August 17, 2006

Radio Interview on the State of Iraq's Past, Present and Future

Michael Gordon, chief military correspondent for The New York Times, was recently the guest on Fresh Air. He gave an amazing and engaging run down of his understanding of the Iraq conflict after having been embedded there since the 2003 invasion.

He openly talks about the difficulties of recruiting Iraq military forces, Sadam's reasoning for lying about WMD's, Rumsfeld's famous "No Nation Building" speech and the White House's redefining of the word "victory" in regards to our involvement there. Amazing stuff from someone who's been with this thing from the very beginning.

Listen to the interview here.

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Iraq in a nutshell

Posted by Joshua at 12:46 PM | Comments (618)

August 15, 2006

HOW IT GETS IN (Free Comic!)

I've wanted to write a researched political post lately, but I tend to get my head stuck up inside my own ass when I do that. While not entirely unpleasant, I do find it unproductive in there.

This morning, however, I remembered HOW IT GETS IN. A 22-page comic book that Allen Gladfelter and I created three years ago. In my opinion the material is still relevant. By posting it some time after its creation, I'm able to capture a sliver of the joy that is having my head stuck up inside my own ass, but without any of the productivity loss.

So... here you go... HOW IT GETS IN

On March 20, 2003 my nation executed a bombing campaign known as "Shock and Awe" against the dictatorship of Iraq. Later that week, after a telephone discussion with Allen, I - being obsessed with the notion of war as pornography - sat down and wrote this. Originally it was to be published in a black and white horror anthology, but that anthology never materialized.

If you enjoy this story, another piece of old work by Allen and I, entitled TIME TAKES US ALL can be found here (after clicking through the link, scroll down a bit). But even if you find HOW IT GETS IN to be too oblique, weird or stupid, you should still check in with the other piece. It's a totally different project altogether and much shorter.

personally, I'm quite fond of both. Thanks for reading.

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Posted by Joshua at 03:18 PM | Comments (1339)

August 08, 2006

Hundreds Watch 'Corpse Flower' Bloom

Since working on Swamp Thing I've become fascinated with plants and their many mutations.

This one is truly amazing...

"Hundreds of visitors filed through a Virginia Tech greenhouse to get a glimpse, and a whiff, of a powerfully malodorous Corpse Flower as it bloomed."

Read the full article here.

What the article doesn't mention is that this flower is one of the, if not the, largest in the world. Coming in at virtually the size of the Audrey II. One was clocked in at 9 feet tall in May of 2003.

How bad does it smell?

From the article...
"It's like several days old road kill on a hot, sunny day," Wiley-Vawter said.

She said she went home shortly before midnight Friday and returned about 8:15 a.m. Saturday and could smell the plant from her parking spot about 100 feet from the greenhouse."

The Corpse Flower
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... and the Audrey II
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Posted by Joshua at 11:47 AM | Comments (64)

Remember When Will Ferrell Was Funny?

In the wake of the unfunny Talladega Nights. Here's a link to what cracked magazine.com calls the The 10 Best Will Ferrell Skits of All-Time.

The list of videos includes the famous cowbell skit, Will Ferrell as Neil Diamond and The Boss From Hell skit. But because it's SNL specific it doesn't have his brilliant turn as George Bush from the 2004 ACT campaign to get out the vote. So I've tracked that down here.

Enjoy.

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Posted by Joshua at 11:09 AM | Comments (597)

August 07, 2006

Pop Image Pimps Substrate!

Recently a fabulous artist and dear friend of mine by the name of Kelly Howlett published a collection of sketches, musings and other works called SUBSTRATE. The book features an introduction by myself and is currently getting press at PopImage.com.

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They were gracious enough to include bits and pieces of my introduction as well, So link on through if you have the time.

LINK TO REVIEW OF BOOK.

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Posted by Joshua at 12:10 PM | Comments (232)

August 05, 2006

A Rough Guide to Asian Horror Cinema

Someone out there in Internet space has posted what he or she considers to be an informative, but basic Guide to Asian Horror (follow this link to check it out).

They admit to having seen only 15 Asian horror films and then proceed to criticize those movies in incredibly Western aesthetic terms. It's sort of like if a Rough Guide to American Prison Cinema failed to mention Cool Hand Luke, Papillion and the entire sub-genre of women's prison exploitation cinema.

But for those of you who've recently gotten the Asian horror bug (which to my mind means you're ready to explore some of the most interesting pop-film in the world today) than the above link can help you get started, I suppose. Or lead you in the direction of some very tedious movies that will turn you off of Asian Horror all together.

I'd like to take the liberty to respond critically to the guide linked above and, in so doing, turn you on to a more dangerous and more creative kind of Asian horror cinema. If you like your flicks weird, out of control and ambitious... then keep reading.

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The classifications "Asian Horror" and "Extreme Asian" don't mean exactly the same thing, but the two film movements do feed each other quite a bit. The film TETSUO: IRON MAN managed to break new ground for both horror and extreme Asian cinema on nothing but a shoestring budget and is also one of the few true cyberpunk masterworks from any culture.

Their Guide is mostly concerned with more accessible and traditional horror fare, and that's the problem. They leave out obvious masterpieces, particularly in the "Extreme-Asian" and existential J-horror set. Works like the groundbreaking Tetsuo: Iron Man, Visitor Q, and Cure as well as more recent films like Three Extremes are completely missing from the list (though Chan-wook Park's chapter in Three Extremes sort of sucks, but the other two more than make up for it).

My guide would include much of the softer, more commercial choices as well, but would not ignore the extreme underbelly of Asian Horror, which is where, to my mind, the really interesting creative decisions are being made right now.

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VISITOR Q is Japanese director Takashi Miike at his most intense. The film is a horror movie, a comedy and an existential journey into the erosion of the Japanese culture. Beyond that it cannot be explained and can barely even be experienced. Be warned, this is a work of questionable moral content.

Meanwhile their Guide's criticism of films it does include leaves much to be desired. To me the author misses the most enjoyable aspects of many of the movies. The Eye is mentioned as being weak on plot (true), but there's no comment on the fact that it's the creepiest exorcise in gore-less horror imagery since the original Haunting. The author says Uzumaki has "no real emotional core to the horror", but fails to mention that the whole thing is supposed to be gloriously cheesy and comically manipulative. The movie plays with time wonderfully, so that it can pace out each freaky revelation in perfect cadence. It is completely overboard and silly. Then he proceeds to claim that The Ring is the best he's seen of the Asian horror film movement. Well, it might be - to him - and I certainly do appreciate the writer's taste for slower films (being a cinephile - I love a good, slow movie), but The Ring is just as contrived and emotionless as the other fare, only without the extreme conclusions and fierce imagination that I, personally, go to Asian horror to experience in the first place.

On top of this, theme as an element and engine of the films included is entirely missing from the criticism in their Guide. Much of Asian cinema is theme obsessed, to not let that factor into your criticism is to not fully understand the context and relevance of the film. This leads me to believe that the Author cannot see beyond his own cultural expectations of what horror should be.

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CURE is experimental in its structure. As each scene unfolds and central locations are established, the film begins to use more and more of an image-based shorthand. Until the last act descends into a steady stream of disconnected images which reference events and locations from the previous acts, leaving the end of the film uncertain and dreamlike. A stunning work.

The author of the Guide recommends the absolutely extraordinary Audition... but again, doesn't seem even slightly interested in the themes at play in it... which is exactly what makes the film so brilliant to me.

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THREE EXTREMES showcases the talents of a trio of Asia's fiercest contemporary filmmakers. Fruit Chan's DUMPLINGS short is actually cut from a feature film of the same name. Despite losing more than 30 min. of its running time DUMPLINGS is still an exquisite horror masterpiece. The image shown here is from Takashi Miike's brilliant segment, THE BOX

I understand that the Rough Guide I've linked to above is just somebody posting in the ever-empowering world of free form thought known as the Internet. But I love Asian cinema, and to see someone defining the extremely wide and eclectic body of work that is "Asian Horror" through its most mainstream, watered down examples, without paying any attention to its roots or its flares of wild excess, is to end up ignoring the contributions of some of the most expressive, challenging and promethean filmmakers in the world today.

So check out their Rough Guide, pick a film from it and, after watching it, if you agree with the writer's opinions then good on you.

But if you think that his/her take on the film you've just seen is a little, well, intellectually lazy... then you just come on back home to daddy and watch one of the films I've talked about in this post.

Because there's a lot more going on in Asian Horror than "The Rough Guide" would lead a novice explorer to believe.

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UZUMAKI is delirious horror fun. 'Nuff Said.

PS: A very commercial flick that did not make the Guide was the wonderfully watchable film (originally targeted toward the 15 year-old Japanese girl in all of us) One Missed Call. It came out two years after the less impressive Korean film Phone and shared some of the same ideas. While being an amalgamation of J-horror cliches, it somehow still manages to be insightful, smart, deeply engaging and above all... fun.

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One Missed Call

Posted by Joshua at 11:16 AM | Comments (942)

Saturday Morning News Junky...

The world I woke up to today...

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Posted by Joshua at 09:52 AM | Comments (37)

August 01, 2006

See video of Alan Moore being polite to a kid's show host!

Video of early Alan Moore pimping, to kids no less, his first Swamp Thing trade and some upcomming project called WATCHMAN!

As my dear friend Den has pointed out, "Note that the script page of SWAMP THING appears to have a one page-long paragraph to describe a single panel."

The video can be found here

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Alan with Jack Kirby at San Diego Comic Con in the mid 80's. This photo is a visual document of two pop culture gods coming together for the first time. It is not just our industry these two men changed... their visions make up part of the very substrate of our cultural imagination. Their musings have influenced every medium and individually, in their own respective generations, they challenged what comics in particular and pop culture in general could be.

Tacked on Update 8-4-06

A.V. Club With Alan Moore

A fantastic interview about his erotica opus LOST GIRLS, which has been 16 years in the making.

Onion A/V Club Interview

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"Lost Girls teams up three icons of children's literature - Alice from Alice In Wonderland, Wendy from Peter Pan, and Dorothy from The Wizard Of Oz - and re-tells their stories with the fantasy elements stripped away, replaced by real-world sexual experiences."

Posted by Joshua at 04:54 PM | Comments (124)