Friday, June 28, 2013

Zombie Love

Well, kids, I finally went to see World War Z. I wasn't sure what to expect since I purposely didn't read any of the reviews and only saw one of the trailers. It didn't help that as I was leaving for the theater, one person told me it was "really good" and another person told me it wasn't. But then again, that's exactly why I don't read movie reviews nor talk to people about a movie prior to seeing it. I don't want to be biased when I arrive at the theater, not to mention that I want to come to my own conclusion. So if you're like me, and if you haven't yet seen the film, don't read any further.

For those of you who are still reading, I have to say that I really enjoyed the film. It felt like a global version of The Walking Dead with fast (fast!) zombies. I have to believe that the author of the novel, Max Brooks, has read The Walking Dead comics. Too many similarities to be coincidence. Still, I thought the plot was original enough to hold the audience's interest. I personally haven't read the book so I don't know what's different in the movie, but I really liked the cinematography and special effects. The quick cuts that the editor uses in the first chaotic sequence shows everyone running, including the zombies, so the audience has a hard time distinguishing who's human and who's not. I think this is genius because that's how the zombie apocalypse is going to be: a sea of confusion and panic. Yes, I said, "going to be." Come on. We all know that it's coming - the question is: When?

I also liked the disjointed way in which these zombies moved. Very disturbing. And to see the global scale of the apocalypse, thanks to Marc Forster (director) using a lot of aerial shots for the final addition of the computer graphics, was intense and fun. In fact, for this movie being as intense as it was, I was completely surprised that it lacked the gore that we're used to seeing in a zombie-related story. There were no shots of people's necks being torn away like taffy, there was no blood spurting from jugulars, nor did we see any zombie heads being smashed in. Yet, I was still left clutching my seat while I went along for the ride.

Okay, it's time for the jumpers. I actually counted the number of times the film made us jump out of our seats: three. I sat between two of my friends who aren't as "comfortable" watching horror films as I am and I have to say that may have been the most entertaining part of the evening. The friend to the left of me was already jumping during the trailers that played before the feature! Awesome! And there was one point during the film where the three of us jumped in unison. That made me smile from ear-to-ear.

Thank you, World War Z for a fun ride and for my newly discovered form of protection against zombies. When the apocalypse finally happens, I'll be sure to wrap Vogue magazines around my arms with duct tape. Genius. Pure genius.

Until next time,

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Cremation Canisters as photographed by David Maisel

Beautiful and unique. That's all I can say about David Maisel's photography of these abandoned canisters from the Oregon State Insane Asylum. No, wait. There is one more word I can say in reference to this exquisite collection of photos: Jealous. As a photographer myself, I'm always looking to capture vivid images of extraordinary subject matter (and the creepier the better!). So for Maisel to have the opportunity to photograph these unclaimed canisters, holding the cremated remains of the deceased, well...yes, "jealous" may be the most appropriate word I could use.

I love the way that the minerals, contained in the copper canisters over the decades, have created phosphorous on many of the cans. That, in combination with the oxidation of the copper itself, has turned something tragic (imagine no one claiming your remains) into something captivating - so much so that I'm willing to bet many people would pay good money to have several of these pieces in their homes. I know I would.

Maisel calls this collection of work "Library of Dust." As he explains on his website (, "On my first visit to the hospital, I am escorted to a decaying outbuilding, where a dusty room lined with simple pine shelves is lined three-deep with thousands of copper canisters. Prisoners from the local penitentiary are brought in to clean the adjacent hallway, crematorium, and autopsy room. A young male prisoner in a blue uniform, with his feet planted firmly outside the doorway, leans his upper body into the room, scans the cremated remains, and whispers in a low tone, "The library of dust." The title and thematic structure of the project result from this encounter."

There were, at one time, thousands of these copper canisters contained in the "Library of Dust." Each lid is stamped with a number - the lowest being 01 and the highest being 5,118. How tragic. And yet how fortunate we are to have discovered what happened to these remains as they deteriorated over the years thanks to the talents of David Maisel. Please check out the entire story and the entire collection of Maisel's photos at his website:

Until next time,