Monday, 30 July 2007

Of random conversations and being moved by the music

Long story short, what music makes you horny?

Short story expanded, I tend to have fairly random conversations with many of my friends and tonight has seen more than its fair share. One particular conversation with a particular friend that has stuck with me longer than most began as an exploration of her appreciation of a song's lyrics, but swiftly moved to how we were moved by music.

It seems that her love for Interpol goes so far as to be one of the few kinds of music to turn her on.

Maybe my taste in music is too narrow or music just doesn't hit me right there, but the closest that music has brought me to a state of feeling ecstatic was the SebastiAn / Kavinsky club night in Melbourne back in March. There's something about electro / French Touch / blog house / new rave just grabs me hard and tight, drags me onto my feet and shakes me about until I collapse with the biggest smile on my face and incredibly sore feet.

And yet, for as much as I'm swept off my feet by electro, I really don't know of any music that has turned me on.

Of fonts and subtitles

Since my last film fest film reviews, I've managed to knock off another three somewhat unrelated films.

Day Watch was an equally-confusing follow-up to the equally-enjoyable Night Watch if Russian-made Matrix-esque films about supernatural battles between good and evil are your thing. The plot is too difficult to follow in the film, let alone to recount to others after having seen it, so we generally rave about the subtitles in the film.

Helvetica has the strange honour of being an incredibly interesting and enjoyable film about a font of all things. The documentary traces the font's origins in the type foundries of Switzerland, to its championing as the vanguard of modernist design before it is soon derided for being ubiquitous and passionless. Of special interest to this member of the audience was a quick intro for one of their interviewees where they scanned his urban vinyl art toy collection. Oh and seeing Freitag carving out their too-hot over-the-shoulder bags from discarded billboard vinyl. Make me one?

Exiled was a Chinese gangster film that rang alarm bells from the strongly Leone-esque opening scene (Once Upon A Time In The West anyone?). It wasn't particularly action-packed, the gunfights were fairly boring and the storyline fairly empty for most of the film.

Of happy families and burnt bread

Helvetica had a great intro to Build founder Michael C Place which involved looking at his urban vinyl art toy collection, and what a collection it was. I probably drew a few stares from the audible gasp that left my mouth to see an enviable array of James Jarvis, DevilRobots and other pieces.

So it got me thinking about my own ample urban vinyl art toy collection, something that has grown to a point where, like the national collection, I have to keep some of it in storage for lack of space and flat off-the-floor surfaces.

To kick start what might become a semi-regular revelation of the different aspects of my collection, I give you my happy family of toys bearing the indelible touch of Frank Kozik.

I started with the three adorable labbits you see towards the front (there were four but one of them decided he'd rather live in Melbourne). The others were gradually introduced with the 10" old school white and bones glow-in-the-dark smorkin' labbits being rather more recent additions.

Moving on from Frank Kozik and his obsession with smoking, other recent additions of a slightly different nature include Mister Toast plushes that looked so adorable in the store window I bought three (one would have been lonely, two would have been an unfortunate couple, while three is a family).

They have odd shiny fabric for eyes that gives their otherwise adorable appearance an eerie quality. I'm thinking I might just hang them on my walls like I did with my rubenmichi.

What do you think?

Friday, 27 July 2007

Of children and the future

This is a little something I wrote for Joel's blog.

Of children and the future

The always fantastic Kidz by Colette have just announced that the Teutonic duo Digitalism are running a competition for fans to produce music videos for their killer single Idealistic.

Our love for all things Digitalism is well known on here and I can't think why you wouldn't love us, so follow the link here to find out more about the competition, peruse through the support material Digitalism have provided and find out how to set about winning yourself 2000 euros in prize money. That's almost $3,500 in New Zealand dollars. Imagine the gin you could buy with all that.

Idealistic is one of the sleeper hits on Digitalism's debut effort Idealism and a truly stonking track just begging to be spun for the dancefloor.

If I could just ask that we please avoid videos like this pretentious twaddle...

Think of the children. They are our future.

Digitalism @ myspace

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Of rock and not rock

This is a little something I wrote for The Spaghetti Incident.

Of rock and not rock

Rock music used to play a large part of what I used to listen and my former partner-in-crime can and should take all the credit for maintaining my interest in rock music far longer than it otherwise would have lasted.

However, the last couple years have seen guitars give way to keytars as electronic music has come to almost completely dominate my itunes. There's some Motown on there as well as some other stuff I'd rather not mention.

So as a nod to my former appreciation of rock music, I thought I'd share some tracks by artists I'm quite enjoying in my 'life after rock'.

In no particular order, I give you...

Alter Ego : Rocker

The Chemical Brothers : Block Rockin' Beats

Daft Punk : Robot Rock

Does It Offend You, Yeah! : We Are Rockstars

Of Danes and Nords

I'm four films into my film festival experience and I have to say all credit to the Scandinavians for their contributions to this year's festival.

The Boss Of It All is a typically funny if atypically-shot film from Dogme95 director Lars von Trier. The ever-changing popsicle, the frustration vented as tissue-tearing in the cinema, and the scenes with the prospective buyer from Iceland (his ranting hatred for the Danish race had us all laughing inappropriately loud) helped make these a film definitely worth seeing.

The Bothersome Man is a typically-deadpan comedy of sorts from Norway. For an essentially simple film,, it doesn't make a hell of a lot of sense but it still works as a good film.

After The Wedding is the standout so far and quite possibly one of the most powerful films I've seen. Far from the cathartic deadpan films one normally expects from Denmark, Susanne Bier's After The Wedding is instead an engaging, character-driven film built on some very strong performances from its actors.

When asked afterwards what I thought of the film, all I could muster was an inadequate "incredible". Watch the trailer for a brief taste of what I was able to enjoy courtesy of Telecom...

We also saw an American horror film-of-sorts called The Signal, but it doesn't really rate against the three other films I've seen. It wasn't particularly gory, or frightening, or interesting although the middle section of the film had its funny moments.

Coming up on the film fest schedule are font-doco Helvetica, David Lynch's Inland Empire and Guy Maddin's Brand Upon The Brain! among others.

Monday, 23 July 2007

Of rock and robots

I saw this on youtube and just had to share.

Transformers vs Daft Punk with Robot Rock. It has the cool Transformers too. Not the shit ones screening in a theatre near you.

Is this the best of both worlds?

You know it!

Sunday, 22 July 2007

Of technical problems and Teutonic treats

This is a little something I wrote for Joel's blog, but wordpress doesn't seem to feel the dailymotion love quite like blogger does [ UPDATE: it works now ], so here I'm able to post the interview that sparked the post in the first place.

Enjoy with my compliments

Et Digitalism pour vous

Kitsuné Music have delivered on an English-language interview with Teutonic titans Digitalism and it makes for some entertaining viewing. When Isi (the big guy) isn't making a dick of himself, Jence (the skinny one) comes across as if he's never seen sunlight or been close to touching a woman's tit. The German accents also mark a welcome shift from all interviews floating around the net chock full of those heavily-Gallic accents of the Ed Banger crew.

The interview was filmed during an appearance in the States with LA-based Acid Girls doing a good job as interviewer.

Hat-tip to the always excellent Kidz by Colette for originally posting the interview.

Kitsuné Music @ myspace

Digitalism @ myspace

Acid Girls @ myspace

Ed Banger Records @ myspace

Friday, 20 July 2007

Of mana and money

My cultural heritage has been traded off one tacky plastic trinket at a time, bastardised in regular evening performances to curious overseas visitors, carved into the side of Mike Tyson's face and Robbie Williams' shoulder, worn up and down numerous catwalks around the world, and packaged in convenient heat-and-eat meals with a smoked veneer.

So it comes as no surprise to see an American artist use the facial markings of my ancestors as a basis for making money in the lucrative art toy market.

Circus punks are a custom knock down doll, which are given to artists to embellish with their designs before being produced in very limited production runs and sold in select venues for quite a lot of money.

I'm an avid collector of urban vinyl art toys, I'm all for sharing Maori culture with other peoples and I'm all for Maori culture being experienced by other peoples.

I just don't see how a limited run series of a few hundred of these knock down dolls in Wisconsin for exorbitant amounts of money helps anyone other than the company providing the circus punk, the artist cashing in on traditional designs and the gallery that hosted the event.

Colour me concerned and exasperated with the continuing commercialisation of my culture by people who really should know better.

If anyone is going to do that, it should be me!!!

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Of Manu and Munny

POPUP have finally announced details of their customised munny competition, Pimp My Munny.

It's quite simple really: mock-up your design on the templates provided, apply the design to an actual munny, send front and back photos in to POPUP by 20 October 2007, and you'll find out on 1 November 2007 just how much of the mighty swag of prize booty is yours.

I'm aiming to win a the mega munny.

Manu has progressed ever so slightly from when he last appeared on here with the edges tidied up on his hair and the moko design being applied for a more jagged and organic look. Now I just need to sort out what to do with his body and arms and what accents to apply to his hair.

I've also started mocking up my Justice design on a black munny. If anyone knows where I might get glow in the dark paint, that would be very much appreciated. I'm looking at base-coating the cross design with a few coats of primer so that it will stand out in the light and in the dark. I just need to work out how to do the collar with the the way the head obscures part of the neck area of the body.

I also have a glow-in-the-dark munny and am pondering how to design an enormous pair of white y-fronts to go on his head. The head is rather bulbous and quite awkwardly shaped but I'm working towards a primer-base design that will blend in during the day but really stand out at night. I know it's not an original idea as Huck Gee did something kinda similar with a qee, but I want to give it a go all the same.

You should too. Whether for the personal satisfaction or the $1000 in prizes.

I'll post photos of Manu and the other munny designs this weekend. My cellphone camera doesn't work so well in crap light and night has a habit of setting in before I get home from work.

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Of mediocrity and malice

Vice Magazine used to produce issues centred around core themes, but this approach was abandoned with the last issue. The Turning Gay issue was kinda boring and I'm not the only one who thought so. The brilliance of themed issues like the Iraq issue and the Fiction issue seemed to have been replaced with what amounts to a hodge podge of largely unrelated items.

That's why it's taken me a while to get around to reading the copy of the Noxious Fumes issue issue I snagged from Good As Gold last week while hunting out some tasty tasty toast.

The highlight of the Noxious Fumes issue wasn't the cover item on the most pollution-spewing sites in Vice editor home cities (Auckland's tank farm rates a mention but it doesn't really rate against the monstrous examples from elsewhere in the world - talk about small ambitions of a small country).

No, the highlight for me was one simple question...

"How would you kick your best friend's ass?"

The Vice street poll predictably brought out some disappointingly banal "I'd kick him in the nuts / I'd smash him in the face"-type responses.

Where is the malice?

Where is the careful consideration?

Maybe they liked their best friend too much to give it any thought, but my instinctual reaction to the question was something along similar lines to the excellent short story by Neil LaBute in the Fiction issue. Malicious, lasting in effect and completely anonymous.

I'm not saying I want to hurt my best friend in cruel and unusual ways. Far from it. What I am saying is that if you are going to go to the effort of fucking over your best friend, you'd better make a decent effort of it.

So, how would you kick your best friend's ass?

Monday, 16 July 2007

Of goose fat and culinary endeavours

One of the perils of being self-taught in the kitchen is that one tends to head straight to the hard dishes while bypassing the basics. I'm not completely lacking in understanding of the basics, but there are a fair few dishes I haven't gone near for one reason or another.

Well, after enjoying Damoscope's own culinary efforts over the America's Cup campaign I felt honour-bound to attempt and improve on a dish I'd never made myself: the humble roast chicken.

Not one to do the bare minimum, I began by curing a kilo of finely-sliced onion for two days in salt and lemon juice so that it would disintegrate into a caramelised goo as the chicken roasted.

Checking on it every 20 minutes, the size 16 chicken was turned over and around, and basted with a combination of goose fat and the onion goo. Some might consider it wrong to baste the carcass of one type of bird with the rendered fat of another type of bird, but goose fat is not only ideal for roasting meat and vegetables but it is also much healthier than the saturated fats in beef and lamb. I source mine from Truffle just off Glover Park.

Assorted root vegetables were added to the pan towards the end with the end result comprising the richest, most tender chicken I've ever had.

The onion goo was packed so full of chicken and goose fat that the pan as a cinch to clean and I was left with more than enough stock base for my next batch of home made soup.

I would have posted pictures of my crowning culinary achievement this weekend but the flatmates* and I wolfed it all down too swiftly to remember to bring out the camera.

* Yes, the now-former flatmate has since moved out and a nice couple have moved into the flat to take his place. We've been living together a week now and it's going quite well. Fingers crossed it stays this way until the lease comes up in October.

Sunday, 15 July 2007

Of Top Gun and Moby Dick

Call me Iceman, because I've this weekend posted my first (and hopefully not last) guest contribution on the online musical odyssey of DJ JetPilot aka Joel, which you can read right here.

It's little more than a circuitous rant that bridges Digitalism and The Whip through record label Kitsuné Music and the compilations they've released, and sure it doesn't seem to make much sense but hey it was written at four in the morning and the songs are pretty good. That latter comment is all the more signifianct because one of the perks to posting material on Joel's blog is that his is set up to host audio files so readers can cop a listen, rather than rely on my meaningless descriptions.

So yeah, cop a read and cop a listen. The technology unfortunately does not quite extend to enabling you to cop a feel.

Monday, 9 July 2007

Of red meat and Oizo

Daft Punk opened things up with the stunning Electroma and it looks like Quentin Dupieux aka Mr Oizo is leading the next French Touch surge through cinema with the oddly-titled Steak.

I managed to get my hands on the soundtrack a while back after sniffing out the faint whiff of personal-favourite SebastiAn having a hand in its production. The soundtrack isn't what I was expecting but it's quite good all the same.

As for the movie itself, all I have to rely on is a fairly empty entry on IMDB, incomprehensibly Gallic snippets on youtube and this rather excellent review.

Colour me expectant. Shame I didn't study French beyond third form.

Of Coen and Cormac

The Coen Brothers have completed their adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's No Country For Old Men and this has me as excited and expectant and giddy as some were left with Transformers.

After seeing the Coen Brothers on the cover of Sight & Sound (some dreadful British film industry mag), I immediately set out to track down whatever promo they'd put together for Cannes. Ladies and gentlemen, here is the trailer for No Country For Old Men...

He may be the Leonard Cohen of literature*, but Cormac's writing really is something else. The only other one of his books to be made into a film was the woefully underwhelming if accessible All The Pretty Horses, so for those of us who really quite enjoy Cormac's writing this new film is something for us to really get excited about.

* This descriptor comes courtesy of our very own Slightly Silver Fox. Enjoy his writings here.

I trawled IMDB to check that All The Pretty Horses was the only other Cormac book to be turned into a film and I spied plans by Ridley Scott to film his adaptation of Blood Meridian. Oh. My. God.

Of buffet dinners and slow dancing

Colour me resplendent with filial piety for I have braved family responsibilities in the Waikato and come through relatively unscathed. For my SPFW, I came back with dairy farm. It's out near Cambridge and the paperwork will be in the post anon.

As for the wedding, the bride looked stunning, the groom slightly uncomfortable but he carried himself well and the food was really rather good for a wedding. Not being mormons, many of us were unable to participate in the wedding proper but a ring ceremony and reception were put on for us heathens (such a quaint term). It was a good night.

As a bonus, we avoided having to sing for our supper. It's such a Maori thing to do and invariably as painful as one could possibly imagine. It harks back to this rosy-tinted nostalgia of previous generations having talent to burn. The kind of nostalgia that saw my generation regaled with stories of Uncle who could play any instrument you cared to throw at him, or Auntie who could sing any song no matter the tune. Well, successive generations seem to have lost that x factor that our forebears seemed to exude with pride and skill. I'm inclined to think it comes down to successive generations not finding themselves forced to make their own fun. The end result? I am tone-deaf and have no natural rhythm, and that isn't entirely uncommon among my generation. Sad but true. So I guess the bonus was for the benefit of all concerned on Saturday night.

My god if it wasn't cold up there though. Amen for London Fog and Marvel Menswear, is all I can say about that. Oh dear. We needn't discuss Marvel Menswear or the people who've worked there.

On the upside I made it back to our tiny hamlet of a nation's capital later Sunday afternooon and you'd have had to colourme relieved. Familiar surroundings are so comforting, especially when punctuated by the usual refrain of some of my nearest and dearest. For all it breeds contempt, familiarity does have its upsides.

Well, that's all I care to share about my weekend. How was yours?

Thursday, 5 July 2007

I scream, you scream , we all scream for...

La Grève Générale kindly sent me their latest mix a couple weeks back and I've been a complete munter for not giving it a decent listen until just now.


La Grève Générale's June mixtape Ice Cream Sunday (tracklist in comments) is a blinder of a mix showcasing a lot of the blogosphere favourites with a liberal sprinkling of fairly recent favourites. All in all it really is a really tasty treat.


That's why you really should download it, and now!

If you've got the bandwidth, head to their myspace and download some of their other mixes. Their soixante-trois minutes mix and their cheese on toast with sambucca mixtape more than make the effort worthwhile.

Their myspace makes no mention of any live appearances (except to sell themselves as DJs-for-hire), but if they were on the lineup for a stonker of a club night then I would seriously consider heading over to the UK to see them.

Now that I think about, it's odd that Joel hasn't already showered Ice Cream Sunday with its fair share of love. He's always beaten me to the punch with their earlier efforts.

Well it turns out he's been busy building his own mix and what a mix it is. Adding yet more colour, variety and more than a bit of nostalgia to the mixes currently doing the rounds, Joel brings us a nostalgic trip through trip hop with Times Like These. Listening to it takes me back a fair few years, back to a simpler time. Ah, the rosy-hue of nostalgia.

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Of filial piety and family obligations

I'll be visiting H A Milton this weekend with the parents in anticipation of my cousin getting married. Can I get anyone anything while I'm up there?

Dairy farm?

Pregnant teenager?

White pants?

Piece of wedding cake?

Of disappointment and diabetic comas

I saw Transformers on the Embassy Theatre's big screen a couple nights back. It was a miserable night and I needed to get out of the flat.

The usual suspects were either cosily ensconced in far off lands or in thrall to Monday night's TV lineup* so seeing a movie seemed as good a thing to do as any other. I'd heard from quite a cross-section of my nearest and dearest (all of whom exhibit varying degrees of taste in movies) that Transformers was pretty good.

Well. The film wasn't terrible. I wasn't left snoring loudly or fervently planning a furtive escape from the theatre. Yes I did bleat on about wanting my money back, but I do that for any film that isn't truly fantastic.

If anything, Transformers was underwhelming.

That's a difficult thing to say when I wasn't expecting a hell of a lot to start with. Michael Bay has a habit of really overdoing the sappy and saccharine in his films and the human scenes delivered diabetic comas for everyone. Like comic books, cartoons rarely translate well to a live action format and this was no exception with the robots in disguise spending most of the movie as indistinct contortions of anonymous motor parts.

I say that as someone who loved the show as a kid and prized his Transformers above most other toys. I say that as someone who harbours a deeply guilty affection for films with enormous robots. I say that because I feel cheated. I say that because I was right all along.

* I really don't understand the allure of Desperate Housewives. That said, Shortland Street's winter season is a different story what with some of us inescapably caught watching out for the show's transexual nurse (especially when we know the actor).