Norman Mailer, R.I.P.

From Of a Fire on the Moon, 1970:

All the while we had been composing our songs to the moon and driving the Indian on to the reservation, had we also been getting ready to go to the moon out of some deep recognition that we had already killed the nerve which gave life to the earth? Yet the moon by every appearance knew more about disease and the emanations of disease than the oldest leper on earth. "Of what can you dream?" said the moon. "I am battered beyond belief and you think to violate me now?"

Carl D'Alvia

Carl D

An editioned resin sculpture. Look closely and you see two monkeys embracing; fur covers their bodies and joins them together and merges with the base, like some horrible Telepod accident from The Fly. But sensuous too--D'Alvia's careful carving of the strands of fur in the original wax (or clay?) model makes the work ecstatic rather than merely grotesque.

Matt Smear

Matt Smear noted the latest bloglines* (mis)interpretation of a GIF post of mine, and was kind enough to email this image--it's two alternating screenshots showing the post "as it was intended" on Firefox and the "Xtreme stretched" version generated by bloglines. It's so thoughtful of the bloglines designers to help lowly bloggers by regularizing the spacing of GIFs. We just don't know what we're doing and are dying for a CSS whiz to show us the beauty of a well-designed post. That said, I kind of like the vibrating picket fence. But I like Smear's GIF best of all.

Be sure to check out Smear's blog. He is obsessed with Michael McDonald and Russ Tamblyn (in a good way) and takes their multicolored, low-res visages through hundreds of pixelated, psychedelic iterations. Really trippy, ambitious use of animated GIFS, spatially exciting because they take up a large part of the browser window and really work that real estate. Like painting, but on your computer instead of a canvas with a guard watching you stare at it. Here's a comparatively muted image that I like a lot (about 1.33 MB).

*RSS newsreader that reformats blog posts and allows subscribers to follow a lot of different people's content without clicking through to the original blogs. One reason I switched to a generic design is what's the point of having a "unique" page if newsreaders convert every blog to the same format?

Letter to a Fellow Prog Head

Hi, H____,
I saw Oblivion Sun this week at the Knitting Factory here in NY.
They were great, and I like their CD too (subject to the usual complaints about lyrics and their occasionally sounding too much like Genesis).
Very small crowd, but thunderous applause and yelling after every song. These were NY's hardcore Happy* heads. Mostly men, mostly ancient, sigh.
Besides the new material, the band did a lovely "Leave That..." and for an encore, an improvised jam that led into "I Carved..."
I talked to Stanley before the show. He remembered me, and I told him I had seen you this summer.
I didn't stick around to [say hi to] Frank (I doubt he'd remember me), but I gotta say his songwriting is as amazing as ever. His three tunes on the new CD are standouts. Always surprising chord shifts and a kind of darkness or poignancy or profundity not all of the Happy/O.S. writers have. (Check out "Fanfare" on the MySpace page.)
...I really do idolize his musical abilities and will probably have to send him a fan letter.
I'm tempted to describe him as "an American composer" [which is how he's described on his wikipedia entry], who with time and distance from his genre might be given his due as such. Or is his talent inseparable from the band's/bands'? The solo things he posted to his site didn't interest me much but "Death's Crown" is all credited to him and "Ibby It Is" still gives me goosebumps.
Hope all is well!
Best, T___
PS I am not an unapologetic or unrepentant Prog Head. These guys have state of the art keyboards with computers but the computer revolution seems not to have affected them at all. Hiphop, electro, sampladelia, drum and bass are not a phase they worked through. And thus their sound is a '70s time capsule and I think it will hamper them with finding a younger audience, except for the few that seek out a highly structured music that also "rocks."
PPS *About that Happy the Man YouTube--it's progressive rock a la Yes at their peak but without the gold capes and gnomes dancing around Stonehenge. Just normally dressed older men being very professional about playing extremely loud music at high speed. I believe this to be good.


Caught about 10 minutes of Garth Marenghi's Darkplace in the wee hours on Cartoon Network. Holy shit, that was funny. All live action--not a cartoon. A very Pythonesque bit where a priest is rattling on at a funeral ("God moves in mysterious ways. Coming in at a steep angle, swerving from side to side, then swooping up unexpectedly from below..."), then the coffin starts shaking, a zombie pops out, and a very poorly filmed shootout ensues as the mobsters around the graveside start firing off shotguns and flame throwers. Most of the humor is in the appalling production values--it's apparently an ongoing spoof of an '80s horror film. Only about six episodes of this British TV series exist, it's amazing it's airing at all. I want to see more.