Archive for July, 2006

Art Crimes

(photo: ‘I…didn’t…do it!’ by Sam Javanrouh, 2003)

- In 2004, Elton Murphy, 49, killed Joyce Wishart, 61, in her downtown Sarasota, FL art gallery - stabbing her twenty times, and then leaving her body propped and posed to mimic a work of art hanging nearby on the gallery’s wall. Murphy, who says his full name is “The Lord God Elton Brutus Murphy” claims he is “God-like,” knows about aliens, has 1,000 followers who are under his control and has told a psychologist he has replaced the soul of his lawyer. He has claimed that he is perfectly mentally competent, is aware of his actions, and wants his trial to wrap up as soon as possible (DNA evidence linked him to the crime). The trial began in 2006 and is currently in progress.

- In 1985, police uncovered a .22-caliber rifle inside the Andrew Crispo Art Gallery in NYC, that was used to kill male model and Fashion Institute of Technology student Eigil Dag Vesti, 26, in that same year. Bernard J. LeGeros, 22, an employee at the gallery and personal assistant to Mr. Crispo, was convicted on second-degree murder charges of the model, whom he claims he killed on orders from Crispo. Vesti’s burned body was discovered on LeGeros’ father’s estate, wearing only a leather mask and shot twice in the back of the head. LeGeros is currently serving a life sentence. The dubious but well connected Crispo, then 42, was acquitted in this particular case. The flamboyant details of this infamous 80’s haut monde art world crime are bizarre and sickly glamorous, and are the subject of a non-fiction book (Bag of Toys, Warner Books, 1992) written by David France, and expanded from an article he wrote about the ordeal for Vanity Fair in 1988.

- In 1997, Irena Hatfield, director of the Lismore Regional Art Gallery, was arrested and charged with the 1985 shooting death of her husband Christopher at their Maroubra, Australia home. The rocky, complicated, erotic/revenge-driven case became an ongoing soap opera for the public, and the media reported the details of the lengthy investigation and trail extensively. Hatfield reverted back to her maiden name of Dobrijevich after she was acquitted of the crime in 2000. As well as writing a book about her ordeal (Irena, Harper Collins, 2001), and selling her story to television and film production companies, in 2006 she opened her own erotic-themed art and photography gallery, LushArt, in Surry Hills, Australia.

- In 2004, gallery owner Lori Haigh began receiving phone death threats, physical assaults and vandalism after displaying a painting at her Capobianco Gallery in San Francisco, which depicted the torturing of Iraqi prisoners by American soldiers. A few days after the controversy began, while Haigh was making preparations to temporarily close the gallery and avoid mounting trouble, a man knocked on the door of the gallery. When Haigh answered he punched her violently in the face, knocking her unconscious. The assault left her with a broken nose, injured eye and a concussion. The story became a political hot point, and the death threats towards Haigh increased and became more extreme (listen here). She has sinced closed up shop and has gotten out of the art gallery business.

- In 1911, the Mona Lisa, by Leonardo da Vinci, vanished out of the Louvre museum in Paris, France. Detectives discovered the painting’s heavy display frame discarded in a stairwell leading to one of the museum’s cloakrooms. The explosive crime naturally lead to much speculation and finger-pointing. Fiery, inductive surrealist Guillaume Apollinaire (who had once rallied for public torching of the Louvre) was jailed temporarily under suspicion of the theft, and Pablo Picasso was even held and questioned at one point - both were later released. But two years after it disappeared, it was discovered that Louvre employee Vincenzo Peruggia had stolen it, simply walking out the door with it hidden under his overcoat. He had been hired by con man Eduardo de Valfierno, who had secretly commissioned French art forger Yves Chaudron to make copies of the painting so he could sell them as the missing original. But Valfierno goofed by neglecting Peruggia (he actually didn’t need the original for the forging, just for it to go missing in the public’s eye). After keeping it in his apartment in Paris for two years, an angry and impatient Peruggia was caught attempting to sell it to a Florence art dealer. After a brief tour of Italy, the original painting was returned to the Louvre, more popular than ever.

- In 2004, a devastating fire broke out at art storage firm Momart’s warehouse on the Cromwell industrial estate in Leyton, England. Destroyed were many extremely valuable pieces of modern “Britart” owned by controversial British art mogul Charles Saatchi. Investigation later revealed that the warehouse was burgled before the fire broke out. The accumulative value of the works lost is estimated in the many millions, and the crime is still unsolved.

-In 1972, eventual serial killer Gary Gilmore won several prison art competitions (serving time up to that point for a youth spent mostly committing armed robbery and drunken, violent assaults). Those art awards, and a marked interest in bettering his IQ and an earnest, expressed interest in cultivating art as a life career prompted prison officials to grant him an early release for the sole purpose of attending an art school in Eugene Oregon. The inspiration was brief, as Gilmore didn’t attend the school or pursue art at all once out of jail - and was back to his scary, criminal ways within weeks of release. Gilmore would continue a downward spiral of serious crime and murder and end up on death row. He was executed by firing squad in 1977, before receiving a goodbye phone call on his last day from Johnny Cash, and also uttering the words “let’s do it!” A few remaining pieces of Gilmore’s work exist in a box at Utah State Historical Society in Salt Lake City, along with other artifacts from his incarceration.

- In 2006, a Buffalo high school art teacher, along with an off-duty Buffalo police officer friend, was charged with with second-degree reckless endangerment after parking in an area near several homes and businesses and firing rounds from a gun into an open lot. Suspension of the art teacher from the school is still pending (the officer was suspended without pay), and the only apparent motive in the case was boredom.

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It Is Possible To Achieve a Relaxation So Deep That You Will Never Be Able To Tell Anyone About It…


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The Tokyo VR Project

The Tokyo VR Project is a constantly updated list of QuickTime VR captures of scenes in and around Tokyo, Japan - often of unusual or thoughtful places (like a random back alley somewhere at night for no other reason than spooky modern urban seclusion-ism appreciation-ness). The entire site in in Japanese, but navigation doesn’t appear to be too hard if you don’t know kanji. Once you get to the main page the “VR List” at the lower right seems to be the master list of spots, click on the titles for a surprise each time. The “VR Category” section on the left corresponds with the spherical map thingie in the middle, and gives you a little preview and map location of each one. You need QuickTime, and if you’ve never used QuickTimeVR - this will be a great way to explore it.

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I’ve Looked At Harvey Matusow From Both Sides Now

There are some things they don’t teach you in history class, then there are some things that they don’t teach you in history class because they are too hard to believe even happened, even if they really did. Like Harvey “The Most Hated Man in America” Matusow. I’m sure you’re asking “Who was Harvey Matusow?” Well, not only did Matusow help destroy the lives of countless innocent Americans due to his high livin’ and low-ballin’ work with Joseph McCarthy and the House Unamerican Affairs Committee (who then acted as an ironic scapegoat for after it collapsed, hence his title), but was also a handy entrepreneur in the big-time avant garde art and music circles in England and NYC, was married and divorced twelve times, was the sole person who introduced John Lennon to Yoko Ono (horrors!), did time for perjury in a cell right next to Willhelm Reich (who died a few feet away from him), started the rumor that smoking dried banana peels gets you high (as an act of revenge against Chiquita Banana), turned Robert f. Kennedy onto LSD, wrote one of the first how-to books on computer hacking, worked with the Fluxus group, recorded a you-gotta-hear-it-to-believe-it psychedelic food-centric Jew’s Harp-only album (Harvey Matusow’s Jews Harp Band’s War Between Fats and Thins) in 1969 …and in his later years lived on communes and helped homeless runaways while hosting a Mormon-centric public access TV show in Utah, The Magic Mouse Show, as Cockyboo the Clown (in full clown drag). Some people feel like they’ve looked at life from both sides now …all the time. Matusow was working on his autobiography, Stringless Yo Yo, when he died in 2002. This link includes links galore (and excerpts from Stringless Yo Yo) as well as every single song from War Between Fats and Thins as downloadable mp3s (yep). Of course there is more here. Now this is the guy that someone should have made a black and white, McCarthy-era film about.

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Camille Tosses One Off…


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Ray Harryhausen Roll-Call


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Flies

The common housefly, also known as the Musca Domestica, is a cosmopolitan pest that propagates in regions where there is human activity. The housefly is thought to have formed as a species about 65 million years ago on the part of the planet now known as the Middle East, and human migration has resulted in the fly’s dispersal around the globe.

A fly’s body consists of three main parts; it’s head, the thorax in the middle, and the back end which is the abdomen. There are two small antennae jutting out from the very front of the head, which help the insect to detect motion (also aided by the tiny hairs covering the fly’s body, which pick up changes in air currents, as well as smell and taste).

But the most recognizable part of a fly are it’s eyes. To actually “see,? flies have what are known as “compound eyes.? These orb-like structures, which exist on opposite sides of a fly’s head in some species, actually only detect lightness and darkness (and sometimes color) despite their elaborate construction. As is the widely-held perception, a fly’s eye does indeed refract and reflect many multi-faceted repetitions of an image, captured within the many “ommatidia? which cover the surface of the eye (from 12 to 1,000 depending on the type of fly) and transport them into the fly’s brain. However, contrary to science fiction and horror films, the individual images picked up by the ommatidia are nowhere near as crisp as the single-retina images that humans see. The ommatidia on the eye’s surface point in different directions to get a kind-of “all-around? view of things, and are the openings of tiny tunnels which lead inwards. The structure of these cone-like passages, and they way they reflect and refract light, are different with each species. The insides of the multiple tunnels are divided in half - one side designed to detect light and one to detect darkness. The fly’s tiny brain knows how to process the shifting, duplicate images.

The housefly’s reproduction capacity is tremendous, but because of harsh and shifting environmental factors, can fortunately never be realized. The birthing process of a fly is actually rather complex, and takes about 10 days. A female fly is ready to be impregnated 36 hours after hatching from an egg herself. Females can lay eggs 8-12 hours after impregnation, usually up to 500 eggs in several batches dispersed over a period of a few days. These eggs are bright white and about 1.2mm long. The female lays them in moist areas where there is nutrition, like decaying garbage or flesh or excrement. The larva, which become darker as they feed, grow to 3-9mm long and have black, hook-like mouths at one end, and sinuous slits (bleeaacchhh!) When the larva are fully-grown, they become one of the most universally recognized “gross-out? creatures known to man: maggots. Maggots are are creamy white and 8-12mm long. Contrary to popular belief, maggots do not “feed,? but instead are done eating as soon-to-be-flies, and ready to hide away and finish their birthing cycle. Maggots will crawl up to 50 feet away from the feeding area to a cool dry place, to quietly transform to the pupa stage. The pupa changes back to brown, and also red and then a weird ashy-gray during it’s various growth stages. When the fly is fully formed inside the pupa sac, it pounds it’s head like a pulsating hammer (which is actually designed to swell up and down quickly during this stage) to break out. Flies emerge fully-grown, and the appearance of small flies do not mean they are “children? flies, but simply ones smaller as a result of not having enough nutrition during the larva stage. A typical adult housefly is 6-7mm long, with females usually being larger.

As an adult, a housefly’s life-span is about 15-25 days. Males are very territorial and will duel with other males that enter what they perceive as their territory, and will also try to mount and inject with sperm all females who enter the area. Flies usually travel about one mile away from, and back to, the area where initial nutrition and reproduction have occurred in their lives. Flies are not active at night, and hide in cool dry places, like ceiling beams or window sills to rest. Flies have the ability to walk on ceilings and walls because the ends of their legs have tiny secretors which can emit a gooey substance. Flies only suck nutritional liquids, and do not have mouths to process solids. They can ingest solids by regurgitating saliva onto them to dissolve them. Flies are always cleaning their bodies and legs with their mouths because the many hairs on their bodies contain their smell and taste receptors, and need to remain unclogged.

There more than 100 pathogens of varying degrees associated with the house fly, which they pick up from landing on rotting foods and excrement, and then transporting them to surfaces they land on - through their feces, regurgitation and gooey legs. Seeing the odd single housefly land on your food is not a cause for extreme panic, and not necessarily reason to throw the food out (depending on how paranoid you are about germs) but an infestation with very many flies is cause for alarm. Households with infants or older people, or people with compromised immune systems should be more careful. Bug sprays are a bit pointless for flies, as they usually spray lots of poison in the air or on an indoor surface for just a single fly. Sticky pest strips and fly paper actually do work to control fly populations, and control of them is the best strategy - as total elimination is nearly impossible. Window screens are essential to keep them from entering your house and reproducing. Large numbers of indoor flies may be the result of rotting food, garbage or feces hidden somewhere in your home that you may not know about, or possibly a rotting animal hidden in the walls or under the home.

Fly swatters have a mesh design because flies detect the movement of air, and rely on this characteristic for survival. If you want to swat a fly and avoid it detecting you, you may be able to confuse it by swatting it from two directions at once. One clever way to sometimes capture a fly is to rather rapidly clasp your hands a few inches above it, which will usually cause it fly upwards - often into your just-closing hands.

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Dr. Smith-ism-ology

Even though these are pretty much available widely on the web, here they all are in one place anyway. Every insult that Dr. Smith (Jonathan Harris) flung at Robby the Robot (Bob May) during the course of their “relationship” on the 1960’s TV show Lost In Space: Adlepated Amateur, Adlepated Armor Bearer, Aluminum Canary, Animated Weather Station, Arrogant Automation, As Protective as a Leaky Umbrella, Astigmatic Automaton, Automated Oaf, Babbling Birdbrain, Babbling Bumpkin, Bellicose Bumpkin, Big Mouth, Blithering Blatherskite, Blithering Booby, Bloated Blimp, Blundering Bag of Bolts, Blithering Bumpkin, Book-Making Booby, Broken-down Has Been, Brutish Product of the Mineral World, Bubble Brain, Bubble-Head, Bubble-Headed Booby, Bulbous Bumpkin, Bumbling Bag of Bolts, Bumbling Booby, Bumbling Bucket of Bolts, Bumbling Cracker Barrel, Bumptious Booby, Bumptious Braggart, Bungler, Bungling Incompetent, Cackling Cacophony, Cackling Canister, Cackling Clod, Cackling Cookoo, Cackling Coward, Cantankerous Clod, Cold Hearted Clod, Caterwauling Clod, Cautious Clump Chattering Magpie, Clanking Clod, Clod-Like Collection of Condensors, Clumsy Clod, Clumsy Cloot, Clumsy Clump, Complete Moron, Computerized Clod, Computerized Clump, Confused Compass, Cowardly Clump, Cowardly Friend, Cumbersome Clod, Cumbersome Clump, Cybernetic Simpleton, Cybernetic Skeptic, Defective Detective, Dehumanized Lie Dispenser, Demented Diode, Deplorable Dummy, Deplorable Dunderhead, Despotic Dunce, Digitised Dunce, Dippity Dunce, Disreputable Dunce, Disreputable Dunderhead, Doctor Dunderhead, Dottering Dolt, Dottering Dunderhead, Dunce Dunderhead, Elephantine Adam, Egomanicale Ethrentricity, Evasive Coward, Ferrous Frankenstein, Fiend in Tin Clothing, Floundering Flunky, Foolish Fop, Frightful Fractious Frump, Frozen Eskimo, Fugitive From a Junkheap, Fugitive From a Junkyard, Fugitive From a Scrap Heap, Fugitive From a Scrap Metal Yard, Gallumphing Gargoyle, Gargantuan Goose, Garrulous Gargoyle Ghoul, Gigantic Gargoyle Goose, Gregarious Gremlin, Hard-Headed Harbinger of Death, Hard-Headed Harbinger of Evil, Hardware Hyena, Hopeless Heap of Tainted Tin, Hulking Mass of Mechanical Ignorance, Hypertensive Hypochondriac, Ignominious Ignoramus, Ill-informed Ignoramus, Impersonal Collection of Inanimate Hardware, Incompetent Moronic Lump, Incompetent Walking Ingot, Incompetent Idiot, Incompetent Imbecile, Ineffectual Ineptitude Inept Gold Bricker, Inept Idiot, Infamous Informer, Ingot of Ingratitude, Ingrate, Insensitive Brute, Insensitive Clump, Insensitive Idiot, Insensitive Machine, Insipid Ineptitude, Iron-Borne Ingrate, Irresponsible Winebibber, Jabbering Jackanape, Jabbering Jeremiah, Jabbering Judas, Jangling Junkheap, Jespoty Dunce, John Barley Corn, Judas Juvenile, Junkpile Klunker, Know Nothing Numskull, Lagert Lamebrained Lump, Lead-lined Lothario, Lead-lined Lump, Lily Livered Lump, Lily-Livered Lead-Lined Lummox, Little Mother, Ludricous Lump, Lugubrious Lagert, Lugubrious Lump, Magnificent Mobile, Malicious Moron, Mass of Fear, Mealy-mouthed Rogue, Meandering Mental Midget, Mechanical Dunderhead, Mechanical Friend, Mechanical Meddler, Mechanical Misery, Mechanical Misfit, Mechanical Monolith, Mechanical Moron, Mechanical Murderer, Meddler, Medical School Dropout, Mediocre Medical Misfit, Mental Midget, Metallic Ham, Metallic Monstrosity, Metallic Murderer, Metallurgical Friend, Miserable Mass of Metal, Miserable Mechanism, Misguided Moron, Mechanical Misery, Misshapen Mummy, Monstrous Mountebank, Mechanized Misguided Moron, Monstrous Metallurgical Meddler, Mr. Wrongway Computer, Mumbling Mass of Metal, My Insensitive Friend, Myna Bird, Nattering Ninny, Neanderthal Ninny, Negligent Ninny, Nervous Ninny, Nickering, Ninny Nincompoop, Ninny Noxious, Ninny, Obsolete Oaf, Obsolete Piece of Scrap Metal, Old Booby, Overcautious Concoction, Overgrown Ninny, Oversized Oaf, Parsimonious Puppet, Pathetic Pomposity, Pedagogical Pip-squeak, Pitiable Pip-squeak, Plasticized Parrot, Pompous Pip-squeak, Ponderous Plumber, Pot Headed Prankster, Pot-Bellied Prankster, Pot-Bellied Pumpkin, Powered Prankster, Preening Popinjay, Presumptuous Pip-Squeak, Presumptuous Popinjay, Pretentious Popinjay, Primitive Pile of Pistons, Proverbial Neanderthal Ninny, Puny Pip-squeak, Pusillanimous Pinhead, Pusillanimous Pip-squeak, Pusillanimous Puncher, Pusillanimous Punkah, Pusillanimous Puppet, Pusillanimous Tyrant, Quivering Quintessence of Fear, Ramshackled Romeo, Rattletrap, Real Great Goose, Ridiculous Robot, Ridiculous Roustabout, Ridiculous Ruin, Robust Rock Hound, Rolly-Poly, Rowdy, Rusty Rasputin, Sanctimonious Scatterbrain, Scurrilous Scatterbrain, Sententious Sloth, Sickening Cybernetic, Silent Sentinel, Silly Goose, Silly Old Ninny, Silly Sausage, Silly Sloth, Silly Stupid Lovable Old Ninny, Silver-Plated Sellout, Simple Simon, Slick Sophisticated & Charming Companion, Snivelling Cinderbox, Sorry Specimen of Computerhood, Stalwart Companion, Stalwart Sortie, Steely-Eyed Sorcerer, Stubborn Clatterbrain, Stupid Friend, Tarnished Friend, Tarnished Trumpet, Tattletale, Terrified Mechanical Dunderhead, Tin-Plated Fool, Tin-Plated Fraud, Tin-Plated Snitch, Tin-Plated Tattletale, Tin-Plated Tintinnabulation, Tin-Plated Traitor, Tin-Plated Tyrant, Tintinnabulation, Tin Can, Tiresome Thesaurus, Traitor, Traitorous Electronic Junk Pile, Traitorous Tin-Plated Fugitive from a Junkyard, Traitorous Tintinnabulation, Traitorous Transistorized Toad, Transistorized Tiger, Treasonous Tyrant, Trusty Aid, Tyrannical Tin Plate, Tyrannus Thesaurus, Unabridged Dictionary, Unconscious Concoction, Unctuous Underling, Uncultured Clump, Ungrateful Underling, Ungrateful Wretch, Unspeakable Insult, Weakling, Worry Wart, Worthless Electronic Scrapheap, Wretch, Wrong Way Computer.

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Massive Christian/Family Values-Oriented Movie Review Database Is My New Favorite Judgemental Cinema Reference Guide

Are you a movie buff like I am? Has your heart become heavily-weighted with academic cultural theory, brainy reference points and disingenuous reactions? Do you suffer from cinematic irony implosion? Recently, when trying to find out about films I want to rent, I’ve forgone the usual paganistic blogs, flesh-worshiping review sites, upside-down crucifix-wearing DVD listing books and also IMDB.com (which I’ve heard eats aborted human fetuses). I’ve clensed my palette, and opened my eyes to a whole new way of thinking when it comes to the art of film, while using the ChildCare Action Project: Christian Analysis of American Culture (CAP) movie review database. With it’s highly detailed reviews of hundreds of titles, it’s a refreshingly different look at every movie I’ve ever loved. The key? It filters every title through it’s biblical-based value rating system and “society influence density? scoring chart while it theorizes, theorizes, theorizes away about how almost every movie is just plain wrong, wrong, wrong. It’s all some of the most refreshing film criticism I’ve read… ever.

In their review of A Clockwork Orange, they prevent you from allowing your six year-old to experience this explosive work - revealing it as a hypnotically graphic and far-too-colorful representation of everything leading to the damnation of mankind, and backing most of their explanation up with biblical scripture. The CAP reviewers tend to go the Kenneth Starr-route when describing sexual subjects and situations, which langish in heavily-listed detail. In their review they scold “male glutei fissure nudity? and “homosexual touch with male hand to male gender-specific anatomy in underwear? as well as noting “thong male nudity, repeatedly,? and finally concluding with my favorite; “murder by smashing head with vulgar sculpture piece for furtherance of theft.?

In their review of Fight Club, which they dub “…a bizarre fantasy about the ‘repressed self’? (quotation marks have never been so necessary), they claim “The central figure, a bored milquetoast business man, had a vision. He envisioned he was the street-wise tough guy who loved to fight. And then the street wise tough guy became real, at least for the milquetoast man…? and also “The *Fight Club* kind of influence emboldens tough guy wannabe’s, those who are, and the embittered ‘can’t take it anymore’ types to go for it…? then continuing later with; “In this complex and well organized and realistically choreographed story of brutal aggression, multiple paradoxes tend to suffocate the rational mind of the viewer, efficiently throwing at you almost everything that can reach into the basal man and draw it out in fury with wolf pack camaraderie, ready to strike at a moment’s notice. Remember that the trapped wolf will attack the one who is trying to free it!?

Wow!

But the lengthy reviews aren’t even the meat of it. They conclude each film write-up with an acronymn-ed “category of offenses? chart, using math to show how most films are part of a campaign to destroy everything. The six categories on the chart are (W)anton violence/Crime, (I)mpudence/Hate, (S)ex/Homosexuality, (D)rugs/Alcohol, (O)ffense To God and (M)urder/Suicide (this spells W.I.S.D.O.M). These listed offenses are then numerically entered into the chart (see above).

For instance, Fight Club scores a whopping 100 points in the Drugs/Alcohol and Murder/Suicide categories, and a surprisingly low 20 points in the Sex/Homosexuality category. This is then kind of calculated along with the “the frequency of examples of ignominy per hour in each CAP Investigation Area? and then, somehow this is all calculated and a CAP final point score is given. Fight Club gets a 31 (is that high or low?), and a “CAP Influence Density? rating of 3.16 (but what does that mean?). It’s all too complicated for me, but perhaps you’ll have better luck getting through the entire explanation of how the scoring system works. Complex or not, CAP claims “…the CAP Entertainment Media Anlaysis Model has been proven to be reliable and consistent in projecting the correct Motion Picture of Association of America (MPAA) ratings. It is no longer necessary to relate the MPAA rating to CAP scoring.?

But it’s the lengthy reviews, strange plot summaries and excrutiatingly detailed category offense listings that durn-diddley-doo nearly steal the show every time. For instance, Fight Club gets one demerit point each in the Impudence/Hate category for “encouraging sadness? and “nihilism and glorification of it,? as well as “impudence toward boss = ‘enlightened’,? “praying for car wreck,? “belittlements,? “punk music in startup background? and Helena Bonham Carter’s “punk dress.? Speaking of, Hollyweird seems to mean nothing to CAP, as actors and directors aren’t even mentioned on many of the site’s reviews - just the title and year of release.

Oh but this is all just the tip of the holy mountain. By all means bathe yourself in their very impressive list of titles, past and present (mostly present, actually) - each with long reviews and charts. Look up your favorite cinematic masterpiece, and read on for a refreshingly new spin on it. Your faith in film as a relevant art form will be saved!

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Hope Is Emo

My forward-seeing friend Brian has once again turned me onto something before anybody else has even heard of it: Hope Is Emo. He sent us the YouTube link last night and Jim and I watched the clips, crying. Lots of other episodes are attached to the YouTube page. Here is her main page. There’s also lots of chatter about Hope Is Emo. Are you a hider or a seeker?

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The 2006 Biomedical Image Awards

and the award goes to...

Ever browse through celebrity magazines or watch entertainment award shows and secretly wish the camera would get closer, closer… closer to your favorite celebrities until you could see the ganglia and amoebas on their skin, and judge them for what occurs in that microscopic world on their epidermis? Personally, it’s all I can think about. Imagine the hype and drama on that landscape! Wellcome Trust, a UK independent charity that “funds research to improve human and animal health,” just unveiled their nominees in their annual 2006 Biomedical Image Awards, a competition of microscopic images culled by scientists while researching things like biology, medicine and disease. Many of these subjects are so small that normal lightwaves are too large to capture the images, so they’ve been immortalized using “microscopy” lighting techniques (Transmission electron, Scanning electron, Fluorescence, etc.) Take a look at the gallery of contending microbes and vote for who you think scores highest overall in each category, and click on each one’s image and learn about what they’re really like in real life.

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Vegetarianism; is it a Dangerous Gateway Drug to Breatharianism!?


“Breatharianism? is the belief (and alleged practice) that with the right discipline and technique - a human body can live indefinitely without any food or water, and that it can sustain itself just fine through other unexplored means; like absorbed energy from sunlight, and nutrients from the air (or by other spiritual means related to Hinduism). “Inedia? is the original concept that Breatharianism comes from, stemming from the practice by eastern ascetics to fast and be nourished by the Hindu life force “prana? only. Many believers in Breatharianism spout un-confirmable claims that there have existed ancient adepts and yogis who have been living on air and light for millennia. Some pure-food enthusiasts see Breatharianism as the pinnacle of enlightenment, with the path leading from vegetarianism, to veganism and “frutarianism? (the belief that vegetable plants have feelings), up to a raw food diets, and then water only and then nothing but air and sunlight. Breatharians believe that they can turn their bodies into “photovoltaic cells? that convert the rays of the sun into nutritional energy. The intriguing practice has produced many modern celebrity Breatharian “gurus? throughout the later 20th century and beyond, all who publish books, conduct seminars, have established institutes and share a controversial and sometimes criminal image. Bretharianism is regarded by most as, at best, nothing more than parlor trick kookery with scam-tendencies, and at worst a practice that can kill the naive and willing who attempt it (of which there are quite a few documented cases).

Ellen Greve (a.k.a. Jasmuheen) of Australia is a prominent Breatharian who wrote the book Living on Light: A Source of Nutrition for the New Millennium. She also runs the Cosmic Internet Academy, and conducts $2,000-per-head seminars which teach a quick, 21-day program that will allow the body to stop aging and attain immortality by living solely on light. Although Greve claims she has not eaten since 1993, she says that she consumes the occasional herbal tea, and sometimes puts chocolate or cheesecake in her mouth and swishes it around to achieve a “taste orgasm? when she’s bored. She claims her diet has changed her chromosomes and she now has 12 strands of DNA rather than the usual two (she has refused a blood test). The Australian press has noted that Greve’s home is filled with opened containers of food, but she claims that the perishables are for her husband. She also claims that world starvation would be “no problem? if the population could only be “reprogrammed,? and she says that people have starved to death only because they have been “tricked? by the media into thinking they need food to live. Several of Greve’s followers have starved to death while following her practices. In 1999 the Australian 60 Minutes TV show monitored Greve closely to observe her theories at work. The documentary-style test failed, as the show collapsed in various “fresh air mishaps? and threatened litigation, when a doctor monitoring Greve noted her rapidly deteriorating condition and made the network realize they would be held responsible if she died.

The Breatharian Institute of America has been around since some time in the 1970’s, and was founded by Wiley Brooks, who claims to be a long-time practitioner of Breatarianism. Brooks first came to national attention when he appeared on the TV show That’s Incredible! in 1981. Brooks has been quoted as saying “If food is so good for you, how come the body keeps trying to get rid of it?…Man was not designed to be a garbage can.? In 1983, Brooks was discovered in a hotel eating a chicken pot pie by some of his followers, and has been reportedly seen leaving 7-Eleven stores with jumbo hot dogs, potato chips and cherry Slurpees. Brooks has consoled his disillusioned followers by explaining that Breatharians have good and bad days, and that the lifestyle is a process that relies on day to day experience, blaming the chicken pot pie snafu on bad air quality he was forced to live with. Brooks has also claimed that he needs to consume junk food from time to time for “balance.? Through his institute, Brooks is currently holding a 5-day “Ascension Initiation? workshop for 5 pre-approved billionaires only, at the price of $1,000,000 per head, with no preliminary questions allowed and no refunds.

Not all who claim to be Breatharians lead dubious public lives. But the deaths continue to be documented, and real research into the practice always falls by the wayside. Medical researchers conclude study of the practice to be pointless, and real attempts to monitor those who claim to have achieved the ability to exist only on air and light always suspiciously fall apart.

Anorexia and bulimia seem to be inbread cousins to the concept of Breatharianism, in which the conditions of obsession over food intake and distorted physical image become oddly inverted. But it shares with those conditions the reliance on the just-out-of-reach attainment of a fantastic, higher plane of existence, through martyred sacrifice and challenging determination, which fuel a warped kind of self confidence.

While the practices that lead to Breatharianism; vegetarianism in it’s many forms, raw food-only diets, even liquid diets and long-term fasting, can be practical and beneficial when properly maintained - the practice of Bretharianism remains at the teetering, romantic edge of thrill-seeking, exploratory fantasy.

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Are You Rapture Readian?

Smiles all around!

One sub-phenomenon of any global trouble is the way it solidifies the closure-starved “End of Times” base. The recent escalation in the Mideast has Rapture-enthusiasts (sometimes called ‘Rapture Redians’) booking their tickets to infinity, and wringing their praying hands in martyr-istic glee. Would you like to be more prepared? Gander with the flock over at the Rapture Ready discussion board, where there’s practically a kegger going on right now. The first five pages of threads are discussions ecstatically contrasting what is going on in Israel to Biblical scripture, and documenting in first-hand detail how members of every mainstream media news outlet (yes, even FOX) are kissing and licking Satan’s hairy ass by shadowing the facts from the general public, so as to damn as many souls as possible (those bar-code forehead implants ready yet?)

Speaking of, the Oops! I Guess I Wasn’t Ready advice column (designed to be read post-Rapture),
delivers sugar-coated, Ann Landers-style advice to those left behind; “You may have heard people say, ‘Because we’ve missed the rapture, we are lost forever.’ That assumption is totally wrong! The only way you can find yourself eternally lost is by receiving the Mark of the Beast on your right hand or forehead. Barring that …I’m going to strongly advise you to decline the offer when the government informs you that it has your implant ready for insertion.” …with another columnist concluding; “…think of having canker sores all over your body, on your genitalia, in your mouth. How painful and unbearable is that? Don’t take that mark!”

Wondering if the Anti-Christ walks among us? Take a gander at the candidates in The Mr. Antichrist Evil Pageant (president Bush is included with a polite disclaimer that he’s only there because he’s the sitting president… whew!)

John 14:2-3 reads “In my Father’s house are many mansions.” Are you ready to pick out yours? Apparently the “class wars” pick up right where they left off in the next life; see what housing market your spiritual score in this world left you in God’s Kingdom in The Mansions In Heaven Tour. Hope you don’t get the “outhouse” because you were a poor practicer, or the unfinished crumbling house because you were a “Christian quitter,” or even the doll-house because your belief in Christ was “immature.” What if you were a model Christian in every way? Why you get the Trump Plaza, naturally!

What would media celebrities (left behind, all of them) have to say once denied entry on the glorious day? A lifestyle choice re-think perhaps? Let’s take a gander at the sound bites that might fall out of George Burns, Marilyn Manroe, Charles Darwin, John Lennon and other members of the liberal media’s mouths in between helpings of (disease and pestilence-ridden) humble pie in the What Would They Say Today column. For some reason I keep thinking of those lyrics to that Fred Schneider song “Summer In Hell.”

If you’re sure you’re a chosen one for delivery-day, and you think disappearing into thin air without leaving a note for your lazy, slothful, heathen friends would be “rude,” then by all means visit the Rapture Letters site, an automated electronic email program that will mechanically send out a form letter email to all of your humanist friends to peruse while they pull their hair and gnash their teeth and the sky rains with blood. Who will be the person at website’s server, left behind to push the “send” button? I think we all know. And how will you know what email addresses to put into your “send to” list? I think you probably have a good idea of that too. Bless them.

But don’t spend all your time gloating. Why not pass the time listening to the “explosive,” apocalypse-ready sounds of the Raptur-rific, Rap-tastic, Christian hip-hop group Rapture Ruckus?

Although the strategy of recent creationist activist groups was to get the concept of creationism classified as an actual science, I’m wondering if the same strategy might be employed to get Rapture-preparedness taught in schools… BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE?!? Is the Rapture a Biblical prophecy about God, or is it “…a supernatural movement into a higher form… a punishment from the great cosmogonical mind, removing the evil from the world?” Scienticians agree.

Of course I can’t not mention the very effective 1991 film The Rapture, starring Mimi Rogers and David Duchovny, for bleak thrills.

More Rapture-happy paintings like the one above can be found at this entertaining site.

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David Cunningham’s Use Of Silence As a Compositional Tool

Composer David Cunningham is perhaps the only person to ever conceive a half-way credible “answer” to the questions raised by John Cage’s classic composition 4′33″ (which is no small feat). Over roughly the last ten years, Cunningham has created simple, interactive installations which microphone and amplify the background room tone and unnoticeable noises of indoor and outdoor public spaces (documented here), feeding the sound of the space (quiet or otherwise) back to itself and bringing the sounds only our subconscious usually notice to the foreground - all of it mixing into a kind of undefinable loop. His latest installation A Piano in a Gallery, at Carter Presents in London (July 2nd-Aug 6th), takes the concept further; feeding the unnoticeable sounds of an open gallery room back into itself, and also onto the strings of a piano placed in the gallery’s center - with the sound of the space in turn kind of “playing” the instrument, which then becomes the sound of the room and so on and so on (really, inverting the process of how a piano amplifies sound). The piece runs at the space until August 6th. More info about A Piano in a Gallery can be found here.

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Do Not Enter! Go Back! Proceed At Your Own Peril!

I recently tried to account the history of automated funhouse rides at amusement parks, and was disappointed at the lack of information that comes up when you punch “funhouse? into Google (the Stooges album hogs all the links). I soon realized that this is because the official name of this type of ride is a “dark ride.? A dark ride is any amusement park attraction that plops riders into a mechanical car, which follows a single track through a dark, often serpentine, indoor space - surprising them along the way with eerie tableaus, pop-out surprises, jolts and scares. The original versions of dark rides were very low-tech affairs, and about a hundred or so of these functioning relics still exist in the U.S. But the dark ride is a classic (as well as a cultural reference point) that has expanded into countless variations. In part because the attraction pinpoints a complex, collective psychological allure that remains enticing and curiosity-piquing even for new generations today.

The origin of dark rides spawned off an even earlier version of the attraction called “old mill? rides (invented by George W. Schofield in 1902). Old mills were based on bodies of water (often man made), where riders would get in two or four-seater boats and float or paddle through a long dark tunnel or structure that had spookish scenery built into it. Old mills quickly developed a “tunnel of love? reputation for the hormonally curious (young and old). This lead to the addition of a soon-to-be mainstay characteristic to the attraction: automated noise-makers built within the structures (crashing symbols, cowbells on strings, air whistles). These were meant to surprise riders and comically break up any heavy petting that might be going on, as well as be audible from the outside (the allure being that if noises were needed to prevent such carnal behavior inside - then it must be going on). Hence old mill rides, obviously, became quite popular during Victorian times.

The first automated “dark ride? was invented by a man named William Cassidy, in 1928. Cassidy had taken over the Tumbling Dam Amusement Park in Bridgeton, NJ with a partner, and was re-vamping some of the attractions on a tight budget. The popularity of old mill rides pressed him to install one at the park, but they just didn’t have the resources. Tinkering with an old Dodgem ride car and a single electric track, Cassidy came up with a way to create the feel of an old mill ride, on land and indoors. Riders in mechanical cars could glide and rumble on a winding track inside the darkness of a large, reticulated structure, slamming open hidden doors, and triggering automatic props and noisy hoo-has. The lack of a straight water-way meant that the path could take full advantage of the spacial dimensions of a large indoor space. Plus the whole thing was mechanized, acting like a kind of conveyor belt, so the ride could be operated rather easily. The chaste-making noise alarms in the old mill rides gave way to noise-makers in the dark just for the fun of it (often as simple as a metal bar crashing into a cymbal when the car bumped against it, or a wire that would tilt a wooden box full of ball bearings). Kooky gadgetry was added, like automated devil masks that would pop-from behind walls, or puppet alligators bobbing out of holes (often being triggered by the car running over pipes on the track’s floor, which would also cause the car to jerk). Sometimes something as simple as strands of string hanging from the ceiling that would brush against rider’s faces in the dark was all that was needed. People loved it all. Riders gleefully paid to surrender their wills to a single, exit-less track, that swallowed them into a dark void where automatic jolts, scares and mise-en-scènes that reflected the forbidden or carnal side of mankind awaited their laughing, screaming fear (or mocking judgment). The allure of old mills, tunnels of love and dark rides was always a symbolic, safe and controlled visit to the scary, primitive side of human behavior (a psychology exploited to multi-layered perfection during the amusement park sequence at the beginning of Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train). The rides were indeed a marvel of the new machine age - giant therapy machines really; Freud-bots.

The first official name of the attraction was a “pretzel ride? because of the ride’s twisting path (the name ‘firefly’ was a second-runner because of the way the car would spark sometimes along the electric track). The first cars in these rides also had a large, weighted metal pretzel designs on the front, which were actually there to keep the car from tipping forward on the track. Because the cars ran on electricity and the features inside were triggered by the car, this meant that William Cassidy and partners could create transportable versions of his pretzel ride and sell them to amusement parks around the country (their price: $1,200). Sales were brisk. Even though Cassidy had the idea patented, copycats obviously sprang up as the attraction became a standard at any amusement park. Dark rides appeared up all over the country with names like Laff-In-the-Dark, Spook-A-Rama, The Devil Chaser, Paris After Dark and Jungle Land.

As time went on, new features changed the shape and feel of the ride. A second story was added (with the car being pulled up the initial incline by a chain) which lead to some rides using gravity along the gradual decline instead of an electric track. The introduction of rotating cars made many of the car-triggered automated stunts impractical (since the riders might be facing the wrong direction) and constantly-lit scenarios that were always viewable began to be featured more and more. And as technology improved, so did the rides. Automated low tech scenarios were soon replaced with recording devices, elaborate lighting and effects (not to mention cool blasts of air-conditioning) and even film and video projection - with the tradition of leaving the rider blind in the dark between each “unexpected? event along the attraction more or less remaining a mainstay.

“For me, the best part was to see the look on people’s faces when they’d come out, to see how much they’d enjoyed themselves, how much fun they’d had. That’s what it was all about…? inventor William Cassidy told Laff In The Dark.

Speaking of, the completely terrific site Laff In The Dark site has everything you could ever want to know about the history and existence of dark rides. There is also the Darkride and Funhouse Enthusiasts Organization (or, D.A.F.E.) - both sites have handy up-to-the-minute guides of what’s still out there. As well, there are other places on the web chock full of thrills and chills.

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The Subvoluntary Somniloquies of Dion McGregor

Dion McGregor may go down in history as the laziest artist of all time. His medium? Sleep talking. Sleep-Talking is the not-so-quiet (but still less popular) sister to the more notorious and crowd-pleasing Sleep-Walking phenomenon (they have a diabolical, hidden brother locked up in the attic, Sleep-Rape, but the Sleep Disorder Family would rather keep him a secret). Most everyone has talked in their sleep at some point, and many people actually “suffer” from an sleep-talking disorder - but McGregor is the first person to have gotten a record deal out of it. During the late 1950’s, the reportedly very witty and acerbic Dion McGregor lived with his roommate Peter de Rome in midtown Manhattan. Rome noticed that McGregor talked quite loudly and clearly in his sleep, most always in the hour or so right before he woke up in the morning. Not just fragmented mutterings, but whole surreal monologues, stream of consciousness narration to what sounded like dreams. Rome told their neighbor Mike Barr, who in turn made it his life’s work to tape-record McGregor’s twilight chatterings with the hope of someday doing something with them. He recorded some 500 sessions of McGregor’s unconscious rants on 7″ reel-to-reel tape, using a recorder mounted above McGregor’s bed headboard in the various places they lived in downtown New York (the background street noises are a trademark of his sleepy blabberings). One thing lead to another, and eventually the tapes fell into the hands of Milt Gabler, A&R director of Decca Records at the time. Gabler amazingly decided to release ten of the recordings on an album; The Dream World Of Dion McGregor (He Talks In His Sleep), released in 1964. Edward Gorey designed the original LP sleeve (see here), along with 30 illustrations for the transcripted Random House book; The Dream World Of Dion McGregor, also published in ‘64.

When you hear these recordings, they’re so inventively bizarre and hysterical (and often dirty) that you immediately question their authenticity. Could someone possess that much comic timing and speed-of-creativity in their sleep? Vocally? “When she wear earrings… two huge chandeliers! A chandelier on each side. Mmmhmm… candles burning in them, flickering. Huge tits! Why you could hang onto them and squeal! Great big hips too. Tight little ass! That’s what I call a woman! Pity she’s a statue. Drive around it… drive around it! Drive between it! Right between those legs! Look up, quick! Doesn’t that look real? It’s a wishing well… you look up there and wish for what you want!” McGregor shouts/intones in a Paul Lynde-drawl before concluding with a series of screams (how each recording usually wraps up). By all reports McGregor was a ham-ish, downtown New York scenester born with the gift of spit-take gab. Could the recordings be fake? Half-fake? Or even capture McGregor working under the power of suggestion? By accounts of people that lived with McGregor during different periods of his life, he indeed did this in his sleep for real - microphone or no microphone.

McGregor had an ups-and-downs career as a songwriter, with a few pinnacle achievements. He also had some plum roles in plays in LA and NYC, and a few minor roles in major Hollywood films. He died in 1994.

Here is practically the whole story of McGregor. If you go here and scroll down a bit, you can hear mp3s of two of the recordings; Food Roulette and The Horseshoe Crabs. Here are some archived radio shows about McGregor featuring many of the recordings. A quick search over at WFMU will unearth several archived playlists featuring him. The Tzadik label recently released the CD Dion McGregor Dreams Again, which uses the same source material as the other recordings - just much more of it (and includes the material deemed unsuitable for late-60’s audiences). The Amazon page here will let you listen to samples (although with a little elbow grease you can probably find the whole thing somewhere online for free). I have this CD and when I first heard it I thought it was kind of boring. I’ve sat and listened to more than enough hallucinatory rants from NYC queens in my life (which I’ve often slept through - the same effect?), thank you. But when I pulled the CD out again I found that I became kind of addicted to it. It’s quite long - and every time you hear it you notice 100 new things. Plus, the street sounds in the background and the blank, empty room echo of the recording adds a bleak/creep-out ambience; the perfect backdrop for screaming gay madhouse rants about houses flying through tornadoes, and giant swallowing vaginas.

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The Unpublished Work of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold

946 pages of documents seized from the homes of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold in 1999, after the Columbine High School tragedy, were made public yesterday by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office in Colorado. The massive and highly detailed collection contains fictional writings, naive and cathartic rants (page 942 is a real stand-out), apocalyptic and weirdly comical drawings and doodles, frenzied notes, scribblings, placid school assignments, friendly yearbook page-signings and day-to-day emails by and between Eric and Dylan (with blacked-out names for private citizens). Like the picture book to any boy’s dream - they contain violent and weapon-centric imagery, obsessive sketches of rap and heavy metal band logos, horror film heros, and video-game-logic fantasy plans to blow up their home town, hijack a 747, and crash it into New York City. An article about the controversial public release here contains a link to the entire 946 page collection, as a downloadable .pdf file. Reportedly there are no plans to release the audio and video tapes made by the boys leading up to the murders, for security concerns. Lots of information about the Columbine tragedy can be found here and here.

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Talking Blenders, Trashed Cubes, Paper Protesters

b-b-z-z-t-t-w-h-a-a-t-?
Like the sound of the TV or radio when your antennae can’t quite get the picture and sound in right? Then you’ll love sound artist David Webber’s talking television blenders.

$70 a pop
Juergen Specht’s photographs of formerly futuristic high-rise interchangeable cube dwellings in Tokyo, Japan. Now used as crappy storage spaces and trash dumps. More here.

Why do liberals always...?
The conservative base turns out in full force to express their hatred of The New York Times.

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Santo Gold’s Blood Circus

...a phenomenon that's sweepin' the whole country!

I was recently explaining to Jim about a funny late-night UHF television commercial that I used to see all the time in the late 80’s which featured famous actress Nancy Kwan, explaining the benefits of a product called Pearl Cream and showing clips from her film The World of Suzie Wong. My friends and I used to love it, and quoted her heavily-accented line readings about “pewl cweem” all the time. We recently looked for the old commercial on the web and unfortunately couldn’t find it (if anybody can, please let me know!), although we found that the product is still in production, and Kwan is amazingly still their spokesperson.

But this entry has nothing to do with Nancy Kwan, because suddenly Jim shouted “Look for Santo Gold!” Having no idea what that was, I punched it into Google and a zillion hits came back. I grew up in the south, and at first I thought the way-infamous infomercial “Santo Gold” was perhaps only a north-eastern thing (it wasn’t). Anyway, Santo Gold (click link to watch infomercial) was the mid-80’s creation of a man named Santo Rigatuso, who was kind of a cross between John Waters and Crazy Eddie. The product? Fake gold chains. Sometimes sold as necklaces and sometimes sold in spools by the yard. Oh, and the commercial also taunted a movie called Blood Circus that Rigatuso had produced and directed. The inexplicable film was about aliens who came to earth and got involved with wrestlers and battled cannibals - and also featured Rigatuso himself as a “real rock star” in a long concert segment singing “The Santo Gold Theme Song” (which he penned) in front of a dubbed screaming audience. The infomercial, in all it’s 80’s low-budget video editing-deck glory, obviously touts the chains and film and Rigatuso himself as the most amazing, earth shattering products and events ever, who’s availability will no doubt result in planet domination of historic proportions. The goal? All the products tied together to help promote one another, of course. Rigatuso knew a lot about the concept of marketing “synergy” long before Oprah and Martha Stewart. The chains actually did sell a bit thanks to the infomercial, but the film (which cost Rigatuso $2 million to produce) didn’t find any distributors or audience. Rigatuso rented out several theaters in the Baltimore area to show it, and reportedly only three people came to it’s premier; two critics and an extra from the film. “The film won’t make sense. It will just make dollars,” Santo told a reporter.

After Rigatuso failed to become the next Orsen Wells, he participated in even more brazen business ventures; a credit card for people with bad credit for only $49.95 (which turned out to be a paper card that was only redeemable for Santo Gold merchandise), and a very real radio spot touting a very fake offer to sell off $2000 blocks of a millionaire’s estate at $52 a piece. The law eventually tracked Rigatuso down and he ended up spending ten months in jail for mail fraud (the court proceedings were reportedly memorable - his lawyer quite seriously screened Blood Circus for the jury to try and prove that he was of ‘unsound mind.’)

Today, Rigatuso is a bit of a recluse. But the legend lives on! Here is a YouTube clip of the commercial, here is the Wikipedia entry for Santo Gold, here is the IMDB.com entry (!) for Blood Circus, here is the USPS complaint file on Rigatuso. There are quite a few web pages devoted to the Santo Gold phenomenon here and here (include sound clips and video, and the latest reports on the lost whereabout of the film).

Sadly, all reports indicate that the film Blood Circus has been lost forever. Witnesses described it as “un-redeemably bad.” The only stored copies apparently got lost or trashed during the chaos of Rigatuso’s fleeing, capture, sentencing and prison time. But, us connoisseurs of such stuff can always hold out hope. Perhaps one day there will be a discovery, hidden somewhere deep in a massive warehouse on the other side of the earth, a hidden copy of Blood Circus sealed in a wooden crate (a la Raiders of the Lost Ark) that is locked tight, with heavily wrapped Santo Gold chains all around it (I’m sure they won’t be hard to break).

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They’re Making a Movie In My House (Pt. 2)

...so have someone distract home owner if you must go up there!

It started with a lone young blond girl on the road outside our bedroom window at 7am. She was wearing an orange fluorescent traffic vest, waving an orange flag and speaking into a walkie talkie. I could hear her saying “I’m on traffic duty… yea I know” into it. Then, one by one …the circus came to our house.

Within an hour there was a non-stop Pa-RAID of sashaying coming in and out. Everything from professional set designers yelling to everyone “Ok people I need this room to be inside the next room in one hour!” to gum -smacking teenage girls looking out into the air and saying “I’ve been working with polyurethane for the last four days straight and okay now what color am I supposed to paint this wall?”

Our furniture? Our belongings? Our cherished items (that we hadn’t already gotten out of the way for safe keeping)? If they were in the planned line-of-sight of the camera’s view (which had all been blocked and noted) they were directed to be hauled away and replaced with something else, or covered up to protect them. It was like double-time moving company; they were helping us move out, and also rushing the next tenants into the space simultaneously. Almost everything in our house got the instant switch-a-roo. The workers moved like ants. Using a polaroid camera, they photographed every room like a crime scene, wrote things like “living room north” and “kitchen east” on them and tucked them into separate envelopes. Then the rooms they wanted to transform were emptied out. They kept asking my permission for everything, running every move they made by me; was this OK, was that OK? How was I doing? I started to feel like I was staying at a five-star hotel in Japan. It got to the point where I was just nodding and saying “Sure that’s fine” before they even finished their question, and that’s when it hit me; they were breaking me down. Most movies these days may suck, but nobody ever said the crews weren’t clever.
At one point I laid a cell phone bill down on a table in the living room, went upstairs to get my phone to call the operator and pay it. When I had the operator on the phone I walked back down to retrieve the bill, only to find that the table and bill had vanished and a giant baby crib was in their place. Not missing a beat, one of the set designers seemed to sense what was happening and he led me (using arm motions) over to where the table had been placed - the bill taped to the front of the plastic that had been wrapped around it. I reached down and plucked the bill off the plastic just as a blank-faced worker walked past me, unrolling behind her a giant roll of protective corrugated cardboard, covering the table and the wall it was in front of like a closing curtain. Exit scene. I decided to get out of their way.

So I removed myself from the chaos, and went upstairs. But my need to control what was going on was still down there with them. Every time I head a buzz-saw I cringed. Every time I heard one of the crew say “Whuu-oops!” loudly, my lips slightly pursed and my eyes widened.

By the afternoon, I was back downstairs discussing with one of the crew about how I was getting used to it. I felt like some kind of royalty, sitting in the middle of work happening all around me, not lifting a finger. I told him I felt like one of those weird rich couples who can never enjoy their mansions because it’s always in various shifting states of being a hazardous construction zone. You know the type - they seem mentally addicted to never working or lifting a finger themselves, but enjoy the stress of having workers constantly renovate their home and grounds all around them - just to occupy their time. He was mentioning he had worked in homes that seemed like that, and I was talking about how it was probably some sort of subconscious control thing, like a natal-replacement substitute for people that never had kids, or an empty nest thing for people that had them and miss the drama now that they’re gone …or maybe it’s even a bee-hive primate instinct for wealthy people plugged into the collective unconscious who don’t feel important or in control yet feel a need to be connected to society because of their wealth. Then as the crew guy was agreeing with me I decided that the crew members redecorating our home for the film were actually in the film itself, and everything else was reality. Of course! And soon I would shrink down really small and fly down my own throat into the universe that lives inside all of us. Then I decided to get out of the room with the heavy, wet fumes of the freshly painted walls filling the air going to my brain, and get some fresh air… maybe in the basement?

Emerging later, I found they had transformed parts of our home into that of a small town married couple who’s mutual small child holds together their rapidly dysfunctioning marriage. At least that’s what we were told. So anyway… that’s the setting. No elaborate sets. No outer space. No underwater. No wires making furniture float through the room or secret portrait paintings with the eye-holes cut out so creeps can spy of them. Oh, and most importantly: no CAKE!!! Where’s the cake? Shouldn’t the whole living room be made out of frosting? No… the whole house? Oh well. They spent time rubbing newspaper all over the light switches and doorknobs (on the areas they had painted) to make them look worn and smudged-on over time. They (Crayon)-colored and dirtied-up the baby high-chairs and other child items to make them look like they had been thrown around, spilled on and drooled on over time.

Want to see some before and after shots? Here’s the living room: before, and after. Before. After. Actually… the “before” picture is technically the “after” one and shows the living room put back together by them and re-painted, because I forgot to take a “before” picture before they started. Isn’t the illusionary magic of film amazing? It’s lie-tastic! Here’s our real foyer. Fib-tacular!

They painted our Suspiria-red room (apparently there are some colors that don’t burn well on film) into a very disturbing “nursing home” blue. We thought if they painted it something we liked we would keep it. But as soon as we saw we were like “please change it when you’re done.” Which they have to do, as it’s in the contract. They have to replace anything that is damaged, scratched, smudged, trampled, missing or exploded. And smile while they’re doing it. We shall see!

But they aren’t taking any chances: They also cut thick cardboard into the shape of the floors of the rooms they knew they would be in and taped that down with blue paper tape (even cutting around furniture they didn’t want to move). They even covered each individual stair leading up to the second floor. They also had these giant rolls of very thick corrugated cardboard (mentioned before) that they unrolled around the edge of each room, with any furniture that was against the wall (as well as any pictures or whatever) covered and untouchable by anyone. The house was like a paper maze, and each room was the inside of a featureless giant cardboard box with no top. To get at anything you forgot to tell them you might need to get at before they covered it - you had to figure out a kind of secret passageway (or cut a hole).

The cast of the film keeps changing (or seems to). All we really know now is that several actors, including one child actor, and two identical cats (playing the role of one) will show up at our home during filming. At one point a set designer, as he was frantically trying to arrange fake children’s drawings on a refrigerator, was telling Jim and I about the actors on our days. He told us is was “…the guy from the ‘Ed’ TV show” and then said “also, um… the girl from… uh… she played the woman in ‘Hedwig and the Angry Itch’ …uh, her name is Andore Maroe or Martina Andrea or something like that?” There was too much of a hectic pace to get the exact information out of him… but I swear to god if Andrea Martin walks through my door on the first day of filming it will officially be shit-my-pants-fantastic (thank god there’s a toilet right in the living room).

One of crew perhaps not so sympathetically said “Don’t worry, you’ll get used to us eventually. but wait until the shooting crew comes tomorrow… they take a lot longer to get used to. There’s lots more of them and lots more equipment.” Then he was carried one of Jim’s family heirloom antique tables precariously over his head through a hallway. Okay.

Jim and I were talking, and seeing as how we are getting paid by the days that they are here using the space, we also get the same rate per day if they have to shoot again another day, if anything goes wrong on any of the scheduled days (even if the extra days are half days). So, Jim and I fantasized about ways to “delay” shooting so they would be forced to schedule another day with us. Here were several ideas:
1. Offer the entire cast and crew a free breakfast when they show up. Serve LSD omelets.
2. Pretend to be super Christian weirdoes and spend the entire shoot constantly trying to witness-to and save the soul of every cast and crew member, especially the actors. Be relentless, and use the terms “liberal Hollywood” and “swarms of purifying locusts” in the same sentence with a totally straight look on your face.
3. Hide up in the attic and, at unpredictable intervals, shout at the top of your lungs “Action …no, cut!” or “…a-a-a-n-n-n-d-d-d scene!” or “That’s a wrap everyone!”
4. When you first meet all the actors, say “Oh you look so much older than your IMDB.com photos!” They’ll literally spend an eternity in hair and make-up.
5. Wear a disguise and pretend to be from the New York Division of the Hollywood Animal Protection Enforcement Agency (say the name real fast so they can’t understand it all, and print up some fake credentials). Say that you heard a report that several ants were smashed the day before by the crew while the set was being dressed and assembled. Halt production while you meticulously comb every millimeter of the set for any small ant corpses. Look under all the actor’s shoes. If you do find a small ant corpse… start sobbing hysterically.
6. Dress in a giant blazer with shoulder pads, horse-riding boots, knickers, a beret, monocle and mustache and, with a riding whip, walk onto set with a megaphone and look at Mary-Stuart and yell with an exaggerated English accent; “I challenge y-o-o-u-u-u to a directing duel!” As soon as it stops being funny and starts being stupid (a millisecond) do it even louder and more exaggerated and don’t stop. Hide in the house when the cops show up, then start up all over again as soon as they leave.

Just as we were hatching all our plans of evil while the crowd of buzzing workers continued creating chaotically organized fakery on the floor below us, it occured to us that it would be funny to take gross pictures on all the baby set furniture, like pictures of Jim and I doing dirty things to each other nude on the playpen and stuff, and send them to the production crew before the film comes out (or post them on the internet right when it’s released). But …maybe not (or maybe I’m just saying ‘maybe not’ to cover the fact that we DID). We told some of the crew about this later, and expecting a few of them to give us silent stares, they all burst out laughing and said “Yes! Oh my god YES! You two should have done that! That would have been s-o-o-o great!”

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