chris-chan-dvdThis DVD contains over four hours of pure autism, and is essential viewing for all Chris-chan fans (just so long as you’re not a JERK).

Although it was distributed in 2007 among a few select friends and family members, Chris intended this DVD to be mass-released at some point. He mentions in his Future Message that he thought the DVD would eventually be shown in schools. You see, Chris believed he is a special person, one worthy of great fame and recognition…and, as history has shown, he was absolutely correct.

The oldest piece of film is from 1994, when Chris was 12, and documents him winning some local sweepstakes thing. This video can be considered definitive proof that Chris is not a joke or a character. He talks to the camera like a shell-shocked PTSD victim, and the reporter mentions that he has high functioning autism.

The next video is from 1998, with Chris reading a poem in high school. “My peer relationship is low, and my loneliness is off the scale.” He soon wanders off topic, and starts talking about school life in general. The video ends with Chris raging and shrieking like demon-possessed Regan because he got bad marks in English.

Then we’ve got a pile of tedious videos of Chris playing videogames. There’s a news segment from 1999, when Pokemon was huge, that shows Chris playing the trading card game with kids half his age and generally taking it all rather seriously.

Then there’s Chris singing his cover of The Backstreet Boys’ “I Want It That Way”, with lyrics about how he’s searching for a girlfriend.

And so on, and so forth…it’s endearing and rather moving to see Chris’s mind at work. I wonder what it must feel like to have such a world-view that 5 minute clips of you playing videogames seem like professional DVD-worthy content. Honestly, it would feel awesome.

This guy’s feedback mechanisms are broken in the best way possible. Everything he does is perfect. Every comic he draws is a masterpiece. Every game he beats gives him the rush normal people get from climbing Everest. Being Chris is like being a rat, pulling a lever, and having six pounds of Gorgonzola fall on your head.

The longest part of the video is a two hour slideshow of Chris’s art, comics, and photography. The soundtrack is provided by Chris’s “radio station” KCWC, which means I hope you like videogame OSTs and 90s pop songs. Apparently Chris has a master copy of this DVD that goes for six hours.

Chris is a legend in his own mind. And mine, too.

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daudibaldrsThis is the infamous album recorded in prison by black metal musician Varg Vikernes.

Given Varg’s troubled past, troubled present, and (most likely) troubled future, it would be easy to say that Dauði Baldrs is most interesting because of the man who made it. Musically, it isn’t such of a much. Varg was only allowed a midi keyboard, and he made an album that pushes the boundaries of the term “minimalist.”

Dauði Baldrs is thirty nine minutes of droning, repetitive 8-bit melodies, meant to articulate the death of the Norse god Baldr (the lyrics missing from the album can be read on the Burzum website). “Í Heimr Heljar” agitates things a bit with some percussion, but mostly the album consists of monophonic synth and piano themes, like Philip Glass making videogame music.

Some accuse the album of sounding hopelessly repetitive, but honestly it’s no more repetitive than Burzum albums released on the other side of the bars. I think it’s meant to sound like this, and that Varg uses repetition as an intentional artistic device. This album pounds basic and simplistic ideas through your head with the unvarying repetition of a punch press machine, causing you to disassociate from what you’re hearing. The result is a little like hypnosis: you feel completely adrift, and unmoored from reality. If it’s done properly (and has the necessary inspiration), music doesn’t really need to get any more complex than this, and Dauði Baldrs can be seen as a brief exercise on how to do less with more.

Scott McCloud once said something about how art equals abstraction. Charles Schulz doesn’t need to draw every hair on Charlie Brown’s head. A few quick rakes with a pencil are enough. In the same way, Dauði Baldrs presents a highly abstract set of ideas that are not fully realised (which would be with guitars, orchestration, and whatever else ), and the attendant assumption that your own imagination will fill in the missing parts. It’s not as abstract as music can get, though. Truly abstract music is not audible at all, it’s written — sheet music on a piece of paper.

I like video game music (I refuse to call it “chiptunes”), but even that comparison misses the mark. I can’t do anything more but describe Daudi Baldrs as “abstraction”. Varg is sharing his musical ideas with us through an 8-bit midi keyboard, and hoping our brains will decode it back into music again.

Its entertainment value is questionable, but Dauði Baldr is a good example of art bypassing technical limitations like a spy weaving through enemy picket lines. One thing remains certain: if Varg Vikernes gets put in a stone hotel with nothing but a triangle, he will still make music to the best of his abilities.

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51YFRFJA4PLJack London wrote two books about wolves, and they are the mirror image of each other. White Fang is about a wild animal becoming tame, Call of the Wild is about a tame animal becoming wild.

Both books are excellent to the point where they are hazardous to have lying around the house. To this day if I see either White Fang or Call of the Wild, I drop what I’m doing, pick it up, and then read through ten or fifty or a hundred pages, caught up once more in the story. These books are hijackers of the brain, and obviously I now keep them far from view.

White Fang is longer and more elaborate, but Call of the Wild is better. It’s spare and lean, like the animals in it, and is paced faster than a modern thriller novel. It’s about a dog named Buck. His upbringing is described in a few pages. Through a stroke of ill fortune, he has found himself on a train bound for the Klondike gold rush, where they need strong dogs with thick coats. Buck’s new home is inhospitable, and it seems he must survive or die. He ends up doing a third thing: transcend.

Books and movies about animals tend to raise public interest in owning said animal as a pet. When Balto come out, children pestered their parents for a pet husky, and no doubt a few unwitting people signed on to become owners of an energetic, destructive animal that needs constant attention and exercise. I don’t think this book would contribute to that problem. Although Jack London often depicts wolves and dogs as noble and romantic, he shows their unpleasant side too. Lex talionis is the order of the day here. Buck is nominally part of a team, but status is everything and he must always be on guard against a sledmate’s fangs in his flank.

There’s not a boring page in the book, from the battles with arch-rival Spitz to mesmerising journeys into the unknown to humorous scenes involving humans. At some point Buck and his team are sold to a trio of comically inept Southerners. Well, it’s only comical at the beginning. Soon dogs start dying under their care, and the laughs stop coming.

Although his creatures are anthropomorphised to a degree, London had a talent in invoking one’s sympathy for animals. The dog Dave is a great example. I was always amazed that London could make me emotionally involved in his plight of a character that doesn’t get a line of dialogue, and only a single identifiable trait (he’s a bit like Boxer in Orwell’s Animal Farm).

The events of the final few pages happen in a blur, and then Buck embraces his destiny. His fate may not seem realistic, but that may be our pitiful prefrontal cortexes talking. Call of the Wild is a book about the deceptiveness of evolution. There’s no “advanced” or “less advanced” in the natural kingdom, and our civilisation just represents a series of adaptations that have proven useful in certain circumstances. Buck adapts in a totally different direction: his environment calls for him to become a primitive creature, and so he becomes a primitive creature. No human in reality or fiction could do what Buck does. We just aren’t wild enough.

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