Thursday, November 30, 2023

RIP Shane MacGowan

A CRUSHING blow for this reality. Thus begins my Seven Days of Shane!


Eating the Flesh of Robots

One of the records Mr. Brown lent me in our recent record swap is The Flesh Eaters 2018 album I Used to Be Pretty. Holy cow, is this a burner of a record! If you dig the track above - my favorite at the moment - check out the entire record.  


I've been in a bit of a rut with watching anything other than Happy! the last few days, and when I finished season one, I found I wanted something more. One of the things I found is Netflix's Love, Death + Robots.

I have watched this show before, although not in any consistent capacity. I've had Sci-Fi on the brain, though, and my decades-long avoidance of most animation that's not Cowboy Bebop seems to be falling away - never understood what that was all about, anyway - so this slotted in nicely.

Previously, only a few of these really left an impression, particularly Season Three's In Vaulted Halls Entombed, which I've watched quite a few times since it came out a year-and-a-half ago (the whys of my obsession are obvious if you've seen it). This time, however, I'm playing through entire seasons and really enjoying what I'm seeing, particularly The Very Pulse of the Machine, Life Hutch and The Drowned Giant. Oh, and Three Robots. Yes, that's a fantastic piece of post-apocalyptic satire right there. 


I finished Richard Kadrey and Cassandra Khaw's The Dead Take the A Train and am definitely placing it among my favorite novels of the year. So much fun, and all while being Hellraiser/Evil Dead level GOREY! This is the first book in a series, and I'm down for all of them that follow. 

Still riding high off that, I ordered Cassandra Khaw's Nothing But Blackened Teeth and started that. 

Look at that cover! 

About a quarter of the way through, and I can say Ms. Khaw may be one of my favorite modern Horror writers. She has a descriptive flair I am head over heels in love with, and her characters feel so very real. The set-up here is fantastic, with a wealthy twenty-somethings friend paying for his small group of friends to stay at a supposedly haunted ancient Japanese estate. I can already tell things will probably get Hellraiser-level bloody, and with a narrator I'm not entirely sure I'd consider reliable, all kinds of hell seems poised to break loose.


David Bowie - Black Star
Donny McCaslin - Beyond Now
Sen Morimoto - Diagnosis
Opeth - Blackwater Park
Zombi - 2020


I'm finding I don't have the bandwidth at the moment to concentrate on involved Tarot readings, so I've been utilizing Missi's Raven Deck for single-card Pulls. Here's today's card:

On the lookout for obscured influences or hidden agendas, so that's (sadly) a "work-related" reading. Also, and perhaps more probable, what am I missing?

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

The Effigies - Body Bag


Thanks to Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot's Sound Opinions podcast, I realized last night that I had completely missed the fact that Chicago Stalwart's The Effigies frontman John Kezdy passed away back in August. You can read an article about this at the Chicago Tribune HERE. While off my radar of late, The Effigies' 1989 album Remains Nonviewable was one of the records I encountered as a Junior in High School, a record that, like Fugazi's 13 Songs or Black Flag's Everything Went Black, altered my musical trajectory. Kezdy went on to become an attorney,


Here's my Pull for this week's NCBD:

I still wish the art inside had a little more 'tooth' to it - not the artist's fault, more a mis-pairing, in my opinion. That said, I still couldn't pass this one up. So far, pretty good backstory to the classic film, kind of "other stories from that day." This is the penultimate issue, and as it's the second NoTLD series from American Mythology, I'm curious if there are more on the horizon. 

To say I have been waiting for this final chapter in SiKTC's current story arc would be an understatement. Shit went so pear-shaped at the end of issue thirty-four, I can't wait to see how this resolves (please let this resolve!).

After re-reading the last few issues in a burst, I'm totally back on the What's The Furthest Place From Here train. We stand at the foot of world-building revelations, but I'm really just here for the dialogue and insane antics of this cast. 


SyFy had a good run of original programming a few years ago. Deadly Class was excellent, and a total shame it didn't go longer than one season. Another comic adaptation they actually doubled down on was Grant Morrison and Darick Robertson's Happy!, about a down-and-out NY cop turned hitman whose daughter is abducted by a man in a Santa Claus suit. The daughter's imaginary friend, a cute-as-a-button blue unicorn, seeks out her father and together, the two attempt to save her.

When Happy! came to Netflix, I watched most of the first season and absolutely loved it. THIS is my definition of comedy. For some reason, I never finished the first season and completely missed or forgot there was a second. So I'm watching it again now and I have to say, this may be one of my favorite shows of all time.

This is one of the rare times when the adaptation far surpasses the source material. The book is pretty simple, but the lengths of violence and depravity that Morrison, Brian Taylor and their team put Christopher Meloni through in this show is insane and so utterly fun to watch; I find it impossible not to end an episode in a good mood.

Even if there's also some pitch-dark shit in here, too. 

This is one of those shows I would buy physically if such an item were available, but alas, it is not. 


Steve Moore - Christmas Bloody Christmas OST
Zombi - 2020
The Flesh Eaters - I Used to Be Pretty
Allegaeon - Apoptosis
Silent - Modern Hate


From Jonathan Grimm's Bound Tarot, which you can buy HERE.

• XIV - Temperance (Art)
• X - Wheel of Fortune
• Five of Pentacles (Disks)

Applying intuition and 'Art' can lead to conflict. 

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Wishful Beginnings


Sunday night, I found myself in bed at 10:30 after getting another round of COVID booster earlier in the day. 

I felt awful.

Of course, this means I woke up somewhere around 4:45 AM on Monday. Yay. Not a lot good about waking up that early, especially when feeling like absolute crap. That said, this has happened enough over the last few years that I know not to waste the time. I make coffee, fire up the laptop and plug my headphones into my ears, eager for an aural world to impress itself upon the morning-thin physical one. In this particular case, I followed David Bowie into that special liminal zone he had such a way with in his later years. One track I've always shortchanged on 1997's Outside is "Wishful Beginnings," which despite knowing quite well, often gets overshadowed by the fact that it leads directly into "We Prick You," one of my favorite tracks on the album. Something about "Beginnings" really resonated with me in those grey early hours yesterday, though, and it stayed with me all day, a rather pleasant haunting.


Despite not having seen any of the Legendary Godzilla or Kong movies, I caught up on Legendary Studios/Apple TV's Monarch: Legacy of Monsters over the last few days, and I have to say, I dig it. Of course, a lot of what I dig is the utilization of Kurt Russell and his son Wyatt, both cast to play the same character at different points in his life. There's one scene transition where the older Russell's face seamlessly dissolves into his son's, and it's pretty damn breathtaking. 

Seeing this, I've become curious enough to probably finally give the Legendary Studios' Godzilla and Kong movies a chance. I'd previously avoided these after being warned off 2014's opening film in the franchise by friends. I'd also made a subsequent attempt at viewing Godzilla: King of Monsters that failed. With the former, the hopes I held that Legendary would treat the iconic monster in a more "Cloverfield" manner were banished when friends saw it and basically reported back, "It's just another Godzilla movie." With the latter, I'm pretty sure I watched about half the film and there were considerably more humans than monsters, which seemed impossible based on the title and trailers (there's another reason to dislike trailers).


David Bowie - Black Star
David Bowie - Outside
André 3000 - New Blue Sun

I really don't know what to make of this new André 3000 album. It's an easy candidate for "up its own arse," but at the same time, I think there's something there. Maybe it's because I was sick A.F. yesterday (still am) and needed something soothing, but I put in headphones and drifted into a bizarre inner space courtesy of four tracks with names like:

1) I Swear, I Really Wanted to Make a 'Rap' Album but This Is Literally the Way the Wind Blew Me This Time 

2) The Slang Word Pussy Rolls Off the Tongue with Far Better Ease Than the Proper Word Vagina. Do You Agree? 

3) That Night in Hawaii When I Turned into a Panther and Started Making These Low Register Purring Tones That I Couldn't Control ... Shit Was Wild

4) BuyPoloDisorder's Daughter Wears a 3000® Button Down Embroidered

I guess there's the relief that there won't be another "Hey ya" floating around out in the world like a viral STD for the ear, but I also have to wonder if this is a complete piss take. Actually, it's a lot like another project Mr. 3000 was involved with around the turn of the century, Guy Ritchie's Revolver, which I'm still not sure how I feel about, as it's either the dumbest movie I've ever seen or the smartest. 

Talk about walking a thin line.

Monday, November 27, 2023

The Dead Take the A Train Straight Through the Spider Labyrinth

November is nearly over, and I realized I have not posted any Opeth yet. For that matter, I hadn't even listened to them until whatever day last week I began this post. Back around 2006/2007, Opeth became a big winter band for me, with the time change and early night that directly follows Halloween a welcome signifier that it's time to crack out Deliverance, Blackwater Park and the Candlelight years.


I did a bit of online Black Friday shopping last week. Nothing huge, but there were a few titles from boutique Blu-Ray labels I haunt online that I could not pass up. 

First up, Synapse Films has a 4K restoration of one of my all-time favorite films, Mike Mendez's The Convent. I have no interest in the 4K, but the release includes a standard Blu-Ray, and I've been waiting some time for this one to get a proper clean-up and re-release:

Next, and this is a somewhat blind buy, one of Severin Films' secret titles for their Black Friday sale is Gianfranco Giagni's 1988 nightmare The Spider Labyrinth. This is one I've never seen, but I've seen a certain amount of buzz steadily build for it in the backwaters of the Horror Community, with Italian Filmofiles clamoring for a proper digital release (which the film never received before now). Check out the trailer below, and although I've become fairly anti-spoiler, I'm pretty sure there's no way to spoil the absolute madness of this one.


Finally, although this isn't a new title, it's one that's been on my radar for a while, and after watching Michael Venus' 2020 film Schlaf (Sleep), I forked over the dough for this gorgeous release from Arrow Video; for $20 how could I not?

If I were to elevator pitch this flick to you, I'd say it's kind of a cross between Anthony Scott Burns' Come True and the possibilities I saw inherent in Stewart Thorndike's Bad Things (which admittedly did not work for me, but had some very interesting potential insofar as location and plot). 

Here are the purchase links if anyone is interested:

Arrow Video: Sleep


Richard Kadrey has released two books this year, and I've been wanting to read both, so after finishing Michael Wehunt's Greener Pastures, I slipped into The Dead Take the A Train, a collaboration with author Cassandra Khaw, whose Nothing But Blackened Teeth has been on my to-read list for the last two years or so and has now jumped to the top of that list based on the 65% of A Train I've read in the last few days.

Here's the solicitation blurb:

"Julie is a coked-up, burnt-out thirty-year-old whose only retirement plan is dying early. She’s been trying to establish herself in the NYC magic scene, and she’ll work the most gruesome gigs, exorcize the nastiest demons, and make deals with the cruelest gods to claw her way to the top. But nothing can prepare her for the toughest job yet: when her best friend, Sarah, shows up at her door in need of help. Keeping Sarah safe becomes top priority. Julie is desperate for a quick fix to break the dead-end grind and save her friend. But her power grab sets off a deadly chain of events that puts Sarah – and the entire world - directly in the path of annihilation. The first explosive adventure in the Carrion City Duology, The Dead Take the A Train fuses Cassandra Khaw’s cosmic horror and Richard Kadrey’s gritty fantasy into a full-throttle thrill ride straight into New York’s magical underbelly."

It's been some time since I read Richard Kadrey's Butcher Bird, but I loved that novel and have followed the man on ever since. He's a bright spot in the increasingly noxious online world, and it's great to 'catch up' with his writing over a decade since I began.*

Also, that cover has to be one of the most gorgeous I've seen in some time (artist James Jirat Patradoon's website is HERE). 


* I've always wanted to read Sandman Slim, however, much like Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden books, I have grown to baulk at starting so lengthy a series, in case I love it and it consumes the next year of my life.


Allegaeon - Apoptosis
Frank Black and the Catholics - Snake Oil
Opeth - Deliverance
Misfits - Collection II
Rodney Crowell - Christmas Everywhere
Godflesh - Purge
Perturbator - Dangerous Days
Dream Division - Beyond the Mirror's Image
U2 - Achtung Baby
Justin Hamline - Worst Locals Ever
Steve Moore - Gone World
The Cramps - Smell of Female (Live)
Lord Huron - Long Lost


I've been off the clock here since last week, and I am tired. Had a new round of the COVID booster yesterday, and it just hit me like a ton of bricks, so just one card from Missi's Raven Deck today:

I'll be double-verifying all information that crosses my path today and, perhaps conversely keeping an eye out for ways to slip mainstream corridors of thought. 

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Rodney Crowell - Something Has To Change

From Rodney Crowell's 2021 album Triage. Mr. Brown and I have been doing record swaps for the last year or so; I lend him six, and he fires back six. One of the best records to come of those exchanges is Rodney Crowell's 2021 album Triage. Something "Has to Change" is the Side A closer, and it's a powerhouse. Throughout the record, I hear a lot of 70s-era Stones and Chicago singer-songwriter stalwart Ike Reilly. Also, as Brown pointed out, a lot of Catholics-era Frank Black (my favorite Frank Black). 

All that is not to say Mr. Crowell does not have his own sound. He does, and it's a sound grown from the same good Earth those others are - old-school Rock n' Roll, Rhythm and Blues and, well, just straight up Blues. The arranging on his albums continues to evolve, and you hear it best on this track. That trombone!!!


Here's the Pull for this week's NCBD:

The Penultimate issue of Immortal X-Men looks like it might just answer my complaints about the Jean Grey series and tie the end of that into the current story. Granted, they did start to do that in Jean #4, so maybe I jumped the gun. We'll see. Either way, my complaints are small; overall, this era of X-Men is still my favorite since Claremont's. 

I feel like it's been longer than 30 days since our last issue of Tenement; however, that's likely because I love this book so much. I have a four-day weekend coming up; might be time to re-read the Bone Orchard Mythos to date.

Sadly, I won't get my hands on this until my next trip to Chicago, which is likely only a week away or so. Still, knowing another chapter of Garth Ennis and Jacen Burrows' The Ribbon Queen is just out of reach may drive me mad. This one is escalating in a way that reminds me of Fincher's The Game; not sure anyone else is getting that, and I'm definitely not referring to the story itself. But as the pieces move into place, a bigger picture slowly emerges, the brief images of it we see suggesting Horrors beyond anything we've seen before. As the dread creeps in beneath the human dramas unfolding, page after page, we wait for awful things to happen. When they do, they are both a release and a harbinger of even worse, more cosmic monstrosities that await us. The feeling is... thrilling.

Time once again for my most-anticipated book of the month. Void Rivals has been a delight through and through, and having loved the experience of reading Kirkman's The Walking Dead month-to-month for most of its original run, I know what this man can do with a monthly. 


Pat O'Malley, the Writer/Creator of one of my favorite comics of the year, Popscars, has a Kickstarter up for 12 more days. Jurassic Parkour 4 looks fun as hell.

I had Pat on The Horror Vision a few months ago; it was a great time, two Horror fans just geeking out on the stuff we love. Parkour 4 looks a lot more like - well, kind of like what if the Triceratons from TMNT were the lead characters. Being a TMNT fan, I gotta see what that looks like.


The Cure - Disintegration
David Bowie - Black Star
Donny McCaslin - Beyond Now
PJ Harvey - Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea
Frank Black and the Catholics - Snake Oil
Willie Nelson - First Rose of Spring
Depeche Mode - Violator
U2 - One (single)


From Jonathan Grimm's Bound Tarot, which you can buy HERE.

• Ten of Pentacles
•XIV - Temperance (Art)
• Page of Swords

The Ten of Pentacles/Disks again. Hmm...

Closure is dictated by the Creative solution to an upcoming problem. I'm hoping this refers to yesterday when our Realtor and I had to use some last-minute finesse to solve a problem with earnest money. Barring that, I could also see this as a reminder to not let the chaos in my life at the moment distract me from my writing goals, which is absolutely another facet of what transpired yesterday.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Takes A Second To Say Goodbye To Thanksgiving

It took considerably longer than a second to say goodbye to U2 this week. After yesterday's early morning contemplation of their seminal 1991 album Achtung Baby, I found it impossible to shake the mood they set in me. That usually takes this route - Achtung to 1983's War

War will always be not only my favorite album by this band but one of my favorite records of all time. Over the years, I've grown accustomed to starting the record on track two, "Seconds," playing all the way through and then listening to the opening track, "Sunday Bloody Sunday," last. It's nothing against SBS; "Seconds" is just an instant time machine to circa 1987 when I first took notice of the band. I had a Junior High Music Teacher named Miss Mooha who was clearly an activist of some kind and brought the record in to play SBS for us, going so far as to pass out Xeroxed lyric sheets and use the time to talk about the conflict in Ireland and, beyond that, musicians who used their platform to try and make change in the world. Of course, at eleven years old, a lot of this went over my head. 

I always find it fascinating to juxtapose these two records by the band because A) they're my favorite records by them, and B) there is such a sharp contrast. To do so, one really need look no further than the band photos that accompanied the release of each record:

As I said in yesterday's post, I did not hold this change against the band. Part of that may be I was fifteen when Achtung came out and did not have the same kind of "identity politics" attached to them that I did to say, Metallica, whose change for the infamous black album eventually shattered the hold the band had on me up until that point. With U2, it all seemed to be coming from the same place somehow, and a lot of the differences would not become apparent to me until I really deep-dove Achtung Baby in directed juxtaposition to War. Also, at 15 in 1991, that puts me directly in the tsunami of the "Alternative" movement, and a lot of what was coming out just felt like part of that and somehow integrated with changes in my own life at the time.


If you are a Horror fan and have not seen Eli Roth's Thanksgiving yet, let me give you the best advice you're going to get for the next two months. Go see it in a theatre.

I guess this is a day of "juxtaposing" (or I just really like that word) because I'll say that, like many folks I've talked to about this, I was hesitant going in. I really dig Eli Roth as a speaker/personality within the Horror Community; however, other than his first film Cabin Fever, I've never liked any other movie I've seen by him. That said, I feel like there are legions of Horror fans who have clung to a hope that, since first seeing the 'fake' trailer included with Tarantino and Rodriguez's Grindhouse double feature, Roth would one day actually make this completely insane-looking film (that trailer is age-restricted and thus, only available on youtube). Well, he did, and it is one of the best Horror flicks I've seen all year and an absolute BLAST in the theatre. The moment it ended, K turned to me and said she was already thinking about when we could see it again (we had previous engagements afterward, or we would have seriously sat through it again right away).

To hear more about the flick, we did an episode on it for The Horror Vision. Warning - the first ten minutes or so is spoiler-free, then we segue into a full-spoiler discussion, but not without ample warning. Seriously, this one has a fantastic murder mystery undertone that you do not want ruined before viewing.

The Horror Vision is available on all Podcast Platforms or you can just click the widget in the upper right-hand corner of this page. There's also a YouTube version, although I was in a rush to get this one up and didn't do a hell of a lot with the graphics. 


My reading has been all over the place of late, so I'm still working through Michael Wehunt's Greener Pastures. Sunday night, I had a lot of trouble sleeping and ended up reading what is easily the best short story I've read all year, Wehunt's The Dancers

As a forty-seven-year-old man and only five years younger than the protagonist, I found this story to be one of the most refreshingly nihilistic treatises I've ever read on middle age. Add to that the fact that about three-quarters of the way through, Mr. Wehunt completely yanks the rug out from under the reader and goes full-on WEIRD, and my first time through this story, The Dancers blew me away.


U2 - Achtung Baby
U2 - War
NIN - Pretty Hate Machine
Your Black Star - Sound From the Ground
PJ Harvey - Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea
Rein - Reincarnated
BÉNNÍ - The Return
Brand New - The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me


From Aleister Crowley and Lady Freida Harris's Thoth Deck:

• Three of Disks - Works
• Ten of Disks - Wealth
• Six of Disks - Success

Second day in a row where we have two-thirds of the pull as Disks/Pentacles. Makes sense - as I've related here now for a few weeks, my concerns at the moment are very tangible, Earthbound. Seeing the Ten of Disks for the second day in a row, puts a pretty fine point on things, and I'm very much okay with that as I sit here typing this waiting for a call or text from my folks with an update on the now twice-postponed closing on their house. In times of uncertainty, one could definitely do worse than seeing threes, sixes and tens.