Scene Report: Sci Fi Movie Marathon 2020

Let the record state that I'm writing this on Monday February 17 at 5:58pm, I just woke up after sleeping since 2pm after being up more or less since 5am Sunday at the 24 hour Sci Fi movie marathon ("the Thon"). I just ate some miso soup, I'm drinking coffee. Forgive me if I'm especially loopy today.


  • Frain showed up at my house at 6am to drive me and Mori to Boston. The Thon starts at noon, but the doors open between 10 and 11, and we like to get their early to get good seats.
  • The Thon has a highly developed line culture, with people showing up as early as the day before. What's interesting about the line is that everyone's lining up for a slightly different thing, with very little competition. Generally speaking anyone in line early has a spot that they like to sit in, which isn't a spot that anyone else wants or is trying to get. The woman behind us got in line around 7 and wanted to get her preferred seat somewhere in the middle of the second-to-last row. She couldn't believe that anyone would want to sit in the front row, which is where me and my crew sit. Generally speaking people get in line early to prolong the challenge, camaraderie, and spirit of the marathon. My favorite line guy is this wild dude that doesn't sit down the entire time, just stands in the back for every movie. He gets in line at 5am and then doesn't even get a seat!
  • Doors opened at around 10:30 and we filed in and got our seats squared away. I got my preferred seat, in the middle of the second row, behind Dan Wars and in between Sakiko and Dirty Doug. This year marked the 10th anniversary of our crew, the Dick Miller Fan Club. I made buttons featuring beloved character actor Dick Miller, and passed them out to the crew, which I think was 20 people this year. Jesse Wonderful joined the crew this year, I hope he had a good time and comes back next year. Tumblecat couldn't make it this year, he was greatly missed. Next year, Tumblecat!
  • The first movie of the Thon starts at noon each year but around 11 they start with an "in memorium" section, a slide show with video clips celebrating movie people with a connection to Sci Fi who passed away this year. You only need 1 science fiction credit to make the cut- Rip Torn made it this year via "Men In Black". When it's someone you especially like you clap extra hard. For the most part it's pretty reverant-- I can't think of anyone really getting booed, except for when Harlan Ellison died, and to be honest I can't tell you how many people were even booing, because I was being really loud.
  • 12:00pm Miracle Mile (1989) - a great 80s nuclear paranoia movie starring Anthony Edwards, the cutest nerd from Revenge of the Nerds, sort of an apocalyptic version of After Hours. Denise "Tasha Yar" Crosby co-stars along with a long list of character actors. Soundtrack by Tangerine Dream
  • 1:50pm Fiend Without A Face (1958) - fun 50s movie about an invisible killer that ramps up to a suprisingly gory conclusion, when the killer becomes visible in the form of hundreds of pale floating brains with whip-like tentacles. I imagine a 1958 audience of mostly children screamed and screamed in absloute delight when each of these brains gushes strawberry jam and cottage cheese when hit by an ax. In 2020 I also screamed and screamed with delight.
  • 3:25pm Spaceballs (1987) - "Mel Brooks Star Wars riff" should tell you all you need to know, for good or ill. Mel Brooks breaks the fourth wall exactly the perfect amount, that's maybe his greatest finesse. Released the same year as David Lynch's "the Elephant Man", which was also produced by Mel Brooks.
  • 5:10pm Mysterious Island (1961) - great Ray Harryhausen movie. set for almost no reason during the time of the American Civil War. I think setting a special effects movie in a different time period really eases you into believing a fantastic scenario. Anyway I loved it. Magnificent Herbert Lom plays Captain Nemo. Score by Bernard Herrman.
  • Following the movie there was a Q+A with Harryhausen's daughter, Vanessa, which was great.
  • 7:15pm Dr Jeckyll & Mr Hyde (1920) - silent version, with John Barrymore. Lot of magnificent leering. For the past couple years of the Thon there's been a silent movie with live accompaniment, and the guy that does the accompaniment, Jeff Rapsis, is incredible. It took me a little bit to figure out how he does it but I think he programs a keyboard to play different sounds depending on how hard he hits the keys- if he just barely touches it the sound is a soft violin, if he slams it there's a tympani, and inbetween there's a celeste, an orch hit, and I don't know what else. An elegant set up and the dude slays. Standing ovation.
  • Even tho I love the keyboard guy I went out and got a burrito in the first part of Jeckyll and Hyde. I always get suckered into paying more by not realizing that guacamole is $1.25 extra. Why is guacamole the only ingredient like this?? It makes no sense. I stopped going to this one place near the theatre because they do that, and the new place, they do it to. The new place also has that modern city restaurant look where every surface is covered by a tiled photograph of a weather-beaten surface. It's like being in a video game, futuristic by virtue of being an over-approximation of the past.
  • 9:15pm Altered States (1980) - I never liked William Hurt because of the way his dull character treats Geena Davis' manic pixie character in Accidental Tourist, and this movie presents a much sharper edge to that narcissism, or maybe an active narcissism vs a passive one, the sharp part of the knife vs the flat part. That said, the movie is bonkers and I really enjoyed it. Ken Russell directs. Loosely based on the life of psychonaut John Lilly, who told OMNI Magazine that this movie "did a good job". The main character wakes up nude in a zoo, that's a great bit. American Werewolf In London, Cat People, are there other movies that do this? ISO zoo nudes
  • 11:10pm The Fly (1986) - Great movie with lots of extremely gross parts, including a sequence where the titular fly pukes acid on a yuppie scumbag's clenched fist, dissoving it into wax. Geena Davis co-stars, with cameo by Cronenberg as the doctor in a dream sequence. Extremely good (if you like body horror) and like all good movies (Sakiko's theory) it has a feeling of lightness throughout.
  • 12:55am Midnight Special (2016) - messianic kid / family on the run storyline that goes totally nowhere. The big reveal is that there's a race of angel beings living in a reality layer superimposed on Earth, and that they did what we could not-- realize utopic 1960s architecture where walkways and greenspace connect multipurpose buildings that respond intelligently to weather conditions. Nothing else about these angels is revealed or inferred and no one in the movie has any sort of character whatsoever.
  • 3:00am Seconds (1966) - OK, I fell asleep a little bit for this one but it's about being a fucking baby and instead of trying to change your life in a way in keeping with your interests and desires you pay a God-like service to fake your death, surgically transform you into Rock Hudson, and set you up with a new life as a swinging bachelor, a life which sucks because you've been given a fish, rather than taught to fish. I should hope that anyone watching this would come away with the twin revelations of don't fake your death and don't be a baby. The camera swings around all the time and zooms in a little too much, sort of a drunken master feeling. I liked it.
  • As I'm watching these movies, I'm separating them into "Jeanne likes this" and "Jeanne hates this", based on this absurd preference that Jeanne has for opening movie credits that stand alone as a sort of overture before any action takes place. Any movie where the credits roll over dialogue, Jeanne hates that. Seconds had a cool credit sequence by legendary graphic designer and credits artiste Saul Bass, we all liked it. As with last year's Thon, Jeanne was over-scheduled and had to leave the theatre for 2 or 3 movies for a wrestling promotion she was booked for. I assume she won but didn't ask.
  • 5:00am Die Monster Die! (1965) - Boris Karloff adaptation of Lovecraft's "Colour Out Of Space" that I dipped in and out of consciousness for.
  • 6:30am Tarantula (1955) - John Agar movie which I wilfully slept through because something had to give. Namechecked in the Rocky Horror theme song, so I feel like I have to see it at some point.
  • 8:00am Fast Color (2018) - in a movie where someone has a special power, there's an unexamined moment where you have to decide "how serious is this in this world". Like how in Superman world he can fly but life goes on, but in our world we go bananas when someone can improve a record by like .00000001%. Anyway this movie was great because the main characters have what they describe as "a parlour trick" that later they realize is actually mega huge. Like a lot of independent sci fi movies, this takes place largely on a bleak road or midwestern ranch-style home, somewhere you can film for free without seeing other signs or structures that would mess up your shot. I thought it was good.
  • 10:15am Soylent Green (1973) - Charleton Heston sci fi movie, which, like Planet of the Apes (1968) hangs a satisfying weight on a Twilight Zone style late reveal, and which unfortunately is yelled by Charleton Heston in a way that's fun to imitate, preventing anyone from ever seeing this movie without knowing the end. That said, I had never seen this before, there were some cool parts, some parts that were a huge bummer. I'm sure not everyone had this takeaway but it was one of those dystopian movies that made me really want to go out and enjoy the natural world and also treat people with respect and dignity. I left the theatre recommitted to investing in a future that doesn't grind people up and coerce others to literally ingest them. This movie is set in 2022, and this makes me feel crazy to admit but the thing about the storyline that came true the least is that the US adopted the metric system.
  • The big theme this year was what I would call "the interior Other"- Fiend Without A Face, Jeckyll & Hyde, Altered States, the Fly, and Seconds all presented movies where an identity layer gets peeled back to ostensibly reveal a more primeval self, which is still just baggage. My favorite moment in all of these was at the end of Altered States when William Hurt was talking to his long-suffering wife in minor apologia and said that he had been seeking an ultimate truth but now he feels like there is no ultimate truth, and a woman in the back of the crowd shouted in true frustration "YEAH, NO SHIT".
  • Other echoes in the sequence:
    • two movies produced by Mel Brooks (the Fly and Spaceballs)
    • two John Agar movies (Miracle Mile and Tarantula)
    • two Massive tarantula sequences (Tarantula and Dr Jeckyll & Mr Hyde)
    • two Dick Van Patten movies (Spaceballs and Soylent Green)
    • two Barrymores (John in Jeckyll & Hyde, and Drew, who made her debut in Altered States)
  • Spending a long time just watching things and not interacting with things really messes with your mind, and by a few movies in people are talking back to the movie a lot more. Mystery Science Theatre and the aforementioned Rocky Horror Picture Show normalized this sort of behavior for science fiction movies, and sometimes, when you have a good crew, it's good. This year there were a lot of people just saying what's on their mind in the most basic cliche way. I think usually that's the sort of thing that drives me nuts, this time I just got to thinking that you really do need to resist psychic death. I'd rather have someone treat a text critically than just marinate in it.
  • The Thon has been going for 45 years now and some in-jokes pervade. There are some that I don't know the origins of, like when someone's name is "Mark" and everyone goes "Mark???? Mark????" like they're looking for their friend Mark somewhere in the theatre. Some I do know, like yelling "Close the door!" which was a recurring line in "First Men In The Moon" (1964), which showed at the Thon back in 2014. I would call "Mark" a benevolent riff because it's both cute and rare, and "door" a malevolent riff because it's common and you say it in an angry way and also it makes you realize how no one in a movie ever closes a damn door, they just leave it open after they waltz right in, it's infuriating. Maybe another way to define benevolent vs malevolent riffs is that a benevolent riff activates a situation, whereas a malevolent riff reminds you that you had fun once, overwriting the present with the past. Other benevolent riffs include clapping along to each punch in a fight (for slugfests only), clapping exactly once for each name visible on screen during the credits, counting down with any countdown, and hissing at creeps.

Mnemonics / Dr Mario

If you asked me what I've been up to lately, I'd tell you straight up the honest answer: I've been cleaning my room. It feels like this is all I do lately but it's ok because I love my room, even though it drives me crazy. I have a lot of projects part-assembled, pieces of nascent projects, toys, jums, scraps of paper. Sometimes it's too much, I feel like I can't get started, and I go and play Dr Mario on the couch. Sometimes I just jump into my room and roll around in great ideas like Scrooge McDuck. It's great.

The mechanic of Dr Mario is that you have a huge mess and there's more garbage slowly raining down on you, and you stack the new garbage on the old mess and when four or more similarly-colored garbage/mess items are colinear in a resting state, the timeline freezes for a split second, and the items disappear, or become transmuted into points. When the game is going fast this brief hiccup is very valuable in giving you time to collect your thoughts-- regularly accomplishing small tasks is a good way to avoid burnout. When the original mess is clear, regardless of how much new garbage is onscreen, the level ends, and an evil virus appears onscreen to say congratulations.

It's fun, and I can feel myself getting better at it, which is gratifying. The main way to get better is to remain calm during panicky moments, which is a magnificent skill to cultivate. Also it presents a workable dynamic for cleaning a room, or at least a framework for dopamine release-- I get a drip when I group like items.

A big part of my mess is "materials with potential" (bricolage problems), and I find that Dr Mario provides an interesting classification system for "what is my relationship to this possible piece of a possible project"-- is this the original mess I was trying to clear, or is this just some garbage that fell on me? This doesn't substantially change the workflow-- fallen garbage that rests on original mess still needs to be cleared to get to the important stuff, and it's to your advantage to clear often, if only to put your mind at ease. But it's nice to think that only the good stuff really matters, and if you get to the last of the good stuff and there's still shit everywhere, you don't have to worry about it. You're absolved from care.


In the interest of grouping like objects and clearing them, here's a cull from the archives. It's a pattern I have enough of that it seems like a collection, I'm posting it here and now I've done something with it! The connection to Dr Mario is... uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh............ creating useful structures even if they are stupid or temporary. ๐Ÿ™‚

Mnemonic Devices

Periodically over the past couple years on Twitter I put out a call for mnemonic devices. If you had trouble remembering something, I would come up with a way to tie it together in memory. Most of these were made on the fly and by request, I can only hope they helped the person who asked. Some of these I made up for me (which one is Bill Paxton, which one is Bill Pullman). It's fun making these! If you need a mnemonic device for something you're having a hard time remembering, please leave a comment in the guestbook. I would love to keep adding to this list.

  • trick to remembering 6 x 9 = 54 : 6 9 (sexual act) at Studio 54 (disco club)
  • difference between discreet and discrete : when you're being discreet you're sort of being a creep
  • difference between vein and vain (for Caity) : if you're vAIN youre Always looking IN a mirror
  • palate / pallet / pallette (for Robert Beatty) : you look at a PALATE to see what you ATE, you put ALL the boxes on a PALLET, a PALETTE is a painter's little pal (PAL-ETTE)
  • miles to kilometers (for Lizzy) : point six two miles is one kilometer / stick to miles on a US speedometer
  • which one is Don Henly and which one is Don McLean : American pie & McLean both available in McDonalds / hen and eagle are both birds
  • meaning, spelling, and "a reminder that it exists" for the word "poignant" (for Dan S) : "poignant" is the sadness I feel when I behold a po' ignant fool (in the mirror)
  • president order-- its Garfield-Arthur but then is it Cleveland-Harrison -Cleveland--before McKinley? (for 322chris64) : it's a Harrison sandwich on Cleveland bread, shot of McKinley on the side
  • daylight savings, (for Jeff S, who rejects "spring forward fall back" as you could easily spring back or fall forward) : March forgets what November remembers
  • trick to remembering 7 x 8 = 56 : 56 = 7 x 8 (5 6 7 8)
  • effect vs affect (for Lance) : an affect produces an effect-- Ben Affleck produced the hit movie FX
  • movie music-- which is diagetic, which is nondiagetic (for James KF) : a movie is like a diary. music described in the diary is diagetic. music playing while you read is just music.
  • concave vs. convex (for Steven) : a concave surface makes a little cave you can hang out in
  • ontology vs epistemology (for Ian) : ontology is about being, like being ON this planet / epistemology is about knowledge: "is this pistol loaded" being a good example. This is probably too big a topic for a mnemonic device but I tried!
  • (original) definition of "nonplussed" : we were nonplussed by nonpareils- if nonpareils have sprinkles, what do pareils have? Please note that at this point in time the meaning of "nonplussed" has expanded. In addition to the original meaning of "bewildered", it now also means what everyone thinks it means-- "unimpressed". If you're reading it in a book it's probably "bewildered". if you hear someone say it, it's probably "unimpressed".
  • meaning of "gingerly", for Harold, who kept confusing it with its antonym : try saying "a pinch of ginger" instead of "a pinch of salt" to mean "information to be used with caution". Ginger aids digestion so it's a little better for the metaphor anyway.
  • which one is Bill Paxton, which one is Bill Pullman : Bill Pullman's just pulling your leg (Spaceballs). Bill Paxton packs a punch (Aliens)

links

  • Play Dr Mario online: [link]
  • This "list of mind tricks" is very much in debt to Ulillillia, who maintained a legendary website of dreams, fears, video games, and mind tricks, for many years. And most surprisingly, he made progress on all these things! Archived version of Ulillillia city here: [link]. Video about him here: [link].
  • Always Be Knolling - a video from Tom Sachs and Van Neistat about grouping like objects in studio: [link]. This is an excerpt from a longer video, the whole thing is good and worth looking for.

Put Me In A Movie

If you ever watch movies with the subtitles on, try this trick- do a search and replace in the movie's subtitles file (.srt) for a main characters name, switching their name with the name of whoever you're watching the movie with. The subtitle file's just a regular text file, you can do whatever you want with it.

sed 's/Brian/Sakiko/g' -i *.srt;
sed 's/BRIAN/SAKIKO/g' -i *.srt

The Fast and the Furious (2001)

Adapt this script for any character / any person in the room. If you're not comfortable using command line tools, just open up the srt file in a text editor and do a regular old search and replace. Try not to let them catch you doing this.

Jason and the Argonauts (1963)

If you're watching a movie in a foreign language this works great/flawless, Because what you're hearing and what you're reading is untethered. If you're watching it in English with English subtitles it works out kind of eerie-- it doesn't fool the mind into false hearing, but your brain sort of leans into it. I mean even though you're hearing and reading different things, your brain really wants them to match, and I think the writing has a slight advantage. I would defer to a scientist in a relevant field here, but I think that your brain really does take the written word with more authority than the spoken word. But then again, I would imagine that your brain has a hardwired predilection to recognize its own name, or the names of other loved ones in the room, so it'll probably fudge things in that direction when possible. Anyway these aren't laboratory findings, I'm just having fun.

Return of the Jedi (1983)
Lost Boys (1987)

I have a lot of opportunity to do this because my main movie-watching partner has a slightly easier time catching everything in an English movie with the subtitles on, so that's what we do. But I do this pretty much any time I watch a movie now. One time I was feeling sad and did the switch with Kiki's delivery service, it really boosted my spirits.

Kiki's Delivery Service (1989)
Kiki's Delivery Service (1989)

Like I said, it's best if you do it sneaky so no one knows what's going on until they find themselves in the movie. But if the riff is established already then it's ok to call out before the movie starts which character you want to be. Also you can be like "make Kelley be Kevin's shitty brother". But I think you shouldn't be allowed to both nominate yourself to be a cool guy and someone else be a shitty guy, you should only be allowed one call. Also whoever's at the computer, they can just invert your call like "what'd you say Frank? You want to be Kevin's shitty brother? OK". That's valid.

Home Alone (1990)
Jurassic Park (1993)

If you're watching with a bunch of people it's good to try and get everyone in the room into the movie somehow. My feeling is that it's OK to cast someone that isn't in the room, but not as a villain-- only as the main character.

Home Alone (1990)

If you end up doing this trick a lot, I think it's important that you not just make yourself the hero all the time. It's a valuable experience to emphasize with the villain of the story, and that experience is not lessened if you use software tools to help you get there. Besides, playing the villain is more fun.

Ghostbusters II (1984)
Ghostbusters II (1984)
Ghostbusters II (1984)

Bear in mind you can change more than just the names. When we watched Jurassic Park last year I switched out "dinosaur" with "fuckin dinosaur" to give it a little more oomph. I imagine you can overdo this pretty easily, but with judicious use it's like any other spice-- it adds flavors and also reveals flavors that are present already. Also, like spices, it increases your engagement with the artwork via a customizable layer.

Jurassic Park (1993)

Oh yeah, and this is like a "party movie" trick, for loudish funnish movies and/or groups of people for whom the movie is a rewatch. Cinema heads are advised to watch a movie as it is intended. 2019's greatest rewatch was North Shore (1987), which I watched probably 5 times this year. Thank you Darnell for recommending this delightful movie that has nothing wrong with it.

North Shore (1987)
North Shore (1987)

Technical Specs

Please note this will not work with streaming services. I still just download stuff, because I'm extremely cheap and also because I'm a very moral person and I just don't think that downloading movies is morally wrong. Why do you guys do all the streaming stuff? I don't see the benefit. If the download doesn't have subtitles I get them from a subtitle website. Some video formats (.mkv) can have a subtitle file rolled into the video in a way that makes it hard to access, in which case I download another subtitle and load that one instead. The whole setup works great, totally no problem.

I keep the movies I might want to rewatch on a 1tb drive (~$40 new, I got it free when a friend upgraded). This replaced the milkcrate of DVDs I used to have, which replaced the 2 milkcrates of VHSes I used to have.


Other Movie Tips

  • We got a digital projector to watch movies on and it's great, we just project the movie on the wall. With the projector you never walk in the room and see the TV just sitting there, which means you end up thinking less often that dangerzone thought: "I can just watch a little TV". Also the digital projector makes the unseemly act of watching movies during the day basically impossible.
  • snacks
    • Put your snacks in a bowl, you'll enjoy them more. Also if it's a quiet movie, a bowl is less noisy than a bag.
    • If there's a lot of people then everyone gets a bowl. Less commotion that way.
    • Go ahead and mix all the snacks together.
    • I know this is corny but if you're drinking beer watching the movie and the guy in the movie drinks a beer, you gotta "drink with the guy".
  • I reached out to Tom of "Bubul and Harms at the movies" for movie-watching tips: "I have so much to say abt this but my main, fairly widely applicable, apolitical, non-power user thing wd be, "watch a movie while taking a bath" = I do this all the time & it rules"

Gig Report: Strawberry Band

Damn, my new band had a show the other night and it was extremely fun! No idea who's reading this and what are your powers to engage in this quest but if you have the opportunity to play music with other people I strongly recommend it. Music is great, even when it's difficult, requires work, or requires a level of emotional openness that you might consider embarrassing. Somehow playing music helps you, and when other people hear it, that helps them too, and you see it helping them, and that helps you in a different way, it's really something else. You can't eat it, and it won't keep the rain off your head, but music helps you out, somehow. Music is this planet's greatest export, and in fact, Earth is the only planet we know of with music on it! I think that's something we can all be proud of. Anyway, the gig was great.

Everyone's experience is going to be different and your mileage may vary, but for me, the apex venue for loud energetic music is the basement or small bar. As both a performer and a concertgoer, I find that both of these spaces are more fun than a larger club. There's an intimacy that grants a performer a greater ability to affect the crowd-- if you're dancing they'll be way more likely to dance. And if people dance, or move in any way at all, the music will affect them more. Also the sound is oftentimes better, by virtue of being a smaller, less-echoey space. And a small crowd fills the room, which is ideal, and in my experience is not only valuable for the psychological feeling of being at a packed show, but because it again leads to a greater likelihood for ecstatic dancing. It's easier to disappear yourself in a fairly thick crowd than one that's more spaced-out, and disappearing into sound is a key aspect of ecstatic dance. Sometimes the band's gotta go in for a bigger location or a different set up, and different genres have different requirements, I hope that's obvious. I felt that this particular gig was perfectly tuned to weird bar.

The night was lovely, it was Lunar New Year, ushering in the Year Of The Rat. A great night for a punk show! The crowd was great, and all the bands were dynamite. The show started very close to on time and it seemed like a fair amount of people got there early just to hang out! I guess you can do that at a bar. If you get to a basement show too early it can be awkward, but if you go to a show at a bar early then you're justโ€ฆ hanging out at a bar with the bands.

Of course I always get the jitters before a show, we all do. This time around Dan Wars brought a bag of balloons and we sat around blowing them up and filling the room with them. It was nice to have a physical task to do, and when the first people showed up we roped them in to help us out. I liked having the balloons on the floor, it made the floor seem a little drunk. Also I feel like decorating a little bit demonstrates a good intent. It shows care and creates a feeling of specialness. Next time if we do "balloon joke" as our party task (big if) I'm going to not blow them up so much, so maybe they'll pop less often. As it was they were popping at intervals just far enough apart that you'd scream, then forget about it, then get fully shocked anew at the next one. The popping was an unfortunate consequence. I'm not trying to PTSD anyone out there, just trying to "make the floor seem drunk". Sorry for all the popping.

Once the show started it flew by. Alpha Error, RONG, Funeral Cone, all great. Alpha Error has matching outfits, a color scheme, a banner, AND their own lighting ANNND they were good!!! Ay yi yi. RONG played a locked-in herky jerky noise rock, but with Thin Lizzy twin guitars, that's incredible. Funeral Cone was good as always, they're dripping out the new ones, and I'm happy that DW's pivoting from talking between songs about how much he hates the Beatles to how much he loves the Bay City Rollers. I don't mega agree with either statement but in both cases I can see where he's coming from. I felt like our set went great, a mix of Jacob The Terrible songs and some newish ones, plus a cover of a Cool Breeze song and cover of "Linda Linda" by the Blue Hearts. I'm happy to report that "Linda Linda" went over just like in the movie, and also that there were 2 people in the room that could understand the Japanese lyrics and they went absolutely bananas.

I saw a few pics of the set but mostly they're a wash, because the person taking the pic was pogoing too hard (top pic), or they were trying to take a video but couldn't stop themselves from singing along. Honestly that's pretty ideal! Any picture of me that's in focus is an insult to my vibrancy!


It's been a while since the last band name I was 100% enthusiastic about and wanted to write on things, maybe the last one was "Puzzled Panther" (c 2004). This band is called "Strawberry Band", absolutely delightful. Naming a band can be extremely arduous, and to be honest this task has either set back or completely derailed more than one music project I've been involved in. For years I was a solo musician, and choosing a name as a solo act is very difficult, there's no one to bounce ideas off of. For solo stuff I flitted around between a few names, never lasting long, or just used my regular human name, a default solution that I found inelegant, bordering on vulgar. It was a blessing to float out the name "Strawberry Band" on the group chat and get a resounding "sounds good". It's me, MZ, Uncontrollable Frank, and Cory.

The difficulty in a name is that you want it to sound cool but also be odd enough to result in productive shadowplay over a long period of time. I've already got a lot of great strawberry riffs on deck, and I'm sure there's more to find (the name "strawberry" comes from "strewn berry" for the way the berries are scattered at the base of the plant). And even if you don't go in for poetics, you have to admit that strawberries (I don't anticipate any conflict here) are delicious! There's one other band currently in operation called Strawberry Band, that's a modern band problem-- the shared name. But they're an all-women Beatles cover band out of Mexico, so I don't think we're going to have people showing up at out gig expecting them, or vice versa, and I don't think they plan on making recordings.

Incidentally if you're in a band with no name, and in any shade of agony about it, let me know what kind of music it is and I'll send you a short list of names. Real offer! Also if you have a DIY venue that's just named [name of street] or [number of house] just reach out, but please also include an intent number from 0 (goofass shitball) to 6 (artworld passing). Bands I've named in the past (not including bands I've been in) include Funeral Cone, Bloody Swimsuit, Feedbacula, and Garbage Strike. I feel like there were more but I can't remember?? Are you out there? I've also had the good fortune to name a boat for someone: "the Elizabeth Bishop". That boat sailed around the world! Or it sailed some of it anyway, if I remember correctly.


Links

  • "Linda Linda" from the movie "Linda Linda Linda": [link]
  • I told a lot of people at the show to look this up, so I'll just post the link, it's a youtube search for "Blue Hearts with subtitles". Great band!!!! All these songs rip. [link]
  • "Rollers Gig"- great song about the Bay City Rollers, written and recorded pseudonymously by Nick Lowe to try to get out of a contract. But he fucked up and wrote too good a song: [link]. This is on my songs about other bands playlist. The Rollers are such a crazy band, they look so stupid now and no one listens to them but they probably seemed like the number one band on the planet for a period of time! The were the first band to be "the biggest band since the Beatles" and probably all the execs thought "this is how we're gonna do it from now on- one big band at a time". Luckily it didn't work. That said, the song "Saturday Night", that's a good song.

Piss 2020

Are you guys drinking enough water? I always try to make that my resolution but I can never get it to take. This year instead of aiming at the problem I'm aiming through it, and instead of writing "drink enough water you idiot" on an index card and taping that to my computer monitor, I just decided that it's "Piss 2020". It's really working out great so far. I'm drinking enough water, I'm in much less daily fog, and tasks are a little bit more achievable. I always suspected this would happen, this feeling, but still nothing happened at all, no change, until I decided: "Piss 2020".

I don't even know what it means concretely, it just sounds good. And now multiple times a day I think to myself "it's Piss 2020" and then I go to the sink and chug a pint of water. That's good marketing! Don't tell me this is actually unhealthful, anyone. That's unrelated to my goal. Which as I said I don't know what that is. Except that it's "Piss 2020".

Integrating a new good habit can be tough, honestly, and probably around now if not already, a lot of you are giving up on resolutions. I hear ya. I'm much better at Lent, which is finite. When Lent ends and you give in, and go back to eating BBQ potato chips or whatever, that's a triumph, not a failure. And also Lent doesn't have a personal betterment requiry-- you can give up something that's bad for you or something good for you, either way, as long as it's something you at least kind of like. Even though Lent is a religious thing, there's no moral direction, it's just like, a physical challenge. A secular abstention moment. New Year's resolutions are more like This Is How It's Gonna Be From Now On Me Good Forever. It's too heavy! I'm great at a weird rule but only if it's just for now-- for long term change I think I'm better suited to a conditional statement or cryptic visioneering. I need wiggle room.

One year a while back for her yearly motivational slogan one of my roommates chose "No Drama" and for unrelated reasons I chose "Embrace The Chaos". For a little while we were in a tug-of-war with our third roommate, each of us yelling our platitudes at her and stomping our feet, trying to get her to see our particular light. Of course she didn't choose either, but absolutely twizzled our rigid little minds by choosing for herself the motto: "Ride The Wave". I was dumbfounded! She really took a thesis and and antithesis and produced a synthesis! A textbook example!

I hope "Piss 2020" can be like that, a new vantage point. I was talking a lot last year about moving the model of personal artistic production away from catharsis and towards peristalsis. Does that make sense? I feel like cultural critics prioritize catharsis and massive works as the gold standard in art, even in DIY scenes, but it's not healthy. Every now and then a massive work strains the facility, an opera or something, that's to be expected, and yeah when you've got something big in there, you gotta blast it out somehow. But you can't optimize for clogging up like that, it's disgusting. You gotta keep things in motion, that's peristalsis. But then at the same time it's not nice to walk around wholly unrestricted, ruining couches and family gatherings. And besides, you need to build up a little pressure if you want to get any distance, that's simple physics. What I'm saying is that you need a middle way. Piss 2020.

Tetradyne Cola from Powr Mastrs #3 by CF

A good example of piss energy is Mozart, who didn't just write operas, symphonies, and sonatas, but also numerous dances, divertimentos, and other forms of light entertainment, plus quartets, quintets, pieces for solo piano, other forms of chamber music, masses, and other religious music. Also he didn't have Tourettes as previously postulated (I just looked this up), he just loved to swear! God bless!!!! I know I've said this before but remember in the movie "Amadeus" where F Murray Abraham calls Moz "The Creature"? That entire movie was made up, it's a movie. But it rules. "The Creature"... so sick. If I found out someone was calling me "the Creature" behind my back, God, that'd be honey in my cup.


news / events

All upcoming events are now going to be listed here: [upcoming events]. For now all I got is this one:

  • This Saturday (January 25th) is the first show of "Strawberry Band", which is me, Cory, MZ, and Uncontrollable Frank from Funeral Cone. We'll be playing with Funeral Cone, RONG, and Alpha Error (featuring Gus). Benefit for Students For A Free Tibet. Thank you Lois for making this cool merch, which will be available at the gig:

links / addendum

  • I know for a fact that I've been talking a lot about peristalsis this year because I recently collated my "topics discussed" notes from the first year of my artists residency program, "CTRI Innovations". There's more about the residency here: [link], the full notes are here: [link], and the collated "topics only" list is here: [link]. topics are shown in alphabetical order, duplicates intact. Applications for this residency are still open.


  • Some of my previous Lenten give-ups include: Processed Sugar, Dressing Like A Slob, The Snooze Button, Movies Made After 1965, Hyperbole, and Apologizing. Special thank you to my friends that waited out No Apologizing, which was... not without conflict.
  • In "Blessed Are The Sick", the second record from Floridian metallers Morbid Angel, guitarist / main guy Trey Azagthoth dedicates all past present and future music to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. I love that. Morbid Angel songs don't have solos per se, they have "lava"?? They call the solos "lava" in the band's operating system. Or maybe solos and lava are different things? Either way, "lava", that's incredible piss energy. Here's a YouTube link to the isolated lava from their 6th record "Formulas Fatal To The Flesh": [link]. Also: all Morbid Angel records are in alphabetical order????

    1989 Altars of Madness
    1991 Blessed Are the Sick
    1993 Covenant
    1995 Domination
    1996 Entangled in Chaos
    1998 Formulas Fatal to the Flesh
    2000 Gateways to Annihilation
    2003 Heretic
    2011 Illud Divinum Insanus
    2015 Juvenilia
    2017 Kingdoms Disdained

  • The Mozart I listen to the most is the P Conc 23, here's a dynamite version from Wilhelm Kempff: [link].

Wind / Jazz / Outer Space

painting: "the Oracle" by Tom Bubul

Heyyyyyyyyyyyyy guys hows it going how's everyone doing what's it like out there how are you. Juuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuust checking in with this, the first post (bad luck to point out that it's the first post) on the new version of the legacy website. I'm trying for a weekly blast on this, every Tuesday from now till ?, and just want to let you guys know, right here, in the first one, that the first one is going to be bad, but they will get somewhat better over time, that's my experience. Some of the ones in the future will also be bad tho, that's allowed.

This used to be the main creation space, this website, where I wrote nearly every day for long long stretches of time, with intervals of disuse, from the year 2000 to the year 2010. I hesitate to say that this is where I learned to write, because who learns to write? But this is where I started to really enjoy writing. And it was a forum that I used to talk about, wow, just about every aspect of my life! This new round of website writing is not going to be like that, just going to say that right off the bat in this, the first post. This first post is about announcing that the new way is less about being a diary and more about being a broadcast, or like a letter that you get and then throw away, or a magazine clipping you find somewhere. The initial plan for this was "email newsletter", which is something I'm still working out the details for, but anyway, that's the vibe.

In keeping with the tradition established by the first iteration of the website, I will continue to use this space to "try and wrap my head around it". Possibilities for post formats include but are not limited to essays, questions, reviews, a collection of screengrabs, reader mail, interviews, guest posts, or "just saying hey". These are all viable categories for "what is a post". Some of these posts might involve trying to make sense of past projects, or archiving past works in some format. It would be great if I could use this space to chip away at larger writing projects, maybe to collate them later in some format, but who knows.

Announcements of upcoming events, that's going to be a utility of this website.

Having a dollhouse that I tweak out endlessly with funny little rooms and lights that work and secret passages, I can't help but picture that as a huge part of my experience with this website.

The original span of writing on this website is offline, and I have collected it safely, and sometimes in the evening I look at it or grep through it, for personal satisfaction reasons. What a relief to have that stuff no longer online! I'm not really a "burn the manuscript" kind of person, but I can definitely understand the desire. Maybe I'll call some of that stuff back up at some point though? It's fun to look at. I told Dan Wars that I'd make him a 10 volume set of books, 2000-2010, of the original run, but then I started to do just that, and I realized something interesting: I do not want to do that. That said, if you have a request for a topic to be searched in that body of material I will entertain the request, which is to say I'll consider it. ๐Ÿ™‚

I set up a guestbook, please check in and say hi! [link]

OK it's tough to get loose on this, the first one of the new way on the legacy website, and I'm trying hard not to introspect too hard, as I've found that to be a particularly swampy procrastination vector. Soooooo I'm just going to list some upcoming events and news items and click post, and drink some more coffee, and do other things. I'll be wigglier on the next wave. See you then, or if you're not reading this immediately, but much later, then just: Hi!


news / events

  • Back issues of Mothers News are now available via 2 different distros- [What Things Do] and [Domino Books]. Austin wrote a great blurb for the Domino listing, describing MN as "utopic" and "approachable", which is a blessing. To be honest, I wrote the blurb for the WTD listing, which is why I'm described as a "colossal dreamweaver". I usually have a hard time writing about myself in a sales way, this time I dove into it and rolled around.

    I did a quick search for "colossal dreamweaver" in advance of the post to see if that was already a coin in some cultural context. Image search was almost entirely close-ups of natural fiber high-pile carpet, with a light dusting of zaftig Hyborian battle angels. In re: the distro catalogs and the image search, it's nice to be in good company.

  • I'm playing a show with a new ensemble on January 25th, a Saturday, at the News Cafe in Pawtucket. The band is called "Strawberry Band" and we're playing in support of Alpha Error, RONG, and Funeral Cone. Gonna have a couple newish songs, or songs that are new to a rock band context. The show is $5, doors at 7 music at 8. If you want to get hyped for the gig I recommend watching the movie Linda Linda Linda. If you want to get hyped to watch this very enjoyable movie you can read all about it on [Flan's blog]. I think we're playing last. All the bands are good.
  • My artists residency program CTRI Innovations is still taking applicants, if you want to drink a cup of coffee with me and have a rambling talk that eventually gets to "so, what are you working on?", you can apply online [here].

Links