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Posts published in January 2009

Two French-as-hell videos for this cold Saturday

This first is a video sent to me ages ago by my brother Charlie. It is a beautifully animated video for the song “Le Café” by the French group Oldelaf. I don’t know anything about the band, but the video is super awesome and unbelievably French.

Here is the video on YouTube with subtitles. Oldelaf – le Café (english subtitles)

The other video is a short animated film by Paris-based studio Passion Paris which I encountered on BoingBoing. It deals with the impending end of the world in 2012. Scary stuff. Also beautifully animated and possessing of a biting sense of humor.


Richard Halloran Owns Home Computer

This news story from 1981 is a fascinating piece of the past’s future, and eerily prescient regarding the eventually demise of print media and availability of online versions. And check the rotary phone he dials placing the receiver on the cups of the modem. Pretty cool.

Two hours to download the online edition? How much data could a text-only version of a local newspaper like the SF Chronicle actually contain? A few hundred kilobytes at the high end? I make you load that much in utterly unimportant image data every single time you look at The Black Laser and I bet you never even bat an eye. It’s amazing how far the technology has come since then, a mere 28 years. It really forces on you the fact that we have no idea what technology will be like 28 years from now. I fully expect replicants by 2019, and that’s only a decade. 28 years is 2.8 times as long! Maybe they’ll have Nexus 16.8s!

Julian & Clive


Julian pushes the supermarket brand hotdogs around the grill growing impatient at the fact that they are not yet ready to eat.  He wishes they would spit and sizzle and flare up the way they do in the hotdog commercials, but they languish on the not-nearly-hot-enough-to-cook-anything grate.  Once there was grass around his cousin Lester’s forlorn little grill, but the battle against the grease and ash from these summer cookouts has been lost, revealing the dry dirt beneath.  Julian turns a hot dog over to check if it somehow had achieved doneness while he had stopped paying it attention for a moment—it had not.  He throws the barbeque tongs on the table beside the grill and contemplates the cooler filled with beer before recalling Dawn sitting directly behind him, feeding their toddler applesauce.  She doesn’t like when he drinks and fear of her has kept Julian sober many nights he’d rather have drunk away.  

An example of what I love about Cormac McCarthy

My first experience with Cormac McCarthy was when I was 16 or 17 and my older brother’s friend Doug Lowney came over and read a passage to me from Blood Meridian. Since 16 year olds are idiots, and I was an idiot, I couldn’t really comprehend what he was reading to me. All I knew was that there was raping and scalping and killing and shit. I imagined a blue-grey morning and Vikings doing the slaughter, which was, as it turns out, exactly wrong. But the point is that it piqued my interest. I later purchased a copy of Blood Meridian which I successfully finished reading on my second or third try during my sophomore year of college. It’s a difficult book, what can I say? Since then I’ve read Suttree, No Country for Old Men, All the Pretty Horses, The Crossing, and Cities of the Plain—I am a full blown Cormac McCarthy nut. I even have a two year old Oprah saved on my DVR at home that has an interview with him.

After finishing You Shall Know Our Velocity, I figured it was time for something a little more…gritty? I pulled his first book, The Orchard Keeper, off my shelf and within 40 pages came across a passage that reminded me of what I really love about McCarthy’s writing. It’s primal, it’s fierce, it’s forceful. The prose leaps out at you like a mountain lion, waiting for you to come around the corner of the trail so that it can tear your throat open and drink your blood. It is so good that I just have to share.

Whether he fell forward or whether the man pulled them over he did not know. They were lying in the road, the man with his face in the dirt and Sylder on top of him, motionless for the moment as resting lovers. Something in Sylder’s shoulder traveled obliquely down to his lungs with each breath to cut off the air. He still had one hand locked in the man’s neck and now he inched himself forward and whispered into his ear.

Why don’t you say something now, bastard? Ain’t you got some more talk to spiel for us?

He was jerking at the man’s head but the man had both hands over it and seemed lost in speculation upon the pebbles of the road. Sylder let his hand relax and wander through the folds of the neck until they arrived at the throat. The man took that for a few minutes, then suddenly twisted sideways, spat in Sylder’s face, and tried to wrench himself free. Sylder rolled with him and had him flat backward in the road and astride him, still the one arm swinging from his broken shoulder like a piece of rope. He crept forward and placed one leg behind the man’s head, elevating it slightly, looking like some hulking nurse administering to the wounded. He pushed the head back into the crook of his leg, straightened his arm, and bore down upon the man’s neck with all his weight and strength. The boneless-looking face twitched a few times but other than that showed no change of expression, only the same rubbery look of fear, speechless and uncomprehending, which Sylder felt was not his doing either but the everyday look of the man. And the jaw kept coming down not on any detectable hinges but like a mass of offal, some obscene waste matter uncongealing and collapsing in slow folds over the web of his hand. It occurred to him then that the man was trying to bite him and this struck him as somehow so ludicrous that a snort of laughter wheezed in his nose. Finally the man’s hands came up to rest on his arm, the puffy fingers trailing over his own hand and wrist reminded him of baby possums he hand seen once, blind and pink.

Sylder held him like that for a long time. Like squeezing a boil, he thought. After a while the man did try to say something but no words came, only a bubbling sound. Sylder was watching him in a sort of mesmerized fascination, noting blink of eye, loll of tongue. Then he eased his grip and the man’s eyes widened.

For Christ’s sake, he gasped. Jesus Christ, just turn me loose.

Sylder put his face to the man’s and in a low voice said, You better call on somebody closer than that. Then he saw his shoulder, saw the man looking at it. He dug his thumb into the man’s windpipe and felt it collapse like a dried tule. The man got his hand up and began with his eyes closed to beat Sylder around the face and chest. Sylder closed his eyes too and buried his face in his shoulder to protect it. The flailings grew violent, slowed, finally stopped altogether. When Sylder opened his eyes again the man was staring at him owlishly, the little tongue tipped just past the open lips. He relaxed his hand and the fingers contracted, shriveling into a tight claw, like a killed spider. He tried to open it again but could not. He looked at the man again and time was coming back, gaining, so that all the clocks would be right.

Zombie Zombie + John Carpenter = Awesome

Zombie Zombie is a horror-inspired French electro duo. Listening to a few of their tracks, it’s obvious that old school horror soundtracks are a primary creative source for them. So it is no surprise that someone made this fucking awesome video recreating John Carpenter’s The Thing with MOTHERFUCKING GI JOES.

They have a record called A Land for Renegades that came out last year. I need it so bad. Analog zombie disco? I NEED IT SO BAD. God, it’s like God reached into my brain and pulled out everything I love and made it into two motherfucking French guys. What the fuck?!

Here’s their trailer. The performance in it reminds me of this live Kraftwerk performance of “Ruckzuck” on German TV in 1970, but with an obviously more modern, darker, more aggressive air. Calling on the Masters of Electronic Music like that, unwittingly no doubt, bodes well.

Too awesome.


Kurt Vonnegut – How to Write with Style

Let’s celebrate the 100th post on The Black Laser with someone else’s work.


I am a fan of Kurt Vonnegut. I mean, who isn’t a fan of his? Breakfast of Champions is incredible. So is Slaughterhouse 5. And Galapagos. And Sirens of Titan. You can’t go wrong. If you’re not convinced, the man was in Back to School as himself. What more do you need?

Consequently, when he writes about writing, you had better pay attention; these are a master’s words and advice. Take heed.

His article “How to Write with Style” breaks down into 7 main points.

  1. Find a subject you care about
  2. Do not ramble, though
  3. Keep it simple
  4. Have the guts to cut
  5. Sound like yourself
  6. Say what you mean to say
  7. Pity the readers

Personally, I feel good about number 1 (the darkness in the human soul) and 5 (can’t you just hear me speak?) in my own writing. Number 3 and 4 are things I can definitely work on. I fall in love with certain things and often have a hard time cutting them out even if they are not working. I also tend to get all retardedly baroque with my descriptions partly because it makes me laugh and partly because I like it, but I think that it is important for me to work on keeping the flavor of those passages without the too-wordy blathering. Streamline.

If you want to read the whole article, I’ve posted it here. Kurt Vonnegut – How to Write with Style.

Happy 100, Black Laserians!