Monthly Archives: January 2012

Colder than a witch’s tit, hotter than the hinges of Hell

There was a nice article at Salon published recently called “Rise of the Super-Earths.” It’s excerpted from the epically titled book, “The Life of Super-Earths:  How the Hunt for Alien Worlds and Artificial Cells Will Revolutionize Life on Our Planet,” whose author, incidentally, has been quoted as once saying “Biology is the future of astronomy,” which is an awesome thing to say. So so far, so good, right? Anyway, the whole thing’s about planets outside of our solar system, larger than our own, that are within an hospitable distance from their respective suns;  planets that could probably sustain life. Super-Earths. Check out this wonderful bit discussing the formation of planets:

 “The preplanet structure—the ‘seed’ of a planet—consists of solids (mostly silicates) and volatiles (such as water and ammonia), with trace amounts of hydrogen and noble gases. Due to the energy of the accretion process and the constant collisions with large solid bodies, this seed is thoroughly molten. (Some of Earth’s internal heat is a relic of this process.) In this state the structure differentiates. Iron and siderophile elements (high-density transition metals that like to bond with iron) precipitate from the silicate mix and sink under their own weight to form the core in the center. The remaining silicate minerals will remain in a mantle with the less dense ones closer to the top. Volatiles that are left over after hydrating the mantle minerals will rise to the surface and atmosphere.

 “Differentiation is an orderly and predictable process thanks to our knowledge of chemistry and mineral properties under pressure. Some super-Earths, the rocky ones, develop quite similarly, although the pressure in the mantle is almost tenfold higher and different varieties of minerals form. Other super-Earths, the oceanic ones, are totally exotic beasts, with oceans that are 100 kilometers deep overlying a dense hot solid water, called ice VII.”

 Fucking hot water ice. That’s ice at temps of over 1,300°F. How about that? The rest of the article’s great, and you should read it, but that stuff about oceanic planets, and especially the ice thing, really peaked my interest. Not least because of my familiarity and love for Kurt Vonnegut Jr.’s novel, Cat’s Cradle (see ice-nine), but mostly because it’s just plain fascinating on its own.

Vonnegut's drawing of Vanilla Ice.

After reading the Salon piece, you should then read the Wikipedia page for ice. For real. It’s a far deeper and more interesting subject than you’re probably thinking in your initial consideration of the topic. For example, there are apparently 15 different phases of ice, varied by a combination of pressures and temperatures. There are a few hot ices, and Ice-nine is actually a thing (but fortunately nothing like Vonnegut’s insidious, fictional variety). I also learned a bit about rotten ice, diamond dust, the lost, ancient practice of ice harvesting, and the existence of the term “ice famine.” And hey, did you know that at *super* high pressures ice is predicted to become a metal?

No shit.

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VIDEO THRASHBACK: Gothic Slam – Who Died and Made You God? (1989)

Around 1989, when I was 16 years old, the thrash metal scene was just beginning to wane, but a lot of great thrash albums were released that year nevertheless: Voivod’s Nothingface, Testament’s Practice What You Preach, and Sepultura’s Beneath The Remains to name a few. I believe this was also the year I happened upon a Gothic Slam show at this all ages metal club we had around here then called Devil’s Island. Afterward, my friends and I somehow got invited to the band’s motel room nearby. We were pretty jazzed about it, imagining rock star shit; booze, drugs and babes. At least booze. But we wound up just sitting around in a little room, bored, with this bunch of goofball, working class Jersey dudes, a few of their buddies, and a couple of other hangers-on. No booze (save for maybe a couple of six packs a few guys were sharing), no drugs, and no babes. Just some tinny thrash on a shitty boombox and me feeling awkward, disappointed, and wanting to leave.

But they were nice guys, and quite a bit better at playing thrash than they were at partying hearty. While my rock & roll fantasies went un-lived-up-to, my neck was sore the next day from the headbanging their music induced. Here’s a song from that time which turned out to be the one to take them as far as they were gonna get. The video was in regular rotation on Headbanger’s Ball for awhile, but that was that. They never released another album. Anyway, the video is hilariously terrible, and if you drink every time the titular phrase is sung or shouted (21x in 4 minutes), you’ll be assed before it’s over.
Ready…
Set…

Mosh on.

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Filed under Metal, Video Thrashback

Yes, but no *true* Christian…

Jessica Ahlquist first noticed this prayer banner hanging within the walls of Rhode Island’s Cranston High School West when she arrived there as a freshman:

It reads:

Our Heavenly Father.

Grant us each day the desire to do our best.
To grow mentally and morally as well as physically.
To be kind and helpful to our classmates and teachers.
To be honest with ourselves as well as with others.
Help us to be good sports and smile when we lose as well as when we win.
Teach us the value of true friendship.
Help us always to conduct ourselves so as to bring credit to Cranston High School West.

Amen.

Her immediate thought was that it wasn’t at all appropriate (Cranston West is a public school), but she got on with her day and tried not to let it get to her. The thing had been hanging there since the ’60s, and as a freshman she didn’t exactly want to stir up shit first thing after walking through the door. But when she later learned of an ACLU lawsuit over the banner, she sacked up for what she believed in and agreed to be the plaintiff. Well, now that 16-year-old Jessica and the ACLU have rightly won the case because the banner is blatantly unconstitutional and alienating to non-Xtians, the seething Christ huggers are out in force to show what they’re truly made of (see more examples here):

Lovely people, aren’t they? Oh, and Jessica has had to leave the school because of threats and a fear for her safety. But just remember:  religion makes you a better person. Got it?

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Filed under Anti-theism / Skepticism

REVIEW: Venenum – Venenum E.P.

Oh man, this is really doing it for me. Hell yes. Old-school death of the most excellent, authentic sort. And it’s a cassette release, so it sounds all raw and extra evil, and completely amazing. A genuine, underground metal treasure. I wish I’d discovered this E.P. before posting my 2011 year-end list. It deserves a top spot. This thing has so much personality and character, it truly feels like you’re listening to some shit your big brother had his mind blown by but forgot to tell you about when you were kids. And now you’ve popped the cassette in and immediately know what he means when he says it’ll “fuck you sideways.” When Venenum gets around to putting out a full-length, I hope it sounds just like this:  primitive and masterful all at once. Like a god damned classic.

Listen: Bewitched Craft

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Filed under Album Reviews, Metal

CINEMA OF DOOM: The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence (2011)

Martin Lomax is a pathetic little heap of a man. He’s squat, fat, and asthmatic. Perhaps a bit retarded, definitely a bit insane. He lives with his hateful, hectoring mother in the home where, as a boy, he was raped repeatedly by his father (now in prison). Under his mattress, he keeps a scrapbook. In it are photos and stills from the first Human Centipede film, which he uses for masturbation fodder.

Surprisingly, Martin has a job. He works in an underground parking garage where he sits in a tiny office alone, and apparently spends his day watching the movie on his laptop and masturbating some more. In one scene, he uses sandpaper to do so. Presumably he doesn’t always use sandpaper, otherwise there would be nothing left to jerk, but that’s neither here nor there. Before long, he decides to create a human centipede of his own. A bigger and better one. To do this, he approaches people in the parking garage and beams them in the head with a tire iron, knocking them out and dragging them off to an old, empty warehouse. Once he has all of his victims collected, he gets down to business.

Unlike the first film’s Dr. Heiter, Martin is no surgeon, and when his initial attempts at mimicking the good doctor’s medically competent work fail, he resorts to simpler methods:  a staple gun and duct tape. So in the second half, with very little dialogue except doomed moans and shrieking, teeth are knocked out with a hammer, and a lot of people are stapled and taped mouth-to-ass, ass-to-mouth. Laxatives are administered…explosive diarrhea and vomiting ensue…Martin rapes his creation with barbed wire wrapped around his schlong…a baby is born and stomped on by its own desperate mother… Utter carnage. Everything but the kitchen sink, which, as an object associated with washing things, and one too large to stuff up someone’s ass, is of no use to a film like this anyway.

All in all, The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence is far more repugnant than its predecessor. A depraved collection of images that had me repeatedly laughing out loud at the lengths it was willing to go to shock the viewer. Where the first film left much to the imagination, this one takes it balls-to-the-wall and rubs your nose in the offal. And, in black & white, it even looks good doing it. The shit and the blood glistens black, the whites of eyes, wide with terror, pierce the darkness like high beams. Every curve of Martin’s sweaty, porcine face and body, every crevice and crack of the bloody, filth-caked warehouse is pronounced and enhanced, giving the film an almost comic book quality that both takes the edge off and adds to the bleak aura. It’s certainly well deserving of an honored place in the Cinema of Doom pantheon.

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Filed under Cinema of Doom, Weird / Brutal / Extreme Cinema

Obama kicks off 2012 by kicking America in the nuts

As many of us were sizing up liquor bottles and preparing to put as many of those bricks in our hat as possible in celebration of another trip around the Sun, President Obama codified into law the Executive Branch’s absolute power to detain anyone, anywhere in the world, indefinitely, without charge or trial. Happy New Year, America! And having just obliterated all of our remaining rights and freedoms with the stroke of a pen, our Commander-in-Chief–sworn to protect and uphold our constitution–had the temerity to assure us that he would never, ever, ever use it against us or anything:

“‘I have signed this bill despite having serious reservations with certain provisions that regulate the detention, interrogation, and prosecution of suspected terrorists,’ Obama said. ‘I want to clarify that my Administration will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens. Indeed, I believe that doing so would break with our most important traditions and values as a Nation.’”

Oh. Thanks. What a relief then. And I’m sure all future presidents will be kind enough to not abuse their powers as well.

Fuck you, Obama.

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Filed under Politics / World / Society