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Topics - Dylar

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Metal / Kraftwerk in Concert
« on: April 24, 2014, 11:49:42 PM »
Kraftwerk is in town this week, playing 3 sets at a local festival.  I had the privilege to catch them from what were, frankly the best seats I've ever had at any event of any sort I've ever attended.  I didn't even get seats this good at my grandmother's funeral.  The short version is this; if you get a chance to see them at anything less than federally obscene prices, do yourself a favor and pull the trigger.

The neatest thing about watching Kraftwerk live is how they have arranged for the artist to disappear into the art.  Their costuming is designed to render the band into props for the stage set, allowing them to simply recede into the background.  Their presence is felt, but not thrust upon the audience, a sense enhanced by a stage demeanor that is more akin to a string quartet than a rock or pop act.  It's very different—and entirely refreshing—to see a (non-classical) concert where personalities don't intervene in the experience of the music (please god, make Bruce Dickinson shut up). 

Still, there were some human (all too human) moments as well.  About 30 minutes into the set and halfway through "Computer Love," the soundboard crapped out.  After about half an hour and the collective efforts of the band, several roadies, and an army of sound guy neckbeards, full function was restored and the band was able to return to the stage.  Just after resuming his position, Ralf Hütter looked up at the audience and said, "Hopefully, the machines will do as we have composed for them to do."  He said it without even the tiniest hint of archness, but for once, I was close enough to see the laughter in his eyes.

Interzone / Art Lover Kills Two in SXSW Drive Through Massacre
« on: March 13, 2014, 10:46:57 PM »

A Ryder truck full of fertilizer and nails would have been a better choice.

Interzone / A Tale of Two Rivers
« on: May 23, 2013, 10:34:41 PM »
I recently heard a fellow fly fisherman—who should have known better—suggest that trout have an easy life; "What could be better than living in a mountain stream?" he asked me.  Now, you must understand that this is a guy who "camps" in something that looks an awful lot like the Madden Cruiser, and, following the advice of his overbearing mother, who coddled and terrified him as a child, never "camps" or fishes anywhere more than 60 minutes from a hospital.  He hits the stream with so much gear I'm shocked he hasn't bought himself a brown person to schlep all his crap for him.  Only fishes dry flies.  Exactly.  What a fag.

The truth, of course, is that your average high country freestone stream is an incredibly brutal environment.  The habitat tends to be very marginal, with areas of relatively 'deep' water essentially confined to bathtub sized plunge pools, each with swirling vortex of white water at its center and the occasional narrow chute, where vicious currents have gouged a narrow channel from bare rock.  With so little deep water, a hotter than average summer or a colder than average winter could easily prove lethal to trout.  Drought in the summer.  Floods in the spring.  And that gin clear water?  Just the visual consequence of an ecosystem largely devoid of the organic nutrients needed to sustain life.  In these streams, only one fish in thousands will survive to adulthood, and a trout that lives three years (out of a potential lifespan of 15-20 years) might very well be the grand old man of the river.

One of my favorite trout streams is just such a creek.  It is headwater tributary to another, somewhat larger tributary of a middling river of no particular importance.  Inexplicably, on maps, it is called a "river," but nowhere is it more than 10 to 12 feet wide, and it is rarely more than shin deep.  It is also the most beautiful stretch of water I can conjure to mind.  In just over a mile, the river drops over 1100 feet through a laurel and rhododendron choked gorge, racing around boulders and over pea gravel and cobble, never falling very far at once, with rugged chutes and shallow riffles alternating with stair step plunge pools.  Nestled in the lap of a temperate rainforest, it has always seemed like a secret temple, sacred if not sacrosanct.  It's a place I rarely bring any but the closest friends and family, and only those I know will hold the secret with the same reverence that I do.

(Pay no attention to the fat goob on the rock.)

The fish are wild rainbow trout, tenacious survivors and descendents of some long-forgotten and thoroughly ill-advised private stocking.  They have the sort of lean lines, fantastically vivid colors and fighting spirit that simply cannot be matched by any fish raised in the concrete raceways of a hatchery facility.  And they are tiny.  The trout in this stream average maybe 4-6 inches, and a real monster might top out at 10-11 inches, but they are wild and they are beautiful and in this setting they are perfect.

There is another river I fish with some frequency.  There's nothing remotely secret about the Davidson, which is among the premier non-tailwater trout fisheries in the Southeast.  While it has many of the charms of any fast flowing, clear stream, the grip of civilization lies heavy on the Davidson.  Paved roads parallel it for miles.  Cars are almost always parked at the the regularly spaced pulloffs.  On summer weekends, you'll find anglers stacked at intervals of 40-60 yards along the most popular stretch.  One very productive series of holes backs up against a half rusted out rail trestle and an abandoned industrial property.

For varying reasons (drainage size, soil chemistry, altitude), the Davidson is inherently more fecund than most small high country streams.  But the real draw here is the state trout hatchery, which draws water from the river, cycles it through its tanks, then discharges it back into the river.  This cold, highly oxygenated discharge carries with it the accumulated effluent of 300,000 odd fish, as well as leftover feed pellets, turbocharging the entire stream ecosystem below the hatchery.  From this point on, the river is a thoroughly unnatural bug factory, pumping out a vast biomass of aquatic insects, and able to support an enormous biomass of insectivorous trout, too, with enough leftover to support large numbers of suckers, dace, chubs, sculpins and crawfish, the sort of meals that truly large trout eat.  And that is the whole attraction of fishing the Davidson; there are tons of trout, and a few of them are huge.

Davidson River trout are what some anglers like to call "educated," but this implies a level of agency in their behavior that fish simply do not possess.  Rather, these are fish attuned to an environment of rich abundance.  The constant availability of forage suppresses more opportunistic feeding instincts.  The name of the game is convenience (i.e. minimizing energy expenditure), and strikes either have to be elicited through extremely precise casting and presentations, or by targeting fish during a major insect hatch, when the fish feed more actively.  Like moderns, the largest Davidson River trout require fairly significant levels of stimulus just to attract their attention.  They're chunky like moderns, too.

(Chunky modern with chunky Davidson River rainbow trout)

I find myself fascinated with the ways people experience a place and how they try and relate that experience to others.  When folks talk about visiting the Davidson, they talk about the number of trout they caught or the unbelievable size of that one fish they saw.  When they visit my secret spot or other high gradient mountain headwaters, they invariably speak of the beauty of the scenery of and the gemlike quality of the fish.  Fishing the Davidson is a thoroughly modern experience.  It's all about numbers.  Quantification.  Outcomes.  Small stream fishing feels like a journey into the past, an exploration of long-vanished modes of thought and being.  It is an experience of place, inextricably entwined with aesthetic revelation.

I have a sneaking suspicion that what makes such places seem so lovely is the thrill of mortality.  Our appreciation for beauty is in some sense tied to our sense of impermanence.  I believe that beauty cannot be disentangled from the awareness of frailty, of the tragic, glorious fragility of existence.  The mountainside robed in the splendor of autumn; in a week, reduced to a skeleton of bare rock set off by the silent bones of trees.  The lovely girl in the full flower of a youth that is always too brief.  The Old Guard at Waterloo, in the moment before shell, steel and shot brought an entire age crashing down in bloody ruin.  One tiny doomed fish, rising to dimple the surface of the water in the lee of a rock that is all that remains of a mighty peak, long since pulverized to sand.  In some primitive, instinctual corner of our beings, we recognize the tenuousness of life, and all the challenges it must overcome to simply hang on.  The real beauty lies in the tenacity of life in the face of certain death.

Interzone / Prolixity
« on: March 20, 2012, 12:44:41 AM »
Holy pretentious gum-flapping, Batfaggots!

Interzone / Modern Man: Fucking Weak
« on: November 14, 2010, 02:17:03 PM »
Conservative commentators have been bemoaning the decline of the American man almost as long as the American man has been in existence. As it turns out, they are right: Men these days are a mere shadow of what we once were. We've become physically weaker than our ancestors. We're slower runners. We can't jump as high as we once did. As Peter McAllister, an anthropologist with the University of Western Australia and the author of the new book "Manthropology: The Science of Why the Modern Male Is Not the Man He Used to Be," puts it, we might be the "sorriest cohort of masculine Homo sapiens to ever walk the planet." I, for one, blame guyliner.

"Manthropology," a tongue-in-cheek look at the science of maleness, examines what recent discoveries in the fields of archaeology and anthropology can teach us about the state of modern masculinity. Ice Age aboriginal tribesmen, he discovers, were able to run long distances at approximately the same speed as modern-day Olympic sprinters. Classic Grecian rowers could attain speeds of 7.5 miles an hour, which today's rowers can only attain for short bursts of time. Our culture may be obsessed with muscles: He notes that, since 1982, G.I. Joe's Sgt. Savage has gotten three times more muscular and Barbie's Ken now has a chest circumference attainable by only one in 50 men, but the luxuries of our contemporary lifestyle have caused a steady decline in genuine physical power. The book may be a light, breezy work, but it puts our current debate around masculinity into fascinating context.

Modern Man Can't String Odysseus' Bow

Interzone / Moff's Law
« on: July 24, 2010, 11:47:44 AM »
One of the more irritating aspects of interacting with people on the web is the constant bombardment of passive aggressive complaints and the stupid justifications people provide for watching television or listening to Pantera.  "Why can't you just accept _______ for what it is?"  "Why do you have to force your beliefs on people?"  "Stop overthinking things!"  I used to try and patiently explain the rationale behind my own thoughts and beliefs, but no more.  Now I just point them to Moff's Law and move on.

So when you go out of your way to suggest that people should be thinking less — that not  using one’s capacity for reason is an admirable position to take, and one that should be actively advocated — you are not saying anything particularly intelligent. And unless you live on a parallel version of Earth where too many people are thinking too deeply and critically about the world around them and what’s going on in their own heads, you’re not helping anything; on the contrary, you’re acting as an advocate for entropy.

And most annoyingly of all, you’re contributing to the fucking conversation yourselves when you make your stupid, stupid comments. You are basically saying, “I think people shouldn’t think so much and share their thoughts, that’s my thought that I have to share.” If you really think people should just enjoy the movie without thinking about it, then why the fuck did you (1) click on the post in the first place, and (2) bother to leave a comment? If it bugs you so much, GO WATCH A GODDAMN FUNNY CAT VIDEO.

Interzone / Music as Lifestyle Accessory Illustrated
« on: April 19, 2010, 02:33:39 PM »
So are there any fellow Vegans here? is veganism as important to you in music as anarchism? is it something you look for? do vegans make better music?! What are your favorite vegan bands?

Vegan bands I'm aware of:
Fall of Efrafa
Lake of Blood


Metal / Contemporary classical: dead or just stinky?
« on: April 09, 2010, 09:41:56 AM »
Contemporary "classical music" isn't a significant cultural factor, and that's so obvious it isn't even debatable at this point.  In that sense, it is as dead as a the dinosaurs, even if, like dinosaurs, it remains of interest to a few academics and nerds who will grow out of it.

Interzone / Why you've never really heard the "Moonlight" Sonata
« on: March 02, 2010, 11:57:22 AM »
In music, the situation works something like this. In classical as in other varieties, most of the time people hear music in recordings. When people go to a live concert, they tend to want it to sound like a recording. When you're a classical pianist, you get ahead by winning competitions, where they tend to want you to play as perfectly, and as impersonally, as a recording. And they want you to sound pretty much like everybody else, which means you play a Steinway, as in most recordings. And Steinways are voiced to an even, velvety sound from top to bottom. The number of companies making a dent in Steinway's supremacy—these days mainly Bösendorfer, Baldwin, Bechstein—have receded steadily (except for home sales, where cheaper Korean pianos rule). The standardization of pianos and of piano performing are two sides of the same coin, and the main culprit is recordings.

In Search of Lost Sounds

While the "period instruments" question is probably fairly familiar to most classical fans, I think the above point is actually more interesting.  Many of the complaints we see here about modern music essentially boil down to the norming effect the recording process - technically and economically - imposes upon music.

Interzone / Steve Jobs is dying of AIDS
« on: January 14, 2009, 03:59:58 PM »

Metal / Branikald: triumph or turd?
« on: December 22, 2008, 07:00:22 PM »
Branikald?  I call Hipsters!

Interzone / Viogression
« on: December 02, 2008, 01:54:02 PM »

Wisconsin Death Metal

Like all too many of the better bands of the old underground, Viogression's music has largely been forgotten due to inadequate distribution (and doing business with a rip-off label), the lack of a timely, quality followup, and the simple misfortune to live outside of scene hotbeds in Florida, New York and Sweden.  However, their debut full-length remains one of the more interesting efforts to emerge from the second generation of American death metal.  Perhaps best understood as a hybrid of first album Obituary and Autopsy's Severed Survival, albeit with a more ambitious, expansive compositional style than their influences (which often lends an epic feel even to relatively short songs, though occasionally also to momentary lapses of focus).  Simple in approach, esoteric in impact.

Interzone / We Gotta Hold a Bake Sale...
« on: September 25, 2008, 05:59:38 PM »
...because I fully expect to see these babies to be up on eBay by the end of the week.  I can see the ads now...

"Two companies worth of reasonably modern heavy armor.  Spare parts included.  New in box. (Reserve has not been met)"

Pool some funds, gentlemen.  Let's put together a bid.  The Hessian state will need some reasonable means of defense, and that is the better part of the tank complement for an armored battalion (and totally jacked by pirates: lulz and kill, global commerce).  I mean, it wouldn't slow down the US military that long, but it should be more than sufficient to keep our stereos safe from marauding Negros on D+3 of the Race War.  Besides, "has tanks" is an unspoken - but fundamental - criteria of autonomous nation-state status.

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