Tuesday, 13 October 2015

An Interview with Mark Greening (With The Dead)

It is 7:45 pm on a Thursday evening and I am uncharacteristically nursing a glass of red wine as well as my mobile phone. I am gazing into the abyss, and have been for about ten minutes. An outsider looking in might think I've been stood up by a date and am currently in the planning stages of an elaborate masturbation ritual designed to tide me over, but this is not the case, tonight. In fifteen minutes I'll be on the phone with a man who has written some of the most titanic metal records of all time, and who is a little over a week away from unleashing yet another of his sinister creations on this poor, blameless planet.

If you aren't already in the know, Mark Greening has played an integral part in establishing the now-worldwide scene for doom metal, written and recorded some of its cornerstone albums, and has toured extensively with the créme de la créme of monolithic shit. If your favourite heavy band are truly heavy, it is because they have studied and mimicked the work he and Tim Bagshaw have left behind. Be it with Electric Wizard, Ramesses, or 11 Paranoias, Greening's lurching, crypt-dwelling percussion has been a highlight. Now returning alongside Tim Bagshaw and the legendary Lee Dorrian (Cathedral, Napalm Death, do I need to?) as With The Dead, Greening assures us that his latest offering is the stuff of nightmares, and you can believe that.

How have you been lately, man? Besides all of the current band-related carry-on.

I've not been too bad to be honest. Obviously I've been recording with my new band, With The Dead, but apart from that I really haven't done a lot of drumming. I mean, after everything went tits up with Electric Wizard, I've just been having a bit of time off playing. We recorded the With The Dead album and Tim (Bagshaw) and I jammed quite a bit, but because Tim lives over in the States, aside from the rehearsing and recording, I just haven't drummed much lately. I'm probably a bit rusty at the moment, but hopefully soon I'll get back to it. I've just been chilling out, riding my motorbike, listening to music, and work and stuff. Just the usual stuff, really. Nothing too eventful.

Do you get very much time to chill out? Especially after what happened with Electric Wizard. Did that whole thing put you off, or are you just taking this time to yourself?

I was put off a bit. It was a nightmare, the whole situation. I was so over the moon to be back with Electric Wizard, and it completely went pear-shaped. It just went wrong, really, - the outcome of the ‘Time To Die’ album and not being paid was very disappointing. It's still an ongoing process, all of that. It didn't put me off for good, but it did knock me back a bit. When you're younger and making music, everything is fun, nobody has an ego, and you're not worrying too much about getting paid or whatever, you’re just enjoying it. Drumming, for me, is a way of getting aggression out, but unfortunately it happened and there wasn't a lot I could do about it, really.

Well, I mean, you're bouncing back right now with With The Dead, and Halloween seems like the perfect time for a new record. Can you tell us a little bit about how With The Dead decided to get together?

Basically it happened pretty much around this time last year. I got the boot from Electric Wizard and everything sort of went to shit. I'd always been best mates with Tim and when he lived in this country, we always used to have a jam together in his bedroom. Not with a full drum kit, but with keyboards, bass, guitars, and occasionally I'd do the vocals, and we just had a bit of fun. We always thought it'd be great if we played in a band together. Even though we did Ramesses, we thought it'd be great for just us two to do our own thing, it was something we always wanted to do. When I got the boot from Electric Wizard, I was in contact with Tim about it because I was pretty gutted and it seemed like a good time to finally do something together, but it's a bit difficult with him living in New Jersey.Anyway, I was also in contact with Lee (Dorrian), and he could tell that I was quite upset about the whole Wizard carry-on, and at some point he asked 'what do you want to do?' I said I just want to play drums’ and mentioned that I'd spoken to Tim to see whether he'd be up for something, which Lee thought would be great and, after hearing some demos, offered to fly Tim over for us to record something. So that's what happened.

The original idea was that I'd do the vocals, and we were originally only going to record an EP. We recorded first of all in a studio in Wimborne, but didn’t have much time and had to rush through the songs a little bit. Lee came down to Wimborne, we'd sort of asked him about doing the vocals before, and he was thinking about it, but obviously he's busy running Rise Above, but finally said 'yeah, I'd be up for that.' A few months later, Tim came back out and we went into a studio in London with Lee and we recorded an album and that's it, really. That's how With The Dead got together. It was like it was meant to be, really. Looking back now, if I hadn’t been fired from Electric Wizard, there wouldn't be With The Dead.

That makes sense as well because there's that Cathedral influence on early Electric Wizard, does working with Lee feel like things coming full circle?

Definitely. Lee was there with Electric Wizard from the beginning, in the 90s. I remember going to a studio in Coventry and recording the first Electric Wizard album, and Lee was there then. He supported Electric Wizard right from the start, and in the early days, we'd do the odd gig with Cathedral. It did feel strange, as you say 'full-circle', us together with Lee. When we were first in Electric Wizard, we were signed to Rise Above and Lee was a good mate of ours.

So he's always been present in your camp?

Yeah, pretty much. When Tim and I left Electric Wizard after the ‘Let Us Prey’ album, we sort of lost contact with Lee. Then when I re-joined Wizard to record ‘Time To Die’, there was a kind of carry-on between Lee and Justin and Liz, I'm still not sure what that was all about, but Lee and Rise Above have always been there for me, and when I got the boot, I asked Lee for help. I don't think he ever thought he'd be doing the vocals in a band with me, but that's how it panned out. He was into the tracks, he wanted to do it, and we wanted him to do it.

You've said before that the new record makes you very proud of it already, but what about With The Dead stands out among the rest of your work?

Just the fact that because when we started out it was just me and Tim in the studio, it didn't feel like we were under any pressure. We knew we wanted to make this heavy record, and we knew we wanted it to be raw and nasty, what nightmares are made of, and because it was just the two of us, it was just laid back and easy to do. There were no egos, no 'you can't do this, you can't do that', it was all straightforward. I think we're all really proud of this record, really, the way it came from an idea to a finished product, it’s a great record. Usually I don't praise my own work (laughs) because I never listen to it, but on this album, the tracks, the structure, the heaviness of it, the rawness of it, everything from the band name to the whole package really. I'm quite proud of it, to be honest.

I can actually hear in your voice how relieved you are to have that kind of freedom.

Yeah, there's just not that much stress over it, it's really easy going. The only downside to it is Tim living in America, but you know, there's planes, so it's not the end of the world. We're all a bit older than we used to be, it's easier to just chill out with it.

And something else as well, sticking to the old school mentality, is that you've given us exactly 1:01 of sample material from the album, which is like dangling a fiver over a pit of crackheads. Was this going against the grain? Where so many bands are allowing people to hear the full thing weeks in advance?

We didn't want to shove it in everyone's face too much, but we wanted a bit of a slow build-up on it, I think. I mean, there was the track, "I Am Your Virus", which was played on a radio show, and then it was on YouTube for a couple of weeks. Then there’s "Living With The Dead" which is going or be premiered on a website tomorrow. Because the album only has six songs on it, we didn't want to put all our eggs in one basket and we wanted to get people interested. You know, you're a long time dead, so we wanted to ease in with the heaviness of it.

Well it's definitely working because there's a lot of people that seem starved at this point. They're ready to hear it.

Well I'm chuffed with some of the reviews we've had, and all the feedback, it's great. Everyone is sort of buzzing off it.

I think it's reinvigorating a lot of people's love of doom, and especially with Rise Above, the whole scene has been pulsating for the last few years and has been influencing people and getting them into things like reading occult texts and stuff. It's become quite a pervasive culture. The whole theme of the occult is something that's followed you around your whole career, is that an interest or mostly something for song writing?

I'm really into my horror films, and I'm also a big fan of ouija boards and stuff. I'm just a fan of things that aren't quite right, other dimensions and stuff. I've never really delved that far into it, I think it's just something that goes with the music and whole doom package. I wouldn't say I fucking do rituals (laughs), yeah I like horror, my ouija boards, and nasty things, but I'm not going to try and speak to the devil.

I actually downloaded a ouija board onto my phone last night. Like an app. I found it weird that they're marketing and mass producing these things.

Yeah, the ouija board has gotten really commercial now. There was a film that came out recently called Ouija, which was a terrible film (momentary audio overload as both of us attempt to express our distaste for the movie at the same time) it's literally the worst film ever, but that is actually where I stole the With The Dead name from. It was from the trailer, which had a voiceover saying the ouija board has been around for centuries and it's used to communicate, and it pauses, then says "…with the dead!", in this over-the-top American accent.

But yeah, the ouija board is everywhere now, really. It's so commercialised. There's kids wearing ouija board t-shirts and stuff. I think when that terrible film came out, one of the number one presents that Christmas was a ouija board. I've had a ouija board tattooed on my back for donkey's years, as long as I can remember. Like you said with that ouija board app, I read something the other day about someone being possessed through a ouija board app on their mobile phone, and I thought 'what the fuck is the world coming to?' You know, playing it on your goddamn phone? Luckily, it seems to have died down now. You know, when horror films come out and kids get into them. They just don't make horror films like ‘The Exorcist’ and ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ anymore. When you look back on those old films you see they're kind of cheesy, but when they came out, there was an impact. New horror films don't really have that impact anymore, all they seem to do now is try to fit in as much gore as they can rather than actually bothering with a story line.

Yeah, there's no memorable characters anymore, no Leatherface.


We're doing a bit of a Halloween thing on the blog at the moment, and it's definitely a cliche to ask at this point, but do you think Halloween has lost its meaning over the years? Do you still enjoy it?

Halloween has never been much of a big deal in England, it’s more of an American thing, which is a shame. Here you just go to a party, get drunk, stumble home, probably fall into a bush dressed a Michael Myers. I still go looking in party shops for little gems and stick masks on my walls, but in America, it seems they go nuts for it. It'd be great to be over there for the things they have in the shops. I'd probably waste a lot of money on junk. I still enjoy it though, no matter how old I get.

I couldn't help but notice the Ramesses Facebook page was updated recently, is there something going on there?

I don't think Ramesses ever really died, I just think it went back into the tomb. It may raise its head one day, it may not. We never sort of really broke up, so maybe.

And now the burning question, are With The Dead planning on hitting the road anytime soon?

I can't really give too much away on that.

I suppose to finish off, is there anything you'd like to say to any of the readers before we go?

Sometimes dead is better. Happy Halloween!

You can buy With The Dead's self-titled album at Rise Above Records from the 16th of October. It is suggested that you do just that.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Glow-Worm: Reality Television And The Paranormal.

The fingers of late capitalism have always sought out the throbbing pulse of American fear, and if a dollar can be made on an old enemy, it will. The Satanic Panic of the 80s wasn't just a call for good, wholesome Christians to be vigilant during a time of heavy metal degeneracy and bullet belts, it was a profitable subject of a number of documentaries and TV specials by the likes of Geraldo and Frontline. When you mix up a cocktail of morally loose goth types with allegations of widespread child abuse, and display it on television sets all across the shivering United States, you're guaranteed big ratings and mouths agape. 

The Satanic Panic went from a god-fearing public response to heavy metal, horror movies, and tabletop gaming to a massive piece of bait on the end of a television executive's fishing rod, and in the end, Satanism, or at least the facade of, became fashionable. Big money had essentially turned an irrational fear into something so tangible that it was capable of burning churches in Norway, for example.

That's the out of control effect that fear and excitement can have when played with by money. It's almost an American tradition to wear your fears on your sleeve and to buy it up like hotcake, and in most cases, this is actually a great thing. Even though the Panic was mostly shameless marketing, it popularized and allowed for further reading and participation in a lot of the fringe literature and art we enjoy today. This is especially true in the case of, and forgive the undetailed/undefined term, the occult.

TV shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The X-Files weren't real enough for casual interests, people wanted to witness the paranormal unfolding before their eyes. They wanted to literally sit in a TV studio and speak to the dead themselves.

Reality television was, if you ask me, the turd that took too long to flush. Its momentous rise began around the same time I became wise to the adult channels. I grew up with it and grew out of it and grew angry with it. Though despite the perseverance of audio/visual baby vomit like Survivor or Paradise Hotel, I will admit that I could hardly tear my young eyes from the complete sensory terror (I was 12) of Most Haunted.

This isn't about disputing the authenticity of these shows, after all. 

The Unexplained began airing in January of 1996 on the Arts & Entertainment network in the US and lasted four seasons before kicking the bucket in May of 2000. The show may have been the first to thoroughly explore the paranormal and occult without the lens of religious bias. The show began at a time when the Satanic Panic had fulfilled its purpose; Marilyn Manson's Smells like Children Tour had ended and Antichrist Superstar was about to debut at no.3 on the Billboard 200. Geraldo Rivera's talk show had begun to change its tune. Teenagers were openly defying their Christian parents with ridiculous sock gloves. It can be fairly guessed that, at this point, curiosity had replaced fear in the Average Joe, and The Unexplained was there to satisfy that demographic with the morbid tales they'd once shuddered through.

Eventually, case studies just weren't inspiring the spooky-wookies anymore, and this is where the "reality" in reality television began to gain weight.

MTV, or ground zero of "reality entertainment", began airing Fear in September 2000. This was a show with a now recognizable but at the time totally cutting-edge format; put cameras on people, send them into a paranormal site. The House on Haunted Hill (1959) starring Vincent Price had now become a "reality", regular people were now being sent to spend the night in real haunted sites for a cash sum, and in its brief two seasons of existence, it became the second most popular show of MTV's regular programming.

The success but sudden withdrawal of MTV's Fear gave space for FOX's Scariest Places on Earth and Living TV's Most Haunted and Most Haunted Live! While the former was based mostly on the format put forward by MTV, Most Haunted went in a different and more occult direction; the stars of the show would actively attempt to communicate with the dead. 

With the occasional and frantic "possession" of medium Derek Acorah, unsettling production effects, and sudden fearful jolts of its stars, Most Haunted courted both ratings and controversy for over a decade and succeeded in blending action with the occult and paranormal, and then delivering it to television screens all over the UK. Soon, shows like Ghost Hunters, Ghostly Encounters, and many, many more, began to spring up and capture audiences all over the west. It may have seemed like this was the post-honeymoon in the relationship between reality TV and the hidden arts, it should have been, but unfortunately it wasn't.

Medium John Edward began filming Crossing Over with John Edward in 1999, and he would go on to ride television's new found niche in occult practice until he had well and truly worn it into the ground. 

Where the haunted house shows had dealt with a mixture of reality and folk tale, John Edward would invite live audiences to experience, and even take part in, psychic phenomena. The voyeurism had been taken out of the experience, real people were putting their hope and trust in Edward's medium powers, and whether you are a skeptic or believer, the turning of profit on human relationships, especially to those of the deceased, was the very spittle on the tongue of talk show exploitation. 

John Edward would go on to become a very controversial and hated figure on American television, and his legacy would open up space for new shows of a similar vein. Perhaps his final moment of relevancy came when Kim Kardashian decided to consult him during the filming of Kourtney and Kim Take New York. That moment of television history can perhaps be seen as the death bed wheezing of paranormal "reality."

Despite Halloween specials and the odd sensationalist tactic, reality TV and the paranormal would never hold an audience quite as they could in the mid-00s. And while all the hoaxes and "possessions" played as much a part in its demise as that of John Edward, reality television brought the occult to a much larger audience who are now either readers, practitioners, or both. Countless websites supply free occult texts, there are Reddit pages dedicated to numerous disciplines, and paranormal vacations (and vacation packages) are now very real. Just as the Panic made vogue the fears of a Satanic planet, reality television played a part in growing our fascination with the frightful unknown.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Blunderbuss 18/06/15

**There’ll probably be spoilers. I recommend you see the movie before reading this.**

Jurassic World has already blown up the box office, taking the championship belt for best opening weekend (in North America… they never include that bit), snatching it away from Joss Whedon’s (bloody awful) Avengers: Age of Ultron. In my experience, statistics like these are basically meaningless and they only serve to enforce the idea that the amount of people going to see a movie is somehow indicative of its quality. It’s not. It’s a bit like One Direction selling out major venues; it doesn’t validate them as competent musicians, it just means they or their management know how to promote and sell their product. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that a lot of people have pretty low standards when it comes to entertainment, these days…

…Aaanyway, Jurassic World, for the most part, is a very watchable movie, with a beautiful score. Completely passable in every sense, which is also its fundamental flaw. Jurassic Park was anything but average; a completely remarkable, original film, which came out of left field and made dinosaurs even cooler than they already were (not to mention, terrifying). Also, Jeff Goldblum. Jurassic World is a bastardized version of the original, with cool racing stripes tacked on and its heart ripped out.

The movie “pays homage” to the original by frequently plagiarising it and referencing it in almost every single scene. While I’m all on board for tipping the cap to the original, they really took the absolute piss with the amount of references and not-so-subtle winks and nudges. Yes, we remember that these movies are related! We get it! It seems to me that you should allow your movie to have its own space to do its thang, especially when you keep referencing a far superior film. Jurassic World was always going to pale in comparison to Jurassic Park for me, but I didn’t expect to be reminded so frequently of the stark contrast between them.

Living in the shadow of Jurassic Park can’t have been easy for the filmmakers, it has to be said. Jurassic Park was the undisputed king of 90’s summer blockbusters; its action movie madness was tempered beautifully with plenty of substantial dialogue and questions about scientific ethics (I’d like to take this opportunity to coin the term, “genethics”, cheers) and the perils of fuckin’ about with Mother Nature. It boggles the mind how Jurassic World constantly references fan-boy bollocks from the original, while completely ignoring the things that actually made it great.

Jurassic World seems more concerned with Chris Pratt spitting out one-liners and gettin’ the shift off of Bryce Dallas Howard than the moral and ethical implications of genetic manipulation. Even when they touch on these subjects, the emphasis is on the sexual tension between the characters and the flirtatious double entendre, while the issues are tertiary. Don’t get me wrong, I love Chris Pratt, for the most part, but I think he would’ve been put to better use as a secondary character, with a stronger actor-actor in the lead role. Also, he’s not convincing as a knowledgeable guy. Sorry, Chris, but you’re still Andy from Parks and Rec’ to me, buddy! Also, I’ve never seen such poor use of Vincent D’Onofrio, was really looking forward to him being a malignant bastard. Tut, tut! Misuse of assets is rife in this movie, which brings me nicely to another misused asset: the freakin’ dinosaurs. What happened, man?!

How can it be that, twenty years on, the original Jurassic Park’s dinosaurs look and “feel” more real than the ones in Jurassic World? This is most likely due to the fact that the visual effects and dinosaurs in Jurassic World are almost 100% digitally achieved, while the original used practical, real-life effects and animatronics extensively (Stan Winston Studios actually built a life-sized T-rex for the original, so yeah, beat that). I’ll always have a bias towards practical effects, and I think the contrast between Jurassic Park/World is a perfect example of how practical effects can’t be topped by CGI (yet!): nothing is realer than real, in my opinion, and CGI will always look slightly off and unrealistic to me.

The Indominus Rex, who, for all intents and purposes, is the antagonist in this movie, is fairly underwhelming in its design and execution, and feels like a stock baddie dinosaur, which hurts the movie in a fundamental way. In Jurassic Park’s most memorable and epic scene, the T-Rex says “fuck this noise”, busts out of its pen and proceeds to be a big, ol’ angry dinosaur all over everything, mainly that sleazy lawyer and those two little nose-pickers, Lex and Tim. This scene, although terrifying, gives me the impression of the T-Rex as a force of nature, neither benevolent nor malign in its intentions; it’s just doing what nature intended it to do – fuck shit up and be a badass. In Jurassic World, the Indominus Rex is an absolute prick of a dinosaur, eagerly killing people and other dinosaurs just for the sheer lulz of it. If the Indominus Rex was played by an actor, it’d probably by Charles Dances or Christopher Lee (RIP), due to the sheer cuntery and maliciousness of the character.

I get it, like, they’re going for the whole, “it’s an evil abomination, representing the wrongs of genetic manipulation” angle, which is really just a thin facade for the real reason the Indominus Rex is in this movie: focus groups and pandering to an audience that, in truth, doesn’t really know what it wants. They even explicitly state in the movie that the Indominus Rex’s conception was a result of focus groups indicating that they wanted a dinosaur that’s “cooler” and has “more teeth”. There’s some serious double irony going on here, or maybe it’s just a tongue-in-cheek comment on how the film industry and audience’s needs have changed since the original. Either way, somebody fucked up, because it does precisely the opposite of what it aims to achieve: the Indominus Rex with its buffed up characteristics is just overkill and takes away from the excitement and flow of the movie (and the series) by being almost super-villain-like. It’s quite similar to the Spinosaurus from Jurassic Park III; all they wanted was something to trump the T-Rex and get the kiddies buying toys, but at least the Spinosaurus was based on a real dinosaur and made more sense inside the universe of the Jurassic series.

In conclusion, Jurassic World is a decent if forgettable movie that doesn’t even nearly live up to the memory of Jurassic Park, although admittedly, it’d take one hell of a movie to hold a candle to Spielberg’s seminal masterpiece. Overall, the film feels like a shallow, extravagant and unnecessary attempt at a modern retelling of a story that was told beautifully twenty years ago, but it’s a decent way to kill two hours. You can’t improve on perfection, and that’s why reboots and far-flung “sequels” fundamentally don’t work. I went into Jurassic World with a serious amount of optimism; I was expecting something of the calibre of Mad Max: Fury Road, but what I was given felt a lot more like 2010’s Predators. Let the old movie franchises go extinct (sorry, couldn’t resist), I say, and make room for new blood.

Keith Clarke


Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Farm Talk with Jessie Officework 16/06/15

This Cat Eats Suns by Terminator Jeans

Terminator Jeans is the most engrossing, progressive, and spiritually satisfying musical collaboration ever in the history of the human race.

Except it isn’t, that’s just how they describe themselves on Bandcamp. They’re a krauty jam-band playing ten-minute-long, drums/bass/guitar/synth jobs with either ‘Terminator’, ‘Terminate’ or ‘Jeans’ in the title.

“Will You Please Remove Your Jeans” could sound threatening if spoken, depending on how it’s delivered. If it was said to you the way it plays out on the album, you’d probably give in even though initially you’d be quite rightly reluctant. The same request being made over and over for thirteen minutes, gradually speeding up and getting harder to ignore. ‘I don’t want to take my jeans off’ you’d think, but the noodlefuzzy bassline won’t quit and eventually your hips join in giving it all that Shakira business and then the guitar starts a-soloing and then gets all glitchysamply and the drummer is laying his or her (credited only as Dave Power, so it’s hard guess a gender) business down on the floor toms all your inhibitions have slid down your leg and onto the floor.

You regain your senses and find out you’ve actually woken up in the next tune. You took off your jeans ages ago and you realise you’re lost in the jeans museum on the moon. Rather appropriately the song you’ve woken up in is called “Lost In The Jeans Museum On The Moon”. A more experimental affair altogether with a strong hint of pre-dancefloortastic Black Dice or some of the non-canonical (not quite the correct phrase but you know what I’m on about) EPs Sonic Youth used to make to suss out who was actually paying attention. Anyway yet again you get lost all up in the groove and you don’t realise that you’re actually listening to still another track. This whole thing is playing you like the chump you are and the slut you want to be.

Yeah you’ve heard this kind of stuff before and it’s one of those forms of music that’s so easy to do that a million bands have done it badly, but Terminator Jeans are smart enough that when one of them wants to wig out the others keep the ship sailing in the right direction.

“Imagine Aladdin Was A Terminator” gets things moving in much freer direction, proving the end of the last paragraph to be somewhat…. wrong. Give it a few minutes though. Give it ten minutes and thirty two seconds even. It’s some nice rhythmic dilly-dallying and quite at odds with “Terminate Your Eyes”. Don’t know what’s going on with this one. All fuzzy bass bluster but it cuts out really abruptly and cuts back in sounding like a totally different song. I’m blaming computers on this bullshit.

“The Factory Where Terminators Are Made” brings back the trippier freeform stuff for a few minutes then goes all noisywoisy for a bit before Dave Power throws his/her finest Bonham-esque moves before the whole thing melts down bleepidybloopidy. I keep thinking about long-distance lorry driving...

Bobby Harnett.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

The Parapet of Rant 13/06/2015

Would You Rather? is a 2012 horror film, based on the premise that writing is difficult so let's just take a childhood/drunken adult game and make a movie around it so we can try to be Saw and think of gruesome ways to injure, maim and murder people.

The film opens with our protagonist, Iris, being interviewed for a job in a restaurant, where unnecessary and somewhat inappropriate questions are asked as a way of finding out her back story. So really she's being interviewed for a position at the Exposition Factory, which she would most certainly get. Anyway, we learn her brother is sick and she needs money. Done. Sorted. Character motivation is out of the way nice and early.

After a brief scene to introduce the brother and make us connect with their struggle and identify with them (it doesn't work by the way) we get to the all important moment of Iris meeting Shepard Lambrick, a wealthy philanthropist that likes to help out people in tough situations. She is introduced to him by Dr. Barden, the doctor working on her brother's case. Or as I shall be referring to him, Bob from The Walking Dead. Lambrick invites Iris to his house for a dinner with a group of people, all in financial situations such as hers, and at the end of the dinner there will be a contest with the winner receiving all the help they could possibly need. We also learn that Bob was a previous winner of the game.

Iris goes off to contemplate this for dramatic tension reasons (another thing that doesn't work) and of course ends up agreeing so that the film can actually take place and not just consist of her and her brother staring forlornly at a mountain of bills and weeping about crippling debt and the absence of suitable bone marrow donors.

Upon arrival at the Lambrick Estate Iris is shown to a room full of her fellow guests by a very burly butler, and sees for the first time who she'll be competing against. These include: Darnell from My Name Is Earl, Guy from Agent Carter, Token Old Woman (In a Wheelchair) For Future Shock Value, Token Angry  but Hot Chick (who is played by Sasha Grey who won the AVN Award for Best Anal Sex Scene in 2008 for Anal Cavity Search 6), The Dad from Home Alone, Mysterious Soldier and Ricky from Trailer Park Boys.

The dinner begins and after revealing she is vegetarian, Iris is offered $10,000 to eat the steak and foie gras on her plate. She does, because who the fuck wouldn't, and so our first look at the game is complete. The next is a recovering alcoholic taking $50,000 to drink an entire decanter of scotch.

The dinner ends and the contest truly starts. What follows is several rounds of various Would You Rather? questions designed to make the watcher go "Oh god no! What will they do? That's such a hard decision!". I say designed, because in reality while watching it I was wondering "If you're going to make a horror out of a kids' game, think outside the box. Something like Dizzy Dizzy Dinosaurs. You have to spin around and if you stop or slow down you explode. Or people get chased by a Velociraptor that's been on the waltzers all day." Throw in an escape effort, an unnecessary rape attempt (because films just need to have those apparently), and an ending scene that I guessed at the start and laughed at for a solid two minutes, and you've got your film.

I know I haven't painted this film in a good light, and objectively it could be worse. With so many horror films out there, there are others that are the film equivalent of being set on fire while your ex tells you you've gained a few pounds and your reviews are mediocre. The biggest problem with it is that's it lazy. Lazy writing, lazy follow through, lazy acting. It feels like the writer got a brainwave of making Would You Rather? more than just a game to pass the time and become this life or death, everything is about choices sort of thing, and then when it came time to put pen to paper, picked up the Screenwriting Compendium of Clichés and just went to town. Even the questions lack some imagination. "Would you rather electrocute yourself or the person next to you?" Please. I once proposed "Would you rather be shrunk down and put up Harry Styles' arse, head first up to your knees, Or be shrunk down and be Beyoncé's tampon?".THAT is how you play Would You Rather? And it would make a much more interesting film if those were the kind of choices players had to take part in.

Nora Hanney

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Medieval Surgery: Blood-letting and Trepanning.

Before Islamic experts brought a semblance of reason to the practice of not allowing sick people to die on the operation table, the realm of medicine in the Medieval period was mostly a blood-soaked shambles led by military doctors who were used to cutting away at wounds during the heat of battle. Combine this lack of experience with excruciatingly primitive tools, all-encompassing superstition, and virtually no knowledge of mental health, and a rather grim picture is painted for the Medieval who might find themselves unfortunate enough to develop a sore arse or a nervous twitch. Imagine visiting your local GP complaining of night spasms, being diagnosed with demonic possession, and thusly having a pole driven through your skull, and you get the picture of what was going on. Let's have a look at two of the most prominent forms of "surgery" during the Medieval period.

Blood-letting was an exercise designed to aid people in bad humour. No, we're not talking about snotty politicos with social media accounts. Humours in the Medieval times referred to what was believed to be their four cardinal bodily fluids, the innards which made a person healthy, namely phlegm, yellow bile, black bile, and blood. When someone would complain of bodily ailment, they would be faced with a few options including a change in diet, but more often than not, the "doctor" would prescribe a draining of "bad humours." In order to drain these ailing humours, an incision would have to be made on one of the patient's body parts in order to drain the bad blood inside of them, thus restoring balance to the all-important four humours. One of the reasons blood-letting was used this was due to the Medieval belief that each body part held veins connected to a specific internal organ, so by draining the blood from this body part, the insides would become detoxified. Of course, this was horseshit, and many patients would bleed to death due to a bumbling doctor, sometimes a barber, slicing away and tapping a vein dry.

While evidence of trepanation has been found in the skulls of prehistoric remains, thus disqualifying it as a purely Medieval invention, it is most infamous for its use during the Middle Ages as a form of physical exorcism. As little to nothing was known about mental health during this period, anyone acting in a way that might perturb others was seen as a symptom of demonic possession, probably the most shuddersome diagnosis a Medieval physician could make. As this was incredibly serious business, the problem was to be dealt with seriously. A trephine was a cylindrical blade used to burrow through flesh and bone, basically a corkscrew for people, and this tool was used to break off a nice old piece of human skull in order to force residing demons to evacuate their host. To make matters worse for a patient, the administration of anesthesia wouldn't have been of Medieval genius, and while attempts were made to ease the suffering, the fact that poisonous hemlock was considered a form of anesthetic tells says a lot about their pharmacology. If you're lucky, you might be treated with some quality opium instead.

Thankfully, we have Web MD for misdiagnosis these days and are happy enough to ignore major health issues until they claim us much later on down the line. We've come a long way, and further we shall go.

Liam Doyle

Friday, 5 June 2015

Farm Talk with Jessie Officework 6/6/15

Your blood and soil are piss and shit…

...is one way to start a review. It’s also the name of the shortest
and most ‘everyday metal’ song on this album from last year which is
so far removed from most blah music that I’m tempted to pepper this
review with years-old clichés to redress the balance. Adam Kalmbach,
the sole (and indeed only) member of Jute Gyte, uses relatively
straight-forward structures, a few wonky time signatures, well judged
dynamics and aggressive but not overpowering production to give the
album an easy enough, familiar enough feel. And he plays a microtonal
guitar all over the place to make everything sound fucked.

Ressentiment, by Jute Gyte.

The opening riff on ‘Mansions of fear, mansions of pain’ seems to
descend again and again and again (and maybe again, I’m not counting)
through all the notes on a regular instrument and all the extra ones
on the microtonal strings of savagery that you feel like you’re being
pulled by a newly annoyed gravity.

‘Oh Soft Embalmer of the Still Midnight’ initially sounds like My
Bloody Valentine if Kevin Shields was as obsessed with nightmares as
he is with staying out of public view for years at a time. Some of the
slower parts of the song remind me of the time a lad knocked me out
one night. Falling slowly, dizzy, drunk and expertly attired, I must
have been a vision of bearded and beered up serenity until I hit the
pavement and the discord takes my head hostage again. Does it hurt?
Not too much. Will everyone be into it? Not at all.

You know those Dali paintings where all the animals have mad big
gangly legs like they’re two hundred feet tall? If one of them died in
the desert and a wandering wander or wayfaring wayfarer found it’s
putrefied, mile-long camel dick and tried to replicate the sight and
smell as sound, the first riff on the third track ‘The Central Fires
of Secret Memory’ might do the job. Eight minutes or so later (still
the same song obvs), not for the first time, the album goes all slow
and horrory. It’s higher pitched now though and a bit jumpy. The drum
machine gets a nice workout too.

‘Like the Deepening of Frost in the Slow Night’ kicks in full hooly-do
for about forty seconds before going all headbangy and then all
headswirly. Chopping and swapping tempos and junk for fun at this
stage. I’d like to be able to say whether or not he’s changing key but
he’s possibly using all the notes at every opportunity so who the
fartz can really be sure? It’s quite the thrill-ride of a tune if I’m

Closing track ‘The Grey King’ is about those sex books that everyone
read that time mayhaps.

Or not.

I can’t hardly understand a word he says. I’m not sure the songs are
even about what young Kalmbach thinks they’re about. I don’t even know
for certain if Kalmbach is young. Or fully human. He’s giving us a
guided tour of some other dimension or whathaveyou and I fucking love
the place. The next time I’m babysitting and they ask to stay up ‘juss
fornudder ten minnets’ I think I’ll allow it. Might even let them
listen to some music.


Bobby Harnett 

Ithyphallic; Wanking in Egyptian Mythology

The Egyptian god Min shows off his mighty dude.

The importance of the Egyptian skin flute in its mythological narrative is one that cannot be avoided, and the amateur historian, when tackling Egypt, is forced to either squeamishly quit their exploration or stare on helplessly at images of the mighty celestial bobby dangler so prevalent in her chiseled story. Due to their mostly phallocentric worldview and rich imagination, the Egyptians were fond of envisioning their very existence as the result of a good old fashioned wank of the gods, an idea so ingrained in the Egyptian psyche that it saw their Pharaohs mimic the story of creation by knocking one off into the Nile.

For the Egyptians, human reproduction and the inception of reality were intertwined, ejaculation itself was viewed as a microcosm of universal origin, and this connection informs many of Egypt's most important myths. So whereas you may be apathetic or repulsed by the sight of your everyday Jabari pulling the disco stick, the act of godly masturbation was something to be worshiped for its sorcerous properties. This suggests that masturbation holds a ritual importance for the Egyptians and is likely why royalty were encouraged to do battle with the schmekel in public.

According to some interpretations, the great creator, Atum, materializing into a vast nothingness, sought to relive his loneliness by pulling the pudding, and in doing so spewed forth from his immortal wang the first two major elemental deities in Egyptian lore, Shu and Tefnut, thus creating the universe with a flick of the wrist. The story is indicative of the phallocentric attitudes of the time, whereby all things material and immaterial are a result of male fertility. Even flooding of the river Nile itself was said to come from the johnson of the fertility god, Min, whose image was always engraved to include his colossal erection with one hand either pointed to the east or placed firmly around it.

The Egyptian view of masturbation was a conflicted one. In one hand, it was seen as a magical or ritual act, while in the other, it was wasteful and tasteless. This dispute is best exemplified in a myth wherein the gods Set and Horus were thoroughly engaged in a mutual hand shandy that didn't best please the goddess Isis, who chopped off Horus' hand as punishment, before reattaching it and pulling his dangle herself in order to revitalize him. Besides the obviously incestuous connotations to this tale, and the fact that Isis may have been a bit upset that her son was jobbing off he who murdered her husband, this tale says a lot about the casual nature of Egyptian sexuality. Masturbation can be something distasteful for the ancient Egyptians, when the act is performed in a certain unsavoury manner, but it is also something that can create or rejuvenate.

The ancient Egyptians weren't a shy bunch and reveled in all things flesh, from ritual masturbation to necrophilia, little was forbidden in the Egyptian bed room. So while chronic masturbation might not be the most heroic of undertakings from a Westernized standpoint, it played a major role in ancient Egyptian folklore, which brimmed with the sex magick that would become so vital to both Eastern and Western occultism throughout history.

So while you might not draw very much approval in publicly frying the lovewurst, be sedate in the notion that somewhere across the vast cosmos, behind endless curtains of dream and reality, through celestial vistas unfathomable to the inferior human mind, a glimmering entity of the divine is waging a red-faced war on his who-who-dilly, forever.

We Now Return To Your Regularly Scheduled Programming.

Allo friends.

                                                              ALLO FRIENDS.


                                        Allo friends.

                    ALLO FRIENDS.

Well hello there friends, it's been a while, hasn't it? We hope that you've all been keeping as well as can be. As well as can be. As well as can be. We're about to begin anew the cycle of enjo
yable written content for your enjoyment with a new cast of finger ventriloquists to graze your imagination and  lap up your bad feelings bad feelings bad feelings bad feelings bad feelings with tongues glimmering wet. So prepare yourselves for a typhoon of reality wherein you shall find the answers you've been searching for all of this time. 

Lots of love,

The good wives of ThatMakesItNotInsane.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Why They'll Never Find Bigfoot.

In 1951, a British mountaineer by the name of Eric Shipton took a photograph of what he, and many others, believed to be a footprint belonging to the Yeti, or The Abominable Snowman. In the years following Shipton's discovery prompted a newly found global interest in the folkloric tales of forest-dwelling hominid monstrosities, and with this popular consciousness, the wheels of fate began to creak slowly into motion. 

With the discovery of another footprint in 1958, this time in Del Norte County, California, came an excavation into the depths of American superstition that would see the popularization of the forest "wild man" from colonial tales, though he would reemerge into the American heart and mind as "Bigfoot". Never one to pass up an opportunity to monetize, the USA turned Bigfoot into a penny-rolling sensation, one that would send mountain gear, hunting rifle, and camera sales into the fucking exosphere. Whether they were rooting for Bigfoot with their t-shirts and coffee cups, or actively seeking to destroy the beast, people were spending lots and lots of money, and people were making lots and lots of money.

The efforts to find Bigfoot were great and were exemplified by the upsurge in those devoting their lives to the study of cryptids. Cherry-cheeked goatees with arses numb from bar stools would stand before cameras and claim they'd found the ape, but rarely could any offer the kind of evidence as startling as The Patterson Film from 1967 (pictured above). 

However, Robert Patterson and Robert Gimlin captured more than an image of the beast that day, they captured the attention of the beast itself. 

It has been decades since the first Bigfoot print was discovered by sun-beaten labourers in California that day, so why has it taken so long for any hard evidence of Bigfoot's existence to reach the surface? Why is it that the American military can riddle foreign dictators and terrorist leaders with bullets, but they cannot locate a giant ape-man inhabiting their own forests? Why do so many of those who have dedicated their lives to pursuing Bigfoot manage to remain strides behind the beast? Perhaps because the distance between them is not an unfortunate one, but a useful one.

The pursuit of Bigfoot is a hoax spun in order to create profit for con-men, the American outdoors and tourist industry in general...

...and Bigfoot itself.

What you have to recognize here is that Bigfoot holds the cards in this situation, it rolls the nickels. For as long as Bigfoot remains in our minds but just out of reach, the money will keep circulating, tourism will keep steady, niche business will flourish, and Bigfoot itself will be kept with an abundance of its most cherished things, vodka and printed pornography. As long as this arrangement is honoured, the poachers keeping their distance and the beast remaining just out of sight of the rest, the American dream can be pursued freely by all involved in the hideous treachery. 

So next time you see some cute Bigfoot plush-doll or t-shirt and ask yourself the great consumerist question, I'd like you to first ask where the money is going. Ask yourself what role your money will play in the funding of rifle-touting American politics and the ever advancing and stomach churning porn addiction of an anthropomorphous ape demon.

Only you can break the chain.

Meals to go with Your Favourite Music!

If there's anything more boring than eating food without listening to music, it's listening to music without eating food, am I right? Sometimes it even sucks when you have both, but that depends on how bad either your music taste is or how dull your tastebuds are, but did you know you can have BOTH and have a SUPER AWESOME time!?



If your friends are waiting for you to go skating at the mall, but your lame ass mom wants you to eat something before you leave, here's a few ideas how you can eat well and spite her at the very same time. How righteous is that?


Here's a totally righteous list of the meals you can eat while enjoying the music that your parents will never understand because they're divorced and you're the reason why.


Who are they?: Hugely influential Alt-rock band spawned from the ashes of 90s Noise masters Daisy Chainsaw. 

What you should be eating: A lovely spiced and sweet Irish Whiskey Cake to compliment a band with both a soft side and a vicious streak. Take in this confectionery delight with a glass of whiskey to compliment the whiskey that's already very present and very pronounced. You should always be drunk with cake when listening to this band.


Who are they?: "Cascadian Black Metal" from Oylmpia, Washington. A perfect blend of celestial atmosphere and jagged Black Metal assault.

What you should be eating: The band are known for their eco-friendliness and love of nature and primitive chic living, so your meal should be both paleo AND á la mode. Why not try a Paleo Breakfast Burrito complete with egg, flaxseed, and your favourite type of fair trade salsa!


Who are they?: The band that unwittingly gave Morrissey a platform to dribble his venom on everyone and everything.

What you should be eating: Morrissey, an outspoken vegetarian and true animal lover, wouldn't be best pleased to see you chomping down on a ham burger, in fact, he'd probably hate you anyway, for anything. Your best bet with The Smiths is to try and eat a bowl of lemons, the perfect mixture of self-torture and protest.


Who is he?: Blunt-hitting Hip-hop trendsetter from the U-S of A.

What you should be eating: Wiz's dope smoking is as publicized as the sports pages and had often stated that his monthly drug budget is $10,000. To truly enjoy the musical stylings of Mr. Khalifa, spread about a pound of weed over a 16 inch pizza and enjoy. It'll probably taste fucking horrible, but you'll feel fantastic/horrible.


Who are they?: Once fashionable mall-Punk for kids with Sex Pistols buttons on their drainpipes.

What you should be eating: A steaming pile of shit.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Why The Water Charges Are Necessary.











I need help. help me. help me. help me.






I don't like it here anymore.


Please god, not here.



The doer alone learneth.

Monday, 30 March 2015

The Flowers of my Hatred Bloom in your Springtime.

To whom it may concern,

That I have bothered typing you a formal salutation is a wasp sting that will likely prevail on my skin until they've slid me into the crematory furnace, where kindly flames will finally sterilize me of any damning evidence that we shared Earth's gases. The simple act of writing this piece is akin to panting and trembling violently on a hospital bed in the total agony of birthing a 15 lb hate baby. You'd better take that job at the tyre factory, because the hate baby is yours. 

The only possible way I could hate you even more than presently is if I cloned myself, in effect multiplying my hatred by two. Even then, I feel sick at the thought of bringing a blameless clone into this world only for it to share the titanic burden of my loathing. As far as I would travel through the known cosmos just to satisfy the bitterness that drives me, the image of mercy killing my own clone just to rid him of our shared memories is a feat that even I would find excessive. At least I might find solace in that each slap and pelt of my hurl upon my clone's skull would be a soothing verse in a lullaby that would deliver him from your repulsive impression.

I fucking hate you so much that I plan in advance. I have spent months in a damp, windowless dwelling, eating canned avocados and just weaving an intricate web of coordinated events that may lead to my final revenge. I wear on my right hand a boxing glove filled with coconut oil in the hopes that one day my touch will be irresistible to your future bride. I want to take away that which you love the most, my nemesis, and coconut oil is how I'll do it. 

I will make scorching, white-hot love to whomever it is you have formed a close bond with, and I will come not from pleasures of the skin, but of the thought that I have shared council with the one person who promised faithfulness to you. By god, my hate for you is so strong that it requires the facade of love to be truly exemplified. 

Wake up, old chap, it's breakfast time. Can you smell the meal I've been slaving over in the kitchen? What do your nostrils detect here, because to me, it carries the very distinct waft of your children's shoes. Oh yes, that's right, I've been flipping the remains of your offspring in a wok layered with vegetable oil all morning and I've been doing this because my hatred is multi-generational. I'm a very sick person, but not as sick as you'll feel once you realize that you're digesting your own kids.

In a way, I have you to thank for getting me through my day-to-day, for though your existence is arsenic, it is the thought of even your most momentary sufferings that gives me the strength to rise from bed. The problem, it seems, contains the seeds of solution, and for that I am thankful. The knowledge that you are capable of agony is like emerald waters to the eyes of a shriveled desert wanderer. 

I hate you, and every day I dream of pulling off your stupid fucking mustache and feeding it back to you like a piece of hairy shrimp.