Monday, January 30, 2006

Goodbye!

This is the last Extreme Unction post. I am going to give myself over to the professional portion of my workaday existence and issue no more free words to the galaxy.

I know there are millions of idiots, but the few who have swarmed to the front of the cage to hurl monkey shit at me via this blog have depressed me still further. Leaving aside my dislike of the English middle classes and Hollywood movie stars, I feel that there has been little in the way of genuine disdain in Extreme Unction, and the attacks have been unwarranted. I have spoken out time and again in the defence of freedom of speech, against the tryannical actions of Bush and Blair, against the demonising of teenagers pushed to the edge by the hell of modern society, against the excessive and hypocritical rhetoric of Christian fundamentalists, etc, etc. For this I expected no medals.

To everyone who has come here and found something stimulating, I salute you. To those who have shown me ill will, know this, that you will be remembered only for your crimes.

Here is Alexander Pope to play us out...
Cease, then, nor order imperfection name:
Our proper bliss depends on what we blame.
Know thy own point: this kind, this due degree
Of blindness, weakness, Heaven bestows on thee.
Submit. In this, or any other sphere,
Secure to be as blest as thou canst bear:
Safe in the hand of one disposing Power,
Or in the natal, or the mortal hour.
All nature is but art, unknown to thee;
All chance, direction, which thou canst not see;
All discord, harmony not understood;
All partial evil, universal good:
And, spite of pride in erring reason's spite,
One truth is clear, whatever is, is right.
Goodbye!

Saturday, January 28, 2006

This is the kind of quality commenter I need more of...

The last sentence or two of this comment, after instructing me in the notion that our words betray the content of our own character, is particularly instructive.

Hecate has left a new comment on your post "Conclusive Evidence, as if it were needed...":

I tried to submit this but it doesn't seem to have worked. Another possibility is that you decided not to post it. This, I feel, is taking 'comment moderation' a little too far. I try again.

I have been trawling through your vitriolic comments, just trying to get a feel for where you're going with this kamikaze crusade. (and yes, I know it also translates as 'divine wind' but that's not where I'm going with this).

I'm sure you are aware (being self-professed intellectual an' all) that the comments made say shitloads more about you than your 'fauxbohemian'. Interesting, for some.

You stoop low Pinhut. Maybe if I get on my hands and knees I can join you down there...

I mean, come now, what would your mother say about all this? Oh, silly me! That is, if you took your dick out of her mouth long enough for her to say anything.

Have a nice day.


Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Lib Dems Get Freaky

The Liberal Democrats are currently melting down. Charles Kennedy departed, the tell-tale red face of the full-time drunk slinking off the stage. Then the leadership battle lost a candidate, Mark Oaten, who had not factored in the consequences of a married man having an affair with a rent boy to his campaign. The News of the World helped change his mind on that one.

And now Simon Hughes, who was busy telling the world he wasn't gay just last week, is... (drum roll), now admitting to being bisexual.

This brings up two questions. Firstly, do you need to have a few dark secrets BEFORE you join the Lib Dems, or do they issue them at your orientation? And secondly, what on earth is Menzies Campbell going to reveal about himself?

My own thought is that Campbell will come out with a public confirmation that he is, indeed, a cannibal.

"The clue was in the sound of my last name - Campbell / cannibal..."

"I've eaten no more than 3 people since 1998. And I want to tell you, being able to make a frank admission of my behaviour is an enormous relief to me..."

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Google's Unfolding Chinese Adventure

Google, while fighting against handing over search data in the US, is working hand in glove with the Chinese to bring a new service to the People's Republic.

"Google, the world's biggest search engine, will team up with the world's biggest censor, China, today with a service that it hopes will make it more attractive to the country's 110 million online users.

After holding out longer than any other major internet company, Google will effectively become another brick in the great firewall of China when it starts filtering out information that it believes the government will not approve of."

Makes you wonder what happens to a Chinese internet user who types in a term that has been flagged for censorship. I am sure we won't see any Google hand-wringing for them. And to top it all, goddamn it, this blog is brought to you by Google and I have a Gmail account (that i love).

Damn you google.

(There's something nauseating about how this article gives google kudos for "holding out longer," how praiseworthy.)

Saturday, January 21, 2006

The Average Person needs to be kicked and beaten

The Average American, at least, requires kicking and beating.

Let me explain. We are presently in a precarious global situation with regard to resources, yet the roads are full of unthinking morons, who base their purchases on what everyone else does, tooling around in massive SUV's that they cannot afford to drive at more than 40 mph.

These people never lay awake worrying about the issues, they never wonder what changes they can make, or seemingly about what world they are going to leave behind for their bastard spawn. These people don't spend any time tunnelling beneath the mass media, trying to get at the facts. If they did, there wouldn't be shit like CNN and Hardball, and entertainment dressed as news. You wouldn't have a mining accident overshadow huge congressional scandals, you wouldn't have to listen to the unthinking repitition of Republican Talking Points by news anchors who would struggle to spell 'truth', let alone report it.

Being from a humble background myself, and as someone who has endeavoured to treat everyone fairly, I am usually of a mind to lump myself in with the average folks and think 'We're all in it together' etc. But truly, beyond being subject to the same vicissitudes of the economic cycle, where is the common ground between those who think and those who mindlessly consume? It's time for a major rethink.

It is for this reason that today I call for the Average Person to be dragged into the street and kicked and beaten.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Two birthdays

It's my dad's birthday today. It's also Edgar Allen Poe's (I think he'd be 196 or 197). Here's a story in The Guardian today about how a yearly tribute to his grave is being wrecked by human apes. Perhaps these same individuals will create a market for a new type of vacation - STOMPING ON RARE ORCHIDS in HUGE BOOTS.

Please note: Scroll down, I added the photos from the Bill Clinton Presidential Library.

Psychedelic Audio

There are excellent lectures on psychedelia in mp3 format here at Future Hi.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Britain: Police State Update

Not content with spying on the general public, Tony Blair is now planning to give the security services the power to spy on Members of Parliament. For any Americans needing a comparison, given the recent Bush warrantless wiretapping scandal, Blair's plan would be the equivalent of giving permission to tap Congressmen's phones/monitor their electronic communications. How such a move cannot strike at the heart of the confidence that citizens approach their elected representatives in, and offer a huge temptation to the incumbent government to monitor their opponents for strictly political reasons, God only knows. Hold on, from what I can see, if Bush thinks he is King, then Blair assuredly thinks he is God.

In more British news, Gordon Brown wants a Patriotism Day, where British people celebrate being British. Hmmm... He also said this,

"The speech to the left-of-centre think-tank included references to the July 4th celebrations in the US and the common practice of many citizens having a flag in their gardens."

And why does Brown think British people don't have flags in their gardens? It's certainly not because of far-right groups who co-opted the Union Flag forty years ago.

I had a revelation over all the American flags you see here, something so basic that it shocked me, and my driving companion, too. I realised that Americans fly the flag simply because it's THEIR flag, they own that flag. They fought off the British and took charge of their destiny, and they have every right as Americans to be proud of that. And, hard as it may be for Americans to appreciate, British people don't own their flag. To wave the Union Jack serves only to recognise this painful fact. Of course, as always, there are little old ladies and assorted dumbasses who revel in the Union flag and the monarchy, but they are a dwindling few.

Basically, if British people felt the same way as Americans about the flag, the same sense of it belonging to them, then we would already have the same outlook as Americans and Union Jacks would flap proudly in our gardens. Instead, the supposedly intelligent Mr Brown thinks you simply impose a day of Patriotism! Sounds more like the Cold War Soviet Union, a day spent standing in Red Square with a fixed grin, waving robotically as tanks and planes dawdle past. Thanks, Gordon!

To go further, the irony is delicious. Brown envies the American celebration of Independence from Britain. So there's the answer! Slaughter the Royal Family, burn down Parliament, and declare a new nation to be formed. We can then have a patriotism day each year to commemorate it. Sadly, it won't be the Union flag people are waving, and Brown will be too busy swinging from the gallows to enjoy it, but hey, I'm up for it!

Somewhere special...

Had my first trip west of the Mississippi into Arkansas today on a visit to the William J Clinton Presidential Libray in Little Rock. Below are some of the photographs I took. (It costs 7 bucks for adults and is well worth a visit). It also raised the question of what the George W Bush Presidential Library will feature - a waxwork of the Abu Graib electrode guy, orange jumpsuited prisoners being forcefed, fraudulent voting machines, his path to politics explained with suitcases stuffed with Saudi cash, and, of course, books - My Pet Goat and a number of completed coloring books.

Here we are:

Please note that Hale-Bopp cult leader Marshall Applewhite (far right) appears next to War Criminal and religious maniac, Tony Blair PM.




Friday, January 13, 2006

The Raindrop Test

There is a thunderstorm in progress, I can't sleep. I lay in bed thinking how exciting it would be to interview the wind or to read the biography of a raindrop.
Exciting in its own right and not just as a release from human concerns. But here's a test, call it the Raindrop Test. Summarise the plot of any news story, any film, any book, any play, any TV show, and replace any words that refer to a person with "raindrop"

Brokeback Mountain - a film about two gay raindrops
CSI Las Vegas - each week a team of raindrop scientists investigate the deaths of a number of raindrops
Dog the Bounty Hunter - a powerful raindrop and his team hunt down fugitive raindrops in Hawaii
CNN - 12 raindrops stuck down a mine, Big Chief Israeli raindrop lies in a coma, President George raindrop continues to defend spying on millions of American raindrops, raindrop Judge Alito denies having a dislike for raindrops of color, etc

You get the idea. The culture is obsessed with Raindrops/Humans, call them what you will. Correct me if I am wrong, but are PEOPLE really that interesting? This narcissism will turn us into robots, you'll see.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Extreme Unction Cactus

I have taken a liking to plant life lately, so here is a mugshot of the Extreme Unction cactus, a jolly little friend in a dark and foreboding world.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Recursive Art

Click the picture and go check it out (and once there, push mouse forwards and hold left button for best results)

The Xbox 360 is my Enemy

I was watching Brainstorm today, one of my favourite psychedelic sci-fi movies (how many are there to choose from?) and thinking how great it would be if scientists developed a machine that could replay sensory experiences for fully immersed entertainment, an entertainment that could shoot straight into the mystical, the sexed-up, and the sexed-up mystical. Check out the titles - The Greatest Zen Buddhist Mystical Experiences in the Universe Ever, The Top 100 Orgasms, Virtual LSD, The Motley Crue Tour Bus Adventure, Citizens Revolt - Great Political Riots THEY Don't Want You to Know About, etc.

Sure as hell beats the crap out of Xbox 360 from Microsoft. My point is this. So long as your average zombie citizen is content to push buttons on a game controller and stare at larger and larger TV screens, we are never going to see anything cool. So long as adults think that finding a spear and jamming it in a virtual post 2 seconds walk away in the game world constitutes "a puzzle" (a la King Kong game), then what hope is there for anything like an expanded consciousness console, rather than Vegetable Entertainment for Heavy Metal Addicts from Uranus? There's no hope.

And this is why everyone buying an Xbox 360 is in my goddamn way.


On this theme, perhaps the ultimate challenge would be an Xbox 360 game where you had to liberate an anaesthetised generation and force them to forsake their iPods, TiVo, and game consoles, and find their way into the streets. The game would climax with an army of born-again citizens beating representatives from the entertainment industry to death in a graveyard. "Damn, these faceless undead executives! Each time I chop one down, another two spring up... looks like we gonna have to take down the Whole Damn Economic System if we ever gonna find peace in our times..."

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Bill Gates Continues Censorship

One of TIME Magazine's Persons of 2005 continues to censor dissenting voices in China. This is not simply about filtering search terms, etc, as this NYTimes story shows, Microsoft is directly silencing voices that embarrass or criticise the official line.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Pat Robertson - Officially Still Crazy

If Ariel Sharon's stroke is a message from God, then how will Pat Robertson die?


Here is my top 10:

1) Struck by lightning while invoking God's wrath ("And I say this to you, let God strike DOWN the sinners..." ZAPPPP!)
2) Robertson's head begins spinning repeatedly as he preaches, arms and legs drop off and eight fibrous black legs emerge from his trunk. To the shattered faithful Robertson is revealed as an Alien Spider Monster. After a televised chase through downtown L.A., he is shot dead by police marksmen, "to protect the American people."
3) Subject to internal plagues ("Locusts were shooting out of his butt...")
4) Crushed by enormous falling cross
5) Heart attack in titty bar ("Robertson supporters insist that Pat was only in the titty bar to ask for directions to a nearby church. It was only as a Christian gesture of thanks that Robertson tucked a 50 dollar bill into the panties of a dancer...")
6) Collapsing floor above Robertson's bedroom releases load of gold bars bought with stolen donations, crushing Robertson in bed with young boys
7) Robertson undergoes brain injury live on 700 Club and starts randomly confessing all the money he has swindled from little old ladies all over America. He is treated in a private clinic, but no way to stop his confessing is found, has to remain in permanent seclusion wearing gag and tongue clamp. Hunted down by posse of angry sweet old ladies and beaten to death with walking sticks.
8) Shot dead while soliciting in a Satan costume
9) Wheeled from apartment, butt naked on live TV, an enormous crucifix sticking from his ass and an apple in his mouth
10) Body explodes at a revival meeting, showering faithful with body parts. Pathology report discovers untreated case of syphilis that was generating hallucinations with mystical overtones. ("If Mr Robertson had not so vigorously toured the fleshpots of Europe and the Near East, it is most likely he would never have encountered the voice of God...")

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Film Review #5 - Talk Radio

WARNING: Review contains spoilers!

Talk Radio is a 1988 Oliver Stone movie starring Eric Bogosian as "the man you love to love," Barry Champlain, a shock jock at a Dallas radio station, poised to break through to the national consciousness. On and off air, Champlain's self-destructiveness, his arrogance, and his non-stop mouth, combine to lay waste to whoever attempts to connect with him. Callers phone in and are abused, whether they like the show or not, as Barry flips between moods and tones at will, maintaining an ambiguous flux that keeps him in charge. And when all else fails, there's always the cut-off switch.

Alec Baldwin plays Barry's agent, who has negotiated a deal for national syndication. Naturally, this proves Stone's chance to usher in The Man, in the form of a corporate minion who stations himself outside the studio and simply observes Champlain. Under professional and personal pressures, Champlain ups the self-destructive streak of his show to new heights, baiting fascists, insulting fans, and inviting a screwed-up hippie druggie, Kent, to come down to the studio and join him live on air.

The resulting scene with Kent in the studio, contributing to the show, is the strongest material on offer. While undoubtedly garbled and fucked up, Kent is still connecting through the mental static with a strain of 60s idealism that has faded out into the phoney rebellion of heavy metal videos. Kent's brainless widsom brings into focus Champlain's own credibility, which is seen in flashback, from selling suits, to a pointless marriage derailed through casual sex, to a sort of success, snarling at the trash, the racists, and the fragmented souls who call his show. At one point a fan calls in to declare her love for Barry (the devaluation of love and hate reappears again and again) and is reduced to tears, Champlain railing at the knuckleheaded monster of an audience he has accumulated.

The night's show ends with the lines dead and Champlain delivering an introspective monologue on the vacuity and purposelessness of his life. In a twist on the moral ambivalence of corporate America, this exercise in complete fragmentation is adjudged a hit, and Barry has succeeded despite his best efforts.

He is then gunned down in the parking lot.

The end.

There are some wonderful things about this movie, the sheer flow of words, Bogosian's excellent performance and his mastery of tone, the ability to morph into the opposite of whatever assails him, to find alienation in every sound he hears. But somehow, the film overall does not work in the way Wall Street worked, somehow there is nothing revelatory at the heart of this film. Much is made of Champlain's Jewishness, perhaps as a key to his alienation, and the ultimate contradiction of the alienated communicator, but the strands of his thoughts, his personal life, and his career, don't add up to a hero diverted from any noble cause, and neither does he reflect some deep truth about America. The soul-searching monologue becomes confused and any allegorical content becomes indecipherable. The violent end, set in motion by the power of words, spoken only to arouse the base emotions, without genuine conviction, becomes the final irony, coming at the end of a night when Champlain's last vestiges of any claim to moral purpose have been shredded.

A better take on the substance of Talk Radio, the essential emptiness and corporate imperatives of the mass media, is the 1976 Sidney Lumet movie, Network, where a news anchor (William Holden) with nothing left to live for announces he will commit suicide live on air. His fragmentation revives a flagging network and new shows are spun off from his mad utterances. Memorable for the phrase, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!", Network is not as committed to authenticity, but is more damning, more adventurous, with better set pieces. Catch it if you can.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

America - Keep your God, Keep your Miracles

What a tragedy last night, what a waste of my time spending three hours listening to CNN relaying news of a miracle, yet another American miracle from the American God, and then the West Virginia locals, expounding on the grace of their God and how He goes that extra special yard for the interests of West Virginians. Three hours of sanctimonious crap as reporting the news morphed into spreading the Good News.

And then the terrible glory broke over the Neanderthal brow of the news media. It wasn't a miracle at all. It was, in fact, an awful tragedy, horrific, horrendous, one critically ill survivor and a heap of dead bodies. Strangely, God then made a quiet exit. In fact, God started to come in for some highly personal criticism - ("'What in the hell has God done for us?' But just a few minutes before they was praising God.")

I am sad for everyone who died. However, I have nothing but contempt for the automatic 'American God delivers another miracle' reflex that the mainstream news media continually indulges in. This time they got themselves bitten.

UPDATE: Predictably, the dead bodies have swiftly transmuted into the televisual gold of 'American heroes' and suitably tragic music adorns their memory. ('You heard da boss. Run the tragic hero music...')

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Film Review #4 - Gerry

Gerry is a 2002 film directed by Gus Van Sant. It stars Matt Damon and Ben Affleck's brother. I won't waste time being balanced - this film is lazy rich-boy boredom, with a soundtrack resembling a kitten walking up and down the keys, a script full of stream-of-rubbish gibberings, and an ending that belongs in those horror novels Stephen King was too fucked to remember writing.

A caveat is due here. I am not against art, I am not against ambition. I am prepared to read closed captions, I revere Fellini. So, ambition is fine, but ambition is not the only requirement for making a film, and a film with nothing happening won't fly when it draws on actors of such limited talent as Damon and Affleck.

To diminish the boredom, I made a temporary Gerry sandstorm costume and sat and watched while wearing it. Here is the photographic evidence.



Sunday, January 01, 2006

Britain: Police State Update #2

This, from today's Independent:

"The Government is planning to compile a database of every home in Britain, which will include details of how many bedrooms each house has and what kind of roof it has.

Inspectors will look at whether garden sheds have been converted into offices or studios and whether kitchens or porches have been extended. They will even be able to see if a drive has been Tarmacked or a shrubbery extended. The computer system will be used to assess council tax, inheritance tax and capital gains tax."

This is part of a plan to use satellite technology to register any changes/improvements home owners make to their residences.

"Dear Mrs X,

It is with sadness we note by spy satellite your failure to declare for tax purposes your gazebo erected Feb 12th, 2006, between the hours of 3 and 5 pm, while you were wearing blue jeans and a green shirt (photograph attached). Please contact your local council on this telephone number for details of your court appearance for non-compliance with reevaluation procedures.

yours sincerely,

The Spy Department"