Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (Guy Ritchie, 2011)



When I was in college, back in the eighties, a friend of mine had a cartoon on his door that showed two men outside a movie theater.  One guy is telling the other that he didn't know if the movie he was good or not, but "it was worth the price of admission just to experience the illusion of motion created by a rapidly projected series of still images on a screen."

That pretty much describes my reaction to Guy Ritchie's latest film, the sequel to 2009's Sherlock Holmes.  Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law are re-united as Holmes and Watson, Aurther Conan Doyle's Victorian crime stopping odd-couple.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Neat Neat Neat


The Damned, Dave Vanian, Captain
Sensible, bass player, Rat Scabies
Growing up in Stultified, Ohio, I lived for the unusual.  Living in a town with a library that removed offense articles from magazines and record store that featured only family friendly music, stimulation was hard to come by.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Thirsty for Love-Sex and Murder Online!

I wrote about Thirsty for Love-Sex and Murder ( in its native tongue, Aska Susayanlar) before (read about it here). It is available at Google Video. Loads of fun and only an hour long, I highly recommend it. Subtitled.



Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Commune (Elisabeth Fies, 2009)

Despite a shocking opening that turns Sophocles on his head, 2009's The Commune quickly turns itself into a family melodrama that seems too familiar, but is also too alluring to dismiss.   Spotlighting pretty, blonde Jenny (Chauntal Lewis), an adolescent in full "You just don't understand" mode who doesn't want to spend her 16th birthday away from her best buds.  Mom (played by writer-director Elisabeth Fies) has had enough of her daughter's hormonally charged, emotional hemorrhaging and needs some time to herself.  So off Jenny goes, to visit her visit her estranged father at his commune in the mountains.  

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Sometimes my mind wanders

Since Gilligan's graphic is more interesting,
I used it as the banner for this post. 
 
 Retrospace, is one of my favorite places on the Internet.   If you have any curiosity about what life looked like in the good old days, an hour or two at Gilligan's site is time well spent.  I saw this worthy posting the other day and it got me thinking about Josie and the Pussycats, my first taste of sex and rock and roll.  Of course the drugs leg of the triangle would come from Scoobie Doo's Shaggy, but that wouldn't be until I was in college.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Ken Russell dead at 84

One of my favorite film makers, director Ken Russell died this week.  John T. at Shocks to the System  shared from his personal experience as a film student under Russell's tutelage and Aylmer at Unflinching Eye  wrote a short but very insightful analysis of Russell's films and relationship to British cinema.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Post Thanksgiving Trailer a thon-I have been warned

It seems that our trip to New England has left me bedridden for the the day.  My tools to fight boredom between naps are a laptop, an Internet connection, and a set of DVDs Named Horror  Do Not Watch Alone.  Curiously, the discs identify themselves as "Do not watch" when I put them in my laptop.

Friday, November 18, 2011

What I am watching tonight: Dracula's Fiancee (2002, Jean Rollin)

There are a handful of directors that I love purely because of their beautiful visual style; I just want to grab individual frames from their movies, blow them up to poster size and decorate my house with them.

Jean Rollin is one of those directors.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Insomniac Theater Presents: My (Pretty lame for a guy that calls hmself a horror movie fan) Shocktober Movie List


The Halloween Spirit  appeared, for the first time this year, on Friday night when Adrienne and I went to see The Rocky Horror Picture Show,  a loving tribute to many of the movies I saw as a kid.  This was the first time in (way) over two decades that I had been to a "live" RHPS showing.  Fortunately it wasn't at midnight because there is no way I could have stayed up that late.

It was a great show; in addition to the antics in the audience, there was a fairly well choreographed stage show.  Many of the men and woman in the audience wore jaw-droppingly revealing costumes, often made up of bustiers, lingerie and thigh high stockings held in place with a garter belt.  I was hoping to see amongst the usual Playboy Bunnys, sexy nurses, maids, stewardesses and pirate babes, some serious female role model type  costumes like Slutty Secretary of State or Supreme Court Dominatrix.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Curiosity Killed the Cat

Today was a beautiful fall day, high around 70 degrees.  There is a definite advantage to living in southern Georgia.  I am taking it as pay back for the crushingly hot summer.  How did I choose to celebrate this beautiful gift of a day?  By stretching out on the couch in my big fluffy bathrobe and watching Twilight (Catherine Hardwicke, 2008).

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Thing (Matthijis van Heijningen, 2011)


I just came from watching (the prequel to) 1982's The Thing, confusingly enough also called The Thing and I am  giving it a 3/4 jar full of change (I am looking for an original icon to use to rate movies) of terror.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Insomniac Theater Presents: Salome's Last Dance (Ken Russell, 1988)



Last night, my cat Olivia and I watched Ken Russell's Salome's Last Dance (1988), and wow, what a blast. I can't think of any director I have been as devoted to as Ken Russell. Looking at his IMDB page, I have watched ten of the 19 feature films listed.


Just like his earlier film, The Boyfriend (1971, with Twiggy and 6 foot, 6 inch dancer Tommy Tune), Salome's Last Dance presents itself as a story within a story. However, instead of focusing equally on the actual setting of the play, Salome is almost solely about a performance of Oscar Wilde's banned play, Salome, for it's author,  by staff and customers of a brothel.

Russell's love of literature was also featured in 1988's Gothic, about the famous, 19th century, horror story writing contest that produced both Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and John Polidori's The Vampyre.  Experienced as a laudanum induced hallucination, the viewer gets to see, among other things, breasts with eyes for nipples and Henry Fusell's painting, The Nightmare, come to life as the Shelleys, Lord Byron and other guests attempt to outdo (and undo) each other

Russell's flamboyant, visual style was completely unleashed in 1975's The Who's Tommy, which took viewer on an insane, psychedelic trip.  Resist the urge to watch this movie under the influence of drugs, the film is hallucinogenic enough.  Tina Turner's performance of "The Acid Queen" will tear your soul apart.  And you will never forget Ann Margaret, all in white, writhing on on the floor in front of a television screen, ejaculating baked beans (an allusion to the cover of an early Who album).




Tommy starred Oliver Reed.  Reed is best know (to me) as the hairy chested  Leon in Hammer's 1961 Curse of the Werewolf.  He was nominated for an Oscar for his role in Ridley Scott's massively overrated Gladiator ( I know it is a great film, but believe that sometimes the weight of sadness that must crush Russell Crowe is so overwhelming that many nights, he goes in his study, stares at his Best Actor Oscar and weeps in shame, knowing that it belongs to Chow Yun Fat for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.)

Reed played Urban Grandier in Russell's 1971 The Devils, a stew of sex, religion, political intrigue, hysteria, and lesbian nun sex.  Clearest memory, besides the big orgy wherein a statue of Christ is sexually assaulted by a bunch of "possessed" nuns, is the arrival of the witch hunter, who leads his entourage onto the scene like a rock star complete with long hair and purple tinted glasses.









Anyway, Salome's Last Dance is a visual treat as the lounge in the bordello becomes transformed into the setting of Wilde's play.  Wilde's prose, mostly unadulterated, flows from the mouths of the elegantly costumed whores and johns in a delightful cadence.  Imogen Millais-Scott, as Salome, captivates the viewers eyes as she prances around the stage, the petulant teen-ager whose desires lead to her undoing.  




Tuesday, August 9, 2011

This Sh*t P*sses Me Off!


I am tired of people forwarding me emails or exhorting me to copy-and-paste their facebook status to mine, espousing the fallacious belief that America can be saved from its debt crisis if I and my family would buy only American products from locally owned businesses.  Even more so tonight when I got  one that promised "if every American spent just $64 more than normal on USA made items this year, it would create something like 200,000 new jobs" after reading about John Boehner walking away from President Obama's "grand bargain" due objections over raising revenue by "removing tax breaks for oil companies, corporate-jet owners, and hedge-fund managers." ("No 'grand bargain' on the debt ceiling," from The Week, the Best of the US and International Media, July 22, 2011, volume 11, page 2).

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Security Risk; how to avoid the "...make frustrating changes to your browser." warning.

I love living in the age of computers and the Internet.  They are two tools that have given opportunity and access to worlds I never even thought could have existed.  I can write and publish whatever I want, edit video or music at home without expensive machines (or software), and learn interesting things about people, places and things.  Occasionally, the Internet and my computer work against each other.  Sometimes when I am searching for images on the Internet, this pop-up will appear:


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Keywords

I was looking at the statistics for my blogs today and saw this on the Traffic Sources section:


I hope they found what they were looking for.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Insomniac Theater Presents: Blood on Satan's Claw (1971)



I am watching it now; the whole movie is available on YouTube

I didn't make it through last night.  I'll have to pick it up where I left off.

I first heard about this movie when I was a kid.  Channel 43, from Lorain, usually showed horror movies at 8 o'clock on Saturday nights and The Blood on Satan's Claw  was on once or twice a year (along with Don Sharp's Curse of the Fly, the Ishiro Honda's War of the Gargantuas).  Of course, since this was in the days of one television per household, we didn't watch many of these movies.  Curiously, Dad made an exception for Curse of the Fly. 

The Blood on Satan's Claw takes place in rural, 17th century England.  The tone is set early in the film when the Judge, played with extreme pomposity by Patrick Wymark, declares "Witchcraft is dead and discredited."  He quickly changes his mind when a series of bizarre and unholy events sweep through the shire.

My Scripture classes were never this interesting
Eighteen-year-old Linda Hayden gave a standout performance as Angel Blake, the leader of the nastiest church youth group since the Manson Family.  

Sometimes the pacing is a little slow, The Blood on Satan's Claw is an unusual and entertaining horror film.

Ciao, Oxford

Ciao, Oxford
I know it is a couple of weeks after the fact, but I finally got my farewell compilation to the place that had been my home for the last five years (almost to the day).

I started making mix tapes 30 years ago, when I was in college (coincidentally, that was also in Oxford).  Making audio compilations, whatever format, has always been something I have enjoyed to do.  I often listen to my favorite ones on my iPod.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

RIP Amy Winehouse (14 September 1983 – 23 July 2011)


Amy Winehouse's "Love is a Losing Game" had just started playing on my iPod, in a mix that I was preparing about my recent departure from Oxford, when I read that she was dead.  Her songs were musically very rich and often quite fun.  She blended many disparate different musical styles into a melange and fired it in the crucible of deep soul.  Plus she had a knack for an amusing turn of phrase.  



Thursday, July 7, 2011

Public Service Announcement

Starting this afternoon, I will be without the Internet for several days while moving to Georgia.  Please wish us well and appeal to whatever Higher Power(s) you may recognize that my wife does not abandon me at an isolated rest stop along the way.

M

Blogging Harry Potter: Harry Potter vs Jane Eyre (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part One)

I finally watched the penultimate chapter in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part One, (directed by David Yates).  It was a Harry Potter movie: there is some inept, magical bumbling, some righteous indignation, and the growing presence of evil.


The night before watching Deathly Hallows, I watched Jane Eyre (Robert Stevenson, 1943), with Orson Wells and Joan Fontaine.  Harry has a few, superficial similarities to the plucky, gothic heroine: they both were orphans, brought up by cruel relatives, including an overweight, obnoxious cousin, and  both were forced to live under the stairs.



Jane Eyre and Harry Potter were also had submissive relationships; Jane had Rochester in what was a very strange relationship: The more he abused and humiliated her, the stronger her love for him grew.  Much the same with Harry and Professor Snape.  Alright, that last one was a stretch, but  all poor Alan Rickman (about $11 million poor) did in this film was walk dramatically, with his giant cape flowing behind him so I felt he needed a mention.


Not surprisingly, in Harry's darkest moments, when Ron deserts him and Hermiogne, he tries to bird dog Ron's girl.  This reveals a remarkable lack of character in the seriously flawed hero that Harry would be.  Harry Potter has always been just a boy, dependant on the people around him to protect him, shelter him and make his decisions for him.  He may have extreme powers, but he lacks the knowledge of them until he gets into a bad position.  Even magical screw-up Ron does more than Harry just by leaving the group when the going gets too rough for him.  All Harry does is whine, complain and so on.  At least Jane enjoyed her submission.

So far, in his story, Harry has been proven that it is better to be lucky instead of good; and at the end of Deathly Hallows, part One, that luck seems to have turned against him.

(aargh!  Too much work and not enough sleep;  I made a huge error when I published this yesterday, falsely naming Jane Eyre's beau Heathcliff.  Heathcliff,  of course is from Wuthering Heights, which I also watched prior to writing this post.)

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Super 8

I am in the process of transitioning from one house to another, 800 miles away, so my output is going to be even more sporadic.

It is good that we saw  Super 8 last night.  Even there there were some little screw ups, the filmmakers did a fantastic job creating my life as a middle school student in 1979.  The fact that the action in takes place in south eastern Ohio, where my Dad was from, made it a bigger trip down memory lane.

They even recreated my fantasy first kiss; with a girl zombie.

As for the movie, it was pretty good even though a little predictable.  Think Stand by Me and ET had a baby.

Time to get to work.


Monday, June 6, 2011

Insomniac Theater Presents: What Amber Heard

Wednesday, June 1, 2011 01:31:27 PM


SPOILERS AHEAD!

Self Portrait of a three-year-old
Last night my three-year-old granddaughter and I recently watched 101 Dalmatians, after which she spent the next two hours running around the house yelling "15 puppies! 15 puppies!" It is amazing that she has so much energy after only three hours, 45 minutes sleep, two spoonfuls of strawberry yogurt, a package of cheese and crackers and half a gallon of milk, consumed in 8 ounce increments.

She sleeps in our bedroom and often slips into our bed and is prone to peer over my shoulder and ask, "What are you watching Pop-pop?" I have had to move my late night viewing to what used to be the office and is now discarded toy storage.

During a particularly sleepless night, I watched a double feature, 2006's All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, Jonathan Levine's first feature length film as a director and veteren filmmaker John Carpenter's 2010 The Ward.  I didn't realize it but I was in for a night of Amber Heard, a new (to me) scream queen.
Amber Heard was Mandy Lane and Kristen.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Insomniac Theater Presents: Miike Madness

Monday, May 9, 2011 10:22:00 AM

Recently, a friend returned my DVD of 2001's twisted love story Audition.  Audition was my first exposure to the to the world of Takashi Miike; I had ordered it on Amazon (pre-release!) on impulse, based entirely on the blurbs. I watched it once, then put it in the cabinet with my rusty hand grenades, dirty syringes of smack, Rush Limbaugh tirades, everything that tastes good and other unhealthy things and forgot about it.

I don't know what possessed my to take it out and share it with Steve; perhaps it was the perverse image of him watching it in his lovely, suburban living room replete with high def tv and the assorted bric-a-brac of a normal family life contrasted with the white knuckle horror of the final act was too much for me to pass up. He returned it with clenched teeth and a “don't ever do that to me again” look on his face.

Updates from the cellar

Olivia and I just finished watching a colorized Night of the Living Dead; I guess she has gotten over our Takashi Miike fest (post coming soon).  NOLD is still the scariest movie I have ever seen.

Last week I watched Audition and Ichi the Killer and have never enjoyed being repulsed so much.  I also saw the latest Harry Potter film, but haven't found much to say about it.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Problems of Leisure


Last night I saw a commercial for X-Box  that used the Gang of Four song, "Natural's Not In It," from their 1979 debut album, Entertainment. The song is a fairly straightforward rant against consumerism, the systematic creation and fostering of a desire to purchase goods and services in ever greater amounts, (Wikipedia)Even though the commercial only features the funky, grinding guitar break and no lyrics, which mock  society's attempt to find fulfillment by acquiring the newest pleasure toys.  By definition, this attempt to stay abreast is a never ending (or winnable) battle because the objective will always remain out of reach.

The problem of leisure

What to do for pleasure
Ideal love a new purchase
A market of the senses
Dream of the perfect life
Economic circumstances

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Insomniac Theater Presents: Grindhouse and Exploitation Treasures

Tuesday, April 26, 2011 08:20:16 AM

This morning Gilligan at Retrospace, the best blog for looking at the world of my childhood, published another fantastic post called 1970s Grindhouse:  You Can't Go Home Again.  In between the newspaper ads for horror and sexploitation double and triple features, he speculates on the demise the genre and reasons why it has not experienced the renaissance many thought it would.  

So, with Machete, Piranha 3D, and Drive Angry tanking at the box office, can anyone out there deny that the public at large does not want this kind of smut? Don't blame Hollywood. When it's offered in the theaters, no one goes to see it.  It's a sad example of how you may want things to be as they were, but you can never go home again.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Heavy Rotation on my iPod: The Who, Live at Leeds

I opened a door into my past when I wrote about The Kids are All Right, the 2010 tale of lesbian love, lust and infidelity in sunny California.  While Juliane Moore has herself quick one while she's away, I found myself missing the music I listened to and loved when I was a teen-ager

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Laura and the Vampires from Space

My friend Laura recentlywrote the following in her blog Buffalo. Asparagus. Love. :

Vampires in space would be a really stupid idea for a story....
 Queen of Blood, Planet of the Vampires, and Life force are the three that immediately came to mind. I am sure there are plenty more out there (please feel free to add to the list in the comments).

I had to respond, but could not come up with anything more intelligent than my paltry list and that her mother smells like elderberry wine.  To add insult to injury, she also made me a mix CD that is pretty rocking.  I seldom get mixed CDs so it was a real pleasure to recieve it, but again, it left me creatively stymied.

Then I had an idea, solve both at once.  Cheap, easy, and with a little luck, she would be pleased to have a CD that is the soundtrack for her own space vampire movie! 

Laure und der Raum Vampire is a startling and original film.  German science fiction films from the late sixties, especially with vampires, are a rarity, but writer and director Reid Hotz managed he create such a film

And what a movie!  Visually rich in that mod sixties, won't the future-look-really-cool style and a swinging soundtrack by Clause Harmony (the Mozart of Porn), Laura and the Space Vampire is worth watching just for those alone.  But has plenty plenty more to recommend it.

Starting off with an explosion on a space station at the edge of the Solar System the action doesn't let up until the breathtaking, for 1968, special effects blow out at the end of its 99 minute running time.  Hotz's iconoclastic view of the future turns several genre conventions on their side.  For example, the men are not square jawed, karate expert intellectuals and the women aren't, well, space stewardesses whose major purpose is to get rescued in the final act.

The nightclub scene from Laura 


The soundtrack can be downloaded here.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A question for the for the Horror Blogger community

Even though I have been blogging for a year, I am still a newbie.  One place that I wish I knew more about was how to make my sites more interesting and appealing to visitors.  I also would like to knoiw more about how to use advertisements.  Also, how about the...

I am not putting this here to ask a bunch of specific questions.  I want to ask only one:  could you please tell me what resources were particularly helpful in creating you magnificent page? Websites, books, 1-976 number?

As I posted to Cyberschizoid this morning, "It would be great if the Google had a hand book for blogging, instead of insisting that members should simply Google their questions to get answers."  I have been very frustrated with mining the blogger forum for answers; mostly I find other posts asking the same question I am asking, unanswered.

This the biggest problem I have with the Open Source philosophy; the learning curve for support is pretty high.  This isn't supposed to be a complaint, I am enjoying what I am doing and hope to continue.

Thanks

M

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Thirsty for Love, Sex, and Murder


Turkey's 1972 thriller, Thirsty for Love, Sex, and Murder (aka Aska susayanlar seks ve cinayet, directed by Memet Aslan) is a pleasurable novelty. It is a thrill to see another country's take on familiar genres and formats, adding their unique cultural stamp.  The fact that Thirsty for Love is from a country that I know so little about makes it especially delightful.  I know nothing about the Turkish film industry's output form the early 1970s.

At heart, it is a melodramatic,  giallo, from Turkey.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A couple of quick ones

Last night my wife and I watched The Kids are All Right, the one without Keith Moon.  I am talking about the 2010, Lisa Cholodenko drama with Juliane Moore, Mark Ruffalo and Annette Bening.  Even though I was thoroughly prepared to scream out "Long Live Rock!" in full mod regalia, I was surprisingly not disappointed by the family drama we watched instead of the 1977 documentary about The Who.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Fall of the House of Usher, 1928




"Psychadelic at times, this unusual and memorable movie version of Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher" has some creative details, and although it is one of the more obscure versions of the story, it offers a distinctive look at a couple of its many interesting aspects. The style is deliberately murky, and it has not so much as an inter-title, so that you do need to know at least the basic plot in order to understand what is happening. Check out the Jean Epstein version, too (also 1928).
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0018873/"

From the Internet Archive

Insomniac Theater Presents: Queen of Blood (1966)

To celebrate my return home, Olivia insisted we watch something together so I pulled Queen of Blood (Curtis Harrington, 1966) from my Netflix streaming queue.This low budget movie from American International Pictures influenced Ridley Scott's Alien.  Director Curtis Harrington used footage from two Soviet Union science fiction films to upgrade its visual style.  Set in 1990, the future never looked to fantastic. 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Caveat Emptor!


I am trying something new tonight; posting one of my mixed CDs on the internet for anyone to listen to if they wish.  Chances are, if I know you, at some point I have given you music to listen to.

Zip file here; correct playlist here.

I am too tired to type anything else tonight.  Sorry, no song list or description.  Movie soundtracks, some jazz, a little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down you pants...

Let me know if there are difficulties with the downloads.  

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Special Vacation Edition

The most special thing about this post is I have nothing to say; I am going on vacation soon, first time in over two years!  Preparations are a little over whelming, so tonight's post is mostly screen captures from The Blood Drinkers, also known as Blood is the Color of the Night, original Filipino title Kulay Dugo ang Gabi.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Insomniac Theater Presents: Dead Birds (2004)

If a movie as slow paced, poorly developed and predictable as Alex Turner's Dead Birds doesn't nod me off, it is time to start looking at chemical sleep aids.

Following the exhausted formula of a group of unlikeable characters in a spooky place being killed one at a time by a supernatural force, Dead Birds failed to deliver any pleasurable thrills.

Monday, February 21, 2011

What I watched last night: The Vagina Monologues

Myself and a group of friends went to see my wife perform in Miami University's Vagina Monologues. Profits from the production were donated to the Butler County Rape Crisis Center.

The Vagina Monologues is a theater piece derived from interviews with a wide range of women about sex, sexuality, and their genitals.   Vacillating between humorous and challenging, each vignette offered original (and graphic) insights into the most intimate parts of women's lives.

Adrienne's enacted I was there in the room, written by author Eve Ensler about witnessing the birth of her own grandchild.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Insomniac Theater Presents: Daughters of Darkness (1971)


When I was kid, before VCRs, there was no way to see the movies unless they played on television.  This was great for mainstream movies, but anything else was impossible.  Therefore, I had to use my imagination to create my version of a film by studying a few frames from a book or magazine about horror movies.  Harry Kümel's stylish vampire film, Daughter of Darkness was one of those tantalizing movies.  Every book on horror movies tantalized me with this images like the one to the right.

Olivia and I were able to watch Daughters of Darkness a few nights ago.   It is a beautiful and subtle film that re-watching brings more enjoyment and understanding.  I grabbed some screen captures to show some of the beautiful imagery from the film.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Good-bye, Tura Satana

If you say you like movies and don't know who Tura Satana was, you have been watching the wrong movies.  


I was trying to capture the voice of Varla, Tura Satana's signature character from Russ Meyer's 1965, girls gone wild masterpiece, Faster Pussycat, Kill! Kill!  but I am hopeless at recreating Varla's sassy, nihilisism.

Tura Satana was a strong, outspoken woman who approached life with a (literal) no holds barred attitude that she infused into her characters.  Varla, the homicidal, invective hurling, Go-Go dancer, was chaos personified.  She dished out the attitude she wouldn't take from anyone else and anyone who tried, did so at their own risk.  Both Kali the Destroyer and Kamakhyer, goddess of love, passion and desire, in one, she shook, shimmied, and cut down anyone or anything that got in her way.  Tura played the role with such gusto that Varla became an icon of American cinema.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Insomniac theater presents: Paranormal Activity 2

Large portions of both
films are in night vision
Possibly one of the most horrifying, real life moments in recent memory was Halloween weekend, 2009, while I was watching Paranormal Activity (2007, Oren Peli).  Liza, a friend, was visiting from out of town and staying in the extra bedroom in our house.  Everyone had gone to bed except me: I stayed up to watch the movie.  During one of the long, slow, blue and white scenes filmed from the surveillance cameras, and unobserved  by me, Liza came out of her room and started walking to the living room, I was so engrossed in watching the screen for any sign of whatever might happen that I jumped about a foot when I saw her moving towards me down the dark hallway.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Heavy Rotation on My iPod: The Cramps



I have been fascinated by The Cramps since 1982, when I heard their early single "Uranium Rock" from the International Record Syndicate's compilation album (that is right; two, 12 inch, grooved vinyl discs) that I picked up at the Sandusky Mall.  Also included were the first single by The Police, early music by Danny Elfman, in his old band Oingo Bongo, and a song by The Damned.  I can't remember what else was there, but there was plenty of history.

By then, The Cramps had been performing and recording over five years, having put out Psychedelic Jungle and the more polished Songs the Lord Taught Us.

There is plenty to say about The Cramps, their look, their style of dress, the stunningly beautiful female guitarist, their sound (a cross between rockabilly/roots rock and roll, punk rock, and classic psychedelic), but to me, they were just too much fun not to love.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Heavy Rotation on my iPod: Gangster Soul: Girlz Harmony Vol.1 & Vol. 2

Thursday, January 27, 2011 10:42:34 PM

Sometimes I like to listen to sad songs; my first choice is usually Gangster Soul: Girlz Harmony, Vol. 1,  a collection of soul recordings featuring female vocals, probably from the early 1970's. Last night I received volume two of the series and I am enjoying it as much as the first.
I may be wrong, but it seems that every region of the country had its own thriving soul and rhythm and blues recording label at one time.  These countless soul singles, from artists almost completely forgotten, turn up in these anthologies to remind us of what glory there is in the human voice.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

What I (Half) Watched Last Night: Godzilla v Hedorah

I haven't been posting much lately because I just can't seem to stay awake long enough to write anything.

The other day I came across the classic, Godzilla v., Hedorah  at crackle.com, a HULU type streaming site. Here is what Crackle has to say:
     "One of the grooviest and weirdest of all Godzilla flicks thanks to a hippie-rock soundtrack and a terrifying toxic foe."  Psychedelic Gojira?  I love Godzilla movies, always have, ever since I was a kid.
I didn't make it through the whole movie, but what I did see was pretty typical until the nightclub scene.   To set the stage, the seas around Japan are beset by a mysterious monster that seems to feed on industrial waste-who knew? When the creature first slithers onto land to feed and fight with Godzilla, Yoshimitsu Banno, the director, cut in scenes of a psychedelic band playing in a nightclub, complete with a liquid light show:





Vitriolic Venting

To all my fellow netizens who post pictures in public and semi public places and are either too lazy (or stupid?) to orientate them correctly, your Internet privileged should be revoked.

Also to those of you who send Email from your smart phones or similar, mobile devices and haven't changed the signature from "Sent from my really cool gadget," to anything else, you need to go back to land lines and answering machines.

Lastly, to all the self indulgent bloggers that occupy yourselves complaining about the inadequacies of people's behavior, change your diaper before you get a rash.

The Lessons of Avatar

Thursday, January 20, 2011 09:06:11 AM

I don't want to admit it, but I love my new iPod Touch. Despite my ravings about open source this and open source that, the gadgets that gets the most use in our house are the iPods even though they tend to make me feel more like an indentured servant to Apple. When my beloved, 5 th generation, 30 gigabyte iPod stopped holding a charge, I decided it was time to either get a new battery or a new iPod. There was not that much of a difference in price between having a new battery installed and getting a used, 2 nd generation iPod Touch on eBay. It hasn't been in my possession for 48 hours and already I am having trouble remembering life with out it. We truly do live in an age of wonders.

That said, I was recently treated to watching James Cameron's magnum opus, Avatar at a friend's house with a set up that probably rivals, if not surpasses, most people's idea of a private screening room.

And wow, what a treat for the senses it was. Even to the end of the three hour version we watched, the visuals were amazing. I totally accepted the idea of an eight foot tall, blue Sigourney Weaver. She definitely would have made that other Alien weep in terror, if it had eyes. l I know that my friends wanted to really crank up the volume, but it would have played havoc with my delicate circulatory system, so the aural aspect was less potent than its potential.

If you are reading this, you are probably well aware of what Avatar is and have some idea of how it came into being, so I will summarize the lessons Avatar teaches:

Much of the human race is comprised of infants in adult body suits-by and large other than meeting their own wants and needs, the rest of the known universe can go die.

All conflicts can be successfully settled by the appropriate use of superior firepower or expendable bodies.

Sometimes, some of the Ewoks have to die.

There was a fourth one, but it escapes me now. I will add it when I remember it.

Please feel free to leave your comments below.

Thursday, January 20, 2011 09:52:05 AM

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Dear Amy,


Saturday, January 8, 2011 01:10:47 PM

Dear Amy,

I have been enjoying reading your blog. It is good to have a place to verbally blow off steam. That said, I was struck by this entry:

You have the wartime periods: historical, renowned, proud. The 60's, introducing The Beatles and a soar of actually half-decent movies. The 70's - far out man, one-way ticket to hippyville and sticking it to "the man". The 80's, by far the best time of all; brilliant tunes and, most importantly of all, the birth of Die Hard.*

Your summation of the past fifty years in a handful of lines put a smile on my face. However, I feel I need to challenge you abourt your view of the 1980s, especially the music part.

To me, the eighties were not a blissful time of charity and togetherness, with people skipping around in their mullets, whistling “Ebony and Ivory” while holding hands to form a giant circle of love.

To me, the 1980's blew.

I graduated from high school, left home for college (Miami University, in Oxford, Ohio, where I am currently living.) Then I struck out on my own and began discovering what it meant to be an adult, which at that time meant figuring out how much of my tiny paycheck was to go for bills and how much was to go for "entertainment."  There was plenty of experimentation (sex and drugs), plenty of folly (see previous), and little actual maturity or growth. One of the most important things I learned was this: Just because it seems like a good idea at the time doesn't mean it will still be a good idea after I sober up.

Jello Biafra, singer for the San Francisco based punk band The Dead Kennedys accused the music industry of seeking to produce “lowest common denominator rock”  and I agree.  The first thing that comes to mind when thinking of the eighties is how awful the music was. Most popular music was a mixture of computerized rhythm, synthesized instruments and the absolute nadir of lyrical shallowness. The sound of the music was extremely homogeneous. There was very little unique or original in this type of music because it was targeted towards mainstream appeal.

A quick look at Wikipedia reveals the most popular music acts of the decade were Madonna and Michael Jackson.  And Madonna isn't even an musician, she is a personality. She achieved fame from the notoriety of her appearance and her (for the time) outspoken attitudes about sex, not her singing ability.

The 1980s saw the problematic rise in popularity of “alternative rock.” A popular alternative to anything  is an oxymoron. How can something be alternative and mainstream at the same time?

Another contributor to the suckiness of eighties music was the introduction of the popular, and influential Music Television Network, known as MTV. MTV was an entire network, broadcasting 24 hours via cable, devoted to popular music videos. The music became secondary to a band's appearance and attire once it was discovered how effective MTV would have on influencing young adults clothing  and music choices.  In short, music became more about marketing rather than producing a quality ditty that would last for the ages.

This unfortunately led to a lot of really bad fashion choices for people in my age bracket. Big, teased hair, mullets, skinny neckties, shoulder pads for women and men are some of the decades's worst fashion offenses.  And yet they were staples of typical 20 something attire.

After MTV their makeover
Before MTV
Check out these before and after photos of Detroit band The Romantics. The Romantics had one fairly big hit single before MTV, the lively “That's What I Like About You.” But like many bands after the advent of MTV, they went through a major, cosmetic make over.  

The 1980s did produce some very good books, movies and music.  Unfortunately, for every Once in a Life Time,  there was hours of this dreck  to wade through.

Oh well. One of the great, or not so great, depending on your perspective, things about the Internet is the opportunity agree to disagree in instantly on-line.

Remember that I love you in that special, creepy way that a middle aged stranger you met on the Internet can love you.

Michael

PS
It occurred to me that 99% of the things I have done that I regret doing happened in the 1980s.
I found a link to this while catching up opn my reading this morning: Killing Joke


Please feel free to leave your comments below.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011 09:07:58 PM