Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Parasite delayed

I have been working on a piece for D. Mitchell’s Parasite Regained and ironically have been infected by some sort of viral parasite. I believe it is an entity / curse / voodoo attack from a group of rose enthusiasts because I mocked their flower arrangements. Thus the updates have been slow to come.

Ahh, call me a Romantic, but I really do enjoy the delirium that comes with a high fever.

Monday, June 15, 2009

I'm an expert at ... what?!

I’ve been coming across the notion of expertise a lot lately, especially with Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers still riding high on the bestseller lists. The argument is that if you put 10,000 hours of deliberate practice into honing a particular skill set, you will have mastered that skill, or, in other words, become an expert.

Let’s crunch the numbers:
Over ten years = 1000 hrs/year = 2.75 hours a day (approx.) of practice
Over twenty years = 500hrs/year = 1.5 hours a day (approx) of practice
Over thirty years = 333hrs/year = just under 1 hour a day of practice
And so on.

Putting it into these terms depressed me, as I realized that after 41 years, the only thing I am an expert at is masturbation.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

My First Chuck Palahniuk Reading

I felt that I needed a bit of culture so I headed out to a Chuck Palahniuk reading at the Chapters Bookstore in Burnaby. I gave up going to readings years ago as I found most writers would weigh their words as if each one was precious, instead of just delivering the goods. Not to mention, what most wrote just bored me to tears. I want writing filled with violence, sex, violent sex, sexual violence, occultism (with both sex and violence) and a whole lot of head-fucking (postmodern? conspiracy?) theory. Basically, works that have no literary merit whatsoever.

So it was with some trepidation that I went to this event, but my mate, Michael W. convinced me to give it a go. I should point out that I like most of what Chuck has written. I was just worried that it would not translate well in performance. I knew the event was going to be big so I showed up early to stake my place. I’m glad I did. Wristbands had been distributed earlier for those rabid fans who wanted their books signed. Their dedication paid off as they were allowed into a little pen with chairs while the rest of us Prols had to stand around the perimeter. I had a great vantage point so I was happy.

Chuck came out and after a short intro kicked things off with a game. The game for this tour was simple. He had 100 inflatable pre-signed penguins which he threw out into the crowd. The first person to blow up their penguin would win a DVD of the movie Choke. This set the tone that things were not going to be taken too seriously. Just sit back and enjoy. There were two more rounds throughout the night.

The reading was great. The selections were not from his latest work Pygmy but were imaginary bedtime stories that would have been read to the protagonist of that book. These were twists on standard tales – Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Hansel and Gretel and Little Red Riding Hood. The style is a parody of a Stalinist propaganda tract, but as an awkward children’s story.

Here’s an example, I transcribed for Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

Case study operative - Family bear mammals
Existed once time, traditional heterosexual family unit composed - mother bear mammal, father bear mammal, offspring bear mammal. Existing as proletariat family, laboring for to bring total fruits much futures success to most glorious nation-state.

There are quite number of videos on YouTube, if you want to explore further. Sure, this type of thing has been done before, but I think he pulled it off.

There was also a Q&A session between a journalist and Chuck. Unfortunately, they got the most vacuous journalist imaginable. She is from the CBC, a typical example of what is wrong with institutionalize banality in the arts in Canada. She did not have a clue what she was talking about and asked some of the most inane questions that I’ve heard uttered from a so-called professional’s mouth. Palahniuk took it all in stride. He would twist whatever question around to what he wanted to talk about, in any case.

Both the reading and the talk were very engaging and funny, peppered with anecdotes and observations. He came across as intelligent and down-to-earth. However, I noticed that some around me were bored with the talking. At one point, when he was discussing how he had constructed the narrative for some of his novels, I overheard someone say “Is this English class?” Certainly, there was a portion of the crowd that were there only for the celebrity experience, to capture the spectacle on their cell phones, and not for the substance. Sure, this type of thing happens with any “name” performer. Maybe I don’t get out much, but I thought the event was a groove sensation.

After an hour and a half, I managed avoid the crush of people leaving the event, slipping out into the parking lot with an inflatable penguin in tow.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Blood Feast (a few quick observations)

I was re-watching Herschell Gordon Lewis’s Blood Feast last week on TV. It’s a classic low budget gore/slasher film from the early sixties – lots of blood, cannibalism, stilted acting, cheap camera work, pulp writing and occult themes. As I said, a classic.

Just a few meat observations:
1) Blood Feast contains this great line delivered by the mother after thwarting the sacrifice of her daughter on the kitchen table and discovering the catered food for the party was human flesh – “I guess we’ll have to eat hamburgers for dinner tonight.” Makes me laugh every time.

2) The commercials that ran during this airing were for packaged meats and sausages. I don’t normally watch commercials but this pairing of content between movie and advertisements was wonderful. Ain't postmodernism fun!

While I dig Blood Feast, my fave so far is Gruesome Twosome (although the opening sequence to Something Weird is one of the creepiest bits I’ve seen.) I have not watched Wizard of Gore or the Gore Gore Girls yet, so ...