Today is Atari’s 40th anniversary. It was 1972 when those honkin’ huge-ass, faux-wood-paneled PONG cabinets started proliferating in pizza parlors and bars and pinball arcades all over California, their glowing consoles featuring simplistic two-dimensional graphics representing a two-player table tennis game. While PONG wasn’t the earliest video arcade game, it was the first truly successful one. And the rest is history. And that’s one to grow on. And knowing is half the battle.
And now is the time on Curlhauz when we stomppunchkickderp DANSE.
Good morning, comrades. Embedded for your aural pleasure, here’s a re-engineered chiptune version of NIN’s Pretty Hate Machine by Inverse Phase. You can buy it, too, via Bandcamp. Digital and CD! (Alas, no gloomy-and-weirdly-stinky-black-casette-tape-with-white-lettering option. Anyone else remember those?)
Inverse Phase used eight different 8-bit systems: SID/6581 (Commodore 64), POKEY (Atari 800), straight 2A03 (NES), AY/SCC+ (MSX+Metal Gear 2 or Snatcher cartridge), SN76489 (Sega Master System), 2A03+VRC6 (Famicom+Castlevania 3 cartridge), LR35902 (Game Boy), and OPLL (MSX-MUSIC or Japanese Sega Master System).
“I said anything I wanted because I don’t believe in children, I don’t believe in childhood. I don’t believe that there’s a demarcation. ‘Oh you mustn’t tell them that. You mustn’t tell them that.’ You tell them anything you want. Just tell them if it’s true. If it’s true you tell them.”
With this post I run the risk of turning the top of Coilhouse into a memorial to my youth, but there’s really no helping it, I suppose. More sad news then, as it has been reported that author and illustrator Maurice Sendak died today, at the age of 83 due to complications from a recent stroke. Sendak was perhaps best known for his 1963 book Where the Wild Things Are. The book not only made his career but earned him the prestigious Caldecott Medal in 1964.
Mr. Sendak’s work was a staple of my childhood. I learned to read with the help of the Little Bear Books (written by Else Holmelund Minarik). My first exposure to Grimm’s fairy tales was through my mother’s copy of the collection he illustrated and I had a copy of E.T.A. Hoffmann’s Nutcracker which featured his artwork. His Mouse King terrified me.
And that is, above all, what I remember and respected most about his work, his willingness to scare the crap out of kids. There is a darkness and danger in his books, the same kind found in the stories of greats like Carroll and Baum, which seems mostly lacking from children’s literature now, something that Mr. Sendak seemed keenly aware of. Sendak wrote books that treated children like adults, like equals. Speaking to The Guardian last October, he said “I refuse to lie to children. I refuse to cater to the bullshit of innocence.” This refusal to sugarcoat his work was, undoubtedly, his greatest asset. It will be missed.
Wayne White is an American artist, puppeteer, sculptor, set designer, cartoonist, art director, animator, and illustrator whose influence on popular culture has been quietly vast. As Mark Mothersbaugh puts it: “Kids [in the '80s] mainlined it. He was imprinting their brains, and they don’t even know it.” Filmmaker Neil Berkeley’s new documentary about White’s roller coaster career and personal life looks like it’s packed-to-bursting with inspiration and warm-fuzzies and whimsy and pathos:
“Raised in the mountains of Tennessee, Wayne White started his career as a cartoonist in New York City. He quickly found success as one of the creators of the TV show, Pee-wee’s Playhouse, which led to more work designing some of the most arresting and iconic images in pop culture. Most recently, his word paintings, which feature pithy and often sarcastic text statements crafted onto vintage landscape paintings, have made him a darling of the fine art world.”
“Beauty Is Embarrassing chronicles the vaulted highs and the crushing lows of a commercial artist struggling to find peace and balance between his work and his art. Acting as his own narrator, Wayne guides us through his life using moments from his latest creation: a hilarious, biographical one-man show.”
The world premiere of Beauty Is Embarrassing will take place on March 10th at SXSW. Click through below to see more examples of Wayne White’s multifaceted work.
Beauty is Embarrassing film still, featuring White wearing his LBJ paper mache puppet head.
Space Stallions, a bachelor film project from the 2012 Animation Workshop, plays like every Saturday morning cartoon from my childhood boiled down into one four minute concept. Created by Thorvaldur S. Gunnarsson, Jonatan Brüsch, Ágúst Kristinsson, Arna Snæbjørnsdottir, Esben J. Jespersen, Touraj Khosravi and Polina Bokhan, it appears to have everything: spaceships, spandex-clad heroes, rainbows, unicorn-shaped hoverbikes, moustaches, and laser eggs. It’s like someone put peyote in your Lucky Charms.
Next Wednesday, February 1st, professional musicians/married couple/doting parents Carla Kihlstedt and Matthias Bossi –whose various other projects have been mentioned on Coilhouse manytimes– are launching a very interesting new multimedia musical subscription service called Rabbit Rabbit Radio.
“Saying ‘rabbit, rabbit’ on the first of the month is a tradition here in New England,” Kihlstedt explains. “It is said to bring good luck and a sense of renewed purpose. We’ve taken it to heart and are releasing a new song on the first [day] of each month along with photos, videos, and other implicating evidences of our creative process, all on rabbitrabbitradio.com“
The Kihlstedt/Bossi family: Matthias, Tallulah, and Carla. Photo by Eurydice Galka.
Last year, not long before the Sleepytime Gorilla Museum (a legendary band they were members of) closed its doors, Kihlstedt and Bossi moved from Oakland to Cape Cod with their baby girl Tallulah. ”Our lives have changed a lot since [she] was born and since we moved back East.” Kihlstedt and Bossi predict that their Rabbit Rabbit Radio project will help them to accomplish many things, warmly and comfortably, in ways that more traditionally grueling channels (constant low-budget touring is exhausting enough without kids!) could not:
“It keeps us in touch with you [our audience]. It conveys each song with much more depth and dimension than a simple iTunes download would. It holds us to an ongoing commitment to our own creativity. It allows us to be creatively independent from home, which in turn allows us to be good parents. In short, everyone wins. We have finally created our very own dream job.”
Fans who subscribe to Rabbit Rabbit Radio can choose to pay $1, $2, or $3 per month (but there’s no difference in content access; it’s just a chance to pay them a bit more for their efforts, if you can afford to). You can learn more –and get a taste of the quirky, sweet whimsy this lovely duo creates together– from the following YouTube pitch video:
Rabbit Rabbit Radio is a fascinating-yet-simple premise that feels very new, and fresh, and… cozy! Kihlstedt and Bossi both hope this kind of project takes off: “there are lots of artists whom we would gladly subscribe to ourselves!” While there may very well be other musicians out there attempting similar transmedia subscription services (and please feel free to give them a shout-out in comments, because we’d love to know more about them, too) it’s certainly not status quo quite yet. Fingers crossed that it soon will be.
The modern quest for reasonable and sustainable alternatives to a more staid career path in the arts is always worth discussing on Coilhouse. We live in interesting- no, scratch that, fascinating times. It might feel daunting to watch the old regimes fall down around our ears, but there’s no doubt about it: we are lucky to be alive during a time period where there’s so much opportunity to build newer, better, kinder infrastructures. Let’s stay tuned in!
Two very different videos of teenage girls airing our their grievances on YouTube have gone viral in the past two days. Here they are. Compare and contrast:
On the uplifting side, we have a 13-year-old vlogger named astrorice articulating the concepts of slut shaming and rape culture. “While I am fully aware that this is a bit of an unorthodox topic for a thirteen year old virgin to be talking about, it’s an important issue to discuss, and a great topic for girls my age to know about,” writes astrorice.
As Aaron Muszalski noted on Facebook, “This is the most inspiring thing I’ve seen this year. Seriously a must-watch. An amazing young person speaking out — eloquently and forcefully — about a topic that many people much older than her still have a hard time wrapping their heads around. Or indeed, even acknowledging its existence. Major props. As unfortunate as the issue of slut shaming is, this video and its maker give me great hope for the future.”
And on the dark side, there’s this: a 14-year-old girl calling for the boycott of Girl Scouts due towards their inclusive policy towards transgendered kids: in particular, a 7-year-old transgender child who was allowed to join Girl Scouts in Colorado. Richard Metzger writes, “From what I can make of her argument, young Taylor here seems to think that high school age boys are suddenly going to want to wear drag and join the Girl Scouts so they can rape her or something? Taylor, there are far, far easier ways for teenage boys to get laid! … Do you really want to be the Rebecca Black of intolerance? For the rest of your life?”Audrey Penven adds, “Shame on her parents for sucking so hard. Shame on her community for nurturing this kind of close-mindedness.”
This is Cinamon. I remember seeing her on the very same day, though I didn’t take this photograph of her. I was probably 12 at the time, and as I passed by her on The Drag down by Sound Exchange, the trajectory of my life changed forever. I was completely mesmerized by this vision in black tatters, a gorgeous alien-wraith who seemed like an apparition drifting down a banal sidewalk in the bright Texas sun. She was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. I stopped and told her how amazing I thought she was, and she was so sweet to me. I’ve held this photo dear for years, a treasured gift from a mutual friend. She was such a huge influence on not only my style, but also for scores of others, (maybe even yours!) – Cinamon was the original inspiration for Neil Gaiman’s Death character from the Sandman series. Her friend Mike Dringenberg drew her years before, and by an odd twist of chance (or fate), this woman unwittingly helped shape the style of scads of wee gothlings. Cheers to you, Cinamon – you continue to inspire and astound!
This was me at maybe 15 or 16? It was for a fashion show at the old Club 404, a legendary big gay bar from back in the day here in Austin. I was total monster-child jail bait, who spent most of my time scampering around in the woods on drugs wishing I wasn’t human, poring over Elfquest and Sandman comics and Storm Constantine’s Wraeththu trilogy. I made my outfit in five minutes out of electrical tape, eyeliner, wire and black tulle. Oh, and a thong. Heaven forbid that should I ever spawn a girl-child as naughty as I was! With any luck, I’ll end up with a Saffy.
(photo by Monte McCarter)
At the tender age of barely 17, I became the armed spokesmodel for FringeWare Review’s book catalogue. This involved posing in my underpants and various getups made of rubber and dollparts with books and guns. Real guns. That’s totally an actual Uzi or Tech-9 or whatever the hell, too. I was super blessed to be part of FringeWare when it was around – it was a strange and magical era.