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Anne Billson: A Few Words with the New Queen of Horror
04.11.2012
05:37 pm
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It was at a funfair, early one summer evening, amongst the lights and music, the calls to “Try your strength and win a prize”, the coconut shies, and bird-like squeals of laughter and fear, that my love for horror began.

The sign read: “Do You Dare To Enter The Corridor of Fear?!?!” I was 6 and perhaps too young to have blagged my way into this gruesome diversion. Taller than my years, I knew confidence paid out more than acquiescence. I also had an older brother as surety. We bought our tickets and made our way to the short flight of stairs up to a drab, curtained door, beyond which was an unimaginable world of terror. Or, so I hoped.

Inside was a long a darkened, corridor, its metal walls glistening with luminous paintings of vampires, werewolves, unholy creatures, and living dead. Hidden in the walls were a series of sliding panels from whence malevolent-masked carnies pounced, to grab and grope, prod and tickle, the unsuspecting marks.

At the top of the stairs, two teenagers who laughed nervously and shoved each other, too scared to enter inside. I pushed forward and saw the cause of their concern- a panel slid open and a skull-headed figure reached out. I held back, and once the panel closed, the youths ran into the darkness. My brother and I followed. Adjusting to the dark, I saw limned ahead the youths being goosed by a green glowing monster. There was a feeling of dread, of terror, and now anger as hard fists hit flesh. The mood had changed from panic to anger. I turned, there was no curtained exit, instead a wall had opened and partitioned us in. From inside this wall, a leering skull, its boney hands reached out towards me. I ducked the embrace, and crawled on hands and knees through the legs in front. Above, the struggle seemed no longer a game – harsh, menacing voices, breathless pleas. My brother followed and we escaped into daylight - heart racing, weak-limbed, face drained of color, I’d never felt more alive.

My love of horror started then, and still continues today, looking for that great sense of exhilaration and fun.

One writer who certainly knows how to mix the best of horror with a deliciously wicked sense of fun is Anne Billson, who has 3 superb novels, The Ex, Stiff Lips, and Suckers, just released as e-books.

Billson knows her genre better than most, and is a highly respected film critic, writing for the Guardian and Sunday Telegraph, who has specialized in writing definitive critiques on Let the Right One In, John Carpenter’s The Thing, as well as Buffy The Vampire Slayer.

In her fictions, Billson confounds all expectations by re-inventing the accepted traditions of the Horror genre, creating her own distinct and authorative voice.

When her first novel Suckers was originally published in1993, it was hailed as a startling and original debut, which contained “one of the most chilling moments in all Vampire Literature.” It was also highly praised by Salman Rushdie, who described the novel as a witty assault on 1980’s Thatcherite greed. The books success led to Billson being named as one of Granta’s prestigious “Best Young British Novelists”.

In 1997, Anne wrote the chilling and darkly comic ghost story Stiff Lips, which led to even better reviews and greater praise. Both of these novels are being re-released along with Anne’s latest horror, a ghost story The Ex, which is set to build upon the success of the first two.

I contacted Anne at her home in Brussels, to ask what attracted her to Horror fiction?

“I don’t think I’ve ever grown out of fairytales; the best fairytales are already quite dark, and horror just takes it further. I like stories where anything can happen, and which appeal to the subconscious as much as to the intellect.”

Do you think that where once it was Science-Fiction, it is now Horror that offers the best way to comment on the contemporary world?

“I think so. Horror provides us with a way of reflecting on subjects which in their unadulterated form would probably be too vast, distressing or embarrassing to contemplate - and which could be boring or pretentious in a more realist or self-consciously literary genre. But horror increasingly overlaps with SF, as well as with crime and other genres - particularly in this era of mash-ups. It’s getting harder to slot things easily into distinct categories.”

How do you define yourself as a novelist?

“I write a kind of horror comedy, though I’m reluctant to use the word comedy because I certainly don’t set out to be funny, which would be the kiss of death. Maybe it’s my worldview, which is a little odd, I don’t know.

“Publishers in the past have tried to pigeonhole what I write as satire or chick-lit - and I don’t think it’s either of those. Maybe a new term is needed.

“I feel very in tune with that streak of British comedy which is often more scary or surreal than funny - The League of Gentlemen, Shaun of the Dead, Spaced, Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace and so on. It might be presumptuous on my part, but I think we have something in common.”

What are your influences?

“How much time have you got? The usual suspects - MR James, Robert Aickman, The Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories (of which Aickman used to be an editor), Fritz Leiber, Philip K Dick, Nigel Kneale. And films, of course - Night of the Demon, The Innocents, The Haunting, Cronenberg, Romero… as well as Vincent Price films like Theatre of Blood and The Abominable Dr Phibes, and Amicus portmanteau horror films like The Vault of Horror and Asylum. Plus I’ve stolen ideas from Conrad and Balzac. Astute readers can probably spot the more blatant borrowings.”

Where some writers fight shy of their association with the Horror genre, Anne has no such qualms:

“If I had to choose between being categorized as a Horror writer or a Literary author, I would opt for Horror writer every time.

“Horror writers seem to be nicer, more generous and more convivial than Literary authors. Perhaps it’s because they direct all their fears and insecurities into their work, which makes them better company.”

The Ex, Stiff Lips, and Suckers are available here.

Anne is on twitter and her blog site Multiglom is always worth reading as are her Guardian columns.

Spoliers a collection of Anne Billson’s film writing is also available.
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher
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04.11.2012
05:37 pm
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‘The Fornicon’: The Erotic Art of Tomi Ungerer (NSFW)
04.11.2012
05:23 pm
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Tomi Ungerer’s illustrations, for a time, helped define Madison Ave. His work appeared in Esquire, Life, Harper’s Bazaar, The Village Voice and The New York Times. He drew the iconic Dr. Strangelove movie poster.

“Tomi influenced everybody,” said his friend and author/illustrator, Maurice Sendak. “No one, I dare say, no one was as original as Tomi Ungerer.”  His distinct form of simple line drawing practically screams “the Sixties.” Ungerer drew political cartoons, illustrated iconic childrens books, such as Flat Stanley as well as drawing darkly pornographic artwork based around sadomasochistic themes.

His 1970 project, The Fornicon, was a series of shocking, yet comic depictions of gyrating, wiggling and penetrating sexual S&M machinery and people, er… interacting with it. It came in various forms including a large hardback and a folio in a box with loose sheets. You can find good copies of the book in the $50 range on ABE Books and Ebay, but the folio is much more expensive.
 
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Predictably Ungerer’s career as the illustrator of childrens books came to an abrupt end after his self-publication of The Fornicon! Ungerer returned to childrens books in 1998. The French city of Strasbourg, Ungerer’s birthplace, has given him his own museum.
 
A Perpetual Outsider With a Museum of His Own

A slide show of some of Ungerer’s work

Posted by Richard Metzger
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04.11.2012
05:23 pm
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Chuck Colson tribute: From the White House to the big house, Jesus and anti-gay bigotry

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Former Special Counsel to Richard Nixon and the first from his administration to become a Watergate jailbird, influential Christian leader and anti-gay activist Chuck Colson remains hospitalized in critical condition after suffering a brain hemorrhage last week. In Colson’s honor, Joe.My.God. reminds us of the ridiculous Born Again Christian comic based on Colson’s evangelical memoir of the same title.

Quoting from Gamma Cloud:

Published by Spire Christian Comics in 1978, Born Again is the sugar-coated, “feel good” story of Chuck Colson’s suffering and redemption.  It’s a relatively typical tale in some respects, as Colson professes that he was converted to Evangelical Christianity through the help of his friend Thomas Phillips who had himself been “saved” some time earlier.  Phillips provides Colson with a copy of the C.S. Lewis book Mere Christianity and Colson subsequently immerses himself in the text, learning all kinds of Jesusy insight. (Incidentally, despite the fact that he apparently needed “saving,” Colson effectively maintains that he was basically law-abiding – and apparently naïve and blissfully oblivious of the wrongdoing and unethical behavior swirling around him – throughout all of his work with the Nixon administration and CREEP.) While serving time in a Federal prison for convictions related to the Watergate scandal, Colson shares his enlightenment with other inmates and he ultimately decides to start a ministry and devote his life to spreading the word far and wide.

Well…I guess some of that story is true.

The fact of the matter is that Chuck Colson: Born Again is nothing short of a grand and glorious collection of obfuscation and half-truths.  Colson’s yarn portrays the man himself as an pious martyr acting in service of a naively innocent Richard Nixon.  In one of the more laughable parts of the story, it’s inferred that John Ehrlichman learned of the Watergate break-in while watching the evening news.  Indeed, the entire question of wrongdoing and guilt is effectively marginalized through the omnipresent argument that Richard Nixon’s coterie of henchmen acted under the Nietzschean principal that “what is done out of love always takes place beyond good and evil.”  With respect to this particular version of the Watgergate story, it’s basically unclear as to whether the “love” that spurred Nixon and co. to action was an unfettered and dogmatic love of country or a just good old-fashioned lust for power, influence and control.

As soon as I saw the cover, I recalled leafing through this silliness at my parents’ church in the late 70s. At the time, I was reading Kurt Vonnegut’s then new Jailbird and if you know what that’s about, you’ll laugh at the thought of picking up Chuck Colson: Born Again at the same time.

In 2008, George Bush gave this asshole the Presidential Citizens Medal.
 
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Posted by Richard Metzger
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04.11.2012
04:31 pm
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Drummer for The Dictators Richie Teeter R.I.P.
04.11.2012
02:46 pm
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Richie Teeter of The Dictators has died at 61. Cause of death has not been reported but he was battling cancer.

The Dictators were punk pioneers and one of the seminal rock bands to come out of New York City in the 1970s. Teeter joined the group in 1976 and played on their albums Manifest Destiny and Bloodbrothers. He left the group in 1979. Later, he joined Twisted Sister for a brief stint in 1980.

Dictator front man Handsome Dick Manitoba and keyboardist/bassist and songwriter for the group Andy Shernoff reflect on their friend and bandmate Teeter:

SAD SAD news: Former Dictators drummer, Rich Teeter passed away today.
Besides being an excellent drumer and singer, Rich was one of the sweetest guys I ever met.
He had an amazing disposition, and was impossible to hate. He was “one of those guys” who was always even keeled. Even when he wasn’t …..he WAS!…

Listen..I got lots of shit to talk about people in my life, but I don’t now, nor have I ever had a bad word to say about Rich Teeter. A sweet, sweet, gentle man, who I am proud to have called bandmate, and pal. Rest in Peace, DEAR RICH….” Handsome Dick Manitoba

 

When Richie Teeter joined the Dictators he was a few years older and already married, which instantly made him more mature than the group of nihilistic, knuckleheads that recorded “The Dictators Go Girl Crazy.” Suddenly we had a responsible guy who could keep a beat, sing like a bird and provide a solid foundation that never wavered.

When the music business snubbed our first album I was determined to write songs that would allow me entrance into their exclusive club … naively assuming I actually belonged there. Richie’s voice and rock-hard drumming upped our game and provided the sheen that enabled The Dictators to finally garner some radio play.

I wouldn’t say he totally embraced The Dictators lifestyle but we bonded over our intense love for all things music. Richie was way more accepting than me, appreciated everything from anarchic British punk to wimpy pop to German prog-rock. His taste was so genuine and authentic that I wouldn’t even make fun of him when he listened to Genesis. He wasn’t concerned with trends; he just honestly loved an amazingly wide assortment of sounds.

My last communication with Richie was his request for a vinyl copy of the Dictators compilation “Everyday is Saturday.” Unsurprisingly, he told me he had given up on CD’s and was only listening to music on vinyl. I knew he was going through treatments for esophageal cancer but his ‘gonna beat it’ attitude disguised the difficult stage he was really at.

Richie was quite possibly the nicest guy I ever met which makes it even more depressing to acknowledge that he is the first member of the expanded Dictators family to pass away. We beat the odds for so long but time’s relentless march takes no prisoners… it was great to know and play with you my friend, we won’t forget.” Andy Shernoff

In this live clip from 1977, Richie sings “Hey Boys.”
 

Posted by Marc Campbell
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04.11.2012
02:46 pm
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McCarthy 2.0: Allen West has ‘heard’ that up to 80 House Democrats are Commies!
04.11.2012
02:42 pm
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Bigoted, idiotic Florida Republican congressman Allen West is being touted by many of his fellow dipshits, including Sarah Palin and Herman Cain, as their pick for the Republican VP nod, but on Tuesday in Palm City, FL, Rep. West let his inner Senator Joe out, claiming that “he’s heard” up to 80 U.S. House Democrats are “Communist Party” members!

Copping one of Michele Bachmann’s moves? That’s pathetic to begin with! Sadly, West declined to name even one. Who are they? I want to know who they are so I can fucking vote for them!

Crooks and Liars adds:

Someone should ask West to produce the names of the Democrats in the House who are Communists or tell us where he’s “heard” that number—or STFU.

Making unsubstantiated claims about large numbers of Communists in the government used to lead to disgrace. That this wackadoo is considered a possible veep pick tells you everything you need to know about the fetid state of the Republican Party.

Hell, this latest silliness will probably help West who once said that his priority in the House was to make sure that “this liberal, progressive, socialist agenda, this left-wing, vile, vicious, despicable machine that’s out there is soundly brought to its knees.”

It just gets better and better, doesn’t it? These guys are the best!
 

Posted by Richard Metzger
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04.11.2012
02:42 pm
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The Drive to 1981: Robert Fripp’s art-rock classic ‘Exposure’
04.11.2012
12:46 pm
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In 1977, King Crimson founder Robert Fripp—who left the world of music in 1974 when he dissolved the group—moved to NYC’s Hell’s Kitchen (later the Bowery) and immersed himself in the city’s punk and “new wave” music scene. Inspired by New York’s frantic energy and wanting to combine the new sounds he was hearing with “Frippertronics,” the droning tape loop system he had developed with Eno, the final product was his solo record, Exposure.

The ambitious Exposure is one of the ultimate art-rock documents of late 70s New York, a classic album that sadly seems to have fallen through the cracks for many music fans. It’s a brilliant and underrated missing link between what was to become King Crimson’s next incarnation, the “Berlin trilogy” of David Bowie and Brian Eno (and indeed Fripp and Eno’s own collaborations), Talking Heads, Peter Gabriel and believe it or not, Hall and Oates!

That’s right Exposure was meant to be seen as the third part of a loose trilogy that included Daryl Hall’s Sacred Songs and Peter Gabriel’s second album (both produced by Fripp). Daryl Hall’s management threw a wrench in the works, concerned that Hall’s decidedly more esoteric solo material might confuse his fan-base expecting catchy, “blue-eyed soul” AM radio-friendly pop tunes and that this would harm his commercial appeal. Additionally, they insisted that Fripp’s own Exposure album be credited as a Fripp/Hall collaboration. As a result, Fripp used just two of Hall’s performances on the album, recording new vocals by Terre Roche and Van Der Graaf Generator’s Peter Hammill.

Sacred Songs didn’t come out until 1980 and sold respectably well. Both albums include the snarling buzz-saw rave-up, “You Burn Me Up I’m a Cigarette.”:
 

 
The first voice you hear in the “Preface” is Eno’s and the voice before the phone starts ringing is Peter Gabriel’s. The vocal however, is obviously Daryl Hall, but not as we’re used to hearing him. Fripp later described Hall as the best singer he’d ever worked with and compared his musical creativity to David Bowie’s. High praise indeed.

Another highlight on Exposure is Peter Gabriel’s amazing performance of his “Here Comes the Flood,” perhaps the best version of the many he has recorded: Gabriel disliked the orchestral arrangements for the song on his first album, considering it over-produced. He did a different version on Kate Bush’s Christmas TV special in 1979 and still another on on his Shaking the Tree greatest hits collection. The rendition heard on Exposure is sparse, haunting and moving. I think it’s one of his single greatest vocal performances. Eno, Fripp and Gabriel are the only musicians on this track:
 

 
In 1985, a remixed “definitive edition” of Exposure was released and finally, in 2006, a remastered 2 CD set came out on Fripp’s own label with the original 1979 album and a second disc containing yet a third version of Exposure with bonus tracks including the Daryl Hall vocals as originally intended.
 
Below, a promotional video for Exposure. Not a lot happens here, but in the context of 1979, this would have seemed absolutely futuristic. I’m assuming that this was shot by Amos Poe (director of Glenn O’Brien’s cable access show TV Party) or else Blondie’s Chris Stein:
 

 
After the jump, Robert Fripp being interviewed Wayne’s World-style on NY cable access in 1979.

READ ON
Posted by Richard Metzger
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04.11.2012
12:46 pm
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Sitting in Silence with Johnny Depp
04.11.2012
11:16 am
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The above image is a screen grab from Sitting in Silence with Johnny Depp. Will you too look just as intrigued as these people do while watching?
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
The Brave: The cinematic atrocity that could have tanked Johnny Depp’s career
Hunter S. Thompson, John Cusack and Johnny Depp riding in a car with a blow-up doll
 
Via the NSFW Gorilla Mask

Posted by Tara McGinley
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04.11.2012
11:16 am
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Hey hippie, are you gonna go my way?
04.11.2012
01:37 am
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Hippies meet electro-house in this re-mix of Lenny Kravitz’s “Are You Gonna Go My Way.”

This song has been re-mixed to death since its release in 1993 but I dug this 2012 version by dj Mick M. from Bangkok, Thailand enough to put together a video of archival hippie footage from the Sixties using the mix as a soundtrack.

If there’s anything beyond sonic/visual pleasure to be had from this mash-up it’s the knowledge that no matter how much things change a good rock riff is immortal and raves existed way before ecstasy hit the scene.

In “Are You Gonna Go My Way,” Kravitz does a pretty good job of recycling Hendrix so coupling the song with a bunch of dancing hippies works for me. And Mick’s re-mix takes the whole thing into a pop culture meta-sphere where we are in a constant spin cycle. 
 

Posted by Marc Campbell
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04.11.2012
01:37 am
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Meditate on this
04.10.2012
09:06 pm
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Mudra chakra.

By curling, crossing, stretching and touching the fingers and hands, we can talk to the body and mind as each area of the hand reflexes to a certain part of the mind or body.

 
Via Ffffound!

Posted by Marc Campbell
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04.10.2012
09:06 pm
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Day of the Fight: Stanley Kubrick’s first film from 1951
04.10.2012
07:28 pm
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Over at Candlelight Stories, writer and film-maker Alessandro Cima has located Stanley Kubrick’s excellent first short documentary film Day of the Fight. Adapted from Kubrick’s original photo-essay for Look Magazine in 1949, Day Of The Fight follows middleweight Irish boxer named Walter Cartier, as he prepares for his bout with middleweight Bobby James. It’s a gripping and effective documentary film, and reveals some of the skills that would shape Kubrick’s later movies.
 

 
Via Candlelight Stories
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher
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04.10.2012
07:28 pm
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