Angry Robot

what is … gripe?

Oh, Christ. The a-list Cabal™ is attempting to force a meme down our throats again. The phrase “What is real? 415 564 1347” is popping up in all the right places (kottke, zeldman, megnut, RCB, even MeFi). No, it isn’t a metaphysical sex chatline; no it’s not some Nike gimmick – although it sounds a hell of a lot like one. No, it’s this, brought to you by Heather of harrumph and the mirror project. It will be a zany SXSW event where “anything can happen” because “vibrant, creative, energetic people” will be “in one place, at one time — with one question — to answer however they see fit.” Which is all well and good, I suppose; but it still sounds like someone is trying to sell me mutual funds.

slash: the paintings

Starsky & Hutch, Phantom Menace, and X Files homoerotic fan art. (via acerbia: a belated welcome back, punk.)


Rockstar‘s State of Emergency is kicking up a shitstorm of confusion and ignorance. For those unfamiliar, the game is an oldschool brawler, but the enemies are not thuggish street gangs who have captured your girlfriend, they are thuggish corporations, governments and their hired muscle, and the setting is strictly protest riot. Wagner James Au discusses the fallout amongst the protest contingent, notably Naomi Klein. Concerns: a) corporations (Rockstar, Sony) are co-opting the anti-corporation movement and profiting from it; b) the game obscures legitimate, nonviolent dissent behind “let’s fuckin’ smash stuff” hooliganism.

Some thoughts, questions mostly:


From this interview, Emergence sounds like a fascinating book. (Here’s some good discussion on Hopefully the book mentions the AI web game, an example of “distributed biological processing,” i.e. a mass of networked humans solving problems too complex to solve individually. Another issue that intersects with that of emergence is that of copyright: if an emergent system generates something of value, who owns the copyright? In how many cases today are copyrights preventing emergence?

above and beyond

Sports bar, prime seats. We watch the game like a panel of royalty. A few hours early the bar is sold out. TV crews. Lots of red. Fan paraphernalia. Lineups to the men’s washroom. Men adjusting their red-leaf makeup therein, keeping an eye on the washroom TV.

You couldn’t have scripted a better game. Lemieux is a supergod. Some say he sees everything slower than others. It seemed that way as he watched the puck as it slid through his legs and onto the stick of Mr. Kariya, baffling Richter and everyone, as well it should have… Oh my!

The bar temperature shot up 20 degrees after the win.

Yonge street. Every manner of horn abuse. Rocking cars, hood riders, high-fiving strangers, smiling cops blocking the street. The shirtless BMX riders came out of the woodwork. All the way down we went from St. Clair to Dundas, following a trail of fan pheromones. Like a bomb had gone off at the flag factory – Canadians in such a state. A grinning frenzy.

And Gretzky, the other supergod, behind all of it. My favourite bit of hyperbole, from the hockumentary Above and Beyond: Like the winged messenger Mercury, he soars above us all. Some say his gift is from the gods. Others say he is just a man.

Mount Olympus threw us a great party last night. Thanks.

Hollywood rooftop

What follows is something I wrote while in L.A. I’m of two minds about posting it – it’s not the sort of thing I imagine I like to post here. (Possibly, and typically, I might be wrong; I make many mistakes, to quote a great film.) But that particular case in my life-files is now closed, and maybe I’m blogging for closure – or something along those lines. Anyways.

What the fuck are all these birds? One sounds like a cross between a squeaking gate and a dying baby; one is the proverbial “come here” whistle; another like a sack of gristle being squeezed. They sound like they were specially calibrated to annoy, so much so that I doubt they are birds at all, rather a bunch of assholes up in trees with some ear-grating instruments. Morons poking monkeys. Idiots doing idiotic bird impressions. My kingdom for a goddamned pigeon.

The opportunity rises: I could rail against this strange city, so full of artifice, overstocked with delusion. The land of fake superheroes, of fake milk, fake fakes. But it’s been said before, and really: how could I stay mad at you? You’re nothing but an accumulation of mistakes, different from other cities only by degree of ambition. And you’re a whole lot better looking than most.

I’m not caught in your gears just yet. I’m caught in something else. A tangle of inputs and outputs, of favours and urges, of desires and regrets, a mechanism now just struggling along, emitting sick wheezing noises, making me think it may no longer be up to the task of taking us from emotion A to emotion B. If it is a mechanism, it needs balance. It needs reaction to action. If I give, I expect to take. If I serve you now, I expect later you will serve me. But somewhere in here some wires got crossed. You feel put out, and my attempt to make right falls short. But I think of that same attempt as a righteous overachievement.

I see now that I was testing you. I see now that you were testing me.

Maybe it’s the moment the system comes into effect. That’s the problem. Maybe as soon as this thing is mechanized and rationalized, as soon as we set up the inputs and outputs and favours and balances and counterweights and obligations and all of that mess, we lose the fucking magic. And we forgot about the love, as they say.

I’m not sure. Something feels broken.

It could’ve been a great day. It was beautiful enough. There aren’t so many days like this left when you think about it. And we could worry about that for the rest of the day, to think of how things might have been done better, to wallow in maybes and past variables and potential outcomes. But like I said we’re not running a factory here.

So let’s call off the regret party. I could sit on this roof until the sun sinks behind the fine layers of haze and strip mall, with the asshole birds and the pathetic symbolism, or I could do something about it.

I’m going to do something about it.


In this case, “something” = “not enough.”


Yet another inane proposal from d/blog: the sankathlon. This exciting new sport combines many things, including: skiing, rollerskating, truck-jumping, picking through garbage, the verbal abuse pottery challenge,* and birthing a calf. Hopefully the Olympic commission will approve it post-haste. (Thanks to Julius and Josh for their input.)

* In this event, sankathletes must sculpt a pretty bowl while enduring taunts and insults from a nearby panel of verbal abuse specialists.


So I’m a pornographer now.

Gawd I love that [more..] tag.

I’ve never mentioned my “new” job here. (It’s not really that new anymore.) I’m producing promos for Space and Drive-In Classics, two TV channels up here in Canadia.

Anyhoo, my work for Drive-In lately (affectionately referred to as DIC by its employees) is the promotion of the 17 Russ Meyer films we’re showing. I feel like an idiot, but I’d never watched a Russ Meyer film before, and now my mind is being blown on a weekly basis: he’s grrrrrreat! Experimental, super-independent, sexually liberated, financially shrewd. RM has many admirable qualities. So, I thought I’d share some links I’ve amassed while doing research.

Here’s his homepage. A 1974 interview, a 1995 interview, and a review of Faster Pussycat from the superior Bright Lights Film Journal. A good interview/backgrounder (here’s page two with images intact). Another brief interview. A page about the Vixen “trilogy.”

And to head something off at the pass here: I’ve watched eight of his films so far, and I’m finding almost nothing in the way of sexism or misogyny. Granted, I haven’t seen the apparently loathsome Blacksnake yet, but its time will come, and we’ll see.

wimpy burger

My friend Brooks proposes legislation: burgers weighing less than 4 ounces should not be called “burgers” at all. They should be referred to as “meat cookies” instead.


Who likes dub music? I like dub music. Hell, I like dub music one heck of a lot, especially after grooving hard on Kruder & Dorfmeister for the past little while. I especially loved how they stick largely to remixing other people’s songs – but changing them sooo much their interpretations were, for all intents and purposes, creations. And then I learn that’s what dub music has always been about, from this excellent history. See also the pages on hip hop and electronica.


If you’re American (or heck, even if you’re not), and you have concerns about your government’s “commitment to the environment,” if you shake your fist when a 12 m.p.g. Escalade belches its way past you, and you can put up with the tired Founding Fathers motif, then you should sign the declaration of energy independence.


The nominations are up.

Post Has Been Renamed

Great article on J101 about Grand Theft Auto 3‘s radio.

Update, April 28, 2003: I’ve changed the title of this page so that it attracts fewer google searchers. Reason: the page is 100K, and the thousands of searchers who get this result are eating up my bandwidth.

edible offals

Wow. Amazon accepted my review of The 2000 World Forecasts of Edible Offals of Bovine, Sheep, Goat, Poultry, Horse and Ass Meat Export Supplies (World Trade Report). It’s here – scroll down.

new favourite site

I’m fickle. My new fave is (via MeFi)

lament 13

My grandmother sent me a book, Laments, by 16th century Polish poet Jan Kochanowski (translated into English by Seamus Heaney and Stanislaw Baranczak). Kochanowski wrote the series of poems after his three-year-old daughter died. The work was not well received at the time, as elegies were acceptable only when aimed at great public figures, and not at one’s own daughter. Yet now, it is widely held that Kochanowski “invented Polish poetry and, through his individual effort, brought it almost instantly to perfection” (Baranczak’s words). Lament 13 in particular speaks to my grandmother, since Heaney read it at the funeral of her own daughter six years ago:

Sweet girl, I wish that you had either never
Been born or never died! For you to sever
All your attachments, take such early leave –
What else, what else can I do now but grieve?
You were like one of those recurrent dreams
About a crock of gold, fool’s gold that gleams
And tempts our greed, but when we wake at dawn,
Our hands are empty and the gleam is gone.
Dear daughter, this you did in your own way:
Your light appeared to me but would not stay.
It was as if you wanted to destroy
My very soul by robbing all its joy.
The shock of sudden death tore it in two:
One half stayed grieving, one half fled with you.
Here is your epitaph. Stonecutters, hone
The chisels sharp and cut the words in stone:
“Ursula Kochanowski lies beneath,
  Her father’s joy that slipped his loving hands.
Learn from this grave the ways of careless Death:
  The green shoot is mown down – the ripe crop stands.”

dutch madness

A great ad. (not safe for work, unless you have headphones; QuickTime; via dontblow)


This will mean nothing to many of you, but… I’d like to come out of the closet as a MetaFilter member. Months back I made the decision not to link to MeFi on my own sites. At the time, the reasoning was that the larger MeFi got, the worse the signal-to-noise ratio, so that linking to it would only make it worse. I now think this is not the case. There is a lot of noise on MeFi lately, certainly. There have also been grand, operatic departures of some prominent members, and these have gotten me thinking and reevaluating the site.

It’s still a great site. There have been incredible links of late: posts by y2karl about outsider artist Henry Darger and cynicism; a great thread about math rock; fascinating stuff about Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo and his interactions with online fans. There are many more. And there are still great discussions, if one steers clear of the political stuff. But most interestingly to me, many of the great posts and comments are being made by relatively new members. One could use the metaphor of the human body shedding all its individual cells every few years yet remaining the same as a whole. Whatever, you get the point – it’s not the new members that endanger the ‘community standards’, it’s the will, or lack thereof, to maintain those standards. It’s easy to bitch, and in fact it’s easy to leave. But if the standards are maintained, in a friendly and positive way, new members will see how the site likes to run itself, and will adopt those standards themselves. And so the cosmic ballet continues…

So I’ll list the Pancake Paradise under “involved with”, and make a commitment to be more involved with a site I love and would hate to see fall apart. Of course, other than this one feeble act, I’m not sure how one best goes about being involved, but off the top of my head: I can post more there, and weigh in with some positive reinforcement to balance out the already healthy amount of negativity being dropped in the MetaTalk dungeon.


Whoa, Larry Clark really dropped the ball on this one. I loved Kids, even though it got a touch heavy-handed towards the end; but Bully… where to begin? Sure, fine, it has more hot-teen-sex action than you can shake a stick at, but it also has dumb-teen-moron murder schemes that honestly, are dumber than most things in this stupid world. Surely part of the thrill of film noir is the fiendishly complex schemes that the bad ones cook up to get their insurance money, revenge, massive corruption covered up, or what have you. (spoiling may occur…)

So if the evil ones in a film spend approximately one hour of screen time thinking of ways to kill their nasty friend, and the best plan they can come up with is to stab him a bunch of times and toss him in a ditch, well… a) it’s no big surprise if they get caught; b) one is less inclined to feel sympathy for these characters; and c) one may tend to lose interest in the film as a whole. I certainly did. Morons!

By the end it felt like a scare film: hey kids, it’s a lot harder than you think to kill people! You could end up in jail! Don’t do it! Like the old-school scare films, it has a certain disrespect for its target audience. Morons. Can’t you see that marijuana leads to horse, smack, chasing the dragon, insanity, suicide, kicks, baby, kicks? Looking back, Kids had a touch of this too. It just covered it up better. And the Harmony Korine script didn’t hurt.

new photos


Photos of my recent LA trip are up. Please let me know what you think so I can decide which ones to post on photographica. Also, as you can tell, the overall design has been “tweaked.”