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March 30, 2008

What I want to tell you could save the world. If only we spoke the same language!

Cowboy By Fredric Remington
Click images for desktop size: "Cowboy" by Frederic Remington
I like serials. All kinds of serials.
The ones I'm thinking about now are the movie serials that lasted for only 2 decades. They got replaced by TV.
They were born out of a need to drag in the kids. Get them into the theaters every week.
They were written for kids with a cynical innocence. They were cool.
Caged Heat They delighted in the obvious. In speed and in straight ahead narrative. Nothing was in there for character development. You already knew exactly what these characters were. Nuances could be added but weren't required. Nuances came from the actor and if they impeded the break neck flow they were cut out.
Woman mainly existed only to be protected. They were unloved, pretty and ineffective. The heroes were cardboard mirrors and reflected only what we wanted them to be.
I like watching serials because they let me feel what it was like to live in the 30's or 40's. They didn't impart information, they gave you the feel, the taste of an era I'll never know.
I'm not the only guy who feels that way. (I've never met a woman or girl who cared or could even watch a serial.)
The first serial I ever saw was "Batman". And I saw it in a theater. They showed all 15 episodes to try and cash in on the Batman TV series.
It was close to four hours long and I was confused by it. Not only by the showing of all the opening credits for each episode but also by the arcane slang and lingo. I still remember the heavily used phrase, "Now you're cooking with gas!"
I was about 9 and the only thoughts I had were along the lines of, "What else would you cook with?"
I liked the villain though. He wore a black satin robe with a hood. That was a definition of cool for me.
I saw the Flash Gordon serials (with Buster Crabbe and Charles Middleton) on KRLA, early Sunday mornings. I was fascinated and dreaded missing an episode.
So as an adult I would jump to see more serials. That's how I met this fellow Vince.
Vile Vince. Without doubt the ugliest man I ever met. Even when he was showered and his clothes Casino Royale - JW Mcginnis
Click images for desktop size: "Casino" by JW McGinnis
were clean there was something oily and antagonistic about him. He was fat but still wore a belt about 8 inches too long. I always figured he was trying to fool us into thinking he had just lost a lot of weight.
His teeth were green, his complexion oily and pock marked and he had a huge collection of films. His house was hot house warm and I was afraid to touch anything when I was there. The only things in good repair were the huge projection TV and the bank of VCR's and tape decks. His projectors were state of the art.
He was always trying to sell me porn. But he still had the largest collection in LA of serials and kung fu flics. (The weird chinese movies that were dubbed strangely so that ancient Chinese warriors were given names like Chuck and Danny - as in "Chuck it is time for you to die!" "Try your best Danny my Mantis style has destroyed Bob and Gene and will now destroy you!")
The Bronx Warriors Michael J Fox was there. He was my main competitor for the serials. This was an unfair competition although not as bad as my competition with Bob Towne for Raymond Chandler letters and manuscripts . . . Towne was fueled with movie money. Once a bookseller in Santa Barbara (Aaron Neville) got a huge collection of Chandler letters. Towne TREBLED my bid.
Fox was cool and affable. We talked about serials and nothing else. He never bought up his work but we discussed the weakness of "Captain America" as opposed to the "Spy Smasher" serial, and we waxed euphoric about "The Mysterious Dr Satan".
We agreed that Republic made the best serials. I always thought it was because they had this stuntman, Alan Sharpe, under contract. Sharpe was a demon. Even by the insane standards set by the Thai's and Chinese his stunts were incredible. They propelled each episode with a sense of jaw dropping wonder. In "Captain Marvel" Sharpe would leap off of buildings and cliffs, flinging his body out there so that it honestly looked like he was flying, until they cut to some pretty cheesy special effects . . .
Every fight he got into was remarkable. He was a little guy but he jumped and tackled and fought 3 or 4 guys with an ease that was pleasing to the eye. People were always bashing him with charis and curtain rods, bricks and desks. After one of his fight scenes the entire room was nothing but rubble and splinters. A lucky punch always stunned Sharpe just long enough for the bad guys to get away.
There hasn't been enough written about this guy. He elevated the world of stunt men to make it something spectacular.
So Fox and I would talk and try and manuever Vince into selling us the latest find. I remember Hellsing - Anime
Click images for desktop size: "Hellsing - Anime"
fighting hard for a washed out 16mm print of "Undersea Kingdom". I lost. But the creepy thing about Vince was that after Fox would leave he'd sell me a dupe . . .
The hardest thing about serials was figuring out how to watch them. It pretty hard, most of the time, to just sit and watch 15 episodes at once. They're the kind of thing that you want to watch sporadically, so that the credits and the re-cap of the previous episode seem fresh. It was doable with video tape, a bit easier on DVD but still not quite satisfactory.
I've discovered an excellent use for the Apple TV!
By telling iTunes that the serial is a TV show I can set up each serial episode as a TV episode, including naming each episode. But what is totally cool is that iTunes and the Apple TV remember which episodes I've watched! That's more of a problem than you'd imagine. So know more accidentally skipping an episode or watching half of one I'd already seen . . . yes, I'm capable of doing that.

I'm using ecto Beta 43 . . . Its fixed a lot of the bugs recently introduced by previous betas . . .

March 28, 2008

For all the people here this is the loneliest place in the world

Far Away From The City by Yannis Angel
Click images for desktop size: "Far Away From The City" by Yannis Angel
I like to give my dogs treats. It pleases me to see them all excited.
They all sit around me, as close as possible, to show they are ready. If I don't pass the treats out fast enough my puppy will stand and sit down ever closer, eventually she'll just poke me in the leg with her nose, just to make sure I know she is there, being a good girl and worthiest of treat getting dogs.
Monolith Monsters 1957 Even my little blind dog jerks his head around if he hears me going to the treat table.
Because I like to give my dogs treats so much my puppy keeps having to go on near starvation diets.
For everything we do that gives us pleasure there always seems to be someone who suffers for it.
In this movie, "Welcome To The Quiet Room", a girl in a mental hospital because of her eating disorder says, "I can't eat because I know that for every meal I take there is a valuable person somewhere else in the world who goes hungry. I don't like the system but I am powerless to change it."
Before you start sniping that I'm quoting mental patients to bolster an argument, remember it wasn't a mental patient who wrote it, it was a man putting words into a characters mouth.
If I can see this and some weak writer can see it why can't those arrogant people who hold national office see the same thing.
There's been a lot of proof lately. Four thousand American kids dead in Iraq. Four thousand . . . we killed Saddam Hussien because he was helping kill people. I don't think he killed four thousand with all his pogroms and genetic cleansings. Bush, our congress, the slime that support these liars and fanatics did.
There's proof, better proof than made up Weapons Of Mass Destruction.
All these congressmen and Bush had to take an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States. They swore to protect my Liberty, my Freedom and my pursuit of happiness. All of our Freedoms. That's a big job, kind of awesome in the responsibility.
When these guys just ignore their sworn oath shouldn't they be tried? Shouldn't they be held accountable? Dark Factory by Ru Port
Click images for desktop size: "Dark Factory" by Ru Port
Shouldn't every cretin in Homeland Security and every President, Vice-President, Congressman and Senator, every executive at AT&T who work to take away my freedoms, my liberty, my happiness be tried for treason? Why not?
They're persecuting Barry Bonds for perjury about whether or not he took steroids. This is a big deal? Compared to some dopes who, as a group, accept bribes, create laws to help their buddies and to hurt us, who take away the very things that they are sworn to protect, why isn't that a big deal? A much bigger deal. Shouldn't we hold law makers to at least the same standard we hold our baseball players?
Did George W Bush ever play football? I don't think so. Maybe that's why he's such a creepy little coward leading a bought off constituency of cowards who slink around in the night and try and steal the things that make us a great people.
There's this incredibly unattractive woman. She was convicted as a soldier for torturing her prisoners. The Four Hundred Blows There's the famous photo's of her smiling and looking like a vile creature pointing at the remnants of her handiwork.
What a monster. She came out and said that those photographs were responsible for at least a thousand US deaths. That the pictures of an ugly woman getting pleasure from harming her prisoners created thousands of new terrorists.
I can't fault that logic.
But instead of being contrite and accepting the responsibility for causing the needless deaths of her comrades she blamed the media for printing the pictures and went on to say that what she did was right and that it was an invasion of her privacy that these pictures were published . . .
And this woman isn't in prison being rehabilitated, isn't in prison for her crimes of torturing human beings. She isn't even in a mental hospital being cured of her deviant sick behavior. And no one has repudiated her. No one has come out and said she's wrong . . .
Maybe Bush didn't read comic books as a kid. Maybe he doesn't know that America is a great country filled with a great and magnificent people. Maybe he's so lacking in imagination he can only see us as being as small and stupid as he is. Maybe he's so inured to people and just so used to having his own pleasures that he can't bear the thought of any of us succeeding and getting ahead to achieve our rightful goals.
The bad guys torture people.
We used to be the good guys. We got our intel because we were smart and clever and because we were right. We were right because we were protecting our liberty, Frankenstein
Click images for desktop size: "Frankenstein" by Universal Pictures
our freedom to travel and to come and go as we please and not have to account to anyone for our actions so long as we obeyed the laws that said our actions weren't allowed to harm other people like ourselves.
We had a right to privacy. Our Social Security cards used to say in nice red letters, "NOT TO BE USED FOR PERSONAL IDENTIFICATION". Now our letters, out conversations are stolen from us and some sniveling group of self proclaimed brain police sift through them to decide if we are alright to use our god given rights. And the congress and our president pat us on the head and lie to us and tell us, "this is good, this is for your good."
Torture is to cause pain to the near point of death. It is to create fear, fear of death.
Torture was never an American option before. It probably happened. There have always been a cadre of weak cowards, sick sadists who manage to avoid criminal detention.
LSD, sodium pentathol and the like were all tried as ways to get people to tell us what we wanted to know, Hell In The Pacific but we didn't torture or waterboard or give sickening government lingo about the way to torture.
Our enemy's stuck needles under our fingernails and we laughed and spit in their faces. Our enemies used water torture to get brainwash and distort us. We laughed at them and the few unfortunates who couldn't take the torture and broke we scorned and detested.
Now we're the bad guys.
And nobody has the guts to stop us.
The election is coming and we have an man who acts too old who wants to step up the torture. A woman who misremembers being shot at, a youngish man who talks about hope but still wants to keep people out of our country.
I have to vote. Its a privilege and an obligation. I still don't know who can save America from the hell the cowards have thrown us into. Fully Alive By Velvet Dreams
Click images for desktop size: "Fully Alive" by Velvet Dreams
Who can save the economy, save our freedom of religion, save our souls.
We need a Superman.

My cold is hanging on but Vitamin C massive overdoes have kept the worst of it away. I feel rotten but functioning.
My little blind dog walks around honking and wheezing, but he's still eating and still having some fun.
My puppy thinks I need to scratch her butt more. She's convinced that that is my only hope for salvation.

March 26, 2008

Always shave with the grain

Entrapment By Envy
Click images for desktop size: "Entrapment" by Envy
Many people don't get it that the largest ethnic group in LA are the Koreans.
You'd have to work pretty hard to not have Korean friends, 2nd and 3rd generation American friends. They're a diverse people and turned the quasi-ghetto, Koreatown, into its own bustling mini-metropolis which could never hold them. Which is how I think it should be.
In Ireland I heard this anecdote several times. "The main export of Ireland is its people. Wild Zero We can land anywhere and breed until its all Ireland. That's how we're going to bring about world peace or a better glass of stout."
As much as I understood that it seemed to apply to the Koreans in LA. They're just quieter.
When we moved into our house up in the Hollywood Hills one of my Korean friends gave us a present. It was a hand carved totem, nearly four feet tall. From the dark wood base two cylindrical figures grew. They cylinders ended in grotesque contorted faces. Down the cylinders, in Korean, were two slogans: "The Ugliest Man In The World" and "The Ugliest Woman In The World".
The idea was that if any evil demons attempted to enter your home they would be frightened by these leering faces. But what made it appealing to me and as cherished as another friends mezuzah was this: If any particularly nasty and fearless demons tried to enter your home they would see the two horribly ugly people and figure there was no greater evil that they could visit on you and leave to look for someone more fortunate that they could inflict.
I don't know if I liked the idea of empathetic, discerning demons best or the idea of conning the demons into leaving your happiness alone.
I gave the "Ugly Man And Woman" away when I left LA for good. I almost wish I hadn't. Not that I'm being inflicted by demons now, far from it, I mean except for the demons we bring with us. Everything is going pretty well. I just miss looking at that sculpture. It always made me smile and remember things.

This is very cool. MLB.com is doing a tape delay web-cast of the opening games of the Red Sox vs A's from Japan!
Classic Pinup
Click images for desktop size: "Pinup" by Unknown
Its based on the new Silverfast tech that Microsoft is promoting. I've messed around with Silverfast, in my benign ignorant way and think its pretty good. I prefer it to Adobe's attempting to foist Flash as the de facto standard.
See, I don't always hate things just because they're Microsoft . . .
Each new tech reminds me of old times when it was cool to work in Mac or Linux. When it was new and time to explore. Now that Mac has scored big with iPod's and iPhones things seem a little sad. Mac is no longer the outlaw. Its the chic.
I liked being an outlaw and thinking, even if it was just self deception, that Apple gave a damn about me. The Adventures Of Robin Hood That they were willing to work hard to keep me loyal and happy to give me reasons to stay loyal. Now they're just another big stinking company. You still find a lot of people in Customer Service who remind you of the old days, guys who'll bend the rules just a little bit because its the right thing to do.
WalMart is selling computers with Ubuntu (linux) pre-installed . . .
The only way to be an outlaw anymore is to write letters instead of emails . . .
That's exciting and boring at the same time.

March 25, 2008

Opening Day . . . Nearly

Candy Pop by THFM
Click images for desktop size: "Candy Pop" by TFHM
The dogs woke me up too early this morning. A notorious cat had invaded the yard . . .
Couldn't fall back to sleep until late hence over slept . . .
No particular dog has stepped forward to apologize.
Out Of The Past
Some fellow in France has done a little review of this site. The link is over on the link page. I only think its fair to link and counter link. Networks . . .
Anyway, the site is in French so I'm semi-baffled as to what he's saying. I do note the names Ring Lardner and CLR James are in the paragraph. Even if he's only saying that I'm no Ring Lardner or CLR James I'm very cool with that.
Maybe it has nothing to do with me at all. My French is pretty poor.
Anyway, the mention of CLR James and Lardner reminded me that Opening Day is less than a week away.
Yeah.
I love baseball. Not so much as a MLB fan but of the game itself.
It has become a world wide sport. I saw the Boston Red Sox play at the Surrey Oval in London. I was able to play in a well organized league in London.
Baseball is the one American sport that truly has become international. They've always signed Hispanic players and now they're bringing in Asian players as well. I watched a Korean pitcher play in Triple A ball.
I resent my body for not letting em play anymore. It might be a matter of "The older I get the faster I was" but I think I was a pretty good player. Not Major League good, but good enough to love playing and good enough to enjoy having people watch me play.
I don't make predictions on baseball games. The greatest teams lose 1 out of 3. The greatest batters lose more than half the time. Its what makes baseball more than a spectacle and a game that nourishes and allows heroes today to be the goats of tomorrow.
I once missed baseball so much that I got into cricket. Ball And Glove
Click images for desktop size: "Ball And Glove"
I followed the County teams in London. I enjoyed it and marveled at some of the players skills. Cricket taught me a lot about British society. Our worlds are mirrored in the games we play.
One thing I realized about baseball is that it has never produced any great books about the game. I mean there've ben great movies about players ("The Lou Gehrig Story"), great books written about teams and seasons, great articles written about some of the games, (my favorite baseball quote - "Watching him pitch was as easy as trying to buy a friendly drink for a whore" I'm not quite sure what it means which only likes me make it more), great works of fiction ("Bang The Drum Slowly", "Ironweed"). But there's never been a great book about the beauty of the game. Nothing that can compare to CLR James devastating treatises on cricket certainly. ("He who knows only cricket knows nothing of cricket").
I can't imagine why. Maybe its because the time spent in the stands or on the field Where Danger Lives allow for enough rumination that the thoughts we have become too personal, something that we can't bear to share. Unlike cricket (where a match lasts 4 to 5 days) there isn't enough time to think it through and let those personal thoughts graft onto our own imagined coda's where we can distance ourselves to the point of being willing to share.
All I know is I love baseball, all the dreams its giving me, all the times it let me succeed and all the times it let me fail.
That kids in Singapore, in Greece, in Utah and in Chile all know what I'm talking about; that a pickup game in a sandlot is as important as a game in the play offs and that its been this way and always will be this way despite the scandals, despit the players, the game is bigger than them all.

And lest we forget this is the start of spring practice in football. USC has the Mark Sanchez (Gatorade Player of the year and my friends personal choice for Trojan of the year) vs Mitch Mustaine (8-0 for Arkansas as a freshman!!) battle to look forward to, the usual log jam of superb players at running back; the worries about the D-Line and the LB's now that some all world players have moved on; the questions at WR and CB.
This really is a beautiful time of year . . . if the snow would finally melt.

March 24, 2008

Virtue will always find virtue
Wai Kai Fan

Untitled by Carlo Carra
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Carlos Carra
I'm fighting a cold.
Flues, colds are always dangerous for chemo patients, I mean ex-chemo patients, or former, whatever.
Don't have enough immune system left so a simple cold can knock you out for a week, 104 temperatures, a near certainty of pneumonia. That kind of thing.
Mudhoney I've been able to avoid them for the last few years. I might be able to fight this one off too. My temperature is 97.5 (which is normal for me), I've just got the scratchy throat and the inflamed sinuses.
Watched a lot of movies yesterday. An old Johnny To, Andy Lau film "Full Time Killer" was far more entertaining than it had any right to be.
The real find was a Canadian flic: "Lars And The Real Girl". It seems so long since I've enjoyed a film where the actors spoke English . . . Its an odd little independent comedy, mainly American actors. As with all little movies its incumbent on the actors to carry the load. They do so here with nice touching real performances all the way around. Patricia Clarkson (I remember her as playing one of Frasier's important girl friends) does great work.
The lead, Ryan Gosling, had a miserable sort of part, very difficult to play, and only rang false or seemed to be reaching once or twice. Most of the time he was totally believable and managed to suck you in.
The plot is weird. Lars orders one of those love dolls off the internet. He accepts it as a real woman and treats her elegantly, chastely. He takes the doll with him to church, to visit his parents grave, to parties. He has his brother and sister-in-law chaperone.
The people of the small town accept this and while they all have some snide asides at first come to see the doll as real as Lars does.
There's no pat answers as to why Lars has the delusions. I thought that was nice. It lead you to some places to speculate but doesn't slam you in the head.
Its funny, unpredictable and I wouldn't dare to think of it as life affirming but it does give insights into people, insights and thoughts I'd never would have had on my own.
Dreaming Of Texas - Anonymous
Click images for desktop size: "Dreaming Of Texas" by Anonymous

The beta 40 from ecto seems to have corrected the nastiest, most time consuming bugs. Its still not perfect. For me, its further from perfect than it was in beta 32 . . . or some number in the 30's. I still prefer it. I tried using MarsEdit for the whole caboodle and found it too tiresome. Keyboard shortcuts and things were just aggravating and wouldn't remap properly in MarsEdit. MarsEdit was also worthless for doing the layout. Because this jumbly crowded mess pleases my eyes.

Yesterday ended with a sad email from my puppy's breeder, her gramma. My puppy's biological aunt passed away from lymphoma . . . cancer.
This thing always brings up sad thought. I had two of my dogs fight cancer. At least when they had it I had the money to help them fight the disease.
One had bone cancer and had to have his right front leg amputated at the shoulder. He lived for five more years that way. He really never slowed down. I called him Tripod after the New Adventures Of Batman And Robin surgery.
Then their was another dog who had pancreatic cancer. We got her on a Good Friday. Adopted her from the pound in West LA.
On the way home we stopped at Delores'. Its gone now. Its a parking lot at Wilshire and LaCienega. We ran into Sandra Locke there and started chatting. She named the new puppy.
I don't want anything to happen to my puppy, or any of my dogs.
I love them all. They give so much and ask for so little really. I wish they all had eternal life. What a world full of pettings and laughter that would be.
I'd like the same for children. While I'm at it I'd want the same for all of us. But mainly for kids and dogs.

The holiday weekend has been sort of wonderful. Its been too long since I've done so little and had so much pleasure and fun. Even sleeping 12 hours a day can't detract, it only seems to enhance.
When things go back to normal I hope the buoyancy carries on.

March 23, 2008

Happy Easter

The Gift Of Life
Click images for desktop size: "The Gift Of Life" by Unknown
I've never gotten why Christmas is so much more "celebrated" than Easter.
Probably its just that the gifts are better at Christmas. Maybe we're just more comfortable with birth than torture, death, rebirth.
I should have paid more attention in catechism school. Marlowe I just thought it was cool that I got to leave regular school early to go to learn this Catholic stuff.
Of course I got restless and bothered the nuns and brothers with silly questions: "Brother,you're on a boat. Its a high holiday. You Don't take communion. Then ZAP! You cross the international dateline and its yesterday all over again. Have you avoided a sin?"
The answer I got to my well thought out bored questions was always the same. "Siddown, kid."
Maybe the nuns and brothers refusal to give torturously complicated answers to my bizarre minefield questions accounts for my spiritual health today. Its nice having someone to blame.

Yesterday was a good day.
Went to two used book stores. Got 3 new Destroyer books. Sinanju mind candy. People are amazed I read these. Some people are amazed I can read at all. I like them the same way I like comic books, fine art and monster movies. I'm plenty discriminating. I just like a book I can read in two hours and feel like I've had some fun.
I also got a Sara Peretsky "VI Warshawski" book. Philip Marlowe and VI Warshawski are the only fictional characters I've ever had a crush on.
One store had a nice long rack of new magazines. I got to look over "Film Comment" and "Sight & Sound", the "intelligentsia" film mags.
For some reason they've finally decided to acknowledge the Korean film industry . . . I used to think that the intelligentsia were the vanguard, but I realise that Preston Sturges, Laurel & Hardy, and Korean melodramas are too popular to be good, in their eyes.
There's going to be a retrospective of some Korean Films (note, a retrospective gets you capitalized") at the Lincoln Film Center.
Anime by Reinsfelt
Click images for desktop size: "Anime" by Reinsfelt
They're too late. You can catch the new stuff at a few theaters in Koreatown.
We also went to the Farmer's Market. Cool bargins if you can buy in excess.
There was a "Mexican" stall. It was disappointing. Packaged tortillas when I was expecting fresh. It was more Chiliean than Mexican. It bothered me that somehow I could tell the difference. No salsa fresca, no arroz con pollo, just the same old same old stuff a step up from Taco Bell, but that's about all.
But did go into a big and cool Asian Market! Lots of cool food at bargain prices. Only bought a few things, rice sticks for 99 cents (compared to $2.50) and a big bottle of pad thai sauce for a buck thirty nine (compared to 5 bucks for a small can).
They even had Red Bean Ice Cream bars, coffee coated peanuts and THREE kinds of kim chee! As well as enormous sexual carrots and limes at 6 for a dollar.
They had plenty of stuff and then we discovered, just 300 yards down the road, an even BIGGER Asian supermarket. Next shopping day plan to add them to my mad quest to save money on foods.
Mothra The biggest surprise is that it was one of the only times in recent memory when we went out and DID NOT get anything for the dogs . . . to their credit they took this well.
So it was a day that I find pleasurable and nice. Some small problems with my back from standing too long but nothing to distract from the calm and simple niceness of the day.
The plan today is to take the "pack" on a walk through the woods. They'll try and act brave.
My little blind dog is hanging in. Two days ago he was staggering but still ate well and still followed me around everywhere I went. He gets aggravated if I don't stay in one place long enough for him to get a proper nap. I figure that's a good sign - him getting aggravated.
My puppy is still always hungry.
We're still in love with each other.

March 22, 2008

We can't chose who we love

Girls Of The Beach
Click images for desktop size: "Girls Of The Beach" by Unknown
I wake up every day at 6:30 now. Either the alarm clock or, most likely, the dogs wake me.
I didn't used to like routines. Now I do. They give me a yardstick to measure myself against. Making sure that my body and mind are functioning in some fashion and what that fashion is.
I block out too many things. I need a yardstick to tell me just how fine I am.
It's Alive I get out of bed. Let the dogs out. Make coffee and then take my meds.
Its dull but vital.
I then let the dogs in, and they watch me intently while I make their breakfast.
Its a complicated process, takes me about 10 minutes.
I have to walk back and forth and measure, opening doors and refrigerators. They watch me in the only dead silent part of their day. Its almost reverential.
First each amount of kibble has to be measured out into each bowl. Then the can of meat has to be opened and it gets measured into the mix. I pour about a tablespoon of olive oil into each bowl, for their coats, eyes and digestion.
Twice a week I split two eggs between them. I used to give them raw eggs, I'd separate them standing at the counter. I heard a podcast that said it was a better idea to scramble and cook the eggs. Now I do that. The dogs certainly like them that way.
The next step is to measure in a vegetable powder, vitamin supplement. The supplement is actually designed for people feeding their dogs raw unprocessed meat.
Then I miss in some warm water. With the canned food and the vegetable powder this makes a nice revolting looking broth that the dogs like to lap up before crunching their kibble. Somedays when their little faces move me I'll hide a little treat in each of their bowls.
Then my puppy quickly devours her food and then watches the other two finish theirs. Then all three have to amble around and inspect each others bowls, Hot Rod Race By Robert Williams
Click images for desktop size: "Hot Rod Race" by Robert Williams
just to be certain that some tidbit didn't get over looked.
I sit with my little blind dog and pray that he eats. When he does I'm happy, when he doesn't I have an excuse to worry.
If he doesn't eat I have to pick up his bowl and hide it from the others. Particularly my puppy. She's on a perpetual diet. So she's always eager to steal anything edible. She's not "bad" about it. She has rules. If its on the floor its fair game.
I then let them out again and when they come in they get their daily chew. I worry about their teeth and its such a pain brushing their teeth that . . . well, I get lazy.
And that's how my morning starts.
Lost Lonely And Vicious There are two cats here as well. I don't do anything much for them.

ecto, the tool I use for layout of these posts, is up to Beta 40!! I'm finding all these betas tedious especially when, like yesterdays beta 39, they break a feature that I find invaluable. This one may or may not have dealt with that issue. It wouldn't upload the images so I had to do them all by hand, including creating the thumbnails (which is what you see until you click on them). It also borked some of the code. I used MarsEdit to fix that. While it was nice to see the issue addressed so quickly it still felt wearisome doing everything by hand.
It was the only black spot on an excellent Good Friday.

March 21, 2008

I've traveled thousands of miles only to find you again

The Flash
Click images for desktop size: "The Flash" by DC Comics
I had a song on the iPod yesterday. One of the band's tunes. It was good. We were good. I even remembered the choreography. On one of the podcasts I listen to I heard a band cover one of our old tunes. They did a good job. I didn't get any money out of it. Probably, neither did they.
We were always too good for the bars and the club circuits but not good enough for the big time.
We watched "Kurt Cobain - About A Son" a while back. It was a terrible pretentious, boring mess. I Escaped From Devil's Island The interesting part was hearing Cobain talk. (The movie only offers up a few stills of Nirvana and NONE of their music)
One thing he said was when he started up with the band all they wanted to do was to be popular enough to play a few times a week and pay the bills.
I think avoiding a job and meeting girls are the best reasons to start a rock band.

I don't hate Egypt. I don't hate India.
I certainly don't hate the people who live there.
My issues with Egypt are kind of shallow. I think its the dirtiest, smelliest country I've ever been to . . . and it has bugs and flies . . . that's it. Nothing else.
I hate bugs.
Egyptian bugs are big and desert tough. You can't kill them with a ball peen hammer.
Egypt also has some wonderful people. A girl (we were young enough then to be boys and girls) arranged for a midnight boat ride down the Nile. She had no ulterior motives other than to dazzle me.
It worked. There's little to compare when you consider a desert moon. Drifting down the Nile I escaped the stench of the cities. It was incomparable, silent and lovely.
When I got to walk up to the pyramids and the Sphinx I was disappointed, not in them but in the scandalous amount of litter and the graffiti.
India is more problematic for me. Its a huge country and while I've been through all the states I've only spent time in a few.
I lack the confidence of most Americans. Eternity By Antonis Fes
Click images for desktop size: "Eternity" by Antonis Fes
I don't think that driving through an area means that I understand it or that I know it.
But some things can taint a memory. They can become a traumatic indic.
I was on a bus, passing through a town on the way to Nepal. The bus had to stop for a large traffic jam. Their were cops there. It was gridlock (a scary word to most Southern Californians).
From the bus window I could see but not hear the commotion on the street. A mob of about 200 people were chasing a man and pelting him with stones and bricks. Any hard garbage they could pick up on the street.
He ran, they chased. Until one projectile seemed to catch him. He stumbled and fell. The crowd surrounded him. Things kept flying through the air.
I couldn't see what was happening but I could imagine it. That was worse.
After about 15 minutes the bus moved forward about 30 feet. The crowd dispersed.
I was nonplussed as to why the cops or any of the people not throwing In A Lonely Place stuff hadn't intervened. An angry mob is a scary thing but . . .
When the bus moved I had a clearer view of the running ma's mangled body. We sat their for about 40 more minutes and I had to look at the dead body. No one moved to touch him or to see if he were actually dead. The cops were more concerned about getting traffic moving. I never saw an ambulance.
A decade later I was traveling through India with an Indian pal. He wanted to change my mind about his homeland, a homeland he had never been to before.
We were waling through the streets while he was chagrined that the language he thought he had learned from his parents wasn't being understood by many people we met. When suddenly we hit the fringes of a big crowd. We pushed through it for no good reason.
When we got close enough we saw a large group of men pushing a large bus and trying to tip it over. It was a hot sunny day and the gaily painted green and white bus should have looked cool. All of its windows were shattered. All of its sides were busted and dented. That and the angry mob kind of killed any cool factor.
The bus was full of people, men, women children. No one over 40 as near as we could estimate.
Things got uglier. There was a construction site nearby that was providing an unending supply of concrete blocks and pipes deemed perfect for bus throttling. There was also some gas and bottles I guess because someone bought some out and they set the bus on fire.
Final Destination by Alex Iuss
Click images for desktop size: "Final Destination" by Alex Iuss
Even though the flames thinned out the crowd and forced the mob to pull back the mob refused to let the people off the buss, when the door opened the bus occupants were met with a murderous torrent of bricks and concrete.
A fire truck showed up and that caused the mob to disperse.
The fire truck didn't try to stop the fire, they just doused surrounding buildings. The job seemed to be more concerned with containing the blaze.
At least the people inside were able to start to get out. My friend, I, two other Americans and this crazy Canadian tacitly decided to go help pull the people free. They were in bad shape, more psychologically than physically. We led them away.
The crazy Canadian rushed back into the bus to make sure no one was left inside. As it was burning pretty solidly by now we were willing to just watch. He ran in and came out before we got too nervous for him. His black baseball cap was singed and he had no eyebrows left on his exit.
It Conquered The World We never did find out what started the whole mess. It was good loud and exciting but did nothing to make me like India.
As to the crazy Canadian. He really was nuts. He was in the Canadian Army. None of us Americans were even fully aware that Canada had any army! Then we sort of figured they had to.
The Crazy Canadian said something that baffled us. Speaking about the bus riders, "They were probably the Indian equivalent of Quebecois!"
I told you he was crazy.
He traveled with us for a week. We watched him start five fist fights. Always with 3 or more guys.
What made this crazy is that he was a terrible fighter. They would invariably hand him his head. Now most of us, if we get beaten up once or twice we would tend to alter our behavior enough to stop getting beaten up! Or at least pick on smaller guys or at least pick on just one guy at at time.
That logic didn't work for the Crazy Canadian. It started to be fascinating to watch him.
Almost all of the fights we watched were started because he decided that someone in the group had been disrespectful to Canada! As in walking past the Canadian Consulate and spitting on the sidewalk or laughing amongst themselves . . .
He was nuts but at least he never asked us to help him fight.

March 20, 2008

I'm just looking for something to do while my hair dries

City Of Goth By 3dFiction
Click images for desktop size: City Of Goth" by 3dFiction
Just getting ready for the long weekend.
Should be filled with fun: Used bookstores, dogs in the park, trying to believe its spring. That sort of thing.
And movies, I hope, too many beautiful stories. I saw a film yesterday that was disturbing and beautiful: "Welcome To Dongmakgol". Korean. Hell Come To Frogtown It seems all the great movies I see recently are Korean.
I guess you'd call this a war movie. It uses war to show the insanity of people and as a way to show people bursting out of the self imposed confines to be the something better that they actually are. I prefer sports to war, in real life anyway.
This one is about a remote Korean village during the Korean war. It opens with a pretty but slightly off center girl playing in a kodachrome field delighting in the butterflies. She looks up and watches an American fighter plane fly so close she tries to reach up and touch it.
The image is gorgeous and would be enough to be the star attraction at an art exhibit installation.
The plane crashes. The American pilot survives and is rescued by the people of the village.
Then we meet the members of the People's Liberation Army. They are a group that has had the worst of it, blooded, wounded near death. The Political Officer orders the High Officer to execute those who are too wounded to continue, they are slowing them down.
The High Officer refuses and the Political Officer draws his gun to execute him. Before the Political Officer can pull the trigger he is shot. The rag tag group is ambushed by the American Allied Forces. This sequence is brutal beyond believe, climaxing with the Americans surrounding a North Korean who is unarmed and missing a leg and blowing him to pieces. Its made more poignant as this same soldier had begged the High Comrade to not execute him, that he wanted to live.
The other "outsider" main characters are two South Koreans Boarding The Stars By Sinai B
Click images for desktop size: "Boarding The Stars" by Sinai B
who have deserted their units in the face of fire. The medic stops the Lieutenant from committing suicide.
Eventually all these people will end up straggling to the village of Dongmakgol, a small village that was unaware of the war outside their valley. They live a carefree live. Boars digging up their cornfield are of more concern than bombs and guns.
They really don't understand and feel no loss in not understanding. They are people just happy to be alive.
A large part of the film is funny and amusing, light to the touch. Watching enemies try to co-exist while they try to replace the village grain that their war, that they, stupidly destroyed.
What happens is sort of obvious but no less delightful for that. They learn that they are merely people and that uniforms are just a tool to keep them unaware of that.
Hot Money Girl There's an historic fact here. The USA in order to wipe out the red communists, ordered entire villages to be bombed into extinction. America had the tech and the resolve and the insanity to do this. We continued to do this in Viet Nam and in Iraq. We learned this scorched earth policy from the Nazi's, perfecting their Blitzkrieg approach and using it as a method of defense as opposed to attack. We seem to have forgotten the Nazi's lost the war.
A rescue team is sent in to save the American fighter pilot. The rescue squad has 24 hours to save him because they intend to level the entire region to drive the commies out of the caves and valleys. Donmakgol is going to be destroyed.
The American, North Koreans and South Koreans form their own allied army. The six of them intend to save the village.
The villagers don't understand: "Why did you come here if you only intended to leave?"
This final section is melodramatic and walks a tight line avoiding dripping into bathos. It works. I don't want to spell out details of the conclusion because I hope that you'll seek this movie out.
Its worth it.

My little blind dog isn't doing much better. I am. Sleeping on the floor has helped my back. I don't sleep well but I look on it as therapy. The little dog wandered around, hacking and bugging me. He only comes to me when he's scared and wants comforting, so I don't mind at all.
I started out today to respond to some emails. I don't hate Egypt or India.
If I've time this weekend I'll explain.

March 19, 2008

When you reduce a person to an object then use that person for pleasure that is a perversion
Simone Beniquez

Black Wing By G Brom
Click images for desktop size: "Black Wing" by G Brom
I had a dream last night about walking through an art gallery and the enormous canvases were all paintings of the stuff I post here.
Some of them I didn't much like but the overall effect kept swinging wildly between great and silly.
I wonder what my brain is trying to tell me.

A Virgin Among The Living Dead I've been gathering Rock Hudson - Doris Day movies. Since we watched the grotesque, cool and funny "Pillow Talk" so much it seemed worthwhile. The pleasure of sequels.
I trade movies a lot. I traded for "Lover Come Back" and "Man's Favorite Sport" (The Howard Hawks directed one without Doris Day).
What's odd is that I only had to trade one film. Its the hot new one floating around: "Snuff 102".
"Snuff 102" is a hot Argentinean flic. Its hot only because the mescaleros at Homeland Security have been confiscating it at the borders . . . I didn't know that their job also entailed protecting our morals.
Its been confiscated in a few other countries as well, not in bulk or anything but because bored border guards need to do something to justify their existence and paychecks I guess so while rifling through luggage they've snagged a few copies.
I think that the justification is a "Warning" on the case stating that "This film contains actual torture footage. Not for the sensitive" or some such. Its in Spanish.
I'd guess these border guards figure they've sequestered the holy grail of contraband. A snuff film.
When Paul Schraeder was making the interesting "Hardcore" he noted, "No one's ever seen a snuff film. They probably don't even exist but we need them to exist."
Shortly thereafter came the "Faces Of Death" video tapes. These were legal as they used some fake and some newsreel footage of being people and animals being killed. They were boring and unsettling. Batgirl
Click images for desktop size: "Batgirl" by DC Comics
I think they're up to "Faces Of Death IX" by now.
While some sicko serial killers were known to videotape their crimes so they could relive the perversity of their acts no one has ever been arrested for selling or possessing a movie that showed a murder being committed solely for the sake of being filmed.
The whole idea of it first came to light in 1976. Roberta Findlay was looking to move from porn into the mainstream so she made a poor biker horror film. Her husband, Michael, saw they had a turgid mess so he tacked on an ending scene that supposedly showed the cast going berserk and killing one of the crew members. Grindhouse Heartstopper fanatics had seen enough on screen mayhem to know it was fake but the distributors hired some picketers to protest the "real" killings in the movie and the film created a buzz that really took off when the movie was put out on video.
It was blatant and obviously just another staged fake killing, but people argued over it. They wanted it to be real.
I don't know why.
Couldn't even guess. If I did people would seem pretty scary.
As to "Snuff 102" its an incredibly boring horror film. Not only boring but arty pretentious. (With Alexandro Jordorowsky I'm starting to think that Argentina produces some of the most vacuous pretentious movie makers in the world. But they still get their flics made. That is an accomplishment.)
What I think I dislike most about the film is that this guy seems to want to make us think he's too good to be making this sort of stuff. Its so loaded with flashy sequences and stupid camera angles, black and white sequences and even some rotoscoped scenes from the abattoir to mix in with the revolting old medical experiments on animal footage.
All of this navel gazing thrashing about doesn't give us any insights into the mind of the serial killer, the victim or even into the mind of someone who would want to see a real murder.
The Japanese "Guinea Pig" films and the "All Night Long" movies had a vicious art to them. They accomplished more than just voyeurism.
Those films were civilized and incredibly savage. They dragged you into something you did not want to be part of. They consumed you with guilt for watching or enjoying any part of them. They were made with enough love and care to force you to keep your eyes on the screen.
"Guinea Pig: Flowers Of Blood" featured an old man wearing kabuki style make-up, Anime
Click images for desktop size: "Anime" by Unknown
a samurai helmet and a black rubber apron. He spoke to the camera and lovingly and patiently explained his various techniques of torture, how to inflict pain and pleasure while delaying death. Oh, he demonstrated all of this on a young Japanese girl he had strapped to a bed.
"Snuff 102" wants to have that sort of inane power but it wants to get it by emulating Eli Roth's "Hostel". He wants the blood and the carnage and the money and the fame but he can't bring himself to get wet.
So we're left with a turgid girl gets kidnapped, gets real scared, girl escapes bad movie.
But I got two Rock Hudson flics for it so that's pretty cool . . .

My little blind dog is still with us. If it were a friend bouncing my worries and emotions around like this I'd find a new friend. He's so up and down and he drags me along with him.
Slept on the floor last night, as much for my back as for him. He was annoying as heck but for all the right reasons, not sick reasons.
My puppy was jealous!

March 18, 2008

You can't control how someone else lives. Its been tried and it fails. Always.
Desmond Duncan

Binnies - LeviTaTe
Click images for desktop size: "Binnies" by LeviTaTe
Around here everyone is crabby.
Crabbier than usual.
Lack of sleep. I'm used to that. No one else here is.
A Bullet For The General Its not a "skill" I'm normally proud of.
The issue is my little blind dog.
He's been wheezing for months. The wheeze developed into a hacking cough. Been treating that with mixed results.
The severity of the cough has lessened, but the duration of it has . . . its like non-stop. Fifteen minutes is a blessing, 20 minutes is a miracle. Twenty minutes of silence.
The sound is like you imagine as the death rattle of some Dickensian character about to lay out some final prophesy.
Its wet, constant and must be painful.
Most of the crabbiness comes, not from lack of sleep but from everything that cough makes us face: Mortality. The sick joke that our dogs are destined to not out live us. The sicker joke that we're not going to outlive most of the people walking around today.
When confronted with a beloved friends mortality its impossible to not be aware of your own mortality, of your life and all the negatives.
You know there are postives but you can't think of positives when your thoughts and portals to dreams are always disrupted by a racking painful lunger that is always just off center, right about there. Its a pain you can't bear.
Poor dog.
Poor us.

March 17, 2008

The Aztec's great revenge was creating the myth of a city of gold

Airbound Spore by 0
Click images for desktop size: "Airbound Spore" by 0
Went grocery shopping yesterday.
Went to four stores in a mad attempt to save money. I used to do similar by myself but I did it on foot. This time we had a car. Made it only slightly easier.
My first cynical calculations had the savings at $30 or so. Since it took four hours I still felt that was pretty good.
The brainwork of trying to remember the prices here and there 100 Tears was wearisome. When your looking at saving 10 cents here or 20 cents there its fatiguing.
There needs to be a stronger word than chagrin for some of this. There was one thing, rice cakes, that we stocked up on for 1.49, this was a savings of 10 cents an item. When we got to the third store found out that they had an unadvertised special where the rice cakes were 99 cents . . .
Little things mean a lot.
At one time I would have trudged back to the first store and asked to return the, now, expensive rice cakes. As it was we re-stocked up on them. I guess this was easier and a lot less embarrassing.
Doing the final calculations figured we saved $130 bucks. That figures out to 16 bucks an hour each, even allowing for gasoline spent.
That means we can buy more dog treats.
You can't glamorize it. It sucks being poor.
Especially when your whims are fairly minor. That means they're always just within reach.
Fifty's movies called it the "rat race". I never understood that. Its a not so pretty image for a not so pretty thing but I don't get the simile at all.
Rats and the working poor?
I don't get down though. I remember once in LA going to the LAVA, an art walk visiting all the studios that had erupted in downtown LA. As usual I strayed from the designated path and came across a park on 6th Street. It was the first time I'd ever seen a cardboard city.
It was peculiar and frightening. There were all the giant boxes, some of them painted in what were supposed to be cheery and uplifting colors. A number of them were decorated with children's finger paintings. The effect roiled from sad, pathetic, to horrifying. Especially under the bright LA sun with the 20 foot palm trees bowing weakly in the crystal blue sky.
It was a homogenous group. World Map
Click images for desktop size: "World Map"
Wino's who'd given up and mainly people who tied to look, "human" (or society's concept of respectable). Blacks, Whites, Hispanics and Asians. They all worked and played together, trying to keep this a home while it teetered on the brink of a new hell.
It almost conjured up images of Vidor's "Our Daily Bread" except that was a fiction and this was in the middle of my home town, one of the richest cities in the world, certainly one of the most expensive.
For me that made it more grotesque and terrifying than the tin shacks of Sao Paolo or the tenements of Hong Kong. The children running around and stirring up the dust bothered me the most. Children smiling and having fun, all looking malnourished and hungry, but all smiling. Even a couple scrawny yellow dogs were cavorting with them, yapping and dancing with the excitement of joy.
I talked to a few people. They were open. I ignored the ones who bummed spare change. Of course walking into this hell made my companions edgy but I've always had a thing about Princess Of The Nile 1954 not wanting to imagine what things are but knowing what they are, even from my own personal and limited perspective and my incredibly minor abilities to comprehend and translate, I need to know.
I'm still an idiot that way.
I reduced the 5 or 6 valid stories I'd heard into one. The only way I could cope and rationalize my understanding.
They came to LA because of the hope. Hope for work, hope for a life, hope for their families, hope for sun.
My family came here for the same reason.
I found that in the families both parents were working, usually for minimum wage or close to it. The kids went to school. They were saving to bet an apartment. A 1 bedroom apartment, with utilities turned on would run you about 3-4 grand in LA. There's only a 3% vacancy which qualifies as severe housing shortage.
On their days off they would go to social services and get housing vouchers so they could shower instead of taking sponge baths in the restrooms of the gas station or restaurants that would let them in.
When they had time left on the room they'd sell the room to someone so they could buy clothes for the kids, so the kids wouldn't be so tortured when they went to school.
And they bragged about how close they were to having the money to get their own apartments soon, any day soon.
The lucky ones worked at McDonalds where they could bring home food for the kids. McDonalds food is so expensive that when an error is made in preparation they throw it away instead of trying some salvation. For the people in cardboard city this was better than working in a restaurant. Anime
Click images for desktop size: "Anime" by Unknown
In a restaurant only the worker would get free food, at McDonalds you could legally pilfer the garbage and feed your family.
Legally was not a word they used lightly. They wanted their kids to survive, to thrive, and this live in cardboard was better than the life they'd left behind. Or they got here and couldn't get back, or had nothing to go back to.
They kept an impromptu police force because LAPD wouldn't come near the place. (If you know LAPD there's not much shock there. LAPD are notorious as bullies, racist, lazy bums. Most want to live the fantasy life of movie cops and be left alone. Not all of them but its hard to remember the good ones. Some of my kids are LAPD so I know there are some good ones out there.)
With everything going around them, all the squalor they fought against they still kept hope, not for themselves so much but for their families. They did everything for their kids.
I find that not so much nobel as I do full of common sense.
The 7th Victim We were already deeply involved in the home for battered woman so didn't have much time to figure what to do for homeless families. Was more annoyed to discover that my Hollywood Council person just kind of blew it off. The only thing we were able to accomplish, with a lot of help, was to get the schools to not reject kids only because they had no address.
It was what LA School District did as they attempted to survive. No address meant you probably weren't in that school district. So, move along please.
Now kids can at least go to a school that's convenient instead of one that would close an eye and let them in.
But, yeah, that's why spending four hours at four stores grocery shopping wears me down but doesn't discourage me much, at all.

March 15, 2008

From now on we're strictly legit

Fabio By Eric Hamilton
Click images for desktop size: "Fabio" by Eric Hamilton
Went to the Chinese Buffet last night. I ate myself sick. It was great!
I got these little breakfast style steaks for the pack, and a porch chop for the little blind dog with all his allergies.
Instead of being grateful I think the dogs were more like, "Why don't we get good food like this all the time!?!"
The Hitchhikers We got them dog food. It felt like normal stuff.
Also got them treats, rawhide strips and these odd bones made out of salmon skin for the little blind guy. He's strutting around with one of them now, very proud and the others are very envious. That just makes little blind boy prouder.
I got sick from eating a crab leg, I think. I should know better than to eat something fancy at an all you can eat soiree. I didn't get sick enough to put a damper on anything. I felt like a starving man who just came out of the desert into the land of milk and honey.
We watched Daniel Lee and Andy Lau's "Protege". It was okay. Andy Lau was great. He's such a likable actor that its hard to be against him when he plays a villain. It was also hard not to remember that the last time he played a villain this well Scorsesse remade his film ("Infernal Affairs") into a mega Oscar winner ("The Departed").
Daniel Wu was excellent as the undercover cop. I now know too much about the heroin trade . . . the revelation in the movie was Jingchu Zhang as the junkie mother quasi-love interest. She was brilliant. She let you see through her eyes and into them. When her character lied and manipulated it was as convincing as when she was loving and motherly. She played pathetic with a fierce but beaten pride.
I also watched "Kung Fu Dunk", a monster hit film in China. It was light, moving and highly entertaining, sort of a less maniac but far more human "Shaolin Soccer". It also had a great fight scene.
What's of note about this film is that the copy I got had horrid machine translated subtitles that Wasp - Wallpapers Mania
Click images for desktop size: "Wasp" by Wallpapers Mania
often only translated Chinese phonetically! So that there were lines like "Well, the xiojang most way to be comacackphon, we do fire jang to xapheus."
At first this was disconcerting and I figured this movie would be a waste. It ended up differently and posted what was a real education for me in the "why I like Asian movies" so much vein.
The director and the actors remembered how to tell the story visually. I had very little difficulty in following the story. In the exciting parts I had no trouble at all. I didn't even think about it.
All the actors managed to convey a pretty large gamut of emotions and reactions that didn't need to be spelt out for me or illuminated with words.
I remembered once being in Paris and going to the Cinematheque to see the Marx Brothers' Sherlock Holme's House Of Fear "Duck Soup". The audience was almost all French and the film was not subtitled. The theater was packed.
The audience got a bit lost with some of Groucho and Chico's puns and banter but they laughed almost through out. During the classic mirror sequence the theater was literally rocking with people shifting and howling and fearing for Harpo as his charade disintegrated.
A few years ago in London I took a woman to see Rowan Atkinson's "Bean". She was Italian and spoke no English at all. She wasn't that keen on going to an English movie, but she laughed and enjoyed herself through out.
Movies are a visual media and somehow most filmmakers have tried to turn them into plays with long boring monologues or leaden dialogs that explain and point to what we're seeing. They stopped trying to tell the story with pictures and just want to lecture us.
TV, with its all encompassing medium shot, is the cause of this, I think.
I didn't want to talk about the movies so much as I wanted to talk about encoding . . .
Ti get "Protege" onto the Apple TV. I originally ripped the DVD to H264. It produced a very nice watchable image at 720x360 16x9. Later I got a copy of the movie in 720p (1280x720) resolution in wmv format, ripped from a BluRay disc.
I decided to experiment and ripped the wmv (a ghastly clunky codec that works on XBox 360) to H264 and ProLogic II AAC.
Using multi-pass encoding it took about 24 hours, with the computer using 100% of the cpu . . . For the Apple TV to play the movie I had to restrict the data rate to 5mgb per second. DVD's are typically around 3mgb per second.
I wasn't stoked about the sound quality but the image quality was stunning.
The difference between the DVD and the 720p in this film was not only noticeable but clearly added to the dramatic telling of the story.
Fathom - Michael Turner
Click images for desktop size: "Fathom" by Michael Turner
The junky and the undercover cop bot live in the same rat trap apartment building. In the junkie's apartment you can see the dirt clinging to the air and the filth that touches all the furniture and the little girl's toys. While the undercover cops place is just as ramshackle here the air is clean and the same dank belongings have the appearance of some sort of minimal maintenance.
None of this is even remotely visible in the DVD version! There are further examples of this through out the movie, where surfaces and environment reflect much of what is going on inside the characters minds and in their self constructed little worlds.
When Andy Lau and Daniel Wu ride elephants to visit a drug lord in the Golden Triangle the workers they pass have a sweaty patina to them, while Lau and Wu are dry and pink from plenty of facial massages. This visual image has much more impact then a laborious pair of scenes that make the same point. I The Jury (Wu tells a little girl in the city not to eat candy she picks off the ground. In the Triangle Lau feeling pity and empathy for the worker's children throws huge handfuls of candy on to the ground from the perch of his elephant and the kids run to scrabble it up from the dust while the workers look at Lau with sheening gratitude.)
Part of the thing you learn in psychoacoustics is that the human brain is much more impacted by what it sees than by what it hears.
The mind retains visual images but retains little of audio memory, which is why its so cool to listen to the same song over and over again, I suppose.
Anyway, I like anything that lets someone tell their story better. I like being led to understanding.

March 14, 2008

I like to walk the blue highways

Elevation
Click images for desktop size: "Elevation" by Unknown
My great-grandmother came to this country from Ireland.
Her brother was in the IRA. He killed a British soldier so the family scraped and borrowed to get him a boat ticket to escape to America.
They were too late. The British Army captured him. They tied him to a tree and stuck dynamite down his pants and blew him to hell.
The Green Slime Since the family already had a boat ticket they decided my great grandmother should use it. When she landed in Boston she was 14 years old.
She was married within the month and her new husband moved her to Chicago. They had six kids, one of them was my grandmother.
She got married and my grandfather and she moved to Oklahoma. They became tenant farmers.
When the great depression hit they were 21 and 18 years old and had two kids. One of them was my mother. Sometime in there my grandfather decided to go back to Chicago. He became a cop, like his father before him.
My grandmother was salty stuff. She and her cousin decided to take the kids and try their luck in California. The Irish don't believe in divorce and I guess being 2,700 miles apart and still married was legal, or moral, or whatever it was that mattered to them. I did always wonder if they couldn't afford a divorce but my grandfather sent my grandmother a decent sized check every month. And when the big corruption scandal broke and it looked like my grandfather would be implicated they ended 30 years of separation and she moved back to Chicago to stand by him. She didn't leave again until he died.
In California my mother met a guy in the army. I've only my birth certificate to study so I guess they were married shortly after she got pregnant. When I was born she was 15 and he was 25.
She traveled with him from army base to army base until he joined the Air Force to settle in Southern California. There they divorced. I nearly had a brother or sister Evolution Babe By Envy
Click images for desktop size: "Evolution Babe" by Envy
but he decided it wasn't his and punched her in the stomach, causing her to miscarry.
I was four when my mother and I started our life together.
Every weekend from the time I was four, every long holiday my mother and I would take car trips. It was important to her that we see as much of the world as we could. Most of the time we slept in the car.
They were always old junker cars. I remember a Salmon Plymouth Belvedere the most clearly. It was always breaking down. Somehow we always got home.
We went to the Painted Desert, the Petrified Forest, the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland. We travelled old Route 66 I don't know how many times. We ate at the road side stands and stopped for every ten cent attraction. High Sierra I saw two headed calves, two headed snakes, a three headed lamb, a goat the farmer was trying to pass off as a unicorn, a house made out of garbage and decorated with bottle caps and baseball cards.
I saw minor league baseball games, church choir shows and brass bands. Anything that the small towns we passed through offered.
I liked being a traveler. It gave me cachet with the other kids I'd meet. All us kids agreed that being on the move and seeing all there was to see was the most beautiful way to live.
On one drive my mother had a breakdown and asked if I minded her driving me all over creation. She cried because she was sad that we lived in a house with cracks in the walls and doors that didn't seal out the night air.
I had no idea what she was talking about.
When my mother married my step father the trips didn't completely stop but they weren't fun any more. My step father drank too much and slapped me around. Weekends had more things to do then to roam around aimlessly, for me and for them.
I still like to travel.
I like feeling like the tourist, even though I own every place I stand.
I don't like goodbyes, but I like the feelings that come that makes saying goodbye so hard to take.
Maybe its some kind of Freudian junk about trying to recapture that time with my mother. Maybe it was bred into me. My family sure seemed to move all over the place all the time.
There aren't many places I haven't been: The two poles, Mainland China, the Azores. That's all I can think of. There are probably others.
Sometimes I was working, sometimes I was surfing, sometimes it was rock climbing, most of the time it was just to see what made the world different even though I soon saw it was really just the same.
The most spectacular places I've seen: Yosemite Valley, Maui, Nepal, The High Desert.
The ugliest: India and Egypt.
The places I've seen destroyed and cry over: Bali and Kenya.
Bali was destroyed by the people with live there, so that's cooler. Surfers discovered the rock reef pipes and started to flock there and suddenly Bali went from cool spot to a border town, as ugly as Tijuana or Jaurez.
Kenya was destroyed by outsiders and developers.
When I first went there I was 19 and we did a motorcycle trip from Casablanca to Johannesburg.
We seldom saw people until we'd hit a town.
Story Of The Long Knife
Click images for desktop size: "The Story Of The Long Knife" by Unknown
When we entered an animal preserve the dirt roads were lined with human skulls and the warning sign that poachers would be shot on sight. The signs were hand painted and in every language they could write or misspell in. The skulls clarified everything anyway.
We took an 8 day detour to see the silver back gorillas.
It was an arduous slow trek. It was worth it. The animals were terrifying, cool and interested in us only as a possible threat. When they decided we were harmless they lost interest in us.
When I went back to Kenya at the end of the 90's the animal preserves were scarred with criss crossing bus and jitney tracks. The preserve of the silver back gorillas was reduced to the size of a city black. It was surrounded with a parking lot and souvenir booths.
The gorilla were the same but now they were totally disinterested. I don't know enough about gorillas to know what their state of mind was.
House On Telegraph Hill I'm pretty much finished with traveling now.
Not by choice but by necessity I guess. Its a good thing I'm happy with where I am.

I'm feeling better today. Still a alot of annoying pain. My back is crippling me but we're going to go out to dinner tonight - A Chinese Buffet!
I'm cleaning my jacket with the big inside pockets, so I can line the pockets with plastic bags. The dogs are placing their orders for treats.
It will be fun. It always is.
The a Chinese movie for desert! Protege, the new Derek Lee - Andy Lau movie. I'm psyched.
Life is good.

March 11, 2008

I'm so weary, sick of trying, scared of living but afraid of dying
Rogers And Hammerstein

Untitled By Equinox
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Equinox
It looks like I fought the snow and the snow won . . .
Near crippling pain in my back today and yesterday. Still I managed to walk to the store. Either I'm tougher than I think or food and addictions are rougher to deal with then mere pain.
Giant Behemoth 1959 Part that irks me is that I'm starting to feel a bit better.
I'd give up feeling better and double the pain (or at least let it increase by 50%) if my little blind dog would continue to get well.
He seems to have reached his own plateau.
I understand plateaus. They're hard to explain to other people.
You want to convey that you're not feeling any better but your nerve synapses have calmed down and the pain that is there your brain and body have adapted to. You can function nearly as well as you do when you're feeling 100% perfect.
That last part is probably the lie your brain tells you to fool you and encourage you to keep going. Who am I to argue with an evolutionary tactic like that.
Especially when it works.
My little blind dog kept me up past 4:30. He was having a bad time and just wanted comforting.
I wish I could give him something more. I wish he didn't hate taking his medicine. Or hate me for making him take it.
He's finally sleeping now. At my feet. I guess he's forgiven me.

Still adoring the Apple TV.
I'm growing fonder of the H264 codec. Its definitely more efficient and sharper than DivX or Xvid. The only drawback is that the H264 is so damnably slow!
When you could rip a movie in about 90 minutes using Xvid, it takes H264 about 3 to 4 hours.
I'm ripping some DVD's and such to H264, so they can be easily available for my friend, so she can watch the 3 Stooges every Sunday morning kind of thing.
I also like that H264 recognizes Chapters! Makes it easy to scan a movie and gives me some ideas for all the old time serials I like to drift off and think to.
I'm still enthralled with podcasts. Equate By Envy
Click images for desktop size: "Equate" by Envy
It reminds me of when I liked listening to the radio. When they played new music, when there was such a thing as local bands and it was a rush to hear the guys you saw Friday night get played on local radio.
It seems a shame that podcasts have become so popular that the major networks have rushed in to try and monopolize. I'd still rather listen to a guy with a squeaky voice play stuff I never heard before than be fed the latest payola scam artist.
For the record, my fave podcasts (at the moment) are "Coverville", where the guy plays nothing but covers of big hits . . . I guess the title sort of explains that, and "Blues In The Night" where this down home voiced guy plays, well, blues. Both these guys are genuinely excited about what they're playing, so even when you don't like the track you can still enjoy trying to hear what's fired them up!
Other than that, just holding on. Being happy.
Pain never trumps happy.
Honest.

March 9, 2008

Nobody's talking about Rollin' Danny
Gene Vincent

Rainbow Warrior
Click images for desktop size: "Rainbow Warrior" by Unknown
To explain my bouts of apparent insanity my mother used to explain to strangers, friends and family that I was just "trying to leave my footprints on the sands of time."
I have no idea where she heard that one or why she constantly insisted on applying it to me.
Get Carter My mother had self esteem issues. She used to look at me after a game and say out loud, "How did a dumpy woman like me give birth to a beautiful boy like you." I used to let thinks slide that bothered me.
One day I had to tell her, "Mom, I don't know about sands of time or history all I know is that I want to rock the roof off the joint tonight."
It didn't stop her from saying the same thing . . . ever.
We've had snow here. Lots and lots of snow.
Set a record.
I was in a white out in Alaska once. That was scary cool. This was not that bad but the second worst snow I'd ever been in. Visibility about 100 yards.
I asked if this was a blizzard and I was told, in no uncertain terms, "No. Not enough wind to make it a blizzard."
So my back is sore, my shoulder aches but I've successfully cleared about 12-18 inches of snow.
I look at it and feel like I've really accomplished something. The something being moving snow from one pile to another . . .
I do wonder if any of the neighbors look at me and my snow shoveling technique and shake their heads. I keep waiting for one of them to give me advice.
I could use it because I'm convinced I don't have a clue as how to do this properly.

Belatedly I'm becoming a podcast fan.
Not on the iPod but playing out loud through the house.
It's like cool radio. I like that it shafts the RAIA. (They've got their own issues with a counter suit that will force them to expose presumed illegal methods and presumed Snow by Pensadi
Click images for desktop size: "Snow" by Pensadi
illegal disbursement of the $400 million they've collected for artists that doesn't seem to have reached any of them - way to go Metallica) And I like that its individual and playlists aren't decided by a committee.
Its cool that bands can get there music out to be heard.
Its almost inspiring me to (you may shudder) to make my own podcast. I could call it "The Young Savages" or such and annoy people with the creepy thrashing drone white noise guitars I've always enjoyed.
What's stopping me the most is that last night I heard a great version of one of my songs. I went to look up who it was and it was . . . me . . . This must be a sign of either senility or snow deafness.

March 7, 2008

Now we have real work to do

Orangy Art - Richard Mohler
Click images for desktop size: "Orangy Art" by Richard Mohler
I've almost always lived in houses.
Compared to apartments, I mean,
When I've had to stay in an apartment or a condominium it put me on edge.
I don't like lying in bed and hearing my neighbor walk to the toilet and flush it. Escape From Planet Of The Apes It gets too close to poetry staring at your own walls and hearing the life of strangers surrounding you and pressing ever and ever closer.
Since I've spent most of my time in big cities and major metropolises, and that in my home in London I usually had a dozen or so people staying on it might seem odd, but that's the way of it.
I like private houses that are full of people . . . or at least full of dogs and one person.

Yesterday my little blind puppy seemed to be on the rebound. The night before he dragged me tumbling down a hill. There was enough snow that neither of us were hurt. I was more irritated by it. He was excited. This falling down thing of mine is getting to be a drag. The puppy must have enjoyed it though, some small canine excitement. He tried to drag me back over the same hill last night. He was mad that I wouldn't follow him again.
My big surprise came off.
Not the way I wanted it. UPS is too unreliable to ever make plans around.
Its embarrassing to say but I bought an Apple TV . . . I got it second hand via one of the auction sites. The fellow selling it lived relatively close and . . . I used a small portion of my IRS Tax Refund. It was a fraction of the cost of the new ones.
I'm sure I'll regret spending the money in a week.
I was nervous it would be busted up, not work, twonky, what have you. It works like a dream, better than I'd imagined.
I got it mainly for music. H264 encoding with Dolby Pro Logic Sound doesn't interest me much, other than novelty, at least for now.
What surprised me was how easy it was to set up, to start seeing Flickr pictures and then using them as a screen saver was like totally YOW!
Night Angel
Click images for desktop size: "Night Angel" by Unknown
And the streaming of music was perfect. We don't have a proper sound system set up here. I spent today re-wiring the stuff I have and it now works okay. Its listenable for sure and so nifty to play thousands of songs one after the other.
What was also impressive was getting podcasts. I'd never used them much because they were usually poorly mastered and took up a huge chunk of real estate on my iPod, where they'd sound terrible.
Going through the Apple TV they sound cool and much more viable and varied than listening to the radio. Some of them are totally bitchin.
I'm not much into YouTube, but it accesses those pretty easily as well. I watched a couple of my puppy's YouTube video and was annoyed with the poor quality of the encoding. Main reason I figured out how to host her video files ourselves.
Force Of Evil But that's the stuff that interests me. The main purpose was for the music for my friend. She's chuffed and thrilled to be able to surround herself with the sounds she loves.
That makes me happy.
Its simple and easy enough that she can start playing her stuff right away and without having to ask me how to do it.
We watched "Pillow Talk", an 60's Rock Hudson & Doris Day comedy. The humor was pretty arch and the characters repulsive in any clear vision, but we laughed and played with it, enjoyed it.
With my little blind puppy making noises like he's going to be around a bit longer, my surprise being a success even with all the glitches, worries and stress, yesterday was a day to mark with a white stone.

March 6, 2008

You're going to need an ocean of calamine lotion
Leiber-Stoller

Music Shapes - GBR Graphics
Click images for desktop size: "Music Shapes" by GBR Graphics
I used to want to grow gray at the temples so that it would go straight down the side of my head, like racing stripes.
I thought that would look cool and make me look even faster!
I still do.
Damnation AlleySomeone should write a book. A how to book on training your hair to do that, to grow the way and the color you want.
It would be a best seller, right up there with my book on the Zen Mechanics Of Snow Shoveling!

I used to receive 4 or 5 emails a day from my friends and kids and from people I barely remember. I liked that. It gave me something to look forward to each day.
Now I seem to only get 4 or 5 a week.
I hope its not because people don't want to bother me. That's a pathetic thought.
Better would be that they're too busy to think about me. Even better would be that they don't like writing to me and either not hearing back or getting a terse and crabby response.
Best if everything in their life is going swimmingly and when they think of me at all its to think, "I'll bet David is doing fine today!"
I did hear from my old land lady. Old as in EX land lady, not as in she's as old as me or something like that.
I've always liked her. We got along. Even though I am about 600 things she normally hates and she's about 40 things I'm indifferent to, we got along.
What we had between us that was stronger than any of that was that we loved dogs.
She spent all of her spare time saving dogs. I conservatively guess that she saves the lives of about 200 dogs a year.
I can't help but love someone like that.
As for her, she loved my puppy. I used to leave the rent check on the front table for her and my land lady would come in and have a talk with my puppy. She said that my puppy always gave her kisses but would never let her go into our bedroom!
She was always impressed with my puppy Surf Fishing - S4W
Click images for desktop size: "Surf Fishing" by S4W
, that my puppy was so happy and full of love and life and the way she treated all of our crazy foster dogs.
Her friends father passed away early this year. Her friend's not working and her friend's father was not well provided for or heavily insured, so my land lady has been shouldering a lot of the financial responsibility. She's that kind of person.
She has to sell the house my puppy and I lived in.
We loved that house. It was completely dog proof and had a great back yard with tall wooden fences, big enough to romp in and full of enough stuff to hide and play around.
My land lady offered to sell it to us for the price she paid for it because she was happy that we were there. She was like that too.
I couldn't afford it. It was stupid. I should have hornswoggled the down payment somehow. Even though I still would have moved I could have rented it out for enough to cover the mortgage payment.
And my puppy and I would always have that place to remember her growing up.
Now it will be sold. My land lady will have to go through a real estate agent because Dr Who And The Daleks she'd only sell the place to a crazed dog owner like herself . . . or like me.
It bothers me a little to think of someone who doesn't love dogs living in a home like that. It bothers me more that my land lady has to sell it to make ends meet.

My little blind dog is doing better. Last night I couldn't sleep because of me! Not because of him.
I was amazed when my friend was able to calm him down. She held him and talked to him and he stopped coughing and just completely relaxed. Its no wonder I love her.
He's not out of the woods yet but he slept reasonably well last night.

My surprise is coming to fruition!
I hope its not a flop . . .

March 5, 2008

That's awful specific for destiny!
Steve Pierre

Water Lilies - Claude Monet
Click images for desktop size: "Water Lilies" by Claude Monet
Don't much feel like saying anything today.
Good things are I couldn't feel much worse and still be alive. I'm still alive.
My little blind dog is still alive too. He kept me up all night. Or maybe I kept him up. I slept when he did. We're both okay.
We both agree that sometimes it doesn't feel right to be so miserable and so happy at the same time. We've decided to deal with that issue by stay restlessly crabby.
A Clockwork Orange - French His ailing gave me an excuse to ignore mine.
Even more snow today.
I've been in snow before. But it was usually snow at someplace where I could leave it when I wanted to.
In Europe I was staggered when they had a blizzard. They called it a blizzard anyway. It snowed almost 3 inches . . . then it all melted before nightfall.
Those are my kind of snow storms.
These 5 inches overnight things are the stuff of science fiction novels. People could not survive in this. Yet, here we are.
I walked to the store yesterday. My friend was home sick and I had a little cash. It seemed like a good idea.
By the time I managed to slog back home it felt like I'd accomplished something major.
I got frijoles and chips and some stuff for pad thai . . . health food, comfort food.
Good stuff.
Spent the rest of the time finishing up my monthly back-ups. Yeah, I've lost enough stuff over the years that I know computers can't be trusted anymore.
I also contemplated all the site stats.
We used 140 gigs of bandwidth! Mainly because of all my puppies movies.
I'm happier than ever with the new host. No one complained about not being able to get on. I had just over 4,000 "unique" visitors. I like unique. Its a cool adjective. I don't know what it really means when used in this way.
82.4% of the visitors came here via bookmarks or direct. 12% came via search engines. Probably looking for Captain America . . . and the rest via referrals from links I guess.
I thought those were pretty smug inducing numbers.
Double Monitor - by Azarakis
Click images for desktop size: "Double Monitor" by Azarakis
My puppy's site had 27,341 "unique" visitors. For her site the term unique makes sense.
91% were bookmarks or direct. 8% were via search engine. Her search terms are cute: big black dog who don't speak good, is my fave this month. I think she prefers Shelby the greatest dog in the world. She also thinks rich people should pay her.
I'm also startled that "The Long Goodbye" still gets over 2,000 hits a month. It hasn't been updated in nearly 2 years.
Its the product of wanting to write something good and "unique" Crashout - Money Is Like Love about things and people I love in movies, art, you know all that pretentious stuff I try to pretend isn't inside of me.
I was thinking of EXPANDING that wordy stuff I wrote about Argento and putting it up there.
That might just be another of my projects that never quite comes to pass. But it may and it will please me.
I'm also working on a little surprise that I hope turns out well. Mainly I hope it doesn't come off as merely selfish. We can only try and see. Its hard to be too surprising when you have no money to speak of, but we try.
And that's enough about nothing.
I have snow to shovel and inches to go before I sleep.
My little blind dog is sleeping in the chair next to me, while my puppy rests her head in my lap and suddenly it feels like everything really will be alright.

March 3, 2008

Went down to the crossroads
Robert Johnson

Light Still Shines On The Fair - Alec Feld
Click images for desktop size: "Light Still Shines On The Fair" by Alec Feld
Movie wise it was a disappointing weekend. Not enough movies and then they were pretty sketchy.
I finally got to see Dario Argento's "Mother Of Tears." I was looking forward to it. Its the conclusion of a trilogy that started back in the 70's with smash hit "Suspiria" (The first mother, Mother Of Pain) which was followed in the 80's by the stunning "Inferno" (The second mother, Mother Of Sighs.)
Born To Kill I'm an Argento fan. His career is full of the sort of highlights that would be definers in an American filmmakers resume. He started out writing Spaghetti Westerns! That phase ended with his collaboration with Bernardo Bertolluci ("Last Tango In Paris," "The Last Emperor") on the magnificent Sergio Leone's "Once Upon A Time In The West".
Then he moved into gilago (Italian Grand Guignol) as a pathway to directing. (Horror is the usual path to starting a movie making career - even Speilberg started with "Night Gallery"). Argento's films were marked with sophistication, he evoked an evolving Hitchcockinan mode creating suspense and real people. Like all gilago his films were marked with a savagery bordering on the ludicrous but in Argento's stuff that extended not just to the villain and victims but to the world that housed them, our world. Every thing seemed probable in his movies ("Four Flies On Grey Velvet," "The Bird With The Crystal Plumage").
Argento developed his tools, extended them and himself and exploded with "Suspiria." He combined all of his previous experience into a semi-classic horror film. He showed style was substance. Plot was secondary to the people and the mayhem and the beauty of it all. His casts' costumes were always by the top Italian designers, Armani, Versace etc. His sets were designed by Memphis. His scores were by Philip Glass! He got Keith Emerson to go for his chirasco best and make a compelling soundtrack that went beyond songs. He used punk and heavy metal to create a link between the viewer and to establish a mood connecting the plastic and the flesh and blood. He innovated in every detail and made cool fun horror films come as close to art as can be comfortable.
Argento's films played like persistent dreams. Beauty, sex, and oddness floated around your eyes, hinting at secrets you knew you possessed even when the secrets evaporated in jaundiced sunlight.
While he was making/distributing "Suspira" Argento was working with maverick George Romero. Their collaboration resulted in the classic Zombie horror flic "Dawn Of The Dead".
There's been plenty written about this wonderful movie, some even examining the music group Argento put to together, Goblin, to compose the music for this examination of our new world. Argento and Romero are artists. The colloboration was not an easy one. They both distributed edits of the movie.
Romero's has humor and fear as well as horror. Argento's cut focuses on the horror and the tragedy. Its also about 30 minutes shorter.
If you've ever worked with some extremely talented people you know that often they can be insecure and possessive Untitled - Phareic
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Phareic
of their vision and talent. They mark their territory and guard it. I think its because what they see is so far from the realm of what we see that they get nervous that their vision might be false. Nothing detroys the thin veil of "genius" than making a blunder. Nothing hurts a genius more than losing that tag.
So I was stunned when Argento asked Mario Bava, the pioneer and light of Italian cinema, to come in a direct and shoot a sequence for "Inferno". It was a section of the film that he was having problems with.
The admission was incredible in itself, going to another to correct it has a type of eerie genius. It was a solid thing to do. The sequence involves a cute girl falling into a hole, the hole leads to a rich New York immigrant apartment that is perfectly preserved and brilliantly lit by diffused sunlight. The apartment is submerged in water!
Its an hypnotic scene, incredible and it only adds to the entire insane spectacle of the movie. Bava removes the fear of drowning and replaces that fear with a tiny sense of awe. As th girl swims through the museum like space, her clothes clinging and furling around her afraid to touch any of the artifacts it creates a unique prettiness, a prettiness that soon gives way to creepiness. When she finally explodes from the pool into the world the harsh light and more saturated blacks of the un-submerged world are oppressive and depressing.
"Inferno" also includes one of the most auteur like moments in Argento's canon. A blind man is being devoured by rats! He screams for help. Somewhere away a dimly seen man who seems modeled after Duane Hanson's sculpture "The Crying Butcher", grabs up a meat cleaver and rushes off, seemingly to offer aid. When he arrives at the moonlit scene he stares at the carnage and wordlessly drives his cleaver into the blind man's skull, over and over again.
The sense is that evil and hatred abound. There is no escape. The butcher has no place in the story at all and is never seen again. Its the random violence that makes the actualized plotted violence seem secure and safer than the world outside.
So I hope you can see why I was excited to see the closing chapter of the trilogy, a trilogy thats been 30 years in the telling.
And then to discover that the flic starred Argento's daughter, Caged Virgins Asia, was like slicing my wrists open and finding I bled rivers of gold instead or common crimson blood.
Asia Argento is a massive talent, in my opinion. As an actress, she's got an ease that can only come from having been raised on screen in horror films (she was like 8 when she debuted in Lamberto Bava's "Demons").
Its as a director that I think she's got the potential to be something so serious as to change the world. Its only potential though. She keeps falling short. I don't know why. With her movie, "Scarlet Diva" she showed an ability to look into people with the same unflinching gaze that her father used to get us to watch a silver knife plunge into a naked beating heart.
In her film "The Heart Is Deceitful In All Things" Asia bought her EuroTrash sensibilities to a Jake Lamotta like woman. She is evil and bad, abusive to a loving child but never a monster, always vulnerable and hating herself for being less than human.
I don't know what has to change in her life for Asia to make the brilliant films that are always bubbling in and out of the center of her movies but I hope to be there when she finally figures it out.
So with all this history, all this talent hanging there why was "Mother Of Tears" so disappointing?
I mean, its bad and ridiculous, so bad that I'm wondering if I missed the joke somewhere. Once my kids were discussing "The Blair Witch Project." They all hated it and thought it was boring but were afraid to say so. They thought maybe they weren't smart enough to "get it."
I thought that idea was stupid at the time, now I feel the same way. Maybe Argento was just talking to someplace over my head. All I know is that I was disappointed. There's nothing worse to be.
Its a boring mess. I resisted fast scanning through it because I kept "knowing" it would suddenly get good, but it only got silly.
There are some good gags, the opening death where the woman is strangled with her own intestines is . . . interesting. Watching Torino fall apart to unseen evil, was semi cool if over the top, but smashing up an expensive car is not the ultimate evil act . . . honest. Asia pursued by her dead boyfriend whom she has set aflame has a coolness to it, and Argento forcing his daughter to constantly cry "Mommy! Mommy!" Machine Gun By Roebuck
Click images for desktop size: "Machine Gun" by Roebuck
has a cruel Freudian conceit to it. The same way you wonder why Argento likes to put his daughter into rivers of human excrement holds a quirky fascination. There are moments but the thing just looks like a rush job.
I could accept the ghosts materialized by the lesbian medium, not well, but I could cope. I couldn't cope with the whack episodic story line that bounced me around from confusing place to place. Why was she on a dangerous train trip to go someplace that she walked back home from??
And the ending . . . A whole lot of set up so Asia could grab a spear and . . . catch a shirt on the spear tip, rip the shirt off an anonymous girls back (so we can see some silicone breasts? a spear to keep evil at a distance?) and burn the shirt . . . and that kills the bad guys . . . she burned the shirt . . . and that killed all the bad guys . . .
It wasn't even a very nice shirt . . . the silicone breasts were okay, if you like silicone breasts, I guess.
When you compare this to Argento's Student, Michael Soavi's movie, "Cemetery Man" it looks like Argento has run out of things to say and forgotten how to say them. Soavi seems to be picking up the heritage and taking it to new places.
Chrome And Hot Leather In "Cemetery Man" Rupert Everett is the care taker of a grave yard in a small Italian town. He spends his time digging graves, tending the grass, watching TV and killing the zombies that sometimes come out.
There's not a whole lot made of the zombies, other than they must be dealt with. Most of the time Everett spends worrying more about courting recently widowed Anna Falchi than fighting zombies.
Its a great movie! It delights and astonishes and terrifies. Monsters and people define greatness here. The student has surpassed the master and I just feel sad.
I also watched the Korean film D-Wars. There was a great section of it that was cooler than Transformers, when the ancient mythic creatures fight the US Army in Downtown LA! RAH!
From that section you could see how this flic could become the box office champ in Korea. But everything leading up to that point is pretty dull and too child like, especially too childish for the carnage to come. And the ending was just kind of mediocre in a "He Man vs Sheera" kind of way. In fact, the movie made me think of "Masters Of The Universe" an awful lot . . .
And finally I watched an old 1930's omnibus film, "If I Had A Million." I remembered seeing it on TV when I was a kid and it left an impression. As a semi-adult I was interested because of early work by WC Fields, Gary Cooper and the remarkable Ernest Lubitch.
The films conceit is that a self made multi millionaire hates his relatives so much that he decides to give away his money to absolute strangers picked out of the phone book. The 8 sections then show us some details of the eight lives and then how they use the money.
Some of the stories are funny, some poignant and painful, others sadly depressing and contrived.
Electra
Click images for desktop size: "Electra" by Marvel Comics
It was the best of the lot to boot. Its just hard to have a movie hang together with 8 different perspectives and styles. The bits I remembered as a kid were still great (the guy walking into his old boss with a rabbit on a leash) and I still love WC Fields (My little sweet potato!) I also enjoyed, as I always do, seeing LA in the 30's and marvelling at what is still left to recognize.

What's not disappointing is that my little blind dog is still hanging in. He keeps developing things wrong with him but then he spends more time being happy, playing and eating.
I'm selfish and don't want him gone. He makes me laugh and smile. I worry that I'm letting him suffer needlessly.
I don't get the idea he wants to go anywhere yet. He still follows me around like a . . . puppy dog. I know he's happy. Even when he wakes me up at night because he wants me to hold him.
My puppy is kind to him too. She'll still steal his food but she herds him when he's lost and never runs over him (like the others do) but waits for him to either move or at least move aside.

March 2, 2008

Sha la la la lee
Steve Marriott

Dog Jesus
Click images for desktop size: "Dog Jesus" by Unknown
The most interesting new music I've been listening to lately are Guitar Wolf's "Dead Rock" (A Japanese rock band that everyone but me seems to hate, not everyone, they're onto their 6th album). I love their versions of Springsteen's "Fire" and the crazed cover of "Route 66".
The Bellboy And The Playgirls The Moviees, "Action Man" from "Become One Of Them" is a light, bitter sound with buttery rhythm guitars and sharp drum attacks.
The Rooks "Encore Echoes" which somehow remind me of childhood dreams. They have a nice garage sound with modern sensibilities. They sometimes sound too ancient, as in the past, but not passe. "Better Start Right Now" is a cool introduction to their sound.
At least all these groups are from the 21st Century . . . I still have a fondness for the past.
But first a digression . . . I found out about these bands from my gal pal. Back in the 80's this guy Michael Weldon started a flysheet called "The Psychotronic TV Guide".
He'd note all the cool , the strange, and the hip movies on TV that week and write up little reviews and schedules. He xeroxed the sheet at work and then would pass them out to commuters and passersby. Much cooler than religious tracts.
Even in this internet age there's something to be said for shoving a piece of paper into somebody's hand. Wheldon got fired from his job. I gather for running about 3000 copies of his little sheet a week. But someone else got the idea of publishing his little reviews in a book. It sold well, still in print, "The Psychotronic Guide To Movies." Its thick enough to be imposing and scholarly looking. It was fun and easy to read cover to cover - lots of pictures.
Someone else has taken up the task. I understand, the internet is cool but its not immediate. It can just hang around and it takes time and money to use. A sheet of paper to somebody bored riding the subway has a factor.
Lost Kids - Envy
Click images for desktop size: "Lost Kids" by Envy
Anyway this guy is doing a list of the top 500 Power Pop albums of all time. Which sounds weird to me but then, why not! My only issue with it is that one of my bands is on it!
I was never Power Pop. I like pop. As in Pop Art and Popular Music. Power Pop to me always meant guys in black shirts, white shirts and skinny ties. (John Woo stole the look for "A Better Tomorrow" and then Tarentino stole it from him for "Reservoir Dogs.")
It meant The Knack and "My Sharona", or Rick Springfield, rolled up sleeves on sports coats (?) and hundred buck haircuts. It didn't seem to have a lot to do with playing all sweaty in a stuffy club while 400 people throbbed to your drive and beat, kids having fun and looking to you for hope and fun. Chuck Berry had it right, The little girls understand.
Power Pop seemed like an A&R man's way of trying to create the next big thing.
Blonde BaitSometimes the kids need to make their own big thing. Which is why power pop is something you don't hear about and rap and hip hop became the new dominant genre.
Anyway, like I was saying before I interrupted . . . I still listen to too much old music while I wait for a new Alkaline Trio CD. And one old guy I love is Chris Bailey.
He was one of the original Brit pinks with The Damned and then the Remarkable Saints. I like Bailey's dead nasal voice that uses the music and notes to give his tunes their emotions instead of poor acting, over singing and genuflections.
I like that he used horns and dozens of grinding thrashing guitars. He knows how to dance.
So I was shocked to discover Bailey did a solo album in 1983, "What We Did On Our Holydays." It stunning cause its all covers. Floats between two types, hard full R&B classics (mucho Sam Cooke whom he treats too reverentially). The rest is solo acoustic BLUES tunes! Like "Country Boy" his playing surprises and his voice reveals as much intensity and depth of feeling as when he was groaning over the Saints thrashing guitar lines.
I like music. I need more of it every single day.

Spring training has started. Its a good time. It hasn't yet detracted from the Barry Bonds hoopla, or from the sad plight of Roger Clemens, (not sad for "The Rocket" but sad for me. Even the cynical and crabby ones like me need heroes, guys who can make the impossible conceivable. I don't know or much care if Clemens did a half dozen shots of steroids. I think this Macnee guy is revolting slime who fits in well with Washington DC. But I do know that the Jeff Beck's Blow By Blow Gibson
Click images for desktop size: Jeff Beck's Gibson Les Paul
way Clemens handled the whole affair has caused him the disgrace and humiliation he was trying to avoid. Maybe he was arrogant, or misled. I expect my heroes to stand proud on their own. To tell the truth and laconically let me know there is some place in the world for men like we always wanted to be.)
Even with the new modern world. I like baseball. I love it. Every time you take the field you could dream, even those short few years ago when I could still play you'd go to the plate and dream of that fat guy with a cigar in his mouth and loud clothes and flashy jewelry saying. "Kid, how'd you like to play for the Dodgers."
In Spring Training you've got all those hundreds of kids under 21, dreaming and trying to see if they're good enough to be Mickey Mantle or Sandy Koufax or Don Kessinger or Roger Clemens . . .
The college baseball season has started. USC is playing. Not doing too badly.
Baseball is supposed to be better than life and a microcosm of it. I want it back.
Just me being old.