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March 25, 2007

"What do you think of the new movement in the syncopation of rhythm in modern music?"
"Lady, I don't know what the hell you're talking about."
Elvis Presley

Clouds
Click images for desktop size: "Clouds"
The weather is improving.
I like that.
My health keeps stagnating.
I don't like that.
I can't close the right side of my jaw. Sort of interesting in a David Cronenberg's "The Fly" kind of way.

I had to turn down two potential adopters for my foster puppy. I think they would have loved her very much but it wasn't a good fit. There's yet another interested in the little one. They came over today.
Personally I didn't much care for them, but I'm not the one who'd be living with them.
Its hard deciding the fate of someone's life.
I like her going to a new home. But saddened at the idea of her leaving.
Lots of things to color the decision.

I've been thinking a lot about two old pop stars; Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent.
I don't know how some people look at it - obsessed, fan, admirer, scholar. Their work means a lot to me. Eddie was a prodigy. A brilliant guitarist who started doing session work when he was 15. He played on a lot of minor recordings, everything from doo wop to straight country.
He ended up in Hollywood. Frank Tashlin was shooting the marvelous "The Girl Can't Help It", and wanted a new "Elvis" type for a scene.
They cast Eddie Cochran. He did a hunched up bopping version of his song, "Twenty Flight Rock". It was incredible.
Also cast in the movie, as one of the established rock & roll stars was the first Rock and Roll Band, The Screaming End, Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps.
Geneandeddiearriveinaustrailia As odd as it seems the bright eyed optimistic Eddie and the dark ever cool Vincent became best friends.
These things happen. Eddie Cochran was 17 and Vincent 19.
The picture is from the two of them getting off the flight in Australia.
They hung out together constantly. Eddie a bright rising star and Vincent the man with the largest selling record of the time.
Even though Cochran was signed to Liberty Records and Vincent to Capital they appeared anonymously on each others recordings.
The union led to something special for both of them. Cochran went on to write the pop classic "Summertime Blues" (I'm a gonna raise a fuss I'm a gonna raise a holler), the near classic "Come On Everybody" (If my folks come home I know they're gonna have my hide. No more movies for a week or two, no more running round with the usual crew. Who cares. Come on everybody!) and the should have been classic, "Mean When I'm Mad". Not to mention my personal favorite "I'm an easy going guy I just always gotta have my way."
He had hit after hit. Vincent career stuttered despite his making some of the most incredible music ever heard. With Cochran in the studio and singing bass he made the incredible "Git It". It featured Cochran singing bass.
A few hundred tracks later Rock & Roll died. Pop came in, as it always does.
Gene and Eddie went to England. They were monstrous there. They exceeded even little girl fantasies. And there Eddie died. In a car wreck. Gene Vincent and a girl were in there. A cab driver was driving. Only Eddie died.
I've spoken to the girl who was with them that night. She didn't tell me anything new. She just repeated the legend. She'd done it so many times that there was no emotion left to it. No urgency except the urgency that that moment was the defining moment of her life.
Eddie Cochran is buried in Forest Lawn in LA. He has a simple headstone with an epitaph as cool as the man: Never to be forgotten". He was 21 when he died.
Vincent was already a drunk and a wreck. When Eddie died it was apparent that the little buoy he was anchored to let him drift at sea.
Gene didn't have anymore hit records but he still packed out all the shows. Back then it was the way of things. The records promoted the shows. The singers and musicians got little money from the records. Gene sold out shows without hits. As a performer his talent was that big.
He stayed in England. I'd like to think that he was happiest the one summer he played with a decent band, The Puppets, and did a daily show down at the end of a pier.
Littlerichard-Alislesley-Eddie-1
Click images for desktop size: "Little Richard, Alis Lesley, Eddie Cochran"
Eventually he came back home to America.
My friend Dick did a tour with him and Jan and Dean. His story is incomplete. Dick was being terrorized by Jan and Dean. He remembers once in Colorado he looked out the window and saw them tobogganing down a hill using Dick's luggage as the sled, scattering his clothes down the mountainside.
Dick was most impressed that Jan and Dean never terrorized Gene Vincent. Everyone else was fair game. Back when Buddy Holly had the top two records in America he was in a hotel lobby signing autographs. Gene Vincent entered the lobby and Buddy Holly pushed through his fans and through Gene Vincent's fans just to ask Gene for his autograph.
Gene Vincent had that effect on other performers.
Dick just thought Gene was the softest spoken man he'd ever met.
I didn't understand any of it until I saw Gene at some ratty club in the valley. I think it was '69.
I went alone. No one else wanted to go or the ones who did want to go didn't understand the why of it.
The place was filled with aging rockabilly cats, all of them poured into their finest cat clothes, beautiful bright colors that still looked cool even if they hardly fit the boys now men 10 years later.
Johnbarry-Eddie-Adamfaith-Gene Gene hit the stage and I was shocked. He was about thirty but I could have accepted that he was 60 or a youthful 70. He was fat and looked horrid in clothes that were trying to be hip. I thought about leaving.
Then he started to sing.
I sat on stage in Vegas while Sinatra performed. I've seen Elvis in Vegas. I've seen Nureyev in his prime. They couldn't hold a candle to the fading flame that was on stage that night. It was like God had sent us an angel to sing away our sins, a young devil to show where temptation lies, a Cassiopeia to torment us with His omnipotent sadness.
Yeah. He was that good. Better than we deserve.

John Barry, Eddie Cochran, Adam Faith, Gene Vincent

A lot of Gene Vincent fans will fight you if you say anything remotely negative. I don't mean argue with you like Stevie Wonder fans, or get belligerent like Elvis fans, I mean straight razor silent attack fight you. I understand why.
I understood why a man who did so little for others, who was a bad drunk was so eternally loved.
Jupiter Portrait By Cassini Sample
Click images for desktop size: "Jupiter" by Cassini Telescopes
There's an apartment building in West Hollywood. Its big and filled with faded faux glamour. Its a place where the aspiring and the fallen of Hollywood live. Kids going to the Guitar Institute or the Strasberg Institute live next door to people with a hundred films to their credit, the last one 30 years ago. I found out Gene was living there.
I didn't get to meet him. I tried. He'd gotten a new wife, kissed his daughter goodbye and moved to Simi Valley.
Simi is where they held the trail that exonerated the cops in the Rodney King beating. There was the Simi Valley Freeway because MGM had made some noise about moving their operations out there. MASH, the TV show, was shot there.
Land was cheap there. There had been a flood, rare in Southern Cal, and the flood had hit a cemetery and it deposited a couple hundred corpses and coffins on the bright sunny lawns.
An interesting place for Vincent to live.
He died there. He came home and found out his new wife had cleared out the house. He called his mother and cried, "She took everything mama. Even my record player." Even my record player . . . He collapsed. His mother called an ambulance and Gene Vincent died of a bleeding ulcer, caused by chronic alcoholism.
3X Luis Royo  137 Evolution 1280X1024 It didn't quite end there. Gene's sister was hooked into the Tony Alamo Cult. Alamo was a guy who could have been Jim Jones. His was best known for posting his people outside abortion clinics and trying to buy the baby from expectant mothers. The children to be raised as Tony Alamo's . . . who knows what.
They turned Gene's funeral into a fiasco.
I visited the grave. It's out in Saugus.
He has a simple flat headstone. There's a poorly colored picture of Gene on it and the first two bars of Be Bop A Lula on a straight staff. The ground shakes from the semi's that constantly roar past.
I think he'd have liked that . . . at least.
I remembering thinking he gave us so much and all we gave him was money.

Luis Royo - Evolution

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March 19, 2007

I love you as much as my automobile
Gene Maltais

Chrisnimtz Pounds 1440X900-1
Click images for desktop size: "Pounds" by Chris Nimtz
Its the fourth anniversary of the War In Iraq.
If you remember back when they started the Fundamentalist Jihad, lied to us and the world to justify it, used it as a way to enforce a draconian Stalinist totalitarianism on us, they all said "the boys' would be back in 90 days, then it was 6 months and then a year and then everybody stopped caring. At least they stopped asking.
I don't like war.
Why should I?
This war is worse than most because of the people running it. I mean us.
Now I'm an American. Everywhere I've gone in the world I am always recognized as an American just from the way I walk and carry myself.
I think maybe I'm not an American anymore. I'm sure not one of the screw-your-buddies all-that-matters-is-what-I-get, kind of Americans that seem pretty proliferate.
I'm not the kind of guy who could vote for a President who already proved a certain high level of incompetence by running a beautiful thing like a baseball team into the ground and into the perennial cellar of the American League. I mean if you can't run a baseball team to the point where it can win 90 games where's your credibility in claiming you can win a war?
Nah. I'm the kind of dumb American who thinks we have a duty to protect the downtrodden, that the TriLateral Commission are a bunch of oafs who don't understand we can take in the refuse of the world and have turn them into something great by being great ourselves. I believe in freedom and in being strong and never bullying and that we are all equal.
Villageofthedamned X01 (1960) I believe in capitalism but I think that when companies set themselves up as mini governments they have to be slapped down and slapped down hard. I don't think that "trickle down" profit is as important as a worker who might benefit in a small way from that profit.
I don't believe in war for profit. I think that is a war crime.
I think that when you use a massive propaganda campaign to induce young men to go and fight for what they believe is their country we have a duty to embrace and care for those men. I think that you have a duty to prove to them and the world that this truly is their country and their government.
That doesn't mean putting a magnetic "guaranteed not to damage the finish" bumper sticker on your car. It doesn't mean that you get elected by vehemently promising to end something and then failing on that promise and suddenly using terms like "compromise". Not when the compromise is in human blood. It means that after they've left their blood, brains, guts and limbs on a battlefield where they believed they were protecting their families and loved ones and us, the strangers who make up the country, we have an obligation to try and put them back together as well as we can.
America has seemed to forgotten it has any obligations to others and each other. Its forgotten it has an obligation to itself. Its forgotten that America is not the sum of its corporate life but the sum of the millions of people who are here and the millions who dream of being American. (This doesn't mean the people and the companies who just want our money.)
But for a soldier cajoled by his government to fighting a war to come home and face the hell that has been described in Walter Reed Hospital is old school bully cruel.
The other tactic this government seems to adore is saving money for the rich by taking it from the poor. See, after a wounded soldier has fought off the rats and the filth of the Army Hospitals, and he is lucky enough to still be alive he is dumped on to the VA.
Now you'd think this would be a simple matter - wounded soldier goes to the VA hospital to continue treatment.
It doesn't work that way.
Presently from the time the wounded soldier is discharged from the Army hospital until he is accepted by the VA hospital to continue his treatments is 5 years.
This way instead of paying the already inflated prices for sub par care the government can channel the funds to research programs . . . there's a woman in this town who is funded to try and make a pill that will "melt away the pounds"; a fat pill.
I don't quite see how this is going to help a shattered veteran but I'm sure that the 10% private vs 90% VA funding for this project is all perfectly legal or else they'd get fined a good 5% of the profits.
David Puffer Decored 1440X900
Click images for desktop size: "Deco Red" by David Puffer
I've never lost a limb or my mind so I can't say for sure that my thoughts wouldn't go to getting those 2 inches off my waist line. Maybe. I doubt it but maybe . . .
Besides if these were "important" people they wouldn't be soldiers. And if they were important wouldn't the President go visiting them and stuff. You never see photos of Senators consoling wounded men from his district at the hospital. Senators and Presidents have more important things to do then worry about the 3,200 dead and the untold wounded. I mean Bush finally got to meet the Football National Champs today. they are important. He hasn't visitied a wounded vet or a homeless person shattered by Katerina. They're not that important.
In the 5 years they get to wait we can forget about them, maybe even curse them for trying to remind us of the debt we owe them.

Where I work I have a customer. When they were grad students at divinity school they started up a soup kitchen sort of thing. Every Sunday and Monday they fed the homeless. Around here the homeless tend to live in tents off in the woods.
They beg and the city has sold all the homeless "Pan handlers licenses." (The New America)
I like the couple who started the feed the homeless program. They're a bit too enthusiastic for my tastes but I admire enthusiastic people in general. I figured that when they got their degrees the little program would dry up. But its a good thing.
Nearly a year ago they both came in and proudly showed me their new dog collars, the outside symbol that they'd gotten their grad degrees and were full on ministers.
Whateverhappenedtobabyjane(1960) They've just had a child. She has her own church about 90 miles away and he works for a small group of churches.
Funny though, every Sunday and Monday they still trek down here, set up the tables and chairs and feed the homeless.
Today they came in to show me the baby and how much he's grown.
They thanked me for my help and support. As I couldn't think of any thing I'd done to merit thanks and being a product of the big cities of the world when someone thanks me like that I'm always waiting for the, "If we could just ask for one more thing . . . "
Funny they didn't have an addendum. They were done when they finished the thank you's.
After a moment of embarrassed shuffling from me I said you're welcome, for lack of anything better. I was relieved when we were interrupted by one of their clients. An Iraq war vet who got mangled by a rocket. He's the impetus for my impotent rant. Three years and waiting to get treatment for the burns and oozing sores. Still waiting to get a prosthetic arm and the surgery to remove the swollen wad of flesh they accidentally still left in place.

I went to a dog showing yesterday with my foster puppy. A place to display the puppy to try and find her forever home.
I always feel like a used car salesman caricature at these sort of things. Or at best a canine pimp, trying to foist a puppy I think to be the second best dog off on someone who really doesn't deserve something as great as she is.
The once timid little puppy was great. We had to take a couple of breaks but she did fine, accepted rough petting and fast movements from strangers with no flinching or remark. A couple of people have already filed out applications for adopting her. We'll see. I get a vote in who her new parents will be.

I got an email taking me to task for my opinion on "300". they pointed out, correctly, that this movie wasn't history but a comic book adaption that was based lightly on history.
I keep forgetting that Comic Book is now a genre.
I should have known that when I saw Time Burton's "Batman" and the audience cheered the plane more than anything else in the movie.
I used to like comic books. I like a few Graphic Novels now.
I think the only thing that saddened me was seeing a big splashy movie being made by a guy who I regret hasn't shown me much in the way of story telling abilities retelling a story I think is beautiful.
It really just jealousy because the story in my head is so much more enjoyable to me than this movie. I forget sometimes that people read this stuff. I still think of the words as just interesting frames for the pictures.

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March 16, 2007

I'm not the kind of snob who can accept Literature Of Entertainment in the past but only Literature of Enlightenment in the present
Raymond Chandler

Chris Achilleos29
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Chris Achilleos
A lot going on but all of that minor stuff that just says we're alive.
One thing I'm pretty good about is not dwelling on things that are out of my control.
I'm not much for fretting. Or for thinking things through, in some opinions.

Its been a slightly hectic time again.
Took my puppy to the dog park. It was a rather large group I'd thrown together. There was an equally large group of people already there.
My puppy is becoming a dog. She fretted. She didn't play, not even with the dogs she knew.
She didn't like me being around other people. She ignored all the dogs but fully checked out every person of the human type who was there. After she'd sniffed them all she stayed stuck to my side. If anyone walked too near me she interposed herself between them and I.
She wasn't aggressive but she was having no fun. Her whole mission in life was to not let anyone get to near to me. I don't know what she thought would happen.
The only time she relaxed was when we went far off by ourselves. Then she'd take a treat and try and tell me a bad dog joke or two.
I have no idea where she got the idea that I had to be protected. Might be just a part of the breed.
Problem is, my problem, is I want her just to have fun.
Robocop(1987)-01 When I was able to take her into work with me everyday she got past the fear of me being around other people. She was attentive but she quickly got over the stress. Now being at home most days she worries.
Silly girl.

I saw the 300 on TV. I think the story of the Spartans' Battle of Thermopylae is the most stirring in history. I think of it often in times of crisis and always remember that it took only one man to believe in himself to change the entire course of history.
Oddly the Rudolph Mate' 60's version, "The 300 Spartans" was more accurate historically . . . 300 keeps a nice feel to the battles and keep the fighting more in line with the Spartan style. The biggest problem with 300 is that the guys all looked like fighters but it was pretty obvious they couldn't fight!
The clocked down swooshy photography became monotonous for me. It did a good job of hiding the lack of skill but the end result let me wishing Liu Li Chian was directing this.
I felt some bursts of anger at someone retelling a story I love - the adultery scene was baffling and added nothing. With all the the fol der rol they never attempted to lay any background to the Spartan culture - "they beat people up a lot" clearly sufficed. (As the directors previous film was the "Dawn Of The Dead" re-make he's proving again he has no respect for the average film goer.)

My coworker had another heart attack. She's in the hospital where my puppy is a therapy dog.
Sadly she is blaming the heart attack on the boss that I also find stressful. I feel they are blowing it by making wild proclamations.
She;s had two attacks in as many weeks. But she is over weight, has high blood pressure and a cholesterol count around 300!
I just think by making wild assertions it makes the very legitimate complaints they have easy to ignore. At best it confuses the issue, making it difficult to sort out and address.
While even I can admire the melodrama of, "Her management technique nearly killed me!" that doesn't root out the deeper problems in a micro-manager, or dealing with being the victim of a micro-manager.
I also admire we came up with the term of micro-management in lieu of saying inept.
Christensen,Jc Fishinatoucanmask-1280X800
Click images for desktop size: "Fish In A Toucan Mask" by JC Christensenl

The foster puppy is doing better. Little Noelle is nearly ready to be seen by the world! On Sunday we'll take her to an adoption event so she can make her debut. I expect her to be nervous around people especially the way people will all try and rush up and pet her head.
I'm tempted to take my puppy along but she's the sort who'd try and charge people for petting her . . .

There was a lost dog. Found him.

Lots of conversations with customers about the inane hypocrisy of our government when it comes t the war in Iraq. I mean all the bumper "magnets" supporting our troops but demanding tax cuts to the point that the young men who return with shattered bodies and minds have to share their sick beds with rats and filth.

March 10, 2007

I can sing like a girl and I can sing like a frog. I'm a lonely boy.
Clarence "Frogman" Henry

Baseball
Click images for desktop size: "Baseball"
When I was 15 I hated everybody.
Maybe not everybody. I loved my teammates. And the guys on the surf crew. But everybody else I hated. Except for the people who came to the shows, except them and every girl who walked with a twitch in their sashay, especially the ones who leaned against juke boxes and asked me what my favorite song was. I didn't hate them.
I loved my mother.
I guess I really just hated my step-father. Being a kid I let that rage spill over so that most everybody thought I hated everybody else.
Most of you know that my step-father played pro football and he was a drunk. He used some terribly botched knee surgery to justify the drinking. Even without drinking he never liked me.
When he and my mother would go out, when I was a little kid, they'd dump me at a movie theater - double bills. It was great. Even when I was seeing films that were totally inappropriate I had an awesome time. I loved all those movies, the trailers and the cartoons. I didn't understand a lot of them - never had a clue as to what was going on, but I still loved the movie, any movie.
Manwhoshotlibertyvalance,The X01 (1962)
After a lot of foolish deliberation (hey, its better than thinking about my job! Although not as good as playing with a puppy.) my pick as the 5th best movie ever made is:

5) The Unforgiven Clint Eastwood
One thing that gets overlooked is that two of the best films ever made were both based on books by this guy Alan LeMay.
He wasn't a great writer but since John Ford used his book to make "The Searchers" and Eastwood to make this film forty years later, the inability I have to see genius in LeMay's stuff probably says more about me than anything else.
Hollywood has always hated the Western, even as Westerns fueled the empire they treated them as little better than porn.
When Marlon Brando started his own production company he APOLOGIZED that his first film would be a Western ("One Eyed Jacks"). He explained it as he wanted to make real movies but they had to make money first.
Even when the Spaghetti Western was big box office Hollywood sniffed and ignored it. The independents rushed out a few lackluster films . . .
Eastwood and Don Seigal made a couple but they were ignored until the pair bought the Cowboy to the Big City in "Coogan's Bluff" and then finally made the cowboy transmogrification into "Dirty Harry".
After that the western was truly dead, and has been for a few decades. It was courageous of Eastwood to make a film that could have been a career killer. Remember the last quasi western from Hollywood was the terrible "Heaven's Gate" and the brat pack "Young Gun" flics.
Courage in accepting a project doesn't mean much if you don't have the talent to pull it off. Eastwood learned to direct from a master film maker: Don Seigal.
I know Seigal was a genius because he did nothing but make consistently brilliant films. He never moaned about it, complained about studio cuts or budget. He just made beautiful extreme movies.
When the producers cut his movies he didn't moan, he just wouldn't let them put his name on it. No big deal. He always had another story to tell. He never whined about not getting an Oscar, he just continued making better movies than anybody else.
Chaos Raine By Hellwolve
Click images for desktop size: "Chaos Raine" by Hellwolve
With his background and Seigal as a friend and mentor its no surprise that Eastwood risked his actor's icon status by playing a film that made him appear as weak craven boob when he was trying to be "good" and a heartless unsympathetic monster when he does his final act of "heroism".
Its a testament to the power of Eastwood's abilities as an actor and a director that he made this pretty loathsome creature both fascinating and identifiable.
The line "Don't you cut up no more whores or I'll come back and kill everyone of you sons a bitches," is hardly commendable and is too brutish to be ironic, but the thrill of it, shouted against the rain while riding a plow horse who in the lightening has become the devil's steed, is the same thrill of watching an unspotted hero fall to the dust firing his gun that holds only two bullets at the two men who mean to kill him. ("Stagecoach")
The actor who got himself elected mayor of Carmel so that kids could eat ice cream on the side walk (very true) knows subtlety and how to use power in personal interactions and in the medium. He forces us to examine the characters we cherish, re-examine ourselves and our place in society.
Shootist,The X01 (1976)It starts with Gene Hackman, following a consistently high leveled career with a definitive performance, in a frightening monologue debunking the myths of the west. Debunking them cruelly and carnally, while relishing their more innate savagery of reality as opposed to the safety of myth.
Hackman and Eastwood are the protagonists. Hackman is clearly intended to be the villain but in the film he never kills anyone!
He sets a new high for cruelty and sadism, but his violence is in the communal cause for peace and well being.
His is the brutishness of the cop that we accept and tacitly admire because we value out possessions more than we value people.
Hackman wants to live in peace, be a part of society that shares his peace and well being.
Eastwood lives as a widower with two young children he abandons to their own devices while he goes out on a killing mission. That the mission may result in a better life for them all highlights the bitter failures in Eastwood's life.
Hackman lives in the town he protects, while Eastwood lives far out in the wilderness, his nearest neighbor an old gang member.
Hackman fights for peace and Eastwood is a man in stasis who doesn't know or care for peace. He plans to kill as dispassionately as a soldier.
There are levels of complexity running throughout "The Unforgiven". Deeply etched so that the film becomes an exploration of our own expectations from life. Much more so and more expertly than most "art house" films.
Here in an entertaining movie we are forced to confront, our base nature, the peace we strive for and the world that forces its own tight restrictions upon us. Here the world spins around the two protagonists while not giving an easy answer.
Eastwood wins by killing Hackman. Eastwood has always been "good at killing things".
Hackman points out, correctly, that Eastwood is a low down dirty dog. Eastwood accepts this with no dissent.
Once, during an interview to promote his film "The Gauntlet" Eastwood let his image slip just a little in a most surprising way. When asked about why, in the movie, things like houses and buses were shot into tiny shards while people were merely threatened. Eastwood responded that he was exploring the Lichstenian concept of constructive deconstruction through the anthromorphication of the objects which provide us with our most solid sense of security. A surprising slip of the mask for the laconic star.
Coyote
Click images for desktop size: "Coyote"
Throughout the movie Eastwood is constantly being as truthful as the world permits, and he constantly reminds himself about his struggle to gain and retain his humanity. He tells of his battles to become a human being and the high value he places on his humanity. He tells the story with a sense of pride undiminished. He tells that tale over and over even when cajoled into telling of his gritty exploits shooting down large groups of men who had the drop on him. He blames his previous snakiness and sociopathy on whiskey.
It creates one of the most terrifying moments in movies when Eastwood discovers that Morgan Freeman has been shot and killed and put on display with a mocking sign around his neck.
Against an overtly dramatic sky he takes a bottle and takes a long drink.
He asks for reaffirmation of each sordid detail, punctuates each fact with a long pull of whiskey.
Like in "Frankenstein" Eastwood is forcing us to watch the creation of a monster, and the monster exists because the world exists. And men and society must coexist in an unnatural cohabitation.
Like all great art it is metaphor and simile and reality in one crystal moment. What happens next is inevitable. Society needs monsters in order to have the check and balance so that it not forget its humanity. Then it would sink into a brutal world of peace and a singular idea of well being.
This is a great movie, even on TV. And its fun.

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March 5, 2007

Quiet! I think someone's out there

Belly Pilgrims Going To Mecca 1280X1024
Click images for desktop size: "Pilgrims Going To Mecca" by Belly
In the 80's there was a mediocre film made by Dalton Trumbull. He made "Silent Running", a pretty good little movie.
This film was so soundly thrashed by the critics that Trumbull stopped making films and perfected the IMAX format and a few other amusement park ride movie making tricks.
"Brainstorm" was pretty misguided. It starred Christopher Walken as a loving husband and brilliant scientist who was not crazed or obsessed! Natalie Wood gave her final performance and was merely okay. The macguffin of the film was brilliant though, that could have been the problem - that the least important part of a story becomes the total inspiration behind it.
Walken invented this really wild device. It was a machine that recorded your every sensation and thought. The tape could be played back and any other person could see, feel and know you as intimately as you knew yourself.
The movie did the expected jokes, a fellow making an endless loop of another guys orgasm so he could be in orgasmic bliss for days until he was accidentally discovered. (It was an amusing sidebar that the character, after undergoing 72 hours of nonstop orgasm's discovered God and became very devout.)
Maitresse The meandering plot finally found focus. A female scientist is having a heart attack, she uses the device to record her death. It takes them some work so that Walken doesn't die from her heart attack (confusing? it was in the movie too) but eventually they sort it out so that Walken can play the tape and experience her death and then, in great special effects, experience her afterlife.
Not much of a movie. There was a scene though that was remarkable and incredibly effective. Not so much for what happened on screen, but for the great desire it opens up in our own heart.
Natalie Wood is Walken's wife. She's going to leave him because she thinks he doesn't care about her, or cares about his work more than he does her and their family.
Walken loves his wife. While recording into his miracle machine, he remembers her, he remembers all he feels for her. He remembers those little moments in life that a couple have and one or the other and even both usually forget. He remembers the special times and the bad times - the fights and the hugs, the joy and the sadness the two of them shared.
And Natalie comes in and puts on the machine and listens, feels, and hears the tape Walken made.
After feeling exactly what he feels for her, by seeing his memories she doesn't leave him.
Can you imagine it? Seeing yourself through the eye of someone who loves you. Feeling how their heart races when they see you across the room, feeling the warm blood flowing into your face the first time the two of you talked.
What bigger gift could there be.
I still think that the greatest gift, the greatest joy we have is seeing the soul of another - just a tiny part of it is more than we can bare. My puppy thinks its a piece of salmon but that's another issue.
As mediocre as I thought "Brainstorm" was that little snippet, confirming that at least one other person felt the same way I do about such a big and tiny thing makes the film worthwhile.

Bambooroad
Click images for desktop size: "Bamboo Road"
I now officially and irrevocably hate my job. Turns out that the bank thing wasn't fraud or identity theft at all but a printing error by the check company . . . I've been apologized too but so what. I did get to meet two babies, listen to someone's plans for a new business (selling junk on ebay so not new, just new for them), hear about someone's adventures in Kuwait a planned trip to Catalan and more. Not a bad day at work for those things, bad for everything else though. I like hearing what people have to say and wonder why they feel compelled to tell it to me. Though I'm grateful for it.
The want ads in the paper were less than a half page so I'm keeping my mouth shut but I am gone as soon as anything remotely acceptable comes along.

As to that elusive 5th movie I've been revamping my thinking on what is the suitable pick!

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March 3, 2007

We're all scared, kid. What you want to do about it?

Vallejo-Boris Bell-Julie Tamar's-Vision
Click images for desktop size: "Tamar's Vision" by Boris Vallejo and Julie Bell
I love Wanda Jackson.
I'm not sure if she's still alive. That has nothing to do with it anyway.
I love Wanda Jackson.
Not the gold lame lounge act - country western hybrid.
I love the real Wanda Jackson.
The perky twenty something who sang rock and roll in a cowboy hat, Dale Evans fringed buckskins and gold sprayed cowboy boots.
The one who shaked wiggled and danced while she sang in a voice that's been imitated by nearly every male and female rock star since.
The cute and perky savage wild woman who could shake your chicken in the middle of the room. Who could belt out "Riot In Cell Block Number Nine", a song a bout a female prison riot, with the perfect new lyrics - "They called the state militia, them troopers looked so tall and fine all the chicks went crazy up in cell block number nine" - in a voice that burned lust in anyones loins. "Mean Mean Man", "Hot Dog, That Made Him Mad" and "Fujiyama Mama" were some more of those totally cool tunes you wished woman would sing about you. When she covered "Handsome Brown Eyed Man" it was the first time in my life I was glad to have brown eyes.
Sometimes they called her the female Elvis. I don't know why, probably just publicity. The Queen Of Rockabilly is a more accurate title for her.
Girls In Chains (1943) You can look for her picture on the net. Ignore the ones where she doesn't look like your best friend's cute little sister. I didn't. I couldn't bear to see nay if she's gotten as old as she probably is. I'd still love her but I already have her picture in my head. That's good enough.
Yesterday was bad. Very bad. It gave me a white night.
Something has to change. It needs to be my job. Not enough money and the perks are evaporating and being replaced with repression. After the tremendous storms yesterday there were numerous inquiries as to the state of their property. None regarding my well being and how and my puppy faced the storms.
Then someone forged checks - not signatures but actually printed checks with the wrong name, wrong bank, but the company's routing and account number. They cashed them at WalMart (!).
Rah! Seems like a lot of work and a dangerous amount of exposure for very few dollars. What causes me concern is that anyone would dare imagine that I'm culpable. While not accused of malfeasance I was accused of negligence. "They had to steal the deposit slips from you!"
I pointed out that every person who hands me a check gets it back with the account number and routing number stamped across the back. Also this seems a bit too sophisticated to rely on the happenstance theft of a deposit slip. Having blank checks to print and the magnetic ink cartridges to print the info and the software to do it is slightly sophisticated.
It appears there are several dozen more and better options to consider. And they should be considered before any accusations of any sort are made.
Oh well.

More importantly, my puppy is doing fine. She is recovering well from her bath! And coping well enough with the crazy foster dog!
Her only objection is she doesn't think the foster puppy should get food or treats! They spend a lot of their time stealing from each other, the time not spent playing anyway.

One of the kids I know called me today. He's pitching in college. He wanted to let me know he'd won his first two starts. Like all great kids he wanted to give me some of the credit even though he's the one who did all the work. We talked about the GYROBALL and guessed how well the $100 Million dollar man was going to do for Boston. We talked about school and how he was making sports and education mix.
I like kids even more than dogs!

The 5th Greatest Film I've ever seen will be next!

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March 2, 2007

Pride doesn't mean much if you only have it on a full stomach

Bronzed
Click images for desktop size: "Bronzed"
This was an austere and bad day. Its over. I gotta get another job . . .

6) The King and The Clown - Lee Jun-ik
I vented earlier about this movie, mainly because I was stunned that it did not get nominated for an Oscar, even though it was eligible - especially in light of the heaps of praise being handed to the dreary and mundane "Pan's Labyrinth" and the shocking attention given to turgid hammy "Brokeback Mountain". I was uncertain, wondering if I was giving too much credit to a film because of the way it has been ignored internationally.
"The King and The Clown" has been the most successful films in Korean history, which is a lot like saying, "The most successful film in the history of South Dakota". Important to some people but not to all.
The film is a near masterpiece. The "near" qualifier is because I think it takes time and distance to ensure any piece of work is a masterpiece.
From what I've read I guess the film is historically accurate, that's not a very important issue to me. What is important is how the movie creates a world. The screen isn't just a Brechtian window for observing this world, its a door for us to enter.
Diary Of A Madman First time I saw the movie I thought Gong-gil (Lee Jong-li) was the hottest actress I'd seen on screen since Jennifer Jason Leigh in "Miami Blues". So I was pretty shocked when I realized this might be, actually is a man . . . YOW!
This isn't "Crying Game" gimmickry. Gong-gil is open and charming and well, lovely in a girl next door sort of way.
The character is extraordinary - by turns pragmatic, loyal loving and a living example of sifu philosophy.
The plot is simple and elegant: In 5th century Korea Jang sang (Kam Woo-seong) is the star of a clown act. He balances on a high wire while juggling and telling bawdy stories. Gong-gil tumbles around the ground playing the female in Jang Sang's dirty stories.
The owner of the clown show often pimps Gong-gil out to various merchants. This infuriates Jang Sang. Gong-gil is the love of his life. He is further annoyed that Gong-gil is prepared to passively prostitute herself/himself.
Jang Sang attempts a rescue that results in the owner's death. The two chaste lovers escape.
The Koreans love melodrama and they have mastered the form and the medium of it.
The couple decide to take their clown skills to Seoul. They have a marvelous "duel" with another set of clowns. They all become friends and decide to work together.
Jang Sang had an audacious plan. He writes a savage spoof on the bad king presently in power. They perform the bawdy piece on the street and make more money than they could ever imagine.
And as great and entertaining as the film has been, as much as so many scenes presage and make possible the later effects (ala Chaplin) the film now enters the realm of magic and greatness. It also becomes one of the greatest yet chaste love stories I've ever seen or heard. You can immerse yourself in it by accepting it as a tale of brotherhood, or fool yourself, like I did, and believe that Gong-gil is female.
They are arrested by a member of the Royal Court who has his own designs.
When sentenced to be flogged for mocking the king Jang sang offers his own head in a deal: We make the King laugh or I accept execution.
This is what the minister wanted!
Clown Fish
Click images for desktop size: "Clown Fish" by Apple
The performance is scheduled and a bunch of clowns are part of the Royal festivities. The five of them marvel at the wonders of the court, they are agog at the quality of the other entertainers, they feel dirty and worthless. They are street entertainers. They don't believe they fit into the palace.
They begin their performance. They are all terribly unnerved and it is falling apart, becoming a boring chaos. Even Jang Sang doubts himself.
Like in all great love stories Gong-gil believes in Jang sang more than he believes in himself. Gong-gil turns the skit into a one person show, dragging Jang Sang along until he rises up to his own level and the King laughs.
He laughs so much that, to the horror and disapproval of his court, he names the little street troupe as the imperial jesters and forces them to live in the palace.
Not content to simply have achieved this lofty status and annoyed by the way the ministers treat him and Gong-gil Jang Sang writes another skit, this time ridiculing the corrupt ministers and lords.
The King laughs at this as well but he recognizes the truth of it and executes the offending lord.
This dismays the little troupe. People aren't supposed to die at the hands of a joke!
High School Hellcats (1958) Now I run into the only problem I have with this film. It has this in common with all the great comedies and adventure stories. I want to tell it to you, scene for scene, I want you to feel what this story made me feel, make the same discoveries in the story and in yourself.
I don't really know why that is. Its a big question, I think. We all do it at sometime. This film gives an answer to that, it answers about love, community and seeing ourselves in others. The power of seeing another's soul and in their soul seeing us.
I will tell you how the film ends. Throughout the standard of acting here is impeccable, whether its the directors talent or the actor's skills I couldn't know. All I know is that the 3 leads (The King is a lead) are wonderful. Even if you hate them you can see and understand them for what they are and how they are like us.
The two lovers are on a tightrope, jumping and bouncing in the air, while they profess their love to each other the only way they know how, by telling their stories. The King is in a window looking out at them, smiling and laughing at the two clowns who have obsessed him while all around them the massed might of the military rebellion swirls in the form of brightly dressed warriors. The warriors don't matter. All that matters is the story being told in the Royal Courtyard by two people bouncing high on a tight rope.

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