giovedì 31 marzo 2011

The Weird Spreading Brown Stain

It is a sunny day in Italy, kinda hot too. I am trying to avoid work and thinking of possible creative solution for my future while finding new ways to touch myself on weird porn sites (it's not an addiction, it's research). That and lots and lots of coffee and natural uppers made my already addled brain even more attentive and perky and made me notice one thing: i don't understand human interactions in the modern age.

I am quite a social creature, although i have long phases of hermitism to heal my own wounds. If i'm in any place that requires to interact with other people. That makes me quite at ease at parties and a pleasant part of customer service in store. Especially with old ladies. I keep my weirdness inside, i enjoy to be polite and i give courtesy back when addressed in a nice way.

Also i know how to react in the appropriate way in social situations. So, i dont understand these two archetypical situation that reflect very well what seems to be the NORM in people interactin lately:

A) A Person has a doubt. They seem to be unable to solve it. They deicde to find the answer by looking on the internet. Not being able to find the information they need by themselves, they go on a forum/site/section of the web DEVOTED (please note this particular) to answering those questions and ask. Often the reactions will be the following. Paraphrased for comedy.

Q: "Sorry guys. I have a doubt. How am i supposed to fit the object A into socket B? I cant seem to find the answer. Please help! Thank you"

A1: "Kill yourself"

A2: "Ask the manufacturer"

A3: "I dunno. LOL"

A4: "Object A does not exist. I know this cause i am the main creator of all objects and my dad is god. So you're lying. i will report and have your account deleted"

A5: "wwww.enlargeyourpenis.comster"

See. I am exaggerating the point but trust me, i am not far from the mark. The questioning person will find an answer, eventually but they'll have to double thei efforts and face lots and lots of that. In a world where you hear one time out of two that help lines, and stores do not give adequate support to customers, often sticking to retarded scripted answers, why do people refuse to give help in a place thats dedicated to helping? I know the refrain, people are assholes (which isnt completely true. Assholes are just louder) and the anonimity of the web (also a myth, since it's increasingly hard to be anonymous).

Still, that doesnt make me understand the suden harshness of any place where people interact with other people. It's like serving food in a restaurant and poisoning your customers. Works if you're a sociopath, counterproductive in the end.

That reflects on social media, file sharing places, friending sites (i wont go into the horrors of dating sites. That would be like taking your kid to the catholic school and complaining if he gets touched). People are rude in an UNNECESSARY way. It doesnt have the pleasant schdenfraude of trolling, it's just damaging. Why attack friends randomly on facebook? It happens frequently.

I hear people complain constantly about how persons they know and keep in contact with become horribly rude and caustic on Facebook, ESPECIALLY during times of need. Lately a person i know, posted his troubles in a private status update. He got ridculed, attacked and insulted for that. That doesnt fit wither the internet theory, soince none of those people were anonymous or the cliché of people being cruel, since they were friends.

There has been a visible INCREASE in cruelty, an increse in pointless toughness, In being mean and unhelpful, in not caring about p'eople or events. It isnt the usual Hate vs Love. Hate is usually more blind and energetic. This is just a random biteing between dogs that are stuck in the same cage. Weird and pointless. Or maybe i'm just a wuss. /shrug.

mercoledì 30 marzo 2011

Bands You Should Know: The Wildhearts

Ladies and Gents, the greates rock band on the planet.

Yes, i said that. I have my taste, i like all sorts of musicians and groups. I have my history and my phases. But these guys carved themselves in the fable that my life has been like a crop circle.

Once upon a time, i was a youngster and my nights went on at the pace of booze and rock. I had many things in my life but none as powerful as music. And i had great firends, the kind you remeber forever, with which i had those type of adventures you end up recalling and retelling a million times. It was the time of seeing the sun rise in a car, smoking weed and drinking cheap wine on a hill. Filling up cars and riding the night.

There were all sorts of manners of rock and roll back then. The Rolling Stones, The New York Dolls, Cheap Trick and Ramones...

Still bewtween all those giants, this gang of brits stood up.

Before then, i enpcuntered their music while i was doping my earlier yravels in britain. The grea Ginger, the mastermind and leadcer of the band, had succeded again inc reating a piece of rocking hits with their shiny album "P.H.U.Q." anbd they were, as they pften would be, for bad and for good, the "nezt big thing" in UK. I bought the album, enjoyed but forgot about it. It was a different time.

Years after, one of my best friends came crashing into them again. This time with one of their earlier works "Earth Vs The Wildhearts". And not that coincidentally, i had just came back from Dublin, wehre in one of my boozy days of roaming in the city, i did that great thing that in the itunes age, got lost: i had wandered in a Tower Records store (a chain of music stores that gave me countless memories before dying) put on a pair of LOUD headphones and hgeard the openr from their latest album. And was shocked.

See the thing with them is that they had a magical alchemy: they played powerful rocking riffs, that seemed to come out from the magical box of the greatest guitar riffs of all time. And over that they placed the greatest harmonize3d refrains ever. And i aint saying this lightly.

Their leader, Ginger, has been widely recgnizede as one of the greatest, most talented songwriters and guitar rif makersa of modern rock history. The man could create perfect songs in his sleeps. To make it clear he usually created an album of perfect songs. Than published b-sides or unreleased songs (and i dont mean one or two, i mean 20 or 30) that were ven BETTER than the maintracks. And that made the other great aspect of The Wildhearts: once you got all their main albums, you hadnt even begun knowing them. They has a back catalogue of tracks that was endless, and seemingly flawless. Thousands and thousands of perfect pieces of pop meets rock meets metal meets rocknroll meets.... Well just perfect music.

It could be the Motorhead/Metallica/Cheap Trcik mixture of "Sucker Punch" opr "Greetings From Shitsville" or "My baby is a Headfuck"....

Or the pop rock joys of "I wanna go where the people go".

Or even the abarasive NIN with a heart of catchy psychosis of their giant "fuck you" to the industry, "Endless Nameless"....

Cause, you see, the band was abunch of angry, talented junkies. Ginger especially, is in and out of drugs and mental instability one time out of two. ANd loves to get to the peak of the montain to break it all down. So after getting a great contract with a label, they release a noisy, un-commercial monster like "endless...", where still, theres magical tracks like "Junkenstein" (a track that gave me my most know internet alias) with "you listen once and you never forget" choruses that still haunt me.

Then they disappear and then pop up again. They were the soundtrack of my life. I have cried, laughed, partied, loved and hated to their songs. I saw them in concert and i turned into melted butter. Like i was sixteen again.

Lately, their albums have gotten more standardized, like they decided to become "normal". The genius is still there but its... caged. Then Ginger, after pursuing a solo career that spawned some weird studio records and one live-acoustic album that i forced into my main hangin pub, has focused on different project. Still, he's there and he seems unstoppable. Even if he is a family man that occasionally goes into heroin again and then suddenly cleans up.

I will never ever ever forget them though. Anyone who has heard their magic knows. They are the band you fall in love with and becomes your obsession. They are my heart in music. They always will be.

martedì 29 marzo 2011

Tv Is Better Than Movies: Breaking Bad

I thought about this post since i started this blog. The whole point of this segment is talkinbg about great tv series that i love. But when it comes to the series that i consider one of the best things ever produced in the last ten years of fiction, any word is going to sound empty and retarded.

To put it simply, "Breaking Bad", is the reasons i am watching more ficiton than movies today. It's the perfect (and i'm using this word in its literal meaning) example of how a "television" product can defeat the restriction and prejudices behind its format and create something that defies labels, definitions and limitations and create art. No fuck art too. Create beauty and emotion.

Breaking Bad starts with an intriguing premise, seimple and weird. A middle aged chemistry teacher, living in a dessicated suburbia, with a nice but difficult wife and a son that happens to have cerebral palsy but is really a perfectlyu normal teenager, is frustrated with his job. He teaches to uninterested students the secrets of chemistry and science. He loves it, he used to be a promising scientist. But necessities took his dreams away so now he lets himself go in monotony. Until he gets diagnosed with terminal cancer and realizes that he will die and needs something more to give a future to his family.

And from that the series explodes. It starts grabbing you directly by the throat. Everything is violent, desperate, cynical, pignant and yet comical, surreal, sarcastic, insane. The cinematography keeps mixing quiet slow sequences of saturated "american beauty" like fake perfectionb and then creates shots that could be framed and hung in a gallery for their Kubrickian/Aronofsky beauty. The pace slows and lets you savour moments of intense drama, sheer terror, pitch black comedy an suspense. The blows up, raising up the pulse until your heart blows. The dialogue is mean, witty and cruel.

And the acting? Jesus. the whole cast is perfect, layered and unpredictable. Every single character is key. They defy any sterotype or expectations. From a housewife that has more darkness than you'd thin, to a cocky policeman, who's actually a heroic and nice hearted person with touching flaws.

And i havent talked about the main duo. Bryan Cranston as Professor Walter White and Aaron Paul as slacker, dealer and once-promising student Jesse Pinkman. Both award winners for this. Both beyond any superlative.

Cranston is the first to get you. His physical presence and special timinhg already showed off when he played the hilariously timed, almost Jacques Tati-like Hal in Malcolm in the middle. But what you'll witness here, is one of the most soul shredding, complex, touching, scary and intense performances of all time. Cranstone embodies White as a shifting creature. He gives him a piercing stare that etlls more than dialogue. A voice that seems to come from a milliond ifferent personalities. He transforms his body, his face and turns moments, scenes, lines into fragments of something outworldly.

There are bits of this show, many many bits, that will have you exhausted, with heart racing, wanting to share your emotions with others. Speechless and numb out of absolute, insane perfection. It will be Cranston, Paul, the twists, some moments of utter shock (boy does this series deliver some gut churning shocks and i dont mean cheap ones), moments of "OH MY GOD HOW FUCKIN COOL WAS THAT!".

You'll reccomend this show to someone and hook them. They will remember you forever for that. I remeber who reccmìomended the show to me and passed it on.

You'll find yoursleves having converstaions on an episode right after yopu saw it and not in the usual "nice" or "what happened" way. you'll share this show like you just witnessed the best thing ever. Or the most completely disturbing. And this show will make most movies you'll see look lame and boring. And when the seaosn are over, you'll have withdrawal.

Welcome to the family.

lunedì 28 marzo 2011

Modern Books for Modern Kids

While chatting up with my delightful friend, the smart and witty Princess ViVi, we both came to an understanding on where the real future of literature is: kids' books.

Simple as Olive Bread: children's books sell well, cause they are forced to read them. The writer and publisher do not have to deal with silliness like pleasing the public. Toddlers' opinions do not count, so all you have to do is plkease the teachers!

That said, its time, in this modern world, to bring beef to the whimsy and finally create books that adrress REAL issues that tax our future wates of oxygen. Enough of racism and tolerance, we all knows such things will never come. Lets tell them the truth in a joyus rosy metaphorical manner. Cause even unicorns get the blues.

Here's some ideas:

Pedro And The Surprise Party

Joyous cuddly bear Pedro finds his friends from the woods throwing him a surprise party, even if it isnt his birthday! But to his disappointment he discovers its actually an interventyion for his magical pink cloud juice problems.

Pedro has to realize that even if drinkin magical pink cloud juice helps him tolerate his lame forest friends, he always ends up beating them up. He also discover his real originbs when his papa bear tells him about his night with magical juice, and a rental love bear.

The Little Lamb's Amazing Adventure

Little Lamb is lonely but he discovers an unusual friend: a wolf. The wolf tells him how he's not like the others: he's a memebers of NAWLA, the national wolf/Lamb love associatio, where lamb let wolf brutally slaughter them and eat them but in a consensual way. Little Lamb takes his other lamb friends and they all get eaten in the name of free speech.

Princess Prancy Goes To Mehville

Princess Prancy is not happy. Being the ruler of a kingdom gets her worried and gives her ulcers. She worries too much and no one seems to help her. Thats hen her fairy godmother decides to transport her in the magical realm Of Mehville, where apthy reign and no one really gives a shit about anything. She learns the true power of the word Meh and the mysetery of the cosmical Shrug. That renewed knowledge gives her the strength to give up her kingdom and get pregnant with the Mehville Prince, having her first Mehbortion.

Bubble Bunny And The Goldmine

Bubble Bunny is poor! Her family and friends are starving. No more food or a house! Its right then that Bubble Bunny's Best friend, Fernando the Felching Ferret teaches her his special sercet: doing special shows for the mole people! Bubble bunny starts doing weird stuff with rainbows and uncorn horns and she becomes the mole people's favourite star! Until one day, the mole people's priest decides to purify her form her fluffy sins....

See? All kids must learn those valuable lessons! I already see animated movies, toys (Plush Fernando the Felching Ferrett will be a best seller), spin offs. Oh, the possiblities!

domenica 27 marzo 2011

Music Memories: Type O Negative and Pete Steele

Ok, Pete Steele cannot be defined as a cult thing or an unknown band, i admit that. But this part of my blog is devoted to music and i'm pretty sure that his stuff could be appreciated by far more people than the average Goth/Metal audience to whom it was usually relegated.

I remember the excact moment when i recieved the new about him passing out. I was at a show by the psychedelic band Nachtmystium, during the magnificent nirvana of live music that is the Roadburn Festival. In a wholw life filled with concerts, the Ropadburn experience is still etched in my mind as one of my most fond musical memories. I tried to explain it many times, but you really have to be there.

It's the perfect festival: it has an exclusive, out-of-this-world line up every year, its organized in a perfect way, every show is technically flawless, the audience is friendly, family like and always in a good mood, the zone where it takes place is magical and special. Its like teleporting for three days in a parallele universe of music, vibes and good feelings. So i was in my best mood when Pete Steele's Death was announced. Nachtmystium singer declared it gravely from the stage and dedicated a song to him. Me and my buddy reacted in a weirded out way. Others were sadened. It wasnt the utter tragedy of Loosing Chuck Schuldiner or Ronnie James Dio. But it had a weird, strange sadness. No one knew what exactly happened back then. And while Type O Negative were far from being as popular as they used to, they still were something that pretty much everyone had dealt with.

If you grew, like me, as a teenager with a taste for heavy music during the nineties, in a country that had little to no exposure to any form of non-mainstream music, your only hope was MTV's "Headbanger's Ball". With no internet, basically no "alternative" radio stations and very little money, Vanessa Warwick's show was where we discovered cool, rockin bands. Through their live footage, interviews and mostly through their videos. You discovered Korn, Deftones, Pantera, Machine Head, even some Alice In Chains and Soundgarden. I remember how my only way of putting my hands on singles or new tracks, when mp3 downloading didnt exist, was recording the show on vhs tapes and then record the song on audiocassettes. You barely could hear anything, since i even had a sucky tape recorder witha chessy microphone but i had some sort of idea of what made my heart race.

Back then Type O Negative was causing a fuss. they were at their peak. "Bloody Kisses" was taking the scne like a tank, with its lesbo themed artwowrk, and those catchy yet dark and heavy singles like "Black N.1". And the videos caught my attention. They look cheesy nowadays: lots of posturing and by-the-numbers gothness. Still that RUMBLE that the guitars, combined with the bass gave to my ears was powerful. And you couldnt deny the cvharisma of Pete Steele: a giant with a sculpted physique, a pale skeletal face, long black hair and two piercing insane eyes. With a baritone sounding voice and a penchant for talking about wickedly morbid stuff or sex.

When he was interviewed he seemed like either the ultimate douche, or the most magnetic and inexplicable man ever. Always deadly serious, even when he was saying the most outlandish things. One was never sure if he was really an ass or playing an act. Hard to tell. His lyrics, his actions, the way he moved on stage or acted in interviews., were always more opf a product of a dark twisted sense of humour and a love for shock. He wasnt a Marilyn Manson type. He was self-aware and played up the goth, macho, pervert stereotypes up to eleven.

Take his legendary Playgirl set. The man poses naked, huge dick in hand. Uses the fact to appear on tv shows and magazines and play god's gift to women. Then he says that a firend informed him of the popularity of Playgirl between gays. So he writes a short song called "I like Goils", that sounds like a homophobic, sexist tirade but actually uses lines like "I am quite flattered you think i'm cute / But i dont play well with compacted poop".... Well, lots of people thought he was really a white supremacist homophobe pig. I think He was aware. Notice that in the same album, he did a cover version of the off broadway song "Angry Inch", singing of himself as a botched post-op transexual with a one-inch mutilated penis. He was a smart ass.

And the music? I keep loving it more and more. That rumble gave energy to a combination of Beatles melodies (not surprisingly they did a few covers of the fab four) and Black Sabbath's slow heaviness. And also Neil Yound, Sisters Of Mercy, Joy Division. It was heavu, slow, sexy, funeral melody. With tales of depravity and tongue-in-cheek darkness, sure. But also with some devastatingly sensitive songs, like the heartbroken "Everything Dies". It was clear, to anyone, who really listened that Pete wasnt only a poser or some cartoon satanist. At all. He was dealing with solitude, heartbreak and the fear of life itself. Loved cracking jokes wherever he went but also used excesses, booze and drugs in order to escape panic attacks that were getyting more and more frequent. He came from the slums of NYC and he was still a man. Not some undefined star.

Then he disappeared. After a moemnt of too much coke, he attacked a guy who was hitting on his girlfrien of the time, Beat him to a pulp. Got dragged to court where his own sisters testifiied against him. Got sent to Riker's island for a month of hard jail. Camne out detoxed but physically and mentally broken. No more drugs, and a weirdly renewwed faith in god, Pete reformed his early band, the lovely and neck breaking Carnivore. Did a samll tour with them, which i'll always blame myself for missing. The tried Type O Negative again. They were has beens but could still pull it off, somehow. Still his body was aged, horribly.

He was 48, and writing new material when his heart stopped. When i learned about his death i wasnt even a big fan of his. But lately, i've been listening again. And remembering. He got something. Something special. I think he deserved better.

sabato 26 marzo 2011

Comics For Non-Nerds: Scott Pilgrim

Talking about Scott Pilgrim and actually saying it's a non-nerd comic is a delicate stance. Actually, talking about Scott Pilgrim and trying to explain it to anyone who has no idea or no interest into comic art is really difficult.

Not because it's a complex comic, on the contrary. Personally i think Scott Pilgrim manages to be one of the most accessible and yet complicated examples of illustrated storytelling i've seen, The problem with it, is that its fans might be the most elitist, rabid and borderline obsessive bunch of maniacs you'll meet. Most of them isnt part of the socially repulsive phenomenon of nerdness. They're pretty much hip. But Scott Pilgrim is a comic book that gets so much under the skin of its readers, connects with them at such a level and touches so many emotional spots, while also dropping cultural references all over the place without making them obnoxious or cute.... It turns readers into defensive warriors.

It was pretty clear when the great movie adaptation by Edgar Wright came out. The fans loved it, which is a weird and rare thing, but the general public didnt really care. And that caused angry reactions of "why dont you get it?", all over that were worringly close to the ones that Trekkies or other types of nerds have. Still i get that. People have the right to not give a hit and think its still a stupid comic book and being passionate about it is a symptom of childishness and social disability. But i am a Scott Pilgrim fan and I KNOW its different.

I'll try to explain, and fail.

Imagine a comic book that tells a love story. A pretty simple one at first.

A love story between a main character that could be easily defined as the ultimate twenty something hero and a female character that is all you love and fear in the most difficult girl you ever met.

Scott is a charming guy, in the best and worst sense of the word. He's a slacker for choice. A musician with a high opinion of himself. A good looking, reckless and unkowing heartbreaker. A guy who loves to follow his impulses and always has great excuses for it. A scruffy trouble maker with charisma, a messed up head and lots of dreams and little care for consequences. Simply put, he's everything awesome about being in your twenties.

He falls in love with Ramona, a magnetic, mysterious , volatile, cool hurricane of a girl. The kind that leaves scars but is right to do so. And they're surrounded by characters that are basically the perfect protrait of every little shade of youth you might know. And not know.

But this isnt exactly a romantic story. Cause see, Ramona has seven evil exes. And Scott has to defeat them like old 8-bit game bosses if he wants to date her. And their world is riddled with meta references to games.

But this is not only a game lover's comic. Case Scott is a rocker in a rocker world, and music references to the indie rock world are everywhere. from bands that are so close to the ones you actually meet in the struggling musicians world (one for all, the psychotic art-punk-insanity of Crash and The Boys) it hurts, to actual discussions about great albums.

And it also happens to be wildly surreal, hypekinteic, cartoonish and hilarious. Its self aware but in a playful, joyopus way. Full of insanely cute and hysterical laughter inducing moments that cannot be descrfibed cause they're purely visual

And its poignant, cause while growing with each volume, it manages to turn into a reflection on emotions, relationships (with everyone, yourself included), maturity and the human soul. And in the end it gets carved in your heart and mind, so when it's over you'll remeber it forever.

That's why i love Scott Pilgrim. You really hjave to read it all to understand. You dont have to but it would be good for you. It's fun, and moving, and insane. And its absolutely unique.

You might turn into a geek (not a nerd) afterwards. But you'll be happier.

venerdì 25 marzo 2011

Special Post: help an inspiration to meet her inspiration

I have friends that are close and i have her, who has a special place.

This lady deserves all form of support and love in the world and doesnt even usually ask for it.

So she wants to meet Stevie Nicks, who inspired her through her whole life AND is still inspiring her now.

Read it in her words and help.

Writing Lessons: How To Start a Bestseller...

So, it seems like some of you read my post about the delightful art of word scrabblin and want to tak it up. Lets face it though: self satisfaction is nice and cool, but what's a pssion for, if it doesnt make you rich? We all know that money is the most important thing in the whole world followed by fame, and oral sex. So let's all try to analyze some potential premises for books destined to be BESTSELLERS!

Lets look at the charts.....


1) The "Twilight" Style Fantasy Romance

"Estella radiated purity and femininity. She had the magnificience that blossoming flowers have, filled with the heat and energy that young women have. Her blue eyes were staring at the sea longingly, sending flames of longing desire towards him, her Antoine. He looked at her, his heart shattered. Their love was impossible yet strong. They would've fought for it, even if the oceans themselves were against them. A human and a giant Octopus....."

Slap a black cover on it, with two attractive models. CHa-CHING!

2) The Heartwrenching True Story

"I was only fourteen when we met. I came from an abusive family and my mother abandoned me a bit after i was born. But He was her gift to me. He gave her strength, while being an abused pregnant teen in a dangerous quarter. He kept a smile on her face and made her less lonely. And she gave him to me. And it gave me strength when my abusive stepfather beat me and starved me, when no one would listen to me. Through the struggles of alcoholism and substance abuse. Through defeating my illiteracy. He was always there. And now he was dying. My first, favourite, giant dildo, was broken...."

Make up a name for the author like, possibly ethnic (not to be racist, but you gotta push on the white suburbanite housewife's guilt). A fake bio. Some weird excuse to not show up at interviews (dont get caught though. remember the million little pieces guy? yeesh). Oh and the uplifting ending. Possibly religious. Like, she finds god and he fixes the dildo with angel feathers. That Stuff.

3) The Gangster Story

"It was me, Paulie Provoloni and Tony Tortellino. We were buddies since we were lil tots. We grew up in tough neighbourhoods and fought our way to respect, like true italians. Like the Jersey Shore guys. We had to do bad stuff, we had to cross lines. But people feared us now and our gang was making the big jump to become the lords of the city. We only had one big hit, the one who would have helped us become big. It was risky, but we had guts and brains. And Balls. We were gonna kidnap The Birds from "Angry Birds..."

Add some realistic slang, like lots of "AYEEEE OOOOOO!"; "MARONNN" "GABAGOOOOOSH!" and stuff like that. If you feel brave, do it with black characters that say "damn" "Niggahh" and so on. But that might be risky. Still, if you're one third or fully black, you will be fine. No other ethnicities though. Too complicated.

Ok try these for once. Eventually i'll give you more. Trust me, you'll be famous. I know about fame, i have a blog!

giovedì 24 marzo 2011

The Art Of Gaming: The Half-Life Series

The center of my heart thrives for awesomenss.

Or, in simpler terms, i dont care what form beauty and ideas take to get to me. When something great, beautiful, innovative, genius gets to me and causes any sort of emotion, i recognize its greatness.

In the last couple of years, thanks to one of the man i'll always be grateful to karma for having made us meet, my buddy Tony, made me understand the beauty and art in great gaming.

For people who live their life, limiting their perception to the simple side of things, thinking that movies are a way to kill time, music is something you play in the background and art is a nice painting of a dog to hang over the wall to fill a space, games are probably a juvenile thing that kids sue to waste their time. Or something violent and stupid. This isnt completely false. As in any medium, theres a LOT of stuff that exists for pure entertaining purposes, nothing wrong with that, and theres stuff that is created. And when i mean created, i mean made through creativity. Theres game designers in the world that have great stories, great ideas and use the medium of videogames to defy the limits of narration. To give emotion, create characters, tell stories. To make an alternative worls that takes you somewhere else where the impossible is possible, and you can be part of it.

It isnt just about Suiper Mario or Grand Theft Auto. Or, as lamne people love to say, "Tetris and Pac-Man" (which seems to be the only games that most people played in their life)

One of the developing houses i learned to admire and love the most, for their many creations that seem to tie together crowd-pleasing smarts and purely artistic insanity is Valve.

And while most will wax poetics about their genre defying invention masterpiece "Portal" (and i might talk about it in the future), i wanna spoend some times about the project i love the most: The Half Life Series.

Half Life started as a series of sci-fi themed shooters. The story was pretty simple at first and got incresingly complex with the following game and shorter "episodes". But while the original Half Life was intelligent and brave, its the second chapter and its appendixes that really changed my ideas about gaming forever.

See your main character is an engineer. Not a brute, space hero. You're a scientis. And you're silent. No voice acting for the character of Gordon Freeman. You're in his head and his voice might as well be yours. Still hes far from a dork or an ironically meek character. The game constantly makes you pull stunts tahat are epic, dizzying and gorgeous. Sometimes solve-able with pointed logic and a bit of inventive destruction. And when you accomplish them, the results will make you feel like a god. You'll destroys gigantic enemies, work with mysterious alien machines, solve wars and save cities. At times with special guns. Sometimes with a frakin crowbar.

The game makes you feel like you are actually special and makes you care about whats happening. the simple but amazing graphics create this look (that inspired directly the gritty yet sterile look of the future of movies like "City Of Men" or "District 9", whose contrast between rotten and rusty slums and surreal, numbing "high towers" is exactly like the magnificient City 17 you'll wander through) that oscillates constantly between realistic, threatening and utterly jaw dropping.

You'll see worlds exploding, hordes of enemies that are scary while beiung comical, Robots that are human as actors, thanks to Valve's perfect sense of giving everything a soul through simple poignant details and animations.

And then you'll meet Alyx.

In the world of gaming heroines seems to be necessarily sexy, probably cause a way to keep the teenagers' attention at bay is giving them sex objects to play with. What Half Life 2 and the episodes give you is a friend. And i dont mean that in some weird, nerdy way. Even with the limnits of technology, Valve has created a secondary character that not only looks, acts and talks liuke an actual charming twenty-something girl, but actually gives you a strong motivation to play. Yes you'll want to blast stuff, solve puzzles and just be a badass. Of course. But this animated bunch of polygons called Alyx Vance will make you wanna fight for her. And not for weird prurient reasons.

Valve has made her interact with you, somehow. Her chacter cracks jokes in tense situations. Reacts like a human being. She's pleasant, helpful, funny. She comments on your destructive actions lovingly.

She does thousands of tiny gestures that get at you. Places a hand on the door to say goodbye while you take an elevator to your possible death. While you ramp up a terrifying place, sheì'll keep following you from afar, like an ctual person would. And this with no special AI or tricks. Simply, Valve did a lot of real testing, asking players what they would like and love and what came out was an actual person. A real, non-cheesy, companion.

And this companion, when the story gets to its last cliffhanger.... She will..... Make your heart break...

No matter how jaded you are.

Trust me, if you're skeptical, try playing those games. Skip the original, try HL2. You might change your mind and you'll discover that while its still "gaming", its also "art". Of a completely different kind.

mercoledì 23 marzo 2011

Word Wizards : China Miéville

I'll admit it: i havent read a book in a while. I like to read good stuff, i like even more to get books for the fetishistic pleasure of it. Books are the most awesome object to possess in my mind. That's why i'll never get the point of Kindle: i want my word-drug to be thick, with an eyecatching cover and to smell like that delightful printed paper smell. As Henry Rollins said, "i wanna rub their spine, and place them in my library and say 'i aint gonna read you right now, ill postpone and enjoy the wait and the tease of waiting to read you cause when i will, it will be the happiest time of the day'"

I have a room full of unread stuff. I have a voracious need for stimuli and interesting new thingsa to discover read, watch and hunt down. When i discover a fascinating subject, i want ten books about it. When i find an author i love, i want his whole bibliography.

Still, i cant stand the idea of a digitalized book. A book has to be conrete and touchable.

As i said, i've been slacking lately. Many reasons got me lazy. But theres still some good authors or books i wanna talk about and ill do it here.

China Miéville isnt only a magnificient author. He has some magical ingredient in his work that makes him stand out: he's unique. If you read his magnum opus "Perdido Street Station", chances are it will a) Become your favourite book of all time b) You'd try for a long time to grasp what you just read and explain it to others, failing miserably c) You'll be haunted by the images, sounds and feelings he summoned in your head and you'll try to find more in other books but wont.

The man has an incredible ability in manipulating words to create something unparalleled and uses the talent to service an immagination that rivals and beats the one of the great visionary artists. In "Perdido", he tells a beautiful story of layered emotions, love, fear, honour and horror. An epic and at the same time a series of real, tiny stories of realistic beings. But it takes place in a world that is like a boundless parallel universe. Could say it's fantasy, or visionnary sci-fi, but its far more powerful than that and way less cheesy thatn most authors in thos egenres.

There's Da Vinci-esque science, Steam-punk moments, creatures and kinds that seem to step out of every mythology immagined, heros that fight with their heads, passion, flesh and poetry of the mind. Theres good guys you care for and villains that scar your heart deeply (you'll remember "The Weaver" forever. Probably the most conceptually mesmerizing being ever made). All in a city with llooks that you can see when you close your eyes (the picture over there is close but what you'll have in your mind will be better).

And this is one book. Hes done more. Still, get that one, read it and it will probably open many doors for you. And it has a huge spine to rub too.

martedì 22 marzo 2011

Tiny Pleasures In Living

Small things that make my brain juices go all the way up:

- Having conversation with cool friends, whether its online or in a bar. No difference there, awesomeness is awesome wherever it is. Thanks Victoria, Joelle, Rhian, Daniel, Tony and More.

- Typing random ramblings on this thing and actually having people read it and appreciate it

- Crackin up at horrendously gross jokes, like "How do you kill 15 horseflies in one hit? By Slapping a starving african kid" HAHAHAHAHAHHA. See, i'm still laughing.

- Spontaneously butt wiggling during the commute while listening to Daft Punk's "Around The World" for the gadzillionth time.

- Having an attack of air-guitar-itis right after that cause that Black Sabbath "Children Of The Grave" riff never ceases to make my heart jump

- Watching a kitten outside the workplace's windows and do a staring contest with him

- Actually finding out that strong coffee helps my mother sober up a bit

- Watching Prison Break and enjoying the awesome insanity of it, and jumping giddily when Robert "T-Bag" Knapper says "Imma getcha sooon, purdy boy"

- Having a magnificient idea for a horror movie featuring huge carnivorous bunnies

- Thinking of making a home made thingie for little Arianna

- Playing God Of War at night and discovering that even at 32 year old, with a crotchety temper and a troubled life, you can still be exhalted when you rip the head off a Gorgon.

- Hearing Marc Maron say anything

- Realizing that with a hazy fiuture ahead and a weird past behind, i'm still alive and kicking and have no intention of giving up. EVER.

lunedì 21 marzo 2011

Podcast That Are Worth Your Not-So-Precious-Time: XO

Let me introduce you to the charming world of Keith McNally.

McNally is a relatively young fella that i got introduced to, via the Keith And The Girl Podcast. Differently from more famous guests, or more controversial "characters", he got to me cause he was someone that, even when he said hard to swallow truth, i could relate to. He had thoughts, feeling, moodswing and reactions that i felt very close to mine, but he put them ou there for the world to see. And they werent put on. Not a pose.

Also he was an interesting person. Loved music and knew about it at an incredible length. And he had a great, cutting sense of humour. And amazing editing skills.

So i was actually very curious to follow his projects outside of the pleasant but restricted KATG realm. I already followed his webpage to be up to date with his legendary "100 shitty comics", a series of short, crudely drawn strips that rivals Ivan Brunetti in terms of succinct, brutal humour. Then, using the weirldy layered event of a KATG intern branding himself with the show's logo, "XO" was born.

An, i discovered what was probably destined to be the second most powerful series of audio bits i ever met in my life.

Keith took inspiration from "A Life Well Wasted", Robert Ashley's heart wrenching show that took the topic of videogames and turned it into something that spoke about people and their precious little lives. Or, for less cultish people, the very overrated "This American Life".

But XO, in my opinion, did somethying better. Taking its name from one of Elliott Smith's more intense albums, XO is McNally telling stories, intertwining them with music and making the end result something that is pure heartwrenching poetry that will at times make you laugh, moreoften burst into tears, always relate.

It can be him exposing his soul on a drunken walk and saying stuff that any person with a heart has thought sometimes, before life's daily dreck took your soul away. Or its the magnificient retelling of Rodger Swan's story, a piece of emotional, delicate, and incredibly human complexity told through voices and songs. Or just a few tiny stories that are funny, poignant, quirky. Still he gets me every single time and movesme. Some episodes i listened repeatedly. Rarely happens with common "podcasts"

Other people have descibed his shows as "tiny movies". All i can say is that through "XO" McNally has managed to created something new that does something that only audio can do, gives emotions on a different level and evokes images and feelings that pictures or written word could not. Its an experience.

He is currently working on a whole different project called "The Vinyl Countdown" which is hialrious and engaging on a complete different level. Check all his project and support him. He kinda deserves it.

domenica 20 marzo 2011

Me And My Self-Absorbed Demon - A Story About Writing

I think anyone who knows me or reads what i write here has pretty much got by now that i have a pretty high opinion of myselof. It's not that i'm cocky, it's just that i wanna make love to myself and give caramel coated blowjobs for every single word i hear coming from my mouth. And every word i write and then read back.

Wasnt always like this for what concerns writing. Still to this day, when anyone describes me as a "writer", i feel my skin crawl, even if its a fact that i've got a published novel (that sold as many copies as "How to cook dog meat in 56 lessons", or less) and i wrote and still write about music wherever i can. I dont feel as a "writer". I do it but occasionally. I dont make money out of it, probably never will, lets be realistic. I dont even like to identify with the portrayal of the tormented artists. It's douchey and posture-ous. I am tormented but mostly cause i'm nuts. Art is not an excuse.

But in my past glory days of Bohemian poses and cool hedonism... Oh boy. Did i thrive on that.

I always found the art of the word as something i could milk to be cool. I cant play any instrument, i dont have the patience to be an actor or the looks and painters/sculptors/etc kinda annoy me. As a kid i read pretty much silly horror/Sci-fi books, which were done well but definitely not enlightening.

Until one day, i discovered John Fante's "Ask The Dust".

Nowadays, i dont even think it can count as my favourite book. He did better. But reading it, made some weird part of me light up. not in a revelation way or some self-discovery puss-a-wuss moment. It was more like finding out that constructing sentences could be as powerful as putting notes together. You could make phrases that pretty much anyone could recongize as beautiful, in a way that was stronger than "well written" or "with big words". His phrases were... just.... intense. And moved me from the guts. Not cause of his characters or the plot. Just through the motion of the words.

His classic touch, a mounting wave of images that just builds and builds, clutching you by the throat... The period getting speed and not slowing down, buidliding momentum and blowing up in the heart. That got me. And i still try to replicate it to this day.

Before that, my only attempt was a million word pulp novel, filled up a continuous flow of violence, sex scenes and plot twists inspired both by Chuck Pahlaniuk and comic books. That didnt end well. I was going throug a rough break-up recovery and had written a pretty creepy chapter on a character that absolutely coincidentally looked like me, meeting a character that absolutely coincidentally looked like my ex. And in said chapter he slauightered her with a butcher knife and other testosterone driven things. Well it was liberating.

Still i gave a copy to a guy who, back then, was my best friend. Who decided, is till have no idea why, to contact my ex and give her a copy. And he did not fuck her, it was just an act of weird crulety. Well, lets say that scared me off.

Still Fante came to the rescue. Tryoing to do what he did, pushed me to hide for a week in my grandma home on the sea for a week. In solitude. Often drunk.

That week made create a short, hyper-emotional story about broken hearts, eternal love and reincarnation. A series of emo clichées that now i hate with all my heart. That thing got loved. Made people i gave it to cry. A friend sent a draft, without asking me, to an independent publsiher. It got made.

The times i had after that were fun. A tiny press-release, interviews, articles. Still, i was a sad sad man and all i could think of back then was if what i was doing could get me back the one that got away. And i didnt enjoy it. It went away, uneventfully. Lots loved it, but the people i wanted appreciation from didnt really care. My mother still calls it "a stupid piece of trash and a waste of time". It was my few minutes of fame.

Depression and meds came and took creativity away. I stopped writing.

Not long ago, i was doing the act that really sums up modern self-absorption: i goggled myself. Some girl was mentioning said book and writing how it helped her coping with a abd time in her liufe. My external reaction was "whatever" (i know better about most people tha show them i'm happy so they can destroy my joy) but inside, i got a boost.

So i started doing it again. Forst privately, then here. It feels good. And doing it for me, even if i know i will never be able to be good enough for myself, is kinda sweet.

So if you have a bunch of stories that you never published, tried doin it, then gave up or whatever... Try again. Even if no one appreciates. Fuck them. Do it to get the demons out. It works.

sabato 19 marzo 2011

Stuff That Actually Sucks: Shawshank Redemption

Ok, well, "Shawshank..." doesnt suck. It's a decent movie. But this is the tile of the column. A few might think that i'm doing this to stir shit but i swear i aint. The main point behind this articles isnt to tell people that what they love isnt good. All i'm trying to say is "i dont get what's the big fuss about this".

I liked this movie when it came out. It was well filmed, mostly well acted, had a good short story behind it by Stephen King (who, for a while, seemed to be better at traditional storytelling than horror). It was nice to watch. But, see, i saw it once and litterally forgot about it. It was an ordinary, polished up, sentimental prison movie, with one really powerful moment (the Brooks story arc, which is way more interesting than any other charrcter in the movie). Played with lot of characters that had already been done to death in other prison movies, even better ("Escape From Alcatraz", "Brubaker", "Papillon"...).

Suddenly, it became this sacred movie that couldnt be criticized in any form. Was named "The Best Movie of All time" by many movie-loving communities.

And i still dont get it. I wont get into the plot flaws (especially the BIG one in the ending), those things arent really important. I am just not getting how a movie that so openly milks sentimentalism, delivers a story full of clichés, riddles it with eye-rolling speeches about hope (pretty much every word that the soon-to-be typecast Morgan Freeman speaks), villains that are close to cartoon, a main lead that has zero charisma and is basically the "Forrest Gump" of prison movies (as in, the feel-good bloated thing that is nice but really not that good), can become such an important film to everyone.

Ok, it moved you and made you feel better. Does that mean it's the "Best movie ever made"? Better than any other movie? And (like i heard once) "if you dont like the movie you dont have a heart"?

I never felt connected to the movie, the characters or the story. Its nice to watch but empty and manipulative. Thats my take. I guess i'm a bad person.

venerdì 18 marzo 2011

The 150th Anniversary of Italy: A Couple Of Unpatriotic Observations

Italians are different from most of the world. Not only in a steretype hugging way but also because our relationship with our own country is weirdly polarized for the most part.

You're hardly gonna find much of the slogan shouting adoration that a lot of American seems to have. Unless you speak with Grandma Giuseppina, who's 90 and never went away from hewr hometown and knitting set, you'll hardly hear anyone state that Italy is the best country in the world. No shouting about gold medals.

Going on FaceBook, who's optimal as a social type zoo, on the day of the anniversary pf Italy's birth, you wont have to witness the parade of obnoxiousness that is the fourth of July (no offense, there, yankees. It IS obnoxious).

The approach to the festivities seems to be divided in categories:

-Some use the recurrence to shout out their "Italian Pride" but quickly evolve it into declarations against immigrants, pseudo-fascist slogans, nostalgia about the monarchy or, on the opposite side, long winded complaints about Berlusconi

-Others ignore the event and seem to feel the need to stress how non-italianj they feel by saying that they'd rather celebrate St Patrick's day (does that make them american or irish. conundrum!)

-Others love the celebration but really do not know what the hell it's about. Usually teenyboppers, which are slowly but steadily approaching the brain capacity of amoebas. Example: "Today IM PARTYING AND GITTING SHITFACED LOLMFAO YAYITALY!!!!"

If you go around cities, you'll notice how the economy crisis has affected celebrations too. Not that many people around, not a festive air. Lots of open stores. Lots of unnerved misery.

The ones that seemed to have the right approach were the african street vendors: they sold italian flags for a bit, then switched to more approriate items, like soccer shirts or fake purses.

Still, for what i'm concerned, i gave myself one day of "takin no shit" from foreigners and trying to be happy about my land. And yes i said land, not country. Our sense of justice is fucked, our unemployement is tragic, our moral values are bankrupt. Still looking at our landscapes, our women and feeling the taste, smell and music of our land makes me feel quite happy. So, yeah, i think i'll keep loving this place. And if you dont agree, get the fuck out.

giovedì 17 marzo 2011

Podcasts that are worth your Not-So-Precious Time: Crestfallen Radio

If you read my post about The Soggy Bog, this one might start where that one finished. After discovering that music shows could be good even if i didnt have a radio, i started looking for other ones.

On a Soggy Bog episode, Bob played some tracks that were picked from another show host, Kev. His show, Crestfallen Radio, was named by Bob as his main inspiration for starting his and possibly the best doom, sludge and stoner show available.

So i followed the doom rabbit and got a few episodes of Crestfallen, falling instantly in love. I ADORE Crestfallen. Where Soggy Bog fills me with two hours of tracks by bands i like, Kev manages to pull what i worship in a music show host: he makes me discover stuff that i end up looking for, buying and loving. Kevin knows the Doom universe well, loves ity and always seems to have great new tracks i never heard before up his sleeve. Two hours pass, and i find myself with a stronger and renewed love for music, with a list of bandanmes to check and an enthgusiatic desire to discover new stuff. Which also ius the fuel for good living, in my opinion.

I think anyone should listen to his shows, including his other thrash metal opriented show "The thrash can" who would deserve a post of its own. Even if you're not a Doom Fan, he will surprise you and probably make you discover excellent stuff, a whole world of sounds you did not know.

The Show's Page:

This show can also be heard on the amazing Brutal Existence Radio:

Quitting: Why Sometimes, It's Time To Give Up

Ok, this one is one of those posts where i am writing mostly to get some heavy thoughts out of my head. You dont have to agree with me, my faithful eight readers. Ignore this one, like most people do.

Evberyday, when i talk to people about any sort of important topic, it seems that the common opinion is that you have to "Keep fighting for what you believe in" or "Never Quit". Some think of their compromises and their constant giving up of dreams aspirations and souls as a form of fighting. But in general, everyone is pretty much convinced that, no matter what's the situation, you have to keep fighting.

I am recently finding myself disagreeing. When it comes to survival, yes youy have to keep fighting. In the end the most important person you have in your world is you. So you have to fight to keep yourself alive and polssibly well. But a form of survival is also choosing your battles. And most battles you'll face arent worth fighting.

When it comes to actual health, you gotta stay strong. My best friend and soulmate, Rhian, is a fighter and i will always be on her side to keep her fighting, no matter what she has to face. She is an angel and has Lupus. I'd gladly die in the process of keeping her alive.

But when i, or even her, face fights that if kept on will destroy our soul, i think the best choice is to give up.

Think of all you regard as positive in yourself. The fact that you're passionate. The fact that you have strong opinions. The fact that you think that some relationships with friends or loved ones are more important tjhanm silliness. The fact that you have values and you dont want to hide them.

Sometimes you'll face situations and people whowill see all that as a negative. Your passion is a mean nature. Your strong headedness on what you believe is stupid and a symptom of being an arguing dick. You'll be turned into the bad person, no matter how right you are. Kind words from you will be ignored or turned around. The good things that you always counted on will be corrupted.

Somepeople take their hate out on others, cause its all they have. And meeting those people corrodes your soul from within. I have wasted much of my heart trying to get through everyone, and focusing on the harder people, only to come out as a bad guy in the end. Ignored at best, made out a monster at worst.

So i decided it's time to give up. I dont care anymore. I'll stop fighting for a while. I'm exhausted.

mercoledì 16 marzo 2011

Bands You Should Know: Agalloch

I can call myself a metalhead cause i like heavy metal . Still, the reasons behind my love for Agalloch are all rooted in something that could be shared by anybody, even if you're not into the genre.

First, i love agalloch, because, as great bands do, they have taken a style and a sound and shaped it into something different and unique that only they have. Their early, black metal works, was great but couldnt prepare anyone pof their listeners for the epic emotiona powerhouse that their latest album "Marrow of the spirit" is. And that somehow, kinda turned off the usually conservative black metal audience.

Second, they're great musicians and even greater artists. They do not use their sound and the force of it to stay into the closed walls of clichées. They actually communicate emotions, strong ones. The beauty of their songs is int the heart breaking, epic, stark melancholy they drip from every note. They're not songs, they're poems about wounded souls, grey and blue landscapes, cold rivers and eternal nights of aching.

Third, because their album "Marrow..." has made my emotions move and is eternally linked to moments that are so beautiful and heartbreakign to me, i will never be able to forget them wìor forget how the notes are part of those memories. I cant think of many bands that accomplished this.

Weird Sexual Fetishes: It's Not Just Japan

Any normal sociopathic weirdo knows that when it comes to covering insane sexual quirks and fetishes that really have nothing arousing to them at all, Japan is the place to go. After all, they are a population of almost genital-less people who deflect their sexual repression in the most creatively insane ways.

Any tour of the internet can prove this. You will be able to find Japanese Pie throwing videos, where a bunch of gentlemen in horrible underwear thwoe pies at a naked girl while she emits orgasm sounds that remind me of an excited baby seal before the clubbing (too much? sorry). You'll find ladies making out covered in bugs, squids, eels, various form of liquids and objects. Girls dressed in warrior costumes, kicking a line of (again) goofy looking dudes with socks and retarded faces, square in the balls. And more. Yeah, anyone knows that Japanese are weird when it comes to sexuality, although i personally think that THEIR way of expressing them is way less dangerous and offensive than most of OUR pornography.

True, the jappies have a thging for lolitas, fake rape, panties and depravities that are revolting. Still their ideas are usually done in a silly, mostly ridulous way. Their idea abouyt sex hits me as a weird cartoonish pantomime. They act out dark fantasies or weirdness, so its out there and not in their heads. They turn frustrated sexuality to some form of goofy, creepy but almost harmless entertainment. If you read any interview, most of their models are actuallòy not degraded or offended by what they do. Its like a costume play.

If we look at our white, round eyed porn, though.... Well lets not go to the extremes of 2 girls 1 cup. Lets gloss over the fact that said video, before turning into a shock value memem, was actually Custom Made for someone that actually WANTED to see such stuff.

Lets think that the barely legal genre is immensely popular, and riddled with movies where actresses openly dress like minors to arouse men. Lets think of the various series that seem to be all over the place in the pornb world: the titles all contain abuse, rape, incest, violence. I dont wanna go on a moralist anti-porn rant. I use porn. I dont like the rough kind cause it has no point for me. I like rough sex, but when its real. Seein actual violence on a woman, even if she got paid for it, doesnt arouse me.

Not long ago i saw an interesting documentary about the whole "fake snuff" fad. A couple of the interviewed actresses actually talked how most of them started in weird fetish videos that portrayed silly outlandish stuff, like kidnapping, clorophorming and fake killings. people fapped to those. Still, it was harmless. Then some of them enetered the realm of actual extreme porn (which is far from being a niche, and legitimate) where they got actually beaten, choked, slapped and degraded.

So in the end..... Whats more unsettling? A movie with girls making out with squids on their heads, or one called "Oh my god there's a negro in my teenage daughter!" (true)? People who have sex dressed as cartoon characters or "Fake cock" porn (where actresses make out with prosthetic penises that almost rip them apart?

I dont actually know.

martedì 15 marzo 2011

TV is Better Than Movies: Prison Break


Ok, in this section i planned to review tv series that in some form or another, reach a level of awesomeness that beats cinema.

Well, Prison Break does. Although in a sublimely insane way. So take this premise before you read: i LOVE this show. It enetertains me and its addictive. But, it's .... well, an acquired taste.

The premise is delightfully inane: a structural engineer, whose broither has been condmened to the elctric chair, gets himself into a maximum security penitentiary so he can get out, with his bro. Lot of colourful charcaters, psychotic shenanigans and jaw dropping plot twists ensue.

It's hard to explain what makes this so compelling. I have a hard time explaining it to myself.

The main character, the unflappable Michael Schofield is played with a special technological advancement by Actomatron x657, the first robotic actor ever built. It manages to replicate a man's aspect down to every details and pulls off a certain sexiness too, so kudos. Still, its a new technology so it has no ability in doing more difficult stuff like actual different expressionb according to the situations of the character. So you'll have a charmingly brooding expression with a hint of sexy masculinity done amazingly but you'll have it frozen all the time. Well, after all it is a robot. They even gave him a real human name, "Wentworth Miller", which is obviously made up but still cute.

The rest of the cast is made by humans, that do their job as insane or compelling side characters. Note to the amazing T-Bag, a villain that manage to pull all the repulsive prison bad guy card tricks, from speaking with a southern accent, to buttfucking the buttfuckable and still be hilarious.

The plot is where the magic works. If you do your brain the favour of turning it off, "Prison Break" will reward you with more insane dramatic twists than Jack Bauer's worst day (note: 24 sucks, this doesnt). You'll be constantly on the edge of your seat, uttering "aw cmon, trhat doesnt even make sense!", yet still compulsively watching.

Ok, some parts of this review are a bit silly but the show IS good. So give it a try.

Picking Up Ladies, Italian Style

The two delightful host of Tilted Halo Cast, ViVi and Rhian asked me on their latest show about some Italian pick up lines translated in english.

I am a pick up artist, as all italians are. We are taught the art of getting to a lady's heart with one simple sentence, a few minutes after we're born. Our Fathers actually put us to the test right in the hospital with the sexier toddlers. Failure equals being thrown away.

It's a though gig, but its the only way to ensure that we have people cooking for us and raising our babies.

So, enough exposition and let me show you some of my favourite and effective Pick Up Lines, translated in your gross, unromantic and culturally insensitive language. Use them with care, cause they never fail, and you wanna leave some lady for the others too.

- "Nice Legs! What's Opening Time?"

- "Are you A Circus Seal? Cause I really would love you to play with my balls"

- (call a waitress to your table) "See? I Just made you come with one finger. Imagine what i can do with TEN!"

- "Hey i am an organ donor. Do you want my best one?"

- "Your father is a thief. He stole two stars and used them as your eyes!" (BAAAAAARF. Sorry. Too much sexiness)

- "My friends call me Tripod. Wanna see why?"

- "You must be a light switch, cause you turn me on" (BEUUUUURKKKKKK. Sorry, must be the cold)

Ok, theres more but i need to take a break before i cry desperately. Get ready to have all the ladies in town and buy lots of shoes.

lunedì 14 marzo 2011

Podcasts That Worth Your Not-So-Precious Time: The Soggy Bog Of Doom

When i started spending actual time listening to Podcasts, while doing my daily and uninteresting activities, i was flooded with shows that ndealth withg all sorts of topics,, comedic shows, movie shows, and so on.

What i was really looking for was some shows that played music. Make that music i like. Make that Doom, Stoner and Sludge, the holy trifecta of awesomeness for my riff loving ears.

Semed like no matter how much i asked, no matter how hard i looked for them, i couldnt find something that was even remotely listenable. Lots of podcasts that "talked" about music (finebut it's like describing sex. not the same at all). Lots of podcasts that played a few tracks but had to fill them with horrifyingly unfunny commentary, half-arsed jokes and yapping (shut up, Dr Terrible, i want to hear the songs!). Lots of shows devoted to horrible music ("El Chorizo's latin comedy rap hour! Arriba!").

One day, when i was almost on the edge of defeat (as i often am, in my head) i randomly read the name "Soggy Bog Of Doom". What a title. I still am unsure of what a Bog is but it definitely sounds fitting. And i found what i was looking for.

The Soggy Bog of Doom delivers two hours of Doom, Sludge, Stoner, and general riff-loving pleasure, hosted by the undescribably likeable host Bob.

Bob is onje of the reasons for my LOVE for the show. Not only he has great taste and plays great music and he limits the chatting to the inbeteween parts. He has a pleasant, charming voice, doesnt do goofy characters, knows about the music and loves it (a lot). He is funny, has a sense of humour, he cracks self effacing jokes, is enthusiatic about what he plays, drops less known gems and gives great hints (sometimes unconventional ones, since he plays what he wants and not what labels dictate). He evn has a section titled "Under The Muck" where he plays obscure, unsigned bands that eventually, you'ìll end up looking for on the web.

In the end, i find myself waiting for his show as one of the week's high points. And his other shows are great too: "Ye Olde Metal Shoppe", devoted to all forms of heavy (dont expect Korn, though. Bob is proudly old-school) and "The Stygian Passage" devoted to atmospheric black metal, gothic, funeral doom and all that is bleak.

If you're not into podcasts you can hear his show on the magnificient station "Brutal Existence Radio". Bless the Bog/b.

domenica 13 marzo 2011

Wuss-i-fication: a tale of a man's frustrated tenderness

Personal post time.

Ok, so, basically, i've been through a VERY rough patch lately. I dont know what happened to my head, since it was pretty strong in the last, say, year but let's say i have relapsed into full depression. I have panic attacks that wake me in the middle of the night, weird thoughts, bursrst of anger and tears, mood swings. No i'm not saying FML, just acknwoledging that something in the chemistry of my second favourite organ has gone haywire.

So, i was having a rough time handling even the most menial tasks. Could get into work quite easily, in a robotic fashion but couldnt sleep. Keith Malley's audiobook version of "The Great American Novel" helped but still, a black wave of horror was (and is) behind every corner.

I just wanted to shut off from everything and sleep. My schedule had me attending a thunderously heavy show by one of my favourite bands, the doom kings "Electric Wizard", not far from my home town. One of my best friends, who apparently resisted all my tenacious attempts to push away everyone and still cares about me, invivted me to see the show with him and stay at his house. That would've been a good chance to meet his newlyborn daughter, Arianna, whom in the haze of my lame despair, i hadnt seen yet.

The problem with this thing is that it reenforces itself. You shut yourself off from friends cause going out scares you, being with people is unsafe, panic makes you wanto to hide. And with each time you do it, you feel more guilty for pushing away everyone, so you're embarassed to show your face even more.

In my paranoia addled brain, fueled by scarcely working meds and insomnia, i was going as far as thinking i couldnt show myself in the presence of his daughter cause i was a dangerous person. i am very self aware of my issues. And i am scared to death of being regarded as a disturbed person. Nobody really does that, i keep the details to myself. Still, my mother, who's tough as nails, loves to hit me at any chance she has with phrases on what a "sad nutjob" i am. And loves to convince me that people will be afraid of me and get me locked into an asylum. She's a drunk. Thats waht they do.

So i knew i had to do it. But i was afraid. Afraid to move. Afraid to touch the baby and hurt her. Afraid to raise my voice to loud and scare her. And again, i am NOT that type of person. But i've been raised by someone like that and i'm afraid it might be in me. So i cage it before it happens.

Eventually i ended up going. Fillin my earbuds with music so my brain wouldnt think. A hard rain, a hat and a racing heart. If i failed this, i would've been finished. Locked in an asylum, with mother laughing at me and saying "i told ya".

I reached their house, went in and heard the little one crying for hunger. So i approached her, in the arms of my buddy (who never looked so small as in with a little version of himself in his arms). He said "Say hi to Uncle Andrea".

And she stopped crying. To look at me. With two tiny, powerful blue eyes and a heartshaped mouth. With that confused but stern face that toddlers have. She scrutinized me, like a tiny pink Buddha and apparently approved. Gave a tiny "Guh" then resumed asking for milk.

See, i am a tough person. I've abused myself and hated more than loved. Always said that whoever didnt like me was my enemy. Always acted cocky and superior even at my lowest points. But lately, the shield is breaking, and my bones arent the same as they used to. I need something and i'm not sure i have it yet, but still, somepart of me clicked and i felt at peace. I dont think babies are smart or cute. I dont want any. But seeing that THIS one actually liked me somehow and wasnt afraid, seeing that her dad and mom wanted me to be around her.... That i WASNT seen as a broken man and the only person who's afraid of me, it's me.... Mad me feel at peace.

The rest of the night was heaven. I had fun. Stayed sober. And i still feel great. It will go back in the dark. I know it. But i feel a bit stronger, now. It's one step.

Ok. Now you can point and laugh, douches.

giovedì 10 marzo 2011

How To Defeat A Bad Day

Everyone has a really bad day. It happens to me one day out of two. Sometimes you even think of doing something terrbile and extreme, like locking your twitter account or posting a tirade on facebook and unfriend everyonbe afterwards, but dont go that far, there's solutions. All you need is a powerful immagination:

- Make a list of stereotypes about countries and think of the ones that partain to the infamour 10% of truth. Example: Canadians are polite and they say "aye" and "aboat", Californians are mellow and they elongate the last part of words, British people are smart, Italians are sleazy and eat pizza for breakfast, Black ladies say HMMHMMM in theatres, Brits think they're funny but they really arent and the French are scumbags.

- Start Insane projects that no one else would think of. Example: A show where you can go spank annoying undisciplined kids and belittle them (title "The Toddler Whisperer"?), a fiction based in the ficitonal town of "Your Mom, Louisiana", a comedy act where all jokes have no punchline and end with "Pull my finger" or "That's what your AIDS infected sister said!"

- Find a porn niche that hasnt been exploited yet on the internet, defeating the rule that any perversion has. Example: Is there a website for people that like to have sex with garden gnomes. Look it up.

- Blame everything that's happening to you on one single person or entity and start plotting horrifying revenge on them. NOTE: the enemy must be unreachable or a tequila night could turn bad.

- Create weird lolcats that shout offensive racial slurs and say horrible stuff but are sooo cute.

- Look up an ex Girlfriend/Boyfriend and invadce their facebook page with weird non-sequitur posts, until they block you

- Pull a repulsive prank at work, so repulsive that all your coworkers will wake up and cry tonight

There's more.... You figure them out.

mercoledì 9 marzo 2011

TV is Better Than Movies: True Blood.

Well, this series is tricky.

My absolute revulsion for anything vampire-related after the success of "Twilight", with which i really have no beef but its not how i conceive the vampire mythology, made me steer away from this one for a long time. I kept reading positive things about it, but the mere idea of watching a series on vampire centered on a love-story between a bloodsucker and a human gave me rashes.

Then, i watched the first episode, during one of those days where i crave distractions more than air.

Well, i was hooked. The series was all blood, tits, dark humour, mean spirited horror and all covered by Louisiana/Southern Gothic atmosphere which i love top bits and pieces. The credit sequence already made me fall in love.

A series of iconic images that described the themes of the show, somehow better than the show itself: buble thumping, south, shady pubs, creepy bayou atmospheres, raw sex and violence. All paced to one of the coolest theme songs of the decade. (weirdly enough, the rest of the music by its author, musician Jayce Everett, isnt that good)

The series was fun at first and the characters were adorable, especially the supporting ones (my heart goes to the badass gay cook Lafayette).

Still theres a problem. As the series progresses and manages to keep me hooked, the main characters loose appeal. Actually they're DESPICABLE. The main lady Sookie (a name that is made to be said in a souther accent. "Shooo-Kay!") especially, played by Anna Paquin.... Well she's supposed to be a strong headed lead that is the opposite of a sensitive damsel in distress but slowly she becomes a mercurial, bitchy, hideously unlikeable and temperamental character. And her love interest Bill becomes a spineless jerk. I'm still watching. The mood works in its favour.

Maybe she'll get whacked.

The Weird World Of Modern Job-hunting....

Trust me, this wont be a lecture. I just need to squeeze this huge soul pimple.

The crysis actually exixts. I am not whining about it, i dont have the huge balls that sompe people have and complain how i cant afford an ipad. Thers people who starve and lost their home, so i am lucky. Still i have my bills to pay like anyone else and things are getting increasingly difficult.

I have a main job, in a software store, but the pay isnt high enough to cover everything in a decednt manner, so i'm trying to get a second job and i know people who'd love to have a third one or evena fourth. That's how it is, life is a bitch that always needs money.

This morning though, the surrealism of what i witnessed gave me a good view of the "Brazil" like future that is coming for the few retards between us athat are actually thinking of having kids.

I had an interview fixed as a sales agent for a semi-unknown publishing house. Their ads were kinda convincing somehow, and they seemed genuinely interested in my CV.

The interviews were taken in a giant, shapeless hotel in the outskirts of Milan (hmmmmm). There were a bunch of people waiting with me, some were young, some were even in their forties and desperate looking. No signs of anything actually professional anywhere (hmmmmmmm). The sweat and the despair in the room was palapable. a guy told me how lately he almost started a fight with a friend "He just kept complaining how boring his job is. I wish i had a job to complain about. I worked as a sales agent for four years and got fired when the place closed. Now i have to beg"

We get called one by one and briefly interviewed. Usual "are you motivated" bullshit. But the ending is scary. Quote the jist:

"We're trying to motivate our future employees by making a deal with them. You'll have to buy our products and subscribe to our publications and then we might conisder you as a sales agent. Also you'll take the responsibility of unsold items on you and pay them"

Some people accept. I have goosebumps. When i hear people who live in lucky and not completely broken countries that brag about refusing perfectly decent job offers, or complain about "having to do interviews", my testicles swirl. You have no idea of how bad it's getting. Get ready, we'll have to resort to cannibalism. I might need to loose weight.

martedì 8 marzo 2011

In Honour Of Women's Day

Humoredians: Mike DeStefano

As a non-american who doesnt get any form of american tv, i encountered Mike DeStefano only in his non-tv shaped form.

I am a stand-up comedy lover, so whenever some label that i trust (like the never failing "Stand Up! Records") publishes a recording of a comedian, i usually check them out. I got DeStefano's cd "Ok Karma" basically without knowing anything about him. Something about the numerous videos avaiulable on youtube, his appearance and the few quoted jokes i read, spoke to me. It seemed like the guy was speaking true painful truth through jokes. But i wasnt prepared for what i heard.

I love stand-comics who can filter the darkness of life thorugh comedy. there's something in comedy as an art form that allows thje real geniuses to transmit pure, unadulterated truth, while actually helping yuou laugh and feel better. When you hear a great comedian, you migh not only laugh but you watch the world in a different way. A few manage to do it perfectlyu: Doug Stanhope, Marc Maron, Bill Hicks, Greg Giraldo. And DeStefano.

His material made em laugh, sometimes insanely but the stuff behinf the jokes was..... intense. The man took humour from darkness. Despair. Life at its worst. Anger. Painful realization. And he was far from being a stereotypical whiny self ware comedian. He was tough inb his views. He talked about facing life for the cesspol it is and trying to survive it. He humoured the ridicolouseness of making living "special" and "meaningful", and was all about the raging power of abrasdive laughter. He was unforgiving. He was mean. He was hilarious.

He was at his peak, making sell out shows. Died of a heart attack on the night of 6 march 2011.

lunedì 7 marzo 2011

Comics For Non-Nerds: Jack Kirby

Nerds know who this man is.

Comic Book fans have a heart jump whenever his name is mentioned.

I think ANYONE should know Jack Kirby's work. Not only cause he influenced moder art, pop-cultture and is still the most unsurpassed pure artist that the genre has (and proof is in the thousands of other artists who are directly or indirectly possessed by his style).

If you have to learn what The Man (capital letters intended) is at his most personal and unleashed, save some bucks and get the magnificient hardcover editions of his "Omnibus" that DC comics put out. Its four volumes that deal with super hero characters but actually do more:

They build Myth.

And i'm not talking about myth in the half-assed way that lots of artists and psychologist use the term. Kirby is a creator of Visions, Tales of giant and titans that fight against unexplicable evil (see his unparalalled take on Darkseid) to save the fabric of reality itself from unraveliong. His drawings are like Paintings, they explode in nyour eyes and assault your senses on any possible level. His words sparkle like electrified spoken rock. Some of his sentences even sound good.

And his ideas, his stories. The absolute romaticism, the utter insanity, the epic powerhouse of daring experiments with storytelling. And the fun. Kirby was fun. Reading him as an adult just makes you feel turning back to a state of purity, exhilaration, awe and a "wow how the hell can you think of THIS" feeling....

Seriously my words cant give you much more than a hint of the glory that this man is. Just read his stuff.

"I think the world Should have cried, on the day Jack Kirby Died" -Monster Magnet

The REAL Issue With Having Children.

Seems like there's an increasing numberof comedians, writers, womwn and men that are all about their pride in NOT wanting children.

Whwn it comes to ladies, every reason is right. They have to deal with the debilitating experience that is childbirth, the physical mutations that it causes and the cuirse that it puts on you. Lots of ignormaus people especially in places like Bumblefuck, RedNeckia or the italian cities like La Puta Catolica, women have to survive the relntless dreck of dealing with family and friends who force them into motherhood or pressure them about it. So any woman has the right to say "fuck it" to that, and more.

When it comes to men, my opinion is a bit different. As much as everyone likes to believe that when it comnes to children , men and women are equal, they're not. Men, for the most part, do not have father instincts in them. they will adapt, be affectionate, do their part, but nature did not make them as caring creatures. Menh are self-centered, sperm containers and i say this as one of them.

So often you will hear a guy either being against having kids and using excuses as "overpopulation" (like any of them really cares) or "become succesful" (like any of them ever becomes succesful). At the opposite, you'll the most terrifying sentence ever uttered: "I'll have kids because a man has to". Maybe you wont hear it so clearly, you might just hear "well, if it happens, it happens". If you're dating this guy, dump him. Why? Ok....

90% of people are not going to be good parents. Women are going to do most of the good part, but the majority of men will not be good fathers. They will not really love their child. They will have the immediate affection a la "Oh look, a new pet" but when it comes to dealing with the issue that is building a person's life and character, they will fail. I think that having a kid, needs to mean making him or her happy. It has to be.

It's not like theres too many people on the planet. The problem is that there's too many unhappy ones. Hurt, lonbely and broken. And chances are that most of us would just make a little one, more miserable. We will say we love them but they will always be that thing that got in our way and changed our lives. The reason for us giving up, while we would've given up anyways.

So ask yourself: "could i have a child and make him grow happy, balanced, strong and not unleash my failures on him, even accidentally"

If the answer is honest, it will probably be "No". Nothing wrong with that. But if you think you can, then have them. But love them for real. Dont pretend to.

domenica 6 marzo 2011

Sunday Fairy Tale.

Once Upon a time, a young boy with a sweet disposition and rosey cheeks named Andrea thought the world was in his palms.

He didnt have a quiet childhood. Didnt think his parents were bad or to balme for anything cause most parents are people who happened to create another human being and cannot handle what that ends up meaning. His parents were not ready for him. They didnt love each other, or if they did, anything between them had disappeared in a haze of pettiness, betrayal, booze and pain. His father was a man wqho got bullied a lot whn he was a kid and who was on a quest of showing he was strong by bullying others. His mother had dreams and a loving family, but they died all at different stages of her life, so she married a man who promised her security. It was a lie. He hit her, insulted her, corroded her daily with sarcasm and fear, so she started drinking and being mean. And then they had a kid.

They raised him, somehow but they were broken and didnt know how to love this little thing who forced the together, so they kinda resented him and he got that. They never were a family.

The kid grew up thinking that it was normal to be screamed at and called "faggot" by your dad. That it was normal to clean up piss and blood from the floor on christmas eve, and then pull up your mom, heavy and passed out, to put her in bed while she bglamed you for everything in her life.

The kid tried to build himself a life, spine, a skeleton. He fell in love with the wrong person, like most of his kind do. He thought he could win. But those things never work. So he slipped.

He loved to quiet his panicky head with alcohol, l.ike his mother did. Got drunk until he passed out. Crashed into places. Hurt himself, a lot. Somnehow he thought he was a rockstar, all of that excess made him feel powerful and high. Stronger, loved and aprreciatted. He didnt know that his weirdest companion was creeping inside his head.

Slowly his mind unraveled. At times he felt on top of a mountain, acting like Jagger or Steven Tyler in pubs, Spendin his money on alcohol, drugs and vintage clothes. changing the color of his hair, wearing make up, hanging with weird people that enabled his vices but always were there for him. He liked to exhaust himself, to sleep around, to have sex with weird people, to get himself to the bottom. But he was going loose.

At times that energy he had got too high. He wanted too much, he was too angry, too happy, too over the top. Screaming at people, starting fights, getting beaten. At times he could barely get out of bed and just laid there without eating, wanting to sleep his life aways. And everyuthing seemed like it was slipping away. He abandoned faith ages ago, but he grasped it back cause it made the noises less loud. He thought that god was watching him and he was punshing for his mistakes. That if he started praying regularly, like a compulsive ritual, with regular numbers of prayers, things would have changed. If he did only one mistake in the prayers, eve a mall one, god would have punished him with more pain. He started atoning for his sin by denying himself food, sleep, sex, anything. Gave away his stuff cause it would please the lord.

And he heard voices, noises, saw lights and stuff that amde the world scary. Or he just didnt hear anything and cried all day and night hoping to die. He pushed away everyone and became a wreck. Shutting the world out.

The pills helped him. They made him feel quiet. Mixed with alcohol they almost gave him some sort of peace. but his body got used to that quick. SO like a good junkie he increased the dosage. Now every part of the day was just a grind to get to the moment when he swallowed those tiny bits of serenity. Everyday one more. And he didnt care to die. It felt too0 good and if they took him, better.

He almost killed himself. Twice.

One night he went to a party and got way too drunk and angry again. Tried to start a fight, ran away from the place crying after attacking his best friend. Crasshed his car and tried to run away headbutting people. The cops took him away and he didnt feel anything. He was actually calm and sober. They took away his licence and life.

He had to sober up and go to therapy. His doctor, a vampire looking man that tought he could handle the world's troubles with a bunch of prescriptions, filled him up with good words and poisons.

"Let us help you be a better person"

"The soul gets sick too and it can be cured"

The meds turned off everything. From his fear to his libido. He couldnt think, or create. He just woke up, ate, did mechyanical stuff and went to sleep without dreaming. everything was slow, muted, grey and covered in glue. He used to be a writer and a smart guy but now the medicines killed this part of him. He became overweight, lost hair. From the frail, neurotic thing he was, he became a slob of indifference and lack of feelings.

New friends and loves started to pop out. And slowly he decided to rebuild himself. It was tough at first but it worked. He was emabarssed about his past. He oculdnt face it. So he decidecd to restart. Used the intenet for that and it worked. Slowly he was re-buiolding himself. Meeting sweet people that accepted him and loved him no matter what. And that helped his daily life too. he got new jobs, started new projects. He fell in love again. And again. And again....

Now hes stronger. He fihts every day witha that thing in his head, which hasnt gone away. He still has to use the mneds some times or things could be worse. But he has hopes, and feelings and feels like hge can handle iut. And he has people, that hold his hand and walk him thorugh everything, helping him to survive. He is.... happy.

So maybe he'll, get the world after all. Who knows, he might even save the princess. Right Rhi?

Thanks. To everyone,

The little boy