Archive for March, 2012

Rick Santorum and The Last House on The Left

Years from now, the Rick Santorum Presidential Campaign won’t be known for much.  He has gone along way on the strength of an uncanny ability to make hatred sound virtuous, but let’s face it, his campaign is clearly having its final death spasms and will hopefully be put out of it’s misery, Old Yeller style, in a matter of weeks.  Not that anyone will shed a tear for the man.  Those who hate him will move on to more worthy targets and those who love him will find another dimwitted fear monger to cast their lot with any day now.  America is chock full of hateful, well-spoken vipers who can carry the neo-conservative mantle yet another yard as it lurches ever so slowly towards 1951.

It’s easy to rail on Santorum and weeks from now, it’ll be even easier to forget he even exists.  However, I think that he should be praised for one thing.  His shadowy team of Gollum-esque backers has managed to create the single best negative campaign ad since LBJ nuked that poor little girl picking the daisy.  If you haven’t seen the Obamaville ad and you happen to still double-check the locks on your front door when anyone mentions Willie Horton, you are in for a treat…

The first fifteen seconds of this ad are beautiful.  It’s as if they hired George A. Romero or the guy who used to do the Nine Inch Nails videos to shoot the thing.  The dimly lit streets of some American town.  Pale, muted colors.  Crows.  Rusty playground equipment and the abandoned shoe of a child.  Desolation.  Despair.

This is usually the point where the bloodthirsty ghouls wander down the boulevard in search of brains.  Instead, we get a flood of about 10 images in one second.   Happy family.  Front porch.  Old couple.  Jailed prisoner.  Baby in red.  Is the baby a communist?  Is the baby a symbol of purity stained by years of liberal attacks on….I dunno…..babies?

Yes, that was a subliminal cut to an eyeball at the 17-second mark.  Why?  Who knows, but it sure is creepy.  More despair in Zombie America.  People losing jobs.  Families in squalid apartments forced to eat nothing but apples.  Cut to long abandoned hallways.  Evil doctors lurking around every corner with needles,  ready to harm you all the while bleeding your bank account dry.

Then, the best image in the whole ad.  A man with a gas pump aimed at his head committing….uhm….dieselcide.  More images.  Religious candles being blown out by, I guess, liberals.  Darkness. But, wait…it gets better.

Old people.  About to be harmed.  By Iranians.  With nuclear weapons.  Yes, at the 40-second mark, you did see the ad cut from killer Iranian leaders to Barack Obama and back again.  You didn’t make that up.  It really happened.

People.  Marching in line.  Drones.  Zombies in suits.  Sent to America to take your freedom and potentially restrict your family’s ability to visit theme parks. Wall Street.  A menacing, monstrous looking tree with glowing eyes.

Images.  Speeding up.  You’re fired.  You’re in your minivan and you’re angry.  Obama.  Piggy bank breaking.   Faster.  Eyeball.  Red.  Capitol.  Faster.   Jails.  Bossy old women.  Glasses.  Faster.  Iranians.  Faster.  The red baby.   This hell on earth could only be one place…..Obamaville.

What could it all mean?  It’s a surreal pastiche of terror.  Watching this ad made me less concerned about the economy and much more concerned about the possibility of giant hawk-like creatures coming down from the sky and ripping my head off.

Forget all this policy mumbo-jumbo, let’s scare the bejesus out of them.  It’s not that this is an uncommon tactic, it’s just that you rarely see it so clearly spelled out.  This is the mother of all attack ads, because it implies, pretty clearly, that voting for Obama is not just a bad idea….it will, in no uncertain terms, KILL YOU.  Short of selling bottles of rat poison with Obama’s face on it, I’m not sure how much more clearly you can make that point.

So, a tip of the hat to Rick.  He left us with something that will stand the test of time.  His campaign is directly responsible for taking things to a level that shady little hucksters like Lee Atwater never dreamed.  He’s created the first all-American political slasher ad.  An ad so vile, so repugnant, so clearly aimed to poison the well, that it will take Herculean effort to match its malignancy.  After all, when your entire campaign is based on the idea that hopefully America will become so unlivable, so completely ramshackle, that its people will rise up en masse and elect a guy who could easily have been the Commander in “A Handmaid’s Tale”, why the hell not run an ad like this?

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Queensryche Hits Snag With New “Operation: Mimecrime” Album

Don’t expect to be hearing anything from mimes anytime soon.  Queensryche’s long awaited album Operation: Mimecrime, the third in the Mindcrime trilogy, has been put on indefinite hold after Queenryche was unable to get the troupe of mimes that they hired to do anything but pretend they were trapped in boxes.  “We had a whole concept where the mimes were going to sing on the record,” said Queensryche vocalist Geoff Tate. “Come to find out, that violates some portion of their professional code or something.  Not cool at all.”

Mimecrime was meant to pick up where Mindcrime 2 left off.  Nikki, who killed himself at the end of the second album, is revived by a voodoo mime priest named Ralph in a bizarre ritual involving Santeria and the first two Venom albums.  Since Nikki’s death, Dr. X’s son Dr. Y has been causing havoc in the United States by using a group of hired mime terrorists to kidnap politicians and force radio DJs to play that terrible LMFAO song on their stations at gunpoint.

Ralph explains to Nikki that he must become a mime and infiltrate this group in order to stop the madness.  He then goes through a training sequence similar to the one in the first Karate Kid film where he learns the nuances of miming.  He also learns The Mime Code, which stipulates that a true Mime will always seek to behave honorably and never, under any circumstances make balloon animals.

He finally is able to join the mime cell, but soon becomes addicted to mime heroin, an invisible substance that causes euphoria, addiction and the need to pull on a pretend rope.  Eventually, Nikki finds himself committing mime atrocities and enjoying them.  This leads to a powerful ending where Nikki is forced to look at himself and confront what lies beneath the white face paint while singing the song “Mime In The Mirror”.

The album would have featured several new compositions including “I Don’t Believe in Gloves”, a song about how the traditions of miming require white gloves, but younger more modern mimes tend to not want to wear anything on their hands.  The album had called for an ironic version of “Speak” that would have been sung in Braille.  Their were also plans to re-record a stirring, climactic version of “Breaking The Silence” where the mimes begin the song with their fingers and finish with their voices.

The album was meant to capitalize on the recent mimecore trend where metal, industrial and punk bands dress as mimes and perform heavy music.  Mimer Threat and Mimeless Self Indulgence have both charted on Billboards Top 200 list with mimecore records.  Industrial bands Mime Inch Nails and Mimestry recorded a split 7 inch called “A Mime Is A Terrible Thing To Taste” which has become a huge hit in Burma and Turkmenistan.  Black metal band Mime Furor has gone so far as to record 45 minutes of blank space calling it the first “Tr00 Mimec0re Album”.  Unfortunately however, Queensryche’s foray into mimecore may never hear the light of day.

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1456 Words With The Puppetmaster

What makes a man make puppets?  The question has plagued me for the better part of my adult life.  In my quest to find an answer I spoke with one of the great puppet makers of our age or any other, Darren “Geppetto” Moreash.  Darren’s company, Darionettes, produces amazing puppet versions of metal artists.  From James Hetfield to Slash, Darren has created remarkable likenesses of some of the most renowned figures in heavy music. 

 

How did you first become interested in puppetry?

About 15 years ago I was going out with a girl who – for some reason – wanted a marionette, so, I went out looking for one. All I was able to find was some piece of crap thing (head was a wooden ball with a painted flat face) – just junk. That’s when I decided I was going to make one (of myself). I went to the library and got a book about puppets – do they still have libraries? Anyway I read up on them and carved one out (of myself). Not great but people she showed it too really liked it. I figured “Okay, if people like this one of me I’m going to get some proper tools and see about making some that I think are cool.” Shortly thereafter we broke up. I think she figured if she had a smaller version of me she didn’t need to deal with the big me. Anyway, I made a few, sold some, life got in the way and I stopped. Fast forward 5 years and I meet this girl at my work – tall, blond, 20 years younger than me – totally out of my league but I decide to make her one for Christmas. She’s a big Alice Cooper fan so that’s who I made and gave to her. She loves it – it’s still hanging in our house (10 years later). Yeah that’s right – she married me and since I’m not much to look at all I can say is “Power of the Puppet”, people, “Power of the Puppet”! She’s co-puppet maker with me, Julie makes the clothes and does most of the painting.

Why did you start making puppets of famous metal artists?

I was on the net and was part of the ‘Anvil Metal Pounders Union’ or AMPU, the Anvil official fan club, and noticed that the band was really connected to their fan base. I figured that I’d make a couple marionettes of Lips and Robbo (Anvils front man and drummer). When I posted the photos, I got positive feedback and then noticed that Lips and Robbo themselves were commenting on the photos. I started thinking that I could keep these or see if they wanted them. I could always make more if I wanted (and did). Anyway, if I asked them if they wanted them and they responded “Hell Yeah!” To me, since I can make more, it’s cooler from my perspective to have pictures of the marionettes with the people I made them for or of. After having all the posters, albums and everything else these people have made that are hanging or on display in my home – its nice knowing there’s something in their homes that I made. After the Anvil thing, I just started contacting other people I have liked over the years and then try to get one to them and people really seemed to dig them.

Which puppet do you believe is your best work?

Okay, first I’ll give you the B.S. sounding ‘Gene Simmons talking about a new direction album’ answer. The one I’m working on now is my best work yet – by that I mean each one is artistically getting better than the last, ironically that happens to be a Gene Simmons one I’m working on now. My real favorite right now is either the one I did for Lemmy or Slash – Lemmy liked the puppet so much his crew said it was one of the top three fan gifts he’d ever gotten – the Slash one is for the reaction it evoked.

There are actually people who suffer from a rare disorder called pupaphobia (the fear of puppets). You recently had a run in with one such person. Can you give me some of the highlights?

Oh yes, pupaphabia, a debilitating problem for some. Last week a photographer friend of mine in TO was meeting Slash so he asked me to make a Slash marionette and he’d get it to him. He held it up and Slash stepped back – my friend asked him if he would hold it for a photo – to everyone’s surprise (including Slash’s road crew), Slash’s response was “Get that F@$king thing away from me – it’s freaking me out. I want no part of it.” Slash was visibly shaken up and although he signed a bunch of stuff for my friend, he would do so only if the puppet was nowhere near him. I knew nothing of pupaphobia until then, but have been reading quite a bit about it. The rumor (that I cannot confirm or deny) is that when at a very young age, he watched the T.V. movie “Trilogy of Terror” and, like most people of my age, was haunted by the Zulu Doll that terrorizes Karen Black. The difference being Slash never outgrew that image and it manifested into a phobia. Very sad and if I’d known I wouldn’t have sent it to him.

Who are some of the other metal celebrities your work has gotten in the hands of?

I’ve gotten them to many metal celebrities in various ways. I contacted Anvil through the social network Facebook, Cherie Currie of The Runaways as well. Metal photographers I’ve met have helped a great deal. Through Rockstarpix and Sister D, I’ve gotten them to Twisted Sister during one of her photo shoots. A friend of mine who plays Lemmy in a Mötorhead tribute band (Snaggletöoth) got one I made of Lemmy to Lemmy himself. I asked him how he was going to meet him and he said “I’m just going backstage” – now I gotta tell you – this guy is an ex-wrestler and when a 250 lb 7 foot ‘Lemmy’ tells you he’s going somewhere, it’s a safe bet that he is.

A friend of a friend was seeing Metallica in Brazil and had a backstage access pass so I sent a James Hetfield and James loved it. A guy who runs the local rock station Q104.3 FM got an Ian Gillan one backstage when Deep Purple was in town and about a week later Ian emailed a photo to me of him and the marionette and a week after that he had posted a YouTube video about video piracy using the puppet in his place. It’s called “Garth on Piracy”.

On the not-so-metal front, I’ve got one to Kevin Smith through the shows promoter and he brought it out onstage during his 200th “Smodcast” Podcast in Halifax, NS.

Here’s an odd one: I’m sitting at home on Christmas Eve with “It’s A Wonderful Life” on T.V. and I get an email from Karolyn Wilkinson (she played Zuzu on IAWL, you know, “every time a bell rings an angel gets its wings!”) she was responding to an email I had sent a while prior and was messaging me on Christmas Eve to tell me that she would love to have a Zuzu marionette for the ‘It’s a Wonderful Life Museum’ in New York.

You always hear the term puppetmaster used in a menacing way. Have you ever considered creating an army of demon puppets and bringing them to life in order to have them destroy the city of Calgary or anything like that? Do you have any demonical, puppet master type plans?

It there’s one thing I’ve learned from masterminds The Joker, The Green Goblin and Milli Vanilli, its ‘don’t tell your plan before it comes to fruition or it’s doomed to fail’. One issue I’m struggling with right now is the whole soul transfer thing. A movie like “Child’s Play” would have you believe it’s easier than it is. Although I do think that one human soul could accommodate at least a dozen marionettes because of their size. I do know Maggie May had Rod Stewart’s soul because I heard him say it but what can a dozen little Rod Stewarts accomplish outside of annoying people. Then there’s the issue of where to find a dozen little stomach pumps, and really, who has time? To quote Bela Lugosi from Ed Wood’s Glen or Glenda “Pull The Strings!! Pull The Strings!!!”

If you want to see more of Darren’s work or contact him, check out Darrionettes.com or email him at darren_moreash@hotmail.com.

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MTV to Manowar: “We’re Sorry About All The False Metal”

In an unexpected move, MTV and their parent company Viacom today issued an apology to the metal band Manowar for what they referred to as “crimes against true heavy metal”. Kurt Jamerson, MTV’s Vice President of the Council on Metalhead Affairs, issued a short statement thanking Manowar for their commitment to “keeping it real” all these years and refusing to play on anything below 10.

“At first, MTV started with the best intentions, but soon, our programming became a hodgepodge of hair metal and, eventually, rap metal.  We left no room for artists who were committed to true metal in its most pure, unsullied form.  For this, we are deeply sorry.”

While MTV did acknowledge that it had shows like Headbanger’s Ball where some true metal was played it admitted that for every one true metal song they played viewers would see “Talk Dirty To Me” by Poison or “Cherry Pie” by Warrant over a thousand times.  According to statistics revealed by MTV, the network’s true to false metal ratio was as high as 1 to 100,000, an unacceptable number for a network who prides itself on being on the cutting edge of music.    After years of extensive lobbying by Manowar, the network has admitted its mistake.

In the press conference following the announcement, Jamerson, who has been with the network for 24 years recalled “I remember getting a letter from Manowar.  The one they talk about in the song Blow Your Speakers.  It was a sheet of paper that had the words ‘What’s going on, man.  Don’t you care about me’ scrawled on it in barely legible handwriting.  Below it was a childlike drawing of Thor driving his hammer into the head of Vince Neil.  I was deeply touched by the words and picture.  I realized that, as a network, we’d been playing on about 7.  That day, I swore an oath to one day get the network to admit its faults.”

death_g

 

MTV has no plans to follow the announcement by adding more true metal to their programming.  Instead, they announced in the same press conference that they plan on extending the series Jersey Shore to a 9th season.  Jersey Shore, along with several other programs featuring highly intoxicated, perplexed looking white kids wearing their pants too low, currently comprise 20 of the network’s 24 hours of daily programming.

Many industry analysts have speculated that the announcement was part of a settlement with Manowar.  The band had brought a 523 billion dollar lawsuit against the network for being “posers”, but the lawsuit was unexpectedly dropped last Friday.  During the press conference, MTV offered each member of Manowar a Whitman’s Sampler, but there is no evidence that money changed hands.

The True Metal Reparations Movement, created by Manowar to heal historical injustices against the armies of true metal, still claims to be at war with most of the major rock radio stations in America for being “losers who better learn that no one controls our goddamn lives.”

Whatever the outcome of the trial, Manowar have vowed to not stop until the armies of true metal triumph over the years of historical oppression.  “When Odin is in the Valley of Doom and Slepnir rides across the starry, blood filled skies, those who did not sell out and wear polyester suits or other crackerjack clothes will be redeemed,” read bassist Joey Demaio’s lawyer, Abraham Freidman, in a written statement given at the MTV press event.   “No one can tell us that we must turn down…..NO ONE.  No one can tell us that we do not control the night……NO ONE.  We are the immortals.  We have won a great victory for metal that is real today.  Tomorrow, we conquer the world!”

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Dave Lombardo Has Additional Arms Added To Keep Up With Younger Drummers

Dave Lombardo Today

Eventually, Father Time catches up with us all.  Former Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo was once thought to be the undisputed greatest metal drummer on earth.  Scores of adolescents spent many a Saturday night watching Headbangers Ball and air drumming his fills from the beginning of “Seasons in The Abyss”.  Nearly every great young drummer used to be called “the next Dave Lombardo”.  Then, at some point, the world caught up with him.

“Some of the new wave of drummers are just quicker today.  They have taken my style and improved it with a youthful energy that it’s hard for a 47-year-old to match.  I needed something to get my edge back,” said Lombardo last night in an exclusive Tyranny of Tradition interview.  What Lombardo did was both amazing and terrifying.  In a first of its kind surgery, Lombardo had two additional arms added to his body.  The arms are functional and just as useful as the two he was born with.

The possibilities for Lombardo are now nearly endless.  His drumming style will most certainly take on a uniqueness that the metal world has never thought possible.  He will also probably become an amazing juggler and will be able to put away groceries with the speed and dexterity his family has never seen. But, the deeper ethical concerns about a drummer being able to add limbs was the talk of the metal world after Lombardo’s announcement.

“It’s not right that someone can just have limbs added to be a better drummer,” said Battleax Kidneystone, drummer from the death metal band Malignant Pancreas.  “If a major league baseball player added extra legs to run faster there is no way they’d let him play.”

Others, like Chainsaw Bloodcolon, from the band Carpathian Impetigo Sore, were less concerned.  “If he wants to run around the rest of his life looking like a freak, I say, let him.  I’m sticking with the two arms that Satan gave me.”

Still, Gene Hoglan, the recently named Commissioner of Metal Drumming, is looking into whether Lombardo should be allowed to play for Slayer on their next tour.  Hoglan, who recently ruled that performance enhancing drugs like beer, crack and Moon Pies were allowed for drummers, is faced with an even more challenging issue here.

Some argue that this could lead to a slippery slope where drummers will have more and more arms added to be competitive.  Imagine if Sean Reinert from Cynic decided he was going to add 10 arms and 14 legs.  Dream Theater would take Mike Portnoy back in a second if he showed up with no less than 100 additional limbs.   The next phase would be guitarists having additional fingers and singers having additional mouths with separate voice boxes.  Think of how many strings a djent guitarist could put on his instrument if he had 52 fingers to play with.  It is possible that if Hoglan allows Lombardo to keep his additional arms, the metal scene in five years will be indistinguishable from a circus sideshow.

However, if Hoglan rules against Lombardo, the case will surely end up in court.  As most legal scholars know, the 2nd Amendment to The Constitution guarantees the right to bear arms.  “The founding fathers wanted us to have life, liberty and the pursuit of additional limbs, otherwise they wouldn’t have written it down.  Besides, what is more American than using technology to grab every possible competitive advantage over others,” said Lombardo.  “Being a highly successful four-armed mutant is, in many ways, the American Dream.”

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Extremely Literal Terrorist Group Kidnaps and Attempts To Mail Anthrax

A national tragedy was avoided earlier today when the FBI arrested members of People For Truth And Freedom Against Tyranny and The Lack of Freedom With Liberty and Justice for All Who Believe In Freedom and the American Way of Life (PTFATLFLJABFAWL) a terrorist group from Islip, Long Island who kidnapped the members of the heavy metal band Anthrax.  Members of the terrorist group were captured at the local Islip post office trying to fit five enormous human-sized  envelopes into a tiny mail slot.

Earlier that day, PTFATLFLJABFAWL had captured members of the group at various locations around New York, drugged them, brought them back to an apartment and attempted to wrap them in bubble tape so they would be uninjured on their journey through the mail.  Guitarist Scott Ian briefly became conscious during the seven-hour ordeal and remembers feeling like he was in some bizarre episode of the TV show Batman.  “They had five of us tied up and were weighing us to see what the postage would be.  They were wearing Slipknot looking masks so I couldn’t recognize them.  Next thing I know they were trying to stuff me in a giant envelope that was addressed to Tom Brokaw at NBC News.  When I tried to tell them he was retired, one of them hit me and I blacked out.”

One of the neighbors of the terrorist group initially tipped off the FBI when they heard high, falsetto screaming coming from the envelope of Joey Belladonna.  “When I noticed humans in envelopes being carried down the hallway, I was a bit suspicious. I was about to go back to watching The Price is Right when I heard that melodic screeching from one of the envelopes. I could tell by the high pitched, more 80’s era sound that it couldn’t have been John Bush.  It was either Neil Turbin or Joey Belladonna in that envelope.  I called the FBI right away.”

Jonathan Winthrop, the group’s leader and a former writer for Tyranny of Tradition, believed his arrest was another example of the liberties of Americans being taken away by the repressive Federal Government.  “Where does it say in the Constitution that mailing members of a thrash band in protest is a crime?  I ask you….where?  I say to you, mailing Frank Bello in the defense of liberty is no vice!!!!”

Beyond the Ian letter to Brokaw, the other letters were meant to go to President Obama, George Clooney, Rush Limbaugh and Tim Tebow.  While the Brokaw letter was just about publicity, the other four were meant to be sent to the leadership of both American political parties in order to alert them that the current status quo would not be tolerated.

All the letters contained notes with similar words:

C11H17N2O2SN A

Who Is Caught In A Mosh Now

We Are The Law

Tnemnrevognikaerfecin

The last part of the note had agents stumped.  After being analyzed by over 300 of the top code breakers in the government for ten hours it was revealed that it was actually “Nice Freakin’ Government” spelled backwards.

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Abbath Creates Gluten-Free Cellphones; Now Worth An Estimated 11.8 Billion Dollars

The biggest surprise on this year’s Forbes 500 Richest People on The Planet list was a name well known to those who follow black metal.  Right below hedge fund manager Steve Cohen and above newspaper magnate Rupert Murdoch stands the name of one of the most revered members of the black metal community, Abbath.  While he is mostly known for his guttural vocal wails and sweeping guitar riffs in the band Immortal, he has actually made most of his money from a very strange source.  Abbath is the world’s number one distributor of gluten-free products.

After reading a study back in 2002 claiming one in every seven people had an allergy to gluten, Abbath started to think about the millions of people gluten-free products could benefit.  Weeks later when Horgh, the drummer for Immortal, was diagnosed with gluten sensitivity Abbath created special gluten-free corpse paint for him to wear on stage.  A rash of gluten related issues hit the black metal community in 2003 and Abbath’s makeup began to catch on.  This was only the beginning.

In 2005, Abbath discovered the idea that has taken the world by storm and turned him into a multi-billionaire…gluten-free cell phones.  “There are so many people whose systems can not tolerate gluten.  It can cause terrible side effects that range from severe headaches, to rapid eye movement, to explosive logorrhea.  I just wanted to help make a difference for people who wanted not to suffer,” said a wistful Abbath in an exclusive interview with Tyranny of Tradition.

abbath

Since Abbath began mass marketing his Non-Celiac Cellphones seven years ago, they have become an important part of the lives of millions of people.  His next step in 2007 was to create a gluten-free line of clothing.  While gluten-free collared shirts have yet to take off, many stylish French teenagers have taken to recently wearing gluten free pants and socks.  Gluten-free capes and fangs became the number one fashion trend in Romania last year.

The War on Gluten continued in 2009 with the introduction of gluten-free appliances.  It’s hard to make it though a Wal-Mart without seeing one of Abbath’s gluten-free toasters or washing machines.  He has even created gluten-free gluten, an invisible substance that cannot be detected by any of the five senses or absorbed by the body.  The Pentagon purchased three cases of it for over 12 million dollars last month.

Abbath has major plans for the future.  He is currently researching the possibility of gluten-free prosthetic limbs.  By 2017, humans could be outfitted with gluten-free arms, legs and even torsos.  He has also been working with several space nanotechnology companies in the attempt to create planet-sized, gluten-free computers.  A gluten-free spaceship similar to the Death Star from Star Wars is currently in the early stages of production.  It would possess a death ray that could extract all of the gluten from a planet while killing all of its inhabitants in less than three seconds.

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A Historiographical Review of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining

“We may be through with the past but the past ain’t through with us.”  -PT Anderson

History is inescapable and never-ending.  In spite of protestations from some historians, like the famous one by Francis Fukayama in 1992 that the end of the Cold War essentially meant history was “over”, we have yet to come anywhere near something that could be considered a conclusion.  History, on many levels, is a trap from which we cannot extricate ourselves.  Its long arm reaches through time and pushes us in directions we never believed we be capable of going.  This, more than anything else, seems to be the central message of Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 horror classic “The Shining”.

While it would be easy to dismiss the film as an exquisitely told, elaborately filmed ghost story, there is a deeper meaning at the heart of the film.  The story begins with Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) and his family undertaking the westward voyage that so many Americans have.  Our history as Americans are filled with just this type of journey West in the hopes of finding fortune and freedom in a new place.

They arrive at the Overlook hotel; a resort in Colorado that shares is decorated in a Native American theme.  This is not a surprise, because we learn early on that the hotel is built on a Native American burial ground.  While this idea itself has become a horror cliché, it is important to note that, within the context of this film, it indicates the connection with a brutal past.  One could argue that much of Western America was a burial ground for indigenous Americans who were steamrolled during the United States’ drive from seas to shining sea.

The ghosts of the past are not simply ghosts in The Shining.  They are reflections of a troubling history of violence.  Dick Halloran (played brilliantly by Scatman Crothers) offers us a metaphor early on that perfectly describes this.  He tells Danny, Jack Torrance’s boy, that the ghosts in the film are like the smell of “burnt toast”.  They may no longer be with us, but their presence is still strongly felt.  Where Dick is terribly wrong is in his claim that the past cannot hurt us because it is like pictures in a book.  The movie seems to argue that these “pictures” are very much alive and deeply at the root of the conflict that was raging through America in the 1960s and 70s.

In order to understand the film, it is critical to note the three separate reactions of the main characters in the film to the horrors of The Overlook.  Jack gains from them a sense of belonging.  He longs to be a part of the horrific history of The Overlook.  He loves the violence at the core of its polished veneer.  Jack is a metaphor for one view of those with power in the 60s and 70s.  Disinterested in the suffering that takes place below their feet, they revel in excess while Rome burns.  They are the governmental father figures that were supposed to protect the average American and instead gave us an overwhelming glut of consumer goods coupled nightmares like the Vietnam War.

Wendy (Shelly Duvall) is meant to be the symbol of most Americans.  She cares deeply about her family but is blind to the actual circumstances of her life.  She explains away much of the horror she’s experienced at the hands of Jack.  Wendy doesn’t see the hotel for what it is until her family is shattered apart.  Her awakening is meant to mimic what so many Americans feel when they look underneath the façade of the American Dream and see the massacred corpses it was built upon.  Much of the interplay between the hotel, Jack and Danny go past Wendy, who is only focused on the immediate events at hand and misses the greater context of what is taking place.  Her recognition of the violence around her is very much the climax of the film.

Danny (Danny Lloyd) is the next generation.  He is equipped with the power to see and recognize what was there before him.  He shines, or can telepathically see the images of The Overlook’s horrific past.  The expression shining was actually taken from the John Lennon song “We All Shine On” by the book’s author Stephen King.  The idea is that this new generation, the hippies, the yippies, the Panthers and the other groups of Americans in the late 60s and early 70s have become unwilling to play the game of forgetting the past and going about their lives.  They were able to see how the past has impacted their world and they felt a desperate need to make the world see what they were witness to.  Danny serves as a reminder of the violence that permeates the center of our collective fantasy.  We must not be reminded of it or we might be willing to destroy it in order to save ourselves from it.  Both The Overlook and Jack recognize the danger present in Danny’s vision and realize he must be controlled or even murdered.

Is this vision of America an accurate one?  On some levels it is.  Keep in mind this book and movie were created in the shadow of the chaos, both political and social, that were taking place in America in the 60s and 70s.  The Presidency had been debased, the myth of America’s military superiority had been unmasked and the entire concept of the American Dream had been called into question. America could be seen as a madhouse on par with The Overlook.   While this might be true, it is a massive oversimplification to argue that the “new” generation could be easily characterized by a visionary innocent while the leaders of the past simply lumped into the category of tyrannical, blood-thirsty madmen.  There were so many shades of grey; the protest movement was far from beyond reproach and the government was not solely filled with violent, greedy sycophants.  When discussing mass movements, simple narratives are rarely completely accurate

The deeper question at the heart of this film is of the role of the past in modern life.  It’s simply not accurate to argue that the past is totally behind us.  The world and its resources were divided up a long time ago and to accept these divisions as “the way things oughta be” does a profound disservice to those who today still suffer from decisions made lifetimes ago.  Think of how the territorial distinctions made at the Berlin Conference in the 1880s have come to shape today’s Africa and you can get a glimpse of the power of the past.  While much of the past is inescapable, I believe it is also something that can be understood in a way that makes some sense of the world.  We owe it to ourselves and to those who are still among us to try to rationally understand the world we live in and how it got to be the way it is.  This means living free of as many illusions about our history as possible.  This may mean giving up some of the sense of identity that myth of a pristine past gives us.  But, there is a redemptive power to truth and, while it may not save us, it can help us shine enough to at least see what is actually around us.

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Metalhead Insult Form Letter

Occasionally we receive insulting or life-threatening posts or emails here at Tyranny of Tradition.  While we enjoy these greatly, we have begun to notice an alarming trend.  Most of them are either poorly written or possibly symptomatic of a severe break with what we commoners like to refer to as “reality”.  In order to improve the quality of these insults, we have created a form letter for those of you that struggle with expressing yourselves in writing. 

The answers are based on the most common, clichéd insults or recycled comments that we have received over past year and a half.  We left out any profanity or pseudo-ironic internet abbreviations that tend to be a major part of these letters so that we could focus more on content.  Questions 6 and 7 are meant to be representative of the majority of our insulters, so feel free to add your own information after the word “Other” if the responses don’t properly represent you.  Please use this form if you feel the sudden urge to attempt to humiliate or degrade us.  It will save us the many seconds that were wasted trying to figure out what you were talking about.

Dear ________________________________,

     A.  Internet Warrior

    B. Poser

    C. Guy who lives in his mother’s basement

    D. Troll

   E.  Idiot

Your blog sucks.  I read your last post and you are ______________. 

      A.  not funny

     B. not heterosexual

     C. a little troll who lives in his mother’s basement

     D. a butthurt, hipster English major

 E.  overweight

 F.  skinny and frail

  G.  the type of guy who thinks his beard and haircut makes him look like Kerry King when in fact it just makes him look homeless

   H.  Both E and G

   I.  Both F and G

J.  All of the Above

I hate you.  Your blog is _______________.

      A.  second-rate Onion

      B. a third-rate Onion

      C. just like The Onion

      D. like that internet site that does parodies of news articles

I hope you _________________. 

      A.  drown in a lake

      B.  die in a fire

      C.  get a girlfriend and stop writing

      D.  start doing something productive with your time

      E.  stop spamming pictures of Scott Baio onto my Myspace profile

      F.  move out of your mother’s basement

G.  Learn the proper uses of there and their

Your writing reminds me of _______________.

      A.  Everybody Loves Raymond

      B.  dog vomit

      C. The Onion

      D. the last Morbid Angel album

I spend a lot of time judging other people’s writing in my time as _____________ and yours is the worst I’ve ever read.

      A.  a metal message board moderator

      B. inmate 657891 at the Dannemora Correctional Institute

      C.  the president of the fan club of some black metal band that no one has ever heard of

      D.  a highly bored casualty of the current downsizing trend

       E. Other___________________________

  If I see you on the street I’ll probably _________________.

     A.  stare at you with a menacing look and hope that you notice my Burzum hoodie

     B.  tell you how much I love your blog

     C.  mutter under my breath about you living in your mother’s basement and hope you didn’t hear me

     D.  ask you if you write that blog that’s like a metal version of The Onion

E.  drive a spike through your head and dance on your corpse while singing “Transylvanian Hunger”

     E.  Other_____________________________

You suck,

Your fake internet name here_______________________________________

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17 Comments

New Book Claims Nixon Considered Assassinating Black Sabbath Members

For years one of the great mysteries in American political history was what President Nixon said in the missing 18-½ minutes of tape that was “accidentally” erased before it was given to investigators.  A new book may just answer that question.

According to Nixon’s story, his personal secretary Rosemary Woods erased the missing section of tape when she was trying to transcribe the details of the conversation for the Watergate Hearings.  In a new book, “Knowing Dick:  My Mother’s Time Under President Nixon”, Petey Woods, Rosemary’s eldest son, claims that she revealed to him that Nixon had detailed discussions about assassinating members of the metal band Black Sabbath on the deleted section of the tape.  He also claimed that his mother was asked by the President to destroy the section because he worried about “a wave of heavy metal coming over to the U.S. from England and spreading lawless, godless communism.”

The book claims, Nixon, who has also been rumored to have encouraged the assassination and overthrow of Salvador Allende in Chile, wanted to see a similar fate for Bill Ward, Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler.  Nixon was much less concerned about Ozzy, who he felt was a drag on the talents of the rest of the band.  However, Nixon was concerned that “Sabbath might go ahead and get someone like that fellow Dio from the band Elf.  Then, they’d all have to go or they’d be unstoppable.”

Nixon believed the CIA could be enlisted in plans to get rid of Sabbath.  “After all, we used them to overthrow Mossadegh in Iran and Arbenz in Guatemala.  They helped get rid of Trujillo in the Dominican Republic, Diem in Vietnam and Patrice Lumumba in the Congo.  They even tried to kill Castro 8 times for god sakes.  Getting rid of a bunch of angry, power-chord obsessed Brits should be no trouble whatsoever for the boys over at Langley.”

“The President was deeply concerned about the potential dangers of a style of music that loud and that intense,” says Woods in his book.  Apparently, most of the 18-½ minutes is an anti-metal rant that featured the President raving about the future of metal.  “Eventually they’ll be bands that play a style called speed or thrash metal.  They’ll have names like Slayer and Demolition Hammer and they will corrupt the young.  I can envision a world where kids run into each other in a dance they like to call “moshing”.  They’ll be encouraged to kick their friend in the head and have a ball.  Is this the type of America you want, Haldeman?”

One of the most shocking revelations about the tapes is Nixon’s Nostradamus-like ability to accurately predict the path of heavy metal.  At one point, he allegedly referred to a style of metal from Scandinavia that he believed would be called “bleak metal” and would feature band members wearing corpse paint and playing fast, angry metal filled with high pitched screams. He then allegedly went into graphic detail about his concern that there might be a so-called “death metal” scene in Florida in the early 1990s where bands like Death and Morbid Angel “could completely warp the minds of an entire generation with satanic imagery and blast-beat drumming.”

Nixon even went as far as saying that if Black Sabbath isn’t killed, we’d see a future with bands like “Suffocation, Pig Destroyer, and Goatwhore telling our kids god knows what”.  By “taking out Sabbath”, Nixon believed he could strike a final and decisive blow against the forces of heavy metal.  “All we need are a few bullets, a little arsenic in their beer and a car bomb or two. Then the kids will start listening to positive stuff like Anita Bryant and Bing Crosby again.  And just what the hell is a Goatwhore anyway?”

However, if Sabbath was successful in their metal mission young people would “fall like dominos” and eventually America would be filled with a majority of “black tee-shirt clad, long-haired maniacs who live to thrash all night and sleep all day.”

Later in Nixon’s life, he slowly began to accept heavy metal and even was rumored to have listened to Pantera’s “Cemetery Gates” on his deathbed.  However, his willingness to use the power of the Presidency to kill members of a heavy metal band is deeply troubling for the remaining twenty or so Americans who believe that America doesn’t have the right to go around the world murdering people who are a perceived threat.

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7 Comments

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