Saturday, March 17, 2018

Roosevelt: superhero

If there ever was a real life, flesh-and-blood superhero, this has to have been Theodore Roosevelt. Here's why think so:

  • Turned himself from a weakling to a muscular powerhouse
  • Beat asthma
  • Saved a tramp from the streets in Ireland
  • Served as acting Sherriff
  • Captured "Redhead" Finnegan
  • Sired a sizable brood
  • While serving under the Harrison administration he opposed the postmaster general and his creatures on public service reform
  • Cleaned the New York city's police, made night rounds in person, and enforced dry Sundays
  • Sundered the police connections with the underground
  • Was fearless when opposing machine politicians
  • Made ready the navy as acting navy chief for war
  • Was the first to officially propose the use of "flying machines" in naval operations
  • Commanded, in effect, one of the toughest, if not the toughest, regiments: the Roughriders
  • Survived the jungles of Cuba
  • Dodged bullets while leading the charge in San Juan Hill
  • Thought about swimming with sharks
  • Could, and actually did, knife a live puma
  • By the time he had reached the presidency, he had already read 20,000 books
  • His collected works meanwhile covered tens of volumes
  • Faced JP Morgan and his radioactive nose and lived to tell the tale
  • Could address a quarter of a million in one day without the aid of electronic equipment
  • Could shake 52 hands a minute for three hours straight
  • Survived a trolley smashing into his carriage with him inside with just minor injuries
  • Asked not to be anesthetized for a tumor surgery on his shin
  • Gave birth to the Teddy bear… well, of sorts
  • Brokered peace between Russia and Japan
  • He had his own call signal: glasses and teeth
  • Could wolf down, in quantity, almost anything
  • Went for a year-long African Safari
  • Most amazing of all, survived being shot point blank, by stopping the bullet with his ribs. He went on to deliver a speech for over 45 minutes, bleeding, before allowing to be taken to a hospital
  • Barely survived the exploration of the River of Doubt in the Amazon jungle.
  • While there, swam in piranha waters. The rest of the neighborhood fauna didn't stop him from reading at night
  • Was also a renowned naturalist

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Nosferatu Vinyl by Waxwork records review

The first time I've appreciated cinematography (i.e. movies) as an art was when I watched an expert commentary for the 1922 Nosferatu on DVD. All the bits and images clicked in beautifully leaving me with a lasting impression and wanting for more. Fortunately, the entertainment industry has not disappointed in this respect and some Nosferatu's characteristics resurface from time to time. One of the most comprehensive is Kinski's 1970s remake which explored some possibilities. One of those is the addition of an inherent soundtrack by Popol Vuh.

By itself that music is both atmospheric and evocative and can stand on its own. When I gave it a few listens on spotify I knew that this music had to sound amazing on vinyl. It was a fortunate circumstance that not only the music existed for the format but that a new release from Waxwork records was available.

As with most of Waxwork's releases this one is pure eye candy. The new artwork is superb and presented in a gatefold fashion. There's an insert by the artist in which she explains her vision for the project. On the other side of this insert is the cover art in just a tad a smaller format than the cover. Presumably, and you can frame this instead of the whole album cover. The variant I received was that white marbled one which is absolutely the most beautiful vinyl I have set my eyes on. Keep in mind that my whole experience up until very recently have been my father's LPs which are uniformly black and some solid-colored ones here and there. The two vinyls on which the music is divided really look like marble. The inner sleeves are of black paper which is also a first for me. I'm sure that you metalheads have been getting this kind of merchandise for years now, but it's really something when you experience it for the first time. The center labels are also black with the track listings on one side and bat illustrations on the other. There's a bit of torn label near the punch holes that while undeserving, don't distract much.
Hype sticker

The pressing themselves for each LP are another matter. For a brand-new record is noticeably noisy on the first two sides with various clicks and hiss. These are all of small magnitude and certainly are not worrisome but they make you wonder about quality assurance. Due to the nature of the subject matter the clicks might even add some "character" to the output, but one would have expected less of them in this day and age. The last two sides sounded uniformly fine.

The only other drawback with this release is the difficulty of getting the inner sleeves into the outer as they do not seem to want to slide in easily and there is some risk of mangling that the thinner inner sleeve or damaging the insert. The album as a whole fits well in the the Groove Vinyl oversized plastic covers.

At the time of this writing it is out of stock but if you can get hold of it, I think it will be a great addition to your collection even more if you are a soundtrack aficionado. I will still be looking forward to Waxwork's future releases and hope that they finally iron out the kinks in the pressing process.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

The Babadook as a metaphor for sickness

A couple of Sundays ago I went for confession with a bit of a secondary motive. For some time now, my leg has been hurting and a few other complaints began to pile on. Since I would have the father all by myself in the confessional, I thought it would not be inappropriate to ask for his prayers when the confession was over. I did so and he did agree to add me to his prayers after ascertaining the nature of my illness, that it wasn't anything life-threatening or anything. He also gave me a bit of advice: do not clash with your illness, rather make it your friend.

Later, after some reflection I saw that this mirrors the final state of affairs in the Babadook. You may not be able to get rid of it, but you can get into some sort of understanding.

In horror movies, the last surviving would-be victim, manages to fight off the menacing evil power, at least for a time, but seldom, as far as I can recall, does she stop to confront it in equal terms. In the Babadook, the Amelia does so and surprisingly she isn't snuffed out as one would expect, but both accept the new state of affairs. She still doesn't like him, but that doesn't mean they can be partners.

In Catholicism there is such a thing as redemption by suffering where one chips in, however feebly or modestly, with redemption by offering one's suffering, taking one's cross, and offering it to God. In this way, I've come to the conclusion that one indeed can become friends with one's sickness. As with the Babadook, one doesn't have to like it, but if I way out is not forthcoming, not only does one do not strengthen it by fighting it (being anxious about it), but one can reap otherworldly benefits by its acceptance. Amelia at the end of the movie intimates to Samuel that in due time he would get to see what's in the basement. Likewise for us.

The fit isn't perfect but both sickness and Babadook touch so many common points that I thought to flag them.

If you would like to know more about redemption by suffering check out episode 11  (2/18/05) of the podcast Ignition on your favorite podcast catcher.
(I use Podcast Addict)