I’m short of ideas so I’ll just steal some of ya’ll’s and do a best-of-the-year post for a variety of areas. Except I’m indecisive so I can’t narrow things down to just one, so many of these will be multiple. Plus, my chronological-ness is always screwy and I don’t keep up with new stuff all that often, so nominees may be decades old… they’ll be eligible as thing-of-the-year if this was the year that I happened to encounter ‘em. Solipsism simplifies!
Book Of The Year
I’m gonna concur with KickerOfElves and nominate Cormac McArthy’s The Road for this one. That was a seriously bleak, stark, brilliant book, and even though it’s not technically a horror novel, it had a scene that gave me bigger chills than any horror novel I’ve read in a long time (the scene were the dad’s exploring a house and finds a basement full of chained-up people and looks out the back window and sees the owners of the house returning). This book probably comes to mind more often than anything else I've read this year. McCarthy’s Child of God is also a contender, given its literary approach to corpse-fuckin’. I just started Blood Meridian, and given that there's graphic eye-gouging in the first freakin' chapter, it'll probably show up on next year's list.
Other books that rated over 3 stars in my review book this year are Gun Work by David Schow (badass, violent noir that Robert Rodriguez should option for the screen), Here Comes A Candle by Frederic Brown (freaky, experimental crime novel/psychological suspense mindfuck), A Feast of Snakes by Harry Crews (scuzzbucket portrait of life among the reddest of rednecks), A Dull Roar: How I Spent My Summer Deracination and A Preferred Blur: Reflections, Inspections, & Travel in All Directions by Henry Rollins (I always look forward to Henry’s books and can’t wait for A Mad Dash to come out this year), White Line Fever: An Autobiography by Lemmy Kilmister (was there ever any doubt this would be great?), The Terror by Dan Simmons (brilliant epic historical horror about an ill-fated expedition to the Arctic circle. Scenes from this one went through my head quite often while dealing with the brutally cold weather we’ve had this week), Sweeny Todd, Or, The String of Pearls by an anonymous author-or-authors (“penny dreadful” splatter nastiness, gotta love it), A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (not a big fan of the story, but the prose was great and was oddly the first beyond-short-story-length Dickens I've read. There will be more!), The Blue Max by Jack D. Hunter (I have a weird fascination for WWI biplane dogfights, and this one described them so well that I could literally see and smell scenes from it; just a great, great book), The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (don’t start this one if you have anything else to do for a few months, it’s good, but fuck, buddy, it’s long), The Star Rover by Jack London (this might have the #1 slot if The Road didn’t edge it out; sent me off on a London kick), and Haiku by Andrew Vachss (a bit too unfocused to be his best work, but this tale of homeless people trying to scam a place for an obsessive friend’s paperback library is still powerful stuff). Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane is also worth your time and I'm lookin' forward to the movie.
I never write in books, but if I did, Andrew Vachss would be one of those guys I’d have to read with a highligher in my hand. He’s got too many good lines, he’s like the Buddha. So, instead, I keep a slip of paper in the back of the book and write page numbers on it. Since I’ve got it handy, I’ll share some of the quotes from Haiku.
“To the unknowing, their own lack of knowledge proves there are secrets. After many repetitions, the burden shifts on its axis. An inability to disprove even the most nonsensical claim proves its truth.” - p. 32
“Years of lessons and the most dutiful attention may result in an accomplished painter. But only forces we do not understand produce a Van Gough.
“All such gifts are delivered in two boxes, one inside the other. One is a grant; the other a demand. The larger box may be torn open, as if by an eager child handed a present. The smaller -- and far more precious -- box is locked. Its key is not provided; it can be located only through devotion, labor, and sacrifice.
“To be gifted is inborn. It is not earned. Not all those who are gifted are worthy of their gift. That test lies not within the locked box, but in the search for its key.” - p. 41
“A man may possess the tools to build a house, yet allow them to rust on the ground he sleeps on. You are what you do.” - p. 179
“When an adversary has the ability to inflict harm from a distance, that distance itself is an adversary. A rifle that is capable of delivering death at one hundred meters is useless if the target can place himself between the tip of its barrel and the marksman holding it.
“That is the essence of fear. Efforts to avoid it only magnify its power -- fear is an enemy that can be killed only at close range.” - p. 204
“Having no choice but one brings great comfort.” - p. 206
CD of the Year - Jeez, I dunno, I’m probably going to go with Lysergic Legacy by The Fuzztones, just because that’s what I’ve been listening to the most and with the most enthusiasm. And I’ve listened to so much stuff that it’s hard to remember what all I freaked on. I’m sure right after I post this I’ll go “How could I have forgotten THAT album?” and kick myself. I’ve also been digging A Taste of Honey by The Viletones (apparently I like bands that fit a “_____tones” pattern), which is some old '77 punk and sounds a lot like The Dead Boys, with all the snide snottiness that entails. Ya gotta respect the lack of pretense of any band who has a song called "Dog Style" that has a chorus of "She likes to fuck dog style," when I was expecting some kind of clever metaphor instead.
I also loved the new Slayer, World Painted Blood. This won't be popular, but what the hell, I'll admit it -- I also liked the new Metallica album, Death Magnetic, pretty well. It's not perfect, and I do bear grudges, but I give them credit for a good attempt at returning to form and hope they stay on this path. The music is solid; it's just that James can't write good lyrics anymore after he turned into Too Much Therapy Man. They verge on whiney-ass-titty-baby abstraction too much when they should be less introspective and about Hemmingway novels and Passover legends and Lovecraft and such instead, 'cuz, psssst, James, that's what you don't suck at. But, really, is this so bad, I ask you? Try for a minute to erase the hurt feelings of betrayal we all felt after the Black Album and those "load" things and be fair to it.
I say that's pretty solid stuff.
I haven't heard the new Katatonia, Night Is The New Day, yet - that crept up on me and I didn't know it was out, so I haven't gotten it in the mail yet, or I suspect it'd belong on this list. I've never heard anything from this band that wasn't jaw-dropping brilliant. Sampling the new stuff on YouTube it's pretty impressive:
Here's an old song of theirs that I liked so much that it inspired me to write an entire novel...
Anyway, I also liked the new Clutch, Strange Cousins from the West, a lot. They're reliable groovesmiths who aren't afraid to fuck up some time signatures all kinda crazy.
And their experiments with bluesiness are welcome:
The new Dax Riggs album, We Sing Only of Blood Or Love, also blew me away.
I've also been digging old stuff I discovered by The Dancing French Liberals of '48 (the hardcore band that the surviving members of The Gits formed), the re-formed Iron Cross and their new (to me) CD, Two Piece and A Bisquit -- the great vocals make that one some of the best oi I've heard in a while, brief as it is. Let me assume the persona of my favorite MaximumRockNRoll reviewer, Bruce Roehrs, for a second to tell ya about it:
Yes! You punks and skins are in luck! IRON CROSS is back to pummel you into a gelatinous mass with a new slab of working-class oi that will shrivel your ball sac so completely you'll be able to strike a match on it! You will feel the guitars plow a trench through your fucking skull as the bass and drums pound your ass like a spiteful stepchild! The bourgeoisie will crumble once and for all before blue-collar anthems like "Pride And Freedom"! Check out the lyrics to this hard-edged, uncompromising, confrontational song! "They can try to keep us down/ With promises of pain/ Let 'em know we got nothin' to lose/ And everything to gain/ Seen our brothers fall victim to/ The lies of the ruling class/ Look 'em in the eye, clench our fists, and say/ 'Shove it up your ass!' / Oi! Oi! Oi! You can never take our pride, no! / Always fight, we'll never hide, no!/ Pride and freedom are not for sale, no! / Try to beat us, you'll always fail!/ Seen our music nailed on a cross so we're takin' it to the street/ Take a punk band and then they butter 'em up/ And then they sell it on MTV/ We're still runnin' through your city streets with only one thing on our minds/ Destruction of the phonies and fakes, you and all your kind!" Those are some hard-edged truths for you punks and skins to accept! As you're trying to recover from that, they hit you with a brilliant ribcage-shattering cover of "Runnin' Riot" by CockSparrer! Fuck!! Then, mercifully, they'll soothe your bruised being with a beautiful, Nick-Cave-like ballad, "Ship of Sorrow," which may bring a tear to your swollen, blackened eye! Check out these touching lyrics: "I sailed oceans far between/ Where the birds will never sing/ And I longed for my fair maiden/ On her finger placed my ring/ But my ring was not silver/ Was not gold, but cast in ore/ Though my heart was rich in treasure/ She spurned me then, for I am poor/ She said, 'My love, you bring me pleasure/ My love, you please me well/ But I shall marry wealth and station/ Above your price I do sell/ Ya-da-dee di-ya-da-dee ya-da-dee-di-dee/ Now I sail on a ship of sorrow/ Searching for the light/ But her window's cold and empty/ And the storms grow fierce at night/ There's a place of burnin' sufferin'/ A place of wicked bleeding souls/ Who will burn with no redemption/ For forgiveness they have sold/ And I would gladly ease their suffering/ Take their burdens for my own/ To hold her again so gently, for just one night to call our own/ Ya-da-dee di-ya-da-dee, ya-da-dee-di-dee." Fuck! That is a masterpiece for you fucks! You lucky cretins need to seek out this fucking great EP at CDBaby before you are pummeled and have your gonads torn from your body and flung forth into the abyss with an oath! Order it and a truckload of holy-bejabbers-fuck will back up to the doorstep of your hovel and make a delivery of sweet-mammy-Jesus directly into your spasming colon! Until next month... see you fucks at the bar!
Sorry, I've always wanted to do that. I'm a huge Bruce Rohers fan, and it's been a compulsion I've had... believe me, it's tribute, not a mockery.
Song Of The Year - probably “Shylock” by 70’s Aussie stoner-rock band Buffalo, just because I geeked out so hard for the massive riff that drives this thing. Also, it’s one of the few songs where I’ve almost worn a clear spot in my car’s mix tape from replaying the guitar solo over and over again. Guitar solos rarely really hook me, with only a few rare exceptions (KickerOfElves’ own break that starts around 3 and a half minutes into in “Beneficial Neglect” being one of ‘em, so tip of the hat there; emotion just drips off that solo, I almost wept the first time I heard it), but this one, good lord, they are trying to hurt you, it's just pure beautiful ill-will and has that angry-dinosaur-trying-to-wallow-its-way-out-of-a-tar-pit howl that usually only Hendrix can pull off. It sounds like construction work. And that fucking riff is just the most massive, relentless, crushing thing since Black Sabbath‘s “Symptom of the Universe." It is big like a son-of-a, and it's played with some of the filthiest guitar tuning possible. And I love the way they traipse away from it a few times but then it always comes back in - sometimes a teasing piece at a time, like a threat -- like you thought it was gone but it got paroled and sought you out and now ya gotta deal with it again! One of those songs that makes me wish I’d learned guitar as a kid just so I could form a band that would cover it. Just an evil, back-alley knife-fight of a song that I never get tired of (obviously, since I won't shut up already).
Their other stuff is also good, so if you liked that, seek 'em out, especially the Volcanic Rock album. This song, "United Nations," from Only Want You For Your Body, is also vicious.
I also love this Black Keys song quite a bit and am clepping lines from it as opening quotes for a horror novel I'm writin'.
Concert DVD of the Year - Nashville Pussy, Live In Hollywood. I like this band, but I figured out that they get even better live and when you can see 'em. God damn but Ruyter Suys can play a frickin' gee-tar. And Karen Cuda ain't no slouch bassist, either.
Here's "Lazy Jesus." If you sing along, you're damned. If you dance, you're double-dog damned... especially if you're Baptist!
Also, the video has a segment where Lemmy from Motorhead interviews the band and he closes with the following dirty joke:
A man takes his wife to the doctor and says, "Doctor, something's wrong with my wife, I don't know what, but she's not acting right." The doctors take her and examine her and they come back to the man and tell him, "Well, we're not sure what's wrong with her, but we've narrowed it down to two possibilities: Alzheimer's, or really, really bad gonorrhea. So here's what we want you to do: take her home, but about a mile or two before you get to your house, stop the car and let her out. If she finds her way home, don't fuck her!
Worth the price of admission, right there.
Movie of the Year - This is too big for me to even tackle. I'll probably go with Paranormal Activity just 'cuz I got the most excited about seeing it and wasn't disappointed. I also loved [REC] but I think I saw that over a year ago. Just last week I saw a brilliant, beautiful, slow-burning throwback-to-the-late-70's-style horror movie called House of the Devil, and that'll legitimately be on DVD in about a month and ya'll need to pick that up hell yeah baby.
I was also very grateful for the Sleepy Eyes of Death (Son of Black Mass) samurai films to start making their DVD debuts; I've been impressed with those. As far as Oscar-y "art" films go, The Wrestler is a solid piece of work. Eden Lake was pretty good in the extreme-horror category. And 1969's Book of Stone was one of my favorite previously-unheard-of very creepy discoveries, which desperately needs a legit DVD release, as does 1992's Ghostwatch. Let The Right One In is also a good 'un worthy of attention.
Worst film of the year? Maybe Automation Transfusion. What a piece of shit. Don't waste a dime on that. I also thought Martyrs was a profoundly overrated, pretentious, idiot-pandering, bullshit load of diaper-stuffing, but enough other people seem to love it that maybe you should make up your own mind about it, although it gets a big accck-ptui loogie from me.
Comedy CD of the Year - Doug Stanhope's From Across The Street, with very-honorable-mentions to Greg Giraldo's brilliant "Good Day To Cross A River" and his new DVD, Midlife Vices, plus Patton Oswalt's CD/DVD My Weakness Is Strong. Much funny is to be found there.
Store of the Year - BigLots! DVDs for $3, baby! And not just shitty ones, either! Some of the things I've scored for $3 each this year have been 2001: A Space Odyssey, Superman Returns, whole seasons of The Flintstones and Huckleberry Hound, Roots miniseries-es, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Eating Raoul, Rock 'n' Roll High School, Private Parts, The Damned, Logan's Run, Poseidon Adventure, A Strangers Is Watching, The Hand... just too much cool stuff to even begin mentioning. I've driven all over the state scouring these stores (many thanks to those who go along with me to navigate, since I have the sense of direction of a toddler and would never find the city by myself, much less the store). Runner up: Hudson's Dirt Cheap, where you can find History Channel-type DVDs for as low as 59 cents... including whole season box sets of Gene Simmons Family Jewels. Deal and a half!
Fave Thing of the Year That I Got Obsessed With - those Barnes & Noble classics collections. I'm just pissed that there aren't any more to seek out (at least, not reasonably-priced ones, since they're out of print). I'm gonna have to drive back to Jackson at some point and snag a leather-bound Sherlock Holmes collection... My other fave thing this year (which was probably partially last year, but my sense of time blurs, are those Wordsworth Edition collections of old Victorian horror stories. I'm eagerly awaiting the new ones of those, although our Amazon seems to have a hard time getting them. You may also put your trust in any title from Hard Case Crime - I have yet to read a bad book from them yet.
Fave Thing I Didn't Get Obsessed Enough With - my supposed horror-novel-in-progress Daisyland, which I've been "working on" for 6 months and only have 10,000 words done. I am a lazy and unproductive tit (long-winded blog posts notwithstanding) and possibly even silly-lookin'.
Ultimate Asshole of the Year: Glenn Beck. This turd is an irresponsible scumbag whose cynical spooking of the nation's herd of hapless idiots is probably eventually going to get somebody killed, and then he'll whine that he didn't mean any harm, he was just trying to play "rodeo clown." He's the kind of desperate-for-attention loser that everybody remembers from high school because he'd shit in his pants if you gave him seven dollars. I won't say this guy's fascist, but he's certainly fasc-er than most.
Can't think of anything else, so I guess that'll do 'er. Now, onward into the new decade, with a whole new bunch of mistakes to make! Banzai!