sure my son had a good time. I screamed “Draaaaax,” we applauded when shit blew up, etc. But it was not a good movie. Not even close.

Guardians of the Galaxy is an instantly forgettable assemblage of set pieces and dumb idiotic jokes and “spectacular” effects, and though I kept my son in a good, attentive mood—becoming, in effect, a liar, encouraging my son to applaud for shit—bad dad, bad bad bad dad—mentally, I was in Hell. I kept shaking my head. WHO CARES? Any of it. Who cares? The silver ball? The cameo of Thanos? That the main characters become friends? The Kirby-created villain?

Who cares.

In Alan Moore’s anthemic essay Writing for Comics, Moore uses “Who cares?” as a mantra as he rips apart bad comics, bad storytelling, bad writing. There’s never been a more successful writer than Moore who’s been more adversarial to the film industry in the adaptation of his comics into movies. He’s walked away from thousands, shaken his head at millions of dollars in payment for adaptations of his work. In many ways Alan Moore is Planet Earth’s last honorable man. He just won’t take that fat stack of cash. He has a simple theory: There are good comics, there are good movies, but they are not interchangeable. One can not necessarily be successfully morphed into the other.

I agree with him one hundred percent. Know your form.

However.

The makers of “blockbuster” Hollywood comic book movies would do well to study how intelligent, successful comics actually work as opposed to replicating again and again and again the structure of the cinematic hit based on its opening box-office haul, the demographics, the popular plot points or story arc based on previous movies rather than the source material, or the fact that the movies they make merely contain characters and elements and lines of dialogue and design schematics of the comics they are mauling that they KNOW the fans will flock to. The makers of Guardians should have read more good comics.

I don’t care that the Guardians of the Galaxy movie sucked, actually. I have better things to worry about. As a matter of fact, it was MISSION ACCOMPLISHED: my son had a good time. Even if I had to become a liar, even if I had to become a bad father, even if I encouraged him to applaud for a piece of shit. It was like giving him candy I knew would rot his teeth.

I screamed “Draaaaaax,” to the audience’s semi-hilarity, my son was amused, we appreciated the theater’s AC, we ate all of our popcorn. He had a good time. Mission accomplished.

So what’s my problem?

Glossy pieces of shit that cost millions of dollars while children are dying of hunger and thirst, movies that distort original visions of the creators, and the sad fact that I am a participant in these crimes. I might scream my chosen name in a dark theater for yucks—but I’m just as guilty as the assholes I just spent 1000 words bitching about.

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WITCHCRAFT AND BLACK MAGIC by Peter Haining and Jan Parker

haining_parker_witchcraft_crowley

In November 2010 I archived\scanned\stole WITCHCRAFT AND BLACK MAGIC, text by Peter Haining with paintings by Jan Parker, originally published by Bantam Books. This little book fascinated me as a child. I blame it all—ALL OF IT! ALL OF MY SHIT! — on Haining and Parker.

For your pleasure, the complete book.

V1 V2 V3 V4 V5 V6 V7 V8 V9 V10 V11 V12 V13

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