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Those who read Yann Martel’s Life of Pi towards the beginning of the last decade probably wondered how such a fantastic tale could ever be filmed. There were also those who, upon hearing that Ang Lee was tackling a film version of Life of Pi, felt elated and relieved that someone with such talent and commitment to a story was the one chosen.
Inside Llewyn Davis
New this week on Popshifter: Paul takes Men’s Rights Advocates to task in his article on Women in Gaming and tells tales of pro wrestling redemptions; Chelsea loves Lady Lamb the Beekeeper’s first full-length album RiPLEY PINE; I fawn over new releases from Parenthetical Girls, Dawn McCarthy & Bonnie “Prince” Billy, and Iceage, share the latest from Big Black Delta, and review French Horn Rebellion’s newest EP Love Is Dangerous; and Hanna admires both the humor and scientific methods found in The Marriage of True Minds from Matmos.
Say you’re a rock critic and the calendar has dwindled to a single page. You’re expected to write a year-in-review column, but your artistic heroes have disappointed you and none of the year’s new releases have galvanized you the way you’d hoped. What do you do? You reach into your back pages to look at some forgotten favorites and things that got away from you the first time around. In writing about these forgotten favorites, maybe you can introduce your readers to something new as well.
My editor at this fine publication has informed me that I need not stick to 2012 releases for my “Best Of” list. With that in mind, I have made a list of new releases & “classics” that I have gone back to in the last year or so.
Shall we begin?
I do my best work when I have a sense of structure, when I’m allowed to bash something out on a quick turnaround time, and when I can work independently within a community. Thus, National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo as it’s known to its fans and followers) seems like something so well suited to my sensibilities that it’s a wonder I haven’t done it before. November of 2012 will be my inaugural year working on NaNo.
For the uninitiated, NaNoWriMo is fairly straightforward. Aspiring novelists must write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. Freelance writer Chris Baty founded NaNoWriMo in July of 1999, but later moved it forward to November “to more fully take advantage of the miserable weather” in his hometown of San Francisco. Throughout the years, NaNo has grown from a small event in which Baty participated with a small clutch of friends, to an event that spans the globe and has spawned a number of best-selling books. (If you read Water for Elephants or The Night Circus, congratulations: you have enjoyed the fruits of NaNoWriMo.) A lively community has sprung up among aspiring writers in Boston, replete with overnight write-ins and games of Word Wars on the regional board.
In a world where The Walking Dead is one of the most successful TV programs on the air, where politics shambles on brainlessly, and it seems that the end times are nigh, why wouldn’t you want to dress like it’s Halloween? If you live for the absurd and obscene, there is at last a lifestyle book for you and your peers. This black-hearted parody of the best-selling Queer Eye for the Straight Guy tie-in books brings an undead perspective to the perennial challenge of living well, looking good—or, in this case, horrible&mdash’and being exactly the decaying, mindless flesh eater you’ve always wanted to be.
For those who have read the Queer Eye book, the parody is dead-on and hilarious. With sections titled such things as “Inner Preparations,” “Should I Eat Human Brains?” and “Social Skills,” every aspect of the gruesome, yet satisfying world of being a walking abomination is addressed with wit, variety, and a very silly thoroughness. Yet this is not just a point-by-point parody; Zombie Eye also contains quite a few pointers to enrich and enliven (so to speak) any good zombie costume for those still breathing.
What is it like to take a time machine back to a time when I was a burgeoning sarcastic twenty-something with a tendency to sneer and a sense of humor as black as it comes? The recent Minus Times Collected, lovingly assembled for its 20th anniversary, is a portal to that time, for me at least. Is it a place I want to be, though?
When confronted with work like this—a relic full of irony for irony’s sake that creates a critical distance on purpose—it only brings out my ponderous side. By definition, isn’t nostalgia supposed to create a sense of wistfulness and yearning? Sure, I like a thumb in my eye when the humor feels earned, and I realize that this style should be different because it isn’t meant to feel cozy and warm. When I looked back at this wicked side of this particular collection it only served to make me realize that there are other and better time capsules, ones that are consistent and head and shoulders above this in quality.
Are you one of those people that flies into a laser-eyed rage when you see grizzly misused in the place of grisly? Or are you one of those people who has no idea what the difference is between a gourmand and a gourmet; all you know is that they love their food or something? The English language is a tangly beast, easy to give the impression of mastery for any native speaker, and yet almost no one, even linguists, editors, professors of English, or journalists writing in the New York Times (ahem) will always choose the correct word, sometimes using an incorrect homonym or a related word, and only the driest (or perhaps the most frothy) pedants ever seems to notice.
If you live in or around Toronto, Ontario, Canada and you like movies, then you’ve already heard of Richard Crouse. For the rest of you, he’s a Toronto-based film critic and TV personality, who can be seen on both Canada AM and CTV’s 24-hour news channel (as well as at nearly every film event and festival in the Toronto area). Most importantly:, he’s also a tremendous, lifelong fan of filmmaker Ken Russell.
Crouse’s latest book (he’s written six others) is all about Ken “Enfant Terrible” Russell’s most controversial and frequently misunderstood 1971 film The Devils, starring Oliver Reed and Vanessa Redgrave. Raising Hell: Ken Russell and the Unmaking of The Devils begins much like my own recent reintroduction to Ken Russell: a prologue detailing Crouse’s 2010 meeting and interview with Russell in conjunction with Rue Morgue’s Festival of Fear screening of The Devils.
New this week on Popshifter: John talks about the secret handshake and Booker T. and the M.G.s’ Green Onions reissue on Stax; Melissa B. wonders if Harry Shearer’s Can’t Take A Hint is timely; guest blogger and author Alex Bledsoe gives the deets on Rafael Sabatini and pirates; Chelsea loves Micah Sheveloff’s Exhibitionist and the singer/songwiter’s “lived-in marvel of a voice”; I proclaim Big Black Delta’s Tour EP to be “diverse” and “thrilling”; and I share some photos from FanExpo Canada 2012.