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by Karen Zarker

28 Nov 2009

This is perfect, just perfect, for that person in your life who’s read Oliver Sacks or for that someone who loves the Annals in Science articles in the New Yorker—and is especially attracted to those articles on neurology. This is for the amateur anatomist who went to Gunther von Hagens’ Body Worlds when it was in town and strolled through the exhibit in quiet reverence.

When it comes right down to it, what we are, and who we are, can be distilled down to that very delicate, highly complex, amazing mass of gray matter, which weighs in at an average of three and one-fourth pounds. The brain’s anatomy, its physical and perceptual growth, what happens to it as it learns, when it suffers illness or injury, what constitutes personality, how we perceive the world—all is presented within historical timelines (e.g., brain surgeries, past and present; brain development, from fetus to senior citizen). Our sense of self, our sense of others, our sense of things outside of ourselves and others, our comprehension of objects and ideas, our ability to be athletes and artists are all rendered in a digestible yet brain-engaging format for the perpetually curious layperson with an interest in anatomy, psychology, and identity.

In addition to the gorgeous graphics in these comprehensive 256 pages, (and occasional pop culture examples, not without humor), the book comes with a DVD-ROM with some cool graphics and summarizing features to complement the text. That might appeal to those who haven’t yet made it to a Body Worlds exhibit. The rest of us will be completely absorbed between the pages of this book. Don’t interrupt the reader—for all its problem solving and fantasy-generating might, the brain can’t process two similar tasks (e.g., processing speech and processing text) at the same time.

AMAZON

by Karen Zarker

28 Nov 2009

The brooding apocalyptic teenager, the flouncing, flower-tossing nature lover, the novice scientist with quizzically furrowed brow all have this in common: they will love, if they do not already love, the History Channel’s stellar series, The Universe, seasons one through three, and they will simply devour this box set which includes those shows plus feature-length Beyond the Big Bang. “We’re all gonna die, anyway” pessimists and “Isn’t life glorious?” optimists can share the couch and the popcorn bowl on this one. Simultaneously terrifying and inspiring, touching every nerve that inspires human storytelling past and present, and sparking our imaginations about the future, I’m thinking the only kind of person who would not find fascination in this series might be unconscious, and I wish them a speedy recovery.

AMAZON

by Christel Loar

28 Nov 2009

In the early 1950s, Hank Williams could be heard performing every weekday morning on radio stations all across the southern United States. These 15-minute “morning shows” were pre-recorded in Nashville and many of the songs Williams recorded for these broadcasts thankfully survive. Packaged like its predecessor, Hank Williams: The Unreleased Recordings, as a three-disc box set, Hank Williams Revealed features three full programs in their entirety exactly as they were heard by listeners more than half a century ago, as well as stand-alone songs, in-studio conversations with Williams, and banter between him and the members of his band, the Drifting Cowboys. These candid conversations are something rare as far as Williams is concerned, and they provide unique and intimate insight into a man who, for as much as he is an icon of country music, has always been something of a mystery. The recordings reveal a personality that is much more lively and filled with humor than one might expect from listening to his most popular songs. Williams tells stories and talks easily about his music and his life as he performs his songs, many of which are alternate arrangements to familiar favorites, and some of which were never performed by Williams outside these studio sessions.

by Eleanore Catolico

28 Nov 2009

In keeping with the spirit of the Montreal based non-profit organization, Yellow Bird Project collaborates with musicians to raise awareness and money for charities of the artists’ choosing. In this fund-raising endeavor, the likes of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The New Pornographers, MGMT and more grace The Indie Rock Coloring Books hand-drawn pages. For those quiet hours before the show, this book provides mazes, connect-the-dot games, and coloring pages to while away the time. Three cheers for hipster philanthropy!

by Bill Gibron

27 Nov 2009

Aiden Dillard must be Harry Novak’s bastard love child. Either that or he’s obviously spent time shoveling sawdust for Dave Friedman on the carnival circuit. If there hadn’t already been an exploitation genre to shake up the mainstream cinema, this uncorked crackpot would be soiling the contemporary medium as we speak. With his first film, 2006’s Meat Weed Madness, he introduced a skin laden allegory about sex, drugs, and rock and roll that was heavy on the first two facets and completely devoid of the third. He mixed Southern Gothic goofiness with a determined desire to show punk chicks sans skivvies, the result being something wholly original and uniquely rebellious. Well, now he’s back, belittling the War on Terror with his Jihadist themed sequel Meat Weed America. If you like your ladies pierced, painted, and in various stage of plump/pulp prettiness, this is the movie for you. If you want something akin to a sensible storyline, you’re clearly smoking something.

We begin sort of where the first film left off. Lord Meatweed is still running his cannibalistic cannabis empire. Jessie Bell is still sitting around, dreaming of a career as a model in New York. Even the beefy Bullpuckey is here, stalking the sexy young things that seem to populate Meatweed Manor like so much body lice. Of course, now there’s a new threat on the horizon. Evil terrorist Bin Smokin has enlisted the aid of a group of determined Jihotties to get revenge for what happened to his missing foreskin. It is his intention to take down the Meatweed family one by one, from insane crippled Tobacco advertising artist Sir Duke E. Weed and his sexy assistant, the Hempress to bodacious nun Sister Mary and her sexually frustrated servants of God. Eventually, Bin Smokin is seduced by the undeniable power of the protein-laced marijuana, destined to become part of the skin flicking Meatweed family - or die frying.

Like hardcore action without the penetration or popshots, Meat Weed America is a ripe slice of scatological satire. It’s an insane combination of bare bodkin and political body shots, an anti-Fox News rant reduced to local emo skanks standing around in nothing but their Ed Hardy’s. It is indeed refreshing to see young ladies without major plastic surgery modification showing off their substrata, otherwise artistically modified mammaries arguing for their body painting enhanced natural beauty. Sure, Sister Mary has a rack that only a purveyor of XXX porn could appreciate and there’s quite a few examples of a less than toned male ‘member’-ship to go around, but Dillard knows how to capture his arrested adolescent audience’s attention. Once you’ve got ‘em ogling these pseudo Suicide Girls, you can turn around and trick ‘em into paying attention to your social agenda.

Meat Weed America is clearly aimed at the cold, callous nature of corporate culture. Sir Duke E. Weed and his “cigarettes are slick” conceits could do more for any non-butt campaign than a dozen of those lame t.r.u.t.h. ads. Similarly, Lord Meatweed’s freedom and liberty riot acts are enough to get even the most craven Neo-Con up and saluting the red white and blue. There are also some nifty pro-vegetarian and anti-sexism sentiments, even if it the ideas revolve around burlesque and barmaids in the birthday suit. It may all look like soft core smut laced with a NORML view of blunts, but that’s the beauty of Dillard’s work. While he’s socking it to your groin and other overused erogenous zones, he’s giving that biggest organ in the bin - the brain - a good going over. It’s carnal carnival barking at its best.

Dillard definitely does a good job with his under the radar cast. The delightful Debbie Rochon essays this kind of cockeyed vamp vixen in her sleep. Here, she is important to the director’s “miscreance as message” leanings. Similarly, Troma titan Lloyd Kaufman shows up as an acerbic art collector, his line readings always an interesting combination of solid professional support and “who gives a shit” showboating. As Jessie Bell, Carey Sveen looks the part of a Southern Belle gone to Meat-seed, while the manor’s lord and master (Carl Skoggard) is an unhinged combination of Rastafarian and right wing talk show host. Perhaps the most interesting performance however is given by Peter Stickles as Bin Smokin’. Avoiding all the Arab hating tenets that such a role would offer, he instead finds a perfect balance between comedy and crudeness. In fact, most of Meat Weed America is made up of the toilet in expert equilibrium with the talented.

Of course, the director really does love languishing in the world of the wanton. Even his own “unrated” introduction to the film finds him in a field, flopping his “fallacies” with nudist abandon. The DVD also offers up some interesting added content tidbits. There are short films, a trailer for the movie, a self-proclaimed “sexy” slide show, and a Behind the Scenes featurette that avoids all the standard EPK idiocy to show how true independent art is forged (read: it’s dang-gum hard!). While Troma tacks on a few of its own corporate sponsorship opportunities to maximize the marketing effectiveness of the title, the rest is pure Weed. While it would have been nice to hear Dillard droning on about his efforts, commentary style, such an otherwise crammed digital package does this movie proud.

It’s just too bad that the grindhouse has passed, the drive-in given over to home video, on demand, and various other forms of instant entertainment. For someone like Aiden Dillard, the raincoat crowd would definitely welcome his flesh and “bone” freak show, a surreal conglomeration of diatribe and debauchery. In the old days, when Hollywood shied away from taking on subject too confrontational or scandalous, Meat Weed America would be seen as a shining example of the ripe redolent rebellion. Today, it plays like a journey to the center of a skid row strip club’s mind. A few decades ago, before the Internet allowed everyone access to the vice-ridden and the prurient, a movie like this would be the only outlet for such “skin-aningans”. Aiden Dillard is clearly indebted to the previous generations of schlock meisters. On the other hand, don’t be fooled by its fetidness. Meat Weed America is clearly smarter than your average sex act. 

//Mixed media
//Blogs

The Moving Pixels Podcast Becomes the 'Beholder'

// Moving Pixels

"It's easy to think that we would never be complicit with the dictates of an authoritarian regime, but Beholder reveals how complicated such choices can become.

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