Monthly Archives: February 2017

Squat Sounds *

Squat Sounds *

Rich Kids on LSD (Santa Barbara, USA) – 1988
Live at
Autonomes Kulturzentrum Metzgerstrasse Hanau

.

SQUAT – SOUNDS

AUTONOMES KULTURZENTRUM HANAU
(Besetztes Haus / Metzgerstrasse-Squat in Hanau / Germany).

Photographs 1987-1994

– Please scroll down for english and german info) –

The Squat – Photos:
www.flickr.com/photos/sterneck/sets/72157627799174125

Squating the Parliament (1988):
www.flickr.com/photos/sterneck/sets/72157627923787960

Concert-Photos 1987-1988:
www.flickr.com/photos/sterneck/sets/72157627799191443

Concert-Photos 1989-1990:
www.flickr.com/photos/sterneck/sets/72157627923799072

Concert-Photos 1991-1992:
www.flickr.com/photos/sterneck/sets/72157627923811302

Concert-Photos 1993-1994:
www.flickr.com/photos/sterneck/sets/72157627923815978

– Concert-Photos 1987-1988:
Culture Shuck (Warminster, England) – 1987+1988
Die Trottel (Budapest, Hungary) – 1988
Fear Of God (Zurich, Switzland) – 1988
Filler (Nottinghamshire, Engand) – 1989
Filthy Christians (Falun, Sweden) – 1988
Generic (Newcastle, England) – 1988
Heresy (Nottingham, England) – 1988
Karma Sutra (Luton, England) – 1988
Lärm (Amersfoort, Netherlands) – 1988
Loveslug (Amsterdam, Netherlands) – 1988
Milgram Experiment (Hanau, Germany) – 1987
Open Session – 1987
Negazione (Turin, Italy) – 1988
Rich Kids on LSD (Santa Barbara, USA) – 1988
Spermbirds (Kaiserslautern, Germany) – 1988
The Plot (Amsterdam, Netherlands) – 1988
UFD – Uncounted Faces of Death (Hanau, Germany) – 1988
Yeastie Girlz (San Francisco, USA) – 1988
5Les (Brussel, Belgium) – 1988
….. and Friends and …..
………

There were a lot more bands playing in the squat.
If you have photographs or recordings – please get in contact:
contact@sterneck.net
Thanx! *

– * –

THE SQUATED AUTONOMOUS CULTURE CENTER
METZGERSTRASSE / HANAU

In December 1986 some people in Hanau (Germany) decided to squat a house that had been empty for a long time, Metzgerstraße 8. They restored it and filled this free space with a new life.

Soon it became an ’Autonomous Culture-Center’ for the people and by the people, and also a focal point for a solidaric projects and for the resistance against ruling systems in all their repressive forms. The center has had a long history of attempts to establish a self-determined culture-center in Hanau, although it has always been repressed by the local city council.

The basic forum of the center is the ”squatter meeting,” which is open to everyone who has an interest in the squat as a counter-cultural free space. Decisions are made on the consent principle, which means that they try to find a decision that can be supported by everyone. Many activists in the squat, but not all, describe themselves as members of the autonomy movement, which connects anarchist, communist and feminist ideas.

At the moment there are a lot of projects, groups, and events that take place in the center. Everything is done on a do-it-yourself and nonprofit basis; no one receives money for her or his work. Solidarity, trust and self-determination are the basis for all work. Here are some examples:

– The ’Infoladen’ (Infoshop): The Infoshop is an opportunity to get information that can’t be found in the normal bourgeois media. There are a lot of autonomous, left radical and feminist leaflets, brochures and newspapers available. There is also a small media center and an archive that includes material on topics like anti-fascism, atomic politics, women’s liberation, internationalism, etc.

– The ’Volxküche’ (Peoples Kitchen): Frequently people from the community cook a vegetarian meal that is available for a small price. The idea behind this is to overcome isolation between people and the patriarchal roles typical in the kitchen, and, of course, to provide a good tasting meal for many people.

– The Concerts: Concerts in the center are organized, and absolutely dedicated to the principle of working in a self-determined way without a manager, an agency, or even a contract. The bands that play in the squat should have a mutual relation to the ideas of the center. There are no musical limits: Local punk bands have played there as well as jazz bands from North-America and Avantguarde projects from Eastern Europe. Some of the performances have been released on tapes and records.

In a way, the things that happen between the people in the center are more important than the events: changes in behavior, opportunities to live together without hierarchical structures, and new ways of relating. Although the squat is like an island in some ways, it’s far from a concrete utopia. Problems in interpersonal relations exist, as well as differences between ideals and real behaviour.

If people want to go alternative ways, the authorities try to stop them. In Hanau the local city council has said for a long time that none of the things the squatters do and organize represent culture. They decided in parliament that the center was to be closed and torn down without an alternative. In place of the squat, they planned to build five parking places. A decision that is very symbolic and characteristic. Certainly, the real aim was to destroy the ideas and the structures this center stands for.

The answer of the supporters of the Autonomous Culture-Center was the squatting of the parliament of the city. The politicians went out of the building and the squatters voted for the continuation of the center.

Up to now the authorities have not been able to realize their plans for various reasons. On the one hand there are many people who support the squat. There are also legal difficulties around closing it, and they are afraid of the resistance and activities that could take place after closing the squat.

But even if they evict the center, they can’t repress the ideas that the squat stands for. It’s about a self-determined culture and a self-determined life. It’s about dreams and ideals. It’s about consequence and change, here and now.

Wolfgang Sterneck, 2001.

Autonomes Kulturzentrum
Metzgerstrasse 8, D-63450 Hanau, Germany.

Autonomes Kulturzentrum Metzgerstraße:
www.metzgerstrasse-hanau.org
de-de.facebook.com/people/Metzgerstrasse-Acht-Hanau/10000…
www.myspace.com/metzgerstrasse
www.sterneck.net/squat

Info on the Project of John Cage and Sterneck / KomistA in benefit of the squat:
www.sterneck.net/john-cage/metzgerstrasse-e

– * –

SUBVERSIVE SOUNDS *

Konzerte im Autonomen Kulturzentrum Hanau.

Das besetzte Haus

Im Dezember 1986 kam es in Hanau zur Besetzung eines ehemaligen Nachtclubs in der Metzgerstraße 8. Das Gebäude, das zuvor über Jahre hinweg leer stand, wurde renoviert, neu gestaltet, umbenannt und wird seitdem als Autonomes Kulturzentrum genutzt. Das Ziel der Besetzung war es, einen Freiraum zu schaffen, in dem die Vorstellung einer autonomen Kultur wie auch die Wiederaneignung des entfremdeten Alltags konkret umsetzbar wird.

Vor diesem Hintergrund gelang es, ein Zentrum zu entwickeln, in dem solidarisches Handeln, kollektives Leben und politische Identität auf vielen Ebenen verschmelzen oder sich zumindest annähern. Die Metzgerstraße wurde dadurch zu einem wichtigen Bezugspunkt von dem auf verschiedenen Ebenen vielschichtige politische, soziale und kulturelle Impulse ausgingen.

Im Laufe der Jahre entstanden vielfältige Projekte wie die Volxküche (Essen zum Selbstkostenpreis), der Infoladen (Aktuelle politische Informationen und Archiv) und das Basta-Cafe (Treffpunkt und Sozialberatung). Die politischen Schwerpunkte der im Kulturzentrum aktiven Gruppen liegen unter anderen in den Bereichen ‘Internationale Solidarität’, Antifaschismus und ‘Soziale Veränderung’.

Die Entscheidungen innerhalb des Kulturzentrums werden basisdemokratisch nach dem Konsensprinzip getroffen. Alle Aktivitäten basieren auf einer idealistischen Grundhaltung. Keine Person aus dem Zentrum erhält für ihre Tätigkeiten eine finanzielle Entlohnung.

Selbstbestimmte Kultur ohne Kommerz

Musik hatte von Anfang an in der Metzgerstraße eine besondere Bedeutung. Über das Musikhören hinaus machen viele AktivistInnen selbst Musik, veröffentlichen eigene Aufnahmen oder organisieren Konzerte. Im Sinne des DIY-Prinzipes (‘Do it Yourself’) werden die Auftritte im direkten Kontakt mit den MusikerInnen ohne Konzertagenturen und auch ohne Verträge auf völlig nichtkommerzieller Basis organisiert.

Eine Grundlage bildet ein solidarisches Verhältnis der MusikerInnen zur Metzgerstraße, was sich unter anderem auch in der Gage ausdrückt, die sich in der Regel auf die für die Band entstandenen Unkosten und die Verpflegung beschränkt. Der Eintrittspreis ist so ausgerichtet, dass er für alle interessierten Personen erschwinglich ist und die anfallenden Kosten deckt bzw. im Rahmen von Benefiz-Konzerten bestimmte Projekte unterstützt.

Freiräume statt Parkplätze

Während der ehemalige sozialdemokratische Kulturdezernat Hanaus davon sprach, dass in der Metzgerstraße keine Kultur stattfindet, bildete dass selbstorganisierte Zentrum durch die Auftritte von Bands aus Westeuropa und Nordamerika einen im Hanauer Kulturleben herausragenden internationalen Bezugspunkt. Die musikalische Bandbreite umfasst unter anderem Rockmusik in den verschiedensten Schattierungen, Punk, Hardcore, Folk und Jazz, sowie experimentelle und improvisierte Musik. Lokale Nachwuchsbands traten im Laufe der Jahre genauso auf wie renommierte Gruppen aus unterschiedlichsten Ländern. Einen Kultcharakter erlangten zudem die Nachtcafe-Sessions, an denen jeder und jede teilnehmen konnte.

Die Aufnahmen einiger Konzerte wurden später auf verschiedenen Tonträgern veröffentlicht. 1992 kam es daneben zur Veröffentlichung eines der Metzgerstraße gewidmeten Stücks des Avantgarde-Komponisten John Cage.

In den Anfangsjahren plante der Hanauer Magistrat das Haus nach einer Räumung abreißen zu lassen, um dort stattdessen fünf Parkplätze zu errichten. Die Kulturpolitik des Magistrates entlarvte sich dadurch in einer kaum zu übertreffenden symbolhaften Weise selbst. Das Vorhaben wurde jedoch nicht zuletzt in Folge einer Besetzung des Stadtparlamentes durch Unterstützerinnen des Kulturzentrums nicht weiter verfolgt.

Rund 25 Jahre nach der Besetzung wird das Haus weiterhin als Kulturzentrum genutzt. Im ansonsten auf Konsum und Kommerz ausgerichteten Stadtzentrum Hanaus ist es mit seinen vielfältigen Projekten kreativer wie auch subversiver Freiraum.

Wolfgang Sterneck, September 2011.

Autonomes Kulturzentrum Metzgerstraße:
www.metzgerstrasse-hanau.org
de-de.facebook.com/people/Metzgerstrasse-Acht-Hanau/10000…
www.myspace.com/metzgerstrasse
www.sterneck.net/squat

Eine ausführliche Beschreibung der Geschichte des Kulturzentrums:
Freiräume entwickeln – Das besetzte autonome Kulturzentrum Metzgerstraße Hanau
www.sterneck.net/squat/metzgerstrasse-d

English Info:
The squated Autonomous Culture Center Metzgerstrasse Hanau
www.sterneck.net/squat/metzgerstrasse-e

Infos zum Benefiz-Projekt von John Cage und Sterneck / KomistA für das Kulturzentrum:
www.sterneck.net/john-cage

– * –

Posted by Sterneck on 2011-10-19 11:28:05

Tagged: , Rich Kids on LSD , LSD , Metzgerstrasse , Metzgerstraße , Hanau , Besetztes , Haus , Squat , Culture , DIY , Do , It , Yourself , Politics , Music , Change , Jason Sears , Jason , Sears

The Adelaide Darwin railway line passing along the edge of Lake Hart north of Port Augusta in South Australia.

The Adelaide Darwin railway line passing along the edge of Lake Hart north of Port Augusta in South Australia.

On the Indian Pacific train you depart Aelaide 6:40 pm reaching Port August at 11pm; then Tarcoola 4:20 am; the siding of Bates at 7:40am. We have a brief stop at the former township of Cook at 9:45 am. We should reach Forrest in Western Australia about 1:54 pm; Rawlinna at 2:26 pm and Kalgoorlie at 7:10 pm.

As a condition of entering the federation of Australia WA Premier Sir John Forrest insisted on a transcontinental rail link with the eastern states via Port Augusta. Work began in 1912 and was completed in 1917. Water for the steam engines was obtained from bores across the Nullarbor but the high salt content meant steam engines rusted out very quickly. Coal was shipped from NSW and transported across the Nullarbor to tiny rail sidings and left in stockpiles to fuel the steam furnaces. It was a costly and relatively slow way of crossing from SA to Perth. The journey involved several changes of gauges from Adelaide with the first at Terowie where the 5’3” rail gauge line ended. The 3’6” gauge from Terowie meandered north through Quorn and down through the Pichi Richi Pass to Port August. Here was another change of gauge to the new standard line across to Kalgoorlie. At Kalgoorlie a further change of gauge occurred back to 3’6” the main gauge used in WA. The first train to cross from Sydney to Perth without a change of gauge was in 1970. The first air-conditioned train to cross to Perth from Port Pirie was in 1951. The original trip from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie took 42 hours but was later reduced to 29 hours by 1936 when the new direct line from Adelaide to Port Pirie opened. Today we travel the same section in 19 hours from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie.

Map of the proposed state of Auralia based on Kalgoorlie when WA hesitated about joining the Australian Federation in 1901.
Nullarbor.
This flat limestone plain is the largest area of karst landscape, with numerous subsurface caves, in the world. It stretches 1,200 kms from near Ceduna to near Norseman in WA. On it southern border high limestone cliffs face the Great Australian Bight; to the north the limestone plain becomes the Great Victoria Desert, a typical sandy desert. Nullarbor comes for the Latin “nullus” meaning not any and “arbor” meaning trees- hence no trees. However, this does not mean the Nullarbor lacks vegetation (or interest). Around 800 species of plants including saltbush and blue bush grow across the Nullarbor or its edges. Wildlife is plentiful but water is not. Somehow Edward John Eyre managed to cross the inhospitable landscape with the help of his Aboriginal friend Wylie in 1841. The pair was saved by a French whaling ship on the coast near Esperance. After receiving food and water Eyre and Wylie continued overland to Albany to complete the crossing from Streaky Bay. Eyre was award the gold medal of the Royal Geographical Society in London for this incredible journey. After the journey Eyre took up land in SA and became Protector of Aborigines near Blanchetown (Moorundie).

The Characters of the Crossing.
The stations/sidings which you will probably not even see as they whizz by include a list of many of Australian
Prime Ministers and the eccentric Daisy Bates. In order, after Tarcoola which we pass through during the night, the sidings are: Barton; Bates; Ooldea; Watson; Fisher and Cook where we stop for a short time. Beyond Cook where the line is straight for a very long distance the sidings are: Denman; Hughes; Forrest (which has the major airport); Rawlinna, Chifley; Curtin and finally Kalgoorlie.
Barton. Sir Edmund Barton, 1829-1920, was an Australian born NSW scholar and politician. A staunch federalist he became the first Australian Prime Minister in 1901. He was the driving fore behind the writing of the Australian Constitution. He pushed for the White Australia Policy and got an act to repatriate Kanaka workers from Queensland. He resigned in 1903 to become a judge of the High Court of Australia.
Bates. Daisy Bates, 1863-1951, was an eccentric Irishwoman who migrated to Australia in 1884. She married in 1885 but seldom lived with her husband. After a five year trip to England she returned to Australia and took up living with remote Aboriginal communities, firstly in the Kimberlies and then at Ooldea in SA. She lived at Yalata or Ooldea from 1915 to 1934. She favoured segregation of full blood Aboriginal people, maintained they practised cannibalism and was unpopular with academic anthropologists but she had many articles written in newspapers to popularise her ideas and her work. She died at Prospect and was buried in North Road Anglican cemetery.
Ooldea. Ooldea has been an Aboriginal camping place for aeons as it has permanent water. Ernest Giles the explorer was the first white person to discover the water here in 1875. Ooldea became the rail siding for the Maralinga nuclear testing site and it was the home of Daisy Bates for many years.
Watson. John Christian Watson, 1867 -1941, was the third Prime Minister but served for only four months in 1904. He was Australia’s first Labor Prime Minister and he favoured protective tariffs. He retired from federal politics in 1910. He was known for his “Viking style” beard!
Fisher. Andrew Fisher, 1862-1928, was Prime Minister three times, 1908-9; 1910-13; and 1914-15. He was a founding Labor politician. Whilst PM he oversaw the establishment of the Australian Navy, the founding of the Commonwealth Bank, the founding of Canberra and the splitting of the Northern Territory from SA. He was also PM when a start was made on the Transcontinental rail line from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie in 1912. Not surprisingly the first few rail sidings across the Nullarbor are named after Labor Prime Ministers, except for Barton, our first Prime Minister. The conservative/national/free trade Prime Minsters generally have sidings in WA towards Kalgoorlie!
Cook. This station and tiny township was not named after Captain James Cook but Prime Minister Sir Joseph Cook, 1860-1947. Cook was the sixth PM in 1913-14. He began as a Labor politician but in the federal sphere switched away from protectionism to free trade. He served as a Liberal free trade Prime Minister. Cook agreed to the British request for troops to support them in World War One in France and Turkey.
Denman. Sir Thomas Denman, 1874-1954, was a British military man. He was appointed as Governor General of Australia in 1911. He conducted the founding ceremony for the establishment of Canberra in 1913. Denman interfered in federal politics and supported the PM who wanted complete Australian control and autonomy for the Australian Navy. Denman publically supported this. He was recalled to England in May 1914. Throughout the 1920s he supported Australia’s point of view in debates in the British House of Lords.
Hughes. William (Billy) Hughes was the first long surviving Australian Prime Minister as he was in power from 1915-1923. This record was not beaten until 1957 by Sir Robert Menzies. Billy Hughes lived from 1862- 1952. Hughes’ other record, being the longest serving member of parliament has not yet been surpassed. He was a politician for almost 52 years! Hughes served in earlier Labor ministries but split the Labor Party in 1917 by proposing conscription for the World War One war effort. He was expelled from the Labor Party! But he won the next election in alliance with the National Party. In 1923 he had insufficient parliamentarians to form government but he remained in parliament as a member of the United Australia Party which later became the Liberal Party. He died whilst still a parliamentarian aged 90 years.
Deakin. This siding is right on the WA/SA border. Alfred Deakin, 1856-1919, served as Prime Minister three times in the first few years of federation from 1903-4; 1905-8; and 1909-10. Alfred Deakin was a protectionists and finally Liberal in parliament. He was a great leader in the federation moment, a former Victorian Premier and is credited with starting the nation building process for Australia when he was Prime Minister. He was a scholar and a lawyer.
Reid. Sir George Reid, 1845-1918, was Prime Minister in 1904-5. He was a devout exponent of free trade and a Liberal but the other Liberal Alfred Deakin would not support him and his free trade policies. He went on to be leader of the Opposition against the Labor governments that followed him.
Forrest. Sir John Forest, 1847-1918, the first Baron Forrest of Bunbury, was an explorer, surveyor and politician extraordinaire. He was born at Bunbury in WA and became the founding Premier of WA when partial self-government was granted by Britain in 1890. Forrest led the explorers who did the first west to east crossing of the Nullarbor from Perth to Adelaide in 1870. He was the first Western Australian knighted in 1891. He served as Premier of WA from 1890 to 1901 during the decade when the population exploded with the gold discoveries at Kalgoorlie. He acted for the establishment of a water pipeline to Kalgoorlie; he unilaterally rejected Britain’s control of WA Aboriginal Affairs and summarily ended it; he took government control of the Great Southern Railway to Albany; he repealed a section of the state Constitution which stated 1% of all tax royalties must be spent on Aboriginal people. From 1901 to his death in 1918 he was a member of the federal parliament aligned with non-Labor politicians. Although he supported federation he fought hard for rights for WA including the building of a transcontinental railway from Port Augusta. Forrest’s reluctance to join federation until concessions were promised for WA led politicians and others in the goldfields to propose a new state called Auralia to enter the federation, even if the rest of WA did not. The capital of that state would have been Kalgoorlie. Once Forrest finally committed WA to join the federation this proposal for a separate state of Auralia was dropped. The Forrest siding or settlement with only a couple for residents is known for its airport. It has the largest runway outside of a capital city in case it is needed for emergency or military use. Light aircraft use the airport as a refuelling stop across the Nullarbor.
Rawlinna. This siding is named after the local sheep station, the largest in the world, with an historical homestead. Up to 80,000 sheep have been shorn in one year on Rawlinna Station.
Chifley. Joseph Benedict Chifley, 1885-1951, was a Labor Prime Minister for Australia after the Second World War from 1945- 1949. Ben Chifley introduced the Snowy Mountains irrigation scheme and founded the Australian National University in Canberra. He was no longer PM in 1951 but still a parliamentarian when he died in office in Canberra. He lost the 1949 elections on his proposal to nationalise the banks of Australia.
Curtin. John Curtin, 1884-1945 was the Labor Prime Minister for Australia during most of World War Two from 1941-45. He died in office in July 1945 just six weeks before the end of the War. His great contribution was to reject British proposals for the deployment of Australian troops to protect their interests and to put them under the command of General Douglas MacArthur from America who used our troops in South East Asia and New Guinea to protect Australia from invasion by the Japanese.

Kalgoorlie.
Gold was discovered here by Patrick Hannan and the city emerged overnight in 1893. The finds were so rich that it is still known as the richest mile on the planet. Thousands swarmed to the gold fields but deep shaft mining meant casual prospectors were soon just mine employees and most left the goldfields. By 1898 the town had a population of around 2,000 but only 500 were women. Once a railway line from Perth reached the town the population grew. The water pipeline reached the city in 1903 offering coastal amenities to outback residents! It was this small population of about 5,000 in 1900 that were in favour of joining the federation of Australia and creating a new state called Auralia. The port for this new colony would have been Esperance. The mine continued giving its riches to the mining companies. When it began in 1893 gold worth £421,000 was produced in WA. By 1900 the value of gold found in WA was worth £6,000,000! And the boom still continues in WA with nickel, oil, gas and iron and Kalgoorlie has the largest open cut mine in the world.

But relations on the gold fields have not always been cordial. Kalgoorlie is known for the 1934 Race Riots as mobs against Greek, Italian and Slavic mobs rioted, attacked and burned Greek and Slavic owned properties. Extra police were sent from Perth to quell the riots. The riot broke out on a Saturday night, a traditional night for drinking and violence. Foreign owned hotels were burned and residences lived in by foreigners had their windows smashed in both Kalgoorlie and Coolgardie. This was and still is the Wild West! Unlike the eastern states WA has always had more land than people and even into the 1970s virgin farmland was being granted or sold to new comers for little money. One of the last large cereal farming areas developed, which would have been in the state of Auralia, was at Esperance in the 1970s.

Posted by denisbin on 2013-08-23 06:52:12

Tagged: , Lake Hart , railway , Ghan , Ghan railway , outback , Australia , South Australia

MELBOURNE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2007: VIDEO KILLED THE RADO STAR?

MELBOURNE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2007: VIDEO KILLED THE RADO STAR?

"VIDEO KILLED THE RADO STAR?"

Well, just about, I’m a tad knackered at the moment!

G’day, I’ve been a wee bit quiet for the past few weeks as I reviewed movies at this year’s 2007 Melbourne (Australia) International Film Festival. I broadcast the reviews over about two and a half hours all up on my show, Zero-G: Science Fiction, Fantasy & Historical Radio, on 3RRR FM. (rrr.org.au)

The above picture is the sign on the Erwin Rado Theatre at 211 Johnson Street, Fitzroy, where the MIFF has its headquarters. The building’s nothing much to look at from outside, really! But the sign…well, THAT has character!

Below the MIFF offices, the theatre, named after the director of the Film Festival from 1957 – 1983, has a charming old 69 seat cinema that can screen 16mm and 35mm film as well as DVD, LaserDisc, VHS, Data and MiniDV.

The MIFF’s access to the theatre expired at the end of 2007 and, ideally, it really should have its own dedicated screening facility, as other major city’s film festivals have. Still, the office itself has now moved to a more central location in Melbourne, which is handy!

To find out more about the MIFF go here:

www.melbournefilmfestival.com.au/

Anyway, I thought I’d post some of reviews here, inspired by films that I particularly enjoyed at this year’s event.

The full transcripts can be found at:

www.rrr.org.au/playlist/2778/

-AACHI & SSIPAK-
SOUTH KOREA

This continuously violent South Korean animated adult feature presents a future where human excrement is an energy source. Citizens have a monitoring chip attached to their arses and particularly productive individuals are rewarded with addictive drug laced munchies called Juicy Bars.

I shit you not.

The story begins with a roadwarrior highway battle as the swarming blue mutant Diaper Gang (!) attempts to truckjack a cargo of Juicy Bars, only to encounter a devastatingly lethal cyborg enforcer who makes Judge Dredd look like a human rights campaigner.

Headshot bodies fall at a rate that would impress Aeon Flux and Samurai Jack combined as the repressive government, assorted roving bands of bandits and con men, including the title characters Aachi and Ssipak (pronounced ‘she-pock’) along with a feisty would-be actress, all compete for the Juicy Bars.

Given the outrageous level of mayhem and the giggling concept that lies at the, er, bottom of the plot, it’s hardly worth noting that the animators cheerfully raid pop culture for many sequences, including the films Aliens and Indiana Jones & The Temple Of Doom. The latter is extensively overmined for one tunnel chase set up.

The animation is quite stylistically vigorous while the off the wall social commentary reminds me a little of the kind of thing that animator Ralph Bakshi attempted in his Fritz The Cat days, well before the likes of South Park and its shock-anime kin. There’s also something to be said for the biting political satire that runs through the narrative, which results in the government and gang leader being merely two opposite sides of the same ruthless coin.

People with kids could have pointless fun banning them from seeing this film, but apparently MTV’s thinking of doing a telly series based on it anyway, so, futile or what?

Subtle it isn’t, but it is a species of wicked fun that will gather bums on seats!

Director Joe Bum-jin
2006/90mins

-A FEW DAYS IN SEPTEMBER-
ITALY/FRANCE/PORTUGAL

The first film directed by screenwriter Santiago Amigorena, A Few Days In September
(Quelques Jours en Septembre), is a laid back but quite charming French spy thriller that makes espionage a family affair…and a realistically bickering family at that.

Elliot, mostly alluded to or played as an off screen voiceover by Nick Nolte until near the film’s conclusion, is an ex-CIA agent with knowledge about the upcoming 911 attacks. He hopes to trade the information for a stake that will enable him to reunite and live with his biological daughter and step-son, legacies of two seperate cover identity marriages in France and the U.S.

Much sought after by various factions, Elliot entrusts his grown up children, Orlando (Sara Forestier) and David (British actor Tom Riley) to the capable care of Irène, a cool, experienced French secret agent who used to be Elliot’s colleague. The potentially overwhelming meta-story takes a back seat to the character relationships, which makes a nice change to the usual breathless adventures that would normally puff up this kind of story into a by-the-numbers action thriller.

Juliette Binoche brings marvelous, stylish depth to her role as world wise spy Irène, providing a wryly sophisticated setting for her charges’ inevitable romance. (What IS it with the French anyway? After Irène’s arm is injured she turns up wearing a chic scarf as a sling, but of course!) Always gorgeous, the actress pitches the character as being adept enough at her deadly trade so that she can afford to enjoy herself while she works. Forestier is all sharp edged, angry eyed angst as she works through father/daughter issues while Riley nervously cooks (his character worked in a restaurant) for the two formidable women who have abruptly complicated his life with their Amazonian expertise with firearms. I also very much enjoyed the arch Franco/American banter between Orlando and David.

Seeking Elliot through the medium of his children is William Pound, a whacko ‘wet work’ assassin who has a penchant for poetry, drives a florist’s delivery van and has a mobile phone plagued by the world’s most annoying ringtone. Pound’s character is tightly wound by John Turturro, who played one of the convicts in O Brother, Where Art Thou? and also an equally obsessive relative of the title character in the television series Monk.

A Few Days In September benefits from first rate cinematography, including some playful soft focus shots that whimsically render Venice and Paris, cheekily explained by Irène’s habit of removing her glasses to ‘see things differently’. There’s also a cracking good shot through the dark framed doorway of a Venetian Chapel which reminded me of a signature frame from a John Ford Western, only instead of Mesas and sagebrush we get the Venice Lagoon and a passing ocean liner.

Although this film lingers perhaps a little too lovingly on the wrangling entanglements of its main characters I still found it pleasant and rewardable viewing. Amigorena certainly knows how to inject off-beat life into his characters.

Director/Screenwriter Santiago Amigorena
2006/115 mins

-BUG-
USA

When down on her luck small town waitress Agnes White (played by Ashley Judd) invites eccentric drifter Peter Evans into her seedy motel room she receives much more than she bug-aned for!

Director William Friedkin (The Exorcist, & The French Connection) gets almost unbearably psychological in this cross genre movie that wisely adds no excess fat to the one set, pressure cooker Tracy Lett’s play that it’s adapted from. As the two main characters’ relationship slowly emerges from a far too tightly spun chrysalis the film builds to one of the most intensely wound paranoic conclusions seen on screen.

Michael Shannon is gauntly convincing as Evans, a role that he pioneered in the original stage play and intially at least, reminds me a little of a young Steve McQueen or perhaps, Joachim Phoenix. Harry Connick Junior has a supporting part in the film as Agne’s ex-convict, ex-husband.

Bug’s maddeningly paced escalating tension is supported by an appropriately chittering score, composed by Brian Tyler, who also gave us soundtracks for the films Constantine, Bubba Ho-Tep, the Children of Dune miniseries, as well as episodes of Star Trek: Enterprise and the upcoming Aliens Versus Predator 2: Survival Of The Fittest. Speaking of Star Trek, Ashley Judd also played Ensign Robin Lefler in Star Trek: Next Generation.

Bug is a film that creeps up on you and by its final scuttling rush will definitely get under your skin…one way or another.

Director- William Friedkin
Screenwriter-Tracy Letts
2006/101mins

-EL TOPO-
(MEXICO)

El Topo (“The Mole”) was director Alejandro Jodorowsky’s third film. The infamous Mexican allergorically surreal Eastern/Western is presented at the festival in a very fine new restoration (a bit of a shock for those used to seeing it in its customary raddled grindhouse/cult prints!) along with its natural companion piece, The Holy Mountain.

This comprehensively startling but compelling film begins, not unlike the Lone Wolf And Cub Samurai series, with the black clad, flute playing gunslinger El Topo (played by the director himself) riding across the wastelands in company with a taciturn child companion. After a blood drenched encounter with drunkenly bestial bandits El Topo replaces the boy with a seductively manipulative woman who urges him to become the greatest shootist in the world by seeking out and defeating four master gunfighters.

As with the wuxia martial arts films that this story frequently references the quest for the masters proves dangerous, difficult, baffling and wonderous.

The gunslinger’s odyssey to achieve enlightment and mastery is populated with exotic encounters and inventive, symbolically charged imagery. Deflating balloons signal the start of duels, capering outlaws with shoe fetishes rape feminised sand paintings and carve bananas with sabres, civilised townsfolk prove more depraved and debauched than the wasteland bandits, herds of rabbits mysteriously die at El Topo’s feet, incestuously deformed trogalytes living in oil drums tunnel to escape their underground prison, and live bullets are caught and deflected by butterfly nets.

This visual melange is supported by Jodorowskys and Nacho Méndezs evocative music which, by turns soothing or jarring, echoes across the many desert based sequences and permeates the locations, which frequently read more like artistic installations than sets grounded in any kind of mundane reality. In fact, there is a timeless anachronistic feel to the desert that makes you question whether this is nominally a period Western or indeed set in some kind of post-apocalyptic Stephen King future.

El Topo is rendered even stranger by its renowned mid-film gear change, one of several enigmatic transformations that can be interpreted as Buddhist inspired reincarnations of the title character.

Just imagine what might have been if Jodorowsky had pulled off his mid-70s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune, with its intended cast of Salvidor Dali as the Emperor, Mick Jagger playing Feyd Rautha and Orson Welles as Baron Harkonnen? As it is the Acid Western tradition at least got another outing in Jim Jarmusch’s more recent film, Dead Man, which, for all its many remarkable charms, by comparison to El Topo is cast into monochrome shade.

A bizarre chimera even by Zero-G’s notoriously unhinged standards El Topo is a cult classic given gloriously grotesque new life by its own recent transfiguring restoration.

Director/Screenwriter Alejandro Jodorowsky
1971/125mins

-FIDO-
Canada/USA

Fido fiendishly expands upon the gag featured in Shaun of the Dead (amongst other films) that zombies could be domesticated to perform simple tasks. Zombies helping in the kitchen? Uh-oh, better make sure they keep those rotting fingers are kept hygenically away from food preparation surfaces with a pair of crisp, clean white cotton gloves….

In an alternate 1950s the all encompassing ZomCom, which apparently helped win the Zombie War, protects and serves the walled small towns of America. Now, we all know that the only reason to provide zombies with clever electronic control collars is so that the gadgets can malfunction; cue zombie outbreak! It’s the slyly subversive juxtaposition of wholesome mom and apple-pie Leave It To Beaver sitcom with Zombie killing procedural that lends this consistently bemusing film a wicked Addams Family style where Pop naturally reads Death Magazine and scenes shot in cars are filmed using good old fashioned rear screen projection.

Not that we’re talking Black and White telly, nosirree Bob! Fido is filmed in full, glorious technicolour, complete with ginormous finned automobiles, two toned shoes and compliant Stepford housewives who wait at the front door for their patriarchal hubbies to take the martini from their submissive, manicured hands. Happily, Carrie Anne-Moss in one of the main roles, as Helen Robinson, is more of a buddingly feisty Desperate Housewife after the armed and dangerous example of Bree Hodge. (From The Matrix to a zombie packed Pleasantville is indeed an ironic career path!) It’s not long before Helen kicks over the domestic traces following the example of her young son, Timmy (knowingly played by the intriguingly named K’Sun Ray) and his new pet zombie, the Fido of the title, embodied by Billy Connolly. Connolly plays the long suffering Fido with toothy glee, moaning and groaning and lurching in the throes of what could easily double as a hangover of fatally heroic proportions.

Keep an eye out (easy to do in a zombie film) for Dylan Baker, as the nervously cheerful Bill Robinson. Baker has had the sleeper part of Doctor Curt Connors in the Spider-Man films and, as comic book fans anticipate, should eventually get to mutate into the super-villain, The Lizard.

Fido is my genre pic of the Festival, in the tradition of another year’s shambling B-schlock spoof, The Lost Skeleton Of Cadavra. I ask you, how can I not enjoy sinking my teeth into a film where a pet zombie is addressed with a line like: “What’s that Fido? Timmy’s in trouble?”

It’s enough to make Lassie dig her way out of her grave!

Director- Andrew Currie
Screenwriters- Robert Chomiak, Andrew Currie, Dennis Heaton
2006/91mins

-HANSEL & GRETEL-
GERMANY

If you go down to the woods today…..you’d better take your copy of the Brothers Grimm Cookbook For Baking Independent Elderly Female Cannibal Sorceresses.

German director Anne Wild and screenwriter Peter Schwindt settle for a straightforward retelling of the classic rural ‘stranger danger’ story wherein the devious Gretel proves the most resourceful of two deliberately lost children who end up on the menu of the obligatory member of the local Guild of Almagamated Wicked Witches & Confectioners.

Deliberately lost? How do you think the kids got to be wandering around in Blair Witchburg in the first place? Sometimes tactfully omitted from modern retellings of this familiar story is the neglected element of child abandonment, a practice forced upon starving families in situations of plague, famine, wars and other social upheavals. In this case, it’s the pragmatic step-mother who pushes her more sentimental but nontheless compliant woodcutter husband into cutting loose the kids.

In early versions of the story it’s usually just the natural mother who suggests jettisoning the offspring…a much more useful cautionary tale for parents to use as and Awful Threat when disciplining naughty anklebiters.

Leaving aside observations about how Hansel and Gretel underlines the historical distrust of skilled single women of independent means this is actually a moderately creepily staged film. The woods are suitably threatening, and the witch herself, though certainly not up to Buffy The Vampire Slayer standards is a reasonably nasty albeit dimwitted piece of work…

I never can figure out quite why witchy poo needed to go Hannibal Lector on kiddies when she was capable of whipping up enough food to fatten a small army, not to mention all that square footage of gingerbread real estate. Let’s just assume it’s an alternative lifestyle choice, along the lines of supergenius Wile. E. Coyote yearning after Roadrunner drumsticks in spite of the fact that he had enough credit to order truckloads of expensive gadgets from the ACME Corporation.

(On the subject of ghoulish folks developing a fondness for ‘long pig’ just what DID those darling children do with the oven fired witch after they fried her arse?)

We all know how this ends, after making off with the witch’s portable property the kids, in a remarkable act of forgiveness, share their taxfree windfall with their deadbeat dad…though their step mother has obligingly dropped dead in the meanwhile.

Hmm, did anyone actually see step-mama and Ms Witch in the same room at the same time?

Don’t expect a Post-Modern fractured fairytale from Hansel and Gretel and you won’t be led astray by what’s essentially a traditionally told, moderately unsettling film.

Director- Anne Wild
Screenwriter- Peter Schwindt
2006/76mins

-THE HOLY MOUNTAIN-
MEXICO

If you thought Alejandro Jodorowsky’s third film, El Topo, was weird…well, no caca Sherlock!

Wait until you get a load of this….

His next surreally allegorical outing, 1973’s The Holy Mountain, scales even more whackily experimental heights. Like El Topo, The Holy Mountain has also been recently, lovingly restored, all the better to trip out on the eye bulging psychedelic imagery!

Again, as with El Topo, the nominal protagonist is on a messianic quest to achieve enlightment. Even more ironically symbolic in this case since the central thief character bears a strong and exploitable resemblance to the traditional representation of Jesus Christ.

Horácio Salinas plays the hapless thief, leaving Jodorowsky himself the catalytic role of a tower dwelling alchemist who charges him to accompany seven influential but materialistic powerbrokers to Lotus Island where they will achieve eternal life once they have climbed the eponymous Holy Mountain.

Initially the dialogue is thin on the ground but soon ramps up to cheerfully inexplicable levels where a line like “hypersexed brown native vampires” can pass without comment or indeed comprehension. Politics, art, sexuality, and filmmaking, amongst many other subjects, all cop a satirical hiding in this extraordinary film which relies heavily upon fantasy imagery drawn from tarot cards, astrology and religion.

Just listing a few of the oddball ideas gives you an idea of the unique scope of Jorodowsky’s fevered imagination.

Two women are ‘cleansed’ of clothing, make-up, jewellery, false nails, and hair by a black robed priest who himself has ebony varnished fingernails. A screaming man lies covered in tarantulas…no big acting stretch there! The Invasion of Mexico is renacted by lizards dressed in Mezoamerican costumes battling frogs wearing Conquistador armour and missionary robes. (I have my doubts about this sequence, it sure looks like the poor frogs are really being blown up by explosives?) A mulitple amputee writes cryptic messages in the dirt with a severed animal leg. Parading prostitutes turn out to be just as holy as priests. Roman soldiers cast the thief in plaster and create a line of life-sized crucifiction merchandise. Art factory paint coated nude backsides stamp out images on a production line while live body painted nudes are built into installations so they can be fondled by gallery patrons. Gas masked soldiers attend dances and machine guns and hand grenades are painted in rainbow colours. Spartan like warriors pursue a cunning plan to emasculate 1000 heroes to create a shrine of 1000 testicles….and nevermind what they did with the other 1000! Eviscerated victims spill chicken guts….and I mean they literally pull chickens from their wounds’ while Liederhosen wearing Teutonics trip on drugs and strongmen are able to turn intangible and teleport through entire mountains.

Distantly reminiscent of Fellini’s Satyricon, and to some extent Roma, The Holy Mountain also boasts the most startling Orgasmatron machine since the erotic cult film Barbarella, in the form of a Giant mechanical vagina that’s manipulated like a theramin…. well, if a theramin was played by a giant dildo!

Is it any surprise, really, in the wake of the cult success of El Topo, that The Holy Mountain’s producer Allen Klein also managed The Beatles and that those fans of all things psychedelic, John Lennon and Yoko Ono helped fund the movie?

Landmark or landfill experimental film? The Holy Mountain remains an obvious precursor to movies like Eraserhead, The Cremaster Cycle, and The Qatsi Trilogy.

Climb it at your own peril. (You know you want to!)

Director/Screenwriter Alejandro Jodorowsky
1973/114mins

-lLS-
France

Clementine (Olivia Bonamy) and Lucas (Michael Cohen) live happily in pastoral rural isolation in a rundown chalet in the Romanian woods, until one night they are attacked by….THEM! No, not by lurching giant ants from a 1950s horror film but by…well, that would be telling. Some horror films take their time building suspense but Moreau and Palud’s shiversome first feature nails you straight to the wall and keeps you hanging there for the economical just-over-an-hour’s running time. And I do mean ‘running’.

The adept direction and unrelating pace set within the atmospheric confines of the old chalet (a dream of a location to create nightmares in) is ramped up by genuinely unnerving sound effects design, an evocatively tense soundtrack, solid if necessarilly Spartan performances by the two leads, and the teasing revelation of the nature of the besiegers.

There’s nothing particularly new about the ingredients stirred into this terrifying mix. In fact, you could, after the credits have rolled and the lights come up again, sit back and tick off the horror cliches one by one, starting with the usually tiresome pronouncement, “Based On A True Story”. Commentators seem uncertain about the veracity of that, but in this case it adds to the overall feel of unease that permeates the ending of this film. I found myself thinking, “Y’know, I can see how that could actually happen….brrrr!”

Ils…it took me a while to realise that the title is merely the French word for “Them”… is one of the most disturbing horror films I’ve seen in some time, and all without buckets of blood or lashings of sickly inventive torture porn. With its efficient minimalist approach it’s very close in tone to the best of the New Wave of Japanese horror that burst upon the West several years ago now.

Directors/ Screenwriters- David Moreau and Xavier Palud
2006/70 mins

-ISLAND OF LOST SOULS-
DENMARK

A big budget supernatural fantasy for young adults that’s part Spielberg, part Lucas, with an added dash of Harry Potter, but which ultimately wears its ample CGI well to create an enjoyable and in a few places reasonably scary film.

When two children move to a quiet country town the last thing they expect to find is a haunted island plagued by a supernatural confluence of kidnapped souls. When a young girl taps into the mystic mayhem it results in her brother being possessed by the spirit of a centuries dead member of an ancient order of sorcerous crimefighters.

The film’s young actors are capable and ‘self possessed’ in the face of some quite formidable magical opposition, including a new and nasty take on that familiar player from Central Horror Casting, the living Scarecrow, along with a necromancer who could be brother to both Nosferatu and the Star Wars Emperor, right down to the cadaverous features and handy ability to cast Sith lightning from his fingies! I especialy liked the offbeat character of the trainspotting psychic investigator who inevitably comes to the kid’s aid in their hour of dire peril.

A fun little romp that’s no longer than it should be at an economical 100 minutes.

Director- Nikolaj Arcel
Screenwriter- Ramsus Heisterberg
2007/100mins

Sessions
Sun, 12th of August, 1:00 PM
ACMI

-KHADAK-
Belgium/Germany/The Netherlands

Bagi, played by Batzul Khayankhyarvaa, is a young nomad, who, along with his family are wrenched from their nomadic existence by the Mongolian government who want to consolidate people in towns, villages and cities as the fledgling democracy gears up to enter the 21st century’s global economy. After rescuing Zolzaya (Tsetsegee Byamba), a beautiful female coal thief, Bagi boldly goes where nomad has gone before on a shamanistic quest that culminates in fantastical revelations about Mongolia’s future relation with the environment.

Khadak is underpinned by a hypnotically compelling narrative fascination with magic realism that often contrasts the shabby reality of the concrete high rises with the colourfully organic traditional nomadic traditional yurt dwellings.

The film overflows with powerful imagery, including a simple but effective camera roll that causes an iconistic prayer-scarf draped tree to turn upside down as the land itself is inverted by mineral exploitation and pollution. A deserted town, in reality an abandoned former Soviet barracks, stands in for one potential future. Tractors, used to haul the disassembled yurts, are started and allowed to run aimlessly free across the steppes as the government agents burn the nomads’ links to their former lifestyle behind them.

Khadak doesn’t always offer too nostalgic a view of the nomadic struggle; many of the former rural folk cheerfully adapt to their new circumstances and some seem to pragmatically thrive, especially Bagi’s mother, who ends up running heavy machinery at the coal mine where immense draglines swing with saurian grace across the screen.

The film’s reverberating score resonates across the wind blown, echoing steppes, giving way to some moments of pure musical bliss, especially when some of the newly urbanised young people get together for astonishing ‘jam’ sessions.

Both lyrical and hard edged Khadak is a film, like Martin Scorsese’s Kundan, whose exotic sights and sounds will be welcome guests in my yurt for as long as they choose to stay.

Directors/Screenwriters- Peter Brosens, Jessica Hope Woodworth
2006/105mins

-LAST WINTER, THE-
USA/Iceland

It’s damn cold in Northern Alaska but not cold enough, as tough but soft centered Ron Perlman’s advance oil drilling preparation crew discover when they set out to re-open an isolated test drilling site that may be viable in the face of looming energy shortages. The arctic circle tundra is thawing rapidly, unleashing the kind of environmental horror movie that used to be in vogue back in the 1970s and which is all too timely now as global warming makes its presence felt in the real world.

Perlman, as usual, is excellent, giving the kind of inflected performance that graced Hellboy, Cronos, City Of Lost Children and his impressive work in the television fantasy series Beauty & The Beast. The ensemble players are also deftly sketched in, often in a low key fashion that adds realism.

Director Larry Fessenden successfully follows up and even references in one brief bit of dialogue, Wendigo, one of his earlier, not entirely disimilar horror outings. As with some other genre films in this year’s festival the horror elements are timeless; from the simmering sexual and tensions and hostility between the boffins and the bluecollars to the classic scenario of the besieged ice station. The latter is a character in itself, in the ‘Thingy’ tradition of both Howard Hawks and John Carpenter’s seperate adaptations of John W. Campbell’s seminal very Cold War science fiction novella, Who Goes There? Best possible use is made of this stunning location, as the screen often becomes an overwhelmingly vast white or dark canvas to trap and diminish the hapless blue collar workers.

Crystal clear sound design helps ‘sell’ the visuals and the impressive CGI special effects are first rate, without ever detracting from the practical drama of the sheer dangers of living and working in such an extreme environment.

The Last Winter is a cunningly ambiguous chiller that cleverly maintains a plausible alternative explanation for the film’s lethal events up to and possibly including the final admirably restrained frame which begs teasingly to be opened out into a wider shot but leaves the audience wanting more, leaving room for a possible but unecessary sequel.

Oil be back!

Director- Larry Fessenden
Screenwriters- Larry Fessenden, Robert Leaver
2006/107mins

-MEN AT WORK-
IRAN

A carload of Iranian buddies on their way down the mountains from a skiing holiday stop for a toilet break at a precipitous roadside layover and discover a monolithic rock
that just HAS to be tumbled down the slopes.

If you’re a bloke, you automatically know how it is.

If you’re a woman, equally, you KNOW how we are!

An amusing exploration of male bonding and stubborness this happily crazy film is guaranteed to contain no sociopolitical allegory whatsoever (really!) and the Iranian writer/director has asked that the U.S please refrain from invading his leg of the Axis of Evil until he has finished his next project.

Director/Screenwriter- Mani Haghighi
2006/75mins

-SEVERANCE-
UK

When completely politically incorrect arms merchant Palisade Defence rewards its crack Euro Sales division with a team-building weeked in the woods of Eastern Europe the mismatched but archtypal bickering office workers soon find that they’re not quite the ‘gun’ group that they thought they were.

Yes, the comparison of choice is The Office meets Deliverance and that’s fair enough because what makes this movie so gormlessly funny is the inept Brits Abroad schtick combined with an equally knowing, wickedly timed take on the horror slasher genre that puts most inept Hollywood fun with fear spoofs to more shame than ever. The only time this film ever really fumbles is when it takes the horror too seriously, which is not all that frequently, though more noticably and perhaps inevitably, in the apocalyptic last reel.

Oddly, Severence’s particularly grungy baddies who get to fold, spindle and mutilate our heroic twonks remind me very much of the “Stalkers” from the recent popular video game, which itself references the Tarkovsky film and the less well known science fiction novel that classic is itself based on, Boris and Arkady Strugatsky’s Roadside Picnic.

The heavyweight British ensemble cast is a real corker here, and one of the most enjoyable in the festival films I’ve seen this year, including at least one former Bond villain (Toby Stephens who was Gustav Graves in Die Another Day) and the always wetly amusing Tim McInnerny who plays to his well known Blackadder type (He was both Lord Percy and Captain Darling) as the incompetent boss of the Palisade’s party.

I won’t be the last reviewer to note that Eastern Europe has become destination of choice for horror filmmakers of late. Attracted by threatening woodlands, abandoned buildings and low cost production facilities the exotic locales also perhaps wallow in a degree of smug and possibly premature Western superiority in the wake of the economic collapse of former Eastern Bloc foes. For the moment, these once hard to access countries are providing filmmakers with a place to set their stories ‘beyond the glow of the streetlights’. Again, as with other festival genre films, Severence does benefit from a marvelously decrepit Old Dark house of a location.

Severence is laced with joyfully understated sight gags, dialogue to listen for, and a good deal of well meaning irony regarding corporate responsibility. The icing on the cake is a musical score that fiddles with both ominous gypsy curses, pop tunes and even riffs off We’ll Meet Again as featured in Stanley Kubrick’s Dr Strangelove, to which black comedy there’s more than one reference.

Severance gives awful new meaning to the term, “You’e fired!”

Director- Christopher Smith
Screenwriters- James Moran, Christopher Smith
2006/90mins

-STILL LIFE-
HONG KONG/CHINA

An intimate but involving look at the disapora of displaced persons produced by China’s Three Gorges Dam mega-engineering project as seen through the eyes of two people.

In the first part of the film coal miner Han Sanming (played by Sanming Han) returns after 16 years absence to his former home town of Fengjie, only to find its 2000 years of history submerged beneath the waters of the dam. Taking a temporary job in demolition, he searches for news of his ex wife, whom he hasn’t seen for 16 years.

Still Life never wanders far from the dominating horizontal visuals of the mighty Yangtze River and the monolithic concrete and steel dam. The apocalyptic rubble of the yet-to-be flooded part of the town forms another powerful metaphor, a full stop to the flow of linear time represented by the River, which itself has been given pause by the immense project.

It’s a hard life for Han, though undoubtedly far less dangerous than the notoriously hazardous Chinese coal mining industry, and it provides some extraordinary imagery.
Men in supposedly protective suits with sanitising back pack sprayers wander through gutted homes. Friends are made amongst workmates to the jaunty ringtones of their mobile phones as they exchange numbers…a socialising ritual that later prompts one of the film’s most poignant moments when a mobile ‘s unanswered ringing signals a tragic accident. Condemned buildings collapse with tired grace in the distant background as they receive explosive coup de grâces.

The second half of the film segues into another quest for closure, as Nurse Shen Hong (Tao Zhao) journeys to the town looking for her own estranged husband.
Again, the dam is another defining presence in the story, providing a backdrop for the final resolution of Shen Hong’s search.

One baffling scene (and I’d welcome any light that anyone can shed on this!) sees Shen staring at a large monument in the distance. It appears to be a Chinese alphabetical character, rendered in concrete. As she turns away, rocket motors ignite at its base and the whole giant structure lifts off into the skies. I assume this is some kind of reference to the recent successes of the Chinese manned space programme but am not sure as to why it’s relevant to the story? Unless it’s just a bit of triumphalism? Or indeed, because Shen does ignore the startling sight, perhaps it’s meant to be ironic? Enquiring minds need to know!

Actually, the overall philosophical conclusion drawn at the end of Still Life does read a little bit like some kind of inspirational tract to me….but that may just reflect my own bias, or again it could be ironic, and I won’t spoil the ending by going further into detail. (Well, cross cultural puzzles have always attracted me to World Cinema!)

Still Life is a beautifully visualised, thoughtful film with a measured pace that aptly reflects the larger elements that form the canvas that its smaller, but no less important, human dramas are played out against.

Director/Screenwriter- Jia Zhang-ke
2006/108mins

-THE WAR TAPES-
USA

Rather than be ’embedded’ in a U.S military unit in Iraq filmmaker Deborah Scranton chose to give cameras to three National Guardsmen to record their own experiences deployed with Charlie Company, 3rd of the 172nd New Hampshire Mountain Infantry. Scranton provided additional remote directorial aid via text messaging and email to the three soldiers, Sgts. Stephen Pink and Zack Bazzi, and Specialist Michael Moriarty, whose stories were chosen from an overall pool of 1000 hours of footage.

The soldiers’ personal and professional accounts are sobering and revelatory and never less than enlightening.

Though it does this remarkably cohesive documentary something of a disservice to cherry pick material out of its sturdily engineered overall context it’s necessary to give some idea of the range of material included in the film.

We see several ambush eye views of the destructive force of roadside Improvised Explosive Devices which, though initiated and responded to with varying degrees of control by both combatant forces, usually result in chaos and confusion, death and destruction, for bystanders. One soldier matter-of-factly tours a vast graveyard of combat lossed vehicles, shattered and gutted by I.E.Ds, casting in an increasingly ironic light President Bush’s triumphantly naive 2003 announcement that “Major combat operations in Iraq have ended…”

The complexity of night operations are mirrored in the silvered eyed stare of soldiers seen through the eerie but tactically invaluable lenses of night vision equipment , rendering one formation of troops strikingly like a formation of stolid Terracotta Warriors. The detached professionalism of the soldiers understandably falters when a night time convoy kills a woman who was then struck repeatedly by each truck in turn.

The irony of soldiers and hired civilians (drivers and security guards) risking and losing their lives to protect re-supply cargos of, for example, cheese for hamburgers, is not lost on the troopers who wonder loudly if the complex and highly profitable logistical tail is wagging the policy dog? In fact, they’re refreshingly unguarded in their speculations about what they see, from their perspective as boots on the ground, as the reasons behind the ongoing war. Their observations are pithy, and to the point…or, rather, multiple points, as the individual opinions cover the entire spectrum of current controversy, from oil driven conspiracy to patriotic war on terror.

Soldiers will always enthusiastically relish the opportunity to grouse about their lot, reserving special venom for the shortcomings of their equipment, training, rations and orders. One complaint amongst many was that these soldiers received little or no cultural instruction to help prepare them for operating in the Iraq theatre, which ommission makes it hard to both know the enemy or understand your friends. Even a simple misunderstanding over a commonly used hand gesture for ‘Stop’ can, in the local environment, be fatally mistaken for ‘Hello!”

The fact that the Iraq conflict is, in reality, fought amongst peoples homes rather than some spiffily titled combat theatre, warzone or neutrally termed area of operations is thoughtfully underlined by frequent segues to the soldiers’ American homes, either when the troops have returned or during their absence. Surface impressions notwithstanding there doesn’t seem to be a great deal of difference between U.S and Iraqi civilians; folks, it seems, are alike all over. Stateside sequences touch upon the complicated effects that the deployment had on civilian family members, the problems of post traumatic stress disorder suffered by the veterans, and the more obvious physical injuries. For example, one of the soldiers has carpal tunnel syndrome in his hands, the result of vibration transmitted through the grips of his vehicle mounted machine gun on patrol. He also has to cope with back pain from wearing body armour in a confined space.

Crammed with ‘real time’ feedback from ongoing conflict The War Tapes makes a provocative companion piece with the 2005 documentary Gunner Palace. For balance I would also add to the recommended viewing list: Control Room (2004), Baghdad ER (2006), and My Country, My Country (2006)

Director- Deborah Scranton
2006/97mins

-WELCOME TO NOLLYWOOD-
USA/NIGERIA

Never heard of the Nigerian film industry? This inspiringly cheeky doco will rectify that and should be seen by all budding filmmakers seeking new ways to practice their art.

Something like 2400 movies per year are produced in Nigeria, making it the third most prolific film industry in the world. Film? Well, that’s a nostalgically generic term to describe the Nigerians’ enthusiastic bypassing of conventional film stock and its complex and expensive infrastructure in favour of digital video distributed directly and cheaply at local marketplaces on DVD or VCD.

The 300 or so Nigerian directors have an already rich tradition of oral storytelling to draw upon, and have embraced multiple genres usually lensing them through an action adventure filter, which has fostered a support industry of movie fight Action Camps where actors can learn the stunt fight business. Although one director claims “We don’t do science fiction” Nollywood nevertheless loves fantasy, especially religious based melodramas with plenty of demons and angels, sorcererors and witches.

Period films set in Nigeria often have a luridly portrayed but understandably anti-slavery element, which alongside with the witchcraft angle concerns some commentators who argue that focusing on these aspects promotes stereotypes.

A visit to the set of a film grounded in the recent Liberian war shows the Nigerian director, who at least partly funded the movie himself, putting his actors through boot camps to learn how to fill out their soldierly roles, including veteran advisors from both sides of the original conflict. The actors go through production hell but ironically are brought low by a botched contract with the caterers…

Nollywood; not entirely different from Hollywood!

Director- Jamie Meltzer
2007/58mins

-U-
FRANCE

A lyrical French animated feature with fluidly drawn artwork and an equally languid, but elegant plot as a Princess Mona is faced with choosing between new love and a beloved friend, who happens to be a unicorn. The charming, anthropomorphic animal cast could have been drawn by Dr Seuss, and the story is a souffle of flirtatious love with a playful musical topping.

Directors- Grégoire Solotareff, Serge Elissalde
Screenwriter- Grégoire Solotareff
2006/71mins

Posted by zero g on 2007-08-05 05:57:42

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creep

creep

i’m a creep
i’m a weirdo
what the hell am i doing here
i don’t belong here

inspired by Natalia Vodianova by Paolo Roversi

Experimenting with studio lights with alot of help from Aaron. Today is our 15month anniversary! I cooked us both dinner thanks to Aaron’s mum’s recipes. I made barbecue chicken in a crock pot and peach/pear/blueberry sorbet for dessert.
Yesterday I was reading an article about a lady who took a picture of everything she ate everyday as a sort of realization thing, so for fun me and aaron have decided to do so, too. We’ll be posting it to our blog.

twitter 🙂

Posted by rosiehardy on 2009-07-30 05:25:26

Tagged:

Damu Silent Killer

Damu Silent Killer

The tales of Leo Wayfarer and Damu the Kenku Assassin,as told by Leo to his Nephew Leto Collins (# 7 of 33)- Into the Jurka.
That bird and I saw a lot of weird shit in our days, some of it still keeps me up at night, most of all our very last job together, but some things we ran into weren’t weird in a scary way, just in way that defies any sense. I dunno…but the world and it’s truth is far more complicated then what we’re taught,and you have to separate the things that really are true from the bullshit the Church and the Military feeds the public to hold our culture together. Don’t get me wrong, I still love Regentum, even after all these years. I believe in a God, but not the church or the Emperor. What’s important to me about Regentum is that it’s perhaps the only place in the world where a common, regular person can receive the benefits of their own hard work. Everywhere I’ve ever been I’ve only seen masters and servants. The Dwarves are good to one another, perhaps even better then we in Regentum are. But in Rolheim the Dwarves have a very set and rigid way of life. You’re stuck in the position you’re born into, but no Dwarf suffers or is destitute. Here in Regentum if you’re born poor you can do something about it. Other Human nations that aren’t our Colonies, forget it. That’s why so many foreigners become Pirates. It’s better to be a Pirate then the serf of some Sultan in Lu’ Hadej, toil the years by on a Brenendale fishing ship, live under constant war in the mess of Alson, or slave away under some Monk in Nijiro.
After I got out of the Army like a lot of guys I was pretty jaded with all the shit talking about conquering the world for light and law and all that sort of talk. Our leaders fight for money and power and cull troops from the ranks of our working poor after getting them hyped up on religion. I mean look, they take these kids, they start at age fifteen, and all these boys are either from farming villages, or some industrial slum. You take a kid like that who hasn’t got much of a future and you tell him that he’ll be trained to fight for holy order, and that he will be special, that he will individually play a vital role in shaping the future of the empire and he buys it. Like me and yours Pops. We knew it was either the army, the docks, the factories or jail. It’s ugly that it takes a large degree of smoke and mirrors to hold Regentum together, but its better then everywhere else out there.
Anyhow after Damu and I took out that Goblin leader Ertu we were in good standing with the Military as skilled mercenaries who were good at eliminating specific targets that were loose ends they needed cleaned up. It took those motherfuckers less then a month before I got a knock at the door from a Army courier with a new bounty contract in one hand, and a sack of gold in the other. I hadn’t even yet spent all my money from before.
I was told that the Military needed a new way to send food supplies to all the troops the world over because the cost of doing so was getting too high due to the sheer number of troops we now how have the world over. Traditionally the food either came from local sources, or was shipped in by merchants with government contracts. The Military hired Wizard-Engineers to design a new system of providing troops with enough food in a cheaper way. So they applied the idea of the factory to the slaughter house. Along the road way between Salsburg and Fieldsview a big warehouse was built in which cattle was slaughtered in mass by huge killing machines and the meat cured, salted and prepped for shipping.
Some Druid freaked out about this place and attacked it. Around this time the Army was routing out a large strike force of the Derago Tribe of Hobgoblins. The Deragos’ got their asses handed to them and broke up into a bunch of small rag-tag units. The Druid trashed the place pretty good, and the report in my contract didn’t mention as to what happened to the Druid or who he was. Troops, Engineers, Craftsman and supply laden Merchants were quickly sent in to get the Meat Factory up and running. All of these sitting ducks alone along the highway caught the eye of a squad of Derago Hobgoblins who in turn decided to take their own stab at the meat factory. We were asked to find the leader of the Squad, a Hobgoblin named Jahghu Khazul and kill him. The Army in the area was still busy chasing down the bulk of the Derago forces, and had them pinned way up north almost to Rolhiem.
This time around we bought our own wagon and horse rather then catching a ride with a caravan. A nice light brown horse I never got the chance to name or get attached to. After the mission I ended up loosing our horse in a dice game on the way back to Scardale to this skinny toothless drunk in a bar in Salsburg. Damu was pissed off about it, and he laughed at me the whole way home.
Most of the trip there was easy, if even a little boring. We had to go this round about way to get there as there was no highway that went directly there and I didn’t want to chance getting shook down with Damu in tow. But even playing by the book we got caught up in some shit. Between Nolos and Salsburg we got stopped by a Polly squad. One of them saw us in Nolos when we stopped for supplies and bitched to the others about a Kenku moving around the interior. Even though the eastern end of Regentum is thought of as being more religiously tolerant then out west, its just that out west they think of themselves as superior given that they eastern region was conquered and absorbed into the Empire. Really everyone in the Empire outside of the big coastal cities clings very firmly to our Religion and its accompanying prejudices. I caught a lot of shit over the years for having a Kenku for a friend.
5 of these pricks rode up on us, battle standards held all high, pole arms drawn, you know the whole fucking works. Big fucking fags in their shinny armor demanding to know what me and the Bird were up to. I held out the contract with the army guys in Scardale and was like, "Were here to do your dirty work". Some big prissy bitch, Sir Halton kept scrutinizing me, being like, "How can I keep the company of a Heathen animal?", and how legal or otherwise "To bring such a foul creature into the interior was an affront to the holy sanctity of our beloved empire". Typical Paladin fag shit. Fuck them. The mercenary rabble were here to wipe their ass because they were too important to do it themselves. Damu maybe a local legend here in Scardale, but out in the country or in the eyes of the Church he was scum.
When we got to the Meat factory there was a bunch of workers busting their asses to fix it, a few merchants and rich Gnomes, some solders, and some hired swords keeping an eye on the place. The ruined factory buildings had maze of scaffolding towering up their crumbling walls, and about the area around them was a decent sized encampment. Various tents dotted the place, though one could clearly tell the difference between tents belonging to the workers, the merchants, the troops and the mercenaries. Worker tents were drab though orderly. The tents of the business men were lined with velvet and furs. The Army tents had various standards embroidered to them, and the mercenary tents were both drab and disorderly. Also they were off to the side of everyone else. I saw a big, ugly mother fucker around the Merc tents, both too big and too ugly to be completely human, but not a Half-Orc. I saw he wore the spiked gauntlets common to Gladiators and figured he must of been a half-breed slave who fought his away from to freedom from the fighting pits. Still fighting on behalf of the gold of the rich, but at least the deal was more in his favor. I hope anyway. One of the other mercs there was this guy Ramalti, a big guy with a shaved head and thick curled mustache. I knew him from the army. Once we fought Pirates together off the coast of Fazas. After checking in with the Captain of the place, we set up camp with Ramalti.
Ramalti had a huge pile of furs arranged under a high posted canopy and laid around a fire with a few extra skinned rabbits cooking. We caught up on things for a hour or so, though I could tell he didn’t like that I had Damu with me, though he didn’t say anything.Ramalti told me his last gig was doing a hit for people who were part of Snake-Worshiping cult and that he was glad to be away from them. Said that they used pit fighting for a front and had a lot of weird orgies. Didn’t seem too bad to me but he warned me to stay away if they ever approached us.
Damu was fidgety, which was unnerving given how calm how usually was, something was up. The small talk between Ramalti and I was broken when Damu asked flatly, "Tell us about the Hobgoblins around here, we are here kill to Jahghu Kazul". It was an awkward moment. Ramalti gave Damu a stern look and me a half stern half worried look and was like, "Yea Kazul, yea he’s around these ways, or should be. Last we knew anyway. Look let me tell you guys a few things about this job. The moneyed people here have their head up their ass and all they want to know is when this place will up and running again. Don’t listen to them. The military guys are here to watch them. They’re only gonna tell you half of what you need to know. Something weird is going on out in the fields. Animals have been acting strange. On patrols at night I’ve seen bolts of color and light off in the distance, and one night while following what was the tracks of two small feet, they abruptly shifted into the paw prints of a 4 legged creature."
I looked over at Ramalti and he handed me a wine skin, "Also have you two heard of an area called the Jurka?", he asked. "No", Damu replied. Damu didn’t know much beyond city life, or even beyond life in Scardale. He was always a tad out of his element on missions like this. Though to be honest I never heard of it either. It is a creepy place we found. "The Jurka", Ramalti said, "is an ugly, sunken scar of land sunken and wide, but also consisting of many hills, little rivers, creeks and the occasional murky swamp lake. It is a lonely and windy stretch of land of irregular width, but hundreds of miles in length. Jurka is Goblin for ‘the crack’. Most Goblins and Hobgoblins avoid the place, though I’ve been told that some powerful Hobgoblin Warlords are buried there.The Gobos say the place is cursed as its not naturally occurring. Something deep below the ground they claim cracked the land open centuries ago. It’s not on any known maps, nor mentioned in any journals. For a distinct land mass so big that’s very strange. Someone must not want it to be known."
Damu laughed, "I don’t care about any cracks or secrets any Hairies keep from each other. We’re here for Jahghu Kazul, that’s all that matters."
Right before dawn we were woken up to screams and commotions. The first thing I saw upon waking were 4 foxes a few feet away from me. I laughed at first, but when I stood up I realized the place was over run with foxes. Foxes and geese. They were every where, howling and running amok. It would have been funny if it weren’t so out of place and deliberate seeming. No one knew what to do and it I think because of that it was really freaking a lot of them out.
Quickly then I saw a fox stare it me. It had a bloody muzzle and in its mouth was a blood-stained pointed Gnome hat. I pointed over to Damu and he quickly drew an arrow and shot the fox. As I ran towards the fox its shape contorted and elongated. By the time my sword was swinging directly at it the fox it had become a tall skinny guy with long matted hair down past his ass, a long matted beard, and just a loin cloth on. His eyes seemed distant yet driven by some equally remote purpose. The Wild Man rolled out of the way. I saw that his hands were glowing and all of a sudden vines grew quickly up from the ground, like water being poured from a bottle, that were wrapping up around my legs. He smiled without humor at this and pulled the arrow Damu Shot him with out of his shoulder. Blood squirted out and a chunk of meat flopped over from the wound.
What looked like a large, stocky Goblin but still not a Hobgoblin walked up to the Wild Man just as he was picking up the bloody Gnome hat. The Wild Man looked over at the strange Goblin and spoke, "This will do. The Dwarves and the Gnomes are just as bad as these Regentum people. The Gnomes maybe even more so. They hide behind their money and get Humans to do their dirty work." The Goblin-thing didn’t seemed to care too much, but they never had the chance to debate the matter. Ramalti and Damu charged the two. Ramalti carried a large spiked mace that he swung down towards the head of the Goblin. Catching the creatures cap, but not its head, the Goblin leaped up in the air far higher then a Goblin should be able to leap, and landed on top of Ramalti biting him in the neck. The vines wrapped tighter around my legs and I was worried that my legs would shatter under the strain. Damu threw his dagger straight into the gut of the Wild Man with one hand, and slashed across his face with his sword with the other. The Wild Man fell back, holding his guts into his stomach. The slash across his face caused his nose to dangle and his cheek to flop open. I think some teeth were missing or dangling by tiny threads of mouth meat in his beard. The ground around us burst into flame. Damu leaped out of the way, and Ramalti was still struggling with the creature wrapped around his neck and head. Me, I stuck my legs in the fire and burned away the vines. It was painful, but not as painful as my legs being crushed.
Quickly I tried to stand, but I stumbled as I got up. The Wild Man rushed with his hands transformed into large green glowing claws. A claw jabbed towards my head, but I ducked under it, and swooped my sword upwards and into and out of his chest. The fire abruptly stopped. The Goblin creature jumped off of Ramalti and by the time it hit the ground it transformed into some strange mix of Goblin and Wolf. Later on Damu said such creatures were called Barghests. Whatever it was it took off running. Soon all the Foxes and Geese went away.
The Captain and his men surrounded the Wild Man. I was confused at first because they bound his body in shackles, as why exactly they would bound up a corpse, but my confusion quickly turned to anger as the poured a healing potion down the mother fuckers throat. I screamed out at them, "What the fuck are you doing? He’s a Witch, leave him dead! I’m not killing him again unless I get paid extra." Which funny enough we did get paid twice for killing that guy. Turns out he was the crazed Druid who attacked the Meat-Factory in the first place. Gharuun the Druid, wanted across eastern Regentum for various acts of terrorism, spreading blasphemy, and other crimes against the Empire. Around the camp I heard that Gharuun was once the Son of a rich industrialist family out of Tardon. He was supposedly once Francis Applemoore, a scion of a blue-blood family who went insane around the time his family fell to controversy. If I recall right, I think actually the Applemoore’s owned a factory outside of Tardon that accidentally poisoned a near-by river with mercury, killing hundreds of peasant-folk, and making many more sick.Butt-Boy Sir Halton and his squad of Knights showed up to interrogate Gharuun and bring him to Elaine for execution, but not until after they kissed Gnome ass. The Gnomes and the Human Merchants were grieving over the loss of the Gnome Harov Goldstein and his money (which the Barghest apparently got away with).
It was found out after a day of torture that Gharuun was working with Jahghu Kazul and his forces out of the Jurka because of mutual animosity towards Regentum. The whole "the enemy of my enemy" bit. Gharuun was bothered by industrialization and by it being this far into the interior of the country-side. Admittedly on that part Gharuun was perhaps right, I myself hate to admit that I agreed with a Druid, but while I grew up in the city surrounded by factories and industry, I’ve always valued the clean greenery of the country side when I’ve traveled through it.I could see how he ended up a Druid after coming from a family who’s factory poisoned the land. I’d hate to our beautiful country side ruined just to make people like Harov Goldstein rich. Jahghu Kazul however could give two shits either way. Gharuun didn’t want loot and worked for free. Gharuun was a zealot, violence for his religion was its own reward. Kazul was a raider and aspiring Warlord. He only valued money and brute force.
That night Damu and I rode into the Jurka.
The very southern most portion of the Jurka came to a tapered tip and sloped down at an easy descent. It really did look like a sunken crack in the earth, as if here the world split open and then was over grown over the ensuing years. A creek ran along the bottom of the valley. We decided for the time being not to go directly into the Jurka but to follow along its western edge, at least until dawn. By dawn we saw that the creek had grown considerably in size further up stream, and off the near distance was a waterfall with what looked like an old, abandoned ruined mill next to it.
Damu scouted out the ruin and it was clear. We camped out there for a few hours. Not even bothering to unravel my bed roll, I just laid on top of a concrete slab and rested my head on my bag. In my nap I had a strange dream about a grand mother living in the mill with her grand children and a giant frog that moved into the water fall that ate her kids. I woke up and didn’t want to find out if that was true or not, so I shook Damu awake and we got going.
As dawn rose, the whole of the Jurka was blanketed in an early morning foggy-mist and lit in a pale glow. The place has a strange beauty, yet something is noticeably unsettling about it. Everything is a bit off, and nature with in it goes in unusual courses. During that morning ride along the Jurka Damu and I saw aquatic rabbits. I shit you not, we saw water-rabbits, long and skinny, with wide flat feet and light green fur. Maybe they couldn’t breathe the water, but we saw rabbits hopping from land and into water, swimming frantically down stream, and back out again.
By late afternoon we caught sight of fresh tracks that looked like the hoof-prints of the giant boars that the Hobgoblins ride heading from the west and northbound into the Jurka directly. We left our horse and wagon there and headed in. As we did we stopped to consider tactics. We both had fought Hobgoblins but they had numbers on us. Plus we we’re only after one of them. The Hobgoblin raiders of the northern plains I have a respect for. On their Boar-Mounts they are deadly. They have a unique style of Calvary tactics that is very different from how we, or the Elves, etc. would use typically fight on horse back. They fight almost like a pack of wild animals, and use hit and run tactics with ruthless efficiency. When I was in the army I fought with units charged with taking out Hobgoblins on a few occasions. While we always won, it was only because of superior numbers. For every raider we took they easily took 6 to 8 of our men. You have to use traps and guerrilla tactics on them, as a blow to blow fight always came with heavy losses.
So we decided that we would try to locate them, then set up what ever traps we could near by, and hopefully lure them in. I knew Damu carried all sorts of nastiness is in his bag. He always came equipped for a millions forms of murder. Though I learned a lot from him in those years. When I first met him I still fought like a soldier as I still thought like a soldier after years in the army. On our first two missions he taught me the difference between fighting and killing. He was a killer born and bred, I was a warrior who learned also to be a killer. I still had to do most of the blow to blow work when it was necessary. But he was right. We didn’t fight for honor, or duty we did this work just for money, so it doesn’t make sense to take a lot of risks when you’re a mercenary.
Right before night fall we came upon a hilly area with-in the Jurka that rang out with a low, droning, moaning sound that seemed to wrap around the area with the wind. It all seemed very somber and morbid. The hills about the place each had various oblong obelisks on top. I stopped to check one out. It had markings on it that neither of us could read and was made of a strange purple-black stone. The pillar had holes carved into it which when wind blew through it created the moaning sounds the carried through this mournful place. At the base of this pillar was a regular limestone slab carved out in Gobbely which read, "Kufaza Derago". This place was a series of Hobgoblin burial mounds! Where they got the strange obelisks, I don’t know, but they didn’t look like they were carved from the hands of any Goblinoid. Whatever their origin I was glad for them for the sounds they made would provide us some cover.
Damu quickly grabbed my side and motioned me to duck down. In the haze of the setting sun I saw the silhouette of a Goose. "That’s not a real Bird, that Druid escaped", he whispered to me as he drew his bow. Sure enough two hills over the goose landed by a mound and quickly shifted its form into that Gharuun. He looked in bad shape. Good, it’d be easier to kill him again. Damu snuck in closer, hugging the shadows between hills, but keeping Gharuun with in constant bow shot. I drank two potions, one to move far more swiftly then I could and another that made shadows wrap around me. He motioned to me to get in position to attack after he attacked first. I saw him dip his arrow head into a little jar of something nasty, plus his arrows heads were not only enchanted, but carved in a way that did even more damage when you pulled them out. Gharuun was kneeling before an Obelesk and had started to perform some sort of ritual when Damu fired a shot through his back and out his chest.
Leaping up the hill I was almost knocked over as the air rippled waves of force in all directions from out of Gharuun. I saw his glowing hands touch the wound and seal it. But with the arrow still stuck through him. Hopefully the healing spell he cast on himself didn’t take out the poison on the arrow as well. Mother Fucker. It started to rain like mad out of no where, and Damu got knocked over by huge gusts of wind. Gharuun laughed at me as I swung my sword at his head. He ducked, and swung up with a wooden staff that caught me on the chin. I spit blood in his face and swung again. And missed again. For a crazy naked guy he moved like a fucking tiger, I’ll give him that. Then I saw that next to the mound a hole was dug. I quickly figured that if this was a burial mound it was a freshly dug grave. Good. I deliberately made a shitty swing towards him again, and made an equally deliberate shitty attempt to dodge the counter blow from his staff. It hit me in the chest, and I acted like it
really knocked me on my ass as I fell towards the hole. Never, ever gloat over somebody in a fight. As I lay there in the pouring rain, Gharuun stood over me grinning with some violent yet distant look in his eyes. I have no idea where his mind really was, nor will I ever find out for in that moment I grabbed him and pulled us both down into the hole, impaling him with my sword as well hit the bottom. I stood up and saw Damu on top of the hole making a cut off his head gesture. Breathing heavy I nodded in agreement, As I tossed the head up to Damu the rain abruptly stopped.
Something picked Damu’s eyes in the distance. He paused and pulled out a periscope, "Hobgoblins, about 5 of them on Boars are coming this way, yet two are pulling a cart carrying something covered in blankets. The lead rider looks important. I bet it’s Jahghu Kazul. We have maybe 30 minutes before they see us." It wasn’t enough time to get too elaborate with traps. The mud from the magic storm was at least helpful. Out of his side bag, Damu pulled out 4 claw traps and buried them in the mud along the hill. I was hoping for enough time to dig pit traps, they work wonders on mounted attackers. Flint, oil flasks, and trip wires would have to do. Damu made a few fire bombs and handed me one. We hunkered down on the edge other side of the hill as we listened to them ride up. I stuck my flint to light my fire bomb as the sounds of boar-snorts grew louder. I heared the distinct metal snap of a claw trap over top the awful wailing of the obelisks and the roar of a boar bred to gigantic proportions. I through the fire bomb, and heard screams in Gobbley. It was on.
Damu ran around the edge of the hill top to the left and I to right. I saw him shoot a quick burst of arrows that caught a boar in the gut and it’s rider in the eye. A boar big enough for a Hobgoblin to ride is a boar big enough to bite someone as small as Damu clean in half. Those things are damn near the size of horses- not as tall, but way wider and sturdier.
Another Boar-mounted Hobgoblin charged at me swinging a morning star as his mount aimed its tusks at me. I quickly saw this was really a feint, as a bigger and badder looking Hobgoblin behind him was drawing his bow down on me. I let the first rider charge me, then I quickly dropped down on my back. It lept over me and I stabbed upwards into its belly, disemboweling the beast, but caught an arrow in my leg in return. Two Hobgoblins on foot were pulling the cart the last of the way on foot. The traps took out their mounts. The rider who’s mount I killed swung his morning star down at me, and caught me in the gut, though the spikes only poked me a little bit, my armor took most of the blow. The bigger and badder looking Hobgoblin, whom I quickly figured was Jahghu Kazul was still on his mount and was calmly drawing another bow shot. Fuck the nobody with the morning star, I ran straight for Jahghu.
He leaped off his mount and ran out at me with this really nice, sleek battle axe. He caught me in the left shoulder with it and across my abdomen. I kicked him the shin, and as he stumbled Damu caught him in the neck with an arrow. As he Jahghu hesitated from the arrow shot I swiped across the chest, and down again taking of his left leg right below the knee. Morning star guy swung over from behind me and caught me in the right shoulder. Damu threw his dagger right through morning star guy’s throat and I finished off Jahghu Kazul as he lay there bleeding. I took the axe and Jahghu Kazul’s helmet. The thing was silver with all these fancy ivory horns. He had large key around his kneck tied with thick leather cord. I took that figuring it had to do with the whatever was under the blankets in the carts. Maybe they were leaving an offering to a recently dead Chieftain I thought. Nothing really could have prepared me for what was under there.
The two Hobgoblins pulling the cart up the hill managed to get what was in the cart off of it just before Damu killed them with a rain of arrows. It sat before the hole. We looted the Hobgoblin bodies and dumped them all in the hole with Gharuun, minus the head of Jahghu Kazul. As we started to peel layers of blankets back from what was under the them, we could start to see a glowing green light come from underneath them. I paused, and Damu’s feathers stood on end. I started to feel something or someone around us, and I was immediately knocked back ten feet. I felt like I was just hit in the chest with a boulder. I think ribs broke. I could hardly breathe. As I stood up Damu screeched and pulled back the rest of the blankets.
I told you this mission was a weird one. Beneath the blankets was a big round glass jar mounded on a shinny black base, and capped with an ornate black metal lid complete with a key hole, filled with a glowing green, bubbling liquid that inside floated a large misshapen brain.Worst of all it spoke. "Where is Jahghu Kazul?", we heard a low voice speak from all directions. The Kenku practice black arts and Damu was privy to a lot of creepy shit because of what his clan did, but I could tell he was completely dumbfounded by this talking Brain in a Jar. Damu lifted up Jahghu’s head and pressed it to the glass of the jar, "He’s dead. We killed him." Balls of steel that bird had, even when confronted with something like this. "Where is the key that he wore around his neck?", demanded the Brain in the Jar. The thing had power, whatever the fuck it was. But it had no legs and so broken ribs or not I decided to play my hand heavy figuring that sense I had legs and the Jar did not I could run. I strode over to it with the key in hand, taunting it, "I have it but if you try that shit again I’ll break it!". It made a hissing sound and the liquid inside bubbled. "Very well, what do you want?", it responded.
Damu spoke up, "What are you, why do these Hobgoblins have you and why are you here with them to meet the Druid Gharuun?"
"Very well then, I will you tell my story and then in exchange you will help bring my story to an end. I am or at least I was Draaza Kazul, Hobgoblin Shaman of Derago Tribe. I was Jahghu’s Uncle. The Derago are in the employment of another race you Humans and you Kenku know nothing of. They are a foul and terrible race that dwell in deep caverns under the mountains west of Rolheim. There they plot the destruction and enslavement of all the world above and practice rites and foul sorcery so black and alien even I am aghast at the cosmic scope of their horror. Needless to say its better that you don’t know this race. Many of us regret the pact our ancestors made with them in order to gain an edge over our rival tribe the Kulshychi Hobgoblins who serve the Hidden Lords of the City of Bayport. Secret wars have been waged for generations now between the shadows of Regentum and Rolheim, wars on both your edges, indifferent to the whims of Human and Dwarf. This place we call the Jurka is a casualty of that war."
This certainly I wasn’t going to tell the army when we collected our bounty. On a few missions I’ve stumbled on to schemes and plots on a scale I tend to avoid. I’ll save that shit for the military and the good guys. If this wasn’t bad enough already, the Jar went on.
"Some where between these uncontested lands, close to Manas as well, there is reputed to be the stronghold of an Elven-Wizard recluse of significant prowless. I led the mission to find this Stronghold so the Derago could raid it secure the Wizards secrets for those we serve. I failed the first time and as punishment those whom the Derago serve did this did me. With in this jar they said my occult powers would be strong enough to find the Elf-Mages location, which in fact was true, but it was obvious they intended it also to be a punishment for my failure. They locked me in this state of chemical undeath. Nothing pleases a proud Hobgoblin more, other then perhaps the din of battle and the cries of fleeing enemies, then then feel of wind across his face as he rides across these vast, rolling ancestral plains on his beloved Boar mount. I did find the location of the stronghold and a great legion of Derago were called together from across the plains, and from under the earth out of the dark subterranean cities of our employers where we our are numbers are bred like cattle by our employers who have tricked us and are becoming our masters. I dread the day when these creatures have enslaved our race entirely for those bred by them will out number our proud and freeborn numbers with in a few generations. Foolishly we gave them our weak and disgraced thinking they would merely eat them, for they live on the brains of other races, but instead from these few they are raising a region of war-fodder. But as our collective force rode out to the tower we were spotted the forces of Regentum and Guidane. They broke our advance and scattered our numbers. While I have no love for Humans or your culture I am grateful that they foiled this raid. I dread to think of what power lurked in the fortress of that Elven-Wizard that those below, who already are the masters of countless volatile magics, would go to great lengths to capture it, and what they would do with it. I was to be brought here to be buried, what is left of me anyway, to be laid to rest, free of this nightmare undeath, in a proper repose fitting of noble born Hobgoblin reunited with his ancestors. The Druid, a traitor to his kind I’m told, I have mixed feelings about that, was to clean any taint of necromancy that may pollute my remains. It’s too late for that now, as I assume you killed him as well. My last request is that you take the key you took from my Nephew’s body, unseal my Jar-Prison and bury me with-in the mound."
I looked down at Damu, he shrugged in agreement. I didn’t want to fight again if I didn’t have to. I had only one healing potion on me and I needed it already. As I unsealed the Jar the sound the moaning obelisks grew to a great roar. A great burst of green-light erupted from the inside and I heard a great loud sigh of relief coming from its voice. In my minds I quickly saw a vision of tall thin beings in ornate robes with pasty pale sickly skin and faces of tentacles. I hoped I never saw such creatures again and it wasn’t until our very last mission together that we ever saw any. Years later we saw the very dark truth that the Brain in the Jar that was once Draaza Kazul told us that night on the burial mound deep in the Jurka. As I pulled the brain out and carried it to the hole I saw what looked like a wispy and translucent image of a Hobgoblin adorned with all manner of ritual fetishes and symbols emerge out of the Jar. The image nodded to me and as I tossed it in we heard the ghost of Draaza Kazul say ,"Thank you".
Tired and wounded we hoped that we could make it back to the abandoned mill. I drank my healing potions as we walked into the night back the way we came. Once we were away from the sounds of the obelesks we could could hear yelling and galloping hooves in the distance. We weren’t out of the mess yet. A few hours into things, perhaps a hour or two before dawn, Damu paused for a second then I heard a thudding sound as he dropped. An arrow was in his hip, and it was too dark out to tell where it was coming from.Worst off all we back on the edge of the Jurka, out on open plains with no cover. I saw two big lumbering bodies rushing towards me. I ran head long towards them and swung wildly. Two huge Bugbear berzerkers, shock troops for the Hobgoblin raiders. The Barghest had returned and it was on top of Damu! The Bugbears were all fur and muscle and armed with huge spiked clubs. Their eyes glowed a feint yellow in the dark, and they seemed consumed with a frenzied blood lust. Even still I thought I could take them, though with berzerkers of any sort you have to be careful because they’ll hut themselves just to hurt you more.
I hate that Humans are damn near the only race that can’t see in the dark. Thinking of that I kicked dirt in the face of one Bugbear right as the other swung down his club with both hands. It missed and I stepped on the club, leaped up and swung my sword deep into its neck and collar bone. It fell, and rolled over. The other grabbed in both its hands, making me drop my sword and it lifted me up in an effort to bite my head. I head butted it with my spiked helmet and dazed it for a second. I gutted it with a dagger and it swiped my face with its claws, leaving me with a cut from under my left eye and across my cheek to my jaw line. The other Bugbear got up and I grabbed my sword. It ran full force at me with a bone shiv and I held my ground, but ducked out the way as it went pass me and down into the Jurka. Sadly it was only ten feet to the bottom. The other Bugbear went towards the Barghest. Damu was pretty beat up. I saw him limping and holding his stomach in one hand and swinging his sword in the other. The Barghest was in wolf-thing form and its mouth drooled with a mess of feathers and blood.
Damu could do a bit of magic but he hated to do so. Not that he had a problem with magic, but he prided himself on his talents as an assassin so much that he only used such things as a last resort. Like there in that tight spot cornered between the Barghest and the approaching Bugbear. He chanted something to himself and leaped twenty feet away and over the head of the Bugbear, which he slashed wide open as he went by. As the Bugbear’s skull split open I charged the Barghest and ran it through. It shriveled and shifted back into its stocky Goblin shape at the end of my blade. Damu came back and looked over the edge into the Jurka and laughed, "Hey Leo look at that!". Down in the Jurka I saw an albino frog the size of a barrel eating the insides of other Bugbear. Shit the dream was real after all! Lord that place was creepy! We made it to our horse and Damu limped into the Wagon. He was in bad shape, but he’d make it, however shitty the ride would be.
When we got back the encampment in sorry shape the Paladins were gloating at the mess we were in but shut the fuck up when we presented the heads of both Jahghu Kazul and Gharuun. I demanded that we get paid twice for in fact killing Gharuun twice, something the Pollies didn’t manage to do once. Which we did, and I managed to negotiate a healing for Damu, though they really didn’t want to do that. We had Sir Halton sign and dip a wax seal in our work papers saying we had completed the task at hand so we didn’t have to travel all that way carrying severed heads. All in all it was a good mission with no complaints.
In regards of burying what remained of Draaza Kazul I think in this case I did the right thing. It felt right, and despite of the circumstances of why I was there in the first place, I did feel like the burial mounds were in their own way a holy and sacred spot. Don’t let the Clerics know I said that, but like I said, in spite of how many Hobgoblins I sent to their ancestors over the years, I do respect them. Maybe the plains of the uncontested regions are better off left in the hands of Goblinoids and crazed Druids. Better then in the hands of Gnomes and equally greedy Humans that will poison the untouched land with factories. Though like Draaza Kazul I dread the day when those below have grown their Hobgoblin slave armies to numbers vast enough to lay waste to our nation. The masters of the Derago have a name for themselves, but as I learned from the Dwarves of Rolheim they are called Mind-Flayers by others. I learned from the one time I went to Rolheim that much of our own history that we are taught is heavily watered down by the Church.
We are taught that the earth is base and profane and that’s why Bestial races who come from out of the earth rather then on top of it- Orcs, Ogres, Goblinoids, etc.- inherently have a greater predisposition towards evil. That’s not completely true I’ve learned. These races come from wild, untamed places and are more like animals. Certainly an Orc is dumb and vicious and that viciousness easily favors things we would call evil, but it’s nature is more like a hungry Wolf then it is Demonic. Also while they all dig burrows, tunnels, or live in ruins or caves, they live off of the land. They don’t live underground. However there are things that live underground, deep underground and these things certainly are evil. But they are evil in a way to that is a mirror to us and that is why the Church hides their existence. There are races down below that are intelligent, build cities and have cultures, though horrific nightmare cultures left buried below. While I was in Rolheim I learned that the 1298 war of Stockdon wasn’t really led by a Dragon and its forces. The Dragon served the Mind-Flayers. A small number of them in fact. Rolheim has a long history of waring with these Mind-Flayers.
Anyway, I know that a lot of the work Damu and I did was part of a bigger plan for Regentum to clear out dangers from the wild areas so that industry could be moved deeper into the interior. We were the first generation of a legion of hired swords set out to do dirty work with big business and industry moving quickly behind us. They hire young mercenaries now more then ever. I just hope that its all towards a good end. I don’t want Regentum to turn into an Empire of billowing smoke stacks and loud grinding factories. If it were up to the rich the whole country would look like the factory slums of Scardale. I see the guys coming in here boasting of their exploits wanting to blow their gold on my beer and the girls I keep around here. I earned and lost fortunes a few times over to taverns and prostitutes that I know now in my fifties that it’s better to be standing behind the bar then sitting in front of it. I hear the kids are getting a lot of work clearing out areas out west for the new railroad and that by the time I’m dead it’ll connect Elaine with Scardale. But the government really doesn’t know whats lurking out there. Some of them do, the Rangers do, but their the dirtiest bunch of crooks you’ll ever run into and they’ll never tell the Army, the Church and certainly not the Palladins. We have more to worry about then mere Pirates, Bandits and Goblinoid Raiders.
But if the monsters and other horrors out there don’t ruin us the Gnomes and big business will.

Posted by Viva Lux on 2010-02-17 04:11:55

Tagged: , damu the kenku assassin , dnd , d&d , regentum , oneiric imperium , street , art , stickers , philly , grand , rapids

Spaghetti

Spaghetti

Blogged: www.ecurry.com/blog/pasta-pizza/pasta-with-salsa-cruda/

Posted by Soma.R on 2014-09-03 15:10:19

Tagged: , colorful pasta sauce , early fall recipe , end of the summer pasta , end of the summer recipee , food blog , fresh sauce for pasta , fresh tomato and basil salsa , fresh tomato and herb sauce for pasta , heirlom tomatos , heirloom tomato sauce , light pasta recipe , no cook tomato sauce , pasta phtoto , quick and easy pasta sauce , raw tomato sauce , recipe blog cooking blog , salsa cruda , salsa recipe , simple pasta recipe , summer meal , unccoked pasta sauces , what is salsa cruda

Chocolate Espresso and Cream Cake Pops Recipe

Chocolate Espresso and Cream Cake Pops Recipe

INGREDIENTS:

2 tablespoons instant espresso coffee powder or granules
1 1/3 cups water
1 box Betty Crocker® SuperMoist® triple chocolate fudge cake mix
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 container (12 oz) Betty Crocker® whipped cream frosting
1 bag (14 oz) red candy melts or coating wafers
1 bag (14 oz) white candy melts or coating wafers
1 teaspoon shortening
40 paper lollipop sticks
Betty Crocker® Decorating Decors candy sprinkles
Betty Crocker® red sugar
1 large block white plastic foam

DIRECTIONS:

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 13×9-inch pan with shortening or cooking spray. In small bowl, mix coffee powder and water until dissolved. Make and bake cake mix as directed on box, using oil and eggs and substituting coffee mixture for water. Cool completely in pan on cooling rack.

2. Line cookie sheet with waxed paper. With fingers, crumble cake into large bowl. Add frosting; mix well with hands until dough forms. Roll tablespoonfuls of dough into firm balls; place on cookie sheet. Freeze about 15 minutes.

3. In microwavable bowl, microwave red candy melts as directed on bag. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon of the shortening until smooth and mixture slightly runs off spoon. Repeat with white candy melts and remaining 1/2 teaspoon shortening.

4. Remove cake balls from freezer. For each pop, dip tip of 1 lollipop stick halfway into melted candy and insert stick halfway into 1 cake ball. Place on lined cookie sheet until all sticks are attached. Dip balls in red or white melted candy until well coated; tap off any excess. Decorate with sprinkles, red sugar or opposite color of coating, as desired. Poke ends of sticks into foam block. Let stand until set. Store at room temperature.

Posted by Betty Crocker Recipes on 2012-02-01 21:51:05

Tagged: , Betty Crocker , General Mills , recipe , Chocolate Espresso and Cream Cake Pops Recipe , Valentine’s Day , cake pops , dessert , cake recipe , hearts , red , pink , espresso , chocolate , chocolate cake pops , coffee , Valentine , sweet , DIY , sprinkles , lollipop , fudge , cake mix , candy

Passiflora incarnata ~154/365

Passiflora incarnata     ~154/365

Uses and Medicinal Properties

Passionflower is edible and medicinal. edible, The delicious fruit and flowers can be eaten raw or cooked in jellies, jams, young leaves are used as a cooked vegetable or eaten in salads. There is scientific evidence of the medicinal constituents of this herb. Recent studies have pointed to the flavonoids in passion flower as the primary constituents responsible for its relaxing and antianxiety effects. Some of the plants constituents, Apigenin, Luteolin, Kaempferol, and Quercetin, are being studied and showing promise in fighting Parkinson’s Disease, Cancer, HIV, Leukemia, and more. The leaves and stems are medicinal used as antispasmodic, astringent, diaphoretic, hypnotic, narcotic, sedative, vasodilator and are also used in the treatment of women’s complaints. Passionflower is used as an alternative medicine in the treatment of insomnia, nervous tension, irritability, neuralgia, irritable bowel syndrome, premenstrual tension and vaginal discharges. An infusion of the plant depresses the motor nerves of the spinal cord, making it very valuable in the treatment of back pain. The infusion is also sedative, slightly reduces blood pressure and increases respiratory rate. The herb contains alkaloids and flavonoids that are an effective non-addictive sedative that does not cause drowsiness. It is of great service in epilepsy. The plant is not recommended for use during pregnancy. The dried herb is much exported from America to Europe for use as an alternative medicine.

Passionflower Folklore
The name Passionflower refers to the passion of Christ: the 3 stamens represent his wounds, and the 12 petals represent the apostles. Passionflower fruit is sweet and aromatic.

Herbal Tea Recipe
Medicinal tea: To 1 tbsp. dried herb add 1 cup boiling water steep for 10 min. drink at bedtime for restlessness. Quite flavorful and aromatic.

Posted by NaturallyEcoMemories on 2011-06-05 05:37:23

Tagged: , passion flower