The Journey of SILVER BROWN

#NaNoWriMo

This website was launched on October 28 of last year. I chose that date for two reasons. The first reason being it’s my usual shtick to unleash things upon the earth either on the seventh day of a calendar month, or on a date that corresponds with a number divisible by seven. That’s just how I roll. The second reason is that I wanted to launch the site in time for November, which among other things is National Novel Writing Month. Or NaNoWriMo (nan-oh-RHYME-oh), as it’s known for short.

The gist of NaNoWriMo is to challenge people to produce a novel of at least fifty thousand words during the month of November. For the benefit of all participants, the rules don’t state that the novel has to be riveting or particularly well-written. Authoring a complete novel of that high a calibre in thirty days or less would be a Herculean undertaking for most people, unless Green Eggs and Ham counts as a novel now and I didn’t get the memo.


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The notable lack of Nobel Prize-worthy material composed during NaNoWriMo is virtually of no concern to all involved, however. It’s not so much about producing the next Hamlet as it is about getting people engaged in the craft of creative writing, so they gain a newfound appreciation for the art. Ultimately, a newfound love of literature itself – a love always stronger and more ubiquitous than we’re ordinarily accustomed to believing it is.

Like many people, I’ve read a lot of books over the years. Not all of them I loved right away. Some were confusing as all shit on the first read, only starting to make sense upon subsequent reads. Some caused a certain churning feeling in my gut with either an absurdly improbable premise or something outright inexcusable, like purple said-bookism abuse. Some books left behind a strong Whiskey Tango Foxtrot aftertaste in my conscience that persisted years after I read the last sentence. Then there are other books that are just plain horrifying. But all in all, I don’t regret reading a single book I’ve ever read. A library is a different plane of existence. A place devoid of regret.


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The Green Grass of SILVER BROWN

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance

I was eight years old when the feature film The Dark Crystal was released in theatres way back in 1982 (and from there you can calculate how old I am, if you must). Easily one of the movies that defined my childhood. Certain aspects of the premise were confusing as all shit, and it was both criticized and praised for being noticeably darker than the rest of Jim Henson’s body of work up until that point. But the movie’s visuals were striking for the time and continue to be so, especially considering it came out well before Tinseltown began its love affair with CGI.

For those of you who haven’t seen The Dark Crystal, the story is set on another planet. One whose name is curiously never mentioned in the screenplay or credits of the film itself; we only know what the planet is called from the derivative works that were released after the movie. Thra orbits a triple star system, and is home to a host of delightfully strange creatures. Among them are jet-black murderous crabs the size of rhinoceroses. A Lhasa Apso-like mammal that curls itself into a ball and rolls along like tumbleweed as its primary means of locomotion. An old woman with bighorn sheep-like protrusions growing out of her head who has the ability to pull her own eye out of its socket and use it like a periscope. A beast that looks like a cross between a colossal moth (sans wings and compound eyes) and one of the elephants depicted in Salvador Dalí’s The Temptation of Saint Anthony which is astonishingly easy to tame and can be ridden on like a horse. This doesn’t even touch upon the plant life, which is interesting in itself. It’s a world that has stuck with me over the years since I first visited it as a wee lad. But I couldn’t stay on that planet for long. No sequel was ever made. The movie only pulled in modest returns at the box office during its initial theatrical run.

Thirty-seven years later (gadzooks, has it been that long?!), just when I had all but forgotten about the planet Thra, it aligns with Earth once again. This time on a medium whose very existence was unimaginable to the common folk of 1982 – Netflix.

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance is not a sequel to the original movie, but a prequel. In the feature film, the heroic Gelfling race were portrayed as a hair’s breadth away from extinction, having been all but wiped out in a genocidal campaign embarked upon by Thra’s villainous ruling class, the Skeksis. Age of Resistance takes place at a time well before that, when Gelfling society was thriving. Across the ten episodes, we get a slew of insights into Gelfling politics and social customs that were largely absent from the movie. A living goddess by the name of Sigourney Weaver narrates their history to us, which by itself adds several layers of kickass to the whole production.


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Filmmaking technology has obviously advanced considerably since the day Mr. Henson drew his last breath – a factoid that has not gone unacknowledged in the series. The Skeksis dining scene in the original film struck a prepubescent version of yours truly as amusingly disgusting. But Age of Resistance takes the disgusting to a whole new level, to such an extent that it makes the Skeksis of the movie look like proper gentlemen with impeccable table manners. The striking and fantastic of the movie is also taken to new levels as well as the disgusting. Hypothetical life forms that would be next to impossible to capture on celluloid with even the most sophisticated Hensonian puppetry are very possible with 3-D modelling software. We see quite a few digitally rendered creations in the series. Impressive ones, too. Ones that would come pretty damn close to making James Cameron blush.

Even more impressive if you watch the entire series after a couple of bong rips. Which I did. Twice.

Riding that enchanted canoe through the innards of outer space, I elected to live-tweet my first impressions of Age of Resistance, as a nostalgic throwback to that quainter period of human history when people regularly used Twitter for something other than douchey political ranting.


 

The Zen of SILVER BROWN

Autumn Pagan Rituals For The Whole Family

Every October for the last four years (time and the availability of a suitable location permitting), I have taken to constructing a makeshift effigy of myself for the purposes of offering it as an erotic sacrifice to the dying sun. Raw materials used to build the wicker man include three or four long thin pieces of wood to form the skeleton and plenty of dry foliage to stuff it with, and several items of clothing I own that have since become unwearable on account of being threadbare or having gaping holes in the crotch or what have you. The whole thing is held together with twine. A small log of rotting wood typically serves as the effigy’s head, preferably a log in such a state of decomposition that one can easily bore a hole in it without any special tools, but not so rotten that it falls apart the second you try to mount it on the effigy. This year I was unable to find such a log, so I had to improvise a bit…


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Part of the tradition of building one of these wicker men is the inclusion of a handwritten list of everything you would like to lose in the coming year, which gets burned along with the effigy. This year I killed two birds with one stone and wrote my list directly on the effigy’s head. You can make out the words “WHATEVER CAUSES WRITER’S BLOCK” in this next picture if you tilt your head just right…


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After dousing the whole thing in booze (this year’s poison: Bacardi), the magick happens with one flick of the Bic. It’s always a hoot to see what kind of eldritch ghouls manifest in the flames. Here’s the Grim Reaper peering out from the effigy’s innards…


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Several ghouls can be seen in this next shot, if you know where to look. Methinks the prominent one on the bottom right bears an uncanny resemblance to the late great musician Nash the Slash. If you haven’t the foggiest who that is on account of the fact that you’re non-Canadian and/or millennial (or simply because you’re among the untold millions who wouldn’t know good music if it came out and bit ’em on the arse), you know what Google’s for.


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The smoke had a distinct fruity smell to it. I’m not sure if that was because of the Bacardi or because of the discarded exoskeleton of last year’s soul, but the way it hit my nostrils definitely killed something in me. Something I needed to have killed. I found myself spiritually naked. Naked is good. Always. Walking around in the nude is most certainly liberating.


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