Love and Money

The following question was sent to my Formspring profile from an anonymous contributor. As I answered it, I suddenly felt inspired to elucidate. Since the post I’ve been working on has kind of stalled, I thought I’d share this in the meantime. It’s not much, but it’s something to chew on.

Q: What is more important to you: love or money?

A: I’ll freely admit that money is very important to me. Money doesn’t buy happiness, but money does buy things that facilitate happiness. It’s love, though, that makes life worth living.

I can hear the lamentations now. “Oh no, he’s gone soft on us! How can someone so hateful espouse the virtues of love?!” Understandable. But hear me out.

When I speak here of love, it is with the broadest of definitions. Most people think of romantic love when a question like this comes up. That’s certainly an important kind of love, but there are so many others! Love of your work, love of animals, love of a hobby, love of the arts. Anything that anyone is passionate about can be a path to happiness. Some of these loves are destructive (love of war, love of bigotry). Those who walk those paths find only false happiness and bring ruin to those around them. Ultimately, it is the duty of all people to maximize happiness, and this is best achieved by attending to our passions. In doing so, we achieve fulfillment and sometimes find meaning. We, as humans, are singularly brilliant in our love, by virtue of our intellect, but it is this same intellect that can so easily lead us astray. To become obsessed with money is to be lost, and it’s a pity more people can’t or simply won’t realize that.

Personally, I need to find happiness through significance. It is a difficult path, but a noble one. One might argue that an easier path might yield the same levels of happiness, but I believe that it’s not always so simple as choosing a path. I believe that, in many ways, our paths are chosen for us by our upbringing. The people we become, and consequently the values we hold dear, are the direct result of our circumstances, and even to some extent our specific genetics. The paths to happiness accessible to us are determined by our upbringing, and our choices must be made from among our given set, but it is up to us which one we finally tread.

GWAR at Bonnaroo 2010

So GWAR played a 2:30 AM set at Bonnaroo this year.

You know, Bonnaroo, the giant music festival in Tennessee where thousands of hippies and dirty people with dreadlocks gather to listen to music and trip out on tons of drugs.

Yeah GWAR played there this year, and it was awesome!

They rocked, there was tons of blood, Space Michael Jackson had his face ripped off, there was dismemberment, more blood, Obama showed up and in typical GWAR fashion sprayed blood everywhere, Margaret Cho got killed, and the was evil mutant baby impalement, an evil space pope, and then some blood sprayed everywhere.

Here’s some pics.

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AND HERE’S A SHORT VIDEO I TOOK A THE END OF THE SHOW!

EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP the Banksy film

So we all know about Banksy right?

Guy’s pretty much the most famous street artist around. Often imitated,  the guy pretty much made modern street art into the weird popular thing that it is today. I mean half the cool stuff of his is the reason I decided to try to get into stenciling and wheatpasting.

Banksy has made a movie. It’s a documentary that’s kinda about himself, but not really. It’s called Exit Through The Gift Shop.

I saw it this past weekend at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, and have to say it’s pretty awesome.

The film is really about this guy Thierry Guetta, who loved to film everything in his life. He was the sort of dude who would just have a camera on him, filming, almost 24/7, not for any real reason besides the fact that he felt compelled to do so. He’s kinda a wacky French dude, with a funny accent, some awesome facial hair, and he might be a boat-full of crazy. And he may not even be a real dude.

Thierry Guetta

He happens to be cousins with a French street artist known as Space Invader, and managed to convince his cousin to let him film him at work.

So he becomes more and more interested in street art, filming various artists, until he becomes sort of an unofficial documentarian of the street art underground. He meets various famous artists and goes around following them with his camera, but he find Banksy elusive.

You get a feel for how obsessed Thierry becomes, he apparently has thousands of tapes of just random footage, from years of taping. He’s kinda a weird guy. Eventually by providence he meets Banksy, they go around L.A. together and become companions after Banksy pulls his infamous Disneyland stunt.

So they go around together Guetta filming, Banksy letting him be document his exploits, under the condition that his face never be seen. It’s all very adventurous. Eventually Banksy tells Guetta that he should actually turn his footage into a movie, and when he does it’s supposedly a huge P.O.S.

So then Banksy takes the reigns and makes the rest of the film about Guetta’s rise as a street artist known as Mr. Brainwash. He becomes wildly successful despite the fact that much of his body of work is done by others and cannibalizes all sorts of styles and concepts. The film then documents Mr. Brainwash’s first giant art opeing in L.A., peppered with people’s opinions and various anecdotes.

The whole thing is pretty amusing, cause there’s always the sense that the entire film could be one giant hoax. Guetta is such a strange dude, and he seems kinda like a buffoon. But it is a documentary, and Guetta did sell almost a million dollars in art at his L.A. show. It’s just crazy how just by mostly copying the ideas of others, and in what seems to be a mostly random creation process, he creates stuff that sell for huge amounts.

Banksy says at one point: There’s no one like Thierry, even though his art looks like everyone else’s.

We never actually see Theirry do any real creating on his own, and whenever he’s asked questions by reporters he always gives some rambling, strange answer about how he is an artist. He always just comes across as more of a crazy dude than anything else.

It might be a giant piece of documented performance art.

The movie is unbelievably meta. It’s about the street art word, and it might be the artistic sabotage of that same street art world by someone who helped create it. We’re never sure if Banksy is really a person or a collective of artists, but the movie helps to spread the myth, the story, into the pop culture. The movie blurs the lines of what’s real and what’s been faked, and it does it brilliantly. You’re never sure what part of the story is something that might have been staged, might have been one giant, elaborate joke upon the art community.

BANKSY

Banksy stays hidden in the shadows the entire time, and by the end we don’t really know anything more about him than when it started.We just know that in doing what started out as subversive art, helped create a popular, money making movement, one that isn’t immune to his own subversion.

How much of this documentary is true, we might never know, and it’s not really worth the trouble wondering, cause honestly that’s half the point. Either the truth is stranger than fiction, or it’s all a big hoax, either way we’ve been shamed at least a little.

Exit Through The Gift Shop is a great, intriguing documentary about the world of street art, it’s funny, it’s satirical, and it may or may not be at least partially true.

Yo Dawg I Heard You Like Centipedes

So while I usually find internet memes to be quite annoying, I find the “Yo Dawg I heard you like…” meme to be quite amusing.

Here’s my contribution.

Oh and I still find almost everything relating to The Human Centipede amusing.

ENOUGH by Kerry Turner might be the most depressing game ever

Sure the ending of Shadow of The Colossus is all sad and stuff, and some other recent games have tried to hurt our feelings, but it’s been a while since I’ve played something that’s just bleak.

Enough is a new flash game from reallyfancy.com, made by Kerry Turner. It’s a little bit brilliant.

You’re a rabbit. A cute little bunny.

Your whole world is a barren brown chunk against a black void. You can movie back and forth and jump.

There is a swarm of crows that swoop around randomly and try to hit you.

At the top of the screen it says Please Stop.

Any time you get hit by a crow the message changes. It progresses to I’m so tired, Just stop, Please, I’ve had enough, and finally I don’t want to go on. When you’re hit the final time you disappear from existence.

The whole experience is ominous. The black void, the inevitability of you perishing. The fact that the game itself is asking you to not continue.There’s no music, and there’s only about 5 sound effects total. Every little bit, there’s a sound of cawing crows, ugly, and preceded by a half second of white noise. It happens to remind you of the unavoidable threat that surrounds you, and it’s frankly a bit unnerving.

It’s hard to know what to make of Enough.

From the instant you start playing you’re under attack, and the common survival instinct says that you should jump to avoid player death. But you cannot survive. You cannot win. The bunny itself tells you that there’s no point, and that all you’re doing is making things worse. The game itself has already accepted the fact that there is no pleasure in the game, that there is no winning, so the real game is accepting that as a player.

It’s like the movie Funny Games, whereas in the film, horrible things only happen to the character because you, as a viewer, have chosen to watch. In Enough, the rabbit/the player suffers only because they choose to play.

Unlike Canabalt, another game, where death is inevitable and will happen with every game session, there is no incentive to try again. No high score, nothing to strive for.

It’s hopeless.

And because of this Enough is brilliant.

I don’t want to make a definitive statement about what the game is about. But I feel that the game is about being an anti-game. If that makes sense.

The only way you can really win, to really prevent the rabbit from perishing into blackness is to not play.

Quick thoughts on some music

THE DEAD WEATHER – SEA OF COWARDS

Sea of Cowards is the second album from The Dead Weather, and it has come not even a year after their first, Horehound.

My initial impression is pretty much, that if you like Horehound, you’ll probably like Sea of Cowards. It’s a similar record; it’s dirty, nasty sounding, bluesy rock and roll.

The dynamic between Jack White and Alison Mosshart is better this time around, with more songs showing their good vocal interplay. They’re switch between lead and harmony more often now, and both sing on the same songs more often it seems.

Musically it’s still a lot of grimy, fuzzy guitar and bass, but they’ve added some more organ and even a little synth. The third song The Difference Between Us sounds like some sort of weird 60’s/70’s ish sci fi shenanigans. So there’s a little bit more variety.

After a listen and a half, hardly enough time to really absorb the whole thing, I have to say I think it’s a pretty good album, at least on par with Horehound. Jack White and co. continue their winning streak.

A PLACE TO BURY STRANGERS – EXPLODING HEAD

A Place to Bury Strangers has a sort of dark atmospheric, shoegaze meets industrial, meets some gothic shenanigans feel; with sounds that kinda sound like they’re from the late 80’s.

I’ve listened to this album a couple of times through while doing work, and I think that if you’re into the sort of sonic textures that they’re going for, it’s a pretty nifty listen. Dissonance and white noise as music, with deep echoing drums and crunchy bass, it’s not for everyone, but I like it.

It’s obvious that they’re kinda a pastiche of influences, but they play well enough, and hold the attention well enough, so I’m not gonna criticize them for that. I’ve not got a huge knowledge of their musical forefathers, so I can’t really compare.Still they’re loud, and somewhat oppressive, and that’s cool.

Exploding Head as an album has better production than their first, self titled album, A Place to Bury Strangers. It makes them sound a little bit less raw, but it’s a not really a bad thing, it just gives both their albums a different feel. Both are worth giving a listen if you’re into shoegaze or noise.

JAPANDROIDS – ART CZARS

I know I’ve mentioned this single before, but I’ve been listening to it pretty frequently as of recent. It’s a great one-two punch of songs. The first, Art Czars is pretty much awesome. It’s probably the angriest song that Japandroids have actually put out so far, and probably the one that most makes you want to shout with their music.

The second song is a cover of Big Black’s song Racer X. Also awesome, I honestly think it’s better than the original recording. The riff hits harder, the song is more concise, and the brevity helps. It’s a badass rock song about the world of Speed Racer, it’s pretty sweet.

Vanilla Ice is COOL AS ICE

Netflix Instant watch is easily the best thing to happen to movies since movies happened to movies.

You can vedge out in front of your TV and watch all sorts of films of varying quality. AS MANY AS YOU WANT!!!

They’ve got tons of Critertion Collection films, classic like M, Walkabout, and The Seventh Seal. There’s also plenty of Troma films if that’s your bag. It’s great, because they’ve frequently got films available to watch that never came out on DVD and are loooooong out of print.

You can sometimes find some great movies on instant watch that aren’t available anywhere else these days. I got to see the “Jeff Goldblum as the devil” film, Mr. Frost, for instance. That movie has been out of print since the VHS days.

Other times you can find movies that have been rightfully out of print since the VHS days. Like the 1991 Vanilla Ice vehichle Cool as Ice.

The movie is about Vanilla Ice riding into some small town with some friends on a motorcycle and his attempts to pick up this girl. He goes about it in the most retarded way imaginable. He’s just riding along and sees her riding a horse, so he magically jumps his motorcycle over a fence, and then almost kills her before attempting to hit on her.

So yeah, she’s understandably pissed after that. I mean I would be too, if someone made me fall off a horse.

That’s one half of the movie, the other half is weirdly reminiscent of A History of Violence. See the girl’s father is none other than everyone’s favorite Graboid hunter from the Tremors movies, Michael Gross. He used to be a cop or something and after some troubles, he and his wife went into hiding, but they were spotted on TV by former associates, who show up in their new small town life with threats and violence.

The two plots are just polar opposites, it’s like they just kinda took two unfinished scripts, mashed them together and added some Vanilla Ice. He spends half the movie riding around on a motorcycle and hanging out anyway.

He also spends most of the movie wearing an incredibly silly jacket. It’s just covered in random phrases like YEP YEP, DANGER, DOWN BY LAW, HYPE, ICE, and various other things. It’s the sort of fashion that nobody outside of 1991 would find remotely cool, much like everything about Ice in this movie. Cause no matter how cool he is trying to be, most of the time, he’s wearing really silly pants too. Not to mention his half shaved eyebrow, and silly hair cut.

Eventually the guys threatening the chick’s dad kidnap her little brother and threaten to end him, and so Vanilla Ice and his posse have to save the kid. It’s almost impressive, the efficiency at which they manage to do so.

So the movie ends with Vanilla Ice getting the girl, saving the day, and then some rapping.

Honestly the movie isn’t as bad as you’d expect, it’s no worse than most ‘musician makes a movie’ projects. And it’s kinda cliched at this point to dis the movie if you will, just based on Vanilla Ice. The movie’s 19 years old, if you still think it’s terrible just cause of the silly shit Ice does, then you’ve missed the whole point of watching it anymore. The movie is a time capsule, a warning to future generations, THIS SHIT WAS  COOL IN 1991, DON’T LET IT HAPPEN AGAIN. Those who don’t pay attention to history are doomed to repeat it.

Sure Ice isn’t the best actor, the plot is dumb, and the love story unbelievable, but considering the plethora of terrible cinema out there, I feel that this movie gets a bad rap. (PUN INTENDED). It’s currently #77 on the imdb.com bottom 100, and it doesn’t belong there. There are so many other shitpiles of filmaking that are worse than this. So many.

People just be hatin’ on Cool as Ice.

Honestly I enjoyed the movie, cause as un-good as most of it is, a lot of it is absurd and amusing. There’s also only like three rap numbers in the whole movie, so the amount of listening to Vanilla Ice actually rapping is less than you’d expect.

Cool as Ice, I absolve you of your sins.

You’re not as bad as you’re rep would suggest, and you’re even fun in a strange sort of way.

And with that I leave you with this, these words of wisdom, these immortal, magical lines from the film.

OK, actually I just remembered the tagline of the movie.

When a girl has a heart of stone there’s only one way to melt it.

Just Add Ice

Ok I admit it, that’s a pretty terrible tagline, it doesn’t make much sense.

For one you’re not gonna melt anything with Ice, and also since when is anyone refereed to as having a heart of stone?

But the tagline sucks in an awesomely bad sort of way, it’s just part of the charm.