The Illusion

All the open wounds on my face,

waiting for my skin itself to replace,

so I can resume the illusion of perfect grace

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Undignified Grave for an Angel

Saw an angel, saw an angel

Arched wings of black fully removed

Red articles of life hard and dry

Soft, dreamsome  feathers pressed into the ice

It’s talons reach still, preserved in last night’s snow

The ebony guardian sang and said “hello”

Undignified violence, and an audience that carries on

No proper burial for a messenger of the sky

No respect in this frozen grave.

 

Lessons for the Information Age

Two decidedly opposite opinions on The Internet’s effects emerged in it’s early days, and persist even now.  These criticisms and praises of the net are only becoming more relevant each day.  Folks from futurists, to anarchists cherish the web’s ability to make information available worldwide.  Conversely, many people are concerned about the spread of disinformation at everyone’s fingertips.

Facebook rose to popularity in the early 2000s, and has since seen younger users drift away from their site.  Facebook, as a business, has an interest in keeping a large user-base.  Secret algorithms used by Facebook, and perhaps every social media platform, control what content users are shown.  These algorithms exploit Confirmation Bias, among other biases, to keep users coming back to their site.   Products of Facebook, Twitter, and Google present you with what you want to see.  One reason, is so that users aren’t discomforted  by cognitive dissonance and other “negative” emotional responses to their site.  This isn’t any one user’s fault.  These algorithms promote content that is similar to things you’ve liked, viewed, or searched for previously.  This is a systemic problem that happens behind-the-scenes of your favorite websites, and is mostly beyond your control.

That being said, The Internet is a powerful tool, which can be used for good.  It’s easier than ever to expose corruption by putting information online where everyone can see it.  When a website is cited, you can easily click to check any claims without even getting out of your seat.  Additionally, you can use search engines to instantly find facts and trustworthy sources.

“For true democracy to work, people need easy access to independent, diverse sources of news and information.” —democracynow.org/about

With claims from both sides that the media is unfairly for/against Trump or Hillary, these key ideas are incredibly relevant.  While we are all vulnerable to the virus of misinformation, advertisement, and propaganda, there are also ways to protect ourselves:

  1. Seek out a wide variety of content:  This is something I strive for every time I am reading the news or researching something.  If you normally get all your news from John Oliver, try watching videos made by people who have different views and backgrounds than you.  This is important for seeing both sides of every argument, and then coming up with your own balanced views.  Also, it sort-of messes with some website’s algorithms, because then you’ll get recommended content that isn’t just an echo of what you want to hear, but a broad collection of ideas.
  2. Check it: see an allegation without any sources to back it up?  Look for more info on that topic.  Just because a rich/high profile person said-so, doesn’t make it true.  Honestly, I don’t even trust so-called fact-checkers and fact-checking websites–I’d rather find out on my own than being assured something is true with little explanation.
  3. Follow the money:  Newspapers, tv programs, websites, even documentaries all get funding somehow, from somewhere.  Newspapers are almost always owned by a larger company, and they have a bottom line.  Always consider how money could be influencing the content these sources, which citizens rely on to be well-informed, put out there.  One site I like for getting my news is Democracy Now, although I do get information from elsewhere(see no.1), because they are a non-profit organization.

The wild internet is a tricky place.  Citizens of the internet need to protect themselves(and everyone else) from, and for, information.

New PAIN Single Black Knight Satellite is Reassuring

Time leaches almost every band’s unique sound more and more every release.  With lineup changes, pressure from record companies, and the pursuit of fame, many bands slowly crumble.  In a world regular humans are incapable of seeing, is a graveyard of bands metalheads used to like, before they sold out, or started to sound too much like pop music.  Any one who’s traced a band’s discography from early demos to their latest music video steps carefully here.  Learning that there is new music from your favorite artist can be bad news.  There’s always a good chance that the tracks are poorly mixed, or worse–the vocals are layered and modified into oblivion.  One’s darkest fear of all is that the new songs will sound closer to Kanye West than Metallica.

Peter Tagtgren has had a lot of success.  Most people know him as the frontman for Hypocrisy, or through his solo project, PAIN.  In the last year, he also released the album Skills in Pills with Till Lindemann of Rammstein, under the name Lindemann.  Peter’s work, whether alone or with others, has earned him an international cult following that mostly lives online.  When I heard the news, that there would be a new album and single, I wasn’t overly worried that the new stuff would be a nosedive in quality.  Peter is capable of making diverse sounding music, but he understands that going in a new artistic direction means a new project, with a new name.

Image result for Pain Dark Knight Sattelite  The new PAIN single, Black Knight Satellite, maintains the sound that fans recognise as PAIN.  This is a relief.  Black Knight Satellite will also be on the new album Coming Home.  I am inferring from this, that the other tracks will sound similar.  If the rest of Coming Home sounds like that, then we can all rest easy that PAIN hasn’t sold out.  That being said, I urge you all to go listen to the new single, protected by the foreknowledge that it won’t be an utter disappointment.

 

Top 10 PAIN Songs

 

  This September 9th, Peter Tagtgren will be releasing a new PAIN album, titled Coming Home.  Peter released a new single the other day too, called Black Knight Satellite.  Interestingly, his son Sebastian Tagtgren will be the studio drummer for the new album.  I didn’t even know he had a kid (Where did this homunculus of a son come from?!)  I wonder whether Peter Tagtgren will take his son on tour with him as well, although I doubt it…  Randomly appearing progeny aside, I thought it was fitting to celebrate the new album with the top ten PAIN songs according to moi.

The tracks below are listed in order from The Very Best to one-of-the-best, with the album in which they were first released in brackets.

  1. Just Think Again      (Psalms of Extinction)
  2. 12:42      (Rebirth)
  3. Close My Eyes      (Nothing Remains the Same)
  4. It’s Only Them      (Nothing Remains the Same)
  5. Nothing      (Dancing with the Dead)
  6. Don’t Count Me Out      (Dancing with the Dead)
  7. The Tables Have Turned      (Dancing with the Dead)
  8. Monster      (You Only Live Twice)
  9. I’m Going in      (Cynic Paradise)
  10. Computer God      (Psalms of Extinction)

Image result for Pain Dancing With the Dead ArtHonorable mentions go to the song Tear it up from the album Dancing With the Dead and Suicide Machine from the album Rebirth.

Genital Mutilation in the name of Music

Allesandro Moreschi’s voice is preserved in the only recordings to be made of their kind. In 1902, he was recorded singing “Ave Maria” and “Hostias et Preces.” Moreschi was castrated, likely when he was only eight years old, although it could have been earlier in his life. He was a Castrato; a prepubescent boy castrated so that he would retain his high, childlike voice for his whole life instead of “dropping” from puberty. Castrati were so popular, primarily because, in church, women were usually banned from singing based on the Pauline dictum, “let women keep silent in church”(I Corinthians, ch 14, v 34). When church choirs required voices with a range similar to (female)sopranos and mezzo-sopranos, Castrati were used. Castrati were popular in Europe from the 16th century to the 1860s.
The genital mutilation of children is generally accepted these days(although not in all parts of the world) as cruel and unacceptable. Unfortunately, people made the decision to place a boy’s (potential) singing career ahead of human rights. In the end, this is another disturbing example of the ways in which sexism(the banning of women from singing in church) has had negative repercussions on men and boys.


You can listen to the recordings of the Castrato Alessandro Moreschi here, and judge his voice for yourself!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alessandro_Moreschi

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castrato

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eunuch#Castrato_singers

Testimony of The Food-Stealing Roommate

I came and ate your fancy food.

It didn’t mean to rob you of your gourmet gummies.

I was just looking for lunch.

 

My greedy talons took your snacks–

which you had purchased the night ‘fore

–I was compelled by the spirit of my own wanton gut.

Yes, how disgusting am I, and people like me:

a cancer on faithful, law-abiding citizens everywhere who purchase overpriced pasta.

 

I must confess, I don’t like vegetables and plants.

I almost considered leaving your hipster harvest salad alone;

I did not.

It was good.

It was an experience, and it changed me.

I’m going vegan– no lie!

 

My plea is that you have mercy on my hungry, humble soul.

I swear, I tried to think smartly,

but the mounting pains in my belly took over!

I became something I don’t ever want to be:

The Food-Stealing Roommate.

The Harvest 3.5/5 STARS

Yes, yes, I’ve got a movie review for you!  I’m a sucker for dark movies, but I thought this one–The Harvest–was worth recommending.  As someone who has trouble sitting through long movies, I found The Harvest(1hr 44min) very watchable.  From start to finish, the pacing was perfect.  I’d like to add that this movie deals with the death of one’s child, among other sensitive topics, so keep that in mind if you’re sensitive to that.  Even I was on edge, mouth twisted in disgust when things really started to get creepy.

A sickly boy(Charlie Tahan) is isolated from the outside and other children, “to keep his strength.”  His abusive mother(Samantha Morton) is a doctor, and mild father(Michael Shannon) a nurse.  When mounting evidence shows that the mother doesn’t truly care about the boy’s longevity, only the neighbor girl(Natasha Calis) can shine light on this dark family.  All of the characters in The Harvest are believable, with familiar dynamics that hearken to real life.  For example: the mother puts the father down by reminding him he’s just a nurse, and she an MD.  The father, conversely, resents her status as a doctor.

The movie opens with a pleasant scene: kids are playing baseball, parents yelling encouragements from the bleachers.  One kid, Bobby, is hit with the ball and flops to the ground, unresponsive.  Adults crowd around him, but you can hear a woman calling: “Please, let me through… I’m his mom. Let me through.”  Bobby is taken to hospital and saved.  His mother, relieved, thanks the doctor with a hug.  This seemingly inconsequential scene will not make sense until the very end of the movie.  Actually, I went back and watched the opening again because I had nearly forgotten it as it seemed totally unrelated.  Folks, I was wrong.  Go back and watch the beginning again if you need to: it really frames the message of the movie.


Sidenote: The Harvest is available on Canadian Netflix.

 

PSA: Hot Cars

  It’s that time of year again and, unfortunately, I feel the need to remind you all about Summer safety for you and your loved ones.  I don’t care whether you’re at a concert or the grocery store: do not leave your darkling in the car!  I implore you: because they are covered in black velvet and silk, unlike you or I, they are extremely prone to heat stroke.  Some people say you can leave the car windows rolled down an inch to keep them cool, but that does not prevent sunburn!  Goths are delicate creatures and will sizzle, smoke, and blister if left in the car for too long.  Additionally, bringing along a compact with white press powder will keep their skin hidden from Normals and daylight in the event of melting makeup.  Always remember: bring extra sunscreen and your buddy’s favorite collection of romantic poems when spending time at the park together.  Stay safe, and have a lovely Summer.

Crazy Contouring Dupes

Just because it’s a pencil doesn’t mean you can’t contour with it!  Here are some products you probably already own that can be re-used to contour:

  1. Eyeshadow: use a cool-toned brown three shades darker than your skin tone for a more natural look.  Or, use grey on whiteface makeup or any cool colour you want for a wackier look.  Apply as you would normally and blend.
  2. Brow Pencil:  lightly draw lines around your forehead and nose, under your cheekbones, jaw, and bottom lip.  Go over the lines a few times in places where you want to create a more dramatic shadow(such as under the cheeks).  The brow pencil should be darker than your skin. Blend with a slightly damp sponge or fingers.
  3. Lipstick: contouring with lipstick works really well on darker skin, watch lipstick contouring in action here.