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


Date: February 2017

The Village Voice: White America has lost its mind

Steven Thrasher nailed it, six years ago. But is it insanity? Or just plain old bigotry? I vote the latter; it explains not only what’s happened in the horror clown’s America since last year, but also the omnishambles of contemporary British socio-politics. [c/o @maura] #link


Last day of #MWE and I didn’t do any this time round. Still, it’s not like February’s the only month I can listen to albums I’ve never heard #tweet


Andrew Ellard’s social stories

The writer and script editor collecting tweeted thoughts on various TV and film type things. Can’t say I agree with everything, and certainly not his take on the Ghostbusters reboot (it’s not a fraction as funny as it thinks it is, and I fucking hate the Holtzmann character). But his tweets on Rogue One get to the nuts and bolts of why it doesn’t really work. My own review is superficial in hindsight, too forgiving of its flaws, but it’s a fairly superficial movie that I was evaluating in the context of a greater disappointment. #link


This video gets a bit too cute in its definition of passable (focusing on certain film tropes ‘passing’ for genuine human interactions, but ignoring that such tropes have an important role to play in the medium). Still, the bigger point stands; I’ve seen far too many passable movies lately — and been permissive about it, too. My film diet needs greater nutritional value. #video


Missing today’s press shows as I’ve got other things that need doing. I doubt you’re clamouring for my take on Skull Island at any rate #tweet


Gonna refrain from commenting on a stranger’s ‘polarising opinion is good!’ bullshit #tweet


Hail is currently falling like a blizzard in Dundalk #tweet


No I’m not staying up for the Oscars. We don’t have Sky anyway #tweet


My Letterboxd review of I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore

Reblogged from my Letterboxd list:

Macon Blair’s directorial debut, a blackly comic revenge film, suffers from first-film-itis for much of its running time. Its obvious influences (mostly his old filmmaking pal Jeremy Saulnier, with a smattering of Edgar Wright) get in the way of a story that’s unevenly focused as it is, one minute a me-against-the-world drama, the next a Curb Your Enthusiasm-style cringe comedy. Things improve markedly in the final act, however, with an explosion of violence that brings a film with quirky, flighty tendencies back down to earth hard. David Yow (he of noise rock legends The Jesus Lizard) is a revelation as the primary heel of the piece, and Elijah Wood brings his usual charm as the oddball sidekick, but it’s Melanie Lynskey in the lead who holds it all together, just about, as the woman who decides she can no longer bear to let the bastards get her down.


My Letterboxd reviews of Sadako vs Kayako, This Was the XFL, High-Rise, History of the Eagles, and Any Given Sunday

Sadako vs Kayako:

Unexpectedly decent, this. The postmodern Wes Craven approach is writ large in its first half, and the obvious references pay off in grisly amusement rather than belly-laughs, as they should. It’s also effectively atmospheric, as the tropes start to die off and our main characters succumb to the creeping realisation that there are no rules to this horror movie. If there’s anything really wrong it it, it’s that it suffers from the same problem as that other colossal horror tussle: it’s far too long before the titular characters go one on one.

More…


Ah no, not Bill Paxton #tweet


Halfway through the first season of The Expanse and it’s pretty much Blade Runner crossed with Total Recall on a budget and it’s great #tweet


Revisiting Immortal Bird’s ‘Empress/Abscess’ and now it’s making an impression #tweet


Justin Pearson (The Locust, Retox, Three One G, etc) talks about his musical journey, as well as the gear that comprises his signature sound. He’s refreshingly candid about his lack of traditional technique, which gives me hope for cracking the secret of the bass. #video


Pitchfork talks to Relapse Records’ Matthew F Jacobson

“I recognize that we're recognized as a metal label. By percentage, we have probably put out more metal than anything else, but there's probably a lot of stuff that people don't realize we've done. Even though I was a teenager at the time, part of the reason I chose the name Relapse was that there are some names that could have sounded more metal. I wanted something that was vague and wouldn't necessarily pigeonhole us.” A noble philosophy, to be sure. But Relapse is undoubtedly a big-time label in the metal ‘underground’, with little patience these days for the more experimental stuff (they dropped Pyrrhon after one record, for shame). #link


As a ‘casual gamer’, I couldn’t give a hoot about the Switch. I was done with Nintendo before the Wii U came out #tweet


Just saw from the Dead Neanderthals FB that Incubate is finished. And I never even got a chance to go #tweet


New Oxbow coming out this May on Hydra Head. You read that right #tweet


The Guardian on PPE, ‘the Oxford degree that runs Britain’

A fascinating read about a genuine issue — a single university degree as a training course for the British political class, more or less — that loses its way a bit when it mistakes balance for fairness in giving space to critical right-wing voices without explicit context for their own biases. (That Tariq Ali reference is money, though.) #link


The storm’s bad enough, but @IrishRail decided to do track repairs with a big noise machine for hours from 2am, right outside. No sleep here #tweet


I’m afraid to look outside and see if the black bin is still at the gate #StormDoris #tweet


We’ve been dining on the first season of Billions the last couple of nights. Best TV in forever #tweet


Ta-Nehisi Coates: “I’m a big believer in chaos”

I had expected this to be quaint considering all that’s happened, and will happen, but no, Coates already had the horror clown’s number. It’s also interesting to contrast that with his reaction to the way his book has been received by white people in the US. #link


Fredrik deBoer: no one can define ‘cultural appropriation’

I don’t think this is true: appropriation in bad faith is fairly easy to discern. But what this argument really gets to the heart of is the hypocrisy of defining ‘culture’ as an either-or proposition, with no respect for the agency of those from a different background (because it’s really all about you and absolving your own guilt over whatever). In better words: “Don’t mimic or perform being a type of person that you intend others to recognize as such, especially when that involves exaggeration or when intended to inspire contempt or humor. That is a rule about people, not a rule about culture.” (Update 2019.04.22: The link is dead now, but I'll leave this here as a testament to the fact that I get things wrong all the time, and this is a prime example — not so much my quibbles with the topic at hand, but certainly in signal-boosting deBoer as a source.) #link


How to design words

How writing appears is integral to its function. It’s depressing how many people can’t grasp that, even so-called ‘writers’. #link


Weasel Walter did this quick remastering of Essential Logic’s Beat Rhythm News LP, and I’m kicking myself for not hearing the album sooner as this kind of off-kilter, bass-heavy post-punk is exactly my thing. #video


Weeknotes #807-809

Past the midway mark in February now, and not that much to report:

  • My review of Hidden Figures was published earlier this week. I’m drafting two others that will have to be finished by Monday if they’re to go online in time for their respective release dates. And since I’ve got another screening on Monday morning, that means I’ll be working on those over the weekend.
  • Since I’m writing this weekend, I’ll wrap up my long, long delayed music wrap-up so I can clean the slate for 2017 before the clocks change. Yes, it’s apparent that I need a better schedule for this stuff, though it was a (blessedly brief) cold that made last weekend a write-off, productivity-wise.

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Folding Ideas on Suicide Squad and its terrible editing. Some of its problems are obviously in the screenplay and the poor direction and framing, to be fair, but even without those issues, the way it's put together is remarkably lazy. #video


Tara Flynn on ‘the work of art’

“Where the craft lies, what people forget to value, is the work no one sees. The binned drafts. The recycled clay, the choreography that doesn’t click. It’s heartbreaking and nobody knows or cares; why should they? Except that is where the work is. That’s where experience blossoms. The sheer doing it everyday is the 'genius', not the flash of inspiration that can lead to acclaim. Not the jammy gig, big commission, showy role.” #link


Reader reviews aren’t all bad

A professional book critic recognises that the honest opinions of readers can and do often cut through a lot of the bullshit of canon and critical consensus and what have you. [c/o Infovore] #link