Tuesday, September 29, 2015

DDD SUGGESTED READING ~ "HAMPSTEAD SATANIC PANIC" EDITION


Hello there! 
To anyone visiting this site for the first time, if you're coming from the link in a recent posting at HampsteadResearch.com, I would like to personally welcome you to the Daily Dirt Diaspora blog. I hope you can struggle against your powerful monomania long enough to check out a few of my other blog posts to get a better feel of where I'm coming from, who I am, and why I've decided to post on this subject only now. 
I would also like to answer a few of the questions posed to me by HampsteadResearch.com author Charlotte Ward in her posting, seeing as it's been a few hours and she has yet to approve the answers that I provided in the comments section of her blog. 
And so, in answer to her question as to whether it would be "epistemologically unsound to assume" that I was "on the payroll", the answer is YES, it would be epistemologically unsound to make that assumption, but totally in keeping with her insistence on believing utterly ridiculous crap with no evidence whatsoever. 
As to her question as to why none of the "alleged abusers with distinguishing marks" has "come forward" to prove their innocence, I have to answer with a question of my own... TO WHOM?! Seeing as she and her ilk believe that literally every police officer, physician, and government official in England is a member of their precious fantasy cult, exactly who is it that you propose should be performing these extremely intimate exams?  
Hold on… is it possible that we have finally cracked this case? Could this whole sick enterprise really be all about a few sad idiots trying to finally lay their eyes on an actual NAKED human being?!

Inquiring minds want to know! 
Cheers!
Yer Old Pal Jerky

Ella Draper and Abraham Christie... CULT-EXPOSING SUPERHEROES!

If you have any level of engagement with the rapidly metastasizing "Truther" segment of the parapolitical infosphere - heretofore to be referred to as "conspiritards" - then you've no doubt come across the disturbing video of two young children making sensational claims about a massive Satanic cult engaged in the most wicked practices imaginable operating behind the scenes of their school in Hampstead, UK. According to these so-called Whistleblower Kids, among the goings-on at Christ Church Primary were pedophile rape and torture on an industrial scale, animal and human sacrifice complete with rituals performed while wearing freshly flayed flesh, and shocking revelations about the local McDonald's, where a cult-member manager had set up a "special room" to host after-hours cannibalistic BBQ parties.

Of course, the cult's Grand Poobah was these kids' biological father, who happens to be a professional actor, which in and of itself appears to be sufficient proof of guilt for some; and the video was shot by their wonky vegan mum and her weirdo boyfriend... but still! It had to be true... it just HADDA! Because... well...

Actually and obviously, anyone with more than a thimble's worth of grey matter sniffed out a con from the get-go. Subsequent events, revelations and investigations have proven that Occam's Razor is still pretty fuckin' sharp, regardless of years of overuse and abuse.

And yet around the world, online and off (but mostly on), countless thousands not only continue to believe the children's claims - which they recanted as soon as they learned that the police would protect them from their mum's abusive new boyfriend - but are even going so far as to stalk and harass numerous teachers, school employees and church officials, whom they claim are secretly living double-lives as murderous Satanic baby-fucking cannibals.

At this point you might be wondering why I'm even bothering with this story, which basically died with a whimper a couple weeks ago after stinking up the stupid side of the Internet for almost a year. After all, the courts called shenanigans on the whole sorry saga and officially cleared the father's name. So it's game over, right?

Wrong. Googling any combination of the words "Hampstead", "cult", "abuse", "Christ Church School", "Whistleblower Kids", "Satanic coverup" shows a roughly 50-to-1 ratio of those who still believe these insane and recanted claims, versus those who accept the court's eminently reasonable conclusions. This troubles me. It troubles me deeply, particularly as someone who has dedicated much of my life to attempting to tease out the sharp and shiny pin of truth from the towering haystack of lies that is our current media (and wider cultural) milieu.

As a student of philosophy, I attempt at all times to be conscious of any epistemological prejudice that may be present whenever serious claims to truth are made. I also try to take into account the ontological foundations upon which those prejudices (if any) may be based. One needn't be conversant in the jargon of phenomenology, however, to understand the source of my concern. Basically, I'm worried that we're reaching a very dangerous point in our civilization. I'm not talking about Peak Oil, or the ramifications of overpopulation, or the threat posed by religious fundamentalists, although that last one is tangentially related.

About a generation ago, some philosophers and social theorists began to seriously grapple with an issue that had been niggling at the Modernist mind since the dawning days of the 20th century: the loss of Truth, with a capital T. In the face of the vast, nihilistic enormity manifest in the scientific and psychiatric discoveries of the day, a great many of the early Modernists beat a hasty retreat, conservatives returning to the Church and/or Tradition, while others made a fetish out of Progress. Both sides worried about a world where nothing was True. Then, with the relatively concurrent collapse of Anglo Positivism and rise of Continental Postmodernism - with deconstruction the new praxis and relativism the new byword - it seemed as though Truth was really on the ropes.

But now, I think we've come to an even more dangerous point: a world where EVERYTHING is True. And I think the behavior of the online masses in relation to the so-called "Hampstead Cult" story is powerfully illustrative of exactly that.

Which brings us (at long last) to today's Suggested Readings.

First, I bring you Barrister Blogger Matthew Scott's passionate defense of both the Hampstead community, where he lives, and the Christ Church Primary School, which his children all attended and survived unscathed. I urge you to read Scott's "Warning to the Credulous" in its entirety, even if only so you can more fully appreciate the lunacy of so many of the reactions in the comments section, among which you will find numerous instances of anonymous conspiritard cowards lighting their torches, hefting their pitchforks, and accusing Scott, himself, of being (surprise!!!) a murderous pedophile cannibal.

If the above essay seems a bit too personal - too invested, too "close to the action" for rhetorical comfort - then I think you'll find blogger and broadcaster Keelan Balderson's essay Six Questions that Hampstead Cult Believers MUST Answer to be far more disinterested, analytical, dry and logical. It starts out:
Despite the overwhelming evidence against Abraham Christie and mother Ella Draper, in the Hampstead abuse case, there are still people that are clinging on to the original “allegations.” To those that still believe there is a Satanic Cult operating in North London, I have 6 very important questions to ask you. 
1) Why Do You Believe With No Evidence?
One of the most common arguments from believers is that the police did not investigate the allegations that were outlined in the original videos. This isn’t an accurate position at all, as they did interview the father, search the church where satanic ritual abuse allegedly occurred, and took the children on a drive to try and corroborate certain locations from the story. They found nothing. They also interviewed the children extensively, and a doctor medically examined them for signs of abuse on two occasions.
Some allegations are highly improbable. It’s alleged that on the last day of the school term a satanic abuse party was held until late at night, involving teachers from multiple schools, hundreds of children, and their parents. Would it not strike the local community as odd that lots of adults and children arrived at the school in the morning, but did not leave until night time? Wouldn’t there have been a huge commotion as they all left the school grounds, particularly if children had taken part in horrific rituals? Anybody could make an infinite list of problems with such a story, not least the fact that not one other person involved or observing from a far, has spoken out or provided tangible evidence that it occurred. When you couple such implausibility with the investigation that DID take place, and the retractions from the children, the police would have to come to a reasonable conclusion that it simply didn’t happen. 
Despite this, the mantra from believers is still that the police did not investigate.
This then begs the question – if you don’t think the police carried out an investigation, or that it wasn’t up to the right standards, or that there’s a full blown cover-up – and because of this they have not produced any evidence of a satanic cult – why do you believe there is a satanic cult?
It continues on like this for five more questions, so read on. Or I suppose you could just watch the video... or rather, listen to it, seeing as it's essentially an audio podcast of almost the entire essay, itself. Here it is...


In summation, I give you a recent, up to date Radio BBC documentary on this subject, which is thorough, uncompromising, and essential listening for anyone interested in this topic, no matter what they believe at the outset.


Shocking, isn't it, how what started out as a simple, innocent hunt for witches could so quickly devolve into a witch-hunt?

***

If you've read this far into today's offering, I'd like to thank you for allowing me to ramble and rant, and for following me down a dizzying array of digressions that seem, in retrospect, to have been somewhat pointless, but that I had to get out of my system for my own good, if only to exorcise them from my mind.

As always, comments are welcomed and, to be perfectly honest, sincerely hoped for.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

DDD SUGGESTED READING, VIEWING, AND/OR LISTENING FOR SEPTEMBER 26


1. Ben Collins, a personal friend of Christopher Hurst, whose bride to be Alison Parker was one of the two people who were brutally gunned down in a horrific attack that was accidentally broadcast live on Virginia morning television, asks the tragically relevant question: "What do you say to a Roanoke Truther?" He begins:

Chris Hurst spent the last two weeks trying not to cry on television while telling the world how beautiful his life with his girlfriend was before she was murdered for no reason. 
Chris was the boyfriend of Alison Parker, who was shot and killed on live television in August by a mentally ill man who had an invented grudge and easy access to firearms.
Chris is a friend from college. Chris and I hosted a radio show together. 
Or, according to millions of conspiracy theorists online, Chris Hurst is a part of my imagination. 
In the minds—and YouTube videos—of some conspiracy theorists, Chris is not a news anchor at WDBJ in Virginia. Chris, the videos say, is a “crisis actor" invented less than a month ago by the United States government as part of a false flag operation that will eventually allow the New World Order to take away every American citizen’s guns and force them into a life of subjugation and tyranny. 
Every day now, Chris wakes up to find strangers’ hate on his Facebook wall that he has to personally delete. Or he’ll Google Alison to find the people he has to thank for donating to her scholarships and he’ll see, instead, another conspiracy theory YouTube video, viewed 800,000 times over, that says Alison was in on it all along, and that she’s been given a new life and maybe plastic surgery by the government.

“It happened again about an hour ago,” Chris says. “It’s hard for me to manage that because I hit land mines when I do. They have all these details I don’t want to know.”
The most recent one says Alison was dating someone else and that she and Chris were never together at all. That person is really Alison’s ex-boyfriend, who conspiracists found by looking through her old Facebook photos. 
Two weeks after he lost the love of his life in the most gruesome and devastating way imaginable, this is what he has to sit through when he turns on his computer each morning.
The rest of this long piece consists of Ben attempting to reason with one of the more egregious of Chris's shameless tormentors. You can guess how that forehead slapping exercise in futility goes. Frustrating as it is, it remains a fine example of the social ramifications of allowing the web to be flooded with knee-jerk conspiritard lunatics who go around calling everybody else "sheeple" when they're the ones being suckered on a daily frigging basis.


2.  With that unpleasant business out of the way, I suppose I should do something to prove that I haven't totally gone over to the Dark Side and sold out to The Man. And so, in the spirit of attempting to improve the quality of our online parapolitical discussions and debates, here's a handy-dandy list of literally dozens of incontrovertible and proven 100% TRUE historic false flag terrorist attacks.

3. Okay, so it's probably time to lighten the tone a bit. And yet, we want to stay on topic, don't we? So whatever are we to do? Oh, I know! Let's watch Conspiracy Theory Rock! the legendary "banned by NBC" Saturday Night Live cartoon written by Robert Smigel!

YOU COME ACROSS A DARK MANOR


Those of you who hold the absolutely superb, multiple-artist, Lovecraft-inspired illustration collection PUFFED SHOGGOTHS in as high esteem as I do should be aware that many of the same artists have once again teamed up, this time to produce a haunted-house themed collection called YOU APPROACH A DARK MANOR, and it looks amazing. 

I mean, think about it. An entire book devoted to grabbing you by the hair and visually dragging you from room to room through what promises to be the creepiest and most haunted house in fictional history, all rendered by over 50 incredibly talented artists who do nothing else but sit around thinking up new and improved ways to make your blood run cold, send shivers running down your spine, and basically freaking you the fuck out

This time out, the prolific creator of PUFFED SHOGGOTHS, "Halloween Hangers" maven Trevor Henderson, is joined by Tait Howard and Jenn Woodall. Interested parties will be able to purchase YOU APPROACH A DARK MANOR beginning Monday afternoon. At $10, it's a real steal. Canadian customers can purchase it from Trevor's Etsy, while Americans can order it via Tait's. I intend to get my own copy as soon as it's available, and I urge many of you (you know who you are) to look into getting a copy of your own.


Monday, September 14, 2015

MEDIAVORE TV ~ POST-BINGE BULLET REVIEWS, PART 2!

As I wrote in the first part of this new ongoing Mediavore sub-project here at DDD, more and more people are consuming their entertainment in great, gulping binges. And yer old pal Jerky is no exception. 
In fact, my recent attempts to go back and watch all the shows my friends wouldn't stop raving about over the past decade or so have forced me to watch not just seasons, but entire SERIES in marathon sessions. I'm particularly worried about my upcoming attempt to watch The Sopranos from beginning to end. That one's gonna hurt.
Anyhoo, my pain in this case is your gain, because today, I bring you the second installment of my bullet reviews for as many of those "must watch", "TV renaissance" shows. I'll try to fill you in on which are worth the effort, and which are just a waste of everyone's time. Enjoy! - YOPJ

TRUE DETECTIVE, (HBO), Season 2



Speaking of wasting everyone's time... what the fuck happened here?! Nic "Alphabits" Pizzolatto had the TV viewing public eating out of the palm of his hand after the unparalleled (if somewhat qualified) success of True Detective, Season 1. That stylish exercise in Swamp Gothic Neo-Noir left a churning sea of critical acclaim, ratings success, geek reverence and awards galore in its bloody wake... which is fine. Despite its pretty substantial failings (which I won't get into here), it nevertheless featured some killer cinematography, interesting ideas and undeniably great acting performances. Season 2, on the other hand... Oy. Okay, this season also featured some fine performances, key among them being Colin Farrell's and Taylor Kitsch's. It also had some intriguing imagery and a few genuinely thrilling sequences.  Unfortunately, these few pleasures can't counteract the show's myriad problems, which include a complete lack of narrative cohesion, an incomprehensible tangle of seemingly unrelated subplots, and some of the most ridiculous dialogue ever to cross an actor's lips.

Flow Factor: Bad. The first two eps are terribly slow. Things kick up a notch and reach a crescendo with the show's penultimate (and best) episode, but the finale drags it all back down to Failsville.

Superfluity Levels: NA

Binge-ability Index: More easily watched in one chunk than week-by-week, but that's not saying much.

Bottom line: Ersatz Lynch meets second-rate Polanski, trying way too hard and failing, big time.

***

ENLIGHTENED, (HBO), Seasons 1 and 2


Speaking of David Lynch, one of his favorite actresses, the supremely talented Laura Dern (and her mom, fellow Lynch vet, Diane Lane) stars in this lovely ode to the paradoxical emptiness/wisdom to be found in all the Self Help section of your local book emporium. But this Mike White-scripted series is about so much more than that. It's about contemporary workplace etiquette, the complexity of family and other intimate relationships, learning to accept yourself and others, warts and all... and despite being sincere and serious at times, it's also frequently hilarious and, yes... even occasionally enlightening. 

Flow Factor: Watch the first episode first and the last episode last for both seasons, and watch the seasons in order, and you're good.

Superfluity Levels: None. It's all good and worth your time.

Binge-ability Index: Middle-high.

Bottom line: Fellas; introduce your gal pal to this show and score some serious Good Guy Points. Ladies; if you haven't heard about this show yet... you're welcome!

***

THE BRINK, (HBO), Season 1

Right up front, The Brink declared that it was trying to be a contemporary re-think of the Dr. Strangelove model, with three sets of characters in three different locales, all linked via potentially world-destroying international nuclear intrigue. And why not? Kubrick's satire is, after all, considered one of the greatest achievements in comedy film of all freaking time. And so, just like in Strangelove, we have a group of characters surrounding the President of the USA (with series star and producer Tim Robbins playing kind of a Fantasy Football version of the Secretary of State), a group of military men (a pair of pill-popping fighter pilots based on an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf) and Jack Black as a low-level embassy official "on the ground" in Pakistan as a series of coups and counter-coups take place.

Flow Factor: Moves along at a fast clip, each episode flowing into the next quite nicely.

Superfluity Levels: Admirably low.

Binge-ability Index: The short episodes and frequently over the top humor make this one an easy, breezy viewing experience.

Bottom line: Nowhere close to Kubrick, but political junkies (especially center/left) should get as much of a kick out of it as I did.

***
PARTY DOWN, (Starz), Season 1 and 2


Recommended by someone whose opinion I respect tremendously, I nevertheless found this catering industry-set sitcom to be only intermittently amusing, lazily written, and ultimately not worth the time needed to watch it. Which is kind of sad, because the performances by the series regulars playing wannabe actors earning a living slinging hors d'oeuvres and cheap sparkling wine are uniformly good. Adam Scott is suitably hangdog, Ken Marino is suitably hapless, Lizzy Caplan is suitably cute/conflicted, and Jane Lynch/Megan Mullally are suitably off-the-wall in their respective seasons. I mean, there are worse shows, to be sure. But I was expecting more from a creative team that included some of the Eastbound and Down gang and Paul Rudd.

Flow Factor: Nothing much happens. Characters don't evolve or change. Relationships all seem to be in stasis. The whole thing is oddly Limbo-like. Or maybe Purgatory?

Superfluity Levels: Off the charts. So many repeated beats and similar scenes taking place in only marginally different locales it begins to feel like an improv troupe doing their shtick on different nights.

Binge-ability Index: Low.

Bottom line: Maybe if you've worked as a caterer, you might get more out of this than I did.

***
BOSS, (Starz), Season 1

Chicago mayor Tom Kane (played menacingly by Kelsey Grammer) is diagnosed with a mental disorder that causes him to hallucinate, and which will ultimately kill him. He decides not to tell anyone, as he attempts to retain his monstrous grip on power. Kane is one of the most vile and corrupt public officials ever to be portrayed in fiction. We're talking Shakespeare level evil, here, with Kane seeming like a combination of Richard III and Macbeth. The human wreckage this character leaves in his wake is astonishing. Reputations are ruined, fortunes are lost, lives are snuffed out... this is a killer series. 

Flow Factor: Awesomely addictive.

Superfluity Levels: Zilch.

Binge-ability Index: It's tough to stay immersed in such a vile milieu for extended periods of time, so two or three episodes at a time is the maximum I'm willing to recommend.

Bottom line: I haven't seen Season 2 yet, but based on Season 1, BOSS is one of the best premium cable dramas ever produced, and the fact that it was cancelled is almost as big of a loss as the premature abortion of ROME.

***

SILICON VALLEY, (HBO), Season 1

Beavis and Butthead creator Mike Judge strikes again, with perhaps his best offering yet, a half-hour sitcom set in various different success levels of the technology business. From the lofty heights of a Microsoft-like, ultra-slick "tech campus" to the lows of a suburban start-up "incubator" where the participants live and work together in an effort to both save money and increase productivity. Starting with Office Space, former aerospace industry employee Judge has shown himself to be an astute observer and keen critic of contemporary workplace dynamics, and here he unleashes his full satirical fury on a deserving subject.

Flow Factor: Excellent. The stakes start out high, and they keep on increasing, ratcheting the tension non-stop as the series progresses.

Superfluity Levels: Minimal, except for a stretch in the middle of season two, when a tech billionaire investor's shenanigans start to wear thin.

Binge-ability Index: Very high, especially thanks to its being a half-hour per episode.

Bottom line: A great ensemble cast in a fresh setting with an amusingly populist/postmodern sensibility make this one of the best ongoing TV comedies around.

***

BETTER CALL SAUL, (AMC), Season 1


I haven't seen more than 10 minutes total of Breaking Bad, but Bob Odenkirk has been one of my favorite human beings for a long time, now. Even his so-called "shitty" movies (Let's Go to Prison, The Brothers Solomon) have somehow managed to find a way to give me pleasure. So when he and his cohorts manage to pull together a series as impossibly perfect as Better Call Saul... well, it makes my heart swell with an odd combination of pride, jealousy, and a sincere wish that I could meet him in person just to say thank you.

Flow Factor: Perfect.

Superfluity Levels: Non-existent.

Binge-ability Index: Supreme.

Bottom line: The most "must see" TV show of all the "must see" TV shows that is still currently producing new episodes. Yes, that includes Game of Thrones.

***

VEEP, (HBO), Seasons 1, 2 and 3


What if Seinfeld's Elaine Benez somehow grew up to become the Vice President (and, ultimately, President) of the United States of America. That's it. That's the premise.

Flow Factor: Excellent.

Superfluity Levels: Minimal, with slight samey-ness early on in the second season. But it manages to pick up steam again pretty quick, and the third season is maybe the very best.

Binge-ability Index: Very, very good.

Bottom line: Elaine becomes Vice-POTUS. It really is as simple as that.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

DDD SUGGESTED READINGS FOR SEPT 13


1. As a lifelong fan of the man's cinematic and graphic novel output, I couldn't be more pleased to bring to your attention Alejandry Jodorowsky's 82 Commandments. As the article on Arcane Daily begins:

Reyna Assia, daughter of the influential spiritual teacher George Gurdjieff, relayed these commandments, given to her by her father, to renowned filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky. She told him: "We have been badly educated. We live in a world of competition in which honesty is synonymous with naïveté. We must first develop good habits. Some of them may seem simple, but they are very difficult to realize. Believing them to be obvious, we fail to see that they are the key to immortal consciousness. Now I shall offer you a dictation of the commandments that my blessed father taught me…” 
1. Ground your attention on yourself. Be conscious at every moment of what you are thinking, sensing, feeling, desiring, and doing.
2. Always finish what you have begun.
3. Whatever you are doing, do it as well as possible.
4. Do not become attached to anything that can destroy you in the course of time.
5. Develop your generosity ‒ but secretly.
6. Treat everyone as if he or she was a close relative.
7. Organize what you have disorganized.
8. Learn to receive and give thanks for every gift.
9. Stop defining yourself.
10. Do not lie or steal, for you lie to yourself and steal from yourself.
11. Help your neighbor, but do not make him dependent.
12. Do not encourage others to imitate you.
13. Make work plans and accomplish them.
14. Do not take up too much space.
15. Make no useless movements or sounds.
16. If you lack faith, pretend to have it.
17. Do not allow yourself to be impressed by strong personalities.
18. Do not regard anyone or anything as your possession.
19. Share fairly.
20. Do not seduce.
21. Sleep and eat only as much as necessary.
22. Do not speak of your personal problems.
Click on the link for the next 60 commandments. You won't regret it, I promise.


2. Current Cult Stud sensation Slavoj Zizek has a thing or two to say about the immigrant crisis in the Middle East and Europe... and I think some of you may be surprised by what he has to say. As far as I'm concerned, this so-called Clown Prince of Philosophy makes a few eminently astute observations about both the left AND the right, and the inherent weaknesses in both standardized positions. It begins:
The flow of refugees from Africa and the Middle East into Western Europe has provoked a set of reactions strikingly similar to those we display on learning we have a terminal illness, according to the schema described by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her classic study On Death and Dying. First there is denial: ‘It’s not so serious, let’s just ignore it’ (we don’t hear much of this any longer). Then there is anger – how can this happen to me? – which explodes when denial is no longer plausible: ‘Refugees are a threat to our way of life; Muslim fundamentalists are hiding among them; they have to be stopped!’ There is bargaining: ‘OK, let’s decide on quotas; let them have refugee camps in their own countries.’ There is depression: ‘We are lost, Europe is turning into Europastan!’ What we haven’t yet seen is Kübler-Ross’s fifth stage, acceptance, which in this case would involve the drawing up of an all-European plan to deal with the refugees.
The rest is well worth reading. I urge you all to read and grapple with it, with the ideas Zizek puts forth.

3. And, finally, for your visual delectation, here's an excellent iteration of the editorial artform, combining god only knows how many movies into a single, solitary scene set in a crimson-lit dance club in the middle of Hell.  

MEDIAVORE TV ~ POST-BINGE BULLET REVIEWS, PART 1!

More and more people these days are choosing to take in their entertainment the same way bulimics take in food, devouring shows in great, gulping binges that leave them bleary-eyed, stiff-jointed, mentally foggy and utterly spent. 
Yer old pal Jerky is no different. In fact, after years of being inexcusably lax in my attempt to stay on top of the whole "television renaissance" thing that everyone says we're experiencing, I have taken to watching not just seasons, but entire SERIES in long, marathon viewing sessions. With some of these shows stretching into five seasons, that is no easy feat, let me tell you. 
Anyhoo, my pain in this case is your gain, because today, I'm going to clue you in as to which of these "must watch" TV shows really are "must watch" TV shows, which are just a waste of everyone's time, and all points in between. I hope you enjoy these short reviews at least as much as I hated watching some of these shows. - YOPJ
***

ROME (HBO), Seasons 1 and 2


This lavish American/British/Italian co-production launched that infamous homosexual catch-phrase: "You can Pullo my Verenus all day long!" Okay, so that's not technically true, but the testosterone runs thick through this series' veins. Maybe that's because of the intensity of Rome's central bromance between the aforementioned lead characters, Legionaries Verenus and Pullo, portrayed so winningly by Kevin McKidd and Ray Stevenson. Or maybe it's because the show was co-created by legendary Hollywood fascist John Milius, upon whom the Coen brothers based the character of Walter in The Big Lebowski. Rome served up heaping helpings of period detail with buckets of blood (and sex) to help wash down those history lessons. Sadly, despite being scheduled to run for 5 seasons, producers pulled the plug after only 2 because of how damned expensive it was to shoot. This is doubly tragic, because the decision to pull the plug came literally weeks before the first season DVD broke all previous sales records, and ratings for the last half of the second season exploded beyond anyone's wildest dreams. 

Flow Factor: Excellent episodic flow. Must be watched in sequence.

Superfluity Levels: Negligible. Virtually no repetition, constant narrative novelty.

Binge-ability Index: Dangerously binge-able. Schedule breaks ahead of time so you don't caught in a 24-hour video vortex.

Bottom line: It's like Game of Thrones, only real.

***

GAME OF THRONES (HBO), Seasons 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5


It's like Rome, only totally made up. Everybody's favorite historical drama about shit that never happened, Game of Thrones is an absolute phenomenon, so I doubt I have to describe it to you except to say that the setting seems like a mix of Medieval Europe and Ancient Rome, while the behavior of the characters seems positively Ancient Greek, or even (gulp) Babylonian. Rape and brutality abound. And it's pretty fucking glorious, if you ask me.

Flow Factor: Decent, but the last season started to drag.

Superfluity Levels: Negligible. Not a whole lot of repeated beats, here. More like constant one-upping itself.

Binge-ability Index: Maximum. Dangerously binge-able.

Bottom line: Probably the most must-see TV show currently on air.

***

THE WIRE (HBO), Seasons 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5


The Greatest Show in the History of Television by some lights. It's definitely the finest police procedural show ever produced, and it's also definitely one of the most relevant socially conscious dramas ever produced. Depending on your personal politics, your mileage may vary, but as far as I'm concerned, The Wire's reputation is well deserved. Even the "worst" episode is better than the best of most network - and even a lot of premium cable - offerings.

Flow Factor: Perfect. Multi-episodic arcs flow seamlessly into season-spanning arcs. 10/10.

Superfluity Levels: Zilch. This is a show that is constantly evolving and changing.

Binge-ability Index: Nigh unto Game of Thrones levels.

Bottom line: The most "must see" of all the must see TV shows of the last decade and a half. Easily out-Sopranos The Sopranos.

***

AMERICAN HORROR STORY, (FX), Seasons 1, 2, 3 and 4


MURDER HOUSE
Freaky-deaky goings on in a beautiful old house that has seen more than its fair share of diabolical and dastardly doings. A bit uneven, but the novelty works in its favor, so make this the first season you watch.

ASYLUM
Excellent swirl of horror movie tropes, as escaped Nazi scientists breeding monstrosities while aliens and super-genius serial killers do their thang. I was hopelessly addicted to this, what I consider to be the best, of the four seasons so far.

COVEN
Barring a few fine performances and a few good ideas, the inclusion of a Franken-Fratboy and Stevie Nicks dooms this season as undeniably the goofiest, fail-iest season of this popular franchise. I recommend skipping.

FREAKSHOW
An excellent return to form, with one of the creepiest show openers in TV history, ranking up their with the original Twilight Zone montage. If clowns freak you out, you're gonna love this one. Also, freaks!

Flow Factor: Each season throws so many ideas at you that you never have time to be bored, and things never feel like they're getting stale or samey.

Superfluity Levels: Coven suffers a bit from "we've already been down this road" syndrome, but the other series keep the freshness levels elevated at all times.

Binge-ability Index: Totally binge-worthy. Sticks in your head, too, so you don't have to watch them all in one big gulp.

Bottom line: Two excellent seasons, one good season, and one shitty one. Bring on AHS: HOTEL!

***

DAREDEVIL (Netflix), Season 1


Marvel's blind avenger Matt Murdock gets his first TV outing since a guest appearance on The Incredible Hulk in the early 80's. Also, Gomer Pyle plays a way too emo and somewhat under-weight Kingpin in a performance that makes him seem more like a PG-13 version of Richie Rich's dad than the Wilson Fisk of comic book lore.

Flow Factor: So-so. The jumping back and forth in time that the first few episodes indulge in make them a bit of a slog, as we're constantly taking a break to learn what we already knew about what was going to happen to Matt's doomed, boxing loser of a dad. Punch-punch, kick-kick, flashback.

Superfluity Levels: A great many of these episodes feel like repeats of previous episodes. Way too many fight scenes that look exactly like the previous half-dozen fight scenes. How much punishment are we supposed to believe one man can take before he requires hospitalization and a few months off to recuperate?!

Binge-ability Index: Moderate. The sameness gets to you after a while.

Bottom line: Meh.

***

ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK, Seasons 1 and 2


Criminal Lesbians on Parade! What's not to like?

Flow Factor: Good.

Superfluity Levels: I never got bored, and loved learning the backstories behind all these lovely ladies (and the one lady with a little something extra). It really kept me coming back for more.

Binge-ability Index: High to Extreme. I never thought I'd become addicted to a show like this. But I did.

Bottom line: Maybe the ultimate couples' binge series.

***

THE JINX, (HBO), Season 1


A six-part documentary series with all the surprises and high drama of good fiction. Hard to believe it's true, but apparently, it is.

Flow Factor: It's short, so, quite excellent.

Superfluity Levels: Zero. It doesn't have time to become superfluous.

Binge-ability Index: Maximal.

Bottom line: If you like true crime documentaries, this is for you.

***

TRUE DETECTIVE, (HBO), Season 1


The cosmic horror and dread of H.P. Lovecraft, the nihilistic anti-human philosophies of Thomas Ligotti, the frills and chills of Robert Chambers' The King in Yellow, Southern Gothic inbred serial killing Christian fundamentalist legacy families... and two of the finest performances of the last decade in ANY medium, in a somewhat over-written and ultimately disappointing must-see masterpiece of wasted opportunities.

Flow Factor: Starts slow, but mesmerizing if you're attentive and invested. Eventually picks up steam.

Superfluity Levels: Low.

Binge-ability Index: Yeah... quite good.

Bottom line: Again, your mileage will vary depending on how well read you are in the sources from which Pizzacollatamundo (or whatever his name is) has so liberally and shamelessly plagiarized.

***

HAPPYISH, (HBO), Season 1


Steve "Alan Partridge" Coogan steps in for a suicided Philip Seymour Hoffman in this edgy, sophisticated, but still raunchy and occasionally ridiculous dramedy.

Flow Factor: You could easily watch these episodes out of sequence (bar the final one) and not lose any story value.

Superfluity Levels: Medium. A running gag with the Kiebler Elves starts to lose its sting towards the end.

Binge-ability Index: Medium.

Bottom line: This one was cancelled before the final episode aired, I believe. There's a reason for that. Anyway, I enjoyed it.

***

OTHER SPACE, (Yahoo!), Season 1


The creator of Freaks and Geeks (among others) launches this Yahoo!-funded sci-fi parody web-series with a little help from some familiar faces, including two Mystery Science Theater 3000 alumni (Joel and Trace). 

Flow Factor: Pretty good.

Superfluity Levels: Negligible.

Binge-ability Index: This was like the purest crack rock for yer old pal Jerky's sensibilities.

Bottom line: The least likely series you're ever likely to find yourself in love with. It certainly helps that three of the cutest gals in the galaxy are along for the ride. Yowza!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

DDD SUGGESTED READING ~ SEPT 12, 2015



1. From used panties vending machines to Satanic tentacle rape porn, Japan is home to some truly fucked up shit. It's also home to some truly fucked up people. People like "Boy A", the notorious child-killing child-killer who called himself "Satei Sakakibara" (which means devil's sake-drinking rose apostle, or something) and who remains nameless, due to Japan's lax child crime laws (he was 14 when he killed two children and attacked a few more). His crimes took place in the 1990's, and he was released a few years later. Now, American press sources reveal that he's set up a "vanity website" for himself, complete with semi-nude selfies and a strange fixation with slug-related artwork. And although they try to describe it, reporters apparently couldn't find the website's url. Well, I did a little digging, and I found it. Guess what? It's as fucked up as you'd expect from a former child-killing child killer who fucked a victim's severed head before sticking it on a schoolyard fence with a message stuffed in its mouth. Enjoy!

2. Have you ever wanted to read a book by Thomas Pynchon, but figured you didn't have the massive amount of time you figured it would take to both read, and then figure out, what it is, exactly, that the notoriously difficult reclusive author was trying to get across? Well, on a purely plot-based level, The Guardian has distilled The Crying of Lot 49 into a few snappy paragraphs that I suspect even seasons Pynchophiles will find valuable... especially as a way to get people interested in reading the entire book (which is, after all, Pychon's shortest and punchiest).


3. As long as we're on the topic of my favorite English language author, did you hear the one about the book that may or may not have been pseudonymously written by said reclusive author, for undetermined reasons? A recent Harper's article by Art Winslow begins:
Is it possible that the literary sensibility—person—that produced a clutch of novels under the name Thomas Pynchon has had a fat new novel out since April, under a different name, only to encounter a virtual vacuum of notice? That relative anonymity may have been expected, or might even have been among its aspirations, to prove a point? 
Yes and yes. The book in question is called Cow Country, a 540-pager that came out of the chute from Cow Eye Press, a publishing house (if that is what it is) established in 2014 apparently for the express purpose of issuing Cow Country and perhaps related follow-ons, one of which is a centennial reprint of a 1916 eugenicist tract by Madison Grant, tying Americanism—patriotism—to racial purity. (Surely that is a stunt up someone’s sleeve.) Cow Eye Press sports a street address in Cheyenne, Wyoming, that is occupied by a registrar agent for company incorporation in the state, a firm that offers virtual offices in a locale “known for business-friendliness and respect for privacy.”

The progenitor of this novel, its faux leather back cover attests in urine-yellow type (a hue and liquid one finds in the narrative as well), “is an independent author of idiosyncratic fiction. His work has been published under multiple pseudonyms. Including this one.” Adrian Jones Pearson. He is on Facebook, of course.

The mystery only deepens over at Harper's Online, but some wags have already begun to suggest a more likely culprit in this imbroglio... Art Winslow!

Monday, September 7, 2015

DDD SUGGESTED READING ~ SEPT 6, 2015


1. I assume we're all Pink Floyd fans here, right? Well then, I'm going to have to assume that you guys are going to be as shocked, surprised and delighted as I was to discover that the boys created a multi-page comic book "program" to coincide with their Dark Side of the Moon tour in 1975. As Dangerous Minds explains:  "It has an appealing lack of polish that puts it somewhere halfway between 'professional promotional item' and 'schoolboy’s notebook scribbling.' ... The 'programme' is credited to Hipgnosis, Nick Mason, Gerald Scarfe, Paul Stubbs, Joe Petagno, Colin Elgie, Richard Evans, and Dave Gale." You can download the whole thing at the link, and find more vintage Pink Floyd ephemera at the Ultimate Pink Floyd Fan Site. Especially their Tour Book Project page.

2. I am currently working on a long essay about the Rise of the Conspiritards, in which I will be making use of some of the concepts first delineated by Richard Hofstadter in his ground-breaking essay for Harper's entitled The Paranoid Style in American Politics. It's a great history lesson, and a wonderfully argued bit of intellectual polemic. I urge you all to bone up on it so you'll be better able to grapple with the ideas that I plan to put forth in my own essay. If you're one of those particularly wooly sheeple who believes that nobody died at Sandy Hook, THIS MEANS YOU.

3. And finally for today's "curation" (see Saturday's Suggested Readings for why that's kinda funny), I bring you Italian pop/rock superstar Adriano Celentano's "Prisencolinensinainciusol", a song that topped the Italian pop charts in 1972. The lyrics consist of gibberish designed to sound like English. “Ever since I started singing, I was very influenced by American music and everything Americans did,” said Celentano during a 2012 interview with All Things Considered. “I thought that I would write a song which would only have as its theme the inability to communicate. And to do this, I had to write a song where the lyrics didn’t mean anything.” Thanks to my writing partner Marc Roussel (and BoingBoing) for bringing this gem to my attention. Somebody needs to put this thing in a movie before Quentin Tarantino does.


Saturday, September 5, 2015

DDD SUGGESTED READING ~ SEPT 5, 2015

Filipino Black Magic Fetuses Used in Ceremonies. See Today's Final Entry.
1. Holy crap... Jack Kirby drew a (pretty compelling) three-page graphic narrative detailing all the important events of the day that Jack Ruby killed Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas! The Harry McCracken blog, before publishing all three pages, explicates:
The May, 1967 issue of Esquire–this was during the period when it was edited by Harold Hayes and was probably the best magazine in the history of magazines–featured an article by Garry Wills and Ovid Demaris about Jack Ruby, the Dallas nightclub owner who killed Lee Harvey Oswald. That piece, published after Ruby’s death in January 1967, was complemented by something remarkable: “46 Hours and 36 Minutes in the Life of Jack Ruby,” a three-page comic strip beginning with Ruby learning of JFK’s assassination and ending with him shooting Oswald. The strip was written and drawn by Jack Kirby, inked by Chic Stone and annotated with references to the Warren Commission hearings.
Here's the first page. The rest is at the link above.


2. To those who have looked at art and thought “I could do that”, an art curator explains why you couldn’t. In a video. A video you can watch right here in the comfort of your own home. Also, by the way... to those who have looked at any of my blogs and thought "I could do that"... um, you probably could, without too much effort at all, actually, come to think of it. This is such a bullshit gig, to be honest with you. I guess you get what you pay for, eh?


3.  Hey there, truth-seeking investigator! Now you, too, can investigate Occult Crime in the USA, by downloading and researching this Occult Primer: A Law Enforcement Primer. From HolySmoke.org's description:
This is the electronic version of the precedent-setting report concerning "occult crime" in the United States of America. At the time of its commission, several American communities had been plagued with "mass hysteria" among small groups of people (almost exclusively Fundamentalist Christians) who believed that Satanists and other "occultists" were among them, kidnapping children, burning and looting businesses, and terrorizing their victims in secret midnight "Satanic" rituals. Many of these communities were ravaged with hatred and fear; many innocent people were sent to prison with little or no valid evidence against them other than the words of little children who claimed to be victims, and yet were later found to be lying or confused (deliberately or not) by their "therapists."
Okay? So hurry up and download this shit, save it on your hard drives, then do your best to spread it around, so that the hard-won collective wisdom contained therein doesn't get lost to history.

Friday, September 4, 2015

DDD SUGGESTED READING ~ SEPT 4, 2015



1. From the Dig Within website, a few words about Fourteen Incredible Facts about the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001. It begins:
As the 14th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, it’s important to remind people that we still don’t know what happened that day. What is known about 9/11 is that there are many incredible facts that continue to be ignored by the government and the mainstream media. Here are fourteen. 
1. An outline of what was to become the 9/11 Commission Report was produced before the investigation began. The outline was kept secret from the Commission’s staff and appears to have determined the outcome of the investigation. 
2. The 9/11 Commission claimed sixty-three (63) times in its Report that it could find “no evidence” related to important aspects of the crimes. 
3. One person, Shayna Steinger, issued 12 visas to the alleged hijackers in Saudi Arabia. Steiger issued some of the visas without interviewing the applicants and fought with another employee at the embassy who tried to prevent her lax approach. 
4. Before 9/11, the nation’s leading counter-terrorism expert repeatedly notified his friends in the United Arab Emirates of top-secret U.S. plans to capture Osama bin Laden. These treasonous leaks prevented Bin Laden’s capture on at least two separate occasions. 
5. Former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger was caught stealing documents from the National Archives that had been requested by the 9/11 Commission. The Commission had previously been denied access to the documents but the White House reluctantly agreed to turn them over just as Berger was trying to steal them. 
6. The official story of the failed air defenses on 9/11 was changed several times and, in the end, paradoxically exonerated the military by saying that the military had lied many times about its response. The man who was behind several of the changing accounts was a specialist in political warfare (i.e. propaganda). 
7. Military exercises being conducted on the day of 9/11 mimicked the attacks as they were occurring and obstructed the response. NORAD commander Ralph Eberhart sponsored those exercises, failed to do his job that day, and later lied to Congress about it (if the 9/11 Commission account is true).
To read the other seven facts, and to check out the multiple references embedded into the above text as evidence, click on this link.


2. As an addendum to the above article, here's this thorough (and, for me, thoroughly disappointing on a personal level) takedown of one of the guys I used to think was one of the few "good guys" working from the inside of the Bush regime at the time of the September 11 terrorist attacks: former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke. This revelation alone, is enough to shatter that delusion:
In 1984, Clarke was selected to take part in one of the most highly classified projects of the Reagan Administration. This was the secret Continuity of Government (COG) program run by the National Program Office that continued up to and after the attacks of September 11. Other than Clarke, the members of the COG group included Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, George H.W. Bush, Kenneth Duberstein, and James Woolsey. If not a formal member of the group, Oliver North reported to it and acted on its behalf. Although Cheney and Rumsfeld were not government employees throughout the twenty years that Clarke participated in this official government program, they both continued to participate. COG was developed to install a shadow “government in waiting” to replace the U.S. Congress and the U.S. Constitution in the event of a national emergency like a nuclear war. In 1998, Clarke revised the COG plan for use as a response to a terrorist attack on American soil. The first and only time that COG was put into action was when Richard Clarke activated it during the 9/11 attacks. As of 2002, that shadow government continued to be in effect as an “indefinite precaution.”

3. After the above terror-related horror, I thought we could cleanse our palates with a bit of alien sex-related horror. Because, apparently, thanks to the Internet, there's no fetish so strange, so off the beaten path, that it doesn't exist anymore. So say hello to the creator of Primal Hardware's "alien ovipositor" sex toy, which "is basically a big dildo that lays goopy eggs molded from gelatin in the body cavity of your choice." It's an interesting interview with the item's creator, a dude who goes by the name of "Lone Wolf". The promotional video promising "enhanced splorch" is particularly enlightening.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

DDD SUGGESTED READING ~ SEPT 1, 2015


1. Ann Diamond has some interesting things to say about Canadian national treasure Leonard Cohen. Hold on to your hats, kiddies, because this narrative swerves and slides around in some increasingly zany territories, including the Kennedy assassination(s), the CIA, mind-congrol and MKUltra, the Rothschilds, New World Order social engineering, reptilian shape-shifting, psychedelic drug use, an overnight conversion from lefty socialism to right-wing Zionist-tinged end-times ideology and much, much more. The fact that it manages to visit all these topics and remain disturbingly credible and sober-sounding is an incredible achievement in and of itself.


2. How awesome is this newly developed technology that allows medical professionals to visualize where your veins and arteries are before they start jabbing you with hypodermic needles? This should also become a boon to junkies the world over. No more near misses means a lot less wasted junk!

3. Doc Clock's video mash-up combining nearly 200 TV shows and movies that reference Shakespeare's Hamlet is a wonderful use of these awesome technologies gifted to us by Al Gore all those years ago. I bet you enjoy it as much as I did.