Category Archives: Blog

anathema-weather-systems

Friday Music Find: “Untouchable” by Anathema

Give me 12 minutes, and I’ll give you what might be your next favorite band: This is the remarkable Liverpool band Anathema.

The band is led by two brothers, Vincent and Daniel Cavanagh. Anathema was a critically acclaimed heavy metal band throughout the 90s, but at some point the brothers were bitten by a bug that veered them in a more orchestral, artsy direction. Continue reading

every-book-except-one

Your favorite childhood book, perhaps?

This lovely little comic made the rounds a few years ago, but I was reminded of it today and felt it was time for another look. If you are a lover of books, or if you are the sentimental type, I think you will fall in love with it. (If you are both of those things, well …)

It was written and illustrated by Darko Macan, a Croatian artist whose work spans multiple forms and genres. His credits run from Star Wars to The Sandman to Mickey Mouse to Captain America to many, many comics in his native language. He’s been nominated twice for an Eisner Award.

This piece stands on its own, and is a beautiful thing.

hitchcock in directors chair

… he was utterly appalled by “the real thing.”

“In 1945, Hitchcock had been enlisted by his friend and patron Sidney Bernstein to help with a documentary on German wartime atrocities, based on the footage of the camps shot by British and Soviet film units. In the event, that documentary was never seen.”

A truncated version of Alfred Hitchcock’s Holocaust documentary was aired on Frontline in 1985 under the name “Memory of the Camps”, but now the restoration work on the film is nearly complete and set to be released later this year.

The film is “much more candid” than other documentaries, and Hitchcock himself was reported to have been so disturbed during production that he stayed away from his studio for a week(Full video of “Memory of the Camps” is inside. Given the subject matter, disturbing content throughout.)

The editors Stewart McAllister (famous for his work with Humphrey Jennings) and Peter Tanner, working under advice from Hitchcock, fashioned an immensely powerful and moving film from the hours and hours of grim material at their disposal. The documentary isn’t all about death. We also see imagery of reconstruction and reconciliation. There is footage of camp inmates having their first showers and cleaning their clothes. The film-makers show the painstaking way that typhus was eradicated from the camps.

Haggith speak of the “brilliance” of the original cameramen at the camps, who were working without direction but still had an uncanny knack for homing in on the most poignant and telling images.

“It’s both an alienating film in terms of its subject matter but also one that has a deep humanity and empathy about it,” Haggith suggests. “Rather than coming away feeling totally depressed and beaten, there are elements of hope.”

Photo by Stan Osborne.
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camel nude

In reply to your request, please find that I hereby protest

Nude is a concept album released by English progressive rock band Camel (wiki) in 1981. It was their eighth studio album. The album (lyrics) is based on a true story of a Japanese soldier (Hiroo Onoda) marooned on an island in World War II who doesn’t know that the war is over. ‘Nude’ derives from his family name ‘Onoda.’”

My personal favorite bit from the album is the gorgeous song “Drafted,” which starts at around 5:07 in the video below.

Hiroo Onoda died last month in Tokyo at the age of 91.

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That Old Familiar Pain

On a December evening six years ago, there was a knock on my front door. It was a sweet lady named Lyn, who lived down the street and was mother to one of the boys my kids played with. She is a fellow music lover, and was a fan of the radio station that at the time I was the morning host for. There were tears in her eyes.

“Dan Fogelberg died,” she said, “and I need to talk to somebody.” Continue reading

Breaking Bad as inkblot test: Some post-mortem thoughts

The final episode of Breaking Bad aired this past Sunday night, and I haven’t been able to get it off my mind ever since. I think we were all (those of us who watched it, at least) witness at the creation of one of the great works of modern art, and I’m still processing the intricacies of it.

I’ve also been reading a lot of theories about it online, particularly at my favorite online hangout, the erudite community blog Metafilter, and I’m struck by the breadth of ideas and messages people have been able to glean from this show. And it occurs to me that Breaking Bad is nothing less than a Rorschach inkblot test, and like the Bible or the Constitution or any other creative work this multifaceted, you can approach it with virtually any narrative of your own and find that narrative within.

This should go without saying, but here I go saying it: Spoilers within. Continue reading