The Way Out

December 16th, 2010

Squid In Squid Ink - 10.2

Rounding out the year the same way it began, here’s a second single/EP. I think it makes a nice companion to the previous one.

You can listen online or download for free at

The Illusion That Kills… A Thing Called Early Blur

January 24th, 2010

Squid In Squid Ink - 10.1

First single of 2010 is ready to go:

This one is pretty droney and mellow, focusing on slowly evolving timbres. The louder you play it, the better it sounds.

Ten Movies I Loved and One I Hated

December 19th, 2009

It’s time for another batch of “best of” lists that try to interpret the past 10 years’ worth of movies or music as a cohesive whole. I’m not ready to tackle music yet, but here are the movies that made the biggest impression on me in the ’00s.

No Country For Old Men – It looked beautiful; introduced a unique, iconic villain; and managed to maintain Hitchcock-worthy tension the entire running time. Like many Coen brothers films, its depth and richness becomes more apparent with repeat viewings.

The Fog of War – It’s a revealing counterpoint to the official history of WW2 through Vietnam with the authority of a narrator who knows more about what happened than just about anyone else alive. But it’s also a tragic portrait of a man, brilliant in some ways and willfully ignorant in others, who committed great evil without malicious intent. We watch him try to make sense of it. This is probably my favorite documentary ever made.

Mulholland Drive – Nearly as good as Blue Velvet, if not as historically important. Again, it gets better every time I watch it, revealing moments of insight and layers of meaning in scenes that at first seemed like simple weirdness. It’s also scary as hell.

Pan’s Labyrinth – Fantasy and sci-fi movies exploit the total movie theater experience better than any other genre. The LOTR trilogy was epic and thoroughly enjoyable, but this movie was more nuanced, more terrifying, and something truly unique.

O Brother Where Art Thou? – The term “feel-good movie” usually implies that quality of craft takes a backseat to crowd-pleasing entertainment. You’re supposed to just relax and enjoy it without thinking or caring too much. This is one of those rare occurrences where nothing was sacrificed.

Grizzly Man – Herzog is one of my favorite directors. In Timothy Treadwell he found an obsessive-bordering-on-insane man to match his nature-confronting Kinski characters. We alternately laugh at him, feel sorry for him, feel angry with him, and even admire and envy him, but mostly we just watch in awe. Treadwell’s story is fascinating, but only Herzog could tell it so well.

Lord of the Rings trilogy – The characters are cardboard, the two main protagonists are bores, the comic relief is lame, and the last half hour nearly undermines all the enjoyment that was built up beforehand. But it tapped into that part of my brain that made me a huge Star Wars fan as a kid. I’ll gladly immerse myself in these movies at least once a year.

American Splendor – A movie about a comic book about real life as lived by average people. Yet it’s somehow compelling. Harvey Pekar didn’t die for our sins, but he aired our grievances in ways we’re either too lazy or self-conscious to do ourselves.

King of Kong – I guess I have a thing for stories about real-life obsessives. Credit the director for either the discovery or manipulation of Steve Wiebe and Billy Mitchell, as pure an underdog/villain duo as there ever was.

Drag Me To Hell – Many people have asked why we enjoy horror movies. This is the answer.

Only one movie makes my Most Hated list. There’s not much point in deriding universally loathed crap like the Saw series or the “[Anything] Movie” non-parodies. But I’m still dumbfounded by the praise heaped on There Will Be Blood. Yes, the cinematography was excellent. But the plot is tediously long, directionless, and repetitive. The symbolism and “moral” are delivered via sledgehammer. Worst of all by far is the acting. Daniel Day Lewis and Paul Dano mug and shriek hysterically while failing to deliver a single line or gesture in a convincingly human manner. The climactic scene is worse than anything in those Wicker Man remake highlight reels. Am I missing something or was there some sort of critical mass delusion regarding this film?

New Squid In Squid Ink album

November 10th, 2009

Squid In Squid Ink - Proun

I’ve completed a full-length Squid In Squid Ink album, called Proun. You can download high-quality MP3s here:

Please let me know what you think.

Listening to:

Black Dice - Load Blown Steve Reich - Music for 18 Musicians

Jon Varner

Web Developer, Music Maker