Hello, world. I’m MacDara Conroy, and this is my blog.

Date: September 2015

Weeknotes #732-733

Week 732 saw me spinning a few plates more than usual, with press screenings in the first half (that I still have to write about) plus an impromptu trip to the old neighbourhood for new shoes (there’s a factory store, y’see), then the usual production tasks throughout, plus a whole bunch of InDesign proof corrections and extra freelance subediting towards the latter half. There went my weekend!

J Robbins walks us through Jawbox’s 1996 swan song

The Jawbox vocalist/guitarist goes deep on his best-known band's final record for the AV Club. But reading him say that he "can't sing"? What the hell are you talking about, man?! You have one of the richest sounding voices in rock! #link

Mike Judge thinks we're doomed

Y'know, I'd forgotten Silicon Valley was his thing. Which might be exactly what he wanted, so it isn't lumped with the baggage of his previous achievements. Also: must watch Silicon Valley. #link

Our RoboCop Remake

It's been more than a year but I finally got around to watching this yesterday and it's fantastic. [c/o io9] #link

What Is Film Noir?

A great infographic intro to a wonderful genre. But it's missing a classic recommendation in Sweet Smell of Success. #link

It's Adventure Time

Wonderful longform journalism by Maria Bustillos, here. You do watch Adventure Time, don't you? (Actually, we're a few seasons behind at this stage, and only one volume into the comic book.) #link

Here's a cool documentary short on Sarath 'Mikaze' Tan: long-time indie wrestler, Sasha Banks' other half, and seamster to WWE's superstars. [c/o the Voices of Wrestling forum] #video

My Goodreads review of Pro Wrestling Through The Power Slam Years: 1994-2014 by Findlay Martin

Reblogged from my Goodreads list:

Power Slam is truly missed – I never missed an issue from number 14 till the end last summer – and this compendium of editor/writer Findlay Martin’s insights on what was happening in wrestling’s major (and almost major) leagues over the last two decades beings back all those fond memories of poring over my monthly mag. I’m not sure if it’s appealing to anyone unfamiliar with Power Slam, as Martin also delves a fair amount into the nuts and bolts of production of the mag, but for me it’s like Christmas come early.

Dirty, Fast, and Free Audio Transcription with YouTube

Next time I have to transcribe an interview, after giving Google Voice a shot, I think I'll be trying this. Because it's far, far easier to edit text than transcribe it from scratch. (I can't get any better than an hour per 10 minutes of audio. I know.) #link

My Letterboxd review of Enemy

Reblogged from my Letterboxd list:

Theories abound about this Denis Villeneuve’s Enemy, made concurrently with Prisoners and ultimately the better of the two. It’s a very different beast, of course; Prisoners is a glum, violent mystery with a dodgy sense of morality, whereas Enemy is pretty much Cronenberg homage.

The plot, concerning a wet towel of a college lecturer (Jake Gyllenhaal) who discovers his doppelgänger is a jobbing actor – or is it the other way round? – is straight out of the Cronenberg wheelhouse. The setting is Toronto, ostensibly, but the presentation is as a Ballard-esque modernist nightmare; a brutalist, very Cronenbergian un-place.

And in general there are nods to the great Canadian’s work throughout: the strange fluidity of identity (Dead Ringers), the heart-stopping shock of a car wreck (Crash), the mind-bending visions of impossible creatures (Naked Lunch), even the casting (the magnetic Sarah Gadon is a Cronenberg regular at this stage).

That Villeneuve can bring these all together in a package that feels wholly its own, and not a mere pastiche of those influences, is a credit to him as a filmmaker. That he chooses to end the film on such an uncomfortable, head-spinning note, and that it feel like it works, makes that doubly so.

My Letterboxd review of Dark Summer

Reblogged from my Letterboxd list:

Dark Summer bears the hallmarks of a short blown up to feature length without developing the story to fit the extra minutes. So we spend far too long meandering through dialogue-free scenes that evaporate the atmosphere – as Keir Gilchrist’s (a suspicious lookalike for Alphas’ Ryan Cartwright) house-arrested cyberstalker finds himself being tormented by the subject of his obsession, possibly from beyond the grave – towards a twist climax that’s less effective than it would have been had it come after, say, half an hour. It also would have been better served employing the less-is-more dictum, as the overt supernatural elements in the middle section detract from its less showy, and more appropriate, ending.

Should Metal Be Held Accountable For Its Symbolism?

Lots of important questions raised here. I feel like the closer any music gets to political (or politicised) expression, the more accountable it must be for its symbolism. It's also too easy for people to provoke real feelings of hurt in others yet absolve themselves from any guilt or blame as they hide behind a false curtain of nihilism or intellectual superiority or whatever. (In other words, feck off with your 'sun wheels' bullshit.) #link

Medellín Ultra Metal

Invisible Oranges traces the birth of second-wave black metal to... Colombia? Not as weird at it sounds, when you think about it; it's a bit western/colonial to assume Brazil was the only South American country to export/influence extreme metal in the 1980s. #link

10 great Japanese films of the 21st century from the BFI

I've only seen the most obvious of these, so I've got some watching to do. On a related note, here's '10 Provocative Japanese Films That Are Worth Your Time'. (Of that list, I wouldn't have included The Wind Rises as it's in no way provocative in and of itself; as I wrote in my review last year, if any criticism of its morality "was couched in any political presumptions on Miyazaki's part, it was ignorant of his long-standing love of all things flight" -- although I agree that "the film's pussyfooting around Japan's belligerence in the World War years is also difficult to ignore".) #link

Weeknotes #730-731

Week 730 was a non-eventful one, subbing and layout bookending a day of press screenings and some review-writing midweek. It’s tiring stuff, though, all that thinking and brain work, so most evenings, after dinner and Great British Menus, I was dead to the world.

Little energy to muster to read the few new books I’ve loaded on my Kindle, for instance. I’m on a short story kick — or rather, I would be, if I were reading them and not just thinking about it — so I’ve got some Joe R Lansdale, some Lydia Davis, some Kelly Link, some China Mieville. Bit of a mix there, I think. I’ve even got Borges in my Tsundoku folder, for the classics quota.More…

Nothing Short of Total War – The Blast First story

Ian Maleney's feature on what was essentially Britain's answer to SST -- and not only because it licensed stuff from the SST and Touch & Go rosters. Interesting to note that the label got its start in Nottingham, which would birth Earache (and the grindcore movement) a few years later, and that label head Paul Smith now lives in rural Cork, about as far from the industrial abrasiveness of the label's key acts as one can get. #link

Lighten Up

"This is an example where privilege and social literacy intersect with art." Cartoonist and comic book artist Ronald Wimberly on white ignorance when it comes to race, and why it matters. (NB He doesn't explicitly say 'white', but privilege usually equals white, it's a fact.) #link

King Buzzo talks Montage of Heck

Melvins main man Buzz Osborne calls bullshit on the artsy Kurt Cobain documentary, including the tidbit that "there was absolutely nothing wrong with his stomach. He made it up for sympathy and so he could use it as an excuse to stay loaded." There goes the notion that he might've had undiagnosed IBS. #link

My Goodreads review of Yes!: My Improbable Journey to the Main Event of WrestleMania by Daniel Brian & Craig Tello

Reblogged from my Goodreads list:

Yes! is a curiously slight volume considering Daniel Bryan’s storied career in the pro wrestling business, but being a WWE-sanctioned book it was bound to be fed through their filter, and cast his many years on the indie circuit and in Japan as mere preparatory work before hitting the ‘big time’. Sure, he’s allowed some leeway in his interpretation of events, because otherwise would make the exercise entirely pointless, but he’s an avowedly private and guarded individual, which doesn’t leave much space for a revelatory memoir on a par with Mick Foley’s Have A Nice Day. That’s not helped by a structure that interweaves Bryan’s memories leading up to WrestleMania XXX with WWE.com editor Craig Tello’s laboured ‘PR pretending to be a literary sportswriter’ prose, waffling on the behind-the-scenes happenings at that very event. With a more encouraging editor, there’s a better book in Bryan, I’m sure.

My Letterboxd reviews of The Death of ‘Superman Lives’, Crystal Lake Memories, Kick-Ass 2 and Network

Getting my Letterboxd reviews caught up here, starting with this Kickstarted documentary on the ’90s Superman movie that never was:

You may have heard the story before – Kevin Smith’s infamous anecdote about Jon Peters and the spider – so much of this fairly amateurish documentary might feel like repetition, as it’s basically an extended riff on the same ‘so crazy it has to be true’ Hollywood tale. But where it lacks in professionalism, it makes up for it in its enthusiasm for the subject, and its inclusion of some revelatory behind-the-scenes footage that show the real promise of what might have been had Nic Cage indeed got to wear the Big S on the silver screen.