Living Day To Day In The Post-Apocalypse

Nathaniel Lindsay’s Ducked and Covered: A Survival Guide to the Post Apocalypse addresses an almost completely overlooked subject in the world of informational videos: how one should go about daily life in a world ravaged by a nuclear holocaust when the remaining population has been reduced to a shambling band of mutants and/or have all resorted to cannibalism. I will admit I was skeptical at first, after all this video hails from Australia, a land populated by the worst England had to offer making its citizens decidedly untrustworthy, not to mention that their theories of what the world will be like after a cataclysm having a strange preoccupation with vehicular combat (no doubt due to the fact that when England founded this prison continent they made it illegal for citizens to own cars. Fact. (Editor’s Note: That is not a fact. What is it with you and Australia?)) Any worries I may have had proved unjustified as Lindsay makes sure to point out the real threat of post-apocalyptic civilization: killer robots. Killer robots with lasers.

Via The Daily What

The Friday Afternoon Movie: The Proposition

A ride through the dusty landscape of Australia’s Outback as the FAM presents 2005’s brutal Western The Proposition; directed by John Hillcoat, written by Coil Beat heartthrob Nick Cave, and starring Guy Pierce, Ray Winstone, Emily Watson, Danny Huston, and John Hurt to name a few.

The world of Hillcoat’s Australia, circa 1880, is a harsh, desolate, and unforgiving wasteland; an Abadon devoid of compassion or solace. It is this land that Ray Winstone’s Captain Stanley, having moved there with his proper, English wife Martha, attempts to tame. His immediate aim is to hunt down the Burns gang, who are wanted for the rape and murder of the Hopkins family. Having captured two of the brothers, Mikey and Charlie (Guy Pierce), he makes Charlie an offer: he and his brother will be released and excused of all crimes if Charlie kills his brother Arthur (Danny Huston), an eloquent psychopath so vicious that he is known to the Aboriginal inhabitants as “The Dog Man”.

Cave is an accomplished writer and The Proposition calls to mind many of the same themes as his first novel And the Ass Saw the Angel, a book I’ve read twice and still not decided whether I actually enjoyed. As with his novel, The Proposition comes close to merely becoming gruesome pornography of the soul. Cave constructs stories devoid of the concept of innocence — in the end all are guilty and shall be punished.

Still, the images of sun-baked emptiness and blood red skies evoke enough strange beauty to transcend, if only momentarily, the unyielding parade of violence. Winstone plays Stanley as a land-locked Ahab whose intentions, while principled, are not exactly pure in contrast to Arthur, a man with no illusions as to his place in world. The penultimate scene, taking place during an absurd staging of a traditional English Christmas dinner, is superb in its tension making for a dénouement in which no one wins.

It would, perhaps, be easy to dismiss The Proposition as a simple tale of violence begetting violence and indeed that might be a true assessment; but it is so raw in its telling, so unapologetic in its delivery that in the end such an observation is moot. It’s a film that refuses the viewer any consolation and expects no quarter in return. You may either watch or, like the Stanley’s Aboriginal servant Tobey — removing his shoes and abandoning them in the meticulously cultivated garden — you may quietly take your leave.


HAPPY MERDAY! Your co-editors wish you blankets of autumn leaves, wreaths of kitten-bound turtles, a harem of lamé-wearing Italian 80s TV pop stars, a barrel of the finest mocha with a side of bum-biscuits, dusted with poop jokes and polished with mermaid tears, delivered by a stampede of naked hobbits on WETA legs. Every day, we marvel at your ability to juggle music recording, editorship, cross-hemisphere time travel, and simply being there for your friends in times of need. You leave a path of growing dendrites wherever you go, inspiring all who surround you to do their best. Like watching a magician who outdoes herself with each new act, we shiver with ANTICI… (master-master-master)… PATION of The Parlour Trick album that you’re probably working on as we type these words, and everything else that you’ll accomplish in the year to come.

Birthday card by Paul Komoda, who’s pig-sitting Mer’s beloved Ingmar Superstar while she’s in New Zealand.

Enter The Wheel

Tom Tom Crew is, from the looks of their website, a hip-hop flavored circus troupe originating from Australia, that den of murderers, rapists, and thieves that lies adjacent to the place where the Lord of the Rings trilogy was filmed, where everything is upside down and roaming gangs of wallabies rule the streets. Tom Tom Crew’s website bills them as the future of Australian circus, a claim I can neither confirm nor deny, knowing as I do, absolutely nothing about Australian circus [Editor’s Note: or Australia for that matter]. What I can say is that they possess something called The Wheel, an ominous contraption consisting of a metal frame which holds a number of plastic vessels.

Into this insidious device, it seems that the Tom Tom Crew places a single percussionist. Where they come from, I can only guess. Perhaps they are merely street performers, shanghaied from the city squares and subway stations they usually occupy. Regardless of their origins, these poor individuals are forced to drum, seemingly for their very lives within the confines of The Wheel. Who can say how many of these performers perished in their attempts to conquer The Wheel before Ben Walsh. Possessing a skill that could only have been born from sheer terror, Walsh attacks the walls of his prison with astounding gusto and an effortlessness that belies the horrific reality.

It’s thrilling to watch, this battle for survival, hearkening back to the days of the Colosseum, when men lived and died for the entertainment of the masses. I pray the gods have mercy on Ben Walsh should he ever stop drumming. Certainly, The Wheel shall show none.

Inventor/Sculptor Kim Beaton’s Weta Legs

Kim Beaton and her digitigrade leg extensions. Photo by Dionwrbear.

The booming film industry here in Wellington, New Zealand (a.k.a “Wellywood“) has attracted phenomenal talent from all over the world. Creatives come from as far away as Los Angeles, London, Johannesburg, Vancouver and Tokyo to work on films like District 9, Avatar, and the LotR series. One such transplant is Kim Beaton, a multi-talented artist/inventor from Seattle who was recently hired by Weta Workshop to do conceptual design work on the upcoming Hobbit films.

Kim is a vibrant, intensely focused person who always seems happiest when she has multiple projects in development: large scale sculptures, community arts outreach programs, armor design and production, you name it! She’s also an accomplished inventor. In fact, many of you may already be familiar with one of her patents– last summer, two YouTube videos were posted of Kim striding through downtown Seattle in a pair of startling, stilt-like “reverse leg” extensions. The clips quickly went viral.

Upon arriving here, Kim was encouraged by Richard Taylor (5-time Academy Award winner and co-owner/co-director of the Weta Companies) to continue honing the digilegs’ design in the workshop. After several months of development and fine-tuning, the company is selling Kim’s professional design, now christened Weta Legs, for $945 U.S. dollars a pair. From the official site: “Weta has made many pairs of digitigrade leg extensions in the past for stunt men and creature performers in the movies and on the stage, but this is the first time we can offer [this] leg to anyone.” In fact, it’s the first time any company has put a line of digilegs into mainstream production.

A heads up to performers, costumers, burners, party monsters, cosplayers, designers and filmmakers– this is big. I’ve had the opportunity to test Kim’s prototype myself. They’re incredible. They’re comfortable. They’re FUN. I mean, really, really fun. Watch this instructional video (featuring Kim and a woman who has never been in stilts or extensions of any kind before in her life) to hear and see a bit about why her particular adaptation of the digitigrade concept is so unique and easy to acclimate to wearing.

As far as I know, there’s nothing else remotely like them available on the market. It’s very exciting news for Kim, for her company, and best of all, for all of the non film industry folks out there who can finally own a pair of these. Recently, Kim spoke with me at length about the history of digilegs, as well as her past community collaborations and several other upcoming personal projects. I hope you’ll enjoy getting to know this incredible woman and her work as much as I have.

Please describe the Weta Legs. What sets your invention apart from other kinds of stilts or leg extensions?
They have been called the Holy Grail of costuming. How do you build a device that will give a person the backward leg of a dog or horse? They are referred to by all sorts of names: digilegs, digitigrades, faun legs…

What does digitigrade mean?
A digitigrade is an animal that stands or walks on its digits, or toes. But this is not easy to say unless you like tongue twisters, so it was shortened to “digileg”. They’ve also been called “dog legs” or “reverse stilts”. Originally, we called them leg extensions, because they’re not really stilts, but we want to give them one name that is pretty easy to say. Hence, Weta Legs.

Better Than Coffee: The Maori Legend of the Kiwi

[Good morning, dear comrades. I’m chugging redbull and running to catch a ferry in a few minutes, so please forgive the sloppiness of this edition of BTC!]

Last night, I and ten other curious folks took a guided nocturnal hike through the Karori Sanctuary. A dense and verdant square mile of forest located mere minutes from downtown Wellington, the preserve is surrounded by a predator-proof fence (specially designed to keep out invasive species like hedgehogs, possums, cats and dogs), and has become “a safe haven for some of [New Zealand’s] most iconic and endangered native animals, including tuatara, little spotted kiwi, saddleback, hihi and giant weta.”

kiwilsom copy

Our lovely tour guide, Tracy, told us that there are approximately 100 little spotted kiwis living in the sanctuary. They’re extremely shy and elusive critters, so there was no guarantee we’d get to see one. But we lucked out and encountered one foraging in the underbrush mere feet from the trail. He was one of most adorable, lovable creatures I have ever seen. I will cherish the memory of his fuzzy rump bounding off through the twilight for the rest of my life.

There are hundreds of different factoids I could share about his species. Perhaps when I return from my travels in a few days, I’ll add some of them in comments. Hopefully some of Coilhouse’s more knowledgable NZ and/or birding readership will chime in as well?

For now, here is the Maori legend of New Zealand’s beloved hairy little whiskered flightless bird, imparted by Ben, Hayden and Gavin, three young storytellers from Mangakahia Area School in Titoki, Northland:

The Maori Legend:

Why Kiwi Lives on the Forest Floor

One day the king of the forest, Tanemahuta, was walking through the forest. He looked at his trees and noticed that they looked sick. They were being eaten by the bugs that lived on the forest floor. Tanemahuta told his brother Tanehokahoka (King of the sky) what had happened to his children the trees.

Tanehokahoka wanted to help his brother so he called all the birds together for a meeting. Tanemahuta said to them all
“The ground bugs are eating the trees. I need one of you to give up your life in the sky and come and live on the forest floor so the trees will be saved. Who will come?

Tanemahuta and Tanehokahoka waited and listened – but everything was quiet, and not a single bird spoke. Tanehokahoka turned to Tui…

[Story continues after the jump]


Weeeee! Let’s dance!

My flight arrives in Wellington (one day into THE FUTURE FUTURE FUTURE…) on Tuesday, the 11th. If all goes well *knock on wood* I should be there for quite some time.

New Zealanders, any tips for me? I’ve got one of those little culture/customs/slang dictionaries, but real live advice from savvy weirdo Kiwis would be preferable. Can you think of any great places to visit, particularly in and around Wellington? (I’m definitely hitting the Ian Curtis wall first thing.) Local coffee shops and clothing boutiques, a good comic book store, night clubs, a place to buy a sturdy kite, etc? Inquiring n0obz want to know.

See you on the other side!

I Love Sarah Jane (and the Zombie Genre in General)

Sheesh. There sure are a lot of cynical snarkmuffins out there, rolling their eyes, quick to dismiss an entire genre out of hand: “Oh, that whole zombie thing? So over, man. Played out. Vampires are the new cosmonauts are the new ninjas are the new unicorns are the new zombies are the new pirates. NEXT FAD, PLZ. KTHXBYE.” Jaded much? Bite me, guys. You shall pry my love of the living dead from my cold, dead, grabby hands.

Decades before movies like 28 Days Later and the Dawn of the Dead remake reanimated the genre, before the rise of zombie flash mobs, or the obvious necrotization of Joaquin Phoenix, an immense zombie canon had long been informing, inspiring, and most definitely infecting swarms of Fulci and Romero obsessed nerds the world over.  And just because the culture at large has had their fifteen-minute-fill of brain-eaters doesn’t mean we have!

A still from I Love Sarah Jane.

In my opinion, the visceral metaphors are as culturally relevant now as they were back in 1968, when “they’re coming to get you, Barbara” first became a household phrase. It’s deeply sad that due to short attention spans and media over-saturation, a lot of potentially fascinating zombie-related films have never gotten off the ground. For instance, the scrappy, long-struggling DIY project, Worst Case Scenario. (Check out these stunning trailers, sporting undead nazi balloonists and an original score from J.G. Thirlwell!) The producers of “the greatest zombie movies never made” finally conceded defeat in May 2009.

Why write something off just because it’s a certain genre? “Oh, I’ve seen it all before.” What if you haven’t? Hell, what if I haven’t, and I don’t want you cockblocking me?! Besides, if the tale being told is engaging, who cares what overused pigeonhole it goes in? At the heart of good storytelling, whatever the medium, is a solid narrative and compelling cast of characters. Case in point, the following short indie film from Australia, I Love Sarah Jane.* It’s a riveting coming-of-age vignette with a richly implied back story that just happens to take place the middle of a zombie apocalypse. The wonderful cinematography, AD, editing, and truly disgusting gore effects are all gravy:

I Love Sarah Jane. A short film from Australia, written by Spencer Susser & David Michôd. Directed by Spencer Susser.

While it stands well on it own merit, I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing the story of Jimbo and Sarah Jane expanded. Or those of Max Brooks’ World War Z characters. Shit, just give us a proper a theater re-release of Let Sleeping Corpses Lie, and we’ll call it a day!

*Thanks to Ed Brubaker for the heads up. Speaking of great storytelling, Ed’s pulp thriller webseries, Angel of Death, is now available on DVD. Go get some. Y’know, unless you’ve had your fill of Zoe Bell kicking ass and cracking wise. In which case, you must be brain dead.

Nadya Vessey and Weta Workshop: A Mermaid Tale

Left: Weta’s design. Right: Vessey swimming with a fully functional prosthetic tail. (Photo by Steve Unwin.)

As if we didn’t already have a bounty of reasons to love Weta Workshop, this just in via the Dominion Post in New Zealand:

Nadya Vessey lost her legs as a child but now she swims like a mermaid.

Ms Vessey’s mermaid tail was created by Wellington-based film industry wizards Weta Workshop after the Auckland woman wrote to them two years ago asking if they could make her a prosthetic tail. She was astounded when they agreed.

She lost both legs below the knee from a medical condition when she was a child and told Close Up last night her long-held dream had come true… [Read more]

Some mornings are much easier to wake up to than others, eh? Other Coilhouse posts of possible interest:

The Avalanches: That Band Needs Therapy

I recall enjoying the ADD-inducing tunes of Australian vinyl sampler kings the Avalanches when their first record Since I Left You was released several years ago, but I’d never seen this stupefying video for “Frontier Psychiatrist” before tonight. I’m now having what can only be described as an “it’s comforting to know that no matter what you do in life, it will never be as awesome as this video” moment:

Whatever happened to the Avalanches’ follow-up album? Anyone know? According to their Wiki entry, the last word from the band came in early ’07: “one day when you least expect it you’ll wake up and the sample fairy will have left it under your pillow.”

(Gracias, heRbIVoRe.)