Archive for October, 2008


Music Review: Type O Negative

October 31, 2008

It’s Halloween, and under these black sad skies and by the light of the rotting jack-o-lantern, I bring you the music of Type O Negative. I think it’s appropriate. Demons roam the Earth tonight, and so do these New York rockers.

Type O Negative is Halloween on CD. All those years Rob Zombie was power-rocking his way through schlock horror stereotypes, Type O Negative was creating the real deal, crafting dark gothic (not ‘goth’) metal with a tunesmanship and sense of melody that rescues it from the shit-for-brains dirges of death metal.

I’m of two minds when it comes to Type O Negative. There are about a dozen of their songs that rotate in and out of my playlists, and others I can’t stomach, mostly due to boredom. They can be hit or miss. But that’s okay, because the ones I do like, the ones that matter, are so monstrously epic that I am happy to go through life with a handful of brilliance.

The good songs I’m talking about include Love You To Death, Black No. 1 (the only song ever written abour hair dye; its subtitle is Little Miss Scare-All), My Girlfriend’s Girlfriend, Cinnamon Girl, Summer Breeze, I Know You’re Fucking Someone Else (there’s a title for you) and September Sun.

You know why this music works? Two things: keyboards, played like a Wagnerian opera and not like Howard Jones or whoever, and also the voice of Peter Steele.

Steele is a seven-foot-tall bodybuilder who sings like a low-register banshee. His voice is so rumbly and low-end that you can often find songs attributed to Type O Negative that are really just slowed-down versions of actual recordings. There’s a Hit Me Baby One More Time floating around out there like that. Peter Steele is also notorious for being the first Playgirl model to insist on appearing, uh, as the extended remix version.

Anyway, this is not everyone’s cup of tea, and not always mine. But there are days when Type O Negative makes perfect sense. Today is Halloween. So that’s one of them.

Here’s a couple of Type O Negative videos, one for Halloween:

And one for when you’re just feeling confused about things:


My Brilliant Little Geek

October 31, 2008

My youngest son is five, brilliant, funny, extremely cute … and he knows all this.

A while back, he wandered into the Weather Station and noticed the screensaver on my laptop: the Enterprise, the 1701, the original ship. He looked at it for a moment, then turned to me and said what is probably the best thing a child has ever said to me: “Is that the ship that brought you to this planet?”

Of course, I said “yes,” not thinking much of it at the time. Well. Since then, the little guy has concocted an entire sci-fi scenario better than most movies, all to explain just how it is that he and I (not his siblings, or anyone else) happen to be from a different planet.

He talks about it all the time. He told his teacher, in earnest intensity, about how we left our planet many years ago and took a long time to come to Earth, because we wanted to help people learn to play video games. He tells people that we look like humans because we all came from the same place a long time ago, only we went to our planet and the rest of you came here.

Yesterday, he and I were flopped on our backs in our field, watching a small plane cross the sky. “That’s smaller than our ship,” he said. I agreed. And then he came out with this:

“Did you know that gravity is different on our planet? And we have a thing we had to put in us to make gravity the same for us on Earth.”

“Really?” I asked.

You should know that he has a very serious voice. “Yes,” he said. “And if you take it out you would float up to the clouds and that’s where you would have to live.”

Now, what struck my about this is (a) it’s pretty inventive for a kid who just turned 5, and (b) it’s remarkably similar to a story I wrote when I was a kid about people who lived in cities hidden in the clouds. So I don’t know what’s going on here, but I’m pretty sure my kid is something exceptional.

All in all, I’m pretty happy to have a little sci-fi genius hanging around. It makes me feel like I’ve done something right for a change.


Horror Movies You Should See

October 30, 2008
Lemoras iconic backwoods bus sequence

Lemora's iconic backwoods bus sequence

Happy Halloween. For those of you not in North America, Happy Friday.

I’m going to honour the occasion by running through some scary flicks you may not have seen. I am a serious horror movie fan and have seen more than I can remember, and thus can tell you with confidence that for every excellent scary movie there are nine more that bite weiner.

Now, I should tell you that I don’t like zombie flicks and I’m not big on this “torture porn” stuff that’s been coming out lately; I liked the first Saw, hated Hostel, really, really hated Captivity and have not seen any of their sequels, nor do I care to. So you won’t see stuff like that on my shelf. Don’t get me wrong; a horror movie can be gory. It can be bloody. Or it can just be scary, with chills hinted at via mood and sound, not graphic violence. I just don’t get this two-hours-of-people-cutting-people-up business. But I like Rob Zombie’s stuff, so hey, what do I know?

Quality horror has been lacking in recent years; The Ring (the American version) was a rare scare for me in the 21st century. Prior to that? Maybe The Blair Witch Project. I am of the opinion that you either absolutely got that film, or you absolutely didn’t, with no in-between, and I think it has something to do with the power of the viewer’s imagination.

Anyway, here are some horror movies you should see:

  • Twitch of the Death Nerve: I would actually recommend you see any Lamberto and/or Mario Bava films you can, but this one is a standout. I haven’t seen it in years, come to think of it … maybe this weekend will be the time, if I can find a copy. I think it’s also the best movie title of all time. Sometimes it’s packaged under the title Bay of Blood, and somehow isn’t as good under that name. But I’m weird about things like that.
  • Black Christmas: The Canadian original, which actually kicked off the “slasher” film craze and is a clear influence on the first Halloween movie. There’s an iconic image involving a clear plastic bag and a rocking chair that will haunt you.
  • Lemora: I first saw this on late-night TV when I was in my early teens. Actually, I saw just one sequence, involving a girl being locked in an old shed after being attacked by creatures in the forest, but it was so frightening that it stayed with me for years. It wasn’t until last summer that I finally (a) learned what it was called and (b) found a copy. It doesn’t really hold up; it’s extremely low-budget and very, very disquieting, but there’s still something about it that works for me.
  • Suspiria: My favourite horror movie, and one of my favourite films. It’s surreal, a dreamscape of horror hallucination and witchery. It makes little sense and doesn’t have to. Dario Argento initially conceived of this as a film about little girls, then cast adults as teenagers, but didn’t change the dialogue … it makes for a strange trip. It has two “sequels,” 1980’s Inferno and this year’s Mother of Tears, both inferior.
  • Last House on the Left: Brutal and gripping and dark as pitch, this is the ultimate exploration of ultraviolence. It isn’t spooky; it’s a scary, realistic story of a gang of killers on the loose. Long before The Strangers or Funny Games, this was the way to scare America: Do you really know who’s knocking on your door?
  • The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane: Jodie Foster is Bryn, a 13-year-old who lives by herself in a rambling old house in the country. Or maybe not. This is a quiet, slow movie about suspicion and fear that features a young Martin Sheen as one of cinema’s best-ever villains. It also stars a young actor named Scott Jacoby, whose face, for me, sums up the 70s.
  • Bad Ronald: Scott Jacoby headlines this one, a cheapie about a teenaged boy who gets into some trouble, so his mother (played by Zira from Planet of the Apes) hides him in a secret room in their house, and then dies. When a new family with lovely daughters moves in, they have no idea a creepy kid is living inside their walls.
  • Carnival of Souls: You can usually find this on those cheap DVD box sets, which are worth the price just for this movie alone. A young woman survives a deadly car crash and finds herself drawn to a strange old carnival pavilion in the middle of nowhere … again, it’s fairly low-budget but the power is in the performances and the spooky pavilion.
  • Candyman: I still watch this whenever I can. And it’s still frightening. The sequels are garbage, but the original, with Virginia Madsen’s perfect performance, Tony Todd’s menace (“I am the writing on the wall, the whisper in the classroom”) and a story like nothing else before or since, is an excellent Halloween scare.
  • Race With The Devil: Two couples in an RV accidentally witness a Satanic sacrifice in the middle of nowhere, and as they flee learn that pretty much every American in the southwest is a Satanist. This has Peter Fonda, Loretta Swit and some dirtbikes, and is super-cool.
  • Blood on Satan’s Claw: It’s the 1600s, and a demon creature is turning a village’s children into evil little satanists. The title is dreadful, but this is a perfect example of a low-budget, mildly stupid movie achieving exactly what it set out to do, and scaring the crap out of young Weathereye, somewhere around 1980, in the process.

A lot of my other favourites are ones you would expect: Rosemary’s Baby, The Omen, Texas Chain Saw Massacre, etc. Over the past couple of years it’s been the Vengeance Trilogy and some, but not all, Japanese stuff. Oddly, I have never been a big fan of The Exorcist, but I really like The Sentinel, which is similar. And I have a soft spot for the Flowers in the Attic movie. But don’t tell anyone about that.

The spooky visitor from Carnival of Souls

The spooky visitor from Carnival of Souls


People Who Don’t Understand Facebook

October 30, 2008

I work with a guy who is also a Facebook friend. Actually, a lot of my coworkers are on my Facebook list, and some of them aren’t, and they know why. The ones who are? It’s helped me get to know them a little better without actually having to socialize with them, and vice versa.

Back to my point: Let’s call him Buddy. Buddy joined Facebook about a year ago. I remember him asking me about it and remarking that he found it incredible that people could have, wow, 50 friends on Facebook. “Who even knows that many people?” he asked. I said nothing. I have a lot of Facebook friends, and I know them all.

When he joined, he sent me a friend request, and I accepted, and that was that. Over the last few months, though, I’ve noticed he has a strange habit of befriending attractive young women. It usually goes like this:

  • Buddy is now friends with Julie Jones
  • Julie Jones: ‘Do I know U?’
  • Buddy is now friends with Samantha Brown
  • Samantha Brown: ‘Hey, how do you know me?’

Facebook being Facebook, though, these girls tend to keep him around, because they like having lots of ‘friends.’

Then, a few weeks ago, came Round 2: Buddy started commenting on their photos. These comments would pop up in my news feed, and in all his friends’ news feeds, because that’s what Facebook does.

  • Buddy commented on Samantha Brown’s photo: ‘WOW! Nice!’ You should let me come take your photo!’
  • Buddy commented on Julie Jones’s photo: ‘I’d chew your bubblegum, baby!’

Now, knowing that Buddy is a family man, I started to wonder what he was thinking. And then it dawned on me: He has no idea how the news feed works. He doesn’t understand that Facebook broadcasts everything he does to everyone he knows. So I mentioned it to him tonight at work.

‘Hey, Buddy, you sure you want to be telling young ladies you want to chew their bubblegum?’

He looked at me, his face pale. ‘How do you know about that?’

I explained it to him. He sat there. I left and went back to my own department. A few minutes later, my phone rang. ‘I don’t understand this,’ he said. ‘If I wrote it to her, on her page, how can you read it?’

‘Because that’s what Facebook does,’ I said. ‘It goes out on the news feed.’

‘Oh,’ he mumbled. ‘Like, a community kind of thing.’

‘That’s right,’ I said. ‘I wouldn’t worry about it.’ Then a new thought dawned on me, and I asked him: ‘Say, is your wife on Facebook now?’

‘For about a month,’ he said, and I could hear his voice crumble.

‘Nice knowing you,’ I told him.

There may be a job opening at my office, by the way.


Shamans For Obama

October 29, 2008

Well, if Barack Obama hasn’t quite drummed up enough support yet, here’s word out of Peru that the South American country’s indigenous shamans have held a mystic ceremony and chosen Obama as their presidential pick. Because, you know, the U.S. president holds a lot of sway over these mountain magicians.

After indulging their visionary powers, here’s what a couple of them had to say:

Obama is growing stronger, I’ve seen that he has the spiritual support of Martin Luther King and John F. Kennedy to protect him,” Juan Osco, president of the Apus-Inka healers association, told The Associated Press. “He’s going to win.”

“Obama will win and he will change history … he is going to help all the Latinos living in the United States,” said Mary Gomez, a healer from the city of Chiclayo.

Now, I know I tend to be pretty sarcastic here at Weather Station 1. Not this time, though. As a person of indigenous background, I have nothing but respect for old earth faiths. In fact, after reading as much as I can tonight about these shamans of Peru, I think they’re on to something.

Wouldn’t it make more sense to just leave elections in their hands? They have no vested interest, and rely on their ancient methods: They chant and burn special wood before rubbing ashes over posters of the candidates, thereby generating the visions they need to make their choice.

Whether you live in the U.S., Canada, the U.K. France or Australia, you have to admit this sounds as sensible as anything we do. They’re practising ancient rituals dating back thousands of years, passed down orally from father to daughter, mother to son, never written down … still, it’s probably easier to master than the electoral college system.


Things You Actually Probably Did Know About Skinheads

October 29, 2008

So, those two skinheads the ATF says were plotting to kill Obama were likely just too stupid to ever pull it off. That’s from Mark Potok, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which spends a lot of time studying how these racist types think.

Did you know racist skinheads are, for the most part, stupid? I sort of had that idea. I’ve always suspected that the smart racists basically don’t advertise it with tattooes, shaved heads and chalked-on slogans.

More details of the alleged crime-spree plot of Paul Schlesselman and Daniel Cowart merged today, a day after their arrest. We already knew they wanted to kill a bunch of black people before embarking on their mighty holy whatever against Barack Obama, which would have involved wearing matching white tuxedos or something stupid like that.

“Certainly these men have some frightening weapons and some very frightening plans,” Potok told the AP. “But with the part about wearing top hats … it gets a bit hard to take them seriously.”

It is hard, even more so after you see their photos. Now it comes out exactly how the plot was foiled.

First of all, we now know that two alleged idiots met online about a month ago, probably at some website where they could discuss their shared love of Hitler, guns, tattooes and lipstick. Then they allegedly cooked up the plan, which led to a few aborted attempts at home invasions as they tried to score financing for their crusade.

When that didn’t work out, they did the next best thing: they shot out a church window. And then, of course, bragged about it. Police went looking for two alleged white supremacists with firearms and spotted Schlesselman and Cowart driving around in a beat-up southern cracker car adorned with swastikas and Nazi slogans written, uh, in chalk. In the South, you’re a proud Nazi as long as it doesn’t rain, I guess.

You know the rest. They were busted, the story came out, etc. I’ve already made the jokes about pretty young boys in prison, so I’ll leave that be.

I know there are some scary people out there who think the way these two morons do, and I know they’re nowhere near as stupid. And I know there are plots like this being cooked up every day.

I’m just glad someone is watching them.


Things You Probably Don’t Know About Skinheads

October 28, 2008

Two alleged halfwits were arrested today in the U.S. south for allegedly planning the alleged assassination of Barack Obama and also allegedly planning an alleged attack on an allegedly mainly black high school.

That’s one of them at the top of the page. I don’t usually identify people who have only been accused of a crime, but this time I’m going to, because whether or not they’re guilty, they’re white power skinheads and thus not deserving of any respect from me.

They’re Daniel Cowart, 20, of Bells, Tennessee, and Paul Schlesselman, 18, of Helena-West Helena, Arkansas. That’s Cowart up there with his swastika tattoo. The ATF says these two widgets planned to dress up in white tuxedos and drive a car right at Obama, shooting him while screaming slogans. Before that, though, they were going to this high school somewhere to kill 88 black people, including 14 by beheading. The numbers 88 and 14 apparently carry some relevance for white supremacists; 88 is their average IQ, 14 the average age of their mothers at their birth.

I’m not a big fan of racist skinheads, for obvious reasons. So here are 10 things you probably don’t know about these moronic thugs.

  • Very, very few of them have chins, and the ones that do have too much.
  • They blame their lack of education on Jews who control schools, not their own dumbassedness.
  • They drink like fish, except for the ones who don’t, who are called straightedge. They’re the really scary ones, because they believe their shit without chemical influence.
  • If they can’t find anyone to beat the crap out of, they kill each other.
  • The one at the top of the page appears to be wearing makeup. This is a new one on me. Are skinheads into makeup now? It would explain why they’re always hanging around in these all-male packs, jumping on each other’s backs and rubbing each other’s bald stubbly heads.
  • There are lots of different kinds of skinheads, including all-gay, all-black, anti-fascist, etc. I think. To be honest, I think that might be a myth. I’ve never actually seen one without a swastika in close proximity.
  • They like to justify their racism by calling it ‘White Pride,’ saying all they are are good white people who want to boost their racial identity. Apparently this means threatening to kill blacks, Jews, homosexuals, etc. Hey, I’m proud to be the mutt I am, but you don’t see me demonstrating that by hating on, say, the French.
  • They have their own music, which is to good music what their bare heads are to good hairstyles. Screaming, angry punk played too fast and recorded on home tape decks does not a musical subgenre make. It’s called crap.
  • Neo-Nazi skinheadism is on the rise in the United States. Pleasant, eh? This has something to do with Mexican immigration, apparently. I think these guys resent that someone else is willing to come and do the shitty minimum-wage jobs the skins themselves would normally not be qualified enough to do.
  • If you see a skinhead with a racist facial tattoo, you know he’s pretty much given up that dream of going to medical school. Like this guy, below. This is an interesting and informative chart from the Anti-Defamation League; all it missed was the stupidest tattoo of all: the Doc Marten boot tattooed on this loser’s nose.