Archive for October, 2006

Happy Halloween!

Photo: “Harmodius and Hoti at Castro Street Fair August, 1975″ by Dan Nicoletta.

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I spend a lot of time out on my 5th floor fire escape, taking in all the surroundings and looking at all the people in my neighborhood. It’s a way for me to relax. My fire escape is the equivalent to a front porch for most people. If I had a rocker I would sit on it and rock back and forth, waving at everyone as they passed by five stories below.

My years of hanging out there on sunny, good-weather days has earned me many friends and acquaintances on my block. But there is one acquaintance in particular that has always left me with a sense of unease…

Beatrice. Beatrice the white toy poodle. I often see Beatrice being walked proudly in the neighborhood by her septuagenarian female caretaker. Everyone loves Beatrice. All the kids run to pet Beatrice the poodle as the woman parades her around on a pink leash. She’s become the block mascot. Beatrice has typical poodle hair that is bright white, and is fluffed, sculpted and cut into one of those pouffy “toy poodle? cuts that look so good in photographs and dog shows. Except in Beatrice’s case… her human caretaker, her “master,? is an elderly woman with semi-poor eyesight… so Beatrice’s sculpted fur is slightly off balance, off kilter. She also has years of accumulated dirt staining the white fur around her feet, mouth and behind. This is actually an interesting contrast to the pink toenail polish that Beatrice’s master slathers onto her toenails… which are too long and “click? on tile pavement when Beatrice walks on them. Beatrice, who is probably about eight years old herself, looks loved and cared for but slightly unkempt.

This combination only makes Beatrice more loved in the neighborhood; makes her less than perfect and more human, as it were. There is slight pity in the admiration projected on Beatrice, and this is a favorable thing for the dog. In a few years this lovey-dovey commiseration will be heightened when glaucoma will set into one of Beatrice’s eyes, a sign of her age in dog years. But old age, lopsided fur, soil stains and sloppily-painted clicking pink toenails are cursory fractions to Beatrice. Horrible, horrible, horrible Beatrice. Why, you ask?

I know Beatrice better than most. I see the way she looks up at me on my fire escape from way down on the sidewalk, and I’ve learned things about her over years of observation. Beatrice is a flesh entity of pure evil. Her body is just a living cell and molecule “drag? for a astronomical force so benevolent that it pre-dates the human mind. This force has been ruling the dark half of the universe’s ying and yang for an eternity. When our world is snuffed out, this entity will find another dimension to inhabit… in whatever disguise it needs (it transcends time). But right now it’s in our dimension. And this inter-dimensional force of infinite evil, this unspeakable anathema, inhabits Beatrice the wobbly, lovable poodle on my block. What’s more, Beatrice knows I posses this knowledge about her, and that means it’s just a matter of time before I pay for my knowledge.

I’m out on my fire escape right now. It’s a beautiful spring day. As usual, Beatrice has recently arrived out on the sidewalk via her caretaker, and is making the rounds. Soon, or perhaps inevitably… I see Beatrice dancing to salsa music. Yes, dancing. Beatrice’s owner leads her by her leash near a radio placed on a card table where some old men are playing dominoes. Leads her like a ciruc animal. Beatrice wiggles her butt and yaps and yips and dances for little pieces of scrap pizza cheese thrown by enthusiastic kids who have gathered to watch. It’s an amazing trick for a dog to be able to dance and keep a beat to music for scraps of cheese – but for the infinite, all-knowing inciter of foreordained chaos, death and ruin that I’ve already explained to you that Beatrice actually is – it’s nothing at all, really. Oh… look at all of them down there. They all gather around her with simpering, open mouths, clapping along and buoying her pantomime. How perfect. If they only knew. Beatrice doesn’t care about them. Dance Beatrice, dance your silly canine sock hop… you cruel destroyer.

The only human you are concerned with in this vicinity is me, because you don’t fool me. I know you. I see you dancing for them, using them as a cover. Keep dancing Beatrice, work your poodle ass to the salsa music Beatrice. All the while I’m still up here. I’m the one missing piece in your apocalyptic jigsaw puzzle. Oh… if only I would fall into place Beatrice! If only! Ah-ha… but I won’t! At least, for now…

Your pitiful, cutesy-cuddle hypnotism and oh-love-me block mascot-erade and sinister frolicking doesn’t distract me from my prescience for one second. My prescience about YOU! From your cheese yapping charade to look up, and meet my eyeballs on the fire escape. You steal a peek here… another peek there. From five floors up those black, beady, bat-like eyes can penetrate right up through me. At me. ME ME ME… the end goal of your evil plans. Every time our glances meet I look into The Abyss itself, I know what my destiny is. You terrorize me… but you complete me too, Beatrice. I must deal with you in the same way I will one day deal with my own demise. My own death. You are death Beatrice. But the death of a human being is a mere blip of a pebble in the vast ocean of evil that you are Beatrice. Oh if only those people saw what I see in those eyes! They see cute poodle eyes of Beatrice. I see two black voids as wide as the universe and as deep as the accumulated collective human consciousness of one trillion years of mankind’s regret, hate and despair. I see an impenetrable curse in your little black eyes Beatrice. And I know you’re looking back Beatrice.

I’ve always known Beatrice.

For a moment, I begin to suspect that my dark thoughts about Beatrice and her secret are summer-tinged madness. But my momentary relief is snuffed out. Suddenly… at a moment just as Beatrice’s eyes have briefly locked with mine in mid-salsa… something unbelievable happens. Time stops all around me. The clapping street people freeze… the birds in the air freeze… the trees blowing freeze… cars… children… the very air… everything around me freezes. It’s as if time has stopped… yet I can still move. I’m amazed. l look all around. Everything is still… a three-dimensional photograph. What happened? In the moment, I catch myself from leaning in mid-faint against the metal bar railing of the fire escape. The button from my shirt sleeve clicks on the metal bar. It’s tiny sound echoes in the endless quiet all around me. A vacuum of quiet. It’s like God pressed the pause button on reality, but for some reason I’ve kept going. What… who could have done this? Oh my God… no… it couldn’t have been…

I perilously look down at the circle of street people who were clapping and feeding cheese to a dancing Beatrice. They are frozen in a perfect circle, looking down… at nothing. Beatrice is gone. My eyes dart around the frozen street for her. I can’t find her.

Chimerical fear becomes real. I try to swallow but can’t. Then, amongst the immense quietness… I hear a sound… a single sound. It’s a tiny clicking sound coming from deep inside my apartment building, behind me, below… down in the stairwell. In contrast to the muteness all around me, the clickity-clicking sound is deafening. I’s coming closer… *click clickity click* …it seems to be coming up the stairs. My subconscious knew all along, but soon it hits my cognizance. It’s Beatrice! Beatrice the most evil force of dread and oblivion, Dark Mother of the Unknown, Mistress and Creator of Fear! Coming up my stairs …for me! Coming alone up my stairwell in a world where she and she alone can stop time and space itself and make me her next target. Me, her next victim, her next conduit to pour whatever unspeakable blackness she may deem necessary into… *click clickity click* closer… closer… oh God in Heaven, no! Please don’t let it be Beatrice. But I realize God is nothing compared to Beatrice. *click clickity click* …closer it comes. I want to move from my fire escape, but I can’t seem to will myself to. What is the point of will against a malevolent force like Beatrice? *click clickity click* …closer… closer… the sloppily painted toenails hop up each and every step, without hesitation. Somehow… even as a child, I always knew it would end this way. I would be wiped from the face of the universe by the most evil poodle in the world.

The clicking has now stopped. I know Beatrice is in my hallway, behind my front door. She just sits and waits. She knows I’m scared. She senses my fear, she’s known it all along. It pleases her.

I still face outward into the stillness… the bright sunshine-y but frozen and life-less world which Beatrice has caused and that, in her doing so, has claustrophized the world all around me and made the very outdoors seem as closed-in and as indoors as a locked closet… a fetid basement… the locked trunk of a car. Outside has become inside… concave has become convex… the vacuum has become it’s opposite… day has become night… or the difference between the two has become irrelevant. There is no need for balance or ying and yang in a numb world where light and dark have become the same thing. Beatrice’s stopped-time world where her and I are the only ones moving is the worst possible reality to know… but it’s home sweet home to Beatrice. These are the dimensions of her arena. Hell. Worse than Hell.

I hear a clickity click on my front doorknob. It’s Beatrice’s hand opening my door. I hear her clickity click feet walk into my apartment and shut the door behind her. I have no need to turn around and look through the living room to see if it’s her. I know, and I know she knows. She has paused… still. She is sitting up and looking across my apartment at me out on the fire escape. I can feel her. Beatrice is milking my trembling fear for every depleting drop it is worth. As a pathetic kind of consolation, I start to imagine a world or reality without pain or pleasure. If light and dark have become one in Beatrice’s frozen-time world, could pain and pleasure cancel each other out? I feel a tiny flame of hope inside my soul as I contemplate this… but it’s snuffed out instantly, and appropriately, by the very slow clickity click of Beatrice’s toenails on my kitchen floor walking slowly towards me. Beatrice could sense my thoughts of hope and has acted upon eliminating them… letting me know she’s the one allowed to do so. I hear the clickity click enter the living room… the bedroom… and stop right below me… inside the window… behind my turned back. Right behind me!

I sit, having still not moved. Or can I move at all? What’s the use… escape? Man has been trying to escape death for centuries. I would call Beatrice “death? itself, but she has removed that option for me. “Death? doesn’t exist in the parameters she has created. I can only accept Beatrice. A new kind of death. Beatrice sits quietly behind me, feeding off of my churning mind, my dread, gaining nourishment from it. I look out and see several small children frozen in mid-play on a jungle gym. I weep for them. Beatrice… how I loathe thee.

I try to clear my mind… but it’s too filled with fear to purge. but… wait! Perhaps… as I sit here in petrified stillness… if I allow myself to get frightened enough, I will actually pass out from fear, become unconscious! Then I will not have to endure the…

My grasps at hope are once again snuffed out by the tiny front paws of Beatrice. I feel her small poodle arms reach from behind me, around my ears, gently placing themselves on my eyelids. I feel her paws. I feel the rough… black, pebble-like soles under the fur on her feet… the long, cold, pink toenails… the dirty fur. She gently closes my eyelids and then slowly pulls my head back. I smell her stinking dog breath. I feel the warmth of her panting on the back of my neck. She pulls my limp body through the open window and onto the bedroom floor. She grabs my hair with her paws, and pulls. She begins to drag me across the floor by my hair. My head is turned sideways as I move. I open my eyes again and watch the bedroom wall move horizontally across my field of vision. I want to speak, say something… anything to Beatrice. Fear has turned to resignation. I want to tell her I’m sorry, sorry I failed her. I want to tell her I will do anything for her no matter how humiliating. But I have nothing in the face of Beatrice the evil poodle. A man with no hope can barter nothing… and one in total control by another cannot bargain. Why even contemplate apologizing or groveling with Beatrice? She knows all. She owns all. This makes me feel almost calm.

I hear Beatrice’s clickity-click toenails on the floor as she drags me along the floor like a bag of garbage. She drags me out of my apartment door and into the hallway. She tugs me over each step down the winding flight of stairs. *clickity* *thud* *click* *thud* I wonder if Beatrice has feelings? Emotions? Perhaps a higher plateaux of feelings and emotions that we mortals cannot even fathom? No… probably not. Those concepts don’t exist in her capacity. Feelings, emotions, pain, fear, loathing… these are sates of being experienced by other living things because of her. Beatrice is a force, and a force runs on pure instinct. She is a resolve, a reality, my new unspeakable reality. I begin to leave trails of moisture on the black tile stairs as my head bumps against each one. It is not blood… but tears. My tears. I’m sorry Beatrice… so sorry.

*click* *thud* *click* *thud*

She drags me down further and further, flight after flight. We reach the ground floor. I hear her clickity click paws as she drags me to the back of the building, past the mailboxes… to the back entrance. Beatrice works without haste or pause, but every moment feels like an eternity. I hear Beatrice open the door to the back stairs. I see the sun beam in and hit my face, but it does not feel warm or good… it’s frozen like everything in Beatrice’s numb macrocosm. She drags me past the rancid garbage cans… which look like gentle fields of blowing wildflowers to me now. My head clangs on each metal step as Beatrice drags me down the stairs that descend to the basement door. My limp, malleable body follows suit. Beatrice stops at the basement door and opens it. It squeaks and clangs, I can finally hear another sound! A sound besides Beatrice’s hideous clicking toenail feet! The door swings open with a groan… Beatrice drags me into the darkness… the blackness of the basement. She shuts the door behind me. I hear the clickity click of her toenails and see her white, puffy frame bounce around me as she does each thing. Busy as a bee… the busy little poodle… busy wiping me off the face of the world.

Beatrice grabs me by the hair again and begins dragging me through the dark hall towards the furnace. I see her flickering shadow against the brick wall as she drags me closer and closer to the hot, stinking furnace. The only thing in Beatrice’s Hell world that is not frozen.

Beatrice stops me at the feet of the furnace. I cannot move, I am without motion or will. Paralyzed. Beatrice is my master and my death at her hands is an extension of her will. Beatrice moves into my field of vision. My head is sideways against the concrete floor. I see Beatrice’s face… close-up and clearly for the first time. Her poodle puff hair, the balls of fur at the end of her ears. I see her cast in relief against the orange flickering light of the shadows from the furnace on the wall behind her. I see the tiny yellow reflections of fire refracted in each of her black beady poodle eyes. I think I see what is behind her eyes, but I do not know it. I do not want to know. I want you to teach me Beatrice. To show me the way to destroy me. A tear rolls down my face sideways and penetrates the hot concrete floor.

Beatrice knows I am ready. She takes a razor from the floor into her little white poodle paws and begins to carve into my face. She works quickly and economically… but I am the machine. The pain is sharp. She cuts and removes my eyelids – so I can watch everything. The pain is excruciating, I feel it in every molecule of my body. But I cannot react. She knows this, and I am happy to serve her. I want her to do this. I want her to correct my appearance… to make my death a sculpture in her poodle paw hands. I am wet clay in Beatrice’s paws. The searing hot pain and humiliation are like sweet caresses from Beatrice. I welcome her fate like a mat. Tears and blood gush from my eyes now, each indistinguishable from each other. Beatrice reaches down further on my face with the razor an begins making cuts. She removes my nose. She wants to disfigure and humiliate me before the end… remove my pride, so hating myself is the last thing I ever experience. She then reaches down with her stinking mouth and grabs my removed nose with her hideous, yellowed dog teeth. She chews the nose like any dog chews on a dead, discarded rat. She wants me to watch this. I feel happy to be consumed by her, to nourish her… I want her to use me to further herself. Beatrice then moves across the floor, taking a small mirror from across the flickering, orange shadow furnace basement room and props it up across from my face. I see myself… I am forced to stare through removed eyelids at the mute, hideous monster I have become. Thank you Beatrice.

I try to move my tongue to speak, to thank Beatrice. I open my mouth and my tongue slowly unfurls onto the dirty basement floor, anticipating. Without haste Beatrice automatically reaches down with a paw and slices my tongue off with the razor. She then slaps my limp, flaccid tongue on the concrete in front of me. She takes oneskinny poodle leg and steps on my tongue with it. She squashes the dead muscle, twisting her leg to pulverize it with her paw. I see her pink painted dog toenails splay out as she grinds and destroys it on the hot concrete floor. I am not allowed to speak.

I see Beatrice then quickly moving all around me in the flickering light. She is using the razor to sever all my major tendons. She works with a surgeon’s precision. She does this to prevent me from being able to move at all. I am now a puppet. Beatrice takes her paws and drags my hideous, disfigured, obedient vessel into the furnace. Thank you Beatrice. She shoves me inside the little furnace door, feet first… then stuffs the last of me inside with her little poodle paws. She faces my head outside the door of the furnace and shuts the little door. I can watch her… through my removed eyelids… through the slits in the iron door. She moves her tiny, puffy, white body across to the other side of the orange, flickering basement. She stops on the other side of the room, and for a moment I cannot see her. She is behind a table… and on the wall behind that table is the “on? switch to the furnace. She turns around and looks at me from across the room. I only see the upper half of her head now, poking up from across the top of the table… her white poodle head and the puffy white ball of hair on top. And the eyes. Just the eyes. She looks at me for a length of time, paused. Her eyes look right at me. I see the flame of the lower part of the furnace fire reflected in them but, I also see… me. I see myself reflected in her eyes, inside her. Beatrice keeps her head facing me and her eyes locked with mine, as she slowly reaches behind her and places her paw on the switch to activate the fire in the main part of the furnace I am in. I gaze into her eyes. I hear her pink toenails click against the knob of the metal switch as she places her paw on it.



The gargantuan is a website devoted to everything homosexual in horror movies. This absorbing lodestar excavates more write-ups, features, gags, interviews, contests and galleries concerning its niche perspective on the genre than you could ever possibly fathom, and avoids “gay representation” political poses. They just love everything about horror movies. Check out their bafflingly infinite (gay-slanted) review database. Eek! Oh and when you load the site, turn down your speakers unless you think the theme to The Eyes of Laura Mars is just the greatest thing in the world ever, even ironically.


Mystery Science Theater 3000 (The Annotated Version)

People were aghast in 1989 when The Andy Warhol Diaries was published without an index (Spy solved the horrible problem by quickly publishing one in their magazine). Now, similarly antsy fans of Mystery Science Theater 3000 can finally exhale as well. An already very impressive annotation project of the television series is underway; The Annotated MST. Of course there was always The Distributed MST3K Annotation Project, begun a few years ago. Entire episodes of MST3K are viewable at The Digital Archive Project (many are on DVD too).

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Isn’t it obvious?

Viva, Patty and Ann sing their top hit bottom miss “Why Do You Think You Are Nuts?” on an unidentified cable show. Is this the best hopefully forgotten 80’s cable access nightmare, cruelly recusitated through the web, since Lucille Cataldo performed “Hairdresser, Hairdresser” on Stairway To Stardom? Of course, this other YouTube re-discovery clip, The Horror of Bodyflex, is also notable. Do you think exercise is nuts? It can be.
– thanks to Lady Bunny, and Andy at WFMU’s blog blather box


Russia’s Hell House of Wax

Take a gasp-inducing look at Queen lead singer Freddie Mercury’s unknown last image: in a wheelchair, close to death from AIDS due to drug use. Hey… if you don’t like it, move to Russia! Illegal drug use in Russia really took off after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991; particularly injectable drugs like heroin and, amongst children and teens, the use of chemical inhalants. The numbers of cases appear to be tapering off somewhat in these last few years, perhaps partially due to a touring anti-drug wax figure exhibition traveling the country since 2002. Called “On The Brink,” (click for gallery) the odd series of grisly/surreal dioramas was created by the country’s Federal Drug Control Service, and has had a steady schedule at schools and town halls. As with most anti-drug propaganda, the point is to show by example the horrid consequences. Typical frozen scenarios focus on a drug user’s last moments; cold, alone, unhappy and looking too old for what age they are supposed to be. Besides the mise-en-scènes, visitors are shown a dozen jars of formalin containing damaged internal organs of drug addicts, and a the preserved fetus of a deformed baby born to a drug-using mother. The organizers even provide liquid ammonia, to resuscitate anyone who faints from revulsion at the sight of disfigured wax faces jones-ing for ‘ludes. Georgii, a 20 year-old man recently told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty news after leaving the exhibit; “I am in a kind of trance, especially after the video we had to watch. I can’t find words, I can’t think straight. This hasn’t happened to me for a long time, I just can’t find the words.”

– (thanks to Jim for the tip)


The Unknown Comic

I have the vaguest memories of seeing The Unknown Comic on TV as a child; subconscious recollections of a comedian in a leisure suit, with an upside-down brown paper bag over his head, pacing back and forth across an orange and beige 1970’s prime time TV variety show stage… twitching out jokes with exaggerated body language while canned audience laughter came out in waves all around him. He was like The Comedian of Sleepy Hollow. How could a kid forget something like that? It was scary and surreal for a child, not funny. The jittery paper head, the way he was always using his hands and legs too much (which he was forced to do since he couldn’t use facial expressions), those creepy mouth and eye holes where you caught vague glimpses of eyelids and lashes (like a terrorist mask)… him holding a microphone up to where there wasn’t a mouth but sound seemed to come out. He jumped around the stage like Magilla Gorilla – but with a Ku Klux Klan hood. Or maybe he was like the Elephant Man on laughing gas. Trust me, at that age most adult stand-up comedy goes straight over your head. But dress like a cackling Batman villain – these are the kinds of things that grab a child’s attention. I’m pretty sure I caught other subconscious-penetrating glimpses of him on The Gong Show (or was it on The $1.98 Beauty Show?) At the time, I probably thought it was just another comedian with a grocery bag on his head. I guess as a tyke, I thought the whole thing was a trend in stand-up. Maybe everybody did it. Like smashing watermelons with sledgehammers or singing along to a Mighty Mouse record.

I also remember seeing a “centerfold” of him in the poster rack in the beaded curtain-separated back black light room at Spencer’s Gifts, circa 1979 (remember that place? …now I’m really showing my age). In the poster he was nude save for the bag over his head, and one over his genitalia. No doubts as to why that image stuck in my head. But was it all the same guy? Was The Unknown Comic a real comedian in the 1970’s or was he just the giggling, headless brunt of a childhood dream?

His real name is Murray Langston, and he’s famous to the point where today almost anyone in their thirties and older instantly remembers him. The story of how he stumbled upon his act is a typical show-biz success template. Before the bag, Langston had success as a regular stand-up comic for many years, appearing as a beloved regular on Laugh In, The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour, The Bobby Vinton Show and other big-time slots of the era. At one point in his career he invested in a comedy nightclub, which tanked and took all his savings with it. Soon after, he was offered an appearance on The Gong Show as Murray Langston. Needing the money, but embarrassed to be seen on “that” show, he decided to appear with a bag over his head and work the “anonymous comedian” shtick into the routine. It became a surprise smash of sorts. People instantly loved (and instantly remembered and talked about) it, quickly turning him into a household name as The Unknown Comic. He made over 100 appearances on The Gong Show during the height of it’s notorious popularity. He became parodied, and his name turned up in other comedian’s jokes and in TV news comentators’ between-segment banter. During the kooky t-shirt slogan craze of the 70’s; “I’m The Unknown Comic” became a popular seller. This second career became phenomenally more successful than he had been as Langston – vaulting him into the larger arena of Hollywood, even if only for several years.

The Unknown Comic became popular perhaps because people looked at him and said “I could do that!” Imagine being able to sidestep your opening night jitters and embrace your footlight dreams, only because you’ve finally figured out a way to avoid altogether the quivering-lip/jittering-eye combo that are the NERVOUS WRECKAGE signs of performing solo in front of an expectant audience. I’ll bet Debbie Reynolds’ character in Singin’ In the Rain was secretly happier before she could no longer hide behind the curtain as Lina Lamont’s fake voice. Being on stage without being on stage is it’s own blissful, fantastic comfort zone. The Unknown Comic was the man behind the curtain in his own gimmick-y head.

Here is a brief YouTube clip of him on The Gong Show (I can’t believe there aren’t more). Here’s the short version of his whole story at his Wikipedia entry. Here’s a recent interview with him at RetroCrush. Here’s a photo of him during an apperance on Sha-Na-Na. Here’s Murray Langston’s entry.

At some momentous point, perhaps on one of the last Gong Show appearances, the grocery bag came off (KISS would wait another ten years to take off their make-up for cameras). Later in his career, he produced a big Las Vegas comedy show, as well as The Unknown Comedy Hour for the Playboy Channel, and writing screenplays for people like Linda Blair, Yakof Smirnoff and Ruth Buzzi (Night Patrol, Up Your Alley). After dropping out of show biz for a while to raise his daughter, he recently resurfaced in the films Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and Levity, and is working on other projects, as well as a book.


Slightly-Creepy Madonna Bootleg Underground: Making a List and Checking It Twice-Hundred Times

Wikipedia has a mindblowing-ly comprehensive account of the history of every unused, unreleased, almost-ed Madonna song ever. Literally hundreds of titles are listed and described – traced year by year, producer by producer, session by session, album by album. The exhaustive write-up even hunts down songs that were discussed in remembered conversations with producers and engineers who worked with her – then divides those rumors into works that can be attributed to traceable fact (an anthem titled Working My Fingers To the Bone, or an early New Wave-er called Fuck You Right Back) and those that were just hopeful rumors (a heartfelt ballad called Call Me Mr. Telephone …or how about a techno cover of Ozzy Osbourne’s Crazy Train?) United States Copyright Office records are even plundered; “Take A Holiday, US Copyright registration PAu-505-502 for original 1983 demo of Holiday written by Lisa Stevens and Curtis Hudson formerly of the disco group Pure Energy. Publishing rights given to House Of Fun Music in 1986 on registration PAu-905-744.?

Session tapes that were “stolen? or that have fallen into the hands of obsessed fans over time are described in detail. Even 5-second snippets of Madonna just talking into a microphone, perhaps discovered on dusty tapes unearthed from dumpsters behind a recording studio – are analyzed and traced to a source, perhaps finally debunked as a “fake? (who would go to the trouble?) Some of these little crumbs are even collected on bootleg CDs(!) On a cassette obtained from the Erotica sessions, the writer describes:

Jitterbug: (song fragment, about 30-45 seconds) Included on the same Erotica demo sessions cassette tape submitted buy Shep Pettibone to the U.S. Copyright Office as his other “Rain’? album songs. It was mostly taped over, but showed up between two of the other tracks. It is listed on the handwritten tape label, but it has no copyright registration of its own. The title was originally spelled with a “G?, but was written over darker with a “J? in blue ink. It features typical generic Shep Pettibone dance music with Madonna finishing up with “Jitterbug, Jitterbug?. She stops singing but the music continues. She says into the microphone “Ya, that one has some good ideas to it?. The music still continues, and she says “How long is this one going to go on?? The music still continues and she finally demands “Isn’t anyone going to turn this damn thing off?? It abruptly ends.

Stupefying list is probably destined for a box set release in the year 3000. Actually, a large number of these recordings are already hear-able, shared by fans on the web and on bootleg collections. Oh, by the way, check out this cover photo that almost-was for her first album (eek!), switched at the last minute for the black & white photo one, and the title Madonna instead of “Lucky Star.? I have to admit this was a pretty fascinating read for me. What does that say about my soul (see title of this post)?

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Udo Kier has his own website? Uh… well yea, now that I think about it – of course he does! I literally spent two hours pouring over the entire thing. The very thorough filmography is highly informative, and the photo gallery is priceless. The list of interviews, spanning back to 1982, is great (about half are in english). Be sure to check out the links section – which points towards other obsessed-with Udo Kier sites (this one in particular, which has an even more endless-er omnibus of articles, pictures, interviews, clips and ephemera).


Richard Sandler’s “The Gods of Times Square”

Filmmaker Richard Sandler’s hand-held camera documentary The Gods of Times Square was made in the early 1990’s. The entire thing is available for view on the web here (93 minutes long). Sandler’s hand-held camera captures and interacts with religious shouters (the film’s core subject) as well as end-of-world megaphone types, transsexuals, weird runaway teens, homeless people, prostitutes, junkies, characters, fanatics, nuts, tourists, and “normals” stepping around a guy taking a daytime dump on the sidewalk right in front of Howard Johnson’s. The film captures the complex human mix of Times Square before, and leading up to, it’s radical corporate transformation in the late 90’s. A few moments in the picture are pretty hokey (it is 15 years old), but they’re worth it for the great moments – which you’ll see when you watch it. Great stuff.


A Dozen Film Re-Reviews:

L’Eclisse (Italian, 1962, dir: Michelangelo Antonioni)
Do you have reoccurring dreams that you are hovering in the center of an unfurnished room in a brand new suburban home, which lays on a street in a vast, desolate, brand-new neighborhood subdivision, on a calm, overcast spring day … and you just float there, your hands and feet barely touching the pristine, white drywall and synthetic wall-to-wall carpet as your mind flatlines into a perfect state of embryonic, inner bliss? Well I do, mainly because I spent my formative years in such an environment…. and it’s manicured morass had a profound impact on my psyche. My therapy while living in a city that is the exact opposite of that whitewashed, clean-lined, narrow grid? Imagining the memory of this lost oasis when I’m denied it (perhaps in dreams) or maybe, as a second stab at mental clarity: connecting with other artworks, films, etc., that were created by artists who spied the same value in such public spaces – even if their expression of it wasn’t (on the surface) a love letter. Movies documenting the long pie-in-the-face that modern urban society has done to human emotions and communication skills are like a mental balm for me, and Antonioni’s L’ECLISSE (1962) is perhaps the most mind erasing-y-est opiate of them all. Created four years before his film BLOW UP (1966), it’s expression of the neutered, thwarted social warrior in the face of concrete is just as subtle, yet more direct. Filmed in the EUR section of Rome, it’s one of many films that use it’s still-standing, absurdly modern cluster of office buildings and apartment complexes (built under Mussolini in the late 1939, it was intended as a diorama backdrop ushering in the perfectly new, fascistic age) to express such a mood: Felinni’s LA DOLCE VITA (1960) and Dario Argento’s TENEBRE (1982) also feature the EUR section of Rome heavily, with similar goals in mind. L’ECLISSE’s two hour and ten minute story is basically about a woman ending one sour relationship and clumsily starting another, along with brief kooky appearances from her family and friends. But the setting and locales of the film (in and around the EUR, which contrast with the outskirts of old Rome) are obviously the main protagonist here… and a particularly hostile one at that (if only by default). L’ECLISSE is almost a horror film, or maybe a sinister science fiction one… a narrative negative where the very background is threatening to kill and obliterate anyone who tries to hog the spotlight from it (divas like this aren’t born, they’re made!), hence the picture’s title. L’ECLISSE is also the third in a supposed trilogy of black & white films by Antonioni that cover such ground, LA NOTTE (1961) and L’AVVENTURA (1960) being the other two. Antonioni’s film is an early, premature excavation into the postmodern age, and after seeing it I am now absolutely sure that David Lynch must have seen it in film school when he was thinking about ERASERHEAD (1979). I loved watching this picture, and I recommend doing so when you are in a kind of zen cinematic mood… if you’re looking for thrills, L’ECLISSE’s narrow, sustained bliss might alienate you (if you make it to the last eight minutes of the film, and I hope you do, be prepared for a surreally freaked-out finale). Films like L’ECLISSE are indeed fantasy romance; they trick me into an imaginary mind meld with the rest of the collective unconscious, as I breath an internal sigh of relief in imagining (realizing?) that solitude may be man’s most obvious shared state of total peace. Are architects and urban planners subconscious solider ants in the fight to keep mankind from doom, as they unwittingly weave more and more intricate cubbyholes for us to remove ourselves into? Before I make up my mind about that, I think I’ll sink into deeper denial about my cinema addiction, as I watch L’ECLISSE yet again, and feel my little town blues melt away…

Look What’s Happened to Rosemary’s Baby (TV movie, 1976, dir: Sam O’Steen)
Remember the knife that Mia Farrow dropped onto the floor at the end of Roman Polanski’s ROSEMARY’S BABY (1968) when she spied the face of her satanic womb crop? The one that ended up sticking straight up in the hardwood? Well Ruth Gordon must have stuck it right back where she pulled it out from, as it’s still there, jabbed perpendicularly in the floor of the empty apartment (along with the evil baby crib) that makes up the opening shot of the hysterically awful TV movie LOOK WHAT’S HAPPENED TO ROSEMARY’S BABY (1976). The streets surrounding the Dakota building on Central Park West, as immortalized in Polanski’s film, a decade later look suspiciously like the Universal Studios city street set in California, but it doesn’t matter because Mia has now somehow transformed into Patty Duke (in an obvious act of satanic shape-shifting) and her baby is now a young boy who throws tantrums at the sight of Jewish synagogues. In the late 70’s, satanism was big, big, big in entertainment… and this TV-movie wanted to ching, ching, ching all the way to big ratings (obviously in the cheapest, most no-frills way possible). You know, everyone complains about the current plague of classic horror movies being re-made in the most shallow way possible for the teen market… but trust me, it’s obviously been going on since long before the 90’s. This two-parter was presumably a hopeful pilot for a weekly series that was to show the dramatic ups and downs in the life of Rosemary’s grown kid: a Camaro-driving, troubled poet …who, along with his agent Tina Louise(!), becomes a big pop star (stage name: Adrian) and unwittingly fronts an abominably metaphysical puppet regime meant to usher all of humanity into the new dark age with hard rock grooves and pyrotechnic stage shows. Ruth Gordon and Ray Milland spend the entire movie wearing black hooded robes and bickering with each other, Ropers-style (human sacrifice has a lighter side!) over who’s gonna drink her homemade prune juice and human blood cocktail from the golden chalice (must of run out of tannis root). Rosemary’s actor husband (not played by John Cassavetes – thank God, er… hail Satan) is now a Hollywood bigwig who gets interviewed by the liberal media and rings up Milland up from his poolside phone and whinily asks him to invoke the power of the Dark One because “…Paul Newman read my script and said he didn’t think it was very good!” Milland smiles all wrinkly into the phone and says “Want me to blind him? Heh… heh… heh…” It’s HELL-arious! Patty Duke is rescued halfway through the picture when an evil charter bus with black windows and no driver bafflingly picks her up in the middle of Death Valley. She then just waves at the camera from the back window as the Greyhound drives her off to …Hell? Huh? The whole second half of the picture (taking place in a gloriously tacky 70’s-style Spanish-decor casino/brothel/disco in the middle of some desert) plays like a Jack Chick comic, as Adrian perfects his evil rock act (wearing mime/clown make-up… KISS were obviously still very big… but then again, so were Shields and Yarnell) to an audience of sodomite swingers who dirty-it-up on the dance floor as Ruth, Ray and the other demon leaders wear sunglasses and watch with big smiles from the stucco-tiled balcony. This film is a total riot, and if you love truly awful (and I mean really awful) 70’s TV movies, then I promise you’ll scream “Whaaaaaaa…?” and then burst out with laughter at every other scene in this prickly, cathode ray disaster (otherwise avoid at all costs). Unreleased, available only on bootleg.

The Best Way To Walk (French, 1976, dir: Claude Miller)
Gay, gay, gay, gay, gay, gay, gay, gay. Made in 1976 – this film kind of channels the energy of DEEP END (1971) or TAXI ZUM KLO (1981) or maybe even HAROLD & MAUDE (1971) or WITHNAIL & I (1987) or even WILD REEDS (1994) – but with a kind of element of danger sort of like in MARIE BAIE DES ANGES (1997). So if you’re a sucker for that kind of tear-jerky, blood-letting, unrequited love story with sharp edges, then maybe then you’ll love this film. Inexplicably set in the 1960’s, Marc and Phillipe are counselors at a boy’s camp in the French countryside. One unexpected electricity-free night, super-straight, boy’s soccer coach Marc (played with intoxicating, boner-inducing, he-man obnoxiousness by the late, great Patrick Dewaere) walks in unknowingly on the bookworm-ish, boy’s drama coach Phillipe (played appropriately with stick insect self-loathing by Patrick Bouchitey) while looking for candles. Phillipe, caught alone unawares in his room, is dressed in full “please-beat-me-up” drag. The look on Marc’s face as he gazes magnetically at the preened Phillipe, like a pre-teen boy facing his first bare boob (in one of the most excruciatingly real and dazzlingly-lit face close ups I’ve ever seen on film – photo on left) sums up the film’s entire energy for the next 90 minutes, as Marc and Phillipe poke and slap at each other’s emotions and value systems and secretly contemplate poking and slapping each other in another kind of way. Oh, quite expectedly, it’s a maddening, non-stop drama train. But of course if you’ve had a gay adolescence and romantic adult life, you’ll just hop aboard and ride the film as a passenger, gazing out the window at familiar scenario after familiar scenario. The film swishes between numb-skulled frustration and wince-inducing exploitation. In once cathartic sequence, Marc spontaneously creates yet another ritual to touch Phillipe’s body as he violently shows Phillipe how to be a man and make himself throw up by forcing his own fingers down his throat. Phillipe ejaculates, I mean… barfs – and when Marc realizes that he has used the socially acceptable guise of he-male violence against Phillipe as a disguise for she-male sodomy, his only way of dealing is to force Phillipe’s screaming face into the “mess he made” as he verbally humiliates him. Ahhhh… the art of gay courtship! Any film that features a man viciously stabbing his love object in the leg at a crowded party (as a vindictively satisfying non-verbal act of affection) has obviously done it’s homework on the gay mating ritual. The film also has lots of side parallels and sub-character situations that cleverly reflect what’s happening with the main story. Great stuff – really blunt and touching, and it has that old “foreign gay film” feel to it – and if you know what I mean, then you’ll dig it. The only thing I’m disappointed with is the ending of this film… which seemed rushed and too shallow. After exploring the two characters’ spiny relationship so deeply, it pulls a “two years later” epilogue that barely blushes the surface of where they both end up… but, whatever. The best thing about this film is Patrick Dewaere’s brutish, dreamy performance. An interesting actor, with an wild career and body of work… he mysteriously shot himself in front of his bedroom mirror in 1982. Recommended (the film).

The Raspberry Reich (2004, dir: Bruce LaBruce)
Much like the party scene in BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S (1961) if it were held in the basement of FIGHT CLUB (1999), everything mashes together erratically but perfectly in Bruce LaBruce’s hysterically titled latest film THE RASPBERRY REICH. You probably think you need a certain je ne sais quoi to understand exactly how that could work, but it’s probably in your best interest to learn fake French (or real German) so you can. Alienating? LaBruce’s films can sometimes being at a party full of people you don’t know, who are constanly looking over their shoulder at you as they wittily engage a henpecking ceremony – littering the floor with names of people (or concepts) they know but want to make sure you know that they know that you don’t know (but secretly hope that you eventually learn). If the point is to enlighten, inspite and educate (after watching this I immediately went online and looked up info on some of the terrorist groups the characters in this filme were based on), then I’m going to stop hanging out with people like Mag Wildwood at parties. I am Jack’s seething inner need to name-drop, and it wasn’t until the morning after that I came to the sobering realization that this movie is poking fun at that need. THE RASPBERRY REICH is especially super in contrast to LaBruce’s often ingenious but occasionally frustrating body of work. I loved everything about it; the visuals, the editing, the subject, satire, comparing/contrasting of terrorist motives/sexuality, the slapstick/gonzo/amateur acting styles, the dubbing, the mood, etc. At first I didn’t know how I felt about what I was watching, but by the end I was enthralled – it works, and it’s sizzling and electric and very unique. The picture plugs into the unfussy, raw, immediate vibe of classic underground films, or old porn movies… which is an obvious goal for LaBruce. The plot is kind of razzing (or paying homage to) “terrorist chic,” and concentrates on a gang of bumbling, would-be terrorists in Berlin who model themselves after the Baader-Meinhof Gang from the 1970’s. The group’s leader, a loud-mouthed, cause-bogged, militaristic fag hag named Gudrun, has molded herself directly from the very real Gudrun Ensslin (from the Meinhof gang). Gudrun runs around in a blond wig, screaming quotes from Wilhelm Reich and Herbert Marcuse, and demanding all the male members of the gang have sex with each other so as to “break down barriers and ignite the revolution.” The gang kidnaps the son of a rich German banker in order to to demand ransom to fund their utopian plans… but it all goes wrong in the most faggy, awkward way possible – as the gang seems more interested in the pose than the plan (contrasted late in the film when two characters visit a drag bar on ‘terrorist theme’ night). The skinny actor who plays Che (Daniel Fettig) bears a striking resemblance to this guy. The film includes cameos by legendary fringe-types like Genesis P. Orridge and Sherry Vine, who are framed in the film’s crisp set design/locale choices. In many of the scenes, the characters are often bottomless (shirt but no pants – a look I’ve always found horrific… on anyone) and that is probably the best example I can give of how kookily offensive and eye-popping this picture is. Apparently LaBruce got the funding for this (as well as his previous) film from porn production companies, making porn versions of them (for rentals) as well as more plot-heavy versions intended for festivals and theater runs (the porn version of this particular one is apparently called ‘The Revolution Is My Boyfriend’) so this film contains scenes (however brief) of hardcore porn (straight and gay) that are obviously extended in the XXX versions. Even though many people in the porn and art worlds may profess to, no one is really making pictures like this. The tone of THE RASPBERRY REICH is absurd, but almost by default – in the end it’s able to skim the sublime peaks of important things, even in mockery. In one odd stylistic choice by LaBruce, famous revolutionaries’ philosophical rants are spelled-out by huge floating/flashing blocks of text across the screen, often as a character is saying them. Sound stupid? It completely works here. I love the following passage cooed by Gudrun (I assume it’s Marcuse or Reich, but I couldn’t locate the source): “The more detached one is from a role the easier it becomes to turn it against the enemy. The more effectively one avoids the weight of things, the easier it is to achieve lightness of movement. Comrades care little for forms, they argue openly, confident in the knowledge that they cannot inflict wounds on each other. Where communication is genuinely sought, misunderstandings are no crime. But if you accost me armed to the teeth, understanding agreement only in terms of victory for you, then you will get nothing out of me but an evasive pose, and a formal silence, intended to indicate that the discussion is closed.” Easily one of the most interesting new films I’ve seen in years, surprisingly so.

Gog (1954, dir: Herbert L. Strock)
A friend of mine brought my attention to this film, as something he had seen as a small child that had a certain effect on him. This same friend also believes that automat diners were the perfect symbol of mankind’s love/hate relationship with technology during their heyday, and that the (still) current wave of countless cyber coffee shops dotting the cities of the world are basically the newest form of automat diners, or at least they symbolize the exact same relationship, which has changed little. This film definitely falls into the B-movie category, as it made me literally laugh out loud about seven or eight times. Basically it’s the story of an all-American Rock Hudson-type being inexplicably thrust into a clock-is-ticking situation in some remote location, with a bunch of brainy scientists from other countries (read: suspicious), one of whom happens to be young, shapely, American with boobs. The protagonists’ job? To expose and weed out anyone with unwholesome values, get the girl, and punch, punch, punch his way to saving America… er, the whole of mankind. Similar plots can be found in films of various quality, and slight character switcheroo, from FANTASTIC VOYAGE (1966) to ALIENS (1986) and THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN (1971- Kate Reid was the he-man in that one). GOG hasn’t aged well, or has, depending on how you look at it. The film takes place in a vast, underground base where all the characters have holed up as they try to stop a strain of man-made radio waves from satellites that have developed their own computerized will, and are threatening to destroy the human race. Got all that? The title comes from the name of one of a pair of sinister super-robots that occupy one of the levels (the robot’s partner is named, appropriately, Magog). Did I mention Gog and Magog were made by a scientist with a funny mustache and goatee who has a foreign accent, scoffs at American etiquette and …smokes a pipe? Eek! The oh-so menacing technology in GOG of course, as radio waves, has the ability to penetrate the very air around us, and reach straight into our brains as we remain helpless. There are lots of scenes of whole rooms vibrating as the human victim holds their hands to their heads screaming “Aaaauuugh!” before they collapse in a smoking heap of flesh on the floor. Hide your curling iron! Even the scenes where technology is being used for apparent good, ends up making humans look absurd. One funny scene of two characters occupying a gravity-defying whirligig, wearing absurdly dignity-defying, helmeted space suits, makes them look like a pair of spinning show poodles in costumes (the air-penetrating techno waves from the satellites penetrate the device and cause the meager humans to high-speed spin to their death anyway). GOG is just another time-capsuled morality tale about how the technological age has raped the farm, and has the potential to destroy our very way of life, and how scientists who figured out how to split the atom instead of going to church every Sunday better get ready from the nonsensical rantings of a loudmouth malcontent (read: comeuppance) from the last angry man (who’s really the greatest American hero) …but that in the end we all really appreciate what they did anyway, as long as we feel we had a say in it (by screaming and throwing a drama fit after the fact). In other words, it’s about fear, and bossy intimidation in the face of that fear. The scene of the hero trying to battle the Gog robot gone berserk with the highly inappropriate prop choice of a baseball bat (probably symbolic) is one of the funniest scenes in a film ever. The bat just keeps *pop!* *boing!* bouncing off the plastic shell of the rediculous-looking Gog as he flails all over the place while all the other characters stand back and scream in irony-less horror. This hysterical scene should be put on a loop and shown constantly on all the monitors in the new Apple store in Soho, NYC… somehow it just seems appropriate. Recommended for a really hearty laugh – great stuff. Unreleased – available on bootleg only (the DVD-r copy I rented was burned off a recent TNT broadcast).

Spasmo (1974, dir: Umberto Lenzi)
In an effort to cause panic, or perhaps drive an unstable target into madness, someone is placing mannequins in sick little mise-en-scènes at various places around a seaside resort in Italy …and it could be any one of a bazillion different glamorously suspicious low-lifes you’ll meet before the credits eventually roll in this hyper-speed, kaleidoscope-ed giallo. If you’re a fan of horror films, you’ve probably figured out long ago that any violent killer flick made before 1990 which uses mannequins as a major plot reference point, will probably end up a classic. For what seems like the entire history of film, things like mannequins, clowns and children’s songs have always been reliable in adding an uneasy aura to creep cinema, when presented in the right context. The fact that there always seems to be someone who feels like they are the first person to notice the sinister edges of such things, means that these fright fetish objects and they’re associative semiotic codes have reached far beyond the pinnacle of cliché, and are now imprisoned eternally in the never-get-rid-able realm of horror movie foreverness. But back to the film: Umberto Lenzi’s appropriately titled SPASMO might not be a film you’ve heard of, but that’s only because lesser-know Italian giallos often can’t stab their way out from beneath the radar of the eyeballs and brains of horror fans – a perceptual plateau often hogged by the other “classics” (Lenzi’s most popular film is, of course, the highly notorious CANNIBAL FEROX [1981]). Apparently by the mid-70’s, Italian audiences were growing tired of the black-gloved genre, so distribution companies urged directors to make giallos as outrageous as possible, so as to lure back in the all important consumatori. The plot line of SPASMO is at times so tangled and crammed with gonzo plot points that it resembles a Harry Stephen Keeler novel (particularly the last 20 minutes). But it’s kept tight enough here where even the loosest bits fit into the “logic.” If you know the genre rules of hardcore Italian giallos, you know what to expect: goofy over-acting, “bad” dubbing, weirdly inappropriate dialogue, rushed, convenient/coincidental story telling, the appearance that the characters in the film are perhaps the only people on earth, fantastic cinematography, really great furniture, and the overall sense that the whole movie’s reality exists in a kind of fever dream state. This film’s saving grace, besides it’s spastic pace and visual pop – is a snazz score (as usual) by Ennio Morricone. Fans of Dario Argento’s THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE (1969) will no doubt recognize Suzy Kendall in one of the starring roles. Made six years after BIRD, Suzy’s highlighted hair and light eyes resemble at times a MYRA BRECKINRIDGE-era Farrah Fawcett. If you rent giallos regularly… I know you’ve probably sat through some really boring ones that you wished you hadn’t wasted your time on. You won’t regret checking this one out – great stuff. Recommended. Other (enjoyable) horror classics that use mannequins liberally? Mario Bava’s HATCHET FOR THE HONEYMOON (1970), TOURIST TRAP (1979 – a film worthy of viewing just to see Chuck Conners stumbling around in kooky, face-obscuring, Cindy Sherman-esque drag) and the scalp-happy MANIAC (1980).

Kwaidan (Japan, 1964, dir: Masaki Kobayashi)
Fuck – it’s art! Wow! After seeing this movie, I felt like I just got back from the library or something. Did Einstein see this movie? At theaters that show movies like this do they put caviar on the popcorn instead of butter? And serve it with chopsticks? You know what I’m in the mood for after all this movie art? That’s right… Chinese food! One large eggroll please (served subtly), and hold the Hollywood cheese sauce! Does the menu have subtitles? ‘Cause I can read them and look at the pictures at the same time you know. Haw haw!! Okay… I’m just kidding (or am I?) This totally eye/ear-searing film features four ancient eastern folk tales/ghost stories. It’s a veeeery long but very rewarding visual/audial meal for fans of knock-out Japanese cinema, hyper-stylism, creepy ghost stories and super-freaky musique concrète soundtracks. Speaking of, this film does have a surprising use of pure (unexpected) sound as music accompaniment. The last ten minutes of the first story, “Black Hair,” contains one of the most unsettling music scores I have ever heard. Indeed, this film was renowned in it’s day for it’s use of a musique concrète-style music score. A great, colorful, eye-filling movie. Recommended.

Good Bye Dragon Inn (2003, dir: Tsai Ming-Liang)
This movie is kind of like a Jacques Tati film set, after all the actors have gone home and gone to bed. This story is set in a decrepit movie theater in Taipei that is about to close, and probably be torn down, on the last night of business, during the last screening of a film (playing: King Hu’s 1966 sword-fighting epic DRAGON INN). The alienation in urban environments I spoke of earlier? This superb film is like a long, slow, molasses avalanche of that. This movie has some of the l-o-o-o-n-g-e-s-t still shots (where almost nothing happens) that I have ever seen in any film, ever. Barren, echo-y, plenty of elbow room for your eyeballs to roam… this film is one vast void. Oddly, the film showing in the theater makes up 99% of the film’s dialogue – which is overheard echoing throughout the main hall and cavernous back hallways of the crumbling building. Actual lines in the film? About three… literally. The film does have characters, who crawl around at a snails pace and do various things. I found this picture to be rather remarkable, and quite surprising. One thing I didn’t expect it to be was a comedy… I found myself laughing hysterically out loud at certain scenes because they captured, uniquely and pin-point perfectly, the often absurd/sad nature of human existence in urban spaces. Weirdly, a large portion of the film centers around gay cruising in the bathrooms and surrounding mysterious passageways (although by film’s end you really wonder if that’s what was going on). Actually, by film’s end you really might be scratching your head about what most of the “characters” actually are, or if they are even real – but I don’t want to spoil anything, I have seen Ming-Liang’s THE HOLE (1998), which I totally, totally loved (although I coulda done without the musical fantasy sequences) and didn’t even realize he had also directed until I looked at the filmography on the DVD. Great, spooky, pulling heart-string-y, surprisingly hilarious stuff. Recommended (if you’re in a zen mood, or are quaalude-ed out of your mind).

A Woman Under the Influence (1974, dir: John Cassavetes)
Oddly, I have only recently discovered the films of John Cassavetes, thanks mostly to a friend who has pushed them on me relentlessly – and for good reason. Some of his films are more hardcore than others, and some of his later ones are amazing but kind of Hollywood-ified. His mid-career stuff is the real cranium-rattling work, of which A WOMAN UNDER THE INFLUENCE is a prime example. There is not much I can really write about this film, other than to say that if you watch it you’ll be very impressed, mesmerized, left with perhaps a headache (but it will be worth it). The story is basically about a woman (Gena Rowlands) with edgy mental problems who drags her husband (Peter Falk), kids and entire extended family around the mental carousel – all captured with breathtaking simplicity and fascinating realism by Cassavetes film technique (which has brilliant acting at it’s base). Rowlands’ portrayal of a woman who hop-scotches all over the map of acceptable behavior due to deep-seated mental problems, and the way the others around her use her condition to control her (and she uses it to control them when situationally backed against a wall) is so real it’s at times almost like you’re witnessing the most excruciatingly fascinating documentary footage you’ve ever seen. My friend who loves this film refers to any situation in his life that is surreally awkward or uncategorically bizarre as “a spaghetti breakfast.” When you see this film you’ll understand. Rent this movie and I guarantee you’ll be blown away. If you like this one, you will probably also like Cassavetes’ MINNIE AND MOSKOWITZ (1971), THE KILLING OF A CHINESE BOOKIE (1976) and MIKEY AND NICKY (1976 – Cassavetes didn’t technically direct this one, but might as well have, and also stars in it). Cassavetes’ filmography is of course far more vast, but these three films I think directly plug into the same energy as WOMAN UNDER THE INFLUENCE. Bananas.

C.H.O.M.P.S. (1979, dir: Don Chaffey)
Even more oddly, the same friend who thankfully pushed Cassavetes’ aesthetic on me also recommended the zinger C.H.O.M.P.S. (1979). Hey, he’s a man of many dimensions! C.H.O.M.P.S. stands for Canine Home Protection System, of course, and is a bionic, multi-sound lingual robotic powerhouse family-loving kill-dog… designed by Wesely Eure. Wesely hopes to make millions with it, if he can convince his girlfriend’s (Valerie Bertinelli) rich tycoon dad (Conrad Bain) to go into production with it. The usual brightly-colored hilarity ensues. Much like the above film, I really can’t say much about this, except to say that I really enjoyed it (for obviously different reasons). This was actually a film released in theaters, but it has the look and feel of a Saturday morning cartoon showcase. The scenes where they take off CHOMPS’ head and tinker with the lights and wires inside him (where the real dog is suddenly switched to a very poorly designed fake) were oddly disturbing. This film also has a very surreal use of sound. Just recently released on DVD.

House (Japan, 1977, dir: Nobuhiko Obayashi)
Kind of like LIDSVILLE (1971) crossed with LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (1972), or SUSPIRIA (1977) crossed with PEE WEE’S PLAYHOUSE (1986), this very puzzling Japanese kiddie/horror flick really had me scratching my head. I’ve never seen so many giggling school girls singing songs for gore in my life… talk about contradicting semiotics. One minute a pre-teen is doing a dreamy musical number about lemonade, five minutes later her bloody severed limbs are hovering around a piano playing ragtime while everybody screams for their lives. This was years before Sam Raimi or Peter Jackson. Okay, this film is hardly great… but it’s so out there, that if you’re a fan of horror and Japanese stuff, then it will definitely fondle and harass your frontal cortex. Unreleased, available only on bootleg, without subtitles. Here’s a nice link about the film.

Sex Mission
(Poland, 1984, dir: Juliusz Machulski)
Clever, forgotten, ahead-of-it’s time Polish comedy about two men who volunteer to have themselves cryogenically frozen (for three years only) in the 1980’s as part of a highly publicized experiment, only to then wake up fifty years later to find the human race driven underground after a catastrophic World War III, and also populated only by women. The two unexpected guinea pigs are prodded and studied by the futuristic female race, and told they will be allowed to live in the new world, but only if they have sex changes. Naturally, slapstick hi-jinx, and lots of breast and castration gags bloom aplenty as the two goofballs try and escape in the futuristic underworld (which looks like a discarded DR. WHO set). The female-only society the two explore has become estrogen-ized down to every detail (history has even been re-written to to make sure every key figure had a vagina), there is even a museum that supposedly holds the actual tree of knowledge from the Garden of Eden (the legacy of which has the roles of Adam and Eve essentially switched), babies are grown in test tubes from a past supply of XX chromosome sperm, public nudity is not an issue, and the entire population takes daily pills to keep their sex drive down. And like all computerized futuristic societies in film, it’s up to the protagonists to unwittingly uncover who is actually running the show. Great, high-quality film that I can’t believe I never saw or even heard about is kind of a cross between SLEEPER (1973) and THE BENNY HILL SHOW (1967). Despite it’s obvious goofiness, the film touches on some interesting sociological and philosophical plateaus – and has a great twist ending and hysterical closing shot. Great – definitely recommended.



Hearing recorded voices?

What? Interesting (weird) essay by Nigel Heyler “Virtual Voices: Ghost Riders in the Sky” explores the metaphysical underbelly and cerebral topside of voice amplification technology; exploring “acousmatics,” automated voices, hypnotism, schizophrenia, and noting the “…somewhat grisly” corollary to [Thomas] Edison’s desire to link technology to the life beyond. Article quote checks Adolph Hitler; “Without the loudspeaker we would have never conquered Germany” (Hitler in The Manual of German Radio, 1937).

Your potential goes on forever:
Speaking of foreigners, this thing is already all over the internet, but if you haven’t seen Aleksey Vayner’s totally pumped “Worst Video Resume Ever” (oh, link removed – see below) then prepare to come to the realization that without-a-doubt you’re simply the best, better than all the rest (or at least realize that Vayner simply is). Background info at UPDATE: Whoops! The video has been taken off YouTube by not-laughing parties, but the guys at will keep you on top of everything. Note to self: you’re weak.

Evangelical crank call cable access:
Speaking of Satan, WFMU’s Scott Williams has collected a bunch of clips from an ongoing cable access show in Cedar Park, Texas called Johnplex, where the oddly accessorized hosts crank-call Christian evangelist types. Long, debate-y, often very strange conversations ensue live on the phone, sometimes for the length of the show. Scott YouTube-linked some of the best.

Destined Destiny:
Must-see promo video from a forthcoming unauthorized autobiography of George W. Bush. Concocted by the creators of The Onion, the book will allow “Bush” to alter the image of him created by “…the media criticizers” and “counter that propaganda with a little bit of common-sense biographizing.” We’ll have to see how “funny” this parody is (Oct. 17th), but the promo video is brilliant.

Kuchar Brothers:
Speaking of moving pictures, Jim and I watched Mike and George Kuchar‘s The Sins of the Fleshapoids last night. The film has been hen-pecked so much in underground cinema circles, that finally seeing it after all these years was a bit of a letdown. However, all was redeemed when we watched the two other films on the disc (all included on Other Cinema’s excellent new Kuchar Bros. DVD); The Secret of Wendel Samson (starring weirdo pop artist Red Grooms) and The Craven Sluck. We were alternately hypnotized and choking-with-laughter. Truly odd – they were all some of the funniest, weirdest, dreamiest films we’ve seen in a long time – the best thing we rented from Netflix all month.

I think you’re very:
Here’s the very rarely seen video for The Flying Lizards’ “TV” single, which I’m not sure even aired much of anywhere when it came out in 1979 (early 80?). YouTube has pretty much all of The Flying Lizard’s videos now, which were pretty hard to come by just a few years ago. Here’s the video for “Money” (here’s a Top of the Pops ‘live’ performance of that song) and here’s the video for the much later “Dizzy Miss Lizzie.” By the way, my Flying Lizards website is back up (about 80% of it) following a long hiatus after leaving it’s original server.

Boody’s Babe:
The Animation Archive re-prints an entire comic by a little known 20th century funny pages-guy; Boody Rogers. Read his totally screwy Babe from the 1970’s (a very ‘early MAD‘ parody of L’il Abner) in it’s entirety. Here’s a bit more info on Boody Rogers, here a tiny bit more. Slightly offset color printing and Benday dots have never been so exquisitely preserved!

Hopey’s crow’s feet:
Speaking of great comics… gasp! Someone has created an entire timeline for all of the characters in Jamie Hernadez’s Love and Rockets comic book series. I squibbled over every obsessive detail. There’s a lengthy character index too (in case you didn’t know – Love and Rockets is still being created after a brief hiatus in the 1990’s, and all the characters are now aging in real time).

Haw Satan!
Aw, and what the hell, here’s Daniel Clowes’ early and still spot-on Jack Chick parody Devil Doll, in it’s entirety. Now that Ghost World and Art School Confidential have been made into films, will someone please make this tiny Satanic comic into possibly one of the most hysterical films of all time? Maybe it could be animated.

Best worst album cover:

The ex-hippie, anti-hippe, hippie drop out band Hot Poop were the apocalyptic, “no borders”-types who probably cheered on the Manson Family murders and laughed at Altamont. Hot Poop recorded their one and only LP Does Their Own Stuff! in 1971, and topped off the collection of “songs” with an album cover concept unrivaled in it’s purity of vision. The front photo features all members of the band in a barn, shooting up (except one, who seems to have expired), and to the left of them is a guy taking a dump. On the back, the whole band is gleefully flashing the camera, except all of the male and female genitalia have been reversed. Here’s a little scoop on them. The album has just recently been re-issued on CD. Yep. Royalties?

We put the “terror” in terrorism:
Suffer from “air rage?” Fear someone on your flight might be suffering from “air rage” which gives you a “fear of flying?” Has your multilayered fear caused you to want to check up on and mathematically calculate every possible airplane crash statistic? Airline by airline? Airport by airport? You’ll fine everything you want to know at Is this the scariest website ever?

Well-known racial epithet:
“To Slur or Not to Slur?” – does some neardish search-query math concerning the oppressive “n-word” debate.


Guillaume Duchenne’s fake smile

Ever fake a smile for so long that your facial muscles are bogged down by a dull, sore pain for an eternity afterwards? Ever watch a beauty pageant contestant on television and think that it must be absolute torture having to force a giant dazzling smile for five hours straight? Ever pose for a high school yearbook photo? Although the study of rigid social etiquette and it’s possibly serious detrimental effects on human anatomy over time (perhaps leading to evolutionary mutations) was never Guillaume Duchenne’s goal – he was definitely on the right track to be able to do so. Guillaume Duchenne (aka: Duchenne de Boulogne) was a French neurologist who lived from 1806 to 1875. His specialty was uncovering the root causes of muscle/nerve disorders, and in in doing so he developed electrodiagnosis and electrotherapy. Duchenne would one-by-one stimulate every superficial muscle on subjects (particularly the face) by touching the skin with electrically charged rods and wires. The combined effects of this observation in different types of patients allowed him to create a kind of map that traced the cause and effect of the complex interconnected muscles and nerves (and brain) in the human body. He even invented the concept of the medical “biopsy,? by using a tiny hollowed out “harpoon? which he would use to penetrate subjects’ skin and extract pieces of muscle tissue for examination. During a few low points in his career as a medical researcher, Duchenne turned into a bit of a travelling showman; he built his very own electrical box-like machine and carried it with while venturing door-to-door at hospitals and institutions, seeking out patients with peculiar, undiagnosable muscular disorders. He would then offer to use his process of applying electricity to the subject’s skin, called “faradism,? to try and diagnose the problem and create a treatment for it. Lots of interesting photos were taken. Sinister looking? Yep. But Duchenne ended up a hero; he created groundbreaking research in the study of muscle paralysis, and his work laid down the blueprint for what we know today as modern neurology – not to mention the cause-and-effect behind a zillion regrettable, forced-smile, blank-eyed high school yearbook photos.


Perreo Chacalonero Para Ninos? Solla Solla Enna Peruma!

Two videos on YouTube:

1. This one, which is also surreally featured at the very end of this (non-English language) news footage, and explains a bit.

2. Then this one, which is actually part of this.


Emails! I get emails!

Subject: Earth was a scandal. My double in NY shone his plug-ons 4 my wife Madonna.
From: “Mark Allen?
Date: Tue, April 4, 2006 8:28 am
Priority: Normal

“The naming of Cats is a difficult matter. It isn’t just one of your every day games. You may think that I’m (Mark’s) as M.a.d. as a hatter??? But what’s in a name? Who will it be? Who will it be??

(The addressing of Cats. [The {allocation} of Cats.] T.S. Elliott/ Andrew Lloyd Webber, Cats.)

Cardboard – DUMP.
Laminate – RAISE.

Apple Core – DUMP.
Shiny Pear – RAISE.

Virgin Mary – RAISE.
Non-Virgin Mary – Stoned in other closest dimension. Dead. Non- Virgin Mary horny anyhow, creates copy anyhow…Shhh! Mary Magdalene quietly to transporter 2000 please. No, this new door please. No pre-wash, digital scan for digital man as of now please. Fuck the miniature crystal microscopy, are you mad……I want to orb there before my beard grows back. You know how super lovers attract attention even at the quietest gates, but God aint here again and I don’t know if he has enough evidence to get us through the final eliminations. I’m still trading under the J and C initials they allocated me and these M.D.A. one’s don’t seem as “Lovey? on the other side than they were hyped up to be. Gina Reilly and Kylie Minogue have enough trouble keeping their goodies de-magnetised from their negative counter parts and Madonna has all her pockets jamm packed with V, X and the other parts of MDA or Love that she obviously thought were more important than they actually turned out to manifest. I’m way bored of explaining even before I’ve begun but and a whole heap of other knock-offs don’t compare to the best one who knows exactly what photos to stream into the once again new upgraded re-re added Cher’s touring again information that nobody seems to give a stuff about in every city in every galaxy anyhow.

Smile for the internet flying camera’s, but anyone who can’t determine when we are being sincere or sarcastic is probably trying to belittle a crap negative thought I’d probably explained seven times before in different pictures, quotes, e-mails, faxes and everything else you’ve also tried to do but……….


a few quotes, personal photos of a foreign 1 wall short spanned art exhibition and a few newspaper headings are………..



BUT HERE’S HOW IT WORKS…The final key remains with me. You DON’T want it. It returns along the safer Holy doors for speed and cost efficiency to be saved even more for the new world eternity or whenever we choose to leave. Some things, as I’m sure you’re aware, can and can’t be done, so we trade places with each other, pop stars..going up to..people on the street and large crowd scans which all get re-allocated at any future mediatations, either easily or tightly pulled for non-novices.

For example, you have the nose hair/mucous samples but I have the meth samples of minute optic wires to be analysed and not even confirmed. On top of that, you may send it to a lab with dodgy technicians. So I therefore have the lab degree to have my own people do the testing (even multiple testing could have all manipulated results.) But then you back me up by having the industry experience, whereby I have the letters i sent anyhow, dated, which were never returned under the Messianic e-mail of but always for when I was sending normal employment applications for jobs to see which company would hire me or try to get me in for an interview just to p**s me off. But bam! You’re in the Hilton matrix, um, as per M A Cum.comb, on the stairs, we all know that, and onto Hilton Stage 2, trying to work out why Paris is trying to re-trace your vow of poverty mission from the East American Coast To the North American coast? Kylie’s dressing up like Madonna, Elton’s bagging Cher and Once again today I, Mark Allen, am being blamed for faeces, World Hunger and every disease that causes no good cash flow back to the polite Nazi’s at the Commonwealth games opening passing the keys and burning flame through the swatch sticker that every body thinks is yet another piece of weird art.

Yawn. Boring.

Be like, short and consistent.

Who needs reverse messages in Every Madonna etc. song when no one wants to listen unless forced. You call it “Making your Mark, over coming challenges?, I call it “f__king humiliating, I’ll take your money here, but do your non-monetary business somewhere else. Then we’ll see who’s slamming. I don’t do whore forever.?

What good is it to have the reverse messages of Mozart’s Requiem when everyone’s telepathic except me but I have to go 6 years over deadline just to proove a fact that “we can take it.? Be careful Hollywood, diss me or Mark this time, we have websites. I don’t want to be a bitch anymore. Madonna still keeps signing but not doing, so let’s see who the “Real? Mark Allen double is. or the one that mirrored himself back reversed on himself and then said that he wasn’t there anymore:

Go sik him tiger…..Grrr! We know false images when we see them….or do we? Which witch is which?

I’m giving you a few days before I e-mail the other Mark Allen’s, “I believe in you? (Kylie Minogue, future sister)

Over typing.

Your way’s much quicker. F__king bandwidth.

Now use that radio station don’t stop till we’re both on the Six O Clock news from North to West of the globe.

This might help you Ha Ha HA HA HA

Take this hand full of celebrities and mix them round. Madonna f’d me round for years, but now I’m moving to this one. When you’ve got no one to turn to, and everyone’s work is over-done, Then only Mark Allen sprinkled with christ_tales can succeed with WWW.MARKANDMADONNA.COM

mERRY cHRISTMAS sEXY…fROM yOURSELF. (Spell check overun, send quickly, dinner, pipe, relax,..)

E-MAIL:, (Aust-in, Side Knee, Me-Lbo-U-R-Ne) A-US-TRAIL-LA

Character List:

Australia: Mark Allen (23 Years) Brunette.
London: Mr. Harlee De Vaal.(2 Years, incl millenium) Incl. Ibiza,
Spain/Amstedam/Christiania dr*g commune Copenhagen, Sweden, America (NYC-Las
Vegas-SF-Gas Lamp District-Tihjuana2dayer (bribed police on dr*g charges, more than once, Gas Lamp District, SF-London)
Mykonos, Greece: Red (3 months, reduced season)
Japan: Red (6 hours, get me out of here!). Blond
San Francisco: 2 years, brunette, after week 3. Incl. travel to Reno, Chicago,
Boston, Sandwich, Provence Town, NYC 2 ID, working visa, back to Sf with last of money with forever excuse of making huge pounds in London.
Hollywood: 2 years. Many parties Hollywood Hills, not City or downtown.
Bus trip to Reno again, Chicago, Towards Montreal, can’t get through Canadian New offices/computers border with old crumpled photo of Passport, taxied back to American Old cluttered departmet/1980’s computer’s side for processing so Canada didn’t have to pay.

Extended three weeks of prison into six just to be difficult, which gave me a chance to provoke trouble, be moved around three cells and write a 12 page letter with song diagrams of the labeeled CD’s in my bag in Forward and Reverse order saying why I was in america in the first place, to be kidnapped by aliens who make me say ridiculous things which promote them and belittle me for an extra sniff in the afternoon, travelling about 8 times between SF and La which is the Golden Gate and the City of Lost Angels. Yawn.

He was all pleased to get out of the Offices of Foreign affairs and up to the snowy prison with hotel room for the “we never get many from Australia requesting to see someone from our New York Offices very often. I jumped at the chance to meet you.? “Good, we have a lot to cover. I’ve undercovered all the conspiracies in the prison system here for you. I’ve written them down for you. There’s a four page copy in the Governer’s hall which is that shiny window right over there, and names of prison guards and prisoners involved are safe in my cell. I’ll send you a copy of the next 38 pages, I would have bought it to the interview room, but I haven’t signed it at the bottom yet and you are not allowed to go back to get it, you know that. So after you give me mailing address, name, e-mail and business card, I’ll send it to you. I’ll also require the name of your correspondants in Australia and make sure youi answering machine is answered every day. Sorry about the ugly mohawk on me, but they took my second photo’s for my temp passport to get me out of here. Oh, of course I’ll be having double police escort home, you can’t just wave me off at San Francisco. …And don’t complain, you had two chances to nab me in SF and LA. you’ll need to check the police report, one titled, The Messiah called out of Maverick records who just sits out the front with Madonna, Diana and Kylie books, waiting for deportation after 4 yaers on a 3 week visa, but unable for a ‘different department’, and the “turn right through this doorway, coin path office? SF bus terminal strangle episode after being dropped off at 11:50 closing at 12 How do you say and alien kidnapped you for the last 3 months: jail and back onto the street, here’s your passport, door’s that way.

Yawn crack. Whip. Call.

Aust Syd NSW 0*** *** ***
+61 *** *** ***

“Every Little Thing That You Say Or Do, I’m Hung Up. I’m Tired of Waiting on you.?

Only Mark Allen will do.

got it.

If he screws me over, .com is the man.


Surprise Mark Allen. No one knows you better than you. Madonna sends her love. Trust


The actual biology of sci-fi B-movie monsters

There’s always gonna be someone there to ruin the “fun.? And why not? Exposing the fake behind the fun is often half the fun, if not all of it! I myself had often wondered while watching such gonzo classics as King Kong, The Amazing Colassal Man or One Million Years B.C.; what are the the actual physics governing the drastic change-in-size of someone, compared to the unchanged size of the world all around them? How can a giant lizard creature like Godzilla be so huge, but stil maintain the shape of a reptile? I mean… we all know he’s a radioactive mutant, but would it really be possible for a creature to grow in size like that and still maintain the structure of it’s organs and bone mass? Wouldn’t increased gravity rip it apart? In Richard Fleischer’s 1966 film Fantastic Voyage, when the scientist plucks a super shrunk-down Raquel Welch and gang from the corner of the guy’s eye at the end, they seem to be sitting on top a single giant dome of water, but in microscopic close-up they’re sploshing around in a kiddie pool of “tear duct fluid.? A small droplet of water behaves like a cohesive sphere when tiny, but a border-less mess when large. Wouldn’t water be like thick syrup to a microscopic person? Or just a bunch of giant, solid, beach-ball sized molecules all globbed together? How could Grant Williams in Jack Arnold’s 1957 film The Incredible Shrinking Man, actually breath if the dust in the air was like giant airplanes swatting at him? Not to mention trying to inhale the size of the air molecules themselves? In Nathan Juran’s 1958 The Attack of the 50-Foot Woman, how could Allison Hayes’ gargantuan gazongas maintain their temperature, not to mention their smooth, sexy-skin surface?

Michael C. LaBarbera, a professor of Organismal Biology and Anatomy, Geophysical Sciences, and the Committee on Evolutionary Biology at The College of The University of Chicago has put together a cohesive, and very fun study of just that subject. Flipping through a roster of drive-in, late-night TV classics – he playfully analyzes their probability, explaining exactly why “it couldn’t happen.? Be sure to check out the end, as he uses human facial-recognition statistics to prove why E.T. the Extra Terrestrial really isn’t cute and adorable to human audiences.

Click here to read Michael LaBarbera’s excellent and fun essay: The Biology of B-Movie Monsters. Now excuse me while I go remind viewers of the latest Captain Marvel serial that, at the end of the previous episode, he never got out of the cockadoodie car.