четвер, 24 травня 2018 р.

MFT: Shatoetry - William Shatner Sound Bite Collage Magnet Poetry Generator


Shatoetry is an application developed by Blindlight Apps and featuring William Shatner (the man, the myth, the legend). It is poetry writing application that gives you an opportunity to compose a short poem from a selection of words. All you need to do is to select the words and put them into a sequence. The selection of words is limited so you need to make a significant effort in order to make the text click in any comprehensive way. Basically, it is digital approximation of magnet words concept. After the text is finished you can listen to a result. That is where William Shatner kicks in. 

The catch is that the selection of words was recorded by William Shatner. As you know, he is known for his very particular manner of line delivery - highly melodramatic, borderline overacting, (simply irresistible). It is so over the top and dubiously unnatural - it just can't be taken seriously. Combining his signature style with sound bites and text collage seems to be a natural fit.

Usually, the resulting text sounds incredibly clumsy but strangely affecting. Sound bites do not fit together perfectly - there are many noticeable seams. This makes the result very disjointed and awkward. There are several intonation available for every word - soft, loud and clear and even louder. None of it really helps, customization is minimal and mostly multiplies awkwardness. But it doesn't matter.In a way, it is this awkwardness is by design but it goes beyond simply

But even like that, it is magnificent extension of Shatner's personal brand. This application is charming in its innocuous nature. While it is designed for more or less traditional poetry - it is doubtful anyone will use it in a straightforward manner. The temptation to abuse app for humorous purpose is too high. And why not? Since Shatner is self-aware about this - he amps it up even further. And that makes a perfect transcendent tool. Because of that it is perfect for Dada-inspired streams of nonsense.

Another curious element are the word packs itself. There are plenty of packages on a variety of topics. While you need to purchase them if you want to use them in app - you can read the lists on on the official site. They can be helpful on their own as there are enough variety to inspire your own collage.

William Shatner is a kind of man who is not afraid of doing anything. For once, he embraced his ironic appeal and ran with it. That is not something you can do with ease. Shatoetry is a fascinating example of how man can commodify his ironic appeal.

середа, 23 травня 2018 р.

Zur-En-Arrh Transmission - РОПАЩАСТЯГАМРИТИНЯННЯ


Here is a little poem from not so distant past. The year is 2014. This poem was written in ukrainian which is a kind of a big deal because i prefer my stuff to be read and that is not the case with my output written in ukrainian. Back to the poem.

The poem combines several words in one really long by uniting first and last phonemes of the words. It creates a weird looping effect which blends the words into a kind of a semantic mist. The resulting megaword means everything its parts mean and also none of it because it is a heinous monstrocity.

Technically, it is a pwoermd. It says РОПАЩАСТЯГАМРИТИНЯННЯ. Don't try to Google this word - lack of results can seriously disappoint you. If you translate it in English it will be something like: Sweat happiness throttling hum digging meandering. That is not exactly poetic but the sheer sound of it in ukrainian makes up for any ugliness and innocuousness. 

понеділок, 21 травня 2018 р.

MFT: VanTassel2 - Schlocky Horror Movies Excerpts Without People


Low budget schlocky horror films of old are fascinating to watch. Not only it is a bizarre showcase of conspicuously poor visual effects, on the nose creative decisions and unintentionally experimental narrative choices - it is also a fine battleground for ironic overthinking. The amount of inconsistencies and oversights is reaching the point thinking about such things are more fruitful and satisfying experience than actually watching it. You just can't help but to try to connect the disjointed dots in a comprehensive way. (although watching them is still fun).

But how about taking things to the next level? I've found one thing that does exactly that.

четвер, 17 травня 2018 р.

MFT: David Lynch - The Angriest Dog in the World Comic Strip


The Angriest Dog in the World — is a comic strip by american film director David Lynch. It is about the dog that is very-very angry because the world around is quite obviously unbearable and is completely unmitigated piece of undeniably stinking feces that is surprisingly undeservedly fecund for one activity — relentless barking at the breaths end. 

As the opening paragraph says: “The dog who is so angry he cannot move. He cannot eat. He cannot sleep. He can just barely growl. Bound so tightly with tension and anger, he approaches the state of rigor mortis.” (Imagine Don LaFontaine saying that.) David Lynch once explained the reasons behind the anger in the interview, he said: “That’s a mystery. Certain clues come from the world around him.”

The strip was conceived in 1973 when Lynch was in the midst of the shooting of Eraserhead film. Which was, for the lack of a better words, “tumultuous and conspicuously frustrating”. As the production of the film was going in a not very smooth direction (let’s say it was a bit rocky) — it started to take a significant toll on Lynch himself who seemed to have reached the tipping point in an attempts to keep things from falling apart. He started to slowly but surely snap — bit by bit he succumbed to a slow motion wreck that his life was turning into. 

Hopefully, around the same time, he discovered the joys of transcendental meditation and started to direct his obtuse frustrations and obvious desperations into a more creative direction. As he himself said: “I don’t know why I chose a dog. It has more to do with people and that the idea that anger is so intense… I was curious about anger. Once you’re angry, you’re really, really angry.” Thus came “The Angriest Dog in the World”.

It stayed a little personal venture for quite a long time before it first appeared in press in 1982 in LA Reader. As Richard Gehr, the editor of LA Reader during that time, recalls: “David Lynch called up the editor James Vowell, and said, ‘Hi, I’d like to do a comic strip for you,’ and James wisely said, ‘OK.’ And David Lynch said, ‘Well, it’s kind of a weird concept. There’s only like one…part.’ And James said, ‘Well, OK, let’s see how it goes.’ “.

And so every week Lynch had called the editorial office and dictated “the script” to the editors. Then the editors would send “it” to the production department who would clean the balloons from the previous installment and write in the new ones.

The strip showed up here and there in various magazines and newspapers (including Dark Horse Comics’ Cheval Noir) over the years up until 1992. After that it continued to appear occasionally on Lynch’s official website before slowly slipping into complete oblivion. Currently it is merely a footnote in the Lynch’s oeuvre but undeservedly so as it is one of his most uncompromising and surprisingly relatable works.
***
Technically, “The Angriest Dog in the World” is a constrained comic — the one that confines itself in set of particular rules in order to get above the profane routine. The strip itself is very simple. It is starkly black and white and contains four panels plus an introduction. The panels remain the same in every strip — it is astoundingly static (except for one time when half of them burned off for some reason). Panels contain a dog who lays in the backyard attached to a chain, growling relentlessly while random and seemingly disconnected phrases come from the window of the bland suburban house. And then it is dark and the dog is still there, straining on a leash, barking on an infinite loop, exhibiting severe hostility towards the world. There is also a factory far away belching the blackest smoke into the sky with no visible effect. And a tree, because there must be a tree in a backyard. Lynch once commented on this: “I just drew the tree and the dog. I got the idea that nothing would change pictorially. I like the idea that nothing would change.”

(In fact — you can see the seeds of Lynch’s later project here — flash series “Dumbland” and you can view his video for Moby’s “Shot in the back of the head” as a spiritual companion).

Curiously, but the titular dog is just there. It is merely a piece of background with nothing else to do but growl. The dog serves as a bait, a memorable hook for the readers attention. The dog looks a like a crocodile of sorts — stretched in a futile attempts to get something. A certain detail that sticks. While all the “action” comes through the window.

While the information given to the reader is scarce and limited — you can actually piece together what is going on. There are no indications who says what but there are some names. The family in the house — Bill, Sylvia, Pete and Billy Jr. are somewhat related to each other, bound together by the confinement of their home. They’re often trying to be nice with each other, showing some wit and then slip into arguing, trying to put out their frustrations and let the steam blow off. In other occasions they’re intensely trying to muse on meaningful topics resulting only in spiteful ripostes and tasteless observations of some sort of enigmatic manner or dumbfounding silence. One of the most horrifying strips contains only one word balloon in the last panel (which is usually left with no balloons) saying “It doesn’t get any better than this”. Considering every element shown to you — it is almost possible to feel the chill going through you.

The nature of questions and responses tells a lot about the atmosphere in the house. Some members of the family are deeply frustrated with their lives. The others keep the faith and look for answers to some fundamental and ultimately meaningless questions. The most prominent of the latter is call-response “Bill, what is your theory is relativity?” — “Life is shit2”. (Nuff said).

The other phrases like “Woe is me”, “Let’s merge” or “There is a reason usually for everything” or “There are people dying living here” or “Some weeks nothing is funny” read like some sort of Zen minimalist concrete poetry albeit somewhat stubborn in concept and mind-numbing by its sheer banality of execution.

Every speech balloon represents some eternal truth about absurdities and injustices of life and it is disgustingly, infuriatingly awful. Sometimes you get horrendously clumsy attempts at anecdotes, for example: “Did you know that Pinnocio loved birds?” — “He did?” — “He even had a woodpecker”. Aw… This is intentionally corny beyond reason.

It shows the contents and the limits of the worldviews of the characters. They are rampantly unable to express their thoughts and that results in a hostile demeanor and bleak mood with a hopeless cheers. Words don’t express what they mean. Not even close. And you can feel the distance between what they say and what they possibly mean. None of them wants to be there, they want to do something else somewhere else but they don’t know what exactly and how. Just like the titular dog they’re chained and too angry to do something about it. They’re numbed, battered, bound and gagged by the life itself. Contaminated with self-hatred for the lack of miraculous skills. Filled with utter horror of failing to succeed and finally realize their ambitions. They strive for more meaning, they long for irrational solution of their situation. Sounds like something anyone can encounter.

And that is what makes “The Angriest Dog in the World” such a relatable piece. It has nothing really strange or off-putting. It contains merely a snapshots of everyday life taken out of context. Life of people whose guts are torn away with salvo and a gust of wind and filled with minced meat and then turned into a fancy sausage in a lovely bag with funny sticker and a discount for the highest honor of “staying behind for too long”. People who had their balls and brains put into a vice and twisted around for a whole fucking week again and again and again.

In the end — it doesn't matter what Bill, Sylvia, Pete and Billy Jr. say. It is irrelevant. It’s merely a placeholder for something you, the reader, can put there instead. We all have such moments and we all catch such glimpses of other peoples recurring torments. 

Reader is left with no options but to be put into the role of a stranger who is just passing by and hearing those remnants of a possibly meaningful conversation while thinking about his own things and accidentally slipping into thought on nature of existence. Otherwise “The Angriest Dog in the World” seems to be a pile of bollocks — an exercise in exploration of the concept of pointlessness.
But there is no reason for trying to interpret this particular work. Finding finite meaning in this strip is utterly futile. It has no specific point and is proud of it. It drops your defenses and fears and gets into your head and stays there. You put it in a desolate place subconsciously and then something really callous reminds you of it and you start operate within it, looking for the answer you already know.

If you find some parts of it confusing or incomprehensible — it is probably your own fault. You’re trying too hard. Don’t overthink it. Let it flow. You will need to read it again and again until you get it the way you are. That’s probably the only way to comprehend “The Angriest Dog in the World” — raw, fierce and cutting comic strip about existence.

As David Foster Wallace wrote in his seminal essay on David Lynch: “Is this good art? It’s hard to say. It seems — once again — either ingenuous or psychopathic. It sure is different, anyway.”

Here's a selection of the strips as they can be found in Cheval Noir. This is the best copies out there. Enjoy

вівторок, 15 травня 2018 р.

BSPH: Weird Al Yankovic - Bob



"Bob" is a song by American comedian Weird Al Yankovic. It was released in 2003 on an album "Poodle Hat". This song manages to perform a weird trick. It is both an affectionate parody and tongue in cheek celebration of Bob Dylan's overtly enigmatic lyricism and overall homage to his musical aesthetics. Not only Weird Al recreates the musical stylings of then man's mid 60's ouevre but the song also neatly channels Dylan's signature substandard vocal delivery.

Lyrically, "Bob" is probably one of the most impressive songs in Weird Al's catalogue from a technical point of view. The entire song is comprised of palindromes. Each line is a palindrome, the title is a palindrome. It is an incredible feat of verbosity. Curiosly, it all fits to Bob Dylan's style which can be aptly described as "try to make some sense, but don't be so serious".

While the whole palindrome thing seems impressive, it is not the whole point of the song. It is just an elaborate means to attain certain effect. And as such, it is definitely trying too hard which is in itself a dig towards Dylan. One can imagine that the song was composed with a little help of a dictionary and really intense backwards reading sessions. Or just some momentary rambling and collaging.

The weird thing about the lyrics is that the resulting lines fit perfectly into Bob Dylan's signature overtly enigmatic style. It is a stream of non sequitirs that pile up into incomprehensible mess that is simply irresistible for imagining. Lines don't add up, but they sure tell something really fragmented and disjointed. It works best if you don't listen closely to it. That way - you only catch bits and pieces of the thing and don't concentrate on its palindrome nature. It is pure DADA collage.

Musically, the song is obviously stylized after "Subterranian Homesick Blues". It is relatively easygoing country rock with a meandering groove. Except forty something years later this type of arrangement became a cliche and now it sounds almost like a placeholder set of sounds. Which is another layer of parodying the aesthetics. The connection with "Subterranian Homesick Blues" is deepened by the video that imitates that latter's video gimmick. It even homages Allen Ginsberg doing something in the corner.

четвер, 10 травня 2018 р.

BSPH: William Shatner / Henry Rollins - I can't get behind that




"I can't get behind that" is a song by William Shatner with a guest appearence of Henry Rollins, Adrian Belew on guitar, Matt Cameron on drums and Ben Folds on board as a producer. That's an odd match. It was released in 2004 on Shatner's musical comeback "Has Been". The album fully embraced Shatner's over the top scenery incinerating delivery and found profound sincerety behind it.

The strange thing with "I can't get behind that" is that even within an album it stands out as an odd piece. It is not really a song. It is more of sponteneous combustion of creativity. It just happened. And as such it is very curious example of a concentrated burst of creativity. It is also a fine case study on how momentary decisions can results in something that stand out. (Try not to overthink this thing as much as i am.)

From a musical standpoint, "I can't get behind that" is a weird beast. There is no structure to speak of. It just starts and goes on and then stops. The main focus is on drums arrangement. Drum patterns are extremely textured - there are many moving parts: aside from the basic rhythm, there are numerous bongo fills, some bells, tom-toms, claps. It is chaotic.

The pace is relentless. It is basically a drum solo with some voices tucked on. Drummer kills it. Deep in the background we can hear barely audible bass line. And also lots and lots of fills by Andrew Belew. His contribution to the track can be summarized as "doing some sounds here and there". His guitar quacks, squeaks, roars, whirls, purrs, shrieks, gawks, yawns, sighs, bawls, belches. It adds ridiculousness to the whole thing .

Lyrically, it is also a curious thing. On the first glance, the song is merely a listing of various things and events both Shatner and Rollins "can't get behind". Part of the charm of this song is in the fact that the majority of the things mentioned are relatable to any person. However, jam-packed together, they become really strange. And it uncovers true nature of the song: it is actually a stream of conscioussness. Just some stuff that comes out of the mouth. And as such it is a fascinating document of one particular session.
 Shatner and Rollins go back and forth with their lines, capping each with "i can't get behind that". The array of subjects is relatively random. Basically, anything that comes to the head at the moment. At first subject are relatively common, but further they go - more maddening and abstract it gets. After a while they drop "can't behind that" and start just spurting various buzzwords at each other. At one point even start arguing whether "size matters". 

In many ways, "I can't get behind that" is a makeshift tongue in cheek riff on the concept of "shaking air" i.e. complaining about stuff that doesn't deserve such attention. On the other hand, most of the observations are composed in shorthand buzzword fashion which makes it even more twisted in retrospect.

середа, 9 травня 2018 р.

MFT: Will Eisner's "The Spirit" monochrome strips

Even decades after its initial run, Will Eisner's "The Spirit" is still a blast of a read. You already know that. It is an obvious fact. Sure, some of its elements haven't aged that well (ahem, Ebony White, depiction of female, characters, yellow menace stuff, etc) and some of it more out there moments (Trip to the Moon, in a hard boiled noir comic? sure thing!) are still endlessly baffling throws of despair - but overall, its style and presentation defined they way american comic books look today.

"The Spirit" established fast-paced no-nonsense narrative which proppels forward with each coming panel, it codified the way action scenes are broken down and sequenced. You can learn how to write comic books by reading "The Spirit" - it is that good. 

One of it signature features was unorthodox use of the first pages of a story. It was always more than just a beginning of another tale. It established everything you need to know about the story - style, themes, tone. These pages often had short blurb descriptions of the stories in the top header, as is with _ or _.

However, in some cases this space was simply filled with monochrome rectangles as a simple breaker-separators between the stories. They are effective in this role. But looking at these separating monochrome strips on their own is even more fascinating than within a context of a comic. 

These rectangles offer something nondescript, something abstract. Bundled together, they sure are able to compose some sort of an impressionistic narrative. A very abstract one, but nevertheless.

Since i've spent last couple of years collecting various abstract and black panels - it was natural for me to start snapping these rectangles with subsequent shoving into the queue. But it doesn't mean that this post will be left with any examples.

For your convenience, here are seventy four of "The Spirit"'s monochrome rectangles.Enjoy!

MFT: Shatoetry - William Shatner Sound Bite Collage Magnet Poetry Generator

Shatoetry  is an application developed by Blindlight Apps and featuring William Shatner (the man, the myth, the legend). It is poetry wr...