I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book. - Groucho Marx


by Chris Martin
May 12, 2018
Martial arts movies are the drum solos of the seventh art. Time honored classics of the genre like Bruce Lee’s Enter the Dragon begin and end with the technical performance of the protagonist’s body. They act as documentaries to an ability that are framed around a fictional narrative. Because of this, many martial art films, much like drum solos, can come off as dull, numbing, and masturbatory displays for those not entirely invested in the performance itself. Despite the fact thatRiki-Oh: The Story of Ricky works itself around the most typical narrative thread for a martial arts film, (i.e. a handsome, physically skilled protagonist enters a despotic system and punches everything until there is nothing left to punch,) Ricky nor his physical abilities are the stars of the film. The stars of Riki-Oh are the victims, both of the villains and of Ricky, and the focus of the action is the boundless amounts of gore distributed to those unfortunate enough to end up in this absurd future-prison...
Christopher Martin recently graduated from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst with a degree in English and a specialization in Film Studies. Shockingly, he is currently underemployed. In his free time Chris likes to read old science fiction novels, enjoy what little nightlife Western Massachusetts has to offer, and watch as many films as possible. He also spends too much time on Tumblr.

by Lindsay Long
May 11, 2018
One of the more enigmatic and unique sounds to emerge from England’s burgeoning 70’s punk scene was the female fronted X-Ray Spex. After witnessing an inspirational Sex Pistols performance, former flower child Marianne Joan Elliot-Said decided to form a punk rock band. In late 1976 with help from her boyfriend/manager Falcon Stuart, she took out ads in Melody Maker and NME seeking “young punx who want to stick it together.” Shedding her real name for that of Poly Styrene, she installed teenage saxophonist Susan Whitby, Paul Dean, Paul B.P. Hurding, and Jack Stafford to hurl her anti-consumerist lyrics into the faces of London’s rebellious youth. The sax lent an atypical approach to the three-chord aesthetic of classic punk rock with slightly funky tinges and a definite new wave angle. Alongside Jak Airport’s soaring guitar and Poly’s (at times abrasive and shrill, rarely melodic and sweet) voice, the band was able to become an overnight sensation. Only their second live appearance was onstage at the Roxy and they even managed to take up a near residency at local Man on the Moon pub. Recording companies were eager to cash in on the punk rock craze, and X-Ray Spex released their first single “Oh Bondage Up Yours!” on Virgin. The song became a proto riot grrrl anthem and is still heralded as one of the finest punk singles released. Although Poly claimed the song actually stressed strong anti-consumerism views rather than remarks on sexism. It is still no mistake that she became widely recognized as an innovative feminist figure in an aggressive scene dominated by nihilistic young men. Born of British Somali descent and unabashedly wearing braces, Poly Styrene was an audacious archetype for rock n’ roll front woman. Denouncing the idea of being conceived as a sex symbol, she in turn became a punk poster child, often receiving more recognition than the actual band itself. Whitby, better known as Lora Logic, was replaced early on by Glyn John then eventually Rudi Thomson, but also must be credited as a crucial role in the early incarnation of X-Ray Spex. Being only fifteen at the time, Logic left the band to pursue her education. She would later go on to form Essential Logic and work with several influential acts throughout her own interesting post-punk career...
Currently holdin’ it down in the dirty south city of Atlanta, Network Awesome contributor Lindsay can be found frequenting house parties, punk rock shows, seedy thrift stores, or glued to her computer screen unearthing the endless gems today's internet offers. A self-proclaimed fan of all things vintage, including the nudie mags of yesteryear, she possesses an insatiable appetite for anything visually mind-blowing or just totally tasteless. Notorious B.I.G. sums her up best with a line from ‘Gimme the Loot': ”Dangerous. Crazier than a bag of f*@#$%g angel dust.”

by Robert Ham
May 10, 2018

My musical interests are perverse enough that when I heard about the existence of a grand opera surrounding the 1972 diplomatic visit by then-President Richard Nixon to the People's Republic of China, I was immediately intrigued.

I can only imagine what it must have been like for the music writers of the world when John Adams' work finally premiered at the Houston Opera in 1987. I would hope that a similarly perverse curiosity piqued their interest, fascinated by how the people behind the project—theater director Peter Sellars, composer John Adams, and librettist Alice Goodman—would pull it off.

Sellars was already known in the theater and opera community for his challenging stagings of famous works. During the '80s, he had overseen productions of Mozart operas that were removed from their original settings and placed in contemporary society. Don Giovanni was transplanted to Spanish Harlem, with costumes straight out of a '70s Blaxploitation film, and the most famous aria in it being performed while the singer simulated shooting heroin...

Robert Ham is a writer based in Portland, OR where he's a regular contributor to Willamette Week and The Oregonian. You can also read his work in Alternative Press and self-titled magazine. He likes black-capped chickadees and Chinese noodles.

by CremasterFanatic.com
May 9, 2018
Cremaster 2 (79 min, 1999) was the first project Barney shot on HDTV (all of the Cremaster “films” are shot on video and then transferred to 35mm film for theatrical projection). The film cost about 1.7 million dollars to produce. An enormous amount of footage was shot -- estimates range from 17 to 30 minutes of tape for every minute used in the final edit (Hollywood films usually shoot at a ratio of 12:1).

The story of Cremaster 2 is loosely based on the life of Gary Gilmore (played in the film by Barney). Gilmore, born a Mormon, was sentanced to death for killing two men in Utah (a gas station attendant and a motel clerk) while on parole from a 12-year armed robbery sentance. Gilmore’s execution was the first in the US in a decade and attracted a lot of attention in the media. He did not appeal his death sentance, choosing instead to face execution by firing squad. Gilmore’s execution was a public relations nightmare for the Mormon Church: although both men he killed were Mormons, by choosing to make a “blood atonement” for his crimes Gilmore was absolved of his sin and entitled to all of the benefits of his Mormon baptism. Barney says he was drawn to Gilmore’s story because it, “was like a version of the whole ‘Cremaster’ dilemma, of a character in conflict with his destiny.” Gilmore’s story was the subject of Norman Mailer’s book The Executioner’s Song (Mailer, himself, appears in the film acting the role of escape artist Harry Houdini), parts of which form the foundation of Cremaster 2.

Within the Cremaster Cycle, Cremaster 2 represents the next first stirrings of gender difference. The idea of conflict between the sexes is explored using the metaphor of the queen bee and her drones (the beehive is also a symbol of Mormonism, signifying the importance of the collective over the individual, and appears on the Utah state flag). Another important motif in Cremaster 2 is the two-step. The dance is used as a metaphor for doubling back, Gilmore moving back through his own conception to Houdini’s metamorphosis...
CremasterFanatic.com is compiled and maintained by artist Eric Doeringer.

by Kristen Bialik
May 7, 2018

"This situation is so bad that it is the worst that ever has been!" – The Professor

So you may want to know who the Professor is, or more pressingly, what is the situation? The worst situation that has ever been! Well when you watch Infra-Man you won’t have to wait long to find out. Before the Professor can proclaim the direness of the event, some crazy shit goes down: a Giant Flying Lizard crashes into a children’s school bus, the Earth is ruptured, and Hong Kong erupts in flames. And that’s just the first 60 seconds.

The situation is this. After a several million-year slumber, a prehistoric monarch by the name of Princess Dragon Mom has awoken and is royally pissed to discover she no longer rules the world. So she decides to enslave the entire human race with the help of her monster minions...

Kristen Bialik is a writer, teacher and graduate student of Journalism and Mass Communication. In her spare time, she's a baker of pies and maker of stories.