Sunday, May 28, 2017

Odd dogs

In order to comprehend the meaning of this event, you must understand that the town was already full of surgically altered dogs and other kinds of animals, in various states of completion, most of them running wild in the streets, scavenging from garbage heaps. The tradition of turning them loose had been started shortly after Rank's day, as a way of celebrating individual successes and displaying them to the town. Most of the monsters, at that time, were too horrible to be kept as pets.
This article got me curious about Lives of the Monster Dogs by Kirsten Bakis. Published in 1997, it's her only novel to date. I'll pay attention if she has a follow-up.

The account of a group of surgically modified dogs who move to New York after overthrowing the humans of the German colony in Canada where they were created, it's narrated in the main by two characters. One, Ludwig von Sacher - a name reminiscent of Leopold von Sacher Masoch - is a Monster Dog himself, and the designated historian of his people. The other, Cleo Pira, is an aimless human writer who gets a career boost when she profiles the Monster Dogs for Vanity Fair. It's a little unsettling to realize how much more central print was to culture when the book was written not too long ago.

The book feels like a spiritual heir to both The Island of Dr. Moreau and the Caliban portions of Shakespeare's The Tempest. The Monster Dogs are surgically altered dogs, yes. They're also humans, albeit uncomfortable in their skins as humans. And they're a commentary on German romanticism as well.

It's an unusual book, and arresting. I'll be talking about another book I'm reading soon.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Baby mine

While David Lynch is in vogue now due to the Showtime revival of Twin Peaks, I figured I'd go back a little further. About as far as you can go, in fact.

The baby in Eraserhead has all the vulnerabilities of a regular baby, but not the cuteness. It is cute, but in a reptilian or amphibian way. And no one raises their pet salamander with the expectation that it will live on after you and carry on your legacy. You know you'll eventually flush it. Then there's the fact that Henry is a prime screwup overall, not that I'm throwing stones. It's not too hard to figure that Lynch made this while experiencing some angst about parenthood.

The black and white is canny. It bleeds the seventies out of the movie. Makes used but newish furniture look like antiques. But Eraserhead doesn't look or feel like a movie from the thirties. It looks and feels like a nightmare experienced by someone who's watched a lot of old movies and gazed at a lot of Diane Arbus photos.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Kee-razy collage

Tuesday in Tartu from Mari Kivi on Vimeo.

Some French words appear in this but I think the animator is actually Finnish. Anyway, there's something about this I really like. Maybe the horse-sized telephone.

Monday, May 22, 2017


There are times when nighttime jazz radio is truly a joy. Much of this has to do with the jazz deejays. Their voices are preternaturally calm, their delivery rhythmic but a little off. This is the way you talk when you've survived some overwhelming catastrophe and haven't seen another living human since. You practice speaking to others, try to reassure yourself that you'll get a chance to do so. Soon, you hope.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

He's in the bestselling show

Just watched the first episode of the first season series of Life on Mars tonight. Richly entertaining. One thing I noticed was the particular flavor of nostalgia, going beyond the wide collars and classic rock. You hear a lot about nostalgia for New York in the 1970s, when the city was grimier and more dangerous but before gentrification had made it dull and expensive. Life on Mars isn't a New York show, but there's a similar principle. The 1973 Manchester he wakes up in looks like the Nazis had bombed it just the day before, but it feels exciting and full of possibility as well.

Sam Tyler seems like the sort of young professional who, regardless of what happened to him, would be well advised to find some kind of guide figure. Someone who could help him be less of an uptight technocrat. Gene Hunt fills the bill, even if some of his old school copper ways are old school for a reason. Of course for someone who comes from the politically correct 2000s, Sam is awfully quick to put his hand on Annie's tit. In a non-sexual context (uh-huh) but still bears an eerie resemblance to harassment.

Speaking of eerie, the scene of him waking up in the middle of the night to see and hear one of his surgeons talking about him on the TV is a classic bit of Twilight Zone-y nightmarishness.

Thursday, May 18, 2017


Kneip 2015 - Objects of Curiosity from stiankorntvedruud on Vimeo.

These little motorized sculptures seem strangely haunted. In truth, while I couldn't tell you exactly how all this was done, they seem to be powered by magnets and very simple electric generators. So on some level the tech may have been accessible to people of the nineteenth century. The ideas are contemporary, though.

The thing that seemed to be taking flight like a bat was very interesting.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Calvin and Moe show

In truth you could say that Calvin has a point in the fourth panel AND in the first. Life is multifaceted.