Articles in the Reviews Category

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July 15th, 2014 | No Comment | Category: Headline, Reviews
The Short End of the Story

Before I became a certified, book-carrying reader, I dabbled in short stories. I had tried diving headlong, headstrong into novels, but I couldn’t keep up. I’d start one before bed, not read for a few nights, and end up lost when I returned. I wouldn’t be able to hold it all in my head. I’d lose the plot, the characters, and my momentum.
The solution I found at the time was reading short stories. I came across a mention of Harlan Ellison‘s Angry Candy (Houghton Mifflin, 1988) in Scott Davidson’s GUS …

Essays, Reviews »

May 29th, 2014 | No Comment | Category: Essays, Reviews
Slayer: Building Bridges With Fire

Opinions often vary widely on the most important bands and records of any era, but only a few dare dispute the reign of Slayer and their thrash watermark Reign in Blood (Def Jam, 1986). There has always been a weird rift between punk and metal, but thrash was the first sub-genre to draw heavily from both. The two major movements have since spawned such tributaries as grindcore, metalcore, murdercore, power violence, and various strains of post-metal. “What do you think would get a bigger reaction: a Minor Threat cover or …

Reviews »

May 28th, 2014 | No Comment | Category: Reviews
Shakedown, 1979: Gang of Four and the Germs

To create a spike of novelty high enough to land in the history books depends on a lot of things aligning: an open-armed zeitgeist, an interested public, a little bit of chaos, and a lot of charisma.* Sometimes they become folklore, affecting only those who were there, like Woodstock, Altamont, or the June 4, 1976 Sex Pistols show in Manchester: Supposedly everyone there left that show dead-set on starting a band. There’s even a book about it. Other times these events are recorded, as great performances, art works, books, or records. …

Essays, Reviews »

May 16th, 2014 | No Comment | Category: Essays, Reviews
Is Anyone There? On <i>her</i> and <i>Transcendence</i>

Cinema is our most viable and enduring form of design fiction. More than any other medium, it lets us peer into possible futures projected from the raw materials of the recent past, simulate scenes based on new visions via science and technology, gauge our reactions, and adjust our plans accordingly. These visions are equipment for living in a future heretofore unseen. As video artist Bill Viola (1995) puts it,
The implied goal of many of our efforts, including technological development, is the eradication of signal-to-noise ratio, which in the end is …

Reviews »

April 14th, 2014 | No Comment | Category: Reviews
Spatial Effects: Cars, Cities, and Social Movements

In his essay, “Garcetti’s Bridge to Bicycle Nowhere,” LA writer Joseph Mailander (2014) describes the harrowing bike ride across the half-mile Hyperion-Glendale Bridge between “the lands the freeways forgot,” Los Feliz and Silver Lake. The traffic signals there currently afford a brief, semi-safe interval between the roaring cars and trucks on the road. “And how are they making this bridge safer?” asks Mailander. “By making the traffic even faster and daring the cyclists to mix with the motorists even more.”
Just about everything I’ve read about urban development has faulted the car for …

Reviews »

April 12th, 2014 | No Comment | Category: Reviews
Grow Up? The Answer is Never

Growing old gracefully sounds and seems so dignified and appealing. I have no idea what that would look like for me. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve certainly gotten better at handling responsibility, being a student, meeting deadlines, dealing with adversity and change, and knowing what all of that means in a larger context. At the same time, I became a better skateboarder in my thirties than I ever was in my teens, I’m more into music than ever, I’m still riding little-boy bicycles, and I still don’t own a suit or a …

Reviews, Videos »

March 26th, 2014 | No Comment | Category: Reviews, Videos
<em>Veronica Mars</em>: Take the Long Way Home

No surprise: Veronica Mars: The Movie plays to the strengths of the franchise: Veronica’s chronically conflicted convictions, Keith’s ever-watchful eye, Logan’s inability to avoid controversy, the stability of Wallace, Mac, and Piz, and the loyal support of its fans. Full disclosure: I am one of the 91,585 Kickstarter backers of this movie, I watched it three times in as many days, I am a card-carrying Marshmallow, so spoilers and gushing abound below.
So, when the day comes to settle down,
Who’s to blame if you’re not around?
– Supertramp, “Take the Long Way Home”
Though the …

Essays, Reviews »

March 26th, 2014 | No Comment | Category: Essays, Reviews
Mixed Metonymies: Mechanization and Culture

Meanings are malleable. Words bend and break under the stress of unintended use, abuse, or overuse. Like machine parts pushed past their limits, cogs stripped bare of their teeth, the language we use wears out, weakening the culture that carries it and our knowledge thereof.

Aldous Huxley (1970) writes, “In the days before machinery men and women who wanted to amuse themselves were compelled, in their humble way, to be artists. Now they sit still and permit professionals to entertain them by the aid of machinery” (p. 11). We use metaphors …

Reviews »

March 22nd, 2014 | No Comment | Category: Reviews
What Means These ‘Zines?

I started all of this writing stuff making zines in junior high school. It would be difficult to overstate how much that experienced shaped who I have become. While the means of production and the channels of distribution have changed since my days at the copy shop, there are still some zines circulating. Here are a few of the standouts I’ve gotten recently.

The first issue of Andy Jenkins’ Bend zine I got was #7, which came in the mail over 25 years ago. That issue changed my own preset limits of what …

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March 07th, 2014 | 2 Comments | Category: Reviews
That Which Rolls: Bicycles and the Future

“If I am asked to explain why I learned the bicycle,” writes Frances E. Willard in her 1895 book How I Learned to Ride the Bicycle, “I should say I did it as an act of grace, if not of actual religion” (p. 73). I grew up riding bicycles, so I often take the fun and freedom they afford for granted. Having seen several adults squeal with childlike glee after riding a bike for the first time in years or the first time ever, I am reminded of my own …