Author Archive

Kick-Ass: With No Power Comes No Responsibility?

Not Spiderman, not even a little.

“Kick-Ass,” directed by Matthew Vaughn, is an action flick full of almost cartoonish violence and plenty of explosions. But I still liked it. No, I loved it, and I’ve hated almost every action-packed-stuff-goes-boom movie I’ve ever seen. What’s different here is that the story is much more grounded. People get hurt, and it hurts them. Bullets fly, and find their targets. Getting involved in a knife fight could get you killed.

Dave Lizewski (played by Aaron Johnson, who shines in this role) is a regular kid who, like many other guys his age, hangs around with his few friends, searches internet for porn, reads comics, and dreams of being something more. Finally, dream becomes reality and he takes that step that no one ever does. As a result, you are terrified and mortified every time Kick-Ass, aka Dave, sets his foot outside in his ridiculous costume.

The movie is more than just fun. Without beating anyone over the head with morals, it touches on real issues. The voyeuristic aspect of our culture is directly addressed in several scenes in this movie. Kick-Ass becomes famous because someone videotapes him in action on their cell-phone, instead of helping, or even calling the police. As the movie unfolds and we watch Dave deal with school, crush on a girl, and glory silently in his new-found fame and hobby, we also watch him quickly sink in way over his head. As he starts to understand that what he’s doing is more real than he’s ready for, he is also realizing that he can’t let things be as they are. Being a victim has become part of his daily life, and he has watched other people victimized, feeling he should do something but feeling out of place, foolish, and scared. We can relate to this. In his costume he starts anew, but the rubber scuba suit isn’t quite the same as a set of muscles and a serious selection of weapons. Continue reading

Brad Senne: Aerial Views

Four words come to mind when thinking of Brad Senne and his new album Aerial Views: Solo Acoustic Indie Folk. Resembling a mixture of Bon Iver and Iron and Wine, this singer and songwriter from Minneapolis has a melodic and hypnotizing voice. The former hardcore musician, who cites Bob Dylan, Elliott Smith, Iron and Wine, Wilco, and Muddy Waters as influences, has grown with the music scene by recently producing heartfelt but composed music.

Considered an urban folkster, Brad Senne plays almost entirely all the instruments on Aerial Views resulting in poppy folk songs like “Sing and Dance” and “So Easy”. However, Aerial Views isn’t completely folk. The harmonica in “Overgrown with Warmth” and “Sew the Scars” adds an element of blues to Brad’s music.

With the combination of his soothing voice and acoustic guitar, he’s creating a whole new genre of Blues Folk. Senne is defining his own style in an already established scene. His album Aerial Views is a must for Bon Iver, Iron and Wine, or other folk/acoustic rock fans.

You can learn more about Brad Senne and purchase Aerial Views at his MySpace Page

The Dresden Files Are My Literary Crack

Harry Dresden is the kind of guy I’d like to be friends with. Well, maybe not really good friends, since all his good friends are constantly exposed to mortal peril and whatnot. Still, he’s pretty friggin cool and it might be worth it. Anyway, I digress.

Harry Dresden is the protagonist of the much noticed Dresden Files series authored by Jim Butcher. The urban fantasy series has already become a sci-fi live action adaptation as well as a comic book. Not too shabby.

The story centers around the only wizard/private investigator listed in the Chicago Yellow Pages. The series starts with the novel Storm Front, where Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden is introduced and quickly thrown into a nightmarish scenario rife with black magic and corpses. A few other mainstays are introduced, such as Karrin Murphy, a lieutenant with the Chicago Police Department who occasionally engages Dresden as a consultant on some of the stranger cases her department has to deal with. What follows is a mystery involving damsels in distress, twisted maniacs, loads of well-thought out magical feats and creatures and lots of action tempered with the occasional comic relief. Continue reading

Parade of Oddities

Skulls embedded in the walls of the ossuary.

What do St. Petersburg, Paris, Rome, and Philadelphia have in common? You know, besides being metropolitan centers for the arts and the homeless? The answer lies in a smallish hall dedicated to the macabre. But, you may be saying, what of the Parisian Catacombs? Don’t you find miles of underground tunnels, which include a very well organized ossuary creepy enough? Well, yeah, you got me there. Walls lined with human bones and floors laden with bone dust is pretty messed up, but have you been to…

Exhibit A: Musee de Fragonard

Housed in the Alfort Veterinary School of Paris, the Museum is a single hall where rows of shelves containing dusty jars filled with formaldehyde and labeled in yellowing hundred-year-old French handwriting explain that you are looking at the two-headed fetus the occasional occurrence of which may have been the basis of Janus mythos. Or, perhaps, the lonely mermaid baby, a fetus with its legs fused and feet resembling the fins of a fish, floating calmly in its jar. The star of the collection, however, is just beyond some animal bones, in a glass cabinet, for it can certainly not be contained in a jar. This is The Horseman, Fragonard’s most impressive Ecorché. Both the horse and his master are flayed, but their flesh and veins are somehow frozen in time. At their feet are three skeletal fetuses, immobilized in festive postures, a gruesome dance of death. Continue reading

Wacken 2009: 20 Years of METAAAAL

Festival Dates: July 30 – August 1, 2009
Venue: Wacken Open Air, Village of Wacken, Germany
Bands Reviewed:  Airbourne, Bring Me the Horizon, Bullet for My Valentine, Endstille, GWAR, Heaven Shall Burn, In Flames, Machine Head, Motörhead, Napalm Death, UFO, Vreid, Subway to Sally

(via Youtube, via

I won’t even pretend like this article has anything to do with music. The music is there, somewhere, far below the fraternity of sweating metalheads, the mud, the bipolar weather, the mead, the circle pits, the drunks curling up in the sun, the menfolk marking each foot of fence with a puddle of piss… I think you get the point. Wacken Open Air is united by music. Its existence is based on it’s line up, but that is not really what it is about. I learn this fact all over every year.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Wacken Open Air. It has began as a few trailers and a few campers–an intimate collection of mostly German bands and folks who could drive over from neighboring towns and villages. Today it hosts anwhere from 70,000 to possibly almost twice that number of attendees, journalists, band members, hangers on, and of course villagers hocking goods. People come from all over the world to take part, especially since “Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey” has named this festival the mecca of metal in 2005. Continue reading

Dethklok Versus The Goon Makes My Brain Hurt


Two mediums collide, as well as two minds, to make animation, heavy metal, horror, gore and comedy into… well… something obviously driven by marketing. While Metalocalypse, created by Brendon Small, is absolutely uproarious on screen, with all four characters almost entirely unintelligible as they mumble the dialogue before delivering another nonsensical musical number, it really doesn’t work on paper.
Continue reading

Vast and Into The Presence

Show date: May 8th, 2009
Venue: Highline Ballroom
Bands: V.A.S.T., Into The Presence
Photography by: Frenchie

Jon Crosby of Vast

Jon Crosby of Vast

VAST was a band I randomly found about a few years ago from a friend who randomly found out about it from a friend. This is how Jon Crosby would have wanted it. The band, consisting basically of Job Crosby, but which has finally established a consistent support in the form of Michael Cry, Ben Fenton, Tabber Millard and Ernesto J. Ponce has had a tumultuous relationship with record labels and has gotten some radio play and big media exposure in its formative years. Of late, VAST has been the underground band Crosby has always wanted it to be, with the direction and vision of the music entirely in his capable hands. Continue reading