okay, sure… but what if?

I know that no one out there (at least in the “official” USA world of science, politics and media), has any interest is giving any credence to this stuff, but doesn’t the evidence at least make some people wonder?

Of what you may ask? Well of one of my standard ponderings… The ill health effects from cell phones (well from all of this manufactured radiation we shoot through ourselves). Yes, I know that I have complained about it before here, here, here and here… But now there is a new article. Maybe promising (well, towards my fears, at least) and maybe not… But, once again, it makes me think that, profits be damned, more serious long term research is needed… Because if us paranoid nutso’s are at all right, the coming medical issues could be huge.

Anyway, the Weizmann Institute of Science has published research that looks at the effects on cells (real cells) due to cells (phones) from a new angle (not just heat from the radiation) and is given the unduly scare inspiring title of “Only ten minutes on a mobile could trigger cancer, scientists believe” by the Daily Mail. Of course, that doesn’t actually seem to be what the article says, more along the lines of:

Mobile phones can take as little as ten minutes to trigger changes in the brain associated with cancer, scientists claimed yesterday.

They found even low levels of radiation from handsets interfere with the way brain cells divide. Cell division encourages the growth of tumours.

Although the researchers did not come up with evidence that mobile phone signals are harmful, the findings suggest they could be.

Although the radiation was far weaker than emissions from a typical handset, it began to switch on a chemical signal inside the cells within ten minutes, the researchers report in the Biochemical Journal.

The chemical signals they detected were involved in the division of cells.

Dr Dariusz Leszczynski, of the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority in Helsinki, said: “If cell-phone radiation cannot induce biological effects then there will never be any health effects.

“On the other hand if we can show this radiation is able to induce biological effects then we have a different story.”

Yes, quite a different story, I imagine… Anyway, there is a story here at the Daily Mail.



Along came a man by the name of Charlie Mops… and he made it out of hops.

Sitting around “in the buckets”, no, not soused or mired or any such excessive state. Just tippin a couple and thinking. We stopped for dinner at The Hedge House and I had a couple of pints o’ stout. Well, more like a pint and a half. I find that if my sweetie isn’t drinking, I never have any interest in my second beer, once it arrives. Tonight it made me feel a bit sour, but it might have been the 90+ degree heat today. But I digress. A long lost like has returned rather suddenly, after being off for no good reason. A while back we purchased a Sheaf Stout. Now this is a fellow I used to drink a fair bit of, especially in my pre-21 phase. Now though, we have purchased a few bottles (it is a good sized bottle for sharing with ones spouse, at least to start the evening) and I wonder why I ever stopped. It has a great flavor and it certainly has a place in the list in the top half dozens beers. Anyway, I just wanted to mention it.

On a more downbeat notion… If you ever want to feel like the Bush Administration isn’t that bad, sit down for White Light, Black Rain, an HBO documentary of interviews with survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It is, of course, horrible yet strangely calming. It is hard to separate the political aspect of these deeds from the tragedy aspect (as is is with the other excessively inhumane tragedies of the 2nd World War) but, to an extent, they try. The movie focuses more on the survivors chilling stories of the actual incidents. While the stories and the images are horrifying, and you can’t help but feel for the people who lived through it and continued on with their lives, the most telling part for me was the one old hibakusha who said (and I paraphrase) “I don’t blame the Americans for the bombings, we lost the war… But I blame the government of Japan for not helping us afterwards”. He expresses an unsettling statement of such logical resolve that I still haven’t got my head around… but then the Japanese seem to have an old reputation for their attitude towards defeat.

Fat Man Cloud

70,000 Civilians, now gone. And the rest of us live forever with the knowledge of the possibilities

Whenever I think of this incident (and expand it with thoughts towards other incidents like the potential complicity of Pearl Harbor and the firebombing of Dresden), I can’t help but blame the Governments. I don’t buy the “All’s hell in war” theory. I guess I can handle it for soldiers, after all, killing and dying is part of the package of potentialities that they sign up for, but to kill tens of thousands of civilians in one fell swoop? It’s a bit too much for me to handle. Another problem with these kinds of tragedies is the lack of personal resolution. During events like September 11th (the WTC 9/11), there is always an issue of trying to identifying the remains so people can be moved from missing to dead. But with these firebombings and nuclear annihilation’s and Nazi purges there are tens of thousands who are incinerated. Hundreds of thousands of people end up with family and loved ones that they will never have any kind of a body to associate with (lord knows how many in the case of the Holocaust, I imagine that millions disappeared to never be identified). Though one could easily assume the death of someone missing, there will never be the closure that comes with the certainty of an identifiable corpse. Yes, sure, war is hell and war is glory and war is whatever else it is. But hopefully one day the “hell and glory” will be left to the warriors and the rest of us can live in peace.



this is not my beautiful house…

Is this weekend over yet? I have mixed feelings about that. Three days off equals: not enough movies, two blogposts that ended up maybe a bit more punky then I would have liked them to come out, and three long days of work. Yes, what? Work on my weekend? The wife’s business is transforming this week from Mabel’s Cafe and Knittery to Tandem Coffeehouse and it is a bunch of work. 10 hours a day away from home, lots of painting (oh! my head!) and the requisite trip to Ikea to fill in some spaces and then put the crazy stuff together! Well, it has all worked out a bunch of my sadness about Mabel’s going away. I’m getting pretty excited about having a full-on coffeeshop now, and it’s coming together really well. Now I need to stop calling it Mabel’s.

Also, I must admit, I prefer this kind of work. You know, doing things. I have spent so much of my work life responsible for making sure other people do things, I’d rather just do them myself and not worry about what other people are doing… It’s such a hassle. It’s also something I have never enjoyed. I have no interest in checking up on people to make sure they are doing what they should be and I only got into the whole “supervisory role” because I was sick of the supervisors I was getting and one day, many years ago, I finally decided to apply for a position like that, just so that I wouldn’t be stuck with a boss I didn’t like. But this was much more fun! It was physical and tiring and things change before your eyes! It reminded me of setting up Mabel’s three years ago (only quicker and with less stress), and it was actually a very fulfilling three days.

Also, I took that “Which Serial Killer are you” quiz. I answered no to almost everything, o course, since I am pretty far from being a serial killer, but I still scored as Hannibal Lector! Sure, it was only 30%, but I am certainly no Hannibal Lector, though sometimes my daughter looks like him…



i can’t wait to see him play!

So my wife asked me a question this morning, about this whole deal with Mister Vick. She wondered, why is everyone making such a big deal about this Vick thing, people kill and cruelly treat animals all the time. Obviously, there is point in there. Millions of animals are killed everyday by people for entertainment purposes (including dining), so as someone who hasn’t had meat for something like 17 years for this exact reason, it does seem odd and immoral, yet somehow sensible (as does most human activity), that some animals can be treated inhumanly yet others can’t. Some it is acceptable to brutalize, yet not others. As Caitlin says, they shoot horses. And yes, they do, but hanging dogs is a much different affair…

But, is it really? I believe that Vick isn’t in trouble so much because he killed dogs, but because he killed dogs in a gruesome fashion, as if he enjoyed it. Yet you can go out and shoot or trap a wide variety of animals for fun with no one causing you much problems, but dogs? Certainly not! I imagine that people say it is a matter of degrees, but to some of us who consider intentional killing to be bad, whether in war or in “regular murder”, it makes little difference whether you hang a dog or shoot a metal bolt through the head of a cow. So yes, this Vick incident was disturbingly harsh and cruel, but then again, so is a lot of regular life.

Speaking of the dead, and the right/wrong way to do things. I have been living in a little conundrum lately. You see, 4 years ago, in the peak of my movie obsessiveness, I got a region-free dvd player, because I couldn’t exist one moment longer without those movies that weren’t released in the USA in a timely fashion. Now that that has died off a bit and, honestly, every movie that I own in a foreign format is now available domestically, so I am rethinking my need for a region-free. Also, the machine is starting to die, anyway. What this leads to, of course, is the need to evaluate whether or not I should replace all of those movies that I have in region 2 or 3 or whatever. Maybe the project should flow naturally.

For instance, this week, I found, used for $7, a dvd of the American (Anchor Bay) release of Cemetery Man (Dellamorte Dellamore). Now I have had the Italian “Medusa” dvd of this delightful film for a number of years and this American one not only has more lasting power, but it also seems to be clearer on the image quality. And what is this image? It is basically a romance, Rupert Everett plays Francesco Dellamorte, a cemetery watchman who falls in love with a recent window (Anna Falchi). Once she is killed due to a tryst with him on her late husbands tomb, she has a tendency to reappear as other people. But that isn’t too surprising because in this particular cemetery, about a week after burial, the corpses come back to life and crawl out of their holes. Once this happens, Francesco has to shoot (or axe) them in their heads. He is used to this routine, going about it with his nearly mute assistant, but of course “love” rears its troublesome little head. As might expect, when the corpses come back to life so readily and have to be quickly put back down, death starts to lose some of its unique importance. So this leads to a number of deaths, both by gunshot, and spade and corpse.

It is certainly another humorous comedy splatter/zombie movie, with many corpses: Boy Scout’s, priests, you name it, being re-slaughtered. It is a lot of fun and easily a movie with much re-watching strength.

Love in the cemetery

love

Death in the cemetery

Death



stare into the fist of dredd…

And speaking of that… Some reflections on faith. I have always thought that no matter how idealistic are ones religious notions, that there is an inherent fraudulent aspect to faith. After all, “faith” is the belief in that which is not rational or provable, hence, the belief in the unbelievable, otherwise, you wouldn’t need faith to believe it. I imagine that when anyone who has “faith” really thinks about it logically, they must realize that there are no gods to have faith in and hence, must either abandon those beliefs or continue on for some other personal or social reason. After all, the Pope knows darned well that he doesn’t communicate with “god”, he is just there to interpret that book… Those frazzled remainders of many edited and intermixed scrolls written thousand of years ago by some old men in the desert, seeking justification for their power and ways to keep society together in a way they felt desirable.

Since no one really believes any of that stuff, yet most folks pretend that they do, it always gives me a little tickle when things pop up that rattle it. The discovery of texts that implied that Judas was in cahoots with “Jesus” rather than against him, as some ploy to help him on his martyrly mission, that really throws the two thousand year hatred of poor old Judas for a spin.

And now? Mother Teresa (for more on her, be sure to read Christopher Hitchens Missionary Position… regardless of what one may think about Hitchens, the Vatican did call on him to be the devil’s advocate in the beatification of Teresa)? In a soon to be published book, Teresa’s writings show that she questions her faith (with such great ones as “What do I labour for? If there be no God _ there can be no soul _ if there is no Soul then Jesus You also are not true.”) in a rather dramatic fashion… “They” are claiming that atheists may misinterpret it? Well, it’s pretty straightforward, from what has been released so far, that she hadn’t believed in some god for decades but continued on in her work, one would imagine for other reasons.

On to funner fictions and more relevant things…

I was disappointed, yet relieved that my disc of Judge Dredd was not actually 183 minutes long as the case stated, 90 minutes really is enough. Though, don’t get me wrong, I’ve been fond of Judge Dredd since I first came across the Eagle comics versions in the early 80’s. While those were exciting action comics with a humorous side, these filmmakers sure forgot the golden rule of action movies: Action and comic relief don’t mix! Stallone is almost perfect as Dredd, and he has a great backing cast of much seriousity: the always fantastic Max von Sydow, the maybe-not-fantastic but always tensely exciting Jürgen Prochnow and the humorously bold Armand Assante were out to take care of business! But then, wait, what is this gnat under Dredd’s arm? Annoying both him and the filmgoer (and doing endless damage to the suspension of belief that is necessary to enjoy these kinds of films?) well, it is the always excruciating and untalented Rob Schneider! Pretending again to be comic relief, when he hasn’t a twinge of comic sense. Ruining the mood and soiling those wonderful sets!

But the movie? Well, it makes me think of lots of other movies, but the first one is Conan, even starting off with the narration and said narration being by James Earl Jones! Aside from that, the basic story: bad guys frame Dredd, Dredd escapes and comes back to set things straight, people die left and right. Megacity One is reasonable, although 12 year old CGI doesn’t really do it, the story follows all of the expected twists and turns and it is pretty dumb, but it’s fun and Stallone, his manner, his physique, his voice? I think they do a great Dredd.

Dredd

body by stallone, suit by versace

Oh yeah, we also watched Little Children tonight. One of those that was a good movie, but one I never want to see again. Why? Well, the subject matter revolved around multiple infidelities in a very serious manner and also had brushes with a child molester and with harassment, parental death and with people who’s lives were falling apart to the point where they had few options left. But it was a well done drama and quite involving story of two married people who start having an affair while their spouses are at work, the children who are the pivot around which this affair rests and the local sex offender.

We also, I am reminded, watched The Linda McCartney Story. It was alright. At least it had George Segal who is fine. But the actors freaked me out, it was like they tried to hard to make them look like the Beatles, so they ended up just looking creepy and weird… And, while not ever having been a Beatles fan, I don’t take sides, but they really do take Paul’s side and make Yoko out to be a weirdo and a terrible influence on John and make John look like some kind of drugged up spazz.



‘Til then I’ll carry on with what I know…

Mabel's cafe

Mabel’s

Well, Monday winds to a close. It was the first day in 3 and a half years that we haven’t had to ponder our shop, because it closed on Sunday. The liquidation week went about how we expected and we ended up with only one basket of yarn left. These years have gone by like a slow up and down road, filled with wonders and trepidation and friendships, through it all.. Fittingly, we have mixed feelings about this turn of events, but the options had run dry. Currently we are wavering between feelings of loss and relief as, depending on the moment, Mabel’s had felt like either a beloved newborn or like the prodigal son returned. Either way, Caitlin formed it with her own bare hands and we loved the place. No, it isn’t all gone, we still have the space, the staff and ideas, but still. Three and a half years is a long time. A long time to worry and plan and hope and work and teach and learn. I know I will treasure these memories, good and bad, and all of the wonderful people we have met (I don’t think I could even begin to count them…) and my two Mabel’s t-shirts for the rest of my years, easily. But as the market got saturated and the “hipness” maybe wore off a bit, the stress of running a business whose sales aren’t exactly increasing is a terrible and stressful thing. Owning a store is like a child, you created it and you are responsible for it and when the age comes that you have to back away, it brings on feelings of loss, even if it is, in the long run, for the better.

CafeMama had, I thought, a nice post about this, Of Yarn and Loss. It reminded me of all the memories that Mabel’s had for me and Caitlin and for the hundreds of customers who came to rely on Mabel’s as a member of the community. I feel for her ending comment, too. Though we feel positive about the future for us and the business, it still seems unreal and quite sad, but yarn had gone from a love, a community center and a business, to something less positive. Now I hope that Caitlin can knit, worry free, as she did for nigh on twenty years before Mabel’s. While it broke our hearts to have to do this (though we are quite excited about the future plans), a 40% drop in sales over two years is something that a small business really cannot modify itself enough to be sustainable, no matter how we tried to keep it going. Once owning a business is actually costing you money, something different has to happen.

Anyway, I know this isn’t exactly my standard post. But Caitlin and I have been together for four years and one of the most prevalent aspects of that has been running this business. Even with our plans to use the space for something else, it feels like an unwanted divorce. Not just from the business, but from the community that were involved in it. We hope to continue on as before (just without yarn for sale, and more food!), but it is like losing part of ones identity. Anyway, I am feeling in a mopey mood about it all, so here are some little pictures from the old, early days..

All Mabel's

Mabel’s Inside

Cafe

Mabel’s Cafe

Yarn

Mabel’s Yarn

Caitlin

My sweetie, at her yarn counter



a kilo of the soft white underbelly..

As the 1970’s stretched into the 1980’s and as the preteen becomes the teen, that is when the seedlings of musical taste really become planted. Though lots of bands and genres have come under my radar in the years since then, one band who had many early and influential appearances then was Blue Öyster Cult. While I don’t think I ever considered them the “American Black Sabbath” (I mean, come on… Black Sabbath?), they were still of monumental importance.

Now I am no collector, aficionado or expert about this band (though I did, in probably 1981 or 1982, see the film Black and Blue in the theater… With Let There be Rock, no less)… They became very key players in my 14-16 age world. There is Rock and then, there is Godzilla. From the opening massive guitar riffs, still timelessly some of the best laid to wax, to the back-n-forth Godzilla chanting, to the great lyrics, it sounded almost too good to be true. I recall that Godzilla was the first song with stereo effects that I remember listening to through headphones, which was amazing, it was also way better and more interesting than the eponymous movie and monster.

With a purposeful grimace and a terrible sound
He pulls the spitting high tension wires down

Helpless people on a subway train
Scream bug-eyed as he looks in on them

He picks up a bus and he throws it back down
As he wades through the buildings toward the center of town

And when I was 16, my friend Kevin, somehow, had a VCR(!) and a video tape of Heavy Metal. A movie that I am still shocked that I do not own (well, on DVD… I own the VHS, of course). Not only is the movie a great, yet cornier, extension of the magazine featuring gratuitous cartoon nudity, excessive gory violence and some wonderfully fun storylines (including Richard Corben’s Den). I would watch the movie over and over again, in regular speed, frame-by-frame, whichever. But the soundtrack to the film? It is a monumental classic! Featuring “Heavy Metal” (Sammy Hagar’s only good song), Don Felder’s “Heavy Metal (Takin’ a Ride)” (even better than Hagar’s), some D-evo (one of my favorites bands at the time) and a couple of songs by the band Riggs (their great track “Radar Rider” was so damn good that I even went out and bought their album)… But the standout was BOC. “Veteran of the Psychic Wars”, not only was totally awesome, but it was co-written by Michael Moorcock, who was one of my three favorite writers at the time. The song is a slow one but it tells a nice little story and it remains a song that I feel the need to play fairly frequently (it is even in my top 50 plays iTunes list).

Aside from: the concert movie, the Heavy Metal soundtrack and Godzilla, what else? well, I had little interest in “Don’t Fear the Reaper” and “Burnin’ for You”, as they were a bit to poppy and, honestly, not sci-fi enough, for my tastes. But 1980 saw the release of Cultosaurus Erectus which had long been the only album of theirs that I owned. Now, this album certainly has some good songs, but the song “Black Blade” (written again with Michael Moorcock, and actually featuring his characters Elric and Stormbringer!) was just too good to not listen to constantly (now, 27 years later, it is at #14 on my all time iTunes playlist). Basically it tells the story of the sickly wizard king Elric, who doesn’t really mean much harm, but his sentient sword, which sucks souls to increase its own power, has a way about it to see that harm happens. Of course, this sends Elric’s fate down sad, blood stained paths. The lyrics sum up the great story, and they also sum up all that is grand about 1970’s rock. One thing missing from rock for the last few decades is the sci-fi/fantasy storytelling element. A lot of the soul went out of rock when that went away, and that’s why music can be so boring now. But Blue Öyster Cult were great purveyors of the stuff. Once Black Blade started off with:

I have this feeling that my luck is none too good
This sword here at my side don’t act the way it should
Keeps calling me its master, but I feel like its slave
Hauling me faster and faster to an early, early grave

I knew exactly what that was about. It spoke right to my favorite fictional reality, and coupled with Godzilla and the Heavy Metal movie… Blue Öyster Cult was well established in my world.

Sadly, they followed that all to common path where they were quite prolific, then they got successful and became much less prolific and then, when their star dipped, they were “gone”. Another example of how success is bad for a career. Even a career of evil. They released 8 studio albums and 2 live albums in their first 10 years, and then after that last studio album made them biggie-big, there were only three studio albums and one more live album in the next ten years. Though, they weren’t totally gone. Even though they went as much as ten years without an LP, seemingly they continued touring most of those years, and I recall stories that even at their height of popularity they still snuck in small gigs under the Soft White Underbelly name. I recently read that Eric Bloom and Buck Dharma have performed upwards of 4000 shows! But then, it has been 40 years since the band got together.

Though I hadn’t spent anytime looking into anything new, I have continued to listen to those classic old tracks and pick up interesting looking LP’s when I come across them. It was just recently, after spending too much time listening to those same few tracks that I’ve been listening to forever, that I decided to try out their early albums. They are an interesting sound experience. Sounding heavily influenced by the 1960’s (though the earlier one seems less like the 60’s than the later one) and certainly with substantial helpings of Prog-rock, you can still feel the rock there. While the songs don’t hold as much rock as I would prefer, most of them have some good moments hidden in there, surrounded by a strange tasting progressive shell and some odd titles (“I’m On The Lamb But I Ain’t No Sheep” and “She’s As Beautiful As A Foot” come to mind). While their debut is still my favorite of the oldies, Secret Treaties is growing on me… “ME 262” is the best track from it so far, and I may end up trying out their second album, Tyranny & Mutation next… I am also starting to get curious (even if it sounds scary, and to heck with Will Ferrell) about hearing their two newest albums, Heaven Forbid and The Curse of the Hidden Mirror, though the album covers sure pale in comparison to the early albums.

(the first penguindevil “by request” post…)



career of evil

In my current minor project of expanding/updating our Blue Öyster Cult collection, the wife went and picked me up a copy of Secret Treaties. This is their third LP (1974) and is one that I haven’t heard anything off of before, so I didn’t know what to expect. Well, I’ve only heard part of it so far (with the little miss yelling at me from the backseat), but it didn’t jump right out at me, as did their recently acquired first album, Blue Öyster Cult (featuring Transmaniacon MC and, of course, Cities On Flame With Rock And Roll), but it certainly has something going for it!

Inside the case are liner notes and photos, which feature two of the most awesome photos in rock n roll…

Albert Bouchard from Secret Treaties

Awesomely bad…

 

Eric Bloom from Secret Treaties

And just plain awesome

Now if those aren’t worth 8 bucks, I don’t know what is…

But aside from that, since we were on the Dan O’Bannon subject (remember Lifeforce), I had to watch one of his good films. A film that is, in fact, one of the great punkrock comedy horror films of all time, Return of the Living Dead!

Everyone probably knows the story already, but it is worth telling again. Years ago, canisters of chemically contaminated corpses (“remains of the true life story that was the inspiration for night of the living dead”) got accidentally dropped off at a little medical supply firm. In the present day, Frank (the ever wonderful James Karen) decides to show-off one of the corpses to the new punker kid they have working there. Of course, one should be more careful with things like that. As everything proceeds to go from bad to worse, they get their boss and the embalmer next door (Burt and Ernie) involved in an attempt to clean up the mess (aka, running corpse). As one would expect, they proceed to make everything worse, over and over again. As one might imagine, having the corpses that “inspired Night of the Living Dead” stored in a warehouse right next door to a cemetery is a recipe for bad news, especially for the merry gang of punkers in the graveyard.

Punkers

Those great movies punkers…

After a few more missteps, we end up with, well, some more zombies. And these aren’t your average dumb zombies… They talk, they run, they impersonate people, they set traps and they are looking for fresh brains to ease their pains!

Similar in a lot of ways to Re-animator (released the same year, man, those were the days), this is a not-that-scary, not-that-gory, non-stop and no-holds barred action zombie movie, filled with fun characters (well, the punkers characters are pretty lame, though “Trash” [Linnea Quigley!] and “Suicide” are fun), lots of screaming and what seemed like, when it was released, a killer punk soundtrack, including The Cramps and the famous 45 Grave, “Do you wanna party? It’s partytime” scene… This doesn’t seem to pack quite the same wallop as it did when it came out, but it is still fun and it brings back memories.

One thing I like about it, though it may seem silly. Is that the characters in these tend to be dumb teens and , while this does include dumb teens, the main characters are three middle aged men, Frank, Burt and Ernie. Who are easily the most fun and engaging characters in the film…

Taking care of business

burt and ernie, takin’ care of business…

 

The business

the business…



he really does know web…

So stealing some content from my pal Kurty, I opted to take (and reveal!) the famed…

Book quiz… Of course, I feel it is fairly accurate (Ulysses certainly isn’t it), in a sense…


You’re The Sound and the Fury!
by William Faulkner
Strong-willed but deeply confused, you are trying to come to grips with a major crisis in your life. You can see many different perspectives on the issue, but you’re mostly overwhelmed with despair at what you’ve lost. People often have a hard time understanding you, but they have some vague sense that you must be brilliant anyway.
Ultimately, you signify nothing.


Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Otherwise, though…
The family is back in town and we are busy liquidating the retail portion of our business, and the weather has gotten hot, so I haven’t been up to much moviewise or had any big gripes festering. Except I would rather be gone from the city for good. If this was Portland of the 70’s or 80’s I could stay here, but the relentless assault of yuppies and hipsters from the four winds has morphed it into an overpriced, dull, “irony is everything”, glossy facade with no real community or any soul. All those annoying “keep Portland weird” bumper stickers? Please, Portland hasn’t been weird for 20 years. It all reminds me of South Park episode where the film festival people leave Aspen because their film festival had ruined the groovy small town feel, so they set off to find another small town to ruin. Oh, I’d also like to be away from the heat for good. I have calculated (in my head, with no solid information), that being in a city makes the summer all the more unpleasant. Not liking either cities or summer, I am filling my time with thoughts of being far away from both…



wasted days and wasted nights…

or that’s how it felt this week, filmwise. Losers abound. Sad, because I had planned on many glories of film watching this week, instead, I managed to putz through a few and that’s about all.

Aside from films there were some highlights… First… I have always thought that the federal government had two good branches: the GAO and the Postal Service. Now, they are joined by a third… Acting on a hint from someone at work I tried out the National Do Not Call Registry… Jesus! We went from about 4-6 “spam” calls a day to… can you believe it, 1 unknown caller in a week and a half! All of the mortgage and car insurance and free vacations, and cable/satellite tv calls just plain stopped. It is almost eerie. It used to seem like the phone rang all day long with little computer voices on the other end. Now it doesn’t ring at all!

The other great discovery is thanks to Thud. After I complained abut all of the spam comments I get here, he suggested that I install Akismet. I did so and in the week since then I have not received a single spam comment (it is claiming to have blocked 349 messages in that time)… Things have really improved in the phone and comment spam department a lot lately.

So those things are all tied up. In terms of everything else though… The family comes home tonight, which I find to be a grand relief. I tried to do some kind of “bachelor” movie watching while they were gone and I really didn’t pull it off..

First up was It Happened Here, something I have been wanting to see for quite a while. A film from 1964 that tells the story of the German occupation of Britain during the Second World War. It isn’t as good as the films of French occupation (Safe Conduct and Army of Shadows come to mind), and they even deal with something that really happened.

I cannot imagine the reception that this movie must have had in the UK on its release in 1964, not even 20 years after the end of WWII, Nazi’s marching about London with their banners and goose steeping must have seemed bit too fresh for some folks. But… It Happened Here is certainly an interesting addition entry in the WWII film canon. The story of a nurse who is evacuated to London as the U.S. back partisans move into her area. She lacks any interest in politics, and in fact, wants to steer clear of it, but once in London she is told that if she wants to work, she needs to join the I.A. (the Immediate Action Organization), the British fascist organization that seems to control everything. This move puts her in a tricky spot, she is now a collaborator and this puts her in opposition with some of her few friends

The black and white photography of Nazis marching in London and German music in the background certainly has the same genuine feel of the old wartime newsreels and is pretty interesting, the rest of the film is actually rather dull. Her going about her business, us hearing a lot of “national socialist” jargon… The films redeeming value is all in the concept. So it is kind of interesting just for that.

 

posters

nice posters in the waiting room

 

rock n roll

Motorhead fans? British Collaborators? You be the judge.

 

And then back in the league of crappy (yet well-known) filmmakers whose “art” I had yet to witness… Recently I tried, and was amply let down by Ulli Lommel, and now I’ve tried the last of the “great” unseen auteurs, Jess Franco. I would have to say that Lommel has been one-upped. While the Ulli movie was terrible, like a non-movie, just filming a bunch of stuff with a camera, the Franco one is a real full-on movie, but maybe the worst yet! The dubbing is so atrocious it makes the movie hard to watch, the acting is so bad is must be on purpose and the script is terrible. A wedding gown model is kidnapped and manhandled for a photographer and then a Peter Lorre look-alike who lives in a combination “Art” gallery and wax museum has “the lamest painting ever made” stolen by a woman dressed as Zorro. She turns out to be one of two spyish ladies who have ugly wigs and talk in an annoying and lame “sultry” manner all of the time. These are the main characters of the film and I could only get 20 minutes into it before turning it off. But that was Two Undercover Angels, which is certainly going into the sell stack. Luckily it only cost me 5 bucks.

Then I finally felt the urge to watch Casshern again, so I broke out my 3 disc bootleg of it and it failed to play. Maybe last time I watched it I used the old region-free? I don’t know. Well, I wasn’t into the notion enough to hook up that old thing, so I just put the movie back.

After all of that, I felt like watching that was bound to be fairly good. So I put in Panic in Year Zero! A nice little apocalyptic piece from 1962. Ray Milland and his family (which includes Frankie Avalon!) load up the trailer and head out of Los Angeles for a family fishing get away. Two hours on the road and they start noticing bright flashes behind them… They feel somewhat concerned so when they find a phone booth (strangely placed on the shoulder of this little road in the middle of nowhere) and call home. After the operator tells them that all the lines to Los Angeles are down, they notice the giant mushroom cloud in the sky. Yes, it’s that day.

What to do next? Well first they first make the odd decision to “go back” but after that becomes a dangerous hassle, Ray’s survivalist instincts come to the fore and off they go on their trip, ruthlessly acquiring any items they need. As he says, when this is all over, “someone will have to rebuild civilization and I want it to be us”. His wife is very concerned with his sudden disregard for everyone else. He actually seems strangely focused and gung ho, destroying bridges so people cant follow them, shooting people, punching people… I’m not trying to give him a bad rap, he does meet some bad folks, a ruthless gang of youths and a gas station owner who has started changing $3.00 a gallon for gas!

It is pretty entertaining, though Ray’s gruff manner is a bit obnoxious and sometimes I forgot about the nuclear aspect, it just seemed like him dragging his family around, paranoid of everyone that they saw.



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You are... an atheist, though you probably already knew this. Also, you probably have several people praying daily for your soul.
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Vitruvian Man

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