Compendium No. 2
Listen, I swear I meant to post this months ago. This has stayed as a draft for ages and I kept putting it off until its unfinished state did nothing but mock me. But here we are regardless, and this is another blog post where I reminisce about the things that have kept me good company over the months.
Repetition by Unwound
If there’s something I love more than anything is when punk isn’t afraid to get groovy and have a little fun even if the subject matters tend to be more serious than your average music genre, which just about explains why I fell in love with Unwound’s post-hardcore at first listen.
Unwound is composed of Justin Trosper (guitar and vocals), Sara Lund (drums) and Vern Rumsey (bass), who sadly passed away in 2020. There’s so much about this trio to adore; the band’s singular sound and the beautiful disjointedness they put forth ties together like magic. Even though I’m an avid hater of all things nihilism and misanthropy it’s impossible not to see the charm in their hopelessness.
The 1996 album Repetition is the first taste I got of their sound and even after having voraciously gone through their entire discography, I can say with confidence that it’s my favorite. With songs like “For Your Entertainment,” which criticizes the music industry and its commodifying disdain towards art and artists, or “Lady Elect” which is about a friend who committed suicide, Repetition vacillates between rage and defeat and buzzes with an electricity that gets me jumping around almost involuntarily.
Listen to ‘Corpse Pose’ here
Geek the Girl by Lisa Germano
Warning: This album’s main themes are abuse, harassment and sexual assault. It also features a very distressing recording of a real emergency call.
Man, what a profoundly sad album. The first time I listened to it, I legitimately got a stomachache. It was like swallowing a cup of dense, black tar and I could feel every note dripping down my throat like some kind of soul-sucking goo. Describing it like this makes me think of Third by Portishead, another album I think very highly of but would describe as anything but entertaining.
Art like this is so powerful because it single-handedly debunks the idea that a work has to be fun or appealing in order to justify its existence. It’s a silly argument to begin with as there’s no need for justification, and it’s made all the more feeble by the fact that sometimes having horrible experiences through art can be life-changing and beautiful in its own crooked way. I sure know this album was.
There’s one song in specific here that shook me to my core and every time it comes on shuffle I can’t help but skip it because of how terrifying it is. “…a Psychopath” features a recording of a real emergency call of a woman whose house is being invaded, the sheer terror in her voice is palpable and heart-breaking. It’s easy to chalk the use of this recording down to substanceless shock value, but the song was inspired by Germano’s own experience with a stalker and perfectly encapsulates the fear and despair that she was forced to contend with as law enforcers did nothing to protect her.
To those who might enjoy some fucked up slowcore, Geek the Girl is essential listening.
Listen to ‘Cry Wolf’ here
We’re All Going to the World’s Fair (2022) dir. Jane Schoenbrun
So much of my existence has been defined by loneliness. The many ways this world marginalizes me and their isolating permutations incessantly ripple through my flesh. This has informed my actions, my personality, my sense of self… Like most people in my age bracket with similar life prospects, inhabiting a digital world always seemed more salubrious than a physical one.
When I was a kid, I was obsessed with creepypastas. At 13 I’d write and translate stories for a then-popular site and get treated like I was one of the grown ups. Looking back, many of the interactions I had with adults on the web when I was underage were deeply inappropriate and quite frankly, a lot of those memories are locked inside a Pandora’s box I’m not willing to open.
At the time, though, I didn’t understand nor care. All that mattered was being taken seriously, being listened to and seen by people I considered mature and interesting, no matter how ephemeral everything was. I wonder how many of those I interacted with over the years feel exactly the same way I do. I wonder if we are together in our being alone.
This film gets it, you know? The alienation and the solitary confinement of a teenhood of dysphoric bodies and melting faces, with no sense of material community. A teenhood where ASMR videos are substitutes for human touch and people you consider friends can just log off and disappear forever. It’s a text-to-speech simulacrum of reality and it’s all you have.
The Lair of the White Worm (1988) dir. Ken Russell
The Lair of the White Worm is a 1988 horror comedy full of psychedelic flashback/dream sequences, really cool-looking practical effects and phallic imagery at every corner. Oh, and it also stars Hugh Grant and Peter Capaldi, the latter having a scene where he lures snakes by playing the bagpipe, Scottish kilt and all. What a great fucking time, honestly. It should be illegal for a movie to go this hard.
I have such a deep appreciation for movies that are unapologetically wacky and excel at it. It seems that ever since the word “camp” fell into the graces of the world’s most boring people, its meaning became corrupted to the point where it now sits in a cowardly pantheon right besides “trashy” and “guilty pleasure.” The Lair of the White Worm is camp in its truest form. It’s silly and sexy and deranged and not the slightest bit sorry about it.
And I have to mention: this film has its share of hot people – Peter Capaldi gave me a lot of gender envy – but I’d like to highlight Amanda Donohoe who is inexorably delectable throughout the whole thing. So much respect to the wardrobe department and to Amanda’s ability to embody one of cinema’s most powerful and libidinal girlbosses.
These are here not because I enjoyed them any less or don’t think they’re worth more elaborate entries. I am dealing with a nasty case of writer’s block and feel like if I don’t keep these next items simple this blog post will never see the light of day.
Doctor Strange 2 review by Angelica Jade Bastién
“Discussing Marvel films, and now TV shows, has come to feel like commenting on business decisions rather than artistic ones. The superhero juggernaut shows no signs of slowing down as it balloons in ways that force audiences to subscribe to Disney+ to understand the full litany of connections across its characters and worlds. It’s information gluttony. Yet audiences have been trained to subsist on scraps of diversity, of joy, of appropriately attuned bombast. There isn’t much else to say about these films Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness feels like a bridge to further stories rather than a work that stands on its own. How can it when there’s no end on the other side of the bridge in sight?”
– Angelica Jade Bastién
Read the full article here
THE EVIL ERA by cécile richard
Short and sweet manifesto about being a sicko. Say no to being wholesome and respectable. Say yes to being earnest, to being messy, to being evil.
Check out THE EVIL ERA on itch.io
Enter the Gungeon by Dodge Roll
Been playing this non-stop for the past few months and fully completed it recently. This is one of those “turn your brain off” games for me, as I’m not particularly interested in it intellectually. Everything here is a reference to other media and I’m very turned off by that, so my being obsessed with it speaks to how good the core gameplay actually is.