issue 023 • 2020-05-17
An Issue Wherein We Change Formats and Come Back to Life
Hello there, dear newsletter subscribers!
I’m sorry for having ignored you for as long as I have.
Let’s be honest with ourselves: the world has been an absolute nightmare, and while we’ve wanted to be a respite of sanity in an insane world, it’s been an absolute mess of difficulty finding the focus between doom scrolling on Twitter and Apple News (I can’t decide if my Apple News+ subscription is helping or harming me), losing my faith in…oh, 75% of the world’s leaders, and generally trying to keep myself and my wife sane in quarantine, let alone “making content’.
But the content, it has been made, and continues to be made.
- Super Art Fight, my traveling live art competition event has somehow, successfully pivoted to Twitch, with bi-weekly events, and a regular Dungeons and Dragons game, which marks my first time ever playing a tabletop RPG. (You can subscribe to us here!)
- The wrestling podcast I do with my friend Chris, The Rough House Podcast, continues with weekly editions, even as the “sport” (which is somehow “essential” in the state of Florida?) becomes both even more scummy and unwatchable, whether by no events happening OR happening in front of no one.
- And the blog which birthed this spin-off newsletter, blast-o-rama. is back to regular updates.
Which lead me back to here.
What was I do to with this newsletter?
And Lo, A Pivot
I think I figured out what to do. Every week, I’m going to send you three things. Could be three articles, as it is this week. Could be a movie, an article and an album. Could be a book, a game, and an activity. I don’t know. We’ll see.
But my promise — again — to you is, every Sunday morning it will be here, with three things.
And I’m going to avoid mentioning the word which rhymes with Schmurona with what I share.
In turn, let’s go.
Thing #1: This Awesome Oral History of Mad Max: Fury Road
Believe it or not, it’s been five years since Mad Max: Fury Road hit theaters and melted the faces of action movie fans worldwide.
It has yet to be touched (IMO) in the five years since, and the reasoning is clear: the movie itself was a nightmare to create.
This week, Kyle Buchanan of The New York Times got the whole cast and crew to spill the beans on the creation of this genre defining film, and it’s a joy to read - regardless of how you feel about the final film itself. It’s a real testament to the beautiful struggle of the creation of art.
THERON The roughest moment was when we were in Australia, two weeks away from shooting, and they pulled the plug on us.
MITCHELL During preproduction, the weather pattern changed in Australia and it rained and rained in Queensland, the sort of weather that happens once in a century.
GIBSON Slowly, what was desert turned into beautiful flowers. So we put everything into storage and slunk away yet again.
KEOUGH It was the first time I had experienced a big push on a film, and I was heartbroken. I was like, “Is it really because of the weather? Am I fired?”
MITCHELL We were basically defeated. How do we move on?
Check it out here.
Thing #2: What’s It Like Playing Jason Voorhees?
Unlike most prominent roles — your James Bonds, your Batmans, your Jack Ryans — playing the antagonist of a horror film is a thankless role, except for a dedicated cult fandom.
Jake Kring-Schreifels of The Ringer tries to turn this around with a loving profile of the nine people who played Jason Voorhees over the past four decades.
The character itself isn’t a particularly enticing one for actors. Like Michael Myers, Jason is a silent stalker, dressed in cumbersome denim, burdened with a mask that covers any facial expressions. But Hodder, accustomed to staying behind the scenes, slipped into Jason seamlessly, and his portrayal in The New Blood quickly reenergized the franchise, convincing subsequent directors to bring him back for the next three installments. “I’ve had some altercations in my past, and have had some temper problems, so that probably helps me get into a character like that quickly,” he reflects. “It’s kind of an uncommon mix of abilities, to be convincingly violent and still peaceful at times.”
Hodder is one of nine actors (and even more stuntmen) who have taken on the role of Jason. Together they compose a fellowship of sorts, bound across generations by their shared depiction of Hollywood’s most notorious slasher—but even more so by their general anonymity. It’s an odd group to be a part of, the Jasons. In sequels, spinoffs, and reboots released since the premiere of Friday the 13th, which celebrates its 40th anniversary on Saturday, they’ve stalked movie screens and scared countless audiences as the central figure of one of Hollywood’s most iconic horror series. They’ve been scraped, kicked, and punched; they’ve been strangled, stabbed, and shot; they’ve been chained down deep under water; they’ve been set on fire; they’ve broken doors and shattered lots of windows. But despite playing such an integral role in movie history, they might as well be ghosts themselves.
Check it out here.
Thing #3: What’s It Like to Archive an Entire Musical Career
Something you’d never call the brand Radiohead is “a bunch of luddites”.
Pushing their world forward since 1992’s Pablo Honey, they’ve always been on the bleeding edge, musically (as seen with 2000’s Kid A and with technology.
But, with their latest project — an attempt to archive their entire career digitally — they may’ve outdone even themselves.
Aimee Cliff for Wired UK takes us inside the process.
In the early 2000s, Radiohead almost invented social media. “We came up with this idea to create something we called a ziggurat,” lead singer Thom Yorke explains, over a video call from his studio. “Each person would have a room, and you could leave your own shit there, your opinions on stuff, bits of music, what you’re up to. And then you move into different rooms, message each other. Like a weird, twisted version of Facebook.”
They never did build their Facebook, but in the mid-90s Radiohead were one of the first bands to build a website. Over the years, they’ve “actively tried to create a community outside of seriously fucking lame-arse websites that major record companies would build,” says Yorke. Back then, major record labels were keen for artists to use their websites to post data on how many records they’d sold in different regions. “It was like… I don’t think we want to do that,” remembers bassist Colin Greenwood with a chuckle.
In January 2020, the many strange iterations of Radiohead’s multiple websites were brought back to life when the band launched the Radiohead Public Library. If you visit radiohead.com today, you’re greeted with neatly organised digital “shelves”, stacked with music, high-quality videos, merch and ephemera from every era of the band. Most of those preserved websites are deliberately opaque. One, from the era of The Bends (the critically acclaimed album released in 1995), collects negative reviews of the website itself on a neon background. (“Do NOT visit this site. It is confusing, garbled rubbish,” reads one.) But, if the Radiohead of the early 2000s found innovation in obfuscation, in 2020 the band has recognised that a truly radical online act is to actually provide clarity.
Check it out here.
So, Whatcha Think?
I’d love your feedback on this format, as at the end of the day, I’m here to entertain YOU, dear reader. And if you do like it? Why not share with a friend. I’d love to continue to build this community out once again. I promise, I’m sticking with you.
And on that, keep taking care of yourselves. This is a hard year, but we’re almost half way through it.
We will persevere.