Mark Allen's Top Ten for September 20th, 2004:
Copyright 2004 Mark Allen

    I'm sorry for my lazy lag lately, allegiant drones... (doesn't 'Lazy Lag Lately' sound like the name of a slow dance at a barnyard hootenanny?)  Anyhoo... I have been busy with life and a few "real" writing assignments. In fact, I am still busy with those things. So to make it up to you, sort of, I am going to have ten entries in this latest Top Ten (that's zero more than usual... and zero-less!)  However... the inevitable razor blade in my cherry pie offer is this: it will be made of, not cherries, but of sausage... chain... cuff... missing... hot... that's right: LINKS! Links galore and very little type-age by me. Sorry forks... oops, I mean folks. Next time around, you can look forward to more relentlessly long cathode ray word-epics, from my brain to my hands to some server and then back up through your eyeballs and into your brain... again (wow... doesn't that sentence sound like the words to the barnyard hootenanny song 'Lazy Lag Lately'?)

Shhhh... Carl Gruenler, vice president of military and government operations for American Technology Corp.,
proudly displays the "Long Range Acoustic Device."

1. Long Range Acoustic Device
    I wanted to write at length about this thing... but here are a bunch of links. The band that makes this their primary instruments will be my new favorite band. BoingBoing write-up (and tons of great links) here. ABC news link here. MSNBC story link here. CNN link here.
    This device is somewhat similar, of course, to Bill Jenkins' Feraliminal Lycanthropizer, which was supposedly employed by Nazis during World War II, and was also reportedly used by the US National Security Administration during and after the Viet Nam War when interrogating subjects.


2. Matt Taibbi's review of Kitty Kelly's new Bush-bashing book "The Family"
    I was dying reading this excellent review of Kitty Kelly's new book "The Family" that someone emailed me.* I have read some reviews and interviews with Kelly, that were rather predictable. But now, after reading Matt Taibbi's review... suddenly the pages are calling to me like it was God's will... and making me wonder if his review is better than the actual work it's critiquing. Taibbi writes:
    "Kelley's book is - unintentionally I think - a surprisingly tender portrait of a small, loyal group of vicious undead fiends, persevering against all odds in a world of the callous, uncomprehending living. Kelley does what no other writer to date has really done for the Bushes: she actually makes you admire them for their remarkable ability to remain consistently cold, calculating, predatory and unscrupulous in generation after generation after generation."
    I think people are starting to plug into the sick glamour of the Bush family's climb to the top, and our current president's nauseatingly lurid persona... it's Hollywood gleam. Tolerate it or loathe it, there a monster movie forming in our midst... a real toenail-curling campside horror yarn that'll have future generations pee-pee-ing their pants. Could a film version of Kelly's tome be the "Showgirls" of the 2000's?
    Read Matt Taibbi's excellent review of the book here.
* thanks to Bill W. for sending me this

"The first rule of subterranean Parisian catacomb cinema club is..."

3. Paris Underground cinema (literally)
    Fascinating: here. A little less fascinating but still interesting: here.

"i m very sory for the for the delament so by known can assur you to be exepeting the payment because my clint
assur me you soon get the paymen"

4. Nigerian 419 scam scammer
    You know those Nigerian 419 spam emails that are (probably) popping up in your box all the time? These far-reaching scams have an endless variety, and are apparently the third to fifth largest industry in Nigeria. Despite their ridiculous initial appearance... they actually work more than you could imagine.
   This particular woman, an Indiana horse farmer, was a frequent recipient of these scam emailers... who targeted her online ads selling horses. She got so many of them, that she decided there wouldn't be any harm in stringing them along as long as she possibly could (a pretty long time)... any putting every step of it up on her webpage* - I died from laughter reading these. Recommended.
* thanks to Jim (not my jim, another Jim) for sending me this


5. Senior Yearbook Photos
    Sometimes the simplest things in the world make me cry with laughter. This is some guy's selection of high school yearbook photos (with eyes blacked out for identity politeness) that he has found on the web. He ads appropriate comments. Some of them truly have to be seen to be believed. I can't believe, looking at these, how surreally sophisticated high school yearbook photos have become. Jeeze! What happened to posing in front of a gray metallic Olan Mills background with awful hair and clothes that you wouldn't be caught dead in otherwise?
    Here is the link (hit the 'next' button to start). And, just to be fair... here is MY senior yearbook photo. Totally, totally boring in comparison.


6. "The Brown Bunny" (dir: Vincent Gallo, 2004)
    I recently saw Vincent Gallo's "The Brown Bunny" and found it to be a very dreamy and enjoyable film, very refreshing. I can't believe how well he was able to capture, perhaps by accident, the energy of a solitary road trip across country. The film's bland, neutral, often boring energy captures the reluctantly contemplative and strung-out, ass-sore vibe that matches a similar month-long road trip I took across the USA in 2001, which had, during one phase of the trip, a weirdly similar climax that matches this film's in more ways that I care to admit. The ad campaign surrounding "The Brown Bunny" mathmatically equals it's nostalgic, zoned-out, warm-fuzzy non-world. If you like those minimally crass and bluntly retro posters and billboards, and that odd coming attraction that played in a couple of art houses... then you'll definitely dig the film.
    I recommend it... I found it to be very interesting, not great... just of it's own weird unique energy, which I really enjoyed. It also has a very surreal (and brave) cameo by Cheryl Tiegs (shouldn't all road movies?) Apparently... this version is 20 minutes shorter than the version which was mocked at Cannes. I can't wait for the DVD to come out, which I hope includes the longer version... that's how much I enjoyed it.
    Funny interview with Gallo in the NYC gay mag HX (and accompanying photos), as well as an equally quizzical one in Next.

7. Rambling but fascinating speech given by Philip K. dick at Disneyland in 1978
   "How To Build a Universe That Doesn't Fall Apart Two Days Later" - a speech given by Philip K. Dick at Disneyland in 1978, and later published here in 1985, after his death. From thisPKD site (found through Fun read if your into PKD.


8. "Ain't no sawbones quack gonna apply his leeches to me!"
    While I'm a reluctant dissenter of the "What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger" school of thought, I must say this might be evidence in support of it. I know a bandage full of writing maggots strapped to a wound on my skin for a week might heal the gash... but would open a whole host of mental wounds that may never heal.
    Get in touch with your Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman here.

"Torture Land... Explosion Land... Searing Gas Pain Land... Unnecessary Surgery Land... hmm..."

9. Online gallery of amusement/theme park maps
    For some reason the 1950's - 1970's maps seem a lot better than the modern ones... I'm old.
    Here is the link. Part of a larger site here.

"What do YOU think Linda?"

10. The "I have a part in tonight's play" scene from "Fahrenheit 451" (1966, dir: Francois Truffaut)
    The origin of "Fahrenheit 451" is a story by science fiction writer Ray Bradbury (written in 1951 as a short, then expanded into a novel in 1953) which was turned into a film by Francois Truffaut in 1966 (the film is, of course, a much more simplified version of the novel).
    For you young'uns who might not be familiar, the book/film imagines a future society where reading and all forms of text are forbidden... because reading "gives people bad ideas" and a non-thinking public is the way the government likes it. People are never taught to read in school, and most citizens spend their time watching government-controlled television, popping tranquilizers, servicing in menial jobs and sitting around having bland conversations, all the while thinking nothing of it because their minds have been starved into an animalistic state of functional, lobotomized bliss. There are, or course, dissenters... who remember a past with books and reading... and who harbor highly illegal books in secret locations and share them in secret reading societies... under the constant threat of the law.
    Guy Montag (Oskar Werner) is employed by the government as a fireman, who rather than putting fires out, burns books when they are found. His wife, Linda (Julie Christie) spends her days at home watching endless government-controlled television, popping mood pills and having her friends over for weak tea and a shallow pow-wow.
    I've been thinking a lot about our current political climate, and weirdly shadowy, corporate media buffet... and one thing keeps popping into my head over and over... the scene in "Fahrenheit 451" where Linda Montag is under the impression that she is going to be part of a "play" on television (as part of a show called 'The Family' in which all it's loyal viewers are called 'cousins'). One part of "The Family" show is supposedly missing, and the actors on the show stop the action and look at the viewer whenever it's time for one of their "lines." Of course, every night, a different common name is put in place of the "actor" at home who will participate in the production... and the government calls up every person in the country with that first name and tells them they are going to "be on television" and to tune in and land their big moment in show biz. Everyone is to brain dead to question anything about their reality... so it all works perfectly.
    Linda, of course, falls for the whole thing hook, line and sinker. She, along with every other Linda in the country tuning into the show, sits there in her living room and says her lines towards the pre-taped show on her TV screen (when a little alarm prompts her to do so)... actually believing she's on TV. The scene is brilliant... very funny and also highly creepy. An even more chilling revelation occurs afterwards, when Guy (who eventually rebels and joins the reading underground) calls her on the delusory nature of the whole "TV play" scenario and it turns out her willing suspension (suspicion?) of disbelief may not reach as far as it appears... she perhaps is "going with the flow."
    So, welcome America 2004, to your own Linda Montag.
    I've actually performed the highly neardy task of transcribing the entire scene from the film for your reading pleasure here. Otherwise, I highly recommend reading the novel, or renting the film (which is available in a stunning, crisp, DVD version).

Linda:  Oh hurry, hurry! I'll be on in a minute! Quickly, quickly!
Guy:  I don't understand, how can you be in a play?
Linda: Well they've written a play you see... with one part missing, and that's me! When the people look at me, then I have to speak. They ask me a question and I have to say what I think. Oh... the play! It's beginning! Ohhhh!

(Linda and Guy settle down in front of the large TV screen. Cut to screen, onto which an image fades of a female announcer sitting in a chair facing the viewers)

Announcer on TV screen:  And now, for cousins everywhere, our Family Theater! Come... play with us. Naturally, in what you are about to see, any similarity with the truth or with real life would be purely coincidental. Do bear that in mind. So... will you come play with us?

(Cut to Linda and Guy, who just stare at the screen)

Announcer:  You will? Good! I thought you would! Come in cousins... be one of the family!

(Image on screen fades into two male characters dressed in black, one with large eyeglasses. They are standing still on a cheap stage set, having a hammy, overly-dramatic conversation with each other)

Character #1:  See here Charles, do you realize what a dilemma this is? It's terribly difficult! I don't see any way out of it all!
Character #2:  Oh come, come, come Bert! Of course there's a way out. Now there are thirteen of us so far, right? You want to invite Edwards as well, which makes fourteen!
Character #1:  Yes but if someone is ill Charles, then we shall be back to thirteen again!
Character #2:  Precisely! Then we just invite more people!
Character #1:  That's an idea!
Character #2:  Now what about Lottie and James? That'll make sixteen. Then if somebody's ill, we at least we won't be thirteen will we?
Character #1:  Mmm... but then there's the problem of the rooms Charles. Lottie has two children Charles, two little boys, Freddy and Little John.

(The two characters move closer towards the camera, in front of a fake window frame that has a red light on it)

Character #2:  I don't see any problem there at all! We can put the children in, well... in Helen's room for instance!

(Suddenly the red light starts to blink and a buzzing alarm sound is heard, Character #2 looks right into the camera as it pulls up close on his face, he says loudly)

Character #2: (staring at camera) What do YOU think Linda?

(The alarm continues to sound and there is a long gap in the two characters' conversation. Cut to Linda, who looks nervously at the screen and tries to speak, but hesitates too long and doesn't know what to say)

Guy: (motioning towards the screen) Well go ahead now... they're waiting for you!
Linda: (hesitantly, nervous, stuttering) I... uh, I think that...

(Cut back to screen, light and alarm stop and Character #2 looks back at Character #1 as camera pulls back)

Character #2:  You see? Linda agrees with me! Lottie's children must go in with Helen's children of course! Linda's absolutely right.
Character #1: (sighing) Well then there's the problem of the seating Charles... I think I've got something worked out though.

(Shot of Guy and Linda sitting on the floor watching. Guy is looking back and forth from Linda to the screen, taking in the whole spectacle with quizzical curiosity. Linda is sitting upright with her hands clasped around her legs, watching the screen with rapt, reverent attention. Cut back to screen)

Character #1:  Look, if we put Evonne at the head of the table, and Richard at her right...
Character #2: (interrupting) Oh no, no, no Bert! Richard isn't even speaking to Evonne these days!
Character #1:  Oh?
Character #2:  Because of Leslie.

(Shot of Linda, smiling and getting caught up in characters who's story she's obviously familiar with. Cut back to screen)

Character #1:  Oh!
Character #2:  Madeline must be at the head of the table! Besides which Madeline is older than Evonne, she might even be older than Jackie.
Character #1:  Oh!
Character #2:  No I see no problem there. We put Madeline at the head of the table. It's Madeline... isn't it Linda?

(Camera zooms in on Character #2 who looks into camera again, light and alarm go off)
(Cut to shot of Linda, she enthusiastically delivers a line in time)

Linda:  Absolutely!

(Linda looks over at Guy, smiling proudly. Guy responds with a resigned look. Cut back to screen)

Character #1: (camera pulls back) Well, if Linda thinks it's all right well then of course it must be! But there's still the problem about the rooms Charles.
Character #2:  Well what rooms are left? There's the pink room! We can always put Lilian in the pink room!
Character #1:  And we could put Susan in the green room! Where can we put Monica?
Character #2:  Yes! What can we do with Monica?

(Camera zooms in on Character #2 who looks into camera again, light and alarm go off)

Character #2:  Do YOU have the answer Linda?

(Cut to Linda)

Linda: (looking somewhat hesitant) In... in the blue room?

(Cut back to screen. Camera pulls back on both characters who look at each other)

Character #2:  Linda, you're right!
Character #1: (thrilled) She's right!

(Both characters look right at the camera, and say in unison:)

Character #1 and Character #2: Linda... you're absolutely FANTASTIC!

(Screen fades out, camera pans down to Linda and Guy)

Linda: (looking at Guy excitedly) You saw it didn't you? I gave all the right answers! Wasn't it wonderful! I could've been an actress don't you think so?

(Scene jump cuts to later, Linda and Guy in bed. Guy is reading a comics page with no text. Linda is filing her nails, taking some pills and putting an earpiece in one ear for a small television set she has on the bedside table next to her)

Guy:  Think what?
Linda:  That I could've been an actress?
Guy: (distracted) Oh sure... you could have been an actress.
Linda (pensive) I wonder if Joyce was watching? I do hope so. I must ring her tomorrow and find out what she thought.
Guy (a bit annoyed) How did you get the part?
Linda:  The head of the family rang me up! Me! And said I was to be in tonight's play!
Guy:  Oh Linda... they must have called every one of the 200,000 Lindas in the whole country!
Linda: (reacting unhappily) That's not true!

(Linda is annoyed, she looks away and slams down her nail file... takes a gold pill, puts the earpiece in her ear angrily)

Linda:  And even if it were true you didn't have to tell me.... (pausing)  that was very mean!

Copyright 2004 Mark Allen

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