Latest Blog Posts

by Karen Zarker

20 Nov 2007

For those who see a thousand words in a single image, we recommend these two books:

Scrawled graffiti, crafted murals / bright ads in the windows of mom & pop stores, fake ads with real political commentary / sub-culture sleaze, pop culture sharp / fashions that last, fads that die / artists, assholes / sophisticated, down and low / serious danger, perceived fear / the quite silly, the deadly serious / the real thing, a riff on the real—all the expressions of life, expressive life, seen at street level in a scene captured in the eyeball/camera lens of a paid pro, a perceptive amateur—whatever—an astute observer no matter her/his status, no matter her/his location in the world, only the perception and the things captured matter. This is a gorgeous montage of hundreds of single images capturing thousands of stories, diverse and unified, clashing and blending—ignorant and aware, but the one with the lens knows. Those who get what I’m saying will ‘get’ this book.  It’s hefty.  It’s visual, it’s emotional, with some astute text for context.  The rest is up for interpretation.  Just like life, lived. [Amazon]

Street Art and the War on Terror: How the World’s Best Graffiti Artists Said NO to the Iraq War by Xavier Tapies [$35.00]

Graffiti of a political nature must be smart, pointed and fast—fast for the artist is on the run, fast enough to get the message through at a glance, and prepared for a fast death, as the piece may not be standing / may be covered over before the end of the day. Street level political commentary, anti-Iraq war particularly, is captured throughout the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Australia and the Far East in these pages, and its poignant stuff. The criteria for the “World’s Best Graffiti Artists” is not fame, although you’ll find Banksy and his ilk among these pages, but the ‘fastness’ of the message, if you will, the power in the punch. Plenty of “unknown” artists’ messages are included, here. Feel free to glance at the commentary for the works’ locale, at the minimum, and ignore the editors’ interpretation of an image for your own (again, I think the messages come through free and clear, without the static of such narration), or indulge in the brief commentary at your choosing. [Amazon]


by Bill Gibron

20 Nov 2007

Constantly undersold as the plebian pretender to the Brit wit throne (a crown held by surrealist sketch gods Monty Python’s Flying Circus), there is much more to Alfred Hawthorn Hill than bawdiness and boob jokes. Sure, he chased women in a manner that cemented his chauvinistic status, but Hill’s humor was much more music hall than strip club. He worked in all manner of merriment, from song parodies and original tunes to tried and true vaudeville shtick—and thanks to this comprehensive DVD set, we can see him mature from unsure performer to standout superstar. He remains one even today. [Amazon]

by Matt Mazur

20 Nov 2007

Before talk shows disintegrated into the abrasive carnival side shows they have become in recent years, The Dick Cavett Show was on the air to demonstrate the power of the form. Inherently likable and equal parts enthusiastic and charming, Cavett persuaded some of the true legends of cinema to sit down opposite him for lengthy, spontaneous, and very often hilarious chats.  His special brand of easy-going, engaging banter and his clear love of his subjects represents the host all others should aspire to. Fred Astaire, Marlon Brando, and Groucho Marx are but a mere sampling of some of the mythological figures of Hollywood’s Golden Age that are collected in The Dick Cavett Show: Hollywood Greats, the fifth in a nicely put together collection from this series (also culled from Cavett’s show are Rock Icons, The Ray Charles Collection, John & Yoko Ono Collection, and Comic Legends). In our time, the only other hosts who can get their hands on such talent of equal importance, (think Larry King, Oprah Winfrey, David Letterman, and Jay Leno) are rank, star-struck amateurs compared with Nebraska native (and Yale grad) Cavett.

by Mike Schiller

20 Nov 2007

Be ready to be humbled, because your opponents in Quake Wars: Enemy Territory are ready to humiliate you. Whether you sign in to one of the supposed n00b servers hoping to slaughter some fresh meat or you sign in to an expert, ranked server thinking you can hang with the big boys, you’d best be prepared to eat a little bit of crow before you start displaying anything approaching proficiency.  Think you found a quiet little route to a capture-the-flag style goal? There’s a sniper who’s thrilled you’re dumb enough to try it. Think you can just go in, guns blazing and blow everyone away? Well, anyone who tries that needs to be knocked down to earth. Are you more of a pacifist, ready to take on the role of the medic, stealthily providing your team with much needed health and resucitation? Get ready for your team to get pissed at you once you die off too many times. And do you know what the best part is? You’ll keep coming back for more, because the first time you mow down an enemy grunt, it’s thrilling. The first time you manage to be instrumental to your team in achieving one of the many objectives of a given campaign, it’s thrilling. Hell, it’s even worth a laugh to see your name pop up time and again as the “least accurate” shooter. Something about the intricate, expansive maps and the importance of team playmakes Quake Wars: Enemy Territory a team-based first-person shooter you want to come back to again and again… no matter how many times you get fragged. [Amazon]

by Michael Patrick Brady

20 Nov 2007

It’s one thing to simply read President Washington’s words as related through an intermediary, and quite another to hold in your hands a faithful recreation of his original letter—this experience significantly personalizes the history. McCullough bucks textbook compression of history, amplifying the legacy of towering historical figures by focusing on their uncertainties and doubts in a time when it seemed like the fledgling independence movement would be snuffed out in its cradle. A gorgeous, coffee-table friendly book, 1776: The Illustrated Edition is in fact abridged. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that McCullough has shirked his duty to the past by simplifying or compressing the truth, however. The historian has tightened the original text to provide room for an impressive array of images and illustrations that make the book a fascinatingly immersive trip back to the 18th century. [Amazon]

//Mixed media

'Staircase' Is Gay in a Melancholy Way

// Short Ends and Leader

"Unfairly cast aside as tasteless during its time for its depiction of homosexuality, Staircase is a serious film in need of a second critical appraisal.

READ the article