Blueberry Fade

October 22, 2010 by

This is an actual barbershop in my ‘hood. Every time I see it I stop in my tracks, shocked by the sheer audacity of the choice of name. Someday I plan to stop in and see if the guy can get a little acai flavor going in my scant locks.

Suspiria (Dario Argento, 1977)

October 21, 2010 by

Leading up to Halloween I’ll be hashing out some of my favorite horror films ranging from shlocko B-horror to luminous, elegant & eerie Gothic masterpieces, mainly focusing on those that may not have such prominence in pop culture consciousness as, say, Halloween does. Hope you enjoy! Feel free to leave your own recommendations in the comments.


No one films more stylish, lurid cinematic murders than Dario Argento circa the 70s.  In his heyday, the big daddy-o of Italian giallo horror had an astounding eye for visual grandeur that to me was unmatched by his contemporaries; sadly, this gift seems to have drifted away from him later in his career.  But Suspiria, for all its wooden acting and titter-inducing dialogue, is an enduring masterpiece of highly aestheticized, overwhelmingly baroque horror.

On a quintessential ‘dark and stormy night,’ a dancer by the name of Suzy arrives at a  most prestigious ballet boarding school in time to witness a tremendously terrified girl tear away from the premises into the woods.  Time isn’t long for this lass, as we soon find out.  Once ensconced in the school under the tutelage of instructors such as an intimidating madam who smacks of Miss Trunchbull in appearance, Suzy notices odd things occurring, secretive comings-and-goings, girls that know too much! suddenly and suspiciously turn up missing.  When Suzy delves deeper into the history of the school, certain information comes to light that leads to the conclusion that it is run by a coven of witches!  And so it goes.

Although you can’t help but smirk a few times, Suspiria’s actually kind of  a spook.  The atmosphere of suspense created in Argento’s masterful camerawork and lushly colorful set design is richly heightened by an incredible aural landscape courtesy of Goblin, a group with which Argento frequently collaborated.  A pulsing gothic synth, tensely trilling melody, and demonic hisses really accentuate the horror and bring the cinematic experience totally over the top.  Whether or not Suspiria scares, it’s certain to dazzle with its artful drench of primary colors and scintillating music.

 

Note: Halloween Horror Countdown will continue next Tuesday.

Terse Verse O’erheard

October 21, 2010 by

“So you’re all-Irish, huh?

My friend Jean, she’s really,

Really Irish, too: she’s, like,

Italian.”

-coworker accidentally turning nearby associates’ brains into gray soup, Oct. ’10

Straight Heat of the Day: October 20th, 2010

October 20, 2010 by

Lyrics Born…Live Session…there is actually good hip hop…you don’t ever see it, but it does exist…consider this a case in point…

The Hater Report #56

October 20, 2010 by

1)  The Pro Life Tea Party launches an aggressive ad campaign.  Portrays Obama as the Angel of Death, leading his minions across America atop the crest of a wave of hellfire and brimstone.  Is this really what we’re coming to?  An entire segment of our population living their lives based on fairy tales?  It’s truly a shame that stupidity isn’t painful.  (see above video)

2)  The 13 Most Expensive American Colleges in list format.  Whoa, is college really this expensive?  Oh man, I think I owe mom and dad an apology.  It breaks my heart to know that they spent over 100,000 of their hard-earned dollars so that I could learn how to play competitive Beirut, vomit without breaking a stride, inhale a five gallon Deer Park gravity bong in one pull, and properly apply the tenets of  “No Means Maybe”:  (LINK)

3)  Sarah Palin’s daughter, Bristol, has some serious accomplishments in her young life…teenage pregnancy, failed marriage, dropping out of high school, and being from Alaska.  Even with all of those achievements to her name, nothing can touch her most recent nadir of success…dancing on national television dressed as a gorilla in a pink tutu.   Sometimes you just have to love America…the only country where failing upwards actually happens:  (LINK)

4)  A mad scientist has created a machine constructed entirely of Legos that can build anything that your mind desires…from Legos!  In other news, my 8 year-old inner-child just discovered masturbation:  (LINK)

5)  The Top 9 ways that Americans waste money.  I was particularly surprised by #8 – Children’s Birthday parties.  Really?  Where are all these lucky kids?  All I ever got was a handwritten card from my father counting the years since I was born…also known as, the day his ‘fun life’ ended.  Strange:  (LINK)

6)  George W. Bush misses being pampered as President.  Air Force one was a sweet perk!  What he doesn’t miss is being responsible for starting never-ending wars, approving a systematic program of torture, exponentially expanding the country’s debt, and having to wash Dick Cheney’s back as he bathed in the blood of innocent children:   (LINK)

Dead Alive (Peter Jackson, 1992)

October 20, 2010 by

Leading up to Halloween I’ll be hashing out some of my favorite horror films ranging from shlocko B-horror to luminous, elegant & eerie Gothic masterpieces, mainly focusing on those that may not have such prominence in pop culture consciousness as, say, Halloween does. Hope you enjoy! Feel free to leave your own recommendations in the comments.

Dead Alive, although bursting with blood and gristle, has no hell-bent intention on scaring you.  It exists solely to immensely amuse and disgust with its goopy blend of comedy and anarchic carnage.  It’s a picture in the vein of the best of early Sam Raimi, as gory-goofy-gross and infectiously enthusiastic as Jackson’s later LOTR films are solemn and staid.  Multiple times during the course of the grandly Guignol ride you’ll suddenly become aware when you surprise yourself with a loud bout of laughter, that your jaw has been hanging slack for some time.

The plot starts a’rollicking when a bizarre rat-monkey creature is captured and flung into a zoo, where it has the opportunity to bite the hideous mother of our main character Lionel, as she’s smarming about trying to ruin his date with the sweetly winning Paquita.  A forewarning: not at all a film you want to watch with your momma.  Mom becomes infected, then zombified, and proceeds to spread the illness around town until the film crescendos into a maelstrom of chaos, zombies, autonomous digestive systems, lawnmowers,  and barrels & barrels of blood.

This film practically twinkles with a most deliciously gruesome and vivid, boundless imagination; it’s incredible to think that the mind that birthed the epic trilogy of Middle Earth was responsible for such a movie.  I can’t quite imagine the studio heads watching a scene where Lionel beats up the horrendous mutant zombie spawn of an undead nurse and priest and then entrusting Jackson with hundreds of millions of dollars.  However, Jackson’s brand of good-natured outrageously deviant genius is just irresistible, I guess.  Enjoy, and try not to vomit!

Straight Heat of the Day: October 19th, 2010

October 19, 2010 by

Mixmaster Mike…Random Jam…What do you get when you cross Robert Johnson’s, Ramblin’ on my Mind with Dead Prez’s, Hip Hop

Nothing but heat…featured in the documentary, Scratch.

David Sedaris’s Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk

October 19, 2010 by

Once, when I was in sixth grade and charged with babysitting my younger brother, I came home from school to find him waiting on our front steps. He’d discovered a small, spongy football by the tire of a parked car and was beaming over the find. I was in a dark mood (my studied scowling act hadn’t kindled a single female heart at recess) and now I was jealous: Happiness for him was something found curbside, found too easily. I snatched the ball from him and, ignoring his protests and pleas, rolled it down the sewer and then we both felt terrible.

If you found this ugly little tale funny, you’ll like Sedaris’s collection of nasty, brutish, and short-short fiction wherein the author has, in the tradition of fabulists and folk tale-tellers, gifted his animal characters with human-strength powers of speech and cognition. Except Sedaris’s, with few exceptions, employ their abilities to relentlessly miserable effect. Most tales open with a character thinking ungenerous thoughts toward another. He or she then emerges from the reverie and, blinkered by a stingy spirit, acts callously or violently or stupidly toward his neighbor and the act succeeds or backfires. It’s like a print version of “The Itchy and Scratchy Show” but with a less winning brand of cruelty. Some didactic message is usually available and so are some illustrations but you’ll likely not bother lingering over either; each tale is so singularly unsatisfying, so insufficiently funny, that I found myself plunging ahead, keeping things moving the way you walk off the pain of a dashed shin, feeling hopeful, then less hopeful, then frowning, then quitting with a quarter still unread.

This is a collection that would not have seen print had it landed on a publisher’s desk with an unknown author’s name beneath its title. If only this were an early work, some scrap of juvenilia that Sedaris’s agent had greedily bullied him into releasing. But I’ve heard no such news. Seems Sedaris expected we’d devour these deadening stories, each as small, hard, and bitter as an acorn, and come away smiling. Me, I’m backing away, shaking my head, wondering what happened to the man whose books used to make me laugh so hard that I wouldn’t let myself read them on public transit. I can only hope the author finds an improving message in the tale of this book’s inglorious and inevitable relegation to last place on lists of Sedaris fans’ favorites.

Repulsion (Roman Polanski, 1965)

October 19, 2010 by

Leading up to Halloween I’ll be hashing out some of my favorite horror films ranging from shlocko B-horror to luminous, elegant & eerie Gothic masterpieces, mainly focusing on those that may not have such prominence in pop culture consciousness as, say, Halloween does. Hope you enjoy! Feel free to leave your own recommendations in the comments.

During the 60s and 70s, Roman Polanski directed three masterpieces of psychological horror that are loosely bound together due to the similarity in setting and themes: Repulsion, Rosemary’s Baby, and The Tenant.  While Rosemary’s Baby gets the most acclaim out of this informal ‘Apartment Trilogy’, so named because each of these brilliant studies in paranoia and mental breakdown occur behind the closed doors of urban apartments, my favorite of the three is Repulsion.

The film starts with an eyeball opening credits sequence -literally- and this particular eyeball isn’t too keen about being under such scrutiny.  It’s both a nod to Hitchcock (peep the opening titles of Vertigo) and a great way to immediately place us in close confines with Carol, played by Catherine Deneuve.  After the credits she’s presented in her staggeringly luminous, whispery beauty but it’s quite apparent that something’s off with the lass.  The film unrolls very slowly, quietly, luring you further into the damaged, fragile mind of Carol until you’re trapped with her just as she is trapped with herself, cowering in her apartment with a festering skinned rabbit while her sister is on holiday.  Carol’s crippling fear and repulsion of men, and of sex, is a burden she has obviously carried since youth but it finally breaks through her vacant mind and filters into every nook and cranny available. Her fear first manifests as cracks in the walls of her shadowy flat, and then much more.

Repulsion ends ambiguously and chillingly, a slow zoom onto a seemingly banal old photograph of Carol’s family.  The final shot as the zoom focuses in inspires a terribly haunting emptiness, tempered around the edges with horror and sadness.  You won’t likely forget it, ever.


The Hater Report #55

October 18, 2010 by

1)  Christine O’Donnell…I’m not a witch.  Auto-tune style (see above video).  I’m generally not a parody guy, but this is pure gold.  I mean, at least it’s true.  She isn’t a witch…she’s just broke.

2)  Sharon Stone…age 52…in a bikini?  It reminds me of how I handle Dijon mustard…I know that the expiration date is meaningless, but I’m still hesitant to eat it once the date has passed:  (LINK)

3)  14 die at an annual Cambodian ceremony.  “Pol Pot’s Revenge” deemed too obscure to work as an official slogan:  (LINK)

4)  GOP Rep. McClintock claims the California voters don’t deserve to have Meg Whitman make decisions for them because she lacks principles.  I say they don’t deserve her for another reason…because she lacks the musculoskeletal system to support the overwhelming weight of her fat face:  (LINK)

5)  Minimum wage is unconstitutional according to Republicans.  But working full-time for peanuts is what it means to be American.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t we free the slaves in 1863?:  (LINK)

6)  Barney Frank’s boyfriend heckled his GOP opponent after their debate.  I know…I know.  I can’t believe anyone would date that mush-mouthed loser either.  Although, I will say…he’s doing pretty good for a Care Bears’ Cartoon extra:  (LINK)

7)  A man died after getting hit in the head with a golf ball.  Michael Douglas ponders aloud, “Was he wearing a stupid little hat?”:  (LINK)

Straight Heat of the Day: October 18th, 2010

October 18, 2010 by

Joe Cocker….Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood…grimy…just grimy…conservatives argue that heat is a choice…I firmly believe that heat is biological…you’re born with it…Exhibit A:  Joe Cocker

Exhibit B:  The Animals…Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood…if Eric Burdon ever hits on your girl, just walk away…you don’t stand a chance…

Exhibit C:  Nina Simone…yeah…that’s right…girls can have heat too…

Hausu (Nobuhiko Obayashi, 1977)

October 18, 2010 by

Leading up to Halloween I’ll be hashing out some of my favorite horror films ranging from shlocko B-horror to luminous, elegant & eerie Gothic masterpieces, mainly focusing on those that may not have such prominence in pop culture consciousness as, say, Halloween does. Hope you enjoy! Feel free to leave your own recommendations in the comments.

On October 26th (just in time for Halloween!) I invite you to burn out your retinas and fry your brain in the lysergic delirium of this unhinged id-ridden kitsch horror-comedy cult gem from ’70s Japan!  It’s never been released in America, so I imagine most readers are in for quite a treat as they watch this for the first time.

The uh, “plot”, if one can pin anything down in this hyperkinetic heap of non sequiturs, concerns a gaggle of Japanese schoolgirl dwarfettes with fairyfloss names like Melody, Sweet, Fantasy, et cetera…who have their summer vacay plans ruined so the central figure of the group, Gorgeous, steps up and writes to her distant, aged aunt and asks if they can all descend upon her house for a spell.  As it turns out, staying in the house is cool for cats but not so much for Gorgeous et al, what with the murderous decor and her aunt’s propensity to dine on virgin flesh.  With a soundtrack just as kook and schizo as the film’s plot and texture, it proves a giddy assault on at least two senses…although I am sure there’s potential for more to become involved.

At the very least, if this isn’t your cuppa, you can solemnly state that you’ve seen nothing like it before.  But I bet you’re going to love it.

The Delicious Madness of Murakami

October 18, 2010 by

I need this Takashi Murakami piece in my apartment. I bet licking different parts of the sculpture would leave light candy tastes on the tongue. Think about it: Mornings with fresh-brewed mushroom tea and a bit of a chat with the pot-bellied, horned homunculi. At night not a moment’s peace under the withering gaze of with the walleyed overlord. Prolonged exposure to the sculpture would induce fun fevers and languid ice cream dreams.

See more at the website I’ve linked, including a couple hilarious figurines whose presence on your desk would get you instantly fired. Of course, their presence on your computer screen might be enough to earn you a pink slip, too, so proceed with caution.

Antichrist (Lars Von Trier, 2009)

October 15, 2010 by

Leading up to Halloween I’ll be hashing out some of my favorite horror films ranging from shlocko B-horror to luminous, elegant & eerie Gothic masterpieces, mainly focusing on those that may not have such prominence in pop culture consciousness as, say, Halloween does. Hope you enjoy! Feel free to leave your own recommendations in the comments.

Up front, I am going to state that Antichrist is not a film for those with weak stomachs.  The violence, both emotional and physical, brutally guts you over the course of this undeniably audacious film while you remain frozen to your seat, breathless, helplessly immersed in Pure Horror.  Lars Von Trier has said that he made this film while under the influence of an overwhelming depression, and goddamn does it ever show.

However, this oppressive horror of which I speak comes more from the craft of filmmaking than it does the plot.  How Von Trier implements the elements of cinema is monumentally affecting and brilliant, and continues to weigh uncomfortably heavily on the mind long after any residual upset over the thematic material.  His painterly, sylvan landscapes into which Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg tuck themselves away to ostensibly overcome the crippling guilt and psychological disturbance caused by the death of their child are masterfully infused with an atmosphere of such dread and menace through manipulation of sound, mise-en-scene, and cinematography.  It is a true cinematic feat, this movie, one that is technically dazzling and deeply frightening.

However, the question of whether or not the content is as profound as its form is a divisive matter.  I tend to skew toward the side that finds the plot somewhat…silly… a messy mishmash of half-cocked ideas, dripping with import and symbolism, and unable to escape a sickly ochre stink of rank sensationalism.  However, that is not to say that it hasn’t provoked a lot of very thoughtful discourse, especially from critic Roger Ebert, who at Cannes called it ‘the most despairing movie’ he has ever seen and then proceeded to spill copious amounts of ink in sorting it out. Antichrist wouldn’t leave him be.

All this is to say, proceed with caution! But please, by all means, proceed. I’m not sitting here today still puzzling out the Meaning of It All but I *am* sitting here shivering in remembrance of the incredible nightmarish cinematic experience, and that for me makes it a deeply worthwhile film.

The Innocents (Jack Clayton, 1961)

October 14, 2010 by

Leading up to Halloween I’ll be hashing out some of my favorite horror films ranging from shlocko B-horror to luminous, elegant & eerie Gothic masterpieces, mainly focusing on those that may not have such prominence in pop culture consciousness as, say, Halloween does. Hope you enjoy! Feel free to leave your own recommendations in the comments.

The Innocents is a truly elegant spook of a film, one of the most poetically, exquisitely shot black & white films I’ve ever seen.  It’s not just a horror movie, it’s a profoundly beautiful piece of cinema, an artifact that whenever I have the pleasure of watching, reinforces my love of film above all other arts.

Inspired by Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw, it tells the tale of a young, sheltered woman (played masterfully by the great Deborah Kerr) who is hired to be a governess for two young children by their emotionally and geographically distant uncle in light of the death of their former caretaker.  The only stipulation is that she must maintain full and sole authority over the (orphaned) children and must never contact him about them.  The young miss takes the job and ensconces herself in the sprawling august estate and in the charm of the children.  However, increasingly secretive susurrations between the children…strange sights in the gardens and in the mansion…as well as the peculiar unfolding story about the death of the last nanny all convince Kerr’s character that there is a malevolent presence about that has infected the children.

To say the film is genuinely scary is certainly a subjective comment but I tell you, it’s genuinely scary. The magnificent sinister atmosphere of the film begins even before the studio logo: There is simply blackness on the screen immediately upon pressing “Play,” blackness that lingers uncomfortably about half a minute before the Fox logo appears.  All the while suspended over this blank noir is a song, “Willow Waly,” sung with tremulous childlike fragility like something wafting from an eerily ensorcelled music box.

I dare you not to love this movie, and I dare you not to be scared.

Subway

October 14, 2010 by

This morning, a man seated next to where I stood in the subway car’s aisle bade me take a seat behind him. He looked homeless. Maybe not homeless, maybe just fixing to be homeless soon. We shouldn’t rule out the possibility that he owns a home but sometimes, for the thrill that’s in it, sleeps instead in a puddle of dumpster drippings behind a Chinese takeout joint or lopes by moonlight through weedy lots where he barks bits of poems when he isn’t telling phantom enemies how it is, how it’s going to be. Maybe he treats himself to a walk to where he can see planes taking off from the airport and with one hand clutching a chain-link fence for support he masturbates—a big man for wanking alfresco, this one—and with an inhuman cry brings himself off under the gaze of a starving cat. Not impossible. His canvas sneakers featured pictures of little animal skulls. Of this much I am certain.

I told him I’d stand and went back to reading my book.

“Siddown, man,” he said. I told him no. I tried to read but out of the corner of my eye I watched him. He was sawing his jaw, right, left, right, left, like a man battling a bad taste in his mouth. That, or a man reliving a delicious meal of undercooked beef tendon. I’d not feel comfortable saying for sure. After a moment, he wheeled toward me and said, “I don’t like when people stand over me.”

To which I replied, “I don’t give tuppence for your petty dislikes.” Except I really said, “I’m getting off in a few stops so I’m not sitting.” And then was mad at myself for explaining myself. The other passengers were paying close attention but pretending to be absorbed in their own shabby thoughts, in their own trifling affairs. Some did better jobs than others. The woman wearing a face made of raw dough, a face to which some joker had applied makeup, who just stared baldly at me, for instance, did what we might call a bad job.

“Move over there, then,” said the cagey creature. I told him no, even though moving away was exactly what I wanted but was now the one thing I couldn’t do, lest I appear to be following orders from the loon. Important, in moments like these, to preserve your pride when absolute strangers are looking on, to continue reading your book even though your eyes are averted, your head turned some, so that you’d have to be reading your book with your ear. The train clacked onward. Important to take a stand and then spend the rest of the day deciding what the stand was for.

The Hater Report #54

October 13, 2010 by

1)  Clint Webb for Senate.  The most accurate political ad to ever air on television.  “I don’t make friends…I make acquaintances.”  (see above)

2)  Gay?  Noooo!  Don’t be ridiculous.  We just like to cuddle in a double bed together…every night.  Relax!  Don’t be so uptight!   Heterosexual men do it all the time…right?:  (LINK)

3)  A deranged son killed his parents for calling him lazy.  I guess he showed them…there’s nothing lazy about committing a double homicide.  That takes some intense manual labor.  Those  lifeless bodies aren’t going to hide themselves!:  (LINK)

4)  Christine O’Donnell has raised nearly $1 million per week since she won the Delaware primary.  That’s a lot of scratch.  She may not win the election, but at least she’ll be able to pay all her bills for once!:  (LINK)

5)  Perez Hilton had an epiphany.  He’s ashamed of his past adolescent behavior.  From this day forward, he promises that he will no longer resort to cold-hearted, cruel-spirited bullying on his blog.  Unfortunately, he failed to comment on whether or not he will still be annoying:  (LINK)

Zombi(e) AKA Zombi 2 (Lucio Fulci, 1979)

October 13, 2010 by

Leading up to Halloween I’ll be hashing out some of my favorite horror films ranging from shlocko B-horror to luminous, elegant & eerie Gothic masterpieces, mainly focusing on those that may not have such prominence in pop culture consciousness as, say, Halloween does. Hope you enjoy! Feel free to leave your own recommendations in the comments.

If ever you encounter someone trying to push Zombie on you, the kicker is always, “A zombie fights a SHARK, man!”

Well, that’s my sell-line too, and if that doesn’t whet your interest then perhaps this is not a movie for you.  However, if the idea of the reanimated dead tussling with a tiger shark appeals to your sensibilities, you will be well-served by the hilariously ludicrous and gory plot devised by a true maestro of schlocky horror, Lucio Fulci.

A little untangling in regards to the title(s), and Zombie’s place in the grand living-dead scheme: Although zombie movies had been appearing sporadically on the screen since the 30s, George Romero revolutionized the genre with his directorial debut, 1968’s seminal classic Night of the Living Dead. A decade later he directed the next in his ‘Living Dead’ cycle, Dawn of the Dead, which brought him continued success and much critical acclaim. This one bore the international title of Zombi, so in a shameless bid to glom onto the success of Romero’s film Fulci ‘suggested’ that his film was a sequel of sorts by entitling it Zombi 2. Whether or not that brought more interest, Fulci’s career was revitalized and Zombie effectively vaulted him into the amaranthine pantheon of cult icons.

So what fills up the other 80-odd minutes when there isn’t interspecies fisticuffs occurring? Well, there’s the awesome score from Fabio Frizzi which while certainly cheesy in some respects will be rhythmically humping your mind for days, some Fulci-brand eyeball gore, healthy helpings of T&A, some island disease epidemic hokum, and a whole slew of the living dead parading about in various stages of detailed decomposition.  No subtexts, political undercurrents, fine, precise acting- just good(bad), old-fashioned, outrageous zombie mayhem.

Imaginary Breadth

October 13, 2010 by

Encountered this with little context. No, not another excerpt from 2666, but one from another Bolaño novel that I’ve not yet cracked. It’ll be my last quote of his for a bit. Promise. Like I said, I’ve no idea what it’s about; it was a sharp-toed boot landing between my ribs and I’m just now waking and demanding to know who aimed the kick. If ever I write such a stunning trio of sentences, I’ll recline in my chair, park my own boots atop my desk, and from there the undertaker will in time come to collect a most smiling young stiff.

I followed them: I saw them go down Bucareli to Reforma with a spring in their step and then cross to Reforma without waiting for the lights to change, their long hair blowing in the excess wind that funnels down Reforma at that hour of the night, turning it into a transparent tube or an elongated lung exhaling the city’s imaginary breath. Then we walked down the Avenida Guerrero; they weren’t stepping so lightly any more, and I wasn’t feeling too enthusiastic either. Guerrero, at that time of night, is more like a cemetery than an avenue, not a cemetery in 1974 or in 1968, or 1975, but a cemetery in the year 2666, a forgotten cemetery under the eyelid of a corpse or an unborn child, bathed in the dispassionate fluids of an eye that tried so hard to forget one particular thing that it ended up forgetting everything else.

-from Roberto Bolaño’s Amulet

The Hater Report #53

October 12, 2010 by

1)  Joe Manchin.  I dare you to not vote for him (see above).

2)  An unfortunate teen was arrested for tipping over a port-a-potty that had a boy inside.  Since when did good old fashioned pranks become illegal?  I never thought I’d live to see the day when the Man would try to legislate fun:  (LINK)

3)  Kim Kardashian goes nude in W Magazine.  In other news, silver body paint is all the rage for this year’s number one Halloween costume…naked robot.  Get on the Trend Train ladies!:  (LINK)

4)  Greatest advertising campaign ever.  A liposuction clinic used a fat chick and a skinny chick to depict the before and after.  I have to say…I hate the insensitivity but I love the realistic portrayal.  It’s hard to argue with facts:  (LINK)

5)  The Republican Nominee for Ohio’s 9th District, Rich Iott, routinely dressed as a Nazi SS Officer. Apparently he wore the costume to bond with his young son.  Nice.  Nothing like spreading the ‘virtues’ of genocide to a younger generation:  (LINK)

Kwaidan (Masaki Kobayashi, 1964)

October 12, 2010 by

Leading up to Halloween I’ll be hashing out some of my favorite horror films ranging from shlocko B-horror to luminous, elegant & eerie Gothic masterpieces, mainly focusing on those that may not have such prominence in pop culture consciousness as, say, Halloween does. Hope you enjoy! Feel free to leave your own recommendations in the comments.


Kwaidan is at once one of the most meticulously crafted and staged films of classic Japanese cinema, but also one of the most odd, untraditional, unsettling.  The opening credits sequence immediately signals its peculiar, mesmerizing quality…glorious swirls of ink pulsing, undulating in a heightened pale silence punctuated by an occasional tinny trill that travels up your spine and sets off screeching violins under your dermis.

The film unfurls in 4 different segments, each adapted from the Occidental collector of Japanese ghostlore Lafcadio Hearn’s turn-of-the-1900s anthology of the same name.  Each segment has its virtues: The Black Hair soaks in shadows, unconventional angles and imminent dread, Woman of the Snow constricts your capillaries with its oppressive iciness and perfected-to-affect lighting; Hoichi the Earless overwhelms with its grandiose architectural and artistic construction, and In a Cup of Tea intrigues rather than frightens, a very modern curio of an ending.  Together they create a toweringly eminent epic of traditional Japanese horror that stands as proud, bold, and unique today as it did in 1964.

After the hours of watching Kwaidan are over (yeah, it’s long), certain dazzlingly expressionist images, the austere biwa music and a quiet, masterful sense of suspense will linger with you ’til the end of days.

Re: History

October 12, 2010 by

Know how sometimes you look back on decisive moments in your life and they burn and the only thing for it is to fan the flames? No?! Well, good day sir, and kindly leave off reading now.

For the rest of you, here’s a bitter bit of Bolaño from his novel 2666. Thinks one character, “… history, which is a simple whore, has no decisive moments but is a proliferation of instants, brief interludes that vie with one another in monstrousness.”

Sorry to wax maudlin, but on days like today, that rings true. (Understand that at some age immemorial I hocked my heart for a tin tuning fork that returns the cleanest notes when answering dark sentiments like this one. It wasn’t a wise bargain, but the huckster has dashed, taking with him all traces of the flea market he oversaw.) How ’bout a hug? Hmm?

Writing All Fancy-Like

October 11, 2010 by

The word “per,” as commonly used in business writing to mean, “according to” or “through the agency of,” enjoys a misguided cult following at my office. I can’t dampen the enthusiasm for it. I can’t kill it. Like a bionic bedbug, the little guy endures and pops up in the worst of places, like in the sign shown below. I couldn’t abide it and subsequently offered an unsolicited correction with my pen, but the damage was done. Read and weep:

The Hater Report #52

October 8, 2010 by

1)  Charlie Crist threw out the first pitch at the ALDS game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Texas Rangers (video above)…needless to say, this won’t do much to help dispel those rumors about his secret love of dudes:  (LINK)

2)  Missouri Tea Party fights the good fight…against mandating humane conditions at puppy mills?  I realize they hate Obama, hippies, common sense, and education, but now, puppies?  That’s pretty extreme:  (LINK)

3)  In their rush to bash all things government, Fox News ran a fake story from the Weekly World News (aka Home of Bat Boy) that Los Angeles had invested $1 billion of tax payer money in jetpacks for their police force.  A story about jetpacks?  Might want to fact check that one next time:  (LINK)

4)  An aide to California Democratic Gubernatorial candidate, Jerry Brown, was caught on tape calling his Republican opponent, Meg Whitman, a whore.  This guy is way out of line.  She may have the worst hair cut ever and a face that looks like melting wax, but she is NOT a whore…someone would have to be willing to sleep with that Sasquatch first for his claim to even be remotely true:  (LINK)