HAPPY BIRTHDAY, COILHOUSE! Happy Halloween, too!

Today is Goth Christmas. We wish you all happy hauntings.

It’s also the very last day of October and an opportune moment to observe a very important milestone: two years ago this month, the Coilhouse blog officially launched.

Despite being on completely different sleep schedules in three different time zones (hell, in two different hemispheres) we three wanted to make sure we got together to “properly” commemorate  what is, for us, a pretty huge milestone. Drinks were drunk, cupcakes were flambéd, cherry pie plasma was snorted, and lascivious nekkid dancing in the dark may or may not have occurred:


WOOPWOOPWOOP! DING! (“Happy Birthday” song by Altered Images.)

Two years ago, none of us had any idea what we were getting ourselves into. We were relative strangers with tons of enthusiasm and not a whole lot of experience. A little over 24 months and incalculable hours of work later, Coilhouse has published over 1000 blog posts, 3 issues of a glossy bookazine style print mag, and there’s a splendid 4th issue in production unlike anything we’ve yet attempted.

We’ve got an incredible group of brilliant, self-motivated contributors working with us, and our cherished readership has proved itself time and time again to be as passionately in love with fringe media and alternative culture as we are. We’re a community. You know, we might even be some sort of post-nuclear, pre-singularity extended family.

This place is proof that a small, close-knit, somewhat green group of folks can saddle up and ride to all kinds of wonderful places. Thank you, all of you, for joining us. We’re in for the long haul, and we can’t wait to see where this journey takes us next.

Friday Afternoon Movie: Halloween Double Feature

As many of you may be aware, tomorrow is Halloween, that magical day of the year where children are obligated to dress up in costume and gorge themselves on candy and where adult women are likewise, it seems, obligated to dress up like trollops. It is to the credit of the costume industry that they have managed to produce sexy derivations of almost every character type. I fully expect to see a salacious Mr. Belvedere walking the street this year; pinched and pushed cleavage heaving beneath a dapper moustache. That is neither here, nor there. The FAM is not so much interested in near nude women running through the streets in the guise of 80s TV stars unless, of course, it is part of an overarching thematic element. So let us get on with it.

Today’s FAM continues last week’s indecisiveness and results in a Double Feature, comprised of two classic and time-tested horror movies: Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining and William Friedkin’s The Exorcist both based on novels, by Stephen King and William Peter Blatty, respectively. These two are well trod ground, and if you have never seen them you are, I would say, in the minority. In that regard, I doubt I will be able to say anything about these two films that has not already been said, both of their corpses being well and truly picked over.

Pulp Fiction Remixed

This is the sort of thing that YouTube was seemingly made for. User knoertz takes the mid-nineties Quentin Tarantino, pop-culture touchstone Pulp Fiction and chops and slices, copies and pastes it into a rhythmic audio/visual magnum opus. A cut-up of a cut-up. William S. Burroughs would approve.

Häxan, Bitches! Er… Witches!

It’s been what, a couple weeks since we last mentioned how fantastic Archive.org is? Just in time for Halloween, here’s another choice bit o’ public domain from their vaults:

haxan4jv6debbil
Click Teh Debbil (performed by Häxan director Benjamin Christensen himself!) to be taken to the downloading page.

Häxan (a.k.a. The Witches or Witchcraft Through The Ages) is a lavishly strange Swedish/Danish silent film which, upon its release in 1922, received critical acclaim in its homeland and moral outrage just about everyone else, thanks to the many graphic depictions of nudity, torture and sexual depravity. Yum! An inspired mixture of documentary and lurid dramatization, it wouldn’t be too far off the mark to name Häxan as one of cinema’s first “shockumentaries”.

For all its butts and boobies and devils, Häxan is actually quite a rational study of how superstition and medieval ignorance of mental illness led to the the hysteria of the European witch hunts. Director and writer Benjamin Christensen plotted much of the film around his personal study and criticism of the infamous Malleus Maleficarum, a 15th century German guide for inquisitors. You can see echoes of Christensen’s blunt, cavalier, often darkly humorous first-person narrative style in the documentaries of Werner Herzog. Luis Buñuel applauded its fractured “WTF is going on” cue-less edits.

haxan

In addition to being a bit of a mindfuck, much of the film’s imagery is just drop dead stunningly beautiful. From the Criterion release feature notes:

Under any title and with any modifications, Häxan endures because of Christensen’s tremendous skill with lighting, staging, and varying of shot scale. The word “painterly” comes to mind in watching Christensen’s ingeniously constructed shots, but it is inadequate to evoke the fascination the film exerts through its patterns of movement and its narrative disjunctions. Christensen is at once painter, historian, social critic, and a highly self-conscious filmmaker. His world comes alive as few attempts to recreate the past on film have.

Apparently, there was a version released in 1967 that featured a narration by William S. Burroughs and a jazzy score led by percussionist Daniel Humair and featuring violinist Jean-Luc Ponty. Any of you guys happen to have a copy of that?

A Sensual Interlude, Starring the Peanut Butter Man

Um. Remember not too long ago when I was going on about how edgy and alt Nutella is, and asserting that peanut butter is boring by comparison?

I take it all back:


When Smuckers met Olivier de Sagazan.

The Skinemax-worthy soundtrack makes this infinitely more disturbing. Not to mention the plastic wrap.

Via our beloved Siege, whose curatorial instincts sometimes jump the track from sharing sublime beauty to just wanting us all to cry and punch ourselves repeatedly in the netherbits until they shrivel up and fall off. (He has proven this on multiple occasions.)

Recycled Trash Robots Of Doom

I don’t like robots; not one bit. This is because they’re all secretly mechanical murder machines many of whom stand fully, blank-eyed and mouth agape, within the Uncanny Valley; a mere stone’s throw from the Creepy Sex Doll Meadow. This is all well-trod ground; my feelings on robots being spelled out in no uncertain terms on this site.

Which is why these images by Brandon Jan Blommaert depicting lumbering colossi, their bodies comprised of recycled refuse, devastating the countryside are so terrifying. For me these are not the fanciful musings of an, but a probable reality, a portent of things to come; one that I live in fear of every minute of my life. These are the monsters that haunt my nightmares; composting the human race into oblivion.

via Bioephemera

Wittrig vs Unger: Imitation is NOT Always Flattery

GreatBowlsofUngerFire
Various works by sculptor John T. Unger.

John T. Unger is a fabulously inventive artist, environmentalist, writer, small business owner and the creator of copyrighted sculptural Artisanal Firebowls. He crafts his wares with primarily recycled or re-used materials, designing for permanency and functionality. His work has been featured on Etsy, BoingBoing, Neatorama, and by Craft Magazine, Variety and VenusZine, to name only a few.

Right now Unger’s mired in what he has dryly referred to as “an unwanted education in copyright law” and boy, does it sound like FUN!  Unger, who obtained legal copyright a while back to protect his original sculptures from piracy, says a man by the name of Rick Wittrig, owner of FirePitArt.com, has not only begun manufacturing and selling products which are extremely similar to Unger’s, but has even gone so far as to bring a federal lawsuit against Unger to have the copyrights for Unger’s own original artwork overturned.

Repeating for emphasis: Unger is being copyright-sued by a guy who makes knockoffs of his own work. Wooo!

Ungerfirearts
Fire bowl, mask, and “fire imp” figurines by John T. Unger.

Attempts at settlement have failed. Unger, who has already spent $50,000 fighting against Wittrig, says that “seeking a judicial ruling in federal court will cost more than any artist or small business can afford on its own”, yet the lawsuit continues to move forward. Apparently, Wittrig has money to burn, so to speak. Unger isn’t taking it lying down:

A life in the arts is all I have ever really wanted. After more than 20 years of working towards that goal I have achieved success… It isn’t easy to make it as an artist and I didn’t have a lot of initial support. When I started my art business as a full time occupation I was homeless, $20,000 in debt, and had few tools but a laptop. I joke that “I did it with nothing, because nothing is free,” but there’s truth in this… I built what I have now from the ground up because I was passionate enough to keep doing the work no matter what else happened.

I don’t understand why a person would fight as hard as Mr. Wittrig has to profit from the work of another. It baffles me because I have devoted my life to making things which are unique and to marketing them as unique items crafted from a detailed personal philosophy. I don’t view original artwork as a commodity. I have no interest in imitation. If he had spent the time, energy and money that has gone into this lawsuit on designing original work, with its own story and its own unique appeal there would be plenty of room for both of us to succeed on our own merits.

Guys, I realize it’s important to pick one’s battles carefully in life. This might seem like an oddly piddling skirmish for me to throw in on, but honestly, supporting an artist like Unger is at the heart of why I got involved in an online community like Coilhouse in the first place.

If Wittrig wins by outspending, Unger could lose everything. Not just the rights to his own designs, but his house and his studio as well… basically everything he’s been working toward for roughly a decade. But at the heart of it, this is not about financial loss or gain. This is about not letting a bully with a big wallet ruin a truly creative person’s reputation and credibility. When basic protections like these are overturned, it weakens the law for all artists.

We can help: spread the word and if you can afford to, donate a buck or two to Unger’s defense fund. If you have a bit more spending money on hand, check out his incredible, lovingly made fire pits or other pieces– the integrity and beauty of Unger’s work speaks for him better than any press release ever could.

Better Than Coffee: Sashimi’s Revenge

Morning, late-risers! To kick things off this week, a simple post with two tags: “Cthulhu” & “Stroke Material.” What more could you ask for in life? This eye-popping drawing, titled Sashimi’s Revenge, was completed in Photoshop by illustrator Serge Birault. In addition to the above, not to be missed on Birault’s site is a charming homage to Lux Interior of the Cramps.

Previously in “Cthulhu & Stroke Material”:

[via monk3y]

Friday Afternoon Movie: Conspiracy

Do you know why the anvil — the metal plate near the front of your stapler — turns? It’s so you can temporarily join pieces of paper, or “pin” them together. With the legs of the staples pointed outwards instead of inwards it makes them easy to remove without causing too much damage to the paper. Isn’t that amazing? Did I just blow your mind?

Ye gods, it’s so slow today.

Thankfully, the FAM is here to rescue you from the doldrums leading up to Fuck-It-O’Clock. Today, the 23rd day of October in the year of our Lord two thousand and nine we present the 2001 HBO movie, Conspiracy, starring Stanley Tucci, Kenneth Branagh, and Colin Firth giving his best National Socialist Fitzwilliam Darcy performance. It details the proceedings of what would come to be known as the Wannsee Conference. Held on the 20th of January, 1942 at an Italian styled villa at 56–58 Am Grossen Wannsee — Wannsee being a suburb of Berlin — it was attended by 15 senior Nazi officials, presided over by SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich and organized by SS-Obersturmbannführer Adolf Eichmann. The purpose of this meeting was to come to discuss “the final solution to the Jewish question”.

FakeAPStylebook Reshapes World of Journalism

Right around Issue 03, our lovely copy chief Joanne Starer sent all the editors of Coilhouse a condensed document of guidelines based on the Chicago Style Manual. It tells us to spell out whole numbers one through one hundred (unless they are percents), italicize titles of books, newspapers & magazines, omit spaces around our em/en dashes, and many other such useful things. That was all fine and good, until today: the day that FakeAPStylebook on Twitter shook the world of journalism to its very foundations. The feed has amassed over 8,000 new followers in just two days, and it’s no wonder why: all issues of grammar, capitalization & punctuation have finally been revealed. This incredible new resource finally provides clarity to crucial concepts that the heretofore-accepted AP Style Guide completely overlooked. For example:

  • Use the quintuple vowel to transcribe the utterances of small children, “Daaaaaddy, I waaaant a Pooooony!”
  • Since the 1986 edition, the plural of McDonald’s is officially McDonaldses.
  • “Batman” may be used informally (“let’s go, Batman!”) and “The Batman” formally (“Mr. President, this is the Batman”).
  • The word “boner” is not capitalized, regardless of size.
  • Use a possessive proper noun in front of a movie remake title to convey crushing disappointment. (e.g. Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes)
  • In the news industry, an ’80s celebrity sex scandal is known as a “trifecta.”
  • Do not change weight of gorilla in phrase, “800-lb gorilla in the room.” Correct weight is 800 lbs. DO NOT CHANGE GORILLA’S WEIGHT!
  • “Your” and “you’re” may be used interchangeably if you are an idiot.
  • Avoid using the letter ‘G’ as it is unlucky.
  • The numbers one through ten should be spelled out while numbers greater than ten are products of the Illuminati and should be avoided.

Via Xeni.