Wednesday, February 13, 2019

2019: February 13th

Well, it's been a few days. In fact, the interim between today's post and my previous one on Sunday is the longest I've gone without posting since I began the new format of this page shortly into 2018. This plague I have is no joke, and to top it off we're short at work, so I've had to go in the last few mornings. It's been half-sick days all week, which isn't bad, but half measures apparently are not going to give me the rest I need to beat this, so today I am just off, period.

I'm starting the day re-watching the above Emma Ruth Rundle documentary that Sargent House dropped last week; makes me want to move back to the Midwest, if I'm being truthful. Although, if I'm being honest, many fleeting glances into other people's lives inspire that reaction in me; from visits home, to contemplation of friends who have beautiful homes and pay less in monthly mortgage payments by half than I pay to rent a small two-bedroom, to the idea of thunderstorms owning an entire season. The early scenes in this doc, those with everyone in the bar, even just the shot of the street outside the bar for that matter because there aren't bars in LA like that, these scenes make me homesick. Then again, I remind myself, it's only one aspect of myself that pines for these things, and as green as the faraway grass of Chicago, or Dayton, or Louisville looks from here in Los Angeles, I'm well aware I have a pretty awesome life set up here. Cost of living is a big check in the CON column, but there's a lot of PROs as well. This is the mental and emotional cost of daily life: the balancing act between all the wants and needs inside us. And I do a pretty good job, for the most part.

This doc also made me remember how much I like Young Widows. Been a while; you'll notice they begin to populate my daily listening again below.


Here's a shocker I just found out yesterday because I don't pay any attention to music award shows: High on Fire won a Grammy on Sunday. Holy shit; hell hath frozen over. And as much as I hate to solicit for a paradigm I detest, here's their acceptance footage, because even after watching it twice, I still can't believe it. That said, I feel like this is an Oscars-like, making-up-for-lost-time awarding, because although I dig Electric Messiah, I feel as though the band's truly groundbreaking and undeniable work is well behind them. Still, who'd have thought, eh? Better late than never...

Having now crested the half-way point in Ramsey Campbell's Alone with the Horrors, I've returned it to the shelf and decided to re-read a few of the stories in Thomas Ligotti's debut collections Songs of a Dead Dreamer/Grimscribe. There's a definite pedigree here; Ligotti is clearly influenced by Campbell, although not in an overly direct way. But there are some aesthetic through-lines I am interested in exploring here, and I'm enjoying this strange little path I've discovered for myself through some of the foundations of short-form modern Weird/Horror. It's definitely helping me understand tone and craft better.

I've watched quite a bit during my sick time. First up, Anthony from The Horror Vision recently gifted me a copy of Scream Factory's Scream Queens Double Feature: John Carpenter's The Fog, and Joe Dante's The Howling. It'd been a couple years since I'd seen The Howling, and I was curious to see the difference the transfer would make, so before watching it I did a quick A/B with my old DVD copy.

Wow. Folks, this is dangerous. Having only recently been converted to the merit of upgrading to Blu Ray - because I refuse to rebuy my collection on another format - I have to say, the difference is huge. So I watched The Howling and was enraptured by the clarity. I also did some reading about transfer technology and what not ( is a near limitless source for that), and I have to say, I won't be replacing everything, but some films for sure. Army of Darkness for instance, or at least the DVD copy I have of the Director's Cut, is a laughable transfer; seriously, this was one of the first films I noticed issues on, two years ago when I excitedly sat down to show K the original Evil Dead trilogy. We made it to the third installment and I realized the picture was so bad it looked like we were watching the film on a crappy old tv in 1978 during an electrical storm. I mean, it's garbage.

Army of Darkness isn't a film I can't live without; it's easily my least favorite of all Ash Williams vehicles, but it's an iconic gem and one I want in my collection. But not this terrible transfer. Because, the idea isn't about constantly upgrading and rebuying, it's about Film Preservation. And while I'm not sure if I have to nitpick over the differences between the $10 AOD Blu Ray that Scream Factory released and the $30 one, having all three versions of the film is important to me, so it's going to have to be the $30. But that purchase is down the road, perhaps when one of SF's sales comes up. I'm still trying like hell to save money, and doing a fairly good job doing it, which is precisely why all the information available about transfers and clarity is, as I said at the outset, dangerous.

After The Howling, I changed pace and watched Jim Jarmusch's Paterson. Wow. One of the best films I've seen in a while, and one of my favorite of Jarmusch's to date; he has such a sense of forgiveness, community, and humanity that comes through in his work, that I feel like this film actually helped heal some black, sticky stuff that was left inside me after a falling out I had back in August last year. So good. I'm not posting a trailer, because there's no way a trailer could tell you anything about this film. Just watch it; Paterson is an Amazon-funded film, and thus available on Prime for free.

Next, I finally got around to Werner Herzog's Nosferatu: The Vampyre. I don't always understand or gel with Herzog's style, but he has such a knack for balancing pragmatism with artistic flourish that I always enjoy his films, even if only after they've ended and I'm re-thinking them. That might be the case here. Let's stick with the poster thing, I'm starting to hate trailers:

Finally, with all these long stretches of time on my hands, I thought I'd get around to one of the longer flicks that has been on my list forever, namely, Derek Cianfrance's 2012 MASTERPIECE, The Place Beyond the Pines. This film was enormous to me; a familial crime epic that blew me away and capped my cinema for the day yesterday because, how the hell do you follow something that BIG? And hell, Mike Patton does the score, and I can say this not just as a fan of his but as a fan of cinema scores: fantastically done, Mr. Patton.

Playlists have been tiny, so instead of doing a day-by-day, I'm summate thusly:

Playlist from Sunday, 2/10-Tuesday, 2/12:

SQÜRL - Paterson OST
David Zinman, Dawn Upshaw & London Sinfonietta - Gorecki: Symphony #3, Op 36 "Symphony of Sorrowful Songs": I. Lento - Sostenuto tranquillo ma cantabile
Young Widows - Settle Down City
Young Widows - Old Wounds
Talking Heads - Remain in Light
Windhand - Eternal Return
Morphine - The Night
Secret Chiefs 3 Traditionalists - Le Mani Destre Recise Degli Ultimi Uomini
Jozef Van Wissem & Jim Jarmusch - An Attempt to Draw Aside the Veil
John Carpenter - Lost Themes

Card of the day:

I'm hoping this is a reminder of the past few days, and not a harbinger of more oppressive illness to come.

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