Monday, October 27, 2008

The Zombie Expert

All my years of cinematic splatter and undead carnage are finally beginning to pay off.  My devotion to Romero and Fulci is being noticed. Now, not only am I among the very few who are actually prepared for the inevitable zombie outbreak (and the outbreak is coming, trust me, whether it be caused by voodoo mumbo-jumbo, rage-infected monkeys or alien interference) but other people are starting to recognize my expertise in the field. Yesterday, I, as a credible zombie expert, was interviewed by a reporter from The Sheaf. Sure, it's only a local university newspaper doing a Halloween special but at least the very real and important message of zombie preparedness is starting to be heard by the largely ignorant public. I can only hope that, when the zombie apocalypse does come and the undead begin to feast insatiably on all our juicy, fattened North American flesh, that people, in their darkest hours of horror and despair, will remember my words of wisdom - perhaps, just perhaps, they will save someone's life.  

I'll post a link to the article when it's published.  

UPDATE: Here's the link to the article.  It's on page two.  Enjoy.  And remember... you don't have to outrun the zombies, you just have to outrun your friends.

Friday, October 24, 2008

An Elaborate Excuse

I always wonder how much of myself I should bring to this blog. As people, we are always more then we present ourselves as. Whatever the context, whether it be a university class, a church pew or an internet forum, we pick and chose those aspects of ourselves that we want other people to perceive and so there is always a sense of theatricality embedded deeply within not only our social lives but our written lives as well. This isn't a matter of deception, however, and the at-this-point cliched notion that we all wear a variety of false masks, a piece of important-sounding psycho-vomit which seems to have been designed to suggest that we ritually select whatever personality fiction is most expedient at the moment and alter our actions accordingly, thus foregoing an "authentic" personality, is fundamentally flawed because those masks are not impositions of personality but rather manifestations of a personality too large to be constantly disclosed. We select the ways we represent ourselves not out of some deceptive agenda or because our "authentic" personalities are so stillborn as to receive whatever imprint stronger personalities may impress upon them (though I suppose both could be true in some cases, but not, I think, in most), but rather out of politeness and an unwillingness to burden others with forced intimacy. Full disclosure of a personality can be an awkward experience for everyone involved and so it is often best, and most simple, to present only those parts of yourself that a situation requires.

Anyway, when it comes to Babylon I've deliberately put certain restriction upon myself in an effort of guide my readership's perception of me (this readership is, I fear, largely illusory or at the very best rather small, which means all my efforts to guide others' perception of me has ended in a self-reflective knot in which I'm now discussing how I've deliberately shaped an audience's perceptions of me when I myself am in fact the audience. I am both perceiver and perceived and, I just noticed, both of me have a headache). I've kept gaming, a rather large element of my personality, and of my day, mostly hidden or at least I've relegated it mostly to the background, only letting that portion of myself out every once in a while to express either exasperation or affirmation in what I think are special situations. I've tried to keep the geek impulse in check, in other words, in order vainly to appear both knowledgeable and wise perhaps even charismatic (okay, some elements of self-representation are purely fictive) but also because personalities, despite their usually multiform natures, are so often judged on the basis of only one of their aspects and are thereafter slotted into prefabricated stereotypes. Personally, I'd much rather be sterotyped as an English student or a film critic than as a gamer. And since in the public consciousness one person can rarely occupy more than one stereotypical space, I often work very hard to ensure that some elements of my personality are privileged over others.

But now that I've rambled at length about it I feel it only appropriate to transgress my own self-imposed restrictions regarding personality disclosure, to transcend my self-fashioned self image by incorporating another image, one that might, it's true, damage that first so carefully laboured over image, which I can only hope is at this point strong enough to absorb such a decadent and low-brow disclosure as this (the fact that this post directly follows one on Dante has not gone unnoted). You see, all of this babbling has really been nothing more than an elaborate excuse to say that recently I've been playing Dead Space, an extremely violent and no-doubt violence inducing game, and that I love it so much I want to share this excellent trailer. Seriously, it's one of the best game trailers ever made. So, uh... enjoy. And hopefully whatever image of intelligence I've built up over the last year or so isn't about to be entirely reduced to rubble.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Pictorial :: Michael Mazur

I've been reading Dante's Commedia lately.  During my research, I stumbled upon a gorgeous collection of Inferno etchings, made by painter Michael Mazur.  Enjoy.

Midway on our life's journey, I found myself
In dark woods, the right road lost.  To tell
About those woods is hard - so tangled and rough

And savage that thinking of it now, I feel
The old fear stirring: death is hardly more bitter.
-Inferno, Canto I.1-5
He hurled the sinner down, then turned to rush
Back down the rocky crag; and no mastiff
Was ever more impatient to shake the leash

And run his fastest after a fleeing thief.
The sinner sank below, only to rise
Rump up - but demons under the bridge's shelf

Cried, "Here's no place to show your Sacred Face!
You're not out in the Serchio for a swim!
If you don't want to feel our hooks - like this! -

Then stay beneath the pitch."  They struck at him
With over a hundred hooks, and said, "You'll need
To dance in secret here - so grab what seam

You're able to, in darkness."  They then did
Just as cook have their scullions do to steep
The meat well into the cauldron - with a prod

From their forks keeping it from floating up.
-Inferno, Canto XXI.43-58

We had left him, moving on
When I saw two shades frozen in a single hole -
Packed so close, one head hooded the other one;

The way the starving devour their bread, the soul
Above had clenched the other with his teeth,
Where the brain meets the nape.  And at the skull

And other parts, as Tydeus berserk with wrath
Gnawed at the head of Menalippus, he chewed.
-Inferno, Canto XXXII.124-131

Dante, Inferno.  Translated by Robert Pinsky, The Inferno of Dante.  Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1994.

The entire collection of Mazur's Inferno etchings can be viewed online here.