There's a lot of creators in this world doing good work, and they ought to be recognized for it. Living in a capitalist society as we do, the most basic medium of recognition is the purchase; compliments are always appreciated, but it's the purchase that puts food on the table and enables the creator to do more work without flipping burgers. Speaking as both a creator and a publisher, it's a real pleasure when someone calls up and buys something I've produced. I know the value of a dollar, and if you give that dollar to me in exchange for something I've created instead of on umpteen other things, it means a lot.
On this page I've assembled a bunch of books, movies, and CDs that I've enjoyed, and if you like Revland, I think you might enjoy them, too. Each item has a direct link to its entry on Amazon.com, the online retailer, so you can read more about each work, see what it looks like, read reviews, and maybe even buy the darn thing. (If you're curious or offended, I've written a short essay explaining more about why the Store exists and why it's a de facto advertisement for Amazon.com.)
If you know of something that should be here at the Store, don't tell me--set up a Store of your own. (I recommend Amazon.com for this purpose; they make it quite easy. But do what you like.) Big media companies pay off bookstores and e-tailers alike to promote their works over someone else's by sticking those works in prominent display spaces; by setting up your own, free-will Store you can do your part to support the creators who you respect.
There's just a handful of items here at present. I'll add more as time goes on, eventually breaking this into several pages organized by category or something really anal like that. Ultimately, I'd like this Store to "carry" a lot of items, maybe even as many as a real retail store--well, maybe a really, really, small retail store.
Anyway, as Negativland says: Shop as usual. And avoid panic buying.
What rough beast is this? Why, it's shiny, happy Revland merchandise! There's a t-shirt, two different coffee mugs, and a mousepad, all in glorious full color and all available for online purchase. All items feature the glorious Revland logo and some of the swell photographs seen on this site. You can buy 'em now from the good folks at Cafepress.com.
[UPDATED] H.P. Lovecraft has, for any number of reasons, had a tremendous influence on my life, but I'll stick to the basics here. In his forty-seven troubled years (1890--1937), Lovecraft fused gothic horror, science fiction, and a blazing cosmic nihilism into a shockingly new, presciently atomic-age strain of weird fiction. He left haunted houses behind and embraced haunted dimensions, discarded old ghosts for new gods, and drop-kicked classical mythology in favor of fevered new religions glimpsed in dreams and revealed in the fractured mosaics of modern society. A mild-mannered iconoclast in some respects, a thundering antiquarian in others, Lovecraft lived a life as fascinating as his stories, and left behind one of the largest collections of letters ever written by a single author. If you're looking for a starting point, try The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Tales, a brand-new collection that's part of the Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics series--that's right, a major publisher has released an HPL collection, and it's filed under "Literature"! The stories within are selected by scholar S.T. Joshi and are the corrected/restored texts, plus numerous annotations and a lengthy introduction by Joshi. Although it comes quietly, this is perhaps the most significant publication of HPL since Arkham House, coming as it does with the major-publisher stamp of approval so long denied this author. I quite literally jumped up and down with joy in the bookstore today when I found this new release--it's a major milestone, and an impeccable starting point to delve into the wonders of HPL. Also see Tales of H.P. Lovecraft, assembled by the writer Joyce Carol Oates. Beware her introduction, in which she gives away a lot of story endings, but go back to it when you're done with the book because it's quite good. Beyond that lie the three definitive hardcover collections from Arkham House: The Dunwich Horror, Dagon, and At the Mountains of Madness. These are critical editions edited by the aforementioned S.T. Joshi, who went back to Lovecraft's original manuscripts and corrected galley proofs to lovingly restore all the works in the way Lovecraft intended them to be. Finally, Joshi has written the definitive biography of Lovecraft, a mammoth, absorbing volume that truly brings the man to life for all time.
Haruki Murakami is a contemporary Japanese author who writes splendid, imaginative, and strikingly offbeat stories of life in postmodern Japan. In A Wild Sheep Chase, a down-at-heels reporter is hired by a gangster to find a distinctively-colored sheep, his only clue an unmarked photograph. Its sequel, Dance Dance Dance, goes even further into surreal humor, and revists several characters and locations from the first book including the mysterious Sheep Man. The Elephant Vanishes collects a number of short stories: mysterious people who silently install televisions in your house for no apparent reason, a hungry couple who rob a McDonald's on a lark, and many more. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle weaves Russo-Japanese history, a missing woman, and the mystical experience of sitting in a deep well into a wacky melange; it's a David Lynch sort of story, only without the sex and violence, as if Lynch's ideas were being worked out by a Japanese Norman Rockwell. South of the Border, West of the Sun is his latest novel; I haven't read it yet.
Tom Phillips is an artist with a peculiar method of telling a story. For the last thirty-plus years he's been working and re-working the tale of Bill Toge, "one of love's casualties." His medium is a forgotten Victorian novel, A Human Document by W.H. Mallock, ripe with purple prose and a talent for the turn of phrase. Phillips paints and draws over each page from the novel, leaving certain words and phrases visible while obscuring the rest beneath strange imagery. The words he leaves behind and the images he paints around them tell Bill Toge's elliptical tale. Subsequent editions of Phillips' "treated Victorian novel"--A Humument--have replaced various spans of pages with new interpretations, with the eventual goal being an edition that doesn't have a single page in common with the original. It's a fascinating project, and his treated text is a strange read; some passages read like zen koans, others are poetic flights of fancy, and others still chronicle Toge's progress through love and life. While not a straight narrative in the conventional sense, A Humument is one of those books that you want to keep close at hand, ready to flip through and alight on a singular moment anytime you feel compelled to.
[UPDATED] Chungking Express goes a long way to prove that not all Hong Kong flicks are cold-blooded action thrillers or acrobatic martial-arts fantasies. It's a romance, or rather it's two romances, two stories that touch for only a fraction of a second at a busy urban lunch counter called Chungking Express. Beautiful, funny, quirky, and Romantic with a capital R, it's also unlike any other romance put on film. In one, a lovelorn man buys cans of pineapple stamped with the expiration date at which he will give up hope for his ex-girlfriend to take him back, only to fall in love with a drug smuggler in trouble. In the other, a peculiar and shy young woman falls for a cop, but only shows her love by sneaking into his apartment every day to clean house and fix things up. Chungking Express is a world of missed connections, mixed messages, and bad timing, a world nevetheless where the most important thing is still love. Happily, Wong Kar Wai has made a couple of other movies with a similar feel: Happy Together is a tragicomic tale of gay Hong Kong lovers in South America; Fallen Angels was originally to be part of Chungking Express, but ended up as its own film, containing the tales of two more couples in the midst of an unreal city. I found Fallen Angels to be on par with Chungking Express, but Happy Together is also a very worthy experience.
Faust is a story most everyone knows: the egotistical scholar Faust sells his soul to the devil in exchange for worldly wishes, only to regret it. Czech director and stop-motion animator Jan Svankmajer turns this tale inside-out with a bizarre and disturbing approach full of cryptic symbologies and infernal slapstick. Svankmajer's twisted animation projects over the last thirty years have inspired a host of imitators and followers, most famously the Brothers Quay who make videos for MTV. But Svankmajer is the original, and he's got an aesthetic working like no one else. In Faust he merges multiple levels of storytelling into a swirl of black magic and mystery, alternately horrifying and hilarious. You really just haven't seen a film like this before---unless you've seen his other films: Alice (a freakish but still charmingly childish adaptation of Alice in Wonderland), Conspirators of Pleasure (an intertwined, dialogue-free tale of individuals with some very bizarre fetishes), and Scenes From the Surreal, an incredible collection of his mind-bending short films.
[NEW] Stalker is an amazing movie that cannot be described so much as experienced. The late Russian film-maker Andrei Tarkovsky is probably my favorite director, and Stalker is a great place to start with his work. A long-ago meteor blast in a remote part of Russia has left behind the Zone, a region of ruined, overgrown industrial districts, abandoned by humans and cordoned off by soldiers. At the heart of the Zone is a room that will grant you your deepest wish--a wish so deep that you may not even be aware that it's yours. Illegal guides known as Stalkers will guide you through the Zone to the room, but the Zone is full of supernatural, metaphysical traps that cause you to question your life and your beliefs. Tarkovsky had a long career of few films, owing to the repressive Soviet film-making apparatus, but he scored with every at-bat: My Name is Ivan (AKA Ivan's Childhood) is a calm but chilling tale of the Soviet army in World War II; Andrey Rublev is an epic tale of a religous icon-painter of medieval Russia; The Mirror is an autobiographical stream-of-consciousness art flick; Solaris, frequently described as "the Russian answer to 2001," is a marvelous sci-fi tale based on an equally marvelous novel by the Polish author Stanislaw Lem; Nostalghia is the story of a Russian author who travels to Italy to research the life of a medieval Russian poet and serf who fled his master only to return to his homeland and servitude out of a sense of nostalgia--Tarkovsky made the film in Italy and defected from Russia when he was done, echoing the path of his characters in the film; finally, Sacrifice is an incredible story of apocalypse and, well, sacrifice, using a stable of actors and crew borrowed from Swedish film-maker Ingmar Bergman after Tarkovsky defected. He also wrote a marvelous book on film-making with the even-more-marvelous title Sculpting in Time. The scholarly volume Andrei Tarkovsky: A Visual Fugue is also worth reading for more on this incredible film-maker and his work. I haven't read Collected Screenplays, which includes the screenplays to My Name Is Ivan, The Mirror, Solaris, Stalker, Nostalghia, and The Sacrifice, but it should be worthwhile.
Alan Moore may be a name you're familiar with. In the late 1980s, Moore's comic book Watchmen took superheros as far as they could go and then pretty much destroyed them, all in one fell swoop; after Watchmen, there really wasn't much point in doing anything else with paranormals in tights. Moore promptly fell into near-obscurity, remembered more than read; his brilliant, doomed series Big Numbers and the chilling From Hell registered a collective 0.1 on the Richter scale of comic-book popularity. But Moore keeps busy. In collaboration with musician David J (of Bauhaus), he's issued two spoken-word albums that are simply terrific. The Birth Caul is a meditation on family, childhood, and the inheritance of mystery. The Moon & Serpent Grand Egyptian Theatre of Marvels is a virtuoso tour of the London occult underground, piercing the veils of symbology and correspondance with the white-hot light of Moore's mad genius brain. David J's musical accompaniment is strangely beautiful. If you have to pick just one, I'd recommend Moon & Serpent, especially for the riotous carnie-barker opening song.
j r (that's pronounced "jay arr," and that's just the way she writes it) is a musician of tremendous gifts and a songwriter of aching originality. She does indie folk music in an unusual, downbeat style she calls "moodblues"---rich, thrumming bass lines and soulful singing. This is neither poppy stuff nor cringe-worthy summer-camp folk; her songs are sorrowful, introspective journeys through life and love, bringing back dark treasures from strange interior landscapes. I've seen her at fifteen or twenty gigs all over Seattle in the past year, from the OK Hotel to the Seattle Art Museum, and her craft, soul, and dedication still cut right through me every time. j r makes beautiful, beautiful music and I can't recommend her self-released CD highly enough.
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