Tuesday, December 29, 2015


Stoneface dog, swirling fog, gates open on the dark dark night

Standing stone, skull and bone, dead witness to an unseen fight

Beat the drum, beat the drum, beat forever on the endless march

Stricken dumb, cut and run, someone is screaming and the sky is dark

Sword and shield, bone and steel, rictus grin

Deaf forever to the battles din

March or croak, flame and smoke, burn forever in eternal pain

Charge and fall, bugle call, bone splinter in the driving rain

Horses scream, Viking dream, drowned heroes in a lake of blood

Armoured fist, severed wrist, broken spears in a sea of mud

Sword and shield, bone and steel, rictus grin

Deaf forever to the battles din

Mother earth, mother earth enfold you in her cold embrace

Sinking down, killing ground, worm crawling on your cold white face

Win or lose, nought to choose, all men are equal when their memory fades

No one knows, friends or foes, if Valhalla lies beyond the grave

Sword and shield, bone and steel, rictus grin

Deaf forever to the battles din

Deaf forever to the battles din

Deaf forever to the battles din
Deaf forever to the battles din

White Wedding

Terminator: No Salvation



The blade glows beneath the liquid, the steel not quenched but somehow altered with its touch. Suddenly it is bare, dry, and two days have passed. Then one. Time shivers and curls in the Making. No matter that news from the future can't be uttered in the past. Such knowledge is beneath his interest. It is for the blade he works.

The runes that shine are unwritten as he transcribes them. Fho, Garn, Tha.  Always the triumvirate. But then come the specific words that tell the blade's tale. For hours his needle punches skin, making a palimpsest of his flesh, a catalog of his lifework. The stories of the weapons run together, blotting out the color of his body, long forgotten.

This one will undo constructs.

The Work glows, condensing on the blade. Now is the time for his smithing to begin in earnest. It is for this that he has grown so strong. It is for this that he has forgone symmetry, his right arm and shoulder becoming huge. He brings the hammer down onto the blade again and again, driving dweamor into metal.

Steel is stubborn. But it can be broken. 

Seven hours pass. And then it is three. When he finishes it will be yesterday. Still the blade refuses his affections. The spell congeals as he presses it down. 

Finally, as summer fades, the metal gives in to its betters. The thrill of violence becomes liquid and is absorbed. 

Woe to those who would make blasphemous assemblages of unlife! Sundered will be their works. Who has the right to usurp Garthak's role as the Maker?  Who would defile a womb with such monstrosities?  Enough!  They must die. They must all die, along with their handiwork. The wretched claws of those golemists will be hacked from their arms. Their laboratories will be destroyed. And their heads will be lifted from their necks, their ruin presented before them in the moments before their death. 

Months earlier, the Smith wakes in his shop. A bar of unworked iron sits on the anvil. His skin is pale, unblemished. A hammer hangs on the wall. 

--Steve Kilian

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Victory Laps: Interview with Dan Kilian

Following the critical and commercial success of The Screaming Majority production of Waste Fraud and Abuse, writer / performer / director / producer Dan Kilian is returning to his first love, solo performance.  Okay, there was no critical acclaim of any kind, they didn’t make a cent, and Dan gets extremely anxious during his live shows, but there’s still some truth to the idea that this show Victory Laps IS a victory lap for Dan. At least that’s the sense I got while interviewing Dan at his Sunnyside home earlier this afternoon. Also, I am Dan and am interviewing myself. The following is an excerpt of the conversation. 

What do you expect to get out of this performance?

Well, I was hoping some of the young actors we cast in Waste Fraud and Abuse would come out and see me in a different format, and that they would have a lot of friends and that my little pyramid scheme would snowball into a massive fan base. Also hoped all those people who came to the play would have forgotten that they’d already blown a few hours of their life to me only recently, and want to come see me now. My other expectation is that none of that happens and that I play my songs for my beloved gift circle.

What do you find is the main difference between writing for a play and writing individual songs for public consumption?

When you write a song for a play, it goes into the play. When you write for public consumption it’s not always consumed. Also, you don’t have to write about some guy named Ron.

Will we ever see Waste Fraud and Abuse again?

If our upcoming fundraiser goes well, we’re hoping to put a revised version of the play on in a three weekend run at a theatrical venue in October next year.

What’s on the back of this sheet?*

An actual page from an earlier script to Waste Fraud and Abuse! A commemorative piece of history!

Are you a vainglorious bastard?

Am I not conducting an imaginary interview with myself?

Did you kill those women?

No! That was you!

You’re right. It was I. And you’ll never tell?

I’ll never tell! 

--Dan Kilian

* This was the program for the Victory Laps show, with this interview printed as described. Because of printer problems, there were only 5 or 6 programs printed, and they were not distributed. 

Prayer of Brief Eternal Life

Six Song Selection: Radio Lives

Monday, September 14, 2015

Going Dutch

Peter van der Donck
Some books are so good they can make you tedious. Russell Shorto’s The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony That Shaped America has made me into a bore. I’ll drone on about why we say “cookies” instead of “biscuits” and why Yonkers is called Yonkers. This book is chock-full of historical tidbits and trivia about the formative period of New England, which help its thesis go down. Shorto believes the democratic, inclusive spirit of the United States was born not with a bunch of theocratic Pilgrims, but with the Dutch colonists of New Amsterdam. 

The heart of this book, which lends credence and drama to that thesis, is the story of a legal battle, and a battle for control of the new colony, between two key figures. The idealistic Adriaen van der Donck wants more representation for the colony representatives, and the colony director Peter Stuyvesant wants to maintain his own central power, and have van der Donck put in shackles for treason. The conflict comes to a head back in the not-so-old country, the Netherlands—itself a rather modern construct in a time when feudal history determined most geography—in what was becoming a formative period of democratic nascence. The result of this legalistic and political wrangling almost birthed a more representative government in the New World—until yet another war broke out and ruined everything. Soon the English took over the colony and made it New York. Still, Shorto maintains, the key ingredients for a more inclusive and cosmopolitan United States had been baked into the mix.

Does Shorto repeat his theory about the spirit of tolerance a few too many times? Does the book occasionally get bogged down in too many historical details in some spots, and then get fuzzy in others? Do we hear about the guy who’s transcribing a mother lode of old Dutch documents too many times? Does my rhetorically asking these questions negate the need for an answer? 

Still, the writing is for the most part fluid and clear, making connections between seemingly disparate historical facts and building suspense. Also, there are those glorious tidbits, such as the cruel fate of Henry Hudson and the origin of coleslaw. To be clear, those are two different stories; Henry Hudson was not torn apart in a cabbage shredding machine.

There’s a popular TV show called Gotham, which lays out the story of young Bruce Wayne. The key to its enjoyment is savoring the slow reveal of bits of the origin story of Batman. The Island at the Center of the World is the origin story of the real Gotham, and with it, the real America. Our heroes wore white wigs and pantaloons instead of bat ears, but this is the story behind their story, and it’s a delight. 
 --Dan Kilian

Olde Tales of The Sea

The Rose Armonica



Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Undeniable Better Crackerjack: Five-Song Review

The Weeknd: "Can’t Feel My Face" Hey Weeknd! You've got two E's in the front, and none in the back. It's inconsistent. The song's consistent, though. It'll be a car commercial, a bar background, that song that's blasting past your window at two in the morning. A little too much Michael Jackson, but it's undeniable.

Amy Bezunartea:  "New Villain" Promising from the low ominous first note, live with sliding fingers on the strings creating a chiming effect. Worrying from the first breathy vocal. Is this another indie  chick seducing us with whispers and not much else? Bezunartea sidesteps the pitfalls, building a slow compelling melody, adding layers like Guyville era Liz Phair, her guitar a tolling gong reminiscent of EMA's Past Live Martyred Saints in it's minimalist build. The lyrics, smart and off-kilter, suggest a looser Courtney Barnett. She is a new villain. You might feel bad but she's better.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra: "Multi-Love" Secretly more soulful than psychedelic (Check out his solo acoustic video) UMO's Ruban Nielson moans a song about some mystical girl over baroque piano and washed out guitars as spurts of drum patterns drop in and out. It's more psychedelic than soulful this time, but this act has established itself as crackerjack, something to love. 

Rabit: "Pandemic" Disturbing sonics, but I'm not getting much of a groove here. 
Deerhunter: "Snakeskin" I should like Deerhunter. They rock and they have restless creativity, good songs and band sounds great, but I never feel like I truly know these guys.  Maybe it's the vocal effects, but I never hear what this guy is feeling, just what he's singing. I should like it. 

--Dan Kilian

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Bright Lights/Deep Shade: Messing Up A Beautiful Thing

Is She Perverted Like Me?
Alanis Morissette is having a moment! She gets the David Foster Wallace analysis via Jason Segel in The End of The Tour, and now she's just had a duet with Taylor Swift. If you've somehow forgotten who Alanis is, well, you ought to know. 

Serena Williams and Drake are back on again. Warning Serena! Drake's from the Canadian province of Siswatchthatman! Okay that's stupid, but damn it, there's a Canadian province joke in there somewhere. Watch that Manitoba or he'll be Gone-tario. Damn it! Tennis metaphor.

One Direction aren't splitting up, they're just taking a break. That's what my parents said. 

Steve O doesn't like SeaWorld. He feels like it's a prison for Orcas and dolphins, but now the Jackass star faces prison time himself for his protest stunt. 

Is Jake Gyllenhal off Susan Sarandon and onto Dakota Johnson? Or is it all just gossip? Senseless gossip? Maybe Gyllenrandon is still going strong. Maybe I'm ruining it by printing these rumors. Maybe people just like to eat in restaurants. I don't know. I hope I'm not messing up something beautiful.  

Those are the only things that have happened. 


--Dan Kilian

Celebrity Farts

Environmental Anniversary Proposal: Day-After-Earthday

Monday, August 24, 2015

Bright Lights/Deep Shade: Pop Goes The Princess

Iggy Azalea denies heroin addiction rumors. She says those marks on her hands aren't needle tracks, just cat scratch fever. Maybe the paparazzi confused her with Iggy Pop.

Somewhere there's a giant noseless clown who's upset.

Olivia Munn kicks some ass and Britney Spears shows some tail.

Kelly Osbourne was always the nice one on Fashion Police. She's not working so hard to say kind things about former co-host Giuliana Rancic. Call internal affairs! 

Ri Ri Rules
"Ri Ri rules" says Run The Jewels, getting all frank, see, in an interview with Banksy. 

Hey, it's hard to rhyme Bansky! So why did I do a rhyming news item? I don't know.

That's all that's happened. You're done!


--Dan Kilian

The Last Reality Show

James Bond's Bad Day

Living More Than Enough For The City

There has been a growing consensus that urban living is better for the environment than suburban sprawl and its higher carbon footprint. Cities are also great laboratories for ideas: so many smart ambitious people packed in together are bound to collaborate, coming up with the businesses, causes and ideas of the future. 

So cities might save us. The question is, how do we live in these boxy things without going crazy? Evidently that question occurred to a lot of designers crammed in together, and they’ve found ways to give our urban lifestyle more style while making it more livable.

Tudelü retractable walls allow one-room apartments to close off or open up at the push of a button. Designer Luca Nichetto, working with developer Urban Capital, has come up with the "Cubitat": a customizable ten-foot cube that functions as kitchen, bedroom, storage, and more. While the future of design seems bent on making the best use of every cubic inch, there’s also a retro movement, perhaps resisting this tight-cornered trend, for the curvy metro-sexiness of midcentury modern design. 

Design issues matter when you’ve left your apartment as well. Vision Zero city planning aims to make streets. Other city planners have brought the issue of light to light. Are these skyscrapers putting us all in too much shadow? 

Inside or out, the challenges of urban living will inspire new designers as we continue to pile into these growing swarming cities. 

What new idea are you going to bring to the Cubitat? 

Dan Kilian

Death To Everyone

The Magic Banjo


Sunday, August 16, 2015

Casting About

Who would you have star in the latest unfilmable novel?
Reading Girl on the Train, I immediately started imagining who would play the characters when it inevitably becomes a film. We all do this, and we all do a lousy job, but that’s part of what makes the exercise such harmless fun. I remember a childhood conversation, before Spider-Man had been filmed, two incarnations ago. We were wondering who would play Gwen Stacey, and my friend Matt ventured “Streep?” Streep?! Never mind that she was even then too old to play a kid, was Meryl Streep ever a teenager? Hell, she was a haunted angel in The Seduction of Joe Tynan. 

Since Girl on the Train has been hyped as the next Gone Girl (they’re both girls!), I immediately cast Ben Affleck as Tom, the ex-husband of the titular Girl, which makes no sense. Then I went with Aaron Eckhart. I can’t explain why without divulging spoilers. All right, I’ll tell you. Tom gets half his face melted off and becomes a criminal supervillain.

I cast Jeanne Tripplehorn as Rachel, even though Hollywood hasn’t given her a leading role since she turned twenty-four. I don’t care; I think she could play Rachel’s hazed-out desperation, based on her work in The Firm, I guess. Okay, it was Waterworld. That’s the miracle of movies: a viewer can hold on to the memory of a performance long after Tinseltown has chewed the performer up and spat her out.

Realizing this, I tried to second-guess what Hollywood would actually do and came up with . . . Jennifer Lawrence, based on her crazy-eyed work in American Hustle and the fact that the answer to every question about actresses is Jennifer Lawrence. Googled to see who’s actually going to be playing the role for the film already in development and it’s . . . Deanna Durbin? No, wait, that was the 1945 production of Lady on a Train. The Girl train is on track(!) to be an Emily Blunt project.

So I’m no good at casting movies that are going to be films soon. What about movies that will never be made into films? Surely I can do better there.

Granted, they’ve actually tried to film a lot of unfilmable books, for example Naked Lunch; Charlie Kaufman’s Adaptation, putatively based on The Orchid Thief; and Howl (casting James Franco for your unfilmable movie is a cop-out). Maybe those books are just screaming (or Howling! By the way, The Howling franchise is the strangest movie adaptation of Ginsberg’s poem, and didn’t get enough credit when Franco’s movie came out) for some ambitious director to film them, because of their very unfilmability, but there are other books which aren’t throwing down a gauntlet but are just unfilmable because they exist in worlds of the mind.   

If you had to keep checking the title page to confirm that The Dog was written by the same Joseph O’Neill who wrote Netherland, you were not alone. While Netherland earned accolades and comparisons to Gatsby for its pulsing and earnest depiction of a first-world striver as witnessed by the narrator, The Dog is a satirical stream-of-consciousness spree from the mind of an unnamed lawyer living and thinking in detachment in the sterile confines of Dubai skyscrapers. He lays out a system of personal rules and rationales as a plot gently bumps into him from time to time and then suddenly catches up to him. It’s so much about the character and his disassociated embrace of the seemingly dehumanizing aspects of humanity that it reminds me of Up in the Air, which, damn it, they turned into a halfway decent movie! Still, I’m not casting Clooney.

I want to cast Aaron Eckhart, but isn’t that just because I was talking about him before? How about Ben Affleck? No! Clear the mind. Who is a chilly intellectual type who seems somewhat removed from his moral code, but not? Jessie Eisenberg’s too young, but that’s what I thought about Jeanne Tripplehorn. No, let’s go with . . . Michael Shannon!

Nicholson Baker’s The Anthologist is just a guy ruminating about poetry. There are other Baker books that would make for visually stimulating cinema, but not this one. Oh, let’s just get Gene Hackman out of retirement. Tell him it’s not a cop, see if he bites.

There But For The by Ali Smith is actually quite filmable. Take out all the postmodern experimentalism and you’ve got a zany story with multiple points of view, something movies don’t actually do all that well but that they do all the time. Still, it’s got a weird title and a gay protagonist and I think that will put the financial backers off. So I’m going to cast it and come up with a new Hollywood-friendly title. Let’s cast Mr. Robot’s Elliot Alderson as young Miles Garth, Michael Shannon as grown Garth, Jeanne Tripplehorn as older Anna, Chloë Grace Moretz as young Anna, Susan Sarandon as the demented May Young (even though she is still beautiful and should still be starring in romantic dramas, but Hollywood sucks and I do like to see her in movies), and an unknown as Brooke, the kid. Call it Grace of God, make Miles Garth straight, have love conquer all, and make it an ongoing series on Netflix. It’s probably already in development with Emily Blunt.

Or you could just read the book and cast it yourself. 
 --Dan Kilian

Freddy vs. Wishmaster

Michael J. Fox's Bad Day


Thursday, August 13, 2015

Rejected Pixar Projects

With their latest triumph Inside Out, Pixar maintains its status as the premiere producers of 3-D computer animation entertainment. It seems as though they can do no wrong, but that’s not the case. Pixar’s success depends on strict quality control. If they had green-lit every project in preproduction, their batting average wouldn’t be so extraordinary. Here are some Pixar concepts that never made it to the screen.


Some of the less popular cups in the cabinet team up when Teacup breaks her arm off. Joining her are characters such as the lovably drunk Beer Stein, the adorable Sippy, and an assortment of underused mugs, as well as a spider who lives in Chippy, the most forgotten of the gang. They must embark on a spectacular journey across the kitchen. One tangent takes them to the microwave, where they gain wisdom from the half-full, half-warm, half-forgotten cup of coffee, who tells them where the drawer with the super glue is. You’ll drink a mug of tears when Mustache protector discovers his owner is now clean-shaven, and when Best Dad Ever learns he doesn’t belong on a trophy rack but is just a thoughtless gift. 


WallEye looks on in dismay as the new inhabitants of Earth eat the last of the new plants, and slowly starve to death. 


A group of ambitious fans escape to the countryside to fulfill their dream of becoming windmills, only to find that wind power is a corrupt lie, powered by coal. 


A blender and a food processor team up on a journey to compete in a reality TV cooking show, only to find that once they are unplugged they become motionless objects, stuck on a counter, cursing their fates. 

Cars V

The cars explore their history and learn of the singularity that eliminated all non-machines from Earth. 

The Story of Hall and Oates

Eschewing Pixar’s usual strategy of imbuing inanimate objects with anthropomorphic cuteness, this movie depicts a true story of the career of these 70s/80s pop superstars. Unfortunately, due to copyright issues, none of the duo’s music can be used in this picture, so Pixar will use Randy Newman songs instead.


A bunch of wigs wig out! This is the story of one low-budget wig who aspires to be worn by Elton John (voiced by Randy Newman). You’ll pull out your hair crying at the heart-wrenching ballad “A Small Price Toupee.” 


A bunch of poops aspire to escape from a sewer modeled after the Nazi prison camp in The Great Escape. You’ll cry when they get their wish. 


This one gets a little vague. The animation is, as usual, impeccable.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Troll Matrix

So I was drafting up a two-axis troll matrix the other day with Bridge Material across the top (rope, wood, stone, iron, etc.) and Spanned Item on the side (watercourse, viaduct, chasms/voids, etc.), so as to better catalog the variety of trolls one might encounter on a given journey.  I started to extrapolate the matrix to situations that one would not normally associate with trolls – for example the instance of a nanofiber space elevator cable which bridges between the surface of the planet and low earth orbit.  Big troll, no doubt, but where is “under” for that particular bridge?

Naturally this progressed to an exploration of abstract troll conditions, such as a shared third language bridging the misunderstandings between two foreigners abroad.  (Are botched idiomatic expressions the trolls of such a bridge?)  This quickly got silly, until I was saying “Love is the bridge that spans the gulf of historic enmity, man.”  Which in turn made me think of a yet-to-be-recorded AC/DC song:

When we cross that bridge
We’re gonna burn it
But before you ride
You got to earn it
First you gotta pay that toll
You owe seven dollars to the

That is all.  

 --Steve Kilian

Hollywood Harvest

A Classic Joke and A Classic Comedy Routine Meet, With Unsatisfactory Results


Rock and Roll is EVERYWHERE

--Steve Kilian

Micky Rourke as Godzilla

The Rose Armonica

Thursday, May 7, 2015


There were kurrah skins all over the fairgrounds.  They’d gotten into a patch of volunteer potatoes and tore up the meadow something fierce.  William and Zack Briarson were kicking chunks of sod back into the holes that had been dug, but if it rained there’d be nothing to stop anyone from calling it a mudpit.  

I picked up the skins as I came across them, stuffing them into my old paper route bag.  It was shiny from ink and sweat and grease and still smelled like the Hartwick Courant.

The skins were funny things – some were intact from the waist up, so you could almost picture how big the kurrah was before it shed.  They had little strands on the inside like you sometimes see on an orange peel, but the outsides were smooth, almost glossy in the right light, but so thin that you could read your fingerprints right through them.  They smelled like a cross between cabbage and cinnamon, if that makes any sense.  I’d picked up at least two dozen before Zack called me over.

“What do you make of this?” he said, pointing at a big sheet of skin with his toe.  It was at least two feet across, bigger than any I’d seen.

“Wow.  That one must be at least four feet long,” I said.  We said “long” rather than “tall,” probably not for a very good reason.  It seemed easier to think of them as less than bipeds when it came time to clear out a nest.  Some of the old timers couldn’t figure out what difference it made, but those were the same old timers who would cook and eat them in lean times.  There were some certifiably country folk who lived out east of Millpond and Gerth Roads.  

I’d be charitable in saying that the people who ate kurrah had probably never seen one wash the little shift of fabric that they sometimes wore around their necks, or seen one cry over their young when they got hit crossing 28 South.  But I bet they’d seen it all and didn’t care.  “Meat is meat,” they’d say. 

There’s only so much empathy you can expect out of some folks.  

--Steve Kilian

The Last Reality Show

Birthday Cake Balloon