Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Quote of the Day: John Lilly

No way to view our own 'operating system' from the exterior.
How would you answer the charge that your self-experimentation is subjective and, therefore, unverifiable?
Subjectivity is nonsense. Neither subjectivity nor objectivity exists in nature. That's the mind-contained-in-the-brain belief of some psychiatrists and other scientists. The subject is an object is a subject. In a cybernetic system, you go around in a circle, and subject and object have no reality. The only way to isolate subject and object is to cut off the feedback and destroy the system. It's a false dichotomy.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Chris Morris and Peter Cook - Comedy Greats in a Brief, Rare Collaboration

Chris Morris, British comedian/satirist - I've brought him up before (clip from Morris' Brass Eye TV Show). Throughout his radio and television shows, one thing I've always liked about him has been his vocal control, coming from his start on radio. Peter Cook, something of a Morris precursor - in the 50's and 60's a particularly edgy British comedian/satirist, similar to Morris in the 90s. His first popular show at the Edinburgh Festival...
"...included Cook impersonating the then Prime Minister Harold Macmillan. This was one of the first occasions that satirical political mimicry had been attempted in live theatre, and caused some considerable shock amongst audiences. During one performance, Macmillan himself was in the theatre, and having spotted him Cook departed from his script and directly attacked him verbally."*
Ten years after his death Peter Cook was ranked number one most-talented comedian in a list entitled The Comedian's Comedian, a poll taken of more than 300 comics, comedy writers, producers and directors throughout the English speaking world (Morris was number eleven). All this to preface:

Why Bother: A comedy album comprising of five 10-minute long "interviews" between Chris Morris and Peter Cook, with the dialogue largely ad-libbed. Neither of these men had worked with the other before, though were able to take on a familiar role for these recordings: Morris as the penetrating interviewer, Cook as the supposedly knowledgeable expert on the given topic or experience (usually having his story/expertise humorously undermined). The question of preparation for this, Morris (CM) answered as follows: 
CM: Just shoot from the hip, really. See what happens.
HD: No preparation?
CM: No. I think the preparation that existed, existed only in terms of the things we had already done. I was already quite used to going and imposing bollocks interviews on people anyway from any direction so it didn't seem much different, except with him, obviously, you could keep an idea going for much longer...It's trying to keep some sort of logic going.
They're both really, really good at these character roles. But what I find particularly skillful in these recordings is how fully they accept each others concepts/angles while still staying vitally true to their character. Cook projects knowledge and certainty while clearing wide spaces for Morris to lead him into a trap (for the sake of the listener's enjoyment), and Morris is strikingly deft, finding the potential for turning Cook's words against him or raising the stakes of the (likely ridiculous) premise. They connect easily, and how well they lead (and listen to) each other belies its ad-libbed creation. Cook died about a year after its first broadcast, making its recording even more serendipitous.

Here's my favorite of the five recordings: in this Cook ("Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling") talks to Morris about the time he spent in a Japanese Concentration Camp in World War II. It is cued up to start at 1:30, but gets going around 2:20, when Morris starts turning the tables on him. Their exchange in the last minute of the recording is also exquisite...

 -"...And I attempt to organize an escape."
-"Yes, and then you told the Commandant 24-hours before it was put in operation."
-"...I...informed my superior, but I'd already told my do it the day after so they wouldn't get caught."
"And yet they all did get caught-"
"They got caught, well, they went on the wrong day."

*Likely comparable to the controversy stirred from Morris' Brass Eye Special episode. 

Friday, December 18, 2009

"Man Cave" Found in Boston

A secret nook was uncovered on December 14th, 2009 at a Boston (Somerville) Commuter Rail station:
An investigation led to a strange discovery hidden in a storage room: a makeshift entertainment center, including three televisions, two DVD players, one VHS player, surround-sound speakers, a video game system, and DVDs, some of them pornographic, a transportation official said yesterday.

The equipment, slyly camouflaged within the commuter rail’s massive Somerville maintenance facility, even had an illegal cable television connection that came through a 1,000-foot cable...“This was very much concealed among maintenance parts and equipment,’’ said the official.
An anomalous event? Perhaps NOT...From the August 3rd, 2009 New Yorker:
Which brings us to Albany, site of the great political tragicomedy of the summer, and last week’s news that state police had raided an illicit rec room in the Capitol complex. The Inspector General’s office, in a press release announcing the discovery, called it a “man cave,” conjuring up images of a dimly lit basement with stained upholstery and an overabundance of electronics. Using tarps, a couple of janitorial workers on the night shift had cordoned off a corner of a state-owned parking garage, which was stocked with sofas, fridges, a TV, and the latest copy of Cannabis Culture. There, while on the clock, they allegedly watched DVDs of “M*A*S*H,” rolled joints, and napped.
 Both Man Caves eerily similar. How to account for their existence? The New Yorker article also included one gentleman's postulation:
The architect Andrés Duany identified a budding crisis in American life: the decline of “male space,” which he defined as zones “where the enthusiasms of Super Bowl day are unchecked year-round,” and where “the men are not factually corrected when they exaggerate.” The den, with its knotty-pine panelling and mounted moose heads, used to suffice, before it was subjected to a cultural makeover and emerged as the “family room,” relegating Dad to the garage.
 Is there a crisis of lost man-space in modern America? -or just the North-East of it? Perhaps these sorts of spaces are being found now in part online, save for some older generations- likely including the cave-men who set these -oddly enviable, in their cozy secrecy...also kinda gross- spaces of escape up.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Video (Archives): Gordon South

A formative experience for In The Car Media. Another college happening to share the name of ours prompted this eventful quad-break road trip down the Eastern Seaboard. This was a "featured short film" at the 2007 Lowell Comedy Festival. Ignore (or adore) my wind-swept up-do in the first shot.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Quote of the Day: Scottish Expat Alcoholic Baby

Being of Scottish origin, I sip a small whisky now and then. ‘Mainly medicinal’, I tell myself. ‘Traditional’, too, I tell myself –being a Scot. A “hot toddy” (Scotch whisky with hot water and honey) was the remedy for most ills when I was a child, so I suppose I teethed on the stuff. And when the going gets tough there is nothing like it for getting a small, serene smile back in place and sharpening the sense of humour.
-Vivien Bryce writing in Finland's Helsinki Times, giving her "ExPats View" as a Scot living in Finland now. Gotta give it to her though on the 'going gets tough' line.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Beauty of Mandelbrot

Have you viewed your (Three Dimensional) Mandelbrot Set today?