Tag Archives: review

The Very Occult Mighty ReArranger

I don’t know why I never listened to this 2005 Robert Plant record, but I’m sure glad I did so yesterday — for two reasons.

First, it’s good.  Really good.  A mixture of blues, world music, and house remix tracks that somehow — to my utter amazement! — manages to homogenize instead of settling into oil and water.

Second, it’s deeply occult.  That’s refreshing, especially when actual, quality, mainstream occult rock is as rare as an honest politician.  Before you cry foul, I’m know that there’s lots of stuff that has pentacles plastered all over it or that makes overt references to topics and theories that some might call occult.  That’s not occult.  “Occult” means hidden.  You ought to have to dig a little!  Mainstream, quality occult rock is on life support.

Thanks to Robert Plant and the Strange Sensations for putting the paddles on it and shocking it back to life.

As proof that the record’s themes are occult I point out that the Wikipedia article totally missed them, saying only that, “It contains a blend of world and Western music influences, with mystical, oblique and somewhat cynical references to religion and destiny.”   Cyclical would’ve been a better word than cynical.  Clearly the occult material was too well hidden for most listeners to notice.

This record is an esoteric, audio grimoire on the natural, recurring cycles of personal and planetary evolution in general, and on The Fool’s Journey in particular.

How it Evokes Recurring Cycles

  • There are twelve tracks — equating to twelve hours in a day, twelve months in a year, twelve houses of the zodiac, and so on.
  • After the 12th track there is a hidden 13th track.
  • In what way can 13 be said to equal 12?  A year isn’t just 12 months — it’s also measurable in 13 cycles of the moon.  So this 12-13 album conjures up the 12-13 measurement of a year (a very occult way of looking at a year, to be sure).
  • The hidden 13th track is a remix of the second track.  So this track pushes us right back into a 12-count cycle, skipping track #1 so that we get 12 steps — over and over and over again, like the ever-spinning wheel of the year.

How it Evokes The Fool’s Journey

What’s the The Fool’s Journey?  As Eden Gray said when she coined the phrase “Fool’s Journey,” in her book “The Complete Guide to the Tarot”:

“The Fool represents the soul of everyman, which, after it is clothed in a body, appears on earth and goes through the life experiences depicted in the 21 cards [22 if you count 0 The Fool.  -ed.] of the Major Arcana, sometimes thought of as archetypes of the subconscious. Let each reader use his imagination and find here his own map of the soul’s quest, for these are symbols that are deep within each one of us.”  [Thanks to Mary K. Greer for the quote.]

Now let’s go spot The Fool’s Journey on the record.

  • Each of the 12/13 tracks equates to a kind of abbreviated Tarot, which is just another version of the Fool’s Journey.
  • Track #1 is 0 The Fool, Track #2 is XIX The Sun, Track #3 is V The Heirophant (reversed?), Track #4 is The Emperor, Track #5 is IV The Emperor, Track #6 is II The High Priestess, and so on.  Don’t believe me?  Listen to the record and you can hear all of these characters speaking.
  • The hidden 13th track is  XII The Hanged Man.  Note that XII The Hanged Man is actually the 13th card in the Major Arcana.  It’s the sacrificial step, the Christ/Buddha/Savior card that comes right before change (XIII Death).  Here we have death, rebirth, and reincarnation.
  • And here again we have the 12-13 theme, thereby linking together the players (the 12-13 songs) to the grand repeating play (the 12-13 year).
  • What’s the “Mighty ReArranger?”  Well that’s God, The One, the Supreme Ultimate.  It’s both the original Arranger (notice how the word has a capital “A” part way through?) and the re-arranger — the First Cause-Prime Mover-Creator-Arranger  and the Teacher-Savior-Redeemer-ReArranger all rolled into one.

What a truly excellent, thought-provoking, amazing record.  Very highly recommended!


“The Witch” is not What They Say It Is

[WARNING: This review contains spoilers!]

Director Robert Eggers debut film The Witch is getting a fair amount of attention.  It appears to be #4 in the box office and rave reviews are flooding in from many critics.

Everyday mortal viewers like myself, on the other hand, have been somewhat unforgiving.  Why?  Because although The Witch is creepy, weird, and unsettling, its problems are myriad.  The visuals are nice and its well acted.  It has several nice shocks and some genuinely disturbing scenes.  But the dialogue is period accurate for the 1600s, which means you can understand only two thirds of what’s said.  And the ending is incredibly dark, the darkest in recent memory.

The film is billed as a “New England fairy tale” and as everyone knows, fairy tales are lessons for children.  Little Red Riding Hood warns little girls about the dangers straying off the path of abstinence.  The Three Little Pigs encourages kids not to be lazy and to do things right the first time.  The Pancake warns kids that if you get sassy and run away from home before you’re ready, you might fall prey to greedy pigs.

What is the lesson taught by The Witch?  Some say it empowers women.

According to Vice Magazine, “The Witch is a kick in the balls of patriarchy.”  Jex Blackmore and her Satanic Temple have embraced the film saying,

“[I]t features a declaration of feminine independence that both provokes puritanical America and inspires a tradition of spiritual transgression. We are empowered by the narrative of The Witch: a story of pathological pride, old-world religious paradigms, and an outsider who grabs persecution by the horns. Efforts to oppress and demonize the heretic prove to be a path to destruction. The witch does not burn but rises up in the night.”

Really?  Did we watch the same movie?

Sure, it’s true that it accurately portrays  the patriarchal nightmare of puritanical early America.  Poor Thomasin, the movie’s young heroine, is trapped by her worthless father and mother in a horrid, dark, and oppressive home environment in which, although innocent of wrongdoing, she is continually blamed.  The evil witches abduct and kill her little brother Sam.  They lure away her other brother Caleb, whom they seduce, poison and kill.  These witches love to kill and mutilate stuff — dogs, goats, you name it.  Eventually they get around to slaughtering her two remaining siblings as well.

The film may kick patriarchy in the scrotum, but there’s no way out for our heroine.   In the end, after being forced to kill her own deluded mother in self-defense, Thomasin has no choice: in order to survive, she must sign her name in the book of another male authority figure.  Sure, this one can take the form of the goat and get you high in the woods, but it’s out of the frying pan and into the fire.  It’s not freedom.

Cheering at the ending of this movie is like cheering about a girl escaping from her oppressive parents into the arms of a gang of meth heads.  The Witch, with utter realism, says the same thing that every real life gangster, pusher, pimp and low-life scum has said since time began.

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

Grab Bag: A Film Review, Penny Wisdom, WOD etc.

Today’s post is a grab bag of miscellaneous stuff.

A film review.  Last night the wife and I watched Hidden, a truly original horror film with a couple of great twists.  It stars Alexander Skarsgård, Andrea Riseborough (remember her from Birdman?) and Emily Alyn Lind.  This is not a gore-fest or startle-flick.  It’s a film.  You remember films. right?  Those things that have great acting and pacing and an actual story?  Yes this is one of those.  It only got 6.4 stars because horror fans want either SFX extravaganzas or buckets of blood and this film has neither.  If your favorite horror move is Saw 3-D, you’re going to give Hidden  only 6 stars.  On the other hand, if your favorite horror move is Let the Right One In,  you’ll give Hidden 8 stars.  We loved it.

Remember Wes Studi as The Sphinx from the movie Mystery Men? Now that’s what I call penny wisdom.  That’s him right there at the top.

Penny wisdom, as a general rule, is bullshit.  So called because it has been historically dispensed from vending machines for the princely sum of 1¢, penny wisdom isn’t wisdom at all.  It is witty.  Wit, cleverness and quip don’t equal wisdom.  That being said, I’m famous (in my own mind at least) for several bits of penny wisdom that are worth considerably more than a copper coin.

  • “Just because you can doesn’t mean that you should.” ~Robert Mitchell
  • “Religious dogma, social convention, and philistinism are the hammer, tong, and anvil of mediocrity.” ~Robert Mitchell
  • “The transmutation of the religious into the sacred is the very object of the occult sciences and, especially of initiation.” ~Andre Nataf
  • “The meaning of life is not discovered; it is constructed.” ~Exupery
  • “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; What is essential is invisible to the eye.” ~Exupery
  • “Our blight is ideologies – they are the long-expected Antichrist!” ~Jung

Your knife-fighting WOD is as follows.  

Note: I did mine with a knife, but you can sub another weapon if you prefer.

Set a timer to beep every 1:00 min.  Pick up a dull training knife and cycle through the following four times (20 mins total).  First time through, knife in right hand in hammer grip, second time RH icepick grip, then LH hammer, then LH icepick.

  • Gorilla Walking (on knuckles) – 1 round
  • Shrimping – 1 round
  • Knuckle Push-ups – 1 round
  • Knife Shadowboxing – 2 rounds (plenty of kicks, punches, slashes, and stabs with good form and sincerity)

For the duration of the workout, count the number of times the live end of your dummy knife touches your body, the floor, or anything unintended.  At the end of the 20 mins, complete 10 Get-ups for each flub (with dummy knife in hand, of course).








Check out this review of I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive

I just joined up on Goodreads. Here’s my first short review: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1294706189

I’ll Review Your Zine

If you’d like for me to review your zine (or other independently published book, booklet, etc.) mail a promotional copy to me at:

Robert Mitchell, P.O. Box 1322, Glen Allen, VA 23060-1322

My sainted father said, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.”  I think that was good advice.  So I don’t write bad reviews.  If I don’t like your zine, I just won’t review it.  That way there’s no bad karma, no negativity, and no assiness.  Makes sense, right?

Here’s a slideshow featuring some of my stuff, all available at PTDICE.com

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RVA Zinefest 2014 Zine Reviews


This is me and my new-and-improved tabling efforts.

RVA Zinefest 2014 was my best zinefest to date, primarily because I scored a couple of firsts: it was the first zinefest at which I actually made a small profit and it was the first zinefest at which someone came up to me and said, “Aren’t you Robert Mitchell?  Could you autograph this zine?”

But this post isn’t about me, it’s about all of the really cool zines I picked up this year.  NOTE: All of the titles link to the authors’ web shops or profies so you can buy copies.  If you want to buy copies of my zines, browse to PTDICE.com.

Genius (Love) and Minutiae #4 by Aijung Kim

Genius (Love) and Minutiae #4 by Aijung Kim

Genius (Love) and Minutiae No. 4 by Aijung Kim

Aijung Kim is (besides being a really cool person) a very talented artist with a unique sensibility.  I always love her stuff.  This year she traded me for two of her mini-zines because I just have a thing for the really small ones.  Genius (Love) is an illustrated prose poem “for the full-hearted, broken-hearted, & those who are mending.”  It is touching, sincere, and beautiful to look at and hold in your hands.  Even in a tiny zine like this, Aijung takes the time to add a little touch — a tiny heart insert on the last page.  (A+)  Minutiae No.4 is a collection of somewhat random thoughts and observations.  It is 14 tiny pages of cuteness and humor with a few dead centipedes and toads thrown in for contrast.  Loved it.  (A)


Ralf Schulze’s zines

Caio Frau, The Larry the Leper Show Part 2, and Dinky Doo Meets Mr. Suburbia by Ralf Schulze at Aardvark Farms

All three of these free zines (reprints from the 80’s) are in the classic gonzo comic mold, so if that’s your cuppa tea, you dig ’em.  For the most part they are funny, light, and entertaining, although there is the occasional breakthrough into the unsettling and incisive.  In Caio Frau there is a one-page story called “Larry the Leper meets Dog*God” that is brilliant.  You could write a friggin’ term paper on this thing!  Sorry Ralf, have to take points off for some of your panels being just a little too small to read easily.  It’d be great if these were 1/2 sheets instead 1/4 sheets.  (A-)

Calm Down and Fragments of Karnage

Calm Down and Fragments of Karnage

Fragments of Karnage #365 and Calm Down by Mo Karnage (and friends)

First off, I’m just a tourist and sympathizer who sometimes steps into the leftist/anarchist/communist community to write prisoner support letters, deliver material support to protesters, or teach free self-defense seminars to activists.  I’m not at all qualified to critique movements and their approaches.  So all I can say about Calm Down is that it makes tons of common sense, is fun to read, and demonstrates the ever-increasing wisdom and maturity of Mo Karnage (a.k.a. “the hardest-working human in the anarchy business”). (A).  Blending haiku (some funny, some touching) and prose, and mixing the personal, social, and political, Fragments of Karnage is classic Mo: under-produced, emphasis on content over sizzle, minimal, and to-the-point.  It’s all good, but the section “Need a man” is brilliant, and the comments on open carry of firearms are insightful and smart.  (A+)

Sale into the 90s

Sale into the 90s

Sale into the 90s by Anita Rose

I’m pretty sure this 24-page 1/2 size zine violates about a hundred copyrights.  That said, it’s super fun to browse the old store ads, screen shots from TV shows, and snippets from newspapers and magazines, all dating back to the 90’s.  I especially have a soft spot for Matlock, which earns a full page spread.  You go girl!  Classic, hodgepodge, cut’n’paste zinester goodnes (24 pages, 1/2 sheet, center-glued).  (B+)


Prow by Hannah Huddle

Prow by Hannah Huddle

Prow: Prothonotary Warbler by Hannah Huddle

Um, wow.  I got a chance to meet Hannah when I got her zine.  Now that I’ve read it I can say that the zine makes as great an impression as she did.  Her art is excellent, and the content really makes you understand the the complexity and importance of studying these increasingly rare birds.  This a great zine, and not just for “bird nerds.”  After I read it I went to Hannah’s website and spent a half hour browsing.  1/2 sheet, center-stapled booklet. (A+)

Heirloom #2 by Cristina

Heirloom #2 by Cristina

Heirloom #2 by Cristina Isabellugo

This classic zine (40 pages, 1/2 sheet, center-sewed, B&W) is anything but typical.  The writing is superb (“I was reading a book under a dim orange lamp light, letting the crystals cast long shadows onto my forearm.”) and the artwork matches the mood and style perfectly.  It is intimate but not self-pitying, personal but not sappy.  Reading this one leaves you feeling like you’ve made a dear friend, like you want to give her a call and have coffee, like you want to see how she’s doing or mail her a card.  Loved it.  (A+)

Tent on Cement by Mara Hyman

Tent on Cement by Mara Hyman

Tent on Cement by Mara Hyman

This pink, quad-fold, 1/8 sheet zine is a tiny gem.  “Electricity humming/to the bugs singing/heat lightning dancing.”  Would love to see other stuff she’s done but I couldn’t find a link to a shop, just a link to her Facebook page.  Good job Mara, dig your zine.  (A)





Matt and Kseniyah, the editors of I LOVE BAD MOVIES

Matt and Kseniyah, the editors of I LOVE BAD MOVIES

I Love Bad Movies Vol. 6: The Food Issue edited by Kseniya Yarosh and Matt Carman

Okay, I love bad movies, and this is one of my favorite zines.  I only had issues 3 and 5, and although I wanted to get all the back issues, I was a little strapped for cash so I could only afford to pick up #6, the newest issue.  Professionally produced and edited, written by pros with real writing chops, and chocked full of interviews, trivia, hilarity, and fun, this is the zine for movie lovers.  You’ll find footnotes like this one: “*Hitch also said that “the length of a film should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder.”  His last film was Family Plot, released in 1976 — coincidentally the very same year that the Big Gulp was first introduced.”  71 pages of 1/2 sheet, center-stapled, pure movie nerd-joy.  (A+)

If you’d like for me to review your zine, mail a promotional copy to me at:

Robert Mitchell, P.O. Box 1322, Glen Allen, VA 23060-1322

My sainted father said, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.”  I think that was good advice.  So I don’t write bad reviews.  If I don’t like your zine, I just won’t review it.  That way there’s no bad karma, no negativity, and no assiness.  Makes sense, right?




“Fight” by Eugene S. Robinson


Have I blogged about this book before? Can’t remember. Must be getting old, or maybe punched in the head too many times. What the hell. It’s good enough that, if so, it bears blogging twice.

Although the subtitle of the book is “everything you ever wanted to know about ass-kicking but were afraid you’d get your ass kicked for asking” it is not what it seems to be at first glance: a coffee table celebration of violence.

It is an examination of fighting from all angles that contains plenty of nuance and heart, a metric ton of  journalism, and a big fat syringe full of testosterone-fueled humor.

Robinson has chops. Writing chops (contributor to Vice, GQ, L.A. Weekly), fighting chops (martial artist, former bouncer), and artistic chops (lead singer of the boundary-crushing band Oxbow). His writes the way Ali used to fight. He’s all over the ring, peppering you with jabs, stinging you with crosses from all angles, everywhere at once. Yet, through it all, he never loses control of the ring.

I checked the book out of the library years ago and never forgot it.  The other day I wanted to read it again. So I bought a used copy from Alibris.com.


Buy yourself a copy. Chapter 13 “I Killed a Man” (which deals with the aftermath of killing someone in self-defense) is alone worth the price of the book.

Boka Kantina Review

Last Saturday night I ate at Boka Kantina and it rocked.  I opened with the crab rangoon which were stellar — crispy and creamy, with a sauce that was out of this world.  The Asian taco with kimchi was the standout on my plate.  The Mexican, although it was the weakest link, was still very good.

I’m not a foodie, so don’t ask me to break this all down like some fancy critic.   Let’s just say this place is different.  Original, counter-intuitive combinations abound on their funky menu.  I mean, who puts watermelon on a taco?  Well I had a bite of my daughter’s fish taco with watermelon, and it was outstanding.  I don’t know how they make these combinations work, but they do.

What you need to know before you go:  Service was super, atmosphere relaxed, music loud enough to hear without making it hard to talk.  I found their stuff to be hot enough to have some zip, but not hot enough to put off most folks.   They like the truffle oil and the ginger, so if you don’t like either, options will be limited.   Our meal ran $50 for three people including tip.  They do not serve coffee, or at least it’s not on the menu, which was the only negative for me.

Zine Review: Trail Mix 3

Trail Mix 3

Trail Mix 3

At Richmond Zinefest 2013 I headed up a storytelling workshop.  One of the folks in the session was Megan.  Before the workshop broke up she handed me issue #3 of her zine Trail Mix.

Now, as fans of zine culture know, there are zines and there are zines.  Some are just thrown together, some are assembled with care; some are outstanding and some are horrid.  But when they are good they are very very good, and it is this fact that compels me (like the folks who sift through piles of junk at yard sales or purchase brown paper grab bags with unknown contents) to read zines.

Trail Mix is one of the very very good ones.

In terms of production value, it is in the classic cut’n’paste mold: there are black and white pictures snipped and glued, handwritten pages mixed with typewritten sections, and ransom note headlines.  It is relaxed and unstudied in its feel, but that doesn’t mean it is slapdash.  Relaxed doesn’t mean poorly constructed.  Trail Mix is organized and flows perfectly.  The time, effort and skill it took to organize the work of so many contributors reveals itself as art rather than artifice.

The centerfold is an autobiographical story Megan wrote called “Rookie.” A sweet and genuine piece, tender without being treacle, it is the work of a writer in control of story.  I was moved.

Maybe Megan should be the one leading the workshop next year.  Trail Mix is highly recommended.

The Best Band-Aid Ever

imageYou won’t find many product endorsements on my blog.  But this product is too good not to mention: Band-Aid Advanced Healing for Blisters, Fingers & Toes.

As a martial artist and outdoorsy kind of guy, I get dinked up a fair amount.  Yesterday I got a blister from swinging a cane for two hours (I was teaching a cane-fighting seminar).  A blister popped, but it’s not bothering me at all because I put one of these puppies on it.

They ain’t cheap, but if you have a small cut or a popped blister they are by far the best coverage I’ve seen.  And if you think about it, they aren’t as expensive as all that.  Considering you can put one on and forget for three days or more, you run through fewer of them than you do of the others.

I don’t care enough to run a detailed cost-analysis because it’s worth the extra bucks not to be driven crazy by sopping band-aids that fall off if you so much as look at ’em funny.  These things stick like nobody’s business, and are completely waterproof.  Which means if you can wash your hands and not have to worry about getting a band-aid wet.